We at Heavy Table do what we do because we love informing our readers about the very best that local eating has to offer. These brewers, bakers, caterers, restaurateurs, distillers, farmers, cheesemakers, and entrepreneurs are the lifeblood of a culinary scene that we hold dear. So when a hungry crowd of hundreds fills the American Swedish Institute to sample and sip from these great purveyors, it’s enormously gratifying to see the conversations, the questions, the smiling, and the swooning. So thank you to all who attended for being part of a great evening. A recap of the sights and bites:
The 10th edition of the North Coast Nosh got underway with the Pre-Nosh — a limited engagement with four in-depth presentations and special tastes. First, Birchwood Cafe talked up the stellar, non-homogenized dairy from Kalona SuperNatural. Together, they demonstrated how to drain the whey from their full-fat yogurt to make it Greek-style and passed around some lamb meatballs with a parsley-lemon yogurt for dipping. If you need a savory waffle fix while Birchwood is under construction, head over to Verdant Tea starting March 1 for their breakfast pop-up.
The lamb from those meatballs came from Shepherd’s Way Farms (above, bottom left), and that’s where the Pre-Nosh went next. Jodi Ohlsen Read offered a tutorial on mold — how the unique orange spotting affects the flavor of her nutty, expressive 18-month-aged Burr Oak, and how to pierce the blocks of her Big Woods Blue to achieve the proper veining.
Then, we hopped over to watch Easy & Oskey mix up a trio of cocktails with Far North Spirits. The Negroni is enjoying a resurgence in cocktail culture right now and tasting one with Solveig gin (above, top right) speaks strongly as to why. We learned the key to good homemade sour mix (powdered egg whites) and the best way to quickly make friends (have a warehouse full of gin).
Then we entered the main hall for our final pre-Nosh taste with TeaSource (above, bottom right). They showed off a trio of Japanese green teas, along with a handy trick for mixing water to the perfect green tea temperature of 170 degrees (one part cold water to three parts boiling). Then we opened the doors and the Nosh was on.
First, we caught up with some of our favorite restaurateurs. Corner Table brought their legendary meats to the party — a duet of braunschweiger and krakowska. Birchwood Cafe followed up their pre-Nosh efforts with some spot-on granola and guava puree over Kalona SuperNatural yogurt. Barbette prepared some lovely smoked trout rilletes and Russell Klein (second from right, above) brought spaetzle to die for as a sneak peek at his upcoming Brasserie Zentral.
The cocktail corner was hopping all night long. Johnny Michaels (above) mixed up a pair of cocktails with Norseman vodka, while Easy & Oskey was slinging a charming Martinez with Far North Spirits’ gin.
On the non-alcoholic front, both Verdant Tea and TeaSource were pouring chai and genmaicha, Golden Fig Fine Foods showed off their basil limeade (that begs for a slug of gin), and Peace Coffee (above) debuted their fruity Pollinator blend, while Joia sampled their well-loved sodas.
The most impressive visual of the evening belonged to ASI’s Slate and Stone catering, with a precious dill custard set inside a half egg shell. They paired it with a “Swedish 75” cocktail, made with Gamle Ode dill aquavit. Sunrise Creative Gourmet from Hibbing (and now also open in St. Paul) plated some tender butternut squash ravioli in a parmesan-sage sauce, and nearby, Empire Coffee brought out the pastry plates, including an addictive bacon-cheddar-green onion muffin and a gooey butter cake that won raves (above left).
Cool Jerk brought a selection of artisanal jerkys, including a Lao-inspired lemongrass beef jerky and a “Lao hot” jerk that blew our tastebuds off.
Then we went condiment sampling. We took our first-ever shot of maple syrup with Three Rivers Farm (and were so glad we did), and then chowed on a pulled chicken slider slathered in Triple Crown BBQ Sauce. The blueberry-bourbon-sage formula from Serious Jam was beautiful and balanced. It would make sweet harmony with Buddy’s Nut Butters, which sampled four textured, nuanced spreads that would put Skippy to shame.
Our cheesemakers for the evening proved once again the fount of dairy inspiration we have in close proximity. Alemar Cheese spread their classic Bent River Camembert-style cheese and Good Thunder, a newer washed-rind cheese doctored with Surly Bender. Cedar Summit Farm topped their ricotta with a daub of Ames Farm honey, who was sampling, among other flavors, a beautiful buckwheat honey at the adjacent table. And Shepherd’s Way brought their fresh sheep’s cheese with a garlic-herb tang that screamed out for spring.
The beer was flowing throughout the Nosh. Bang Brewing offered their roasty, malty, and mild dark ale, called Nice.
Lucid Brewing steeped some jasmine tea from Verdant into a firkin of their Dyno pale, and Indeed Brewing (above) brought Burr Grinder, a lighter coffee brew infused with the good stuff from Dogwood.
Almost fully sated, but with room for some sweets, we went dessert hunting: Caramels from Annie B’s, pistachio macaroons from Cocoa & Fig, and a gluten-free cocoa macaroon from Coco-Amour. Finally, some ice cream: Coffee Toffee from Sweet Science and a little cone of Swedish Garden Party (elderberry with krumkake bits) from Izzy’s.
North Coast Nosh XI takes place on Saturday, May 3, from 5-8pm at The Soap Factory. Tickets are available now!