Let’s Catch Up: A Few Foodie Stories I’ve Written on the RedCurrent Blog

close sun

Hi everyone!

I know that I’ve been a bit horrible at keeping my blog up, BUT I do have a few updates coming in the next couple weeks so stay tuned!

Here’s the deal. I haven’t been writing as much as I would like to because I’ve been focusing on my position at a large nonprofit in the Twin Cities (LOVING IT). Oh, and I’ve been blogging for an awesome Minneapolis-based startup, RedCurrent.

RedCurrent has two sides: an events app (yes for your phone) and a blog, which is where I write. I adore writing for this blog, primarily because I have the opportunity to meet insanely talented folks that I wouldn’t otherwise have the chance to talk with. What makes blogging for them a little sweeter is that I’ve recently been interviewing a few members of the Twin Cities food and beverage culture. You can check out my stories through the links below.

Sovereign Estates Winery Delivers Explosion of Award Winning Wine at Elegant Social Hot Spot

Fork in the Road Food Truck Dishes Hot Homemade Favorites with a Side of Conversation

Dogwood Coffee Company Brews New Java Trend for MSP Coffee Drinkers

Enjoy!

Millner Heritage Winery

Milliner Heritage Winery wine bottles

A little background

Located just seven miles south of Kimball, Minn., you’ll find Millner Heritage Winery, which specializes in the production of Austrian-Hungarian style wines.  Their website offers a fascinating review of their family history and how they got their foot into the wine making business.

Better yet, follow them on their Facebook page for real-time updates about their winery and seasonal specials.

My Thoughts

Not too long ago, I had the pleasure of coming to Millner Heritage Winery as part of the bachelorette festivities for one of my close girlfriends.

I was surprised to find such a large winery tucked away in the rolling hills of farmlands just 7 miles outside of Kimball. I grew up around this area (okay, maybe an hour north of this area) and I’m delighted at anything that allows me to boast about my small corner of the world.

So when the bridal party made it’s way out to Millner Heritage Winery, the anticipation of learning more about this place just about killed me and it did not disappoint.

The winery itself is a site to behold when you’re driving down its narrow gravel road through rows and rows of budding groves of grape vines to the main building.

Our visit began with a detailed tour of their family vineyard/winery, which consisted of an informative, tractor-drawn trolly ride through the vineyard rows. On this tour, the owner Jon described in detail the process of growing a vineyard and described the grape varieties grown on their land.

To tour the winery and learn about wine-making, you’ll have to sign up for a separate tour, but it’s worth it. To date, this was the most in-depth winery tour that I’ve had the pleasure of participating in. Our tour group was walked through every step in the wine-making process from harvest to bottle. If you’re considering taking this tour, make sure you bring a jacket. It got quite cold in there.

Millner Heritage Winery owner,Don, demonstrates wine making process
Millner Heritage Winery owner demonstrates how the grape skins are separated from the rest of the fruit.

Our tour ended with a sampling of 14 of their 16 wines. On this day, they didn’t have their Nordsuss or Gemutlichkeit wines available for sampling. If sipping 14 wines in one sitting seems like a little much, they offer a variety of sampling levels at various prices. Since many of our party were not from the area, we took the opportunity to sample all of the wines produced at Millner Heritage Winery.

I would recommend getting a cheese plate to go with the samplings to enhance the flavors of their wines.

Millner Heritage Winery wine bottles
Beginning our wine sampling at Millner Heritage Winery

I SO appreciated that visitors are given a wine list that details what grapes each wine contains, what barrel they were stored in, how the wine was produced, and what flavors you’re likely to experience when tasting.

It became apparent quickly that anyone could find a wine that they enjoyed here. Out of the 14 that we sampled, I easily could have brought eight of these home with me (and if I had the funds to do so I would have!). What kept me from enjoying a few of their wines was the notes of apricot in the wine. I’ve never been a fan of apricot, but the other women on our tour adored those wines (apricot lovers rejoice!).

In the end, I went home with two wines: the Rona and Mullner Nice.

