Madden’s Food and Wine Weekend Aug. 22-25, 2013

For any foodie within the state of Minnesota, this is the prime event of the summer for you. If you are an enthusiast of good food and even better wine, you’ll not want to miss out on this opportunity. The nation’s best and Minnesota’s best celebrity guest chefs team up with Madden’s chefs for a culinary experience you won’t soon forget. Because Madden’s did such a great job providing an online schedule, I won’t spend time reiterating what they’ve already composed. What I will say is that this looks like one fantastic weekend for anyone looking to have top class food and participate in a wide variety of culinary activities.

Guest vintners offer tastings and the appropriate wines for each event. Guests will have the chance to personally interact with renowned chefs through a number of activities, demonstrations and educational sessions.

All I can say is, come hungry and be ready to have an outstanding weekend filled with culinary delights.

Information on tickets and packages can be found on their website here.

Call 218.829.2811 to make a reservation.

A little background

Madden’s on Gull Lake, self-described as Minnesota’s Classic Resort, is located on Gull Lake near Brainerd, MN. Brainerd is located in Crow Wing County, about 2 hours North of Minneapolis and is a hot vacation spot for many Minnesotans. You’ll have to travel a little farther north to reach Gull Lake, but don’t worry, the drive isn’t far. Madden’s offers a variety of serves and entertainment for family vacations, weddings, business events, or anyone looking for fun recreational activities.

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Madden’s Benefit Dinner for Kids Against Hunger- August 23, 2013

A little background

Madden’s on Gull Lake, self-described as Minnesota’s Classic Resort, is located on Gull Lake (the name says it all) near Brainerd, MN. For those of you who don’t know where Brainerd is, I’ll help you out. Brainerd is located in Crow Wing County, about 2 hours North of Minneapolis and is a hot vacation spot for many Minnesotans. You’ll have to travel a little farther north to reach Gull Lake, but don’t worry, the drive isn’t far. Madden’s offers a variety of serves and entertainment for family vacations, weddings, business events, or anyone looking for fun recreational activities.

Confused as to why I would write about a resort on a food blog? Let me clear things up. Madden’s is sponsoring two events this summer that would invigorate the minds and taste buds of any foodie within the state! Let’s start with Madden’s Benefit Dinner.

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Madden’s Benefit Dinner for Kids Against Hunger :: August 23, 2013

Madden’s Benefit Dinner for Kids Against Hunger is planned in conjunction with Madden’s Food and Wine Tasting Weekend. The Benefit Dinner is the highlight of Friday night. Madden’s teamed up with celebrity chefs to provide attendees with a 7-course dinner complete with wine pairings. Who wouldn’t want to attend this?

I also want to say “hat’s off” to Madden’s! Proceeds of the night will be donated to Kids Against Hunger in the Brainerd Lakes Area. What better way to raise awareness and contribute to this cause than host a 7-course dinner?

The Details:
$375 per couple*, when reserved by Aug. 14

Starts at 6:00 pm

Tickets are very limited.

Call 800.642.5363 to reserve.

Ticket Information Link
http://www.maddens.com/packages-for-food-and-wine-experience.html

Gray Duck Chai Available for Individual Purchase!!!

Gray Duck Chai in Minneapolis
Gray Duck Chai

The locally brewed chai that used to only be available for coffee shops can now be brought home.  Both of Gray Duck Chai’s blends, 9 Spice and Burnt Sugar-Ginger, have been available for the past year to coffee shops exclusively, using a returnable growler system. Beginning July 1st both are now being sold in 32 ounce glass bottles as well.

Gray Duck has had a very welcoming reception into the Twin Cities Coffee shop community.  It turns out there are a lot of people who had been waiting for a more authentic, locally brewed chai to become available, something of the same quality as the coffee that is being roasted with such care.  Now, Gray Duck is served in 20 different shops around the Twin Cities including Dogwood Coffee, Victory 44, and Quixotic.  Even a few top cocktail spots like Café Maude Loring Park and Meritage Brasserie are creating some spicy libations with Gray Duck this summer.

