As the vendors were handing out the last samples at Saturday night’s North Coast Nosh VI, Eva Sabet walked up to Matt Oxford of Wild Run Salmon (top left) and said, “I just wanted to tell you that your salmon is the best fish I have ever tasted. And I’m from Sweden.” (When a Swede compliments your seafood, it means something.)
Oxford packed up his knives and grills and cutting boards and headed to Sabet’s table, where she and her colleagues had been passing out squares of buttered limpa bread, slices of jelly roll, and tiny squares of a candy-like chocolate and caramel cake, made in their Swedish Crown Bakery and Cafe. Oxford tried all three and they chatted for a while.
Jim Grell, chef and owner of the Modern Cafe, found himself finally liberated from three hours of passing out sausage, terrines, and pate to the longest continuous line in the hall. So he marched over to the Corner Table’s station and stuck out his hand, eager to talk preserved meats with Nick Rancone, the new owner (below).
In the parking lot, two cheesemaking couples, each with a long drive home ahead of them, stood outside their cars and chatted before reluctantly driving away.
More than 400 people tasted local cheeses, beers, meats, and candies at the sixth North Coast Nosh, hosted by The Heavy Table and the American Swedish Institute. They all looked like they were going home happy and well fed. But the ones who looked positively energized by the experience were the 35 vendors. (See more photos of the event on our Google+ page.)
More than one of those vendors praised the crowd. Mike McCarron of Gamle Ode, who was sharing his fresh, clean dill-infused aquavit, marveled at how many people were willing to stop and hear his story, rather than swilling and moving on to the next table. He answered questions while a colleague poured, and nobody seemed to mind waiting and listening in. “From my point of view, I could just keep talking [about aquavit] forever,” he said.
“People were respectful and they had good questions,” said Grell, of the Modern. “Like, ‘Where’s the venison from?’ and ‘What do the pigs eat?’” (Answers: Bur Oaks in Iowa and acorns.) Grell wouldn’t name names, but he did say it had been a long time since he had done a tasting event, because of the way guests at other events would just grab and go. He mimed reaching his arm up as if to a passed tray and abruptly turned his body away, over and over again. One wondered how he still had that kind of physical energy after three hours of cutting generous slices of pork terrine.
That terrine, with chunks of apricot and a hint of sage, was one of the standouts of the evening. Smooth, tender, sweet, and way bigger than just a bite, it hung over the sides of a crusty baguette and inspired some to take their slice and immediately go to the back of the line and eat it while they waited to try the venison terrine with truffles or the duck with preserved walnuts. Grell also set out a selection of mustards, cornichons, and fermented crab apples for the tasting.
Ingebretsen’s table was also generous and hospitable: franks with a snappy casing, tender beef jerky (mild and hot), and salmon, all smoked right in the store. For those of us who mostly stop in to Ingebretsen’s to satisfy our craving for Finnish candy, this was a surprise. “That’s something people don’t realize about [Ingebretsen’s],” said Anna Bloomstrand, great-granddaughter of the founding Ingebretsen, “how much we make in house.”
Of course, the Swedish meatballs went fast and by the end of the event, all that was left was three bowls of pickled herring in dill, wine, and cream. Wisely, Ingebretsen’s was set up right next to Gamle Ode’s table. Dill aquavit in one hand, herring in cream in the other — that’s true Minnesotan nosh.
One sleeper hit of the evening was Minneapolis tap water, on hand with a station where thirsty tasters could fill their mugs after all that salty food, pick up a T-shirt, and talk about the quality of our local water. Which turns out to be really high.
But the big surprise was the caramels from Poorboy. I know: caramels. Ho hum. Co-owner and co-candymaker Mike LaPoint said he felt the same way when his long-time friend Kevin Halgrimson suggested the two should start a business making caramels. Then he ate one. And, like everyone at the Nosh who picked up a caramel (then three), he stopped in his tracks and savored for just a moment.
This is Poorboy’s second Nosh after just six months in business. They’ve lined up more than 60 sales points now and made more than 5,000 caramels for the Daytime Emmys swag bags in June. (The local Emmys, right? No. The national ones.)
“The night before we went live [with the Poorboy website and shipping in February of this year], I said to Kevin, ‘I think tomorrow our lives are going to change,’” LaPoint remembers.
As the rest of the vendors finished packing up, LaPoint and Halgrimson generously loaded their hands with smooth gingerbread, espresso, and fleur de sel caramels. And they all seemed grateful for the sugar hit.
Like the rest of us, they’ll all be able to say, “We knew you when. We met you at the Nosh.”
The purveyors of North Coast Nosh 6, Oct. 13, at the American Swedish Institute:
Alemar Cheese Company
Caves of Faribault
Cedar Summit Farm
Chowgirls Killer Catering
The Cookie Cart
Crave Brothers Farmstead Cheese
Gai Gai Thai
Gamle Ode Dill Aquavit
Lift Bridge Brewery
Poor Boy Candy
Saint John’s Abbey
The Sample Room
Seven Sundays Granola
Shepherd’s Ridge Creamery
Swedish Crown Bakery
Treat Bake Shop
Wild Run Salmon