Recently, one of my favorite activities has been stopping at Surdyk’s to get cheese and a bottle of something to enjoy. I’d forgotten how great this place can be to stop in and learn something new and try something new too.
I highly suggest stopping in their cheese shop which is so much more than just a cheese shop. They have some grab and go items, meat from Red Meat Table Company, bread, and everything else you could possibly add to a sophisticated cheese plate.
What’s even better than the selection is the knowledge that every person working there has about the items that fill the shop. Ask and you will learn something new and most likely discover a new favorite. The other week I was looking for a brie that had a creamy flavor without too much funk and they were able to point me to a perfect selection. Not only a perfect selection but the perfect ripeness of the cheese. A combination that made the brie divine.
I’ve come in needing help picking out the right cheeses for a cheese board for people who don’t like blue cheese and also needing help picking out a wine for people who enjoy both Spanish reds and whites. How can you help me find something that people who you are hosting will love but something that they may not have had before? They seem to do it with ease and they make me seem like a thoughtful host with great taste. The great taste I have is that I know a place where they know how to amuse and delight my guests and well, amuse me too. I always get a little something. How can you not?
because if you ask you might just learn something new
What is your go to item when you stop at Surdyk’s?
I am an early riser. I always have been. I am secretly jealous of people who are able to sleep in when they’ve stayed up the late the night before. Regardless of the late night I’ve had before I am usually up by 6:00am. One of the many upsides of being a morning person is that I am able to get things done in the morning before others have even woken up.
On the weekends I like to go and hang out with people who are up even before me. On either Saturday or Sunday I love to stroll over to the Minneapolis Farmers Market. Each week I like to stop by my favorite stalls and pick up an ingredient that I hadn’t even planned on buying and then I try and make a meal with that ingredient.
This week I picked up radishes that I plan on quick pickling for tacos this week. I also picked up some spring onions that I put on a sourdough breakfast sandwich with an egg and goat cheese. That Rustica sourdough sandwich was delicious!
I really enjoy just strolling around the market and looking at what each stall has and planning menus in my head and getting there early helps me avoid the crowds that show up around 9:30am. Sometime this summer get out to the Farmers Market early in the morning pick up something special for yourself and enjoy something new on your table.
because a Saturday stroll can make your weekend delicious
What do you like to do when you wake up early?
The Duluth Grill is a must stop for me anytime I go up north. It all started on a camping trip that was supposed to be only in the Upper Peninsula of Michigan then turned into a Duluth adventure thanks to unpredictable weather. On that trip without a plan I found two amazing restaurants, a breakfast place in Michigan where they made their own bread and jam and the whole meal cost me five dollars, and a trip to Duluth where I was able to discover all the joints that the locals raved about including the Duluth Grill. Now, I’ve been known to make the trip to Duluth just to eat at the Duluth Grill and Northern Waters Smokehaus.
Once you go to the Duluth Grill you never really forget about the brightly colored cups, amazing choices on the menu, and the fact that it sits in a strange part of town but everyone seems to find it alright anyways. Who needs to be by the stinkin’ lake walk anyways?
One of the things that I appreciated most about the Duluth Grill is the attention to vegetarians and vegans- there was no sacrifice of flavor or heartiness that I see at more restaurants than I would care to think about. It was much more than a salad. Plus, you knew where many of your ingredients were coming from.
The Duluth Grill Cookbook and now the new Duluth Grill Cookbook II give you an even more in depth story about where the ingredients are coming from and how to make some of your favorite dishes at home.
The can’t miss section from this cookbook is the condiments and sauces. Every time I go to the restaurant I am blown away by how much detail is put into each dish and how each thing, even the sauces and condiments, feel like they are thought out and made with love. So, you can only imagine how great it is that they’ve revealed some of their secrets and we can now try and make it at home.
