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!

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!

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

 

McCormick’s Pub

A little background

Known as a place to have great food and great times, McCormick’s Pub in Wayzata, MN is a local favorite for a casual spot to meet.  McCormick’s is known for their burgers.  In 2013, their grass-fed burger, served with short ribs, made stole the third spot on the Twin Cities Burger Tour.  Too bad I didn’t know about this before my husband and I made an impromptu stop for a bite and a pint.

Social Media
Facebook: Click here!

 My thoughts

Let me tell you, I enjoyed the laid back atmosphere of McCormick’s Pub.  When we arrived after work, the place was busy, but the friendly staff was able to grab us a table for two.  Thanks!  If you haven’t checked this place out, you should just to look at the decor.  Their walls are adorned with everything Irish and it will definitely keep your eyes busy while you wait for your order.

Since I had no idea they had one of the best burgers in town, you might be wondering what I decided to go with for this visit.  Here’s what I got.

McCormick's Lobster Roll in Wayzata, Minnesota

I went with McCormick’s Lobster Roll Sandwich.  Hey, I was in a seafood kind of mood!  I was so excited when the waitress brought it out.  Just look at how awesome this is!  How a dish is presented definitely contributes to to overall experience of a visit.  It helped in this case.  While my meal looked great, I regretfully have to admit that I wasn’t the biggest fan of McCormick’s Lobster Roll.  The biggest turn off was the lobster itself.  I thought it was a little rubbery, which inevitably, required a lot more chewing to get it down.  Additionally, I was expecting a little more out of the bread.  It was a basic bread roll.  No special ingredients, no special baking process.  This is not a bad thing!  Personally, I would have liked to see some special seasonings baked into the bread that would complement the lobster and the dressing in the sandwich.

I will probably pay another visit to McCormick’s Pub.  I do believe that every place has their good and bad days.  Next time, I’m getting the burger.

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

Candyland Chicago Popcorn Mix

Candyland popcorn

A little background

Candyland started in 1932 under the name Flavo Korn on Wabasha St. in downtown St. Paul. In 1938, Arnie Kelsy took over the business. By 1950, he added a more extensive line of candies and renamed the store ”Candyland”.

In 1981, Arnie sold the business to Doug and Brenda Lamb. It was a natural transition for Doug to take over the store, since he had already worked there for many years.

In 1988, Brenda and Doug created the Chicago Mix® blend of popcorns which has become a favorite, not just in the midwest, but throughout the United States.

A lot of time has passed since Candyland started as Flavo Korn, however, the recipes have remained the same. Candyland still believes in excellent customer service and the “mom and pop” atmosphere.

Want to find a Candyland near you?
Check out their website to view locations in St. Paul, Minneapolis, and Stillwater.

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

Chicago mix popcorn

 My thoughts

Thanks to the awesome recommendation by the staff of Candyland, my husband and I, much to our delight, were able to enjoy a gallon tin of their Chicago Mix ®.  I couldn’t help but smile at our good fortune.  My husband and I were getting ready to host a football party, which is pretty close to every weekend, and we were looking for something unexpected to nosh on instead of the standard chips and dipping sauce.  Hello Candyland Chicago Mix ® to the rescue!  The Chicago Mix ® is an even blend of Candyland’s traditional seasoned popcorn mixed with a sweet caramel popcorn and cheesy popcorn. Normally, I wouldn’t have thought of adding a popcorn mix to the game day spread, but after sampling the Chicago Mix ®, how could I not make this a standard for our parties?  Really, it’s that good, just take a look.

chicago mix popcorn; candyland

Now, I’m sure I’m not the only one who can’t stand the fake taste of cheese powder that often covers chips or similar snacks.  Let me assure you, I had no complaints with the cheesy popcorn included in this mix.  I don’t know if what Candyland’s secret is, but I didn’t get the impression that they skimped on the flavor and quality of this popcorn in the slightest.  The whole mix was so good, we became addicted by the first handful.  We later discovered that Candyland makes their popcorn fresh every day in-house, which, I’m sure, added to the punch of flavors we so adored.

Why was this a perfect snack on game day?  For starters, you get a lot of bang for your buck when you purchase one gallon worth of the Chicago Mix ®.  We had a group of six at our place (mostly guys) and everyone was able to have a bowl full.  Like I figured, it was a smash hit and left the chips and salsa high and dry.  Is it ironic that we were munching on the Chicago Mix ® while we were watching the Chicago/Steelers game?

I mentioned that we had a gallon tub of the Chicago Mix ® and one of the first things that crossed my mind was wondering what I was going to do with the tin tub once we were finished with the popcorn.  Having a background in public relations and learning the basics of graphic design, I didn’t want to simply toss the tub out.  So what did we do?  I decided to fill it with ice and shove a couple beer bottles in, that’s what I did!

Candyland Ice bucket with Grain Belt and Summit Beer

Worked like a charm too.  No one had to miss a play or wait for the commercial breaks to get their beer thanks to our new ice bucket.  Thanks Candyland!  As for the beer, we kept things local with Grain Belt and Summit.  This is a blog about all things Minnesota, would you expect anything else?  I didn’t think so.

