Sweet Sauce and Hot Sauce | Sadia’s Gourmet, Minneapolis, MN
The story behind Sadia’s Gourmet sauce is as good as the product itself: The company was founded by Somalian immigrant and mother of nine Korad “Sadia” Abdi, who used experience gained in her home country to create a sauce that’s well-balanced and layered with depth of spice. Small business loans from the City of Minneapolis and the African Development Center of Minnesota helped set the business on the road to sustainability.
We tried two of her three varieties: Sweet, which was (thankfully) far less sweet than most typical American corn syrup-based barbecue sauces and had a real depth of date- and tamarind-derived flavor to it, and Hot, which packed a fleeting but pleasing bit of kick and a sustaining vinegar, pepper, and tomato taste that would make it a fine choice for pairing with barbecued meat or most styles of tacos.
(Sold at local co-ops and markets or Cub Foods at East Lake and Minnehaha; also available online for $5 a bottle plus shipping)
Pretzilla Pretzel Buns | Miller Baking Company, Milwaukee, WI
It’s no surprise that Milwaukee, a city with a great Germanic beer tradition, is putting forth some ravishingly tasty preztel buns. The Miller Baking Company’s Pretzilla line of products includes four-packs of burger, sausage, and mini buns that are sold in the Twin Cities at Whole Foods and are more generally available online.
The buns themselves have a dense texture and malty flavor that recalls egg bread, and while the brown, pleasantly tacky crust lacks the chewiness of a true pretzel, Pretzilla erred in the right direction — the relatively tender pretzel crust makes for a more consistent texture when the bun is stuffed with a sandwich or hamburger. No tearing with incisors is necessary.
The mini buns also come with a little packet of pretzel salt that could be applied to the buns with the help of a brushing or spritzing of water — fussy, for sure, but it did take the already pleasant flavor up to a higher level.
Pretzel buns seem to be riding a rising tide of popularity these days, and with its artfully minimalist packaging and tasty products, Pretzilla seems well positioned to catch it and surf to medium- or long-term success.
(For sale at Whole Foods; online at $3.60 for six mini buns, $4 for four burger or sausage buns)
Unchained 09: Dunkel Weizen | Summit Brewing, St. Paul, MN
Dunkel Weizen is a sweet, dark, German-inspired wheat beer style not often tasted in the United States; it’s also the ninth and latest in Summit Brewing’s ongoing group of challenging, refreshing, unusual, and generally intoxicatingly educational special-release beers known as the Unchained series.
It smells sweet and malty from the get-go, suggesting toffee, clove, and smoke, and it tastes of caramel and banana. It’s light on the palate and in the glass — it doesn’t cling to your mouth, but rather washes it with textured flavors including light brown sugar, coriander, and white-flour biscuits. It starts with a bit of a hop bite, but as it comes up to room temperature, it mellows and sweetens.
Kick-off events for Dunkel Weizen featuring Summit brewer (and Dunkel Weizen creator) Eric Blomquist include:
Wed., Mar. 7: The Four Firkins in St. Louis Park, 6-8pm
Thu., Mar. 8: The Hole Sports Lounge in Minneapolis, 7-9pm
Fri., Mar. 9: Burger Jones in Burnsville, 3-4:30pm
Fri., Mar. 9: Carbone’s in Lakeville, 5-7pm
Thu., Mar. 15: Ngon Vietnamese Bistro in St. Paul, 4-6pm
Fri., Mar. 16: The Cellars in Roseville, 4-7pm
(Draught becomes available this week; 6-packs typically retail for $9-10, and will arrive in stores Mar. 19)
Blue and Raspberry Spritz Northwoods Naturals | White Winter Winery, Iron River, WI
The Wisconsin-based mead makers at White Winter Winery have been our radar for a few years now — their Black Harbor high-gravity black currant mead is the Upper Midwest’s closest equivalent to an indigenous spin on an after dinner port-style beverage, and it’s radically under-celebrated.
The winery also turns out some intriguing non-alcoholic beverages, including their Blue and Raspberry Spritz drinks. Both beverages use locally grown whole fruits and a short, simple list of ingredients. The result is the Cadillac of locally produced bottled non-alcoholic beverages, bright and natural in flavor profile, not particularly sweet nor unpleasantly tart, and lovely in color.
(Sold for $2.50 for 12 ounces of “spritz”; look for White Winter beverages at the following list of local stores in Minnesota, including Zipp’s and Surdyk’s)