You know it is the start of summer when you fire up the grill for the first time. This past Saturday, I attended GrillFest which was put on by the lovely folks of Minnesota Monthly in downtown Minneapolis. This was the first time that they put on this event and hopefully it will not be the last because I think it will only grow in popularity over the years. Let me tell you, this was a great way to spend a leisurely Saturday afternoon, food, wine, beer, and interesting presenters.
This event goes to benefit Minnesota Public Radio, so if you are a fan this is a great way to support the station and get to eat really great food at the same time.
Here are some of the Hits:
1. The Burger from Macys. Holy Crap… that was a delicious burger. A pretzel bun with blue cheese, onions, burger perfectly cooked and a whole lot of love made this the best thing I ate that day.
2. The Jerk Chicken. Yum. I had a roommate once from Trinidad and she would have liked this jerk chicken. It gave that slow burn that you look for. Plus the guys serving it were awesome as well. They are new in the market and they were seeing if people other then themselves liked it. I did.
3. Surly. Need I say more. They had their Bitter on tap and well, I could have stood by that booth all day and hung out with the roller girls.
4. Captain Ken’s Baked Beans. Made locally, these beans are really great. You can even find them at Kowalski’s in the frozen food section.
5. Schell’s Brewery. Zommerfest. Thank goodness someone is making a summer beer without all that fruit in it. It is a lighter beer perfect for a hot day.
6. My South African friends with the Boerewors. I miss the wonderful meats that they have in South Africa and it was so nice to be brought back by the meat you were serving! Thanks to Von Hansen’s meat market for making it special for the event. I can’t wait to have my own Braai.
7. Local foods section. They had the Jelly’s that are delicious on meat. Also, a new simple syrup that was very good as well. I would have bought it if I didn’t have to lug it home and yes you should start to sell it in stores. It was good.
8. Tents in-case it started to rain.
9. Dr. BBQ. What a guy. I learned some helpful tips and I was entertained by his witty nature and jokes. Who knew to put in apple juice? Not this girl.
10. A speaker system that worked even though it was really windy.
11. Great Location. Easy to get from light rail to the parking lot as well as on bus routes.
12.A great crowd. Even some local celebrities. (Jason Matheson)
Some of the Misses:
1. Lack of seating and tables. COME ON. SERIOUSLY. Please supply these for your events. It is very uncomfortable to try and eat while holding your drink and multitude of other items. Its awkward and my satisfaction with the event would go up 100% if I could have set my drink on a table while I ate.
2. Better food trucks with more options. The food truck I ate at was not good. I tried it because I hadn’t had it before and the person taking orders was raving about the food. It was not a gyro, and that curry had curry powder that was not good. Hint hint: the food truck I ate at took all of my coupons and my partners coupons even though the sign said just one per item……. I thought I would be able to try one other truck as well. I think I may have been tricked….
Also, the food trucks could have done food that was not grilled more fresh food as a change from all the other food being served. There were a lot of shredded pork sandwiches. I want to eat what your food truck does really well.
3. Would have liked to see more more competitions. Just for fun.
The hits definitely outweighed the misses at this event. You really can go wrong when you are eating good food and drinking good beer and wine. I will bring a few friends along next year to enjoy the event as well. Keep on keeping on Minnesota Monthly and if you ever need someone to help with your events…. hire me.
because there is something in that BBQ sauce.
If you were there as well, let me know what you think!
On March 31st & April 1st Minnesota Monthly is putting on the Local Chef Challenge at the Mall of America.
I love Top Chef because it is amazing to watch the talent that chefs have. Here is the chance for one of the 8 local Minnesota chefs to become the Top Chef of Minnesota and we get to watch it up close and personal. It will be interesting to see what they bring to the table with all the different styles that they cook in. Each chef will go head to head in a battle royal for foodies in the MOA rotunda.
Chefs include Doug Flicker of Piccolo, Jim Christiansen, Patrick Atanalian of Sanctuary, Jim Kyndberg of Crave, Christopher Thompson of Masu Sushi and Robata, Landon Schoenfeld of Hautedish, Vincent Francoual of Vincent, and lastly Jack Riebel of Bucher & the Boar. My money is on Doug Flicker or Jack Riebel.
