The Heavy Table Hot Five: March 3-9

hotfive-flames

Each Friday, this list will track five of the best things Heavy Table’s writers, editors, and photographers have recently bitten or sipped. Have a suggestion for the Hot Five? Email editor@heavytable.com.

shepherd-song-banner-ad-horiz-3The Hot Five is a weekly feature created by the Heavy Table and supported by Shepherd Song Farm.

shepherd-song-green-keyline

James Norton / Heavy Table
James Norton / Heavy Table

1-new - oneOatmeal IPA from Bent Paddle Brewing Company‘s Valve Jockey Series
Prompt a hundred beer drinkers to finish a two-word thought starting with the word “oatmeal,” and 99 of them will say “stout.” (We don’t know what the other person would go with, but you have to assume at least one out of 100 people are habitual goofballs.) Bent Paddle’s new Valve Jockey brewer-showcase series kicked off with an Oatmeal IPA, and it’s easily one of the best beers to come out in the past six months. As you’d think, the body of the beer is clean, classic, hoppy, and bold, but its finish is surprising — it’s mellow, sweet, and a bit buttery, nothing like the astringent snap you’re trained to expect. This makes Oatmeal IPA a lot less palate fatiguing than many of its brethren, and a lot of fun to drink.
[Debuting on the Hot Five | Submitted by James Norton]

Amy Rea / Heavy Table
Amy Rea / Heavy Table

2-new - twoDouble-Smoked Hams at Kramarczuk’s
Twice a year, Kramarczuk’s offers double-smoked hams. They’re so worth the wait — deeply smoky, yet not at all dry or salty. They’re available for Easter presale right now, so snap one up. You won’t get the chance again until the end of this year, when they reappear for Christmas.
[Debuting on the Hot Five | Submitted by Amy Rea]

Paige Latham Didora / Heavy Table
Paige Latham Didora / Heavy Table

3-new - threeRye Sour at Fitzgerald’s
Fitzgerald’s, which occupies the former Salt Cellar space, has a frightening number of TVs, but their cocktails make it worth it. Try the artful Rye Sour ($10), which gets a dry sangria element and its pink color from the addition of red wine. Rye cuts the sweetness, and the classic foamy meringue tops it off.
[Debuting on the Hot Five | Submitted by Paige Latham Didora]

James Norton / Heavy Table
James Norton / Heavy Table

4-new fourCom Chay Cha Bong (Crispy Rice with Pork Floss) at Ha Tien Market
Crunchy, light, a little bit meaty, and kissed with a hint of spice, this crispy rice snack from Ha Tien is extremely difficult to stop eating. It’s made with pork floss, which sounds terrible but is actually an Asian spin on pulled pork, created by a process that involves the meat being cooked, pulled, mashed, dried, and mixed with flavorings. Our only complaint about this stuff is that it doesn’t come in larger containers.
[Debuting on the Hot Five | Submitted by James Norton]

Paige Latham Didora / Heavy Table
Paige Latham Didora / Heavy Table

5-new -five Ale Battered Cod Smörgåsar at Fika
The Ale Battered Cod open-faced sandwich ($12) at Fika is at once hearty and light. The peppery watercress and curry rémoulade complement the cod, and the crispy texture of the fish and bread are spot on. A crumble of sharp cheddar adds dimension. It’s a meal in one pile.
[Debuting on the Hot Five | Submitted by Paige Latham Didora]

Cocktails at Fika, Nutmeg Brewhouse Opens, Lawless Gin

Banner for the Toast: Drinking Well in the Upper MidwestIn this toast, we discover a Swedish cocktail program, visit Burnsville’s Nutmeg Brewhouse, and sip Lawless Gin.

IMG_0743Cocktails at Fika

A sunny Scandinavian cafe attached to a historic mansion-gone-museum may not scream “cocktails,” but let surprise be the secret ingredient at Fika, located in the modern addition to the American Swedish Institute.