Sometimes we forget that the simple when done right can be just as beautiful. The Garlic Spread is one of those items with only 4 ingredients it lets the garlic be the star of the show and added to the right dish, it gives it the upper edge. I was very excited about the Cilantro Lime Vinaigrette, it’s easy peasy and tastes so much better than a store bought dressing.
I admit that as a home cook I sometimes struggle with Vegan recipes. I love cheese way to much. I’ve never even thought of using walnuts to make an alternative to taco meat. This recipe makes you feel like you can take on cooking this dish even if it is much different from the way that you normally cook.
If you are a fan of the Duluth Grill like I am, pick up a copy of both of their cookbooks, learn about the local farmers and the people behind the food.
As for me, I’m planning my next trip up north even if it’s just for a day.
because good food is found by the locals.
Disclosure: I received an advanced copy of this cookbook.
These are some chicken wings that you write to your Mom about. Seriously people, would you ever think of coming to deli inside a grocery store for awesome wings? To be honest, I didn’t. You’ll have to give them a try!
I had never been to United Noodles before and had no idea where it was. Turns out it’s right off Minnehaha Ave. in the Seward neighborhood. I worked in that neighborhood one summer awhile back and I had no idea what sort of places it held. I am just starting to discover the wonderfulness of the Seward neighborhood. Behind each place that I’ve been recently there is some sort of story and passion. This neighborhood boasts some of the best foods, if you take the time to search them out. They don’t boast– they just love what they do.
Although, it is tucked a little bit away, it is easy to find by the sign. They have ample parking and it would be a great place to stop after work or during your lunch hour if you are nearby. I know I will be. I crave ramen during the fall and winter and cannot wait to get my fix at Unideli.
They also have new specials each week. AKA- a reason to come back every week.
Let’s talk about these wings. You might notice that I rarely ever post chicken wings. They usually aren’t for me. I don’t like how most of the time you have to eat around them, sometimes there’s not a lot of meat, and other times they are just a deep fried meltdown. It also might have to do with the fact that a certain wing place that shall not be named that “makes” a bunch of types of wings ALWAYS makes me sick. For real, I felt sick after a salad there. All this has led me to not ordering wings off a menu. It’s not my thing.
BUT- these wings would be something I would order every-single-time. They were the perfect mix of salty, sweet, and spice. Plus, crisped up just right and great chicken inside. I am now a believer. Turns out that I just don’t like shitty chicken wings. I dream about these wings because of the mix that they are. It’s not just about how hot and spicy they are it’s really about how all of the flavors work so well together. It’s almost like they were best friends since childhood.
If you think I’m being a little brash, simply go try them. This is one of those things that I almost didn’t want to write anything about because I didn’t want the secret to get out and then I would have to fight with people to get some wings. Also, come early because I’ve heard that they sometimes sell out.
Best wings in Minnesota? I think so. I’ll see you soon my little nuggets of joy.
I’m going to be talking about more of the cool things that I discovered at UniDeli. Keep an eye out on future posts.
DISCLOSURE: I met with the team at United Deli and was given items from their menu to try. Also, I was given some foods from the grocery to try. In no way does that dictate what I write or how I feel about the food. This place is going to be one of my go-to places from now on and I was so thankful they invited me over to give it a try. Yes, I will spend my “real” money there. I never have time to get to every single place in Minneapolis. But, when I am invited to try something that I’ve never done before (going shopping with a master of pan-Asian foods) you do it!
Because sometimes you just need to try it one more time!
What places do you love in the Seward neighborhood? (I’m a huge fan of the Seward Co-op and Birchwood) What are your favorite chicken wings?
One of the questions that I get most is about which brewery is the best in the Twin Cities. I haven’t been to every brewery in the state and I like many different breweries for different reasons. This is one of very favorite ones because of the beer.
If you haven’t been out to downtown White Bear Lake recently, it is a hopping place to be. Excellent shopping, salons, and food are found in the small downtown area that is perfect for a weekend trip. Come in the afternoon to do some shopping, stay for dinner, and then some after dinner drinks at Big Wood.