*Descriptions below are from their wine list.

Rona (red wine): This is a poetic term for the Great Hungarian Plain in eastern Hungary where Jon’s wife Annamaria grew up. This wine is moderately tart, thus it is often nice to pair this wine with food that is seasoned a little heavier or a bit spicy.

Mullner Nice (white wine): Made from pressing frozen Frontenac Gris grapes to concentrate the sugar, acid and flavor compounds, roughly about 40% concentrating the juice. The resulting wine has a tremendous amount of flavor (they’re not kidding on that point) and sweetness.

Cheers!

Enjoying our wine tasting at Millner Heritage Winery

Weekend Treat: Good Coffee and the News

Latte Art in coffee at Rustica BakeryTo me, there is nothing better than weekend mornings. Why, you may ask? Let me tell you.

I’ve always been a morning person. Ever since I was small, while the rest of the world was too preoccupied with catching up on their sleep, I was eager to start my day. Besides, that’s when the best cartoons were on. When I was older and participated in high school sports or theater productions, our practices would always take place in the mornings. Moving into college, my habit of rising early persuaded me to sign up for 7:30 a.m. classes.

Waking up before everyone else allowed me to bask in the quiet and actually get some “me time”. What do I like to do when it’s quiet before the night owls decide to start their day? Have a well-brewed cup of coffee and read the news; and, one of my favorite places to do that is Rustica Bakery in St. Louis Park.

My husband and I have been going to Rustica for quite a while since we moved to the cities close to three years ago. We keep coming back because of their dedication to making artisan breads and pastries the old fashioned way: with hard work and good ingredients. Most importantly, I come back because of their amazing coffee, which is sourced Dogwood Coffee Company and brewed to perfection. You really can’t get a bad cup here. This morning, I had a vanilla latte (above) and my husband had a coconut chocolate tart (below).

Coconut Chocolate Tart from Rustica Bakery

I like Rustica because it’s a meeting place for everyone. On a typical Saturday morning, you can find anyone from students doing homework to families enjoying breakfast together and everything in between. Tony and I go for the quiet before things get too busy, grab a copy of The New York Times or StarTribune, and settle in to catch up on the news while sipping on my favorite brew. After this, nothing could have ruined my day.

If you’d like to read about more of my favorite spots to sip on quality coffee, you can read my other posts on Bull Run Coffee Bar and Dogwood Coffee. Also, consider going on a caffeine crawl. This event typically happens in June so stay tuned!

wine bottles lined up

Why Wine Lovers Should Visit Stillwater, Minn.

wine bottles in Stillwater, MNSo I’m a little ashamed to admit this, but I just had my first visit to Stillwater, Minn. It’s surprising, considering I’ve grown up in Minnesota and I like to explore. I didn’t really know what to expect from this sizeable town, better known as the “Birthplace of Minnesota.” What I found, is that it’s a foodie/wine lover’s paradise!

My husband and I stumbled across our first gem when taking a self-guided, historic walking tour of Stillwater. We couldn’t help but notice a miniature castle carved from the limestone bluffs. Housed within this castle is Luna Rossa Wine Shop.

Luna Rossa Wine Shop in Stillwater, MNUpon opening the door, we were immediately welcomed in and asked if we wanted to participate in a wine tasting. Of course we said, “yes!”

Tony and I have been to our fair share of wine tastings. They’re a great way to sample many varieties of wine that you normally wouldn’t try. It’s wonderful to discover what you truly enjoy so you can avoid wasting  your money on something that doesn’t delight your palette. Tony and I agreed that the woman at Luna Rossa Wine Shop not only selected a stellar set of wines to sample, but also provided an incredibly educational experience for the participants. When presenting each wine, she detailed it’s creation from where it was grown, the variety of grapes, the process it undertook, how it should properly be served, and what pair each wine with.

When the sampling concluded, we were able to walk around their cave-like shop and look for the wines we sampled.