Known for its lunch and brunch items, Fika — along with its small selection of well-executed classic and modern Nordic fare — often appears on local “best-of” lists. Open face sandwiches, pastries, and cured salmon make up the more predictable hits. But our most recent visit unexpectedly uncovered drinks that deserve recognition as well.

Echoing the flavors on the plate, the drink list includes mostly classic combinations with elements of fruit, brine, and acid. The descriptions are quite simple, but the execution and balance is striking.

Becca Dilley / Minnesota Lunch
Becca Dilley / Minnesota Lunch

The clean and refreshing Swedish 75 is made with Gamle Ode Dill Aquavit and presents a wonderful combination of savory and citrus elements. The alcohol is not subtle by any means, making this bright drink perfect for a cold winter day, even though the ingredients sound more like spring. Additionally, the drink pairs excellently with fish, cutting through the oils but remaining complementary in its herbal notes. The carbonation, too, lightens up heavier meatballs and vinaigrette.

The newest addition to the cocktail list is quickly becoming the most popular. In the Solveig & Tonic, fresh ginger is muddled into Far North Solveig gin, bringing out an incredible depth of ginger flavor. Orange bitters and lemon simple syrup round out the infusion, making the whole thing far more complex than the sum of its parts.

For brunch-goers: Look out for the beautiful Bloody Swede, a take on the Bloody Mary, but with the earthy notes and striking color that only beets can bring. North Shore Aquavit, made just north of Chicago using caraway, cumin, and coriander, grounds the glass with a substantial punch. The unexpected, savory arrival of cardamom is a clear reminder of the Scandinavian surroundings, and the understated garnish of pickled onions and olives is a minimalistic pleasure rather than the prima donna of so many American versions.

Brenda Johnson / Heavy Table
Brenda Johnson / Heavy Table

Nutmeg Brewhouse

The first brewery to open in Minnesota in 2016 is also the only brewery for miles. Far in distance and vibe from the historic and repurposed Northeast Minneapolis, the south metro can now experience four of its own craft beers — paired with food of the British Commonwealth — at Burnsville’s Nutmeg Brewhouse.

If the name, the location, and the food don’t fit naturally into the craft brewery mold for many, we would agree. The mission, according to the owners, is to bring food from around the world together by way of British beer. And given the fact that Nutmeg was founded by two men of Indian descent and culinary experience, MP Singh and Balbir Singh (not related), some of the disparate elements start to come together.

Brenda Johnson / Heavy Table
Brenda Johnson / Heavy Table

Throw in head brewer Dave Jones, however, and the picture becomes less clear. Jones has no ties to Minnesota, British cuisine, or the brewpub model. The three came together online, Jones explained to our team: He had been drafting his own plans to start a brewery, while Singh and Singh were searching for a head brewer. With no professional experience, Jones found himself in Minnesota crafting beer for the enterprising duo.

Heavy Table Hot Five: Dec. 4-10

hotfive-flames

Each Friday, this list will track five of the best things Heavy Table’s writers, editors, and photographers have recently bitten or sipped. Have a suggestion for the Hot Five? Email editor@heavytable.com.

shepherd-song-banner-ad-horiz-3The Hot Five is a weekly feature created by the Heavy Table and supported by Shepherd Song Farm.

shepherd-song-green-keyline

Brenda Johnson / Heavy Table
Brenda Johnson / Heavy Table

2-new - two Kara-age from Ramen Kazama
Ramen Kazama’s Kara-age is a generous portion of Japanese fried chicken with a lemon wedge garnish and a side of seasoned mayo. The shattering, bubbly-crisp fried exterior of the chicken gives way to perfectly moist dark meat. These are McNuggets elevated to art, pairing up perfectly with a mug of cold draft beer.
[Debuting on the Hot Five | From an upcoming review by Peter Sieve]