Check out more information here.
I look forward to attending this event. See you there.
Because talent should be appreciated.
Today I attended the Food & Wine Experience at Target Field. I had a wonderful time sampling wine, beer, and delicious foods. It was put on by Minnesota Monthly magazine and supports MPR.
Here are some of my hits:
I hope that Top Chef comes to Minnesota for a season because it would be awesome to the see the chefs go head to head at this event. There were some definite hits in the food department from the Chow Girls, Seven, Faribault Cheese, Splendid Spreads, Just Truffles, Drooling Moose, and BelGioioso Cheese.
Firstly, everything at the Chow Girls table was delicious including the nuts. Let’s just say I would love to see them make a restaurant with these great appetizers. Seven was also a hit. I even saw a line form there for part of the day. Rightfully so because the sushi was great and so was the beef skewer. The surprises in the food department for me was from the Cheese companies. A local cheese hit was the Faribault cheese caves. I couldn’t tell you what one was my favorite but I saw many of the men try a few of the chipotle garlic cheese curds. Also the BelGioioso spread was outstanding, it was easily missed because of the positioning of it but they had some wonderful examples of how to use their product. I got a recipe that I am going to try from Splendid Spreads. They had this 7 layer dip in a greek style that was yummy. I hope they didn’t mind that I took two. The two hits for desserts for me were the Just Truffles and Droolin Moose.
Now lets get to the wine. I tried all the fancy expensive wines that you go to the event to try and found that I clearly have no wine experience and couldn’t tell the difference between them and cheaper wines other than some of these expensive wines were a little too aggressive and peppery for me.
But, the point of the event was to try something new, it was fun to try wines that I might not buy from the store. Here are a few that I enjoyed that might be different than what the judges picked. From Z wines the Landskroon Dry Chenin Blanc, I am not a huge white wine drinker but this one was good. The Monogamy Cab from the Wine Sisterhood. It was unexpected and good. Plus, these wines have fun names and would be fun to give as a gift and in a reasonable price range.
The beer. Wow, it was great to see the beer at this event, I had the most fun at Bells Brewery an employee showed me the Darth Vader a mixture of two of their beers. I loved it! You will have to ask them what it is because I think they keep it a bit of a secret. Plus, they had all their seasonal beers. I also enjoyed Surley as I always do but, I wish they would have brought all of their beers to try. They may have gotten a new lover of that beer. Shells Firebrick was an unexpected hit for me as well. My only note about the beer is that I did not want to put the beer in my wine glass. I hope that next year they all bring their own small cups to try with.
The best hidden gem of the whole experience was the Dakota Jazz room corner who had Jazz music playing, food, a wonderful drink, and sitting room! It was nice to relax there an actually be able to enjoy the food and drinks from them.
The not so hits:
It would have been nice to have more sitting areas. I noticed many older people complaining about their feet hurting myself included and having no where to sit. Also, more live music would enhance the event. I have to say that it was pretty awkward trying to carry everything, drink, and eat at the same time. They should also add an area with cigars. It would fit in perfectly with this event.
One of the most hilarious comments I heard during the day was, “holy crap there is more to this thing, we now have to go this way, this is soooooooooo great!”
It would have been nice to know that there were two ways to go when we got there. We were lucky we stopped a volunteer who told us to go a certain way go all the way back and travel down. Otherwise, I think it might have been a difference experience for me.
Spilling food all over myself over and over again was not so much fun. I was going to wear a white shirt. I am so glad that I didn’t. Most of the food places did not make items that were easy to eat. I should say easy to eat while holding a wine glass and a bag. They needed to channel top chef and the amuse bouche challenges. Where all you have is one bite to get all the flavors in. Although, I think the sitting areas would make this easier and people wouldn’t look as stupid wearing wine glasses around their necks.
Overall, I loved this and will come back next year with more people. I also would recommend this to my friends as a great Valentines Day present. There is nothing like being at Target Field on a sunny day drinking and eating. It was a beautiful setting for an event like this. Until then I can fill my free wine glass with my favorite wines from this year.