On top of being a great way to change up your game day snacks, Candyland has a wide variety of designs on their tubs to fit most holidays and occasions.  I’m considering getting a tub around Valentines day.  Yes, it has hearts on the tub; yes, I’m going to chill wine in it.  Probably this wine from Sovereign Estate Winery.  Don’t judge. 🙂

The perfect blend crafted to satisfy both your sweet and salty cravings, Candyland’s Chicago Mix ® is my choice for a game day hit or as a warm wishes during the holidays.

For a full view of their popcorn mixes, check out the link below:
Popcorn Mix

Barbette – Dinner Time

A little background

Barbette is a casual, eclectic French Bistro located on the corner of Lake Street and Irving Ave. S. in Uptown.  The owners of Barbette are a collaborative bunch.  They work with local farmers, organizations supporting local and organic agriculture, local brews and spirits, and other restaurants supporting local foods.  It’s because of these relationships that Barbette is able to provide its guests with an incredibly fresh menu that changes with the seasons.  Chef Sarah Master’s background in French bistro cuisine and skills in “nose-to-tail” concepts with meats and produce contribute to success and outstanding creations of Barbette.

In addition to creating a menu with selections that are out-of-this-world good, Barbette is heavily involved in the arts and culture scene in Uptown.  The inside walls are used to display the work of local artists.  Stop by, take a look, and you won’t be disappointed.  In addition to supporting the arts, Barbette throws a huge bash every year in between Lake Street and Lagoon in Uptown to celebrate Bastille Day.  (Of course a French restaurant should throw a party on this day!)  They invite vendors and pretty decent musicians to come out and join the festivities.

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

 My thoughts

I’ve got to let you know, this wasn’t my first time visiting Barbette.  Since stopping there for lunch, a few months ago, I’ve become a repeat customer and fan of the thriving atmosphere they cultivate in all of their endeavors.  Since my last post on Barbette, I’ve participated in Bastille Day festivities and their course night (more to come on that in a different post).  I’m going to give credit to one of my closest friends, Sarah, for this visit.  She gave Tony and I gift cards to some of our favorite places and Barbette happened to be one of them.  We decided to go for dinner, yes married people still know how to have awesome date nights! Here’s what we got:

shrimp

I went for the Shrimp with Sweet Corn Risotto (sweet corn, peas, pea tendrils, and parmesan crisp).  Tony ordered a full entree of the risotto and, to be honest, that was a smart decision.  The risotto was probably the most delicious dish I’ve had in a very long time.  The risotto was very creamy with a subtle sweetness thanks to the corn and peas.  Both Tony and I couldn’t help gobbling this up in a hurry, concluding that we have to reorder it the next time we are in.  Yes, the risotto is that good.

Now that I’ve gushed about the risotto, I’ll touch on the shrimp.  Yes, the shrimp was fantastic as well.  I actually loved the smokey flavor to complement the sweetness of the risotto.  They came out nice and hot and were easy to take out of their outer shell.  The chefs at Barbette definitely know their stuff!

If you couldn’t tell, I would highly recommend going here and ordering this dish.  Trust me, you won’t go wrong with Barbette’s Shrimp with Sweet Corn Risotto.  Top this off with a glass of wine and you’re all set!

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

Breakfast and Lunch
Dinner and Dessert
Late night

Best Wings in MSP – Runyon’s

Beer and interior decor at Runyon's

A little background

Runyon’s Bar is a diamond in the rough hidden in the architecturally interesting Warehouse District in Minneapolis.  Being away from the downtown of Minneapolis, it’s quiet and offers a good space for conversation with friends.  As you can see from the picture above, the decor and atmosphere look very dive-bar-ish, but done in a classy way.  From what I’ve found, every spot you find has that one menu item that is a smashing hit.  Runyon’s specialty just happens to be their buffalo wings.

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

 My thoughts

My husband and I were introduced to Runyon’s through a few close friends of ours.  This is practically the regular venue of choice for everyone at the Sartell Group.  I can definitely see why.  It’s nice to get away from the busy bars and lounges of downtown Minneapolis in favor of quieter, more relaxing happy hour.  This place is ideal for larger groups.  They have huge booths and tons of space to fit everyone in your party.  Game time hangout anyone?

So about our order…

basket of fries and a double order of wings

This trip that I’m writing about wasn’t our first time there.  Runyon’s Honestly, some of the BEST wings you will ever have in your life.  Not only do these wings pack a lot of meat, but they are rich flavor.  The wings come in three sizes: 10, 20 or party size.  Tony and I always order the double size (20 wings) and a basket of fries.  To be honest, this would definitely serve three people.

Now, I must highlight their dipping sauce.  The signature sauce is an especially tasty blue cheese.  Also, I’m not typically a fan of blue cheese dipping sauces, but Runyon’s knows how to do things right. Runyon’s doesn’t skimp on the sauce.  It’s thick and  actually loaded with nuggets of blue cheese.  It’s the perfect complement to some buffalo wings!

close up of Runyon's chicken wings

On top of awesome wings, they have a great staff who really try to get to know their customers. There is a reason why my friends and I have become repeat customers.

If you’re looking for buffalo wings that are out-of-this-world delicious and a solid beer selection, Runyon’s Bar is the quiet gem you are looking for!  Just remember, try to get there early on game days.  Without an official lot to park in, it makes things difficult when searching for a parking space.

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