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



Millner Heritage Winery

Milliner Heritage Winery wine bottles

A little background

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.

My Thoughts

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.

Millner Heritage Winery owner,Don, demonstrates wine making process
Millner Heritage Winery owner demonstrates how the grape skins are separated from the rest of the fruit.

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.

Millner Heritage Winery wine bottles
Beginning our wine sampling at Millner Heritage Winery

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.


Enjoying our wine tasting at Millner Heritage Winery

wine bottles lined up

Why Wine Lovers Should Visit Stillwater, Minn.

wine bottles in Stillwater, MNSo 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.

Luna Rossa Wine Shop in Stillwater, MNUpon 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.

Northern Vineyards Winery wine glassesThe 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.

Northern Vineyards Winery Wine Menu in Stillwater, MN

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

Mozza Mia in Edina Minnesota

A little background

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.

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

 My thoughts

Italian Caprese Salad from Mozza Mia in Edina, Minnesota

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.

Italian Fig and prosciutto pizza from Mozza Mia in Edina, Minnesota

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.

For a full view of their menus, check out the link below:
Lunch & Drinks
Dinner & Drinks
Happy Hour

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

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.

Social Media
Facebook: Click Here!
Twitter: Click Here!
Google+: Click Here!
Blog: Click Here!


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.

Social Media
Facebook: Click Here!
Twitter: Click Here!
Google+: Click Here!
Blog: Click Here!

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

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.

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

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.

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.

Happy Fourth Of July from Minnesota Munch!

Fireworks from the School of Mines in CO.
Fireworks from the School of Mines in CO.

I want to wish everyone a wonderful Fourth of July from Minnesota Munch!  If you’re as much of a foodie as I am, I’m sure gearing up to watch the Coney Island Hot Dog Eating Contest is a special event today.  Honestly, my fiance and I are huge fans. We cannot believe the ridiculous amount of hot dogs these people can eat!  In addition to watching the hot dog contest, we plan on grilling out, cooking up some family recipes and catching a little sun.  Do any of you have a special family recipe that you would like to share?  I’ll actually make them and post my favorite for the rest of the readers.

In case you wanted to impress your friends with some fun facts about this wonderful day, check out what I’ve found below.  Have a happy Fourth!!

Fourth of July Fun Facts:

  1. On July 4 alone, the biggest hot dog day of the year, 155 million hot dogs will be consumed.  That is enough hot dogs to stretch from Los Angeles to Washington, D.C., more than five times.
  2. Another popular side dish for Independence Day is corn on the cob. Florida, California, Georgia and New York in total produced 61% of naturally grown sweet corn in 2008.  Sadly, Minnesota is not on this list … we have a lot of sweet corn … trust me.
  3. The Fourth of July was not declared a national holiday until 1941, although the first official Fourth of July party was held at the White House in 1801.  Guess the rest of America was a little slow.
  4. The stars on the original American flag were in a circle so all the Colonies would appear equal.
  5. The percentage of American homes with an outdoor grill is 87 percent.
  6. The amount of chicken purchased the week before the holiday is 700 million pounds.
  7. In 1776, there were 2.5 million people living in the new nation. (Today there are 311 million.)
  8. There are more than 30 towns nationwide that have the word “Liberty” in their names.
  9. There’s a 1-in-6 chance the beef on your backyard grill came from Texas. The Lone Star State is the leader in the production of cattle and calves
  10. The value of fireworks imported from China, representing the bulk of all U.S. fireworks imports ($197.3 million ) in 2010.

Hope you enjoyed these as much as I did!