I’ve had almost everything on tap at the brewery besides the winter brew that they have coming out. I’ve been very impressed by the full flavor of each brew. Two of my favorites are the Bark Bite and Drevo. You can get tasting flights and they always have 10 beers on tap.
The taproom is fairly small but it isn’t usually full. They have tables in the front room and in the back room where there is a table tennis table. During the summer they have outdoor seating as well. They don’t have their own food in the taproom but you can order in from many of the local establishments. There are two really really great pizza places nearby that you can order from called Olives Pizza Bar and Pezzo Pizza.
I highly recommend stopping out to Big Wood Brewery and taking in all that White Bear Lake has to offer.
Because I do it for the brews.
What’s your favorite brewery in Minnesota? Where do you go when you go to White Bear Lake?
I was saddened to hear the news of the closing of two of the great local establishments. La Belle Vie and Vincent A will be closing their doors by the end of the winter. There has been much speculation as to why and I don’t have all of the answers but my last experience at La Belle Vie might give you insight as to why fine dining is dead in the Twin Cities.
Recently, I went out to La Belle Vie to get a final meal. To say “Goodbye.” There’s really nothing like sitting down for a menu of food and wine that have been given so much love and attention. What ensued that night was a fine example of why we are the reason that fine dining is dying. Or already dead.
Many people have explained that the prices are unreasonable or that the cost of staffing is driving profits down. While both of these things may be true we are still missing one big part about fine dining that is in my opinion completely dead. Our ability to enjoy the meal for what it is. Time to enjoy the food and company.
That Friday, I sat down to eat the 8 course tasting menu with the wine paring in the exquisite dining room. The perfect lighting, the linen table cloth, and the way we were greeted were exactly what you would expect at a restaurant of this caliber.
At the table next to me sat a father and his adult daughter who had already started the tasting menu that I was going to enjoy that night. I ordered, eagerly awaiting the first course to arrive at the table. As I waited, my companion and I discussed our week and what we were doing this weekend.
I was struck by surprise when I heard a ringtone go off at the table next to us. Again. Again. It was a text message tone. The father then looked down and answered the texts while the course was being served to him. As the explanation of this fourth course he gazed down at his phone. Not even lifting his eyes to meet the person describing how the food was prepared.
I think this would be the only explanation necessary to illustrate how little this meal meant to him. Unfortunately, it got worse. In between the next course he decided to start watching YouTube videos with the sound on. Who needs to watch pan flute videos on YouTube during dinner? or anytime really? At least he somewhat involved his daughter halfway through the second video. His phone was out for the entirety of the dinner and he was on it for most of the time that I would think he would want to pay attention to the food and the drinks that were being served to him and his daughter. They maybe said a total of 15 words to each other the whole time I was there.
Not only did he miss the elegance of this beautifully prepared meal, he also missed a night spent with his daughter. It takes approximately three hours to do the full 8 course tasting with wine pairings and he couldn’t spare that much time away from his text messages and YouTube videos to have a deep conversation with his daughter.
We have literally killed fine dining with our inability to put everything aside and enjoy a meal with the people around us. How hard is it for us to put our phones away for 3 hours and hold a conversation with someone? I ask these questions because it occurred to me that while I was sitting there I had to check my phone. My work rarely allows me free-time away from my phone. How sad is it that I couldn’t part from it for three hours?
I also found myself asking myself realizing that I hadn’t spent 3 hours in conversation with anyone for a long time. Yes, I spend time away from screens but how often had I had a deep conversation in the last couple of months?
I am equally as guilty of not being in the present moment.
Fine dining requires us to leave our shit at the door. Your ability to enjoy the food and the company requires you to shut down the outside world and live in the present moment. For some reason, we have all decided that it’s not worth it anymore and that is sad. While we lose two of the fine dining players in Minneapolis we need to ask ourselves what part did we have to play in this?
We all need to hit the focus button.