Amy Rea / Heavy Table
Amy Rea / Heavy Table

1-new - oneGlögg at ASI’s Fika
Fika at the American Swedish Institute has a wonderful holiday tradition: Glögg (this year with red or white wine), a rich, complex brew of wine and spices. Pair it with Fika’s juniper-spiced meatballs served on a bed of light-as-air pureed potatoes with tart lingonberry sauce and mustard sauce. Comfort food at its finest, and an excellent prelude to visiting the holiday display at the Institute.
[Debuting on the Hot Five | Submitted by Amy Rea]

Becca Dilley / Heavy Table
Becca Dilley / Heavy Table

3-new - threeCacao Porter from Enki Brewing
For all the rich cocoa flavor that this brew packs, it’s also surprisingly clean and light on the palate, with a welcome creamy kick of fine carbonation that keeps what could be a syrupy beer nice and lively. Guaranteed to bring welcome cheer to any gathering that it attends.
[Debuting on the Hot Five | From a 2015 Local Food Gift Guide item by James Norton]

Mike Mommsen / Heavy Table
Mike Mommsen / Heavy Table

4-new fourThe Black Hand from The Alchemist
Simple yet satisfying, the Black Hand is one of the Alchemist’s “served on ice” cocktails. It’s made with gin, Rabarbaro Zucca (a rhubarb amaro liqueur), and lemon sour and topped with lightly effervescent cava. The sweet liqueur softens the pine notes in the gin, while the citrus finish gives the beverage an overall zesty soda feel.
[Debuting on the Hot Five | From the review of The Alchemist by Liz Scholz]

James Norton / Heavy Table
James Norton / Heavy Table

5-new -fiveEisenhower Steaks from Everett’s Foods
The concept behind an Eisenhower steak is simple: You get a three- or four-inch-thick ribeye, rub it with a mix of coffee, brown sugar, ancho chili powder, and other spices, start a hot fire using good wood charcoal, fan the ashes off the coals, and drop the steak directly onto the coals for a good 10 minutes a side. We tried it (using terrific steaks from Everett’s) and loved the results — the massive, irregularly sized steaks presented a variety of donenesses (everything from well done to rare) and pleased our whole dinner party. Minnesota grilling season doesn’t officially end until the mercury drops below 10 degrees Fahrenheit, so you’ve got some time to sort this one out.
[Last Week on the Hot Five: #4 | Submitted by James Norton]

Heavy Table Hot Five: March 6-12

hotfive-flames

Each Friday afternoon, this list will track five of the best things Heavy Table’s writers, editors, and photographers have recently bitten or sipped. Have a suggestion for the Hot Five? Email editor@heavytable.com.

Becca Dilley / Heavy Table
Becca Dilley / Heavy Table

1-new - oneBuffalo Quail Wings by JD Fratzke of The Strip Club Meat and Fish
A recent shoot for Save the Boundary Waters brought us out to a frigid but beautiful campsite in the Boundary Waters where we enjoyed a five-course meal cooked over open coals (and a wood stove) by Chef JD Fratzke of The Strip Club. The whole tale is going to be one worth repeating when we finally tell it, but for now, a quick preview: Fratzke cooked up tiny, unbelievably rich and tender quail wings with a butter and pepper sauce that must rank among the most subtle and unctuous renditions of Buffalo poultry ever created.
[Debuting on the Hot Five | Contributed by James Norton]

Ted Held / Heavy Table
Ted Held / Heavy Table

2-new - twoSemlor from Fika
A lenten treat with Scandinavian origins, Fika’s Semlor ($3) are little cardamom-spiced bread-bowls filled with whipped cream. A must have for seekers of seasonal European pastries, Semlor are an excellent accompaniment to coffee. Try it traditional style, in a bowl of warm milk. They’ll be disappearing April 4.
[Debuting on the Hot Five | Contributed by Ted Held]

