After several North Coast Noshes, there are some things you know you’ll see. Derek De La Paz of Peace Coffee talking a caffeine-driven mile a minute to a group of excited listeners. Two friends exclaiming over how good “the cheese” was, then bursting in opposite directions as they realize that they’re talking about different cheeses and that more await, or that they foolishly sampled only one of Caves of Faribault’s goudas or blues. The beer pours getting a little bit taller as 8:30 draws near. Pro and amateur photographers getting a close-up of Patisserie 46’s offerings. (This time around, the eye-catcher was the passion fruit-mango-coconut-lime-vanilla shell housing a smooth caramel. It looked like a beautiful chunk of lipstick. If lipstick tasted anything like that, we’d all wear it, night and day.)
However, in addition to these reliable scenes, the Nosh is always a snowstorm of reminders that the local food and drink world is constantly on the move. Old and new businesses alike have fresh plans and new products, and 30 of them came together on Saturday at North Coast Nosh VII at the Peace Coffee Roastery.
Some Nosh tables invited the 350+ attendees to see a familiar item in a new way. Cedar Summit Farm cleverly showcased its dairy products by handing out a smooth, melt-in-your-mouth panna cotta. Joia poured a Dark and Stormy made with Captain Morgan rum mixed with their Ginger, Apricot, and Allspice soda. It took me back to college — a much classier version of college with more complex tastes, but a feeling of being young nevertheless.
And a first-time-ever pre-Nosh (above) gave 50 ticket holders a chance to do small-group Q&A and sample sessions with purveyors offering coffee (Peace Coffee), chocolate (St. Croix Chocolate Company), grass-fed beef (Thousand Hills), and beer (Summit).
Many businesses are enjoying expanded opportunities to reach customers. Erica Strait of Foxy Falafel can now say “Have you been to our restaurant yet?” while Singing Hills Goat Dairy has had more chances to do winter business due to the Mill City Winter Farmers Market. Summit Brewing is invigorated after the opening of its tap room, which allows it to try new recipes and brew in small batches. It served up a simple, tasty Amberweizen that could pair well with a variety of foods.
Some purveyors are working on their next opportunity. Jon Alden of Gray Duck Chai reiterated his hope to make Gray Duck available in retail later this year, while his warm, flavorful tea won over many who rarely think to order a chai. The folks at Izzy’s Ice Cream were clearly thrilled that their new building by Gold Medal Park is progressing. In addition to offering a winter-perfect stout, Fulton Beer was drumming up support (via “Save the Growler” stickers) to raise the annual production cutoff for Minnesota growler sales. The hints of products and projects to come bouncing around Peace Coffee’s energetic space reminded us that the people behind these delicious mouthfuls work hard, all the time.
The hard work is allowing our food and drink scene to feed off of itself; several tables featured collaborations. Poorboy Candy, whose caramels were a standout at the last Nosh, made a strong impression again with their irresistible craft beer candied peanuts (one with Lift Bridge Chestnut Hill and one with Summit Extra Pale Ale). Badger Hill Brewing Company passed out adult floats made with Sweet Science Ice Cream. Peace Coffee popped up in a variety of treats, including a Peace Coffee Caramel Mocha truffle from St. Croix Chocolate Company and Izzy’s Peace Coffee Ice Cream. Chowgirls highlighted their ability to team up with other local businesses by showcasing a cocktail made with 2 Gingers whiskey and a comforting Thousand Hills Cattle Company beef sandwich with a tangy, rich sauce. One of my companions earnestly encouraged Sweet Science to make a flavor with those Caves of Faribault blues, so I think I speak for all of us when I say to purveyors: Please, keep these team efforts coming.
There is a feeling of thankfulness at the North Coast Nosh — the bakers, brewers, cooks, and tasty-thing-creators are thankful for the customers and communities that have allowed them to get and stay in business, and they show it through their enthusiasm for conversation-heavy events like this. We, the regular eaters and drinkers who know what a difference a carefully crafted chocolate, a finely tuned drink, or a lovingly conceived bit of cheese can make, are thankful, too — thankful that we live in a place where these things are available to us, rain or shine or snow… or snowy rain.
The purveyors of North Coast Nosh VII, Feb. 9, at Peace Coffee roastery:
2 Gingers Irish Whiskey
Angel Food Bakery
Badger Hill Brewing
Caves of Faribault
Cedar Summit Farm
Chowgirls Killer Catering
Common Roots Catering
Gamle Ode Minnesota Aquavit
Gray Duck Chai
Indeed Brewing Company
Izzy’s Ice Cream
Singing Hills Goat Dairy
Sunny Road Cheese
St. Croix Chocolate Company
Sweet Science Ice Cream
Thousand Hills Cattle Company