My case for fine dining is simple. Having a meal like the one I had on Friday is meditative. It’s restorative. Shutting out the outside world and focusing on a meal with someone can center you again.
There is a place for fine dining here in Minnesota. It’s just that we need to make it a priority again. There has to be a sacred place where you can have a meal with people that matters enough to pay attention to the food and the company. Next time you go out to have a great meal try and leave your phone in the car, see if you can sit there for 3 hours, and genuinely be in the present moment.
I hope that we can have a place where we go to celebrate big life events with food and that we don’t kill them all.
because food is meditative and restorative.
You have no idea how excited I am about this! A few weeks ago my cousin and his wife were in town and they told me about this meal delivery service that they have in Milwaukee. They have fresh ingredients shipped to their home with recipes that they can make fairly fast. They like to cook like I do but since they have a new baby, time is not on their side. This is a quick way to get a healthy meal and still have the taste of a freshly cooked meal. All I thought to myself is— how do we not have this in Minneapolis?
I ran across Local Crate recently in my Twitter feed thanks to the awesome people that I follow. It looks like they are trying to make a go of this same idea but are sourcing local Minnesota ingredients.
Local Crate is a delivery service that sends fresh, local, portioned ingredients, and chef designed recipes to Minnesotans weekly making it easy for people to cook locally. Now, this is an idea that I can get behind! I enjoy eating out at restaurants but it is not something that I can do everyday. This would be a great fill in for the weeks that I am craving a home cooked meal and when I have commitments that don’t allow me enough time to get to the grocery store.
I usually only cook for two people and you usually can’t buy the ingredients for only two portions. This is a great way to get only what you need for the recipe and eliminates that one jam you needed for that ONE recipe that you made a year ago and it is still sitting in your refrigerator (not from personal experience, nope, not here).
Local Crate was started by the Kitchen Ninja and the Baby Kitchen Ninja AKA: Mike Stalbaum and Frank Jackman. They both were working for a large food manufacturer and realized that they could create a business around helping their community by working with local farmers and providers. They are passionate about changing the way that people eat and want to give back to our community. I am super excited to see where Local Crate goes!
The meals look great with options ranging from Spaghetti Carbonara to Shakshouka. Each recipe on listed on their website is something that I would enjoy trying. Also, they have enough variety that I don’t think I would get sick of the options. Each recipe comes with detailed instructions and a picture (this always helps me).
Currently, they are doing a Kickstarter project to raise much needed, cash flow for packaging, ingredients, cold and dry storage, and photo equipment. They have some great thank you gifts available and if you are interested in getting Local Crate I would suggest that you help them raise the $7,000 that they need to make their goal. I am clearly a proud supporter of this great idea so I backed this project! He
CLICK HERE to help them reach their goal!
Because this is a great idea and I can’t wait to try it!
One of the many delights of the Minnesota State Fair is trying all of the new foods! I was able to get a preview of some of the new foods coming to the fair this year. Every year there are some hits and some misses, but it is all a lot of fun in my book. From new foods on-a-stick to ice cream with a kick here are some of the new foods that I got to try!
One of my new favorites is the Salted Caramel Puff malts and sundaes at the Dairy Goodness bar! It’s sweet, salty, and perfect for a hot day. I am a huge fan of Old Dutch Puffcorn and adding the caramel and sweet ice cream to the mix made me jump for joy. Going to the Diary Goodness Bar is a tradition for many fairgoers and there’s a reason why, they have the best treats! This new flavor was chosen during the “Flavor of the Fair” contest. The contest is back this year and you’ll have a chance to submit your own flavor to become the next Flavor of the Fair next year. I’m going to enter–that’s some serious bragging rights.
I’m also a fan of the Blue Barn that’s part of the Blue Plate Restaurant Group. They bring food at the fair to a whole out-of-this-world level. They know how to serve food to large groups of people because they have the experience of doing it every day. I was able to try their new snickers salad which was refreshing and sweet. But, I am even more excited to try Pi their apple pie flavored beer. Hopefully, I can get a glass. I have a feeling that it might be one of the most popular items at the fair this year. Some of our favorites from last year will be back and there are a few more new items on the menu.