James Norton / Heavy Table
James Norton / Heavy Table

3-new - threeRogan Josh pie from Merlin’s Rest
It’s British Pie Week at Merlin’s Rest, and the restaurants Rogan Josh pie, an Indian-inspired lamb curry housed in a delicate puff pastry container, is one of the best savory pies we’ve eaten since traveling in New Zealand. The pie menu runs through Sunday, March 8, so move quickly.
[Debuting on the Hot Five | Contributed by James Norton]

James Norton / Heavy Table
James Norton / Heavy Table

4-new fourBlueberry Orange Roll from Mon Petit Chéri Bakery
Packed with a gently sugared citrus kick and tiny little flavorful blueberries, the blueberry orange roll at the newly opened Mon Petit Chéri Bakery is a sweet tooth’s dream. It lacks the gloppy, oversweet frosting that brings down so many of its colleagues, and presents a lovely, coffee-pairable first bite of the day.
[Debuting on the Hot Five | Tweeted by James Norton]

James Norton / Heavy Table
James Norton / Heavy Table

5-new -fiveMedium-rare hamburger and a Chocolate Shake at Ike’s Food and Cocktails
When we found ourselves at the airport this week, the steakhouse comfort of Ike’s called to us most strongly, even amid the bevy of new places to eat near the tarmac. The burger was simple as they come, but correctly cooked, tender, and rich, with a high-quality bakery bun. And an accompanying chocolate milkshake made with Sebastian Joe’s ice cream was arguably too good. “I’ll just have a few sips …” turned into, “Oh, Lord, please let me stop!” in a matter of seconds.
[Last Week on the Hot Five: #5 | Contributed by James Norton]

Heavy Table Hot Five for Jan. 30-Feb. 6

hotfive-flames

Each Friday afternoon, this list will track five of the best things Heavy Table’s writers, editors, and photographers have recently bitten or sipped. Have a suggestion for the Hot Five? Email editor@heavytable.com.

Becca Dilley / Heavy Table
Becca Dilley / Heavy Table

1-new - oneBraised Meatballs from The Bachelor Farmer
As the other Scandinavian-inspired items on this list will attest, now is the time to dine on hearty Nordic fare. The meatballs at The Bachelor Farmer are profoundly rich and tender, swimming on a bed of potato puree and backed up by sweet-tart cranberry compote and delicately spiced, thinly sliced pickles. This is some sensei-level comfort food jujitsu.
[Debuting on the Hot Five | Contributed by James Norton]

Maja Ingeman / Heavy Table
Maja Ingeman / Heavy Table

2-new - twoApricot Soleil from Rustica Bakery
Rustica was smart to distance this treat from the gummy, canned-pie-filling connotations of a grocery store Danish. We love the balanced sweetness and visual effect of the sunny, tart half apricot perched atop the thick layer of wholesome, vanilla-flecked pastry cream and flaky pastry — all of which miraculously holds together without glopping on your clothes. We paired the pastry with a Verdant Laoshan black tea for a not-too-sweet mid-week pick-me-up.
[Debuting on the Hot Five: | Contributed by Maja Ingeman]

James Norton / Heavy Table
James Norton / Heavy Table

3-new - threeKimchi and Mac and Cheese
Among the leftovers from our epic Pasty Laboratory were a small container of scratch mac and cheese and a large jar of kimchi. As it turns out, the sharp, bright, funky kick of kimchi is a perfect foil for the rich warmth of mac and cheese. And so, these two foods — seemingly unrelated — are revealed to be secret best buddies.
[Debuting on the Hot Five | Contributed by Becca Dilley]

James Norton / Heavy Table
James Norton / Heavy Table

4-new fourBarbecued Goat Tacos from La Huasteca
The Barbacoa de Chivo tacos at La Huasteca consist of big scoops of roasted goat with cilantro, onions, and chili sauce served on doubled-up corn tortillas with lime wedges on the side. In terms of quantity, the two tacos made for a solid $4 lunch. In terms of taste, the goat has the presence and emotional warmth of a pot roast — tender, rich, deeply flavored. This robust and comforting foundation is the perfect pedestal for bright notes of flavor like the acidic tang of lime juice, the crunch of fresh onions, and the heat of salsa. When you eat these tacos, you become happy.
[Debuting on the Hot Five | Reviewed by James Norton]