Head down the main drag and you’ll get to Northern Vineyards Winery, which is a cooperative between vineyards across Minnesota and Wisconsin. It is also one of the oldest wineries in Minnesota and one of the first wine cooperatives in the United States.

Northern Vineyards Winery wine glassesThe staff was incredibly knowledgeable about all of their 30 varieties of wine and they were always willing to tell us more about their co op, the types of grapes they use (varieties that can withstand the cold), and what foods would make excellent pairings for their wine. So why should you stop here? If the fact that this is a grassroots co op hasn’t piqued your interest, then maybe appeal of sampling ten wines at once will change your mind. Yes, Northern Vineyards Winery offers the largest sampling that I’ve ever been to. They guarantee that visitors have the opportunity to sample a wide range of wines to truly discover their personal favorites. At $5 a sampling, this is the best deal you’ll get in town.

Here’s a rough picture of our sampling menu. As you can see, we sipped everything from white and sweet to spicy and red. This is a MUST  when you’re visiting Stillwater, MN.

FYI: My favorite was the Yellow Moccasin.

Northern Vineyards Winery Wine Menu in Stillwater, MN

Here’s another piece of advice, when in Stillwater, make a point to stop at Domacin Wine Bar. This little wine bar was actually featured in Travel+Leisure Magazine as one of “America’s 25 Best Wine Bars”. If that doesn’t excite your tastebuds, I don’t know what will. Unfortunately, we were visiting when it was closed so we didn’t get to go, but you better believe we’ll be taking another trip to Stillwater ASAP!

The Caffeine Crawl 2014

bull run coffee co.

A Little Background

After a stellar debut last summer, the caffeine crawl returned to Minneapolis/St. Paul to appease the taste buds of our city’s coffee addicts. Thanks to the beverage enthusiasts of The LAB, participants enjoyed a fantastic cup of coffee, quality tea and one of my personal favorites from last year’s crawl, Gray Duck Chai.

In addition, crawlers had the opportunity to learn more about the quality, technique, and roasting process of the products.  At each stop in the crawl, there was a brief presentation and a selection of free drinks available to attendees only.

Crawl 2014 Participants: Angry Catfish Bicycle + Coffee Bar, Bull Run CoffeeDogwood Coffee, Gray Duck Chai, Groundswell, J&S Bean Factory, Peace Coffee, Rustica Bakery and TeaSource.

(The hyperlinks for Bull Run and Dogwood direct you to posts on Minnesota Munch)

Being a woman that likes plenty of options, I definitely appreciated the option to choose your specific Crawl route. There were six different routes accessible by bike, car or bus ride. Luckily, I chose to drive a route because we had a bit of rainy weather that day. Despite the downpours, that didn’t stop biking teams from completing the crawl. You go! Quality coffee is definitely a good motivator.

To follow the Caffeine Crawl as it makes it’s way across the U.S., connect to their social media.

Facebook: Caffeine Crawl
Twitter: @CaffeineCrawl
Instagram: @LAB5702

First Stop :: J&S Bean Factory

I was actually very excited to stop at J&S Bean Factory because this was a repeat from last year. I was excited to see what they Coffee roasting presentationprepared for the crawlers. When we arrived, they gave us a presentation that specifically highlighted their cold press coffee. For
those of you less addicted to coffee than myself, cold press coffee often has double the potency of regular coffee because it needs to diffuse for a longer period of time. What that really means is that you can get double the caffeine high
while drinking less coffee, thus saving money in your wallet for other things, like Rustica’s pastries. (More on that later).

Cold Press Coffee During their presentation, the baristas also passed around coffee beans that had completed different stages in the roasting process. Then they let us sample the cold press coffee made from those beans. It was awesome to be able to sample cold press brewed from beans that completed different states of the roasting process. I now know that I prefer my cold press brewed with medium roasted beans.

Facebook: J&S Bean Factory
Twitter: @jsbeanfactory

Second Stop :: TeaSource

The next stop was TeaSource, another repeat from last year. I want it to be clear, that I chose to go on a crawl that had repeat TeaSourse in St. Paulcoffee shops because 1. I live in Minneapolis and hardly get over to St. Paul, 2. I wanted to see if they were different from last year, and 3. the rest of my crawl was new. I digress.