The Maple Bacon Funnel Cake from the Funnel Cake stand in the food building was also really great. We already know those flavors are complimentary, but they somehow got them to work with a funnel cake too. If you are a funnel cake fanatic you should try this one.
Lulu’s Public House is my favorite place to grab a beer at the fair. They have a top deck which allows you to relax and do some people watching. I spent a lot of time here last year and I know I will be back again to enjoy it again this year.
If you are working at the fair, Mancini’s has a great pizza that is not your typical fair food. After working all day you don’t want the usual deep fried foods that people typically share. Give this a try this year! Not a new food, but a great one, there’s a gyro booth by the Giant Yellow Slide that has great gyros and salads.
Although, this is just a preview of some of the great new foods you’ll see at the fair I hope you are pumped to get out there and give some of them a try.
because going to the fair is a tradition!
What food are you most excited to try this year?
I know, I am behind the times. This was my first time at Eli’s East and I loved it! It has a great casual atmosphere but with a great menu of supper club classics and new local dishes. It made me wish that I lived in Northeast so this could be my neighborhood spot.
I had a great cocktail to start the night with gin and a blueberry lemonade sort of thing. It was a great summer cocktail. I did see a bunch of people order a pink martini that I want to try next time. It must be very popular since they kept coming out of the bar. Don’t miss out on their wine specials as well. I thought they had a well curated wine list with many great options to go with their dishes.
I had a really hard time picking what I wanted for dinner. They had many items on their menu that appealed to me but ended up going with a burger. It was cooked perfectly to order and the fresh avocado on top was delightful. One of the highlights for me was their chips. No other place does homemade chips like they do. It was a nice change from the fries that you get everywhere else.
I also was able to try the Coq Au Vin. It had great flavor and looked beautiful when it came out of the kitchen. The chicken was a little dry for my taste but overall it was a great dish and something that I want to try again in the winter. It was very comforting.
They have a great dessert menu that I didn’t get to try because I was way too full. Their portion sizes are a little bigger.
They have an excellent outdoor patio and a parking lot which makes this a great place to go for smaller groups 8-12. Plus, a back area that many families with children were using. They give you a little bit more privacy which is great for those with young ones who still want a fantastic meal!
Because I love a good neighborhood place.
Where else do I need to try in Northeast? Any places I should move to in Northeast?
I’ve been meaning to go here forever and finally made it out to Eastlake Brewery! I am a huge fan of the Midtown Global Market where it is located. I think it holds some of the best food found in Minneapolis. If you haven’t been to The Rabbit Hole or The Salty Tart yet, go there soon.
When you go to Eastlake Brewery come with an empty stomach because you can get food from the market and bring it in to the brewery to enjoy. The space is fairly big and contains a lot of natural light. It is also family friendly. When I was there, there were several families sitting around and having a meal together.
I wasn’t hugely impressed by the beers that I sampled other than their current sour brew Kirby Pucker and Belgian Pale Ale. They were a little too fruity and floral for my personal taste. I am the first to admit that don’t take my word on it. I love to drink beer. BUT– I think beer is such a personal thing that beers that I am not a fan of, others would like. Their current Saison with ginger and pink lemons was not my thing but I could see people who like fruity beers loving it.
With all that being said, I would come back even though I wasn’t a huge fan of their brews I tried. I didn’t get a chance to try their IPA’s since I got their lighter flight. I will be back to give those a try sometime soon. I went lighter because I was looking for a great summer beer.
I loved the space and it’s fun to bring food from any of the places in the market. If you are going to eat at the Brewery try Hot Indian Foods or Manny’s Tortas. Both are wonderful!
Overall, I liked this place as a perfect place to hang out and I’m excited to try some of their heavier brews next time.
because a great hangout and great food make a wonderful night.
What’s your favorite brewery to hangout in?