Isabel Subtil / Heavy Table
Isabel Subtil / Heavy Table

5-new -fiveMost of the menu at Fika at The American Swedish Institute
Isabel Subtil writes: “Saturday morning, beautiful day, awesome temperature … it really felt like spring! All we wanted to find was great light (the dream of all food photographers) and simple, tasty food. We found it at the ASI: The plating is so beautiful that your eyes need a moment before the first bite. The flavors are simple but intense. Pictured are beet terrine, salt cod and potato fritter, gravlax, and a macchiato.” Amy Rea writes: “I had the country sausage smorgasar (below). It’s like it’s trying to pretend to be lowly comfort food, when it’s so much more than that — the mild sausage with creamy mustard, the poached egg, the crispy, sour pickled cabbage. Dang. Now I want another one.”
[Debuting on the Hot Five | Contributed by Amy Rea and Isabel Subtil]

Amy Rea / Heavy Table
Amy Rea / Heavy Table

Out With the Old (Solera) and In With the New (Another Trader Joe’s)

Katie Cannon / Heavy Table
Katie Cannon / Heavy Table

Trader Joe’s is coming to downtown Minneapolis and Solera closes its doors after 11 years (sunrise, sunset). Tickets for Winterfest go on sale later this month. The Well Fed Guide to Life visits Mancini’s and Betty Danger’s. Local food writers close out 2014 with reflections on their restaurant standbys and we recap the year in food on MPR. Bayfield-based Big Water Coffee Roasters starts shipping beans nationwide, joining other Lake Superior craft coffee outfits like Duluth Coffee Company and Fika (Grand Marais.) And Heavy Table contributing photographer Becca Dilley shows off her nine best time-sink photos of 2014 (including an animated .gif of Norseman Distillery.)

Heavy Table Hot Five: Nov. 28-Dec. 4

hotfive-flames

Each Friday afternoon, this list will track five of the best things Heavy Table’s writers, editors, and photographers have recently bitten or sipped. Have a suggestion for the Hot Five? Email editor@heavytable.com.

James Norton / Heavy Table
James Norton / Heavy Table

Matzo Ball Soup at Meritage

Matzo ball soup at Meritage is basically the perfect antidote to winter weather- the broth is deeply flavored and warming, the matzo balls somehow both light and richly substantial. [Debuting on the Hot Five]

Tweeted by James Norton

Amy Rea / Heavy Table
Amy Rea / Heavy Table

Glogg at Fika at the American Swedish Institute

The Swedish Institute has its seasonal glogg at Fika. Rich, well spiced, hearty, comforting. Made with wine, but unlike some bad versions, where it’s made of cheap wine mixed with spice and microwaved, this tasted like a decent quality wine, gently simmered. [Debuting on the Hot Five]

Contributed by Amy Rea

Isabel Subtil / Heavy Table
Isabel Subtil / Heavy Table

3-newChicken Liver Tart at Heyday

The Chicken Liver Tart at Heyday is just incredible. Beautifully rich mousse inside a dainty little pie shell, topped with a forest of greenery — none of which I recognized by name — that delivers a prickly textural contrast as well as a fresh overtone that pierces the sweet meatiness of the mousse. I’ll have one of those and a glass of pinot noir for the classiest nightcap Lyn-Lake has to offer. [Last week on the Hot Five: #1]

Contributed by John Garland

Jason Walker / Heavy Table
Jason Walker / Heavy Table

Pork Belly at Borough

Borough’s perfectly cooked pork belly atop a celery root pancake is an architectural plate worth not sharing. In a classic combination, apple butter complements the pork in a modern and contrasting manner, with hazelnuts rounding out the flavor. Pair with a bottled cocktail — we suggest the Fernet Me Not with spicy sarsaparilla. [Last week on the Hot Five: #4]