TeaSource was actually one of my favorite stops on this crawl. Unlike last year, which focused on a variety of tea from black to green, this year’s presentation was all about how to fully experience a good cup of tea. They first introduced a new Japanese green tea call psy midori. The owner of Tea Source had recently visited a 140 year old family-owned farm in Japan and decided to start selling their tea here in Minnesota. Steeped to perfection, this tea was clean and crisp.

Tea Brewing ProcessThe bulk of their presentation surrounded their Shou Puer tea, which is what they recommend for those willing to replace their morning coffee. A unique characteristic of this tea is that it can be brewed with any amount at any temperature you please. Surprisingly, all temperatures yielded a stellar cup of tea. When sampling the tea, it is important that you smell the tea, slurp it and let the tea settle on your pallet to get a true tasting. They recommend drinking slowly because the taste will change depending on how hot or cold it is.

 

Facebook: TeaSource
Twitter: @TeaSource

Third Stop :: Angry Catfish Bicycle + Coffee Shop

Angry Catfish Cofee and Bicycle BarI was quite excited to check out Angry Catfish + Bicycle Shop. I hadn’t heard of this place, probably because I need to visit St. Paul more often.

Anyways, in addition to having a casual and hip atmosphere, they gave an awesome presentation demonstrating the proper ways to brew coffee using a French press and a Intelligentsia Coffeesyphon. It was so inciteful to actually taste the difference between the two brewing processes. I was already familiar with velvety taste of French press coffee, but the clean taste of the syphon was…well…surprisingly refreshing.  The process of syphoning looked a little demanding, definitely something you’ll have to practice, but if you want a great cup of coffee, it’s worth the effort. For me? I’ll stick with the seasoned baristas for my coffee.

Facebook: AngryCatfish
Twitter: @angrycatfish

Fourth Stop :: Bull Run Coffee Bar

Bull Run Coffee Bar Cold PressLet me digress, I LOVE Bull Run Coffee Bar. Time after time, their coffee tastes like magic served up caffeinated. The baristas really know how to make excellent coffee from a regular black cup to their specialty drinks. My recommendation is to get over there and order up a “Boone’s Beard.”

Last year, I wasn’t able to make it to their presentation so I was determined to see what they were up to this time around. In keeping with the summer theme of the crawl, they gave a presentation that highlighted their cold press coffee and how to brew your own at home. They were even nice enough to give us a cold press recipe to take home. See, I love this place!

On a side note, I thought the packaging of their cold press was creative. You can buy a pack of four in these glass bottles. Time to stock up.

Facebook: Bull Run Coffee Bar
Twitter: @bullrunbar

Fifth Stop :: Rustica Bakery

Coffee filtering processAnother sweet spot of mine is Rustica Bakery. I stumbled across this place when I first moved to Minneapolis and have continued to visit for a freshly baked pastry. They make all of their baked-goods the same morning they sell it so you know you’re getting something fresh. In fact, they emphasize the quality of the ingredients they use in all of their products. One day, I decided to branch out and buy a loaf of their bread instead of a chocolate croissant. I should have known the bread would be ridiculously delicious as well. Told you I had a thing for their baked goods.

For the crawl, they chose to show Dogwood Coffee’s brewing process. I was able to try Dogwood coffee at their roasting facility last year and, I have to say, Rustica did a fine job of brewing their coffee. The barista was knowledgeable about the filtering process. Here’s a tip, if the coffee grounds don’t all make it to the bottom of the filter, you definitely need to work on your technique. #protip Yes, I did just add a hashtag into my post. I love Twitter. Deal with it.

From their coffee to their breads, Rustica has made it on my list of favorite cafes in the Twin Cities.

