The Heavy Table receives many press releases each week, but is able to do stories on very few of them. If you’re a company or press representative looking to reach the readers of the Heavy Table, keep in mind first and foremost that we’re looking to cover the craft food and drink of the Upper Midwest. Our bread and butter stories are deep dive interviews with food artisans and restaurant reviews. Anything else we run has to be as good as or better than a new review of an intriguing hole in the wall restaurant or an interview with an exciting chef.
Here’s an FAQ that addresses many questions that businesses have for us.
Can Heavy Table Preview My Event?
Probably not. There are dozens (or hundreds) of events every week, and event previews don’t generally perform well for us (as opposed to restaurant reviews or artisan profiles.) If you’ve got a promotional budget, sponsored announcements or longer sponsored content can be a great fit for introducing your event to our audience.
But always, always feel free to tell us about your event – if nothing else, we’re happy to add it to our Event Calendar.
Can Heavy Table Review My Product?
Possibly. It should be made locally (Minnesota, Wisconsin, or potentially Iowa.) It helps if it’s food, and not a food-related thing or service. It also helps if there’s a craft/artisanal aspect to it. If you’re thinking about sending a sample but aren’t sure how good a fit the product is, feel free to reach out, and we can give you a sense as to whether it’s a slam dunk, possible review, longshot, or instant no-go.
If you’re an out-of-state company pitching a product being introduced to the Minnesota market, sponsored content and/or other advertising is almost certainly your best bet for interacting with our readers.
Can Heavy Table Attend My Restaurant Preview?
Generally speaking, we’d rather not. We prefer to review restaurants as members of the public experience them, not via media events. The food, service, and overall feel of a restaurant preview often bears little to no resemblance to the actual restaurant. But always feel free to ask, particularly if we’ve written about you before.
Can Heavy Table Review My Restaurant?
Potentially, sure. We’ve got dozens of restaurants on our radar for possible review, so tell us what makes yours interesting. Tell us about a special dish or dishes, about the stories of your team members, about what makes your place different and/or better.
Can You Review My Book?
Assuming it’s about food and/or drink in the Upper Midwest, maybe. Books vary so wildly in quality (both writing and visual appeal) that we won’t know until we look at a review copy. We don’t have a lot of space for book reviews, but we do try to fit them in every month or two. And when we really like a book, we also like pairing reviews with cooking-with-the-author type in-depth Q&As, too.
Do You Mind If I Ask You Questions About How and Why You Cover Things?
Not at all. We’re always happy to talk about our editorial priorities and explain how the sausage gets made. Email email@example.com. For questions about sponsored content, banner ads, newsletter sponsorships, and other underwriting opportunities, contact firstname.lastname@example.org.
We’ve had a long love affair with Little Szechuan. Even during head-scratching stretches of inconsistency, we remained true to the St. Paul institution. We just couldn’t stay away from the spicy peanut noodles, fiery soups, savory meats, fried fish, sweet and salty vegetables, and crispy tofu. The service was generally good and the atmosphere typically jovial. And how we adored the lazy Susans, spinning round and round during many a family-style feast. When we learned earlier this summer that Little Szechuan was changing to Little Szechuan Hot Pot (that’s right, all hot pot, all the time), we were caught off guard and honestly, felt a bit jilted.
After a two-month makeover, the restaurant reopened in June, but we didn’t visit until last week because boiling cauldrons of soup didn’t appeal in the sweaty months of summer. The interior hasn’t changed much, but the tables now have inlaid induction burners for firing up the hot pots, and the menu is an intimidating list of items divided into categories: soup base, seafood, meat, mushroom, vegetable, and “tofu and more.” Diners check off one or two soup bases (the hot pot can be split in half) and ingredients for cooking in the boiling liquid. There’s everything from sirloin beef slices and Chinese broccoli to bullfrog and Chinese cruller (fried dough). You can eat the cooked items straight out of the pot (hence servers describe hot pot as “like fondue”) or add them to a bowl of broth for soup, which diners can liven up with an assortment of condiments.