After being encouraged to go retail from their coffee shop following, and many of the supporters of their successful Kickstarter Campaign they are so excited about this next  step.  The new retail bottles are now available at many of the same coffee shops as well.  In addition they can be found at Linden Hills Coop, North Loop Wine and Spirits, Oxendales Market, and Salty Tart Bakery; also coming soon to Kowalski’s on Grand Avenue and Hennepin.

Gray Duck Chai is a brewed by hand in St.Paul by its owners, Katey Niebur and Jon Alden.   Using traditional methods, 100% organic spices are milled by hand the day of brewing and steeped with fresh ginger and fair trade Assam tea from the region where chai originates in India.

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I had the wonderful opportunity to sample their Chai at the Caffeine Crawl that took place the past June. Members of their team were at Dogwood Coffee giving a presentation on the importance of good ingredients and providing information on authentic chai with strong notes of pepper and ginger. I have to say, I absolutely love their blends. They really hit the nail on the head. Their chai is perfectly spiced and can be served hot or cold. Now that you can purchase your own, I urge, go out and get it!

If you haven’t already, check out their Facebook and Twitter profiles for news on updates, events, and more information on their chai.

Marla’s Caribbean Cuisine

marlas

A little background

Marla’s Caribbean Cuisine used to be the former Jamaica Jamaica restaurant until owners Marla and her husband Ian bought it out and renamed it Marla’s Caribbean Cuisine. After taking care of others as a nurse for 18 years, she is now working in her restaurant full time. According to her website, Marla has “reached Nirvana.” For their customers craving Creole, Indian, and Latin flavors, Nirvana can be found here. Both she and her husband have roots from Trinidad and Tobago, which means more authentic entrees for us Northerners!

It’s no surprise that Marla and Ian’s delightfully spiced entrees have gained solid recognition among the foodie culture in Minneapolis. This became especially apparent when Marla’s was featured on the Food Network’s “Diners, Drive-ins and Dives” with Guy Fieri. Check out the video below.

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 My thoughts

Let me just take a moment to highlight their decorations. The walls of Marla’s are plastered with fun posters with a distinctly reggae flare. This makes perfect sense given that this is supposed to be a Caribbean inspired restaurant. Can you spot Guy Fieri? My fiance and I had a blast looking around at all the posters and decorations.

inside 2

inside 1

Okay, to kick things off we had to get an order of fried plantains.  For those of you who haven’t had these babies before, please, order them the next chance you get!  If you’d rather stay in, these are extremely easy to make as well.  All you have to do is go to the grocery store and buy plantains. Then you need to heat oil in  a pan until it’s good and hot. Now, you can choose to slice the plantains and fry them or you can fry them whole if they are smaller. Either way, just stick them into the pan of hot oil and wait until they are brown on the outside and even have a slight crisp. You can eat them with either sea salt or a little bit of sugar and cinnamon.

Long story short, we order these every time … seriously, every time. Just get them.

edited plantains

One of the best features of Marlas is that you know are getting a fresh, home cooked meal. Literally, they make everything to order and not a minute before. It’s like going home and having mom and dad cook you amazing Caribbean food! For my main meal of the night, I went with Channa and Potato Roti, which was featured on the Food Network.  What you get is a whole lot of chick peas, golf ball-sized potatoes and onions all seasoned with curry. Served is a soft, flakey and warm roti. I highly recommend this one, but be sure you read their menu for their spicy levels. Medium is very hot and Indian hot is just ridiculous for someone not used to it!

edited chick peas

edited bread

Tony went with the Caribbean jerk. When we were here a couple months ago, a friend of our ordered this and Tony was determined to order it the next time we went. He got his wish and was definitely pleased. I can see why. The slight char on the chicken really gives it a smokey flavor that is only enhanced by the spices the meat absorbs while cooking with the peppers and onions. The jerk is served with white rice. Beware, this dish is HOT!

caribbean jerk

Thank you Food Network for finding this place. Tony and I continuously enjoy coming to Marla’s Caribbean Cafe to spice up our dinners in the week. You can always expect a great, friendly staff and food that is both filling and unique. Two things are certain, we’re positive that we are going back soon and we’ll be starting our meal with an order of plantains. We hope you enjoy Marla’s as much as we did!

