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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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…
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!
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
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
This past weekend, the Twin Cities were the host for the first Caffeine Crawl to grace the Upper Midwest. The Caffeine Crawl was the idea of The LAB, a group so passionate about quality beverages that they wanted to highlight local businesses that are dedicated to excellence. At the Caffeine Crawl, participants sampled some pretty amazing coffee and tea. In addition, the participants 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.
Participants: Bull Run Coffee, Cafe Imports, Dogwood Coffee with Gray Duck Chai, J&S Bean Factory, Peace Coffee, Publika, Quixotic Coffee, Sebastian Joe’s and TeaSource.
(The hyperlinks for Bull Run and Dogwood direct you to posts on Minnesota Munch that I’ve written)
Apart from knowing that I would be consuming 10 times my regular caffeine intake, I wasn’t sure what to expect from the first caffeine crawl to hit the Upper Midwest. Were we only going to be drinking coffee all day? Absolutely not! I have to give a shout-out to The LAB and all of the many sponsors of this crawl. Not only did the participants get to sample AMAZING specialty coffees, chais, and teas, but we also had the opportunity to learn a thing (or two) about the sourcing, production, distribution, and preparation techniques of our favorite beverages.
There were two routes to choose from for this crawl. One route covered many specialty coffee and tea cafes in St. Paul and the other had more stops in Minneapolis. I was excited that my ticket took me on the St. Paul route because, as you could probably tell from my previous posts, I haven’t had the opportunity to write much about our state’s capital. Not only was I shocked that I was missing so many great places, but I was ecstatic to meet the passionate people who bring Minneapolis/St. Paul residents something of quality and something that should be enjoyed. I definitely want to share these places we toured with anyone who is willing/excited to explore a new place. You won’t be disappointed. Now, on to my route for the Caffeine Crawl.
All of the participants met at Peace Coffee Roasting Facility where we were greeted by their staff and Jason Burton from The LAB. We were given a detailed tour of Peace Coffee Roasting Facility that included the history of their company, a look at their roasting techniques, and information about the growth and sourcing of their coffee beans. Towards the end of our tour, one of their baristas from Wonderland Park prepared a cold press coffee drink inspired by southern mint juleps. What a great way to start our crawl!
We made the 12 minute trek from Peace Coffee to J&S Bean Factory in St. Paul for our second stop. The Bean Factory, established in 2001, is an independently owned, local coffee shop and roastery. Here, we were able to enjoy a sample of their cold press coffee and a bag of cinnamon twists from a local producer. While enjoying their cold press and lounging in their spacious outdoor patio, we watched a coffee bean roasting demonstration. The unique part of this demonstration was that they were using an original roaster from San Francisco. It’s so old, that it’s serial number is literally all zeros. That’s pretty cool. Here, the cold press was a combination of a French Guatemala roast, an Ethiopian roast, and java. Luckily, at this point, I was pacing myself and didn’t feel the affects of caffeine yet. I would definitely come back here. The baristas were very knowledgeable of their brewing and roasting techniques in addition to having a humor-filled personality.
Not too far from the J&S Bean Factory was our next stop, Tea Source. This was actually one of my favorite stops. While I’ve always enjoyed a good cup of tea both full-leaf and teabagged, I never really bothered to research tea production and the differences amongst each variety. Thanks to Tea Source, I now have a little more knowledge of tea varieties and tea growing than the average person. Here, the staff at Tea Source gave us a thorough presentation on six different types of teas from Asia. The first tea was a green tea from Japan that had an ocean-like taste. One good tip I’ve learned about green tea is that you don’t boil the water when preparing it! Next was a florally oolong from Taiwan followed by a Big Red Robe oolong from China. The last two were black teas from China. One was called Golden Dragon and this one was my favorite. It had a nice, smooth taste and wasn’t too strong. The last black tea was from the Yunnan province and had a very strong, earthy taste. Definitely check this place out! They have over 230 teas to try and a very knowledgeable, passionate staff!
Quixotic Coffee was literally right across the street from Tea Source, which made getting to the next location on the crawl a snap! By the time my group arrived here, it was around lunchtime. We needed something quick to not only fight off hunger, but also to absorb the intense amount of coffee and tea we had been downing all morning. Thank you Quixotic for your ridiculously good strawberry pastry with pistachios. Yes, I did just say I had a pastry for lunch, but look at the picture below. Can you blame me?
Getting back to the coffee again, they didn’t disappoint here. The baristas at Quixotic gave a unique presentation on brewing the perfect cup of potato coffee. I’m not kidding, the barista prepared potato defect for us to sample. I’ve never heard of this before and was pumped to try it out! FYI, it smells to high heaven when they brew it. Don’t get discouraged by this because it actually doesn’t taste half bad when it’s hot and ready. This particular defect had a mixture of Rwandan and Burundi coffee. Apparently this is a common brew in Africa. (If anyone else has tried this … and has actually sampled it in Africa, please post! I want to know more!)
After doing a little digging, this blog post had the most information I could find about the potato defect.
By this point I was definitely feeling a caffeine high. With headaches creeping up and more energy than I could handle, thank goodness the next stop was to Cafe Imports. Cafe Imports is an importer of specialty coffee beans from 20 countries. They are considered one of the best distributors and they sell their beans to specialty roasters worldwide. A few of their clients include Dunn Bros. Coffee, Bull Run (Mpls local), and Dogwood Coffee Company (also Mpls local and the last stop on our crawl). If you have an opportunity to tour a warehouse, especially one that is filled with 23,000 large bags of coffee, take advantage of it! Seriously, when are you going to see 23,000 bags of coffee in one place? Oh, you saw my picture below? You’re welcome. For more information, please check out their website in the hyperlink.
This last stop was done in two parts. There was Gray Duck Chai and there was Dogwood Coffee Company. First of all, let me say that I love chai. I really love chai and Gray Duck Chai has now captured my heart as my No. 1 go-to for chai. Let me begin by saying that they gave a brilliant presentation. Not only did they make the chai in front of us, but they also presented and discussed the attributes of all the spices and ingredients. Who knew that cloves have 12 times the amount of antioxidants as the acai berry? This was just one of the many interesting facts we learned from their presentation. As for their chai, it was excellent and prepared like masala chais on the of streets of India. You can’t get more authentic than that. The authentic masala chais have strong notes of pepper and ginger. Gray Duck Chai definitely incorporated these two spices to dominate the flavor of their chai.
Now, I’ve been to Dogwood Coffee Company’s cafe before in Uptown Square and I’ve enjoyed their hot miel coffee. Dogwood Coffee Company began three years ago and was originally housed near Lake Calhoun in Rustica Bakery. In 2010, they opened their own cafe in Calhoun Square and have been there since. At their roasting facility, they chose to highlight their Zamboni Cold Press coffee. In my opinion, perfect time for summer! This coffee is a light-medium roast and had a nice, strong flavor. Currently, they hand-make all their Zamboni batches for wholesale consumers, but they stated that they’re getting ready to produce smaller batches for individual sale. I’m pretty excited about that announcement!
When things were all said and done, all crawlers met up at Common Roots Cafe in the Lowry Hill neighborhood for the after party. At Common Roots, crawlers were given free samples of Fulton Beer’s collaboration brew, War and Peace. If it’s being offered for caffeine crawl participants, it’s no surprise that the beer has coffee brewed into it. In addition to sampling coffee beer, the after crawl included a raffle where proceeds were directly donated to Books For Africa.