Depending on your perspective, the process of selecting and cooking ingredients, mixing and matching condiments, and keeping ladles from falling into the bubbling broth (a task we failed to master) is good fun or unwelcome labor. While we fall somewhere in the middle of those two positions, we were impressed by the quality of the offerings. The combination of “spicy and fresh” soup bases was first rate. Made with dried peppers, chili oil, and ma la (Szechuan peppercorns that slightly numb the mouth), the “spicy” broth made us sweat and tear up. The “fresh” side, a comforting chicken broth, was a good foil for its devilish counterpart. Of the twenty or so ingredients we sampled, plump oyster mushrooms and vibrant Chinese broccoli were our favorites, with fresh tofu and house dumplings earning honorable mentions. After much experimentation, we settled on an ideal mixture of condiments: cilantro, green onion, salt, and grilled chili and mushroom sauce.
With August Schell’s fourth installment in its Noble Star Series, sour beer has come into its own in Minnesota. Available for a limited time, Black Forest Cherry features a malt-heavy Berliner Weisse aged for over a year in reclaimed cypress tanks, with tart cherries added before further aging.
The warmly-received sour collection has thus far delivered the Star of the North, a traditional Berliner Weisse, plus the Framboise du Nord, the same beer aged with raspberries. Next came the North Country Brunette, of the obsolete Marzen Weisse order.
While in modern Germany fruit syrups are commonly added to the dry and tart Berlin-style sours at the time of service, yielding a tempered acidity, fruit added to the cypress tanks gets fermented. In the case of Black Forest Cherry, the cherries are fermented to a high degree, and the result is unlike fruit lambics or other fruit beers, which traditionally have fruit syrup added during carbonation or bottling (a process known as “back sweetening”).
With Black Forest Cherry, expect serious sour notes, a lingering bite, and a refreshingly dry finish. The wild aroma is intriguing without overwhelming the nose. Tart cherries, unlike their cousins who spend their glory days in July picnic baskets across America, are profoundly sour and contain no flavors associated with Jell-O or cough syrup, an important fact for the fruit-beer phobic. Add a very high degree of carbonation and a body that is less imposing than a Flanders red ale, and the Black Forest Cherry finds itself in its own category.
If this cherry edition is any indication of the future of Schell’s expanding sour program, a profound acidity should be expected; this is by far the most tart of the Noble Star Series to date. Future beers in the collection are already in the works, as this line of specialty ales takes years to age properly.
Enjoy this bottle-conditioned sour with aged cheese, fall pot roast, or chocolate desserts. Substitute the brew for wine at upcoming fall gatherings, and keep some on hand with the expectation that the flavors will evolve over time.
If you follow food trends, fall seems to have two dominant flavors — pumpkin and apple. We already saw the first creep up on us when Caribou Coffee started touting its pumpkin spice drinks before Labor Day, and now the apple brigade is picking up steam. In addition to apple crisp, apple cider doughnuts, and applesauce, apples pop up in sandwiches, too, particularly those starring cheese in some capacity. But rather than pay bucks for a fancy apple and cheese sandwich elsewhere, it’s just as easy (and probably cheaper) to make your own at home. But do us a favor: skip the usual cheddar, and go with a local goat cheese for a tasty twist on tradition.
Seriously, goat cheese? An ingredient many people associate more with delicate spring dishes than hearty fall ones? Absolutely. But it’s essential you pick a goat cheese with more heft and zest than your typical chevre. Luckily, we have such a one at our disposal: Granite Ridge, a cave-aged goat cheese made in Kimball, Minn., at Donnay Dairy. This bloomy-rind cheese offers more ooze — and goaty punch — than a light, lemony-fresh goat cheese, and thanks to its inherent softness, it melts much more smoothly than a firm cheddar.
The advent of cold weather means that it’s nearly storytime again in Minnesota, time to stop doing things, and to start, instead, talking about the things that were done. It is therefore the perfect opportunity for the release of a beer like Summit’s new Herkulean Woods, a lager brewed with spruce tips from Iowa and maple syrup from Lutsen.
The name promises adventure; the marketing suggests a story in a glass, its ingredients exotic but familiar, suggestive of an Upper Midwestern epic. An adventure is what you get: the piney bite of the hops and spruce stretched taut, a bright, celestial tightrope walked by the big, caramel-kissed malt body of this beer.
Every sip we tasted felt a little different from the one before. As Herkulean Woods warms up toward room temperature, it mellows, and the maple note goes from a faded myth on a fragment of broken urn to an “oh, yeah, there it is” reality. This is a beautiful beer, with as many layers of flavor as Hercules had labors. Its amber color is a mirror of the season and its ingredients an echo of the Midwestern map. You can’t ask for anything more.