Facebook: Rustica Bakery

Last Stop :: Peace Coffee (Wonderland Park)

Peace Coffee tastingI was incredibly thankful that this was our last stop on the Caffeine Crawl. Let it be known, I was not getting bored on the crawl. I probably could have gone to a few more coffee houses, but what made Wonderland Park special was their take on coffee.

Our presentation didn’t focus on black coffee like the rest of the stops (minus TeaSource). Instead, Wonderland Park baristas brewed up a few drinks containing espresso, but with ingredients that would surprise you.

The first drink was espresso with blueberries. Odd combination, right? Wrong! It was actually pretty refreshing for a summer-time drink. The espresso paired wonderfully with this fruit. The last creation we sampled as a delightful blend of espresso, sweetened condensed milk and…wait for it…avocado! That last one through me for a loop too, but it was fantastic! The avocado added a smooth texture to the drink and made it seem like a treat. This is a must stop cafe for summer-inspired beverages.

Facebook: Peace Coffee
Twitter: @Peace_Coffee

 

Mozza Mia

Mozza Mia in Edina Minnesota

A little background

Mozza Mia is a spacious, lively Italian restaurant located in Edina’s trendy downtown.  What makes Mozza Mia unique is their devotion to fresh ingredients, which starts with their house mozzarella.  They prepare a few varieties every morning out of whole milk curds. When completely finished, the mozzarella does not need additives, other than a little olive oil, to bring out its full flavor.  When we went, they had just started making their own pastas also.

It makes sense that Mozza Mia is smartly designed and has a menu that suites a wide range of tastes.  It’s owned by the same family that runs Chino Latino, a highly successful restaurant in Uptown.  My buddies and I have went to Chino a number of times so we were excited to stop in to this Italian treat.

Social Media
Twitter: Click here!
Facebook: Click here!

 My thoughts

Italian Caprese Salad from Mozza Mia in Edina, Minnesota

Since Mozza Mia makes their own mozzarella, we had to order up their Mozzarella Caprese with vine-ripened tomatoes, basil and a drizzle of olive oil.  Like I mentioned before, the mozzarella doesn’t need much to have a great taste.  Everything was fresh and made for a great starter before our entree arrived.  What did we think of the mozzarella?  It was fantastic!  It was smooth and easily could have worked on any dish that could use a pop of cheese.

Italian Fig and prosciutto pizza from Mozza Mia in Edina, Minnesota

Now, Mozza Mia has a great selection of pasta dishes,  but I really wanted to try one of their creative pizzas.  I’ve listened to a few of my coworkers rave about them so, naturally, I had to see what all the hype was about.  I was in an adventurous mood so I went with the Fig and Prosciutto pizza upon our waitress’s recommendation.  I absolutely loved it!  In addition to the sweet flavor of the figs and the saltiness of the prosciutto, this pizza came with caramelized onions smothered in gorgonzola cheese.  I was love at first bite and there was no way this pizza survived on my plate for long.  What was I to do?  Let it go cold?  For this magical pizza that was not an option.  I will highly and emphatically suggest ordering this at your entree.

Overall, two thumbs way, way up for t Mozza Mia.  The owners have done it again and created an Italian restaurant that I will certainly return to.

For a full view of their menus, check out the link below:
Lunch & Drinks
Dinner & Drinks
Happy Hour
Desserts

Honeymooning in Ireland!!!!

After six years of dating and a year of wedding planning, Tony and I said “I Do” this past August. (Have you noticed I started saying “husband”?  We both cannot believe that it’s been almost two months since we “tied the knot” and we know things can only get better…says the woman who’s in the “honeymoon” phase of married life.

Speaking of honeymoons, Tony and I are getting pretty excited to go on ours…FINALLY!!!  We decided to go to Ireland, a long awaited trip for both of us.  We leave this Friday and we’ve begun counting the hours.  When I get back, I’ll make a special exception to the rules of my blog and write about what delectables we’ll get to nosh on there!  Stay tuned!!!

Also, my apologies for deciding not to post any new content for the next couple weeks.  Seriously though, it’s my honeymoon.  Can you blame me?  :)

Stay Hungry!