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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
So 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.
Upon 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.
The 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.
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!
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.
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.
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.
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!
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
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.
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.
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?
$375 per couple*, when reserved by Aug. 14