Let’s Catch Up: A Few Foodie Stories I’ve Written on the RedCurrent Blog

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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!

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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.

Cheers!

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!

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.

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 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

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.

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Sovereign Estate Wine

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A little background

Sovereign Estate Winery is a family owned and operated vineyard and winery located near Lake Waconia, 30 minutes outside of downtown Minneapolis.  The winery was started by  Paul Savaryn, the winery and property owner, when he had been told by his father that the south facing slope would be idea for growing fruit.  He and his wife started the vineyard in 2008 after a year’s worth of practice vines to see how they would grow.  Today, Paul’s son Ben and his wife Hana, work there, as well as his step brother Isaac.  SEW is in their fourth winemaking season and their wines are distributed by a small handful of sellers.  The majority of their wine is still sold at their winery to accommodate the large number of visitors.

We were fortunate enough to meet Paul when my fiance and I visited SEW this past weekend.  He was upbeat, friendly and was more than willing to explain his craft to us.  We both were thankful to hear the history of their winery  and to learn about different types of grapes and the flavors that each yields.

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Tasting Room
Tasting Room

 My thoughts

My fiance wanted to take me on a surprise date this past weekend and what better way to do that than visiting a winery!  He definitely hit the nail on the head with this one.  Note only was I able to get content for this blog, but we would be able to sample local wines!  Luckily, SEW is open on Sundays and for a small fee of $5, we’re able to sample five of their wines.  He scored some pretty big brownie points with me for finding this gem.  Here’s what we thought …

I’m not  going to pretend that I have a vast knowledge of wine, but I’ve had my fare share of them to know the difference between a mediocre wine and something of quality.  Sovereign Estate Winery definitely produces wines of quality for both red and white wine lovers alike.  Don’t believe me?  Feel free to check out the awards won from their most popular wine, Talon Crest.

Talon Crest won a gold medal in 2011 at the American Wine Society judging in New York.  This is a semi-sweet, fruity white wine and was a smashing hit with my fiance and me.  With notes of apricot, green apple and an orange zest finish, it is quite refreshing.  We decided to order two more glasses of this wine while listening to a local band that SEW was hosting for the day.  My fiance and I loved this wine so much, we had to bring a bottle home with us.

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Their La Crescent is a dry, fruity wine.  It’s a French-American hybrid that is descended from the Seyval Blanc grape.  You can definitely taste the apricot and apple notes in this wine.  I tend to like whites better than reds (my fiance does, also) so this one struck a chord with us.  This wine was a little on the drier side, but we didn’t mind much.

Blue Loon was our second favorite wine of the day, behind the Talon Crest.  Not only did this wine have a delightful aroma, but the taste was astounding.  We could definitely pick out the floral notes from this wine and welcomed the citrus aftertaste.  Blue Loon was nice and crisp, perfect for a summer day.  It’s made from the Traminette grape, which is a hybrid of the Gewurztraminer.

The last wine we had was their Tenuta Di Sovrano, which is a light, dry red wine.  This wine is an Italian-styled Sangiovese that has undertones of plum and spicy clove.  To put it simply, I loved it.  I would probably have purchased a bottle, but we couldn’t resist their Talon Crest.  For red wine lovers, this is definitely one for you.  SEW recommends pairing this wine with traditional Italian fare for one unforgettable dinner.

We’re definitely going back to this place.  They have host events throughout the summer and will debut their new collection of wines June 8th of this year.  This collection will feature their estate grown grapes.  In addition, they’ve crafted a red wine version of their original Talon Crest.  Excited?  You bet we are!

For a full view of their wine list, check out the link below:
Wine List

Also, be sure to walk around their garden when you visit.

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Barbette – Uptown

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.

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 My thoughts

I chose to check out Barbette’s Lunch menu because Minneapolis finally had a gorgeous day, which means outdoor patios are open for business!  Barbette has plenty of outdoor seating and fun, vibrant tables that reinforce summer’s arrival.

This was my first time here so I didn’t know what to expect.  I heard that they offer a darn good coffee so I had to order a cup.  I chose to go with their Thai coffee.  It was a pretty basic brew, meaning that it wasn’t overly strong.  This medium-roasted coffee had a little spice that I wasn’t expecting, but was surprisingly fitting for such a sunny day.  Unfortunately I was sitting outside so I couldn’t watch them make it; a “to-do” for my next visit.

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I had checked out their menu online and was dead-set on ordering the