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.

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

Mainstreet Coffee Company

close sun

A little background

Mainstreet Coffee Company was started by Mike and Pam Borgman of Sauk Centre.  By using fresh ingredients in their homemade family recipes, this once family home has become a new hang out for the folks of Sauk Centre.  Corresponding with the seasons and their dedication to providing options with the freshest ingredients, their menu changes weekly.  In addition to a changing menu of entrees, they also offer pastries, specialty coffees and an assortment of other beverages.  Be sure to stop in for either breakfast, lunch or an afternoon coffee.

Wondering where Sauk Centre is?  Just get on Interstate 94 and travel Northwest passed St. Cloud.

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 My thoughts

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When you walk up to the cafe, it is literally a cute, sunshine yellow house with beautiful flower gardens.  The inside is only an extension of the house’s charm.  Mike and Pam have turned this house into a warm and inviting cafe for the citizens of Sauk Centre.  The walls are covered in coffee-addict-inspired artwork like the sign in the image above.  They also offer plenty of treats stored in their own cute serving plates for those of us who have a sweet tooth.

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I’ve been here before and my favorite is their chai lattes.  They’re not made like the traditional style of Indian chai, such as the Grey Duck Chai, but they are pretty darn tasty in my opinion.  Honestly, they make me think of Christmas upon first sip.  They’re always served piping hot and with a well balanced mix of spices.  On this visit, however, I stopped in for lunch with my mom.  Here’s what we got:

I went with the special of the day, a Greek Chicken Penne Pasta that consisted of kalamata olives, sun dried tomatoes, parsley, feta cheese, and grilled chicken.  On the side, you get orange slices and your choice of the muffins they baked that morning.  My choice?  I went with a morning glory muffin.  I thought the grouping of pasta with a muffin for lunch was a little interesting, but I was happy for a sweet pastry after my meal.  I’ll admit, I have a little … okay, a BIG sweet tooth.  To start, I would definitely order the Greek Chicken Penne Pasta again.  The pasta itself was well made and I was so happy that it wasn’t drowned in sauce.  That has got to be one of my biggest pet peeves when it comes to pasta salad.  I hate when there is too much dressing and you can’t taste anything else in the salad.  I didn’t find that problem here!  Everything was fresh and made for one awesome lunch.  Thanks Mainstreet Coffee Co.

my meal

My mom went with Grilled Chicken Bacon Ranch flatbread with a cup of vegetable soup.  The sandwich, in addition to chicken and bacon, included sauted onions, tomatoes, a blend of three cheeses, and romaine lettuce.  She said it was all very good so I had to sneak a bite of it too!  She, of course, was right.  The sandwich was nice and warm, which helped the cheese become all melty and gooey.  Again, this was another great way to have a casual lunch.

mom's meal

When we had finished our meal, we took a small tour around the outside of the cafe.  There were tons of flower beds, not shown, and this beautiful patio to sit on.  Had it been a warmer day outside, we probably would have been out here.  Take a look for yourself.

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In addition to the cafe, Mainstreet Coffee Co. also offers bicycle rentals for customers on the cheap!  Being located one block away from the Lake Wobegon Trail, which runs from St. Cloud to Alexandria, renting bikes is a nice service offered for anyone looking for a day ride.  In addition, Mainstreet Coffee Co. hosts an annual “Grillin and Chillin” BBQ Cook-Off in Sinclair Lewis Park.  There’s a cash prize and trophy for the best bbq made so be sure to stop in September 7 from 10 a.m. to 4 p.m.

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

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