The Heavy Table Reviews 2010: Part 1

2010 was a particularly eventful year in the world of Upper Midwestern food. We’ve been deluged with promising restaurant openings (everything from the high-end baked goods of Patisserie 46 to the tiny artful offerings of Piccolo to the ambitious local goods juggernaut that is the new Heartland in St. Paul) and witnessed the end (by fire, bankruptcy, or expired leases) of some local stalwarts.

What follows is the first part of a tour of the gastronomic highlights (and lowlights) of 2010.

JANUARY

Katie Cannon / Heavy Table

Aaron Masterson profiled the brewers of the newly founded Fulton Beer, Alyssa Vance talked to Chef Chad White of the Lexington, Eric Faust interviewed Minnesota culinary legend Beatrice Ojakangas, Chef Shack sent us a postcard from Thailand (their India card followed it), Eric Faust skewered HellBurgers in Duluth, and we profiled the Madison couple behind the burgeoning Madison craft jam company Quince and Apple.

James Norton and Becca Dilley opened the year by proclaiming Febgiving, the holiday designed to get us through winter well-fed and psychologically intact.

Katie Cannon rounded up five different culinary hotspots in the Minneapolis Skyway.

WACSO presented some gorgeous drawings from Wally’s Roast Beef in Bloomington.

And James Norton ate at Northeast Social and nearly froze to death.

In the Churn: The peregrinations of Chef Adam Vickerman, the Boxcar makes a spectacular debut (and later closes), Waconia’s Green Room closes, and Koyi Sushi opens in Seward.

FEBRUARY

Becca Dilley / Heavy Table

February 2010 was a good month for the Heavy Table:  We hosted an Evolution of Cooking dinner at the Bell Museum, celebrated our first birthday at The Craftsman with a killer carrot cake by Sweets Bakeshop, and made pie with a world-renowned expert.

Beer author Doug Hoverson blessed us with an awe-inspiring “Let’s Grab a Beer” flowchart and beer blogger Aaron Masterson wrote about the arrival in town of Deschutes Brewery. See also: Hoverson’s magisterial writeup of breweriana.

Jill Lewis reviewed the newly opened Piccolo, Maja Ingeman brainstormed a very culinary Valentine’s Day, and Jason Walker reviewed five local BBQ sauces.

Kate NG Sommers / Heavy Table

Kate NG Sommers brought us some heartbreaking images from the Heidi’s / Blackbird fire, which unfortunately, was just the tip of the iceberg in 2010 — there was also a serious fire at the Nook in St. Paul, two fires at Mille Lacs-area restaurants, a steakhouse in Hugo that burned down, and the tragic McMahon’s Pub fire, which killed six people.

Angelique Chao profiled the “live poultry fresh killed” Jeffries Chicken Farm in Inver Grove Heights.

Alyssa Vance headed up to Fargo-Moorhead and rounded up the best in edibles.

Susan Pagani profiled the soon-to-open Haute Dish (which we ended up quite liking).

And Kelly Carlin and Heidi Loosen put together a blockbuster pairing of Minnesota and Wisconsin beers and cheeses — the article features some amazing art.

In the Churn: Febgiving makes the Star Tribune, Kalico Elephant shuts down, Sameh Wadi appears on Iron Chef, and Amici Pizza prepares to open.

MARCH

WACSO / Heavy Table

WACSO and M.C. Cronin visited The Gopher Bar, which resulted in the most foul-mouthed and most commented-upon story we’ve ever run.

Soleil Ho wrote a detailed and blockbuster story about the hype and reality of raw milk.

Susan Pagani visited the newly opened Amici Pizza in Northeast.

Jason Walker obtained, sampled, and wrote about Iowa’s famous Templeton Rye Moonshine while Maja Ingeman learned about Phillips Peppermint Schnapps.

Alyssa Vance wrote about cold-hardy kiwi growing in Minnesota.

And contributor Kate Ramos surveyed the culinary scene in Bismarck, North Dakota.

In the Churn: Bubblegum-flavored string cheese rears its ugly head, the Perennial Plate video series debuts, Faribault gorg takes home the gold, Leeann Chin dies at age 77, Hooters gets the boot, and Har Mar Superstar throws tater tots at someone.

APRIL

Becca Dilley / Heavy Table

Native Madisonians Becca Dilley and James Norton went home and documented the living hell out the eating scene in Wisconsin’s capital.

Soleil Ho documented raising (and eating) rabbits in the city and Kate NG Sommers documented raising (and eating) ducks in the country.

Lori Writer sampled the ambitious new menu at Target Field.

The Heavy Table partnered with Foursquare, helped get people talking about the street food ordinance which eventually passed, and dug the food at Pescara in Rochester.

Alyssa Vance profiled Joe Hatch-Surisook of Sen Yai Sen Lek.

And James Norton wrapped up his year-long serialized gastro novel, Knife Skills.

In the Churn: La Vina closes; the death of Jon Radle, the chef at Grand Cafe; Picosa shuts down; and Zimmern goes head-to-head with Hell’s Kitchen owner Cynthia Gerdes.

MAY

Katie Cannon / Heavy Table

Jill Lewis took an epic trip to document Midwestern supper clubs, accompanied by photographer Katie Cannon. (And in June: She writes up her “best meal ever” — hospital food!)

We made Bahn Mi (on video, no less) with chef / blogger Daniel Klein of the Perennial Plate, worshiped at the Church of the Pancake, hung out with the crew at Victor’s 1959, redeemed eelpout, and traveled to Chez Panisse in Berkeley to hang with an expat.

And Jason Walker tastes some great BBQ at C&G’s, Katie Cannon hung out with some cows at Zweber Farms, and Ruth Burke kicked off her 18-part Farm Journal, documenting her time at Cramer Organics.

In the Churn: Venison America opens a new store, Liederkranz returns, Tian Jin folds, Minnesota takes a number one ranking for eating local foods, and Alex Roberts takes Best Midwest Chef at the James Beard awards.

JUNE

Andy Pucko / Heavy Table

Beer expert Michael Agnew documented the Minnesota brewery boom.

We dug the sauerkraut balls at Veigel’s Kaiserhoff in New Ulm, expressed our doubts about Green Mill’s Twisted Fork, loved the chaat at CurryUp, railed against the tyranny of the CSA box, and declared that the French menu at Salut has surrendered.

Alyssa Vance wrote up Alex Roberts of Alma and Brasa (featuring some great shots by Becca Dilley), Susan Pagani talked to Kevin Winge of Open Arms, and we documented the creation of — finally! — curvy brat buns.

And we hated the Uptown Cafeteria and Support Group. (And then later in the year: We really liked it.)

In the Churn: The Bikery plans a second location, Ryan Zander energizes Duluth’s dining scene, labor troubles at Murray’s, apple farmers sue over SweeTangos, Josh Thoma and Isaac Becker battle it out, and Derrick’s closes.

Tomorrow: The last half of 2010, recapped!

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James Norton

James Norton is editor and co-founder of the Heavy Table. He is also the co-author of Lake Superior Flavors, the co-author of a book about Wisconsin’s master cheesemakers, and a regular on-air contributor to Minnesota Public Radio.

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