Contributed by Paige Latham

Joshua Page / Heavy Table
Joshua Page / Heavy Table

5-newRam-Toria-Aaloo at The Himalayan

Want to convert the okra skeptics in your life? Order this dish of fried okra and potatoes seasoned with Nepalese spices. It’s smoky, crisp, and brilliantly spiced. [Last Week on the Hot Five: #5]

Contributed by Joshua Page

Hans’ Bakery, New Kickstarter Projects and More

Becca Dilley / Heavy Table
Becca Dilley / Heavy Table

A look at the soon-to-be-reborn Hans’ Bakery in Anoka. A taste of the Juicy Lucia open-face burger at Fika at the American Swedish Institute (home to our upcoming North Coast Nosh this Sunday). The Hola Arepa team is opening a bricks-and-mortar restaurant. DeRusha tries the wings at D-Spot (above; here’s our review). St. Paul’s Acme Deli expands. And if you’re looking for how to best spend your Kickstarter dollars, there’s a Ghanian restaurant called Asase Yaa, a bricks-and-mortar Prairie Dogs shop, and a proposed place called ¡LatinoFlavor! vying for your attention.

Boarfest, Kanelbullens Dag, and More

Becca Dilley / Heavy Table
Becca Dilley / Heavy Table

Craving a cinnamon roll? Celebrate at Fika on October 4, which will honor Swedish national holiday Kanelbullens Dag (literal translation: cinnamon bun day) with all-day cinnamon rolls — at least, until they run out. If whiskey’s more your style, Butcher & the Boar (pictured above)  just announced their third annual Boarfest, boasting a Fulton- and Knob Creek-heavy drink menu, sausages, oysters, and a lineup including Solid Gold and Davina and The Vagabonds (if you’re curious what Davina might fuel up with pre-show, we’ve got you covered). Cajun 2 Geaux plans a series of “Social Table” pop-up dinners, with one event currently planned for the Landmark Center in November. In other news, Dogwood Coffee snagged a “top 25 roasters in the country” title from Complex Magazine. And in continuation of yesterday’s Travail-triggered Kickstarter discussion, Andrew Zimmern weighs in on “The Travail Boom,” echoing his earlier tweet that “we all want to be part of the club” — clearly a popular perspective given Travail’s $170K-and-counting funding, although DeRusha stands firm on reserving his donations for non-profits.

The Churn: A Snack at Fika and More

Becca Dilley / Minnesota Lunch
Becca Dilley / Minnesota Lunch

Scandinavians by heritage make a visit to Fika at the ASI (ASI pictured above; here’s our review). Angel Food Bakery offers some cheekily intriguing Valentine’s Day edibles [PDF]. A taste of Up Cafe, by Upper Midwest Gourmet. And an early look at Smack Shack (the restaurant).

Fika, Apples, and Morning Roundup

Rick reviews Fika at the American Swedish Institute (they’ll be sampling at our ASI Nosh on Oct. 13; here’s our Fika review); Tea Garden comes to Madison, WI, as the Steepery Tea Bar; a “perfect burger” at Eli’s; a tour of Midwestern beef; a Q&A with Matty O’Reilly of Republic, a late summer pie tour, Jorge Guzman of Solera talks about the Farm in the Cities event, Iggers visits Merlin’s Rest and more, and a pretty large percentage of what you need to know about apple varieties.

Canning Wisdom and August 27 Tweet Rodeo

The latest from Twitter: @ChefsAbode shares canning wisdom from State Fair winner @ChefJML, @VelleeDeli heralds the summer season’s final Monday Food Truck Rally, and @RickNelsonStrib deems the cardamom bread pudding @FikaASI a worthy dessert.