For a full view of their menu, check out the link below:
online menu

Yum! (More Updates)

… Yum! Cafe and Bakery Continued:

At this point, I hope someone has caught on to the fact that I post a lot about breakfast foods.  There is a good reason behind this habit of mine.  I, simply, adore breakfast!  Hands down, it is by far my most favorite meal of the day.  Not only do I need to have breakfast to get through the day, but many of my favorite foods are served: coffee, eggs, french toast, eggs benedict, specialty pancakes, muffins.  The list could go on and on.  I hope it would come as no surprise that my updates from Yum! Cafe and Bakery heavily focus on their breakfast menu.  Sadly, they don’t have this menu posted online to look at so you’ll have to make due with my experiences.

I had a day off of work so I decided to head over to Yum! to grab a good breakfast and catch up on the news from the StarTribune, the largest newspaper in Minnesota.  I went with the Spinach scrambled eggs because, 1. I love the taste of spinach and the amount of iron it contains and 2. I wanted something cheesy, and 3. it came with breakfast potatoes!  This one was a winner!  I would highly recommend this one for anyone in need of a filling and hearty breakfast.  P.S. their breakfast potatoes are amazing.  They are always soft, well seasoned, and never greasy.

Scrambled eggs with spinach, diced ham, cheese and topped with bean sprouts.
Scrambled eggs with spinach, diced ham, cheese and topped with bean sprouts. Served with breakfast potatoes and a side of toast.

I love when my friends come to town and spend the night (Garrett, I’m talking about you) because we always end up stopping at Yum! for brunch.  On our last excursion of Yum!, we decided that life’s too short to wait for dessert (What movie? Scroll to the bottom to find out!) so we had it first before our breakfast came.  For me, one of the necessities of summer is having a slice of key lime pie.  I don’t know what it is, but the flavor always reminds me of summertime; thus, I can’t properly say “it’s summer” without a bite out of this pie.  Yum! did not disappoint.  Just look at the heaping topping!  Complete with a graham cracker crust and a lime filling that was silky smooth, it’s safe to say that this did not last long between the two of us.  I’d like to meet someone who didn’t like this pie.

Key lime pie
Yum!’s delightful key lime pie for two.

During that same visit, I went with the Southwestern eggs scrambled as seen below.  Overall, I thought it was okay.  To be honest, I wasn’t the biggest fan of having the tortilla chips mixed in with my eggs.  Since my buddies and I were having casual drinks last night and munching on tortilla chips, I didn’t really want more of them in my breakfast.  In reality, the chips didn’t hurt the flavor of the meal, but the texture was off in my opinion.  This morning, I most enjoyed the potatoes.  Hats off to the cooks because their breakfast potatoes are always cooked perfectly and complete my breakfast cravings.  These potatoes were cooked up with peppers and onions.  Of course I love them because the peppers added a little “kick” to the overall flavor.

southwest, eggs, tortillas, breakfast, minneapolis minnesota
Yum!’s Southwest scramble is tossed with tortilla chips, onions, and topped with fresh salsa. Served with breakfast potatoes and a side of toast.

Remember my reference to eating dessert first?  The reference was from the movie “Remember Me“, starring Robert Pattinson and Emilie de Ravin.  Kudos for any of you movie buffs who got that right!  If you enjoyed this post and would like to read about my other visits to Yum!, check out my last blog post here.

Namaste Cafe – Uptown

A little background

I’m excited to post about this one not only because I’ve been dying to go here for the longest time, but also because they have spectacular Indian and Nepalese food.  Namaste Cafe is housed in a cute, three-story yellow house with red trim and plenty of outdoor seating (for the win!). In the summer, folks living around Uptown/Lowry Hill area take advantage of their outdoor seating whenever the weather decides to cooperate.

Namaste Café is a values-oriented restaurant and operates on the strength of its commitment to
a) Sustainable practices
b) Superior quality foods at moderate prices
c) Supporting local arts and artists
d) Creating innovative food and beverage options
e) Warm, hospitable, enjoyable atmosphere conducive to positive social interaction
f) Bringing a flavor of the world to your doorsteps

(yes, I did take this directly from their website, but I thought it was written perfectly and why mess with something that’s well written?)

What a great place to go to catch up with old friends, enjoy a nice meal, or, simply, to hang out and see some local art once a month.

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 My thoughts

My fiance and I went with our friend Brian one night after work. All three of us like trying new and diverse foods. We had to pay Namaste Cafe a visit. Of course, we had to sit outside. We’ve finally had good weather with no rain so we had to take advantage of it. Their outside patio is surrounded with diverse plant life, colorful lawn chairs, and, at night, stings of twinkle lights. (Perfect for a date night!) Take note, they do offer a date night special. Every Tuesday night after 6 p.m., you and your date can enjoy two entrees, a bottle of house wine, and dessert for $35.

The below picture was my dish of the night. I went with the Eggplant with Garlic and Scallions. This consisted of, well, eggplant of course! The chefs at Namaste Cafe saute cubes of eggplant in oil with soy sauce and mixed with garlic. Also mixed into this dish are tomatoes, scallions, and a generous serving of rice on the side. In addition to my entree, I had to order some warm, fluffy Indian-style bread to go with it. P.S. If you’ve never had naan or Indian bread, you are seriously missing out. Below, I chose the Roti, which is a filling bread cooked without oil. They serve it warm so it wraps perfectly around the rice and entree. You can also see that I had the house chai, iced.

Eggplant with Garlic and Scallions Small cubes of eggplant sautéed in oil with soy sauce and mixed with  garlic, tomatoes and scallions.
Eggplant with Garlic and Scallions: Small cubes of eggplant sautéed in oil with soy sauce and mixed with
garlic, tomatoes and scallions.

My fiance went with the Hot and Tangy Lamb with Potatoes, which included curry-spiced lamb, potatoes, green chillies, onions, garlic, cardamom, black pepper, cinnamon, and malt vinegar. I honestly liked this entree a lot better than my own. It worked much better with the garlic roti. Can you tell that we really wanted the flavor of garlic that night? I loved the seasoning of the lamb. It was well cooked so much that it was just “melt in your mouth” good. This was also served with rice.

 

Hot and Tangy Lamb with Potatoes: spicy curry of lamb and potatoes cooked with green chilies, onions,  garlic, cloves, cardamom, black pepper, cinnamon and  malt vinegar.
Hot and Tangy Lamb with Potatoes: spicy curry of lamb and potatoes cooked with green chilies, onions,
garlic, cloves, cardamom, black pepper, cinnamon and
malt vinegar.

Our friend went with the Namaste Special Curry. This is Namaste Cafe’s own specialty with ingredient typical to those found in Nepalese cooking. This one was also one of my favorites from Namaste Cafe. There’s just something about the curries there that really make the meal! Again, this dish was served with basmati rice.

Namaste Special Curry: A smooth and flavorful curry prepared with onions, tomatoes,  paprika and scallions. Chicken added.
Namaste Special Curry: A smooth and flavorful curry prepared with onions, tomatoes,
paprika and scallions. Chicken added.

 

Overall, if you are looking for a unique experience with “out-of-this-world” food and are not afraid to try Indian/Nepalese, I highly recommend dropping in. The service at Namaste cafe is extremely friendly and very knowledgeable about their entrees and what goes well with what. Come for date night! It’s sure to be a good time. I’ll see you there!

For a full view of their menu, check out the link below:
Dinner Menu
Lunch Menu
Happy Hour
Date Night
1/2 Price Bottle of Wine
Wine and Beer

Roat Osha – Uptown

A little background

Roat Osha is a casual, yet dramatic Thai restaurant located in Uptown.  By combining authentic Thai culinary techniques with an American flare, visitors will have a dining experience that will delight the taste buds.

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 My thoughts

I don’t know if I’ve ever digressed on Minnesota Munch about how much my fiance and I enjoy Thai food.  You know how Mac and Cheese, lasagna or a hamburger are usually the top foods that come to mind when “comfort food” is mentioned?  Yeah, my fiance and I think a little differently.  If we are having a bad day or, when in the depth of winter, we just need something to soothe our psyches, we instantly search out Thai food.  The spicy, hot chilies, peanut sauces, and garlic just hit the spot! If it’s not Thai food, we’re looking for Indian. Good thing we have access to many decent Thai and Indian places within the Twin Cities Metro!

To those who haven’t been to Roat Osha, you should really check this place out.  Not only is the food amazing, but they have a fun and trendy atmosphere with touches of traditional Thai/Southeast Asian artwork. We just couldn’t stop staring at the models of Thai ships or elephants. The intricate craftwork was simply eye catching.  Here’s another reason to love this place; they have a bar area if you aren’t feeling dinner and an outdoor patio for the warm summer months. I don’t know about you, but any place with a patio is okay in my books.

We decided to check this place out for our anniversary (when he officially asked me out, that is). On special occasions like this, we tend to order appetizers, entrees, drinks and desserts.  I like special occasions very much. 😉

We started with the Appetizer Platter. This includes three Chicken Satays, four cream cheese wontons, and three spring rolls. The chicken satays were marinated with Thai spices and grilled; and, they were served with a homemade peanut curry sauce and a sweet cucumber sauce. Literally, these are great for any guy who wants his meat. Plus, the peanut sauce was AMAZING with the chicken. I would actually order just an appetizer of these. The cream cheese wontons were like any other wonton: deep fried and filled with warm, delicious cream cheese. Lastly, the spring rolls consisted of ground pork, glass noodles, and vegetables. Since my fiance really enjoys his meat, I didn’t order the vegetarian kind this time. These were still a great app. and went well with the three sauces on the tray. The last sauce you see in the picture (the red one) was a basic sweet and sour.

Appetizer Platter: Chicken Satays, Cream Cheese Wontons, & egg rolls
Appetizer Platter: Chicken Satays, Cream Cheese Wontons, & egg rolls

He decided to get the Massamun Curry, mainly because he was craving a curry-based dish with chicken. According to the Roat Osha menu, this is a dish from southern Thailand. When you order the curries here, you can choose between a vegetarian option, which would include cauliflower, carrots, broccoli, onions, and mushrooms; or you can choose from a meat option, which includes chicken, pork, tofu, mock duck, beef, shrimp or squid, scallops, and a seafood combo.  Talk about giving you options.

Massamun Curry: Red Curry, peanuts, potatoes, onions, and Chicken added
Massamun Curry: Red Curry, peanuts, potatoes, onions, and chicken added

Feeling adventurous, I went with the Mee Kah Teeh. The base of this dish is rice noodles with red curry. The vegetables are all added later to preference.  At Roat Osha, they use red curry sautéed with rice noodles, egg, peanuts, garlic, and bean sauce. This Tum Rup Thai original is served with bean sprouts, fried chilies, scallions, cilantro and lime. Honestly, I thought this was perfect. It had a good amount of heat and a punch of flavor. Also, my serving contained a delightful balance of noodle to veggie ratio. Just look at this picture and tell me you don’t want to have a taste.

Mee Kah Teeh:  red curry sautéed with rice noodles, egg, peanuts, garlic, and bean sauce. Served with bean sprouts, fried chilies, scallions, cilantro and lime.
Mee Kah Teeh: red curry sautéed with rice noodles, egg, peanuts, garlic, and bean sauce. Served with bean sprouts, fried chilies, scallions, cilantro and lime.

At this point in our night, we were so full that we had to refuse dessert. Sad, I know, but filling up on the entrees, appetizers, and drinks were well worth it. Speaking of drinks, I forgot to mention what we ordered. I’ve listed them below. I’d definitely recommend the One Night in Bangkok. This was very refreshing and went well with the apps we ordered.

One Night in Bangkok: A cosmopolitan is made with UV Citruv, Triple Sec, cranberry juice and Rose’s lime juice, garnished with a lemon twist.

Bangkok Sunrise: This lemon drop martini is served in a sugar-rimmed glass, with UV Citruv, orange juice, sour, and a drop of grenadine, garnished with a lemon wedge.

Roat Osha is definitely the place to go for some amazing Thai food in Minneapolis. If you’re in the mood to try something new, you will not be disappointed.

For a full view of their menu, check out the link below:
Dinner Menu
Happy Hour Menu
Wine Menu
Specialty Drinks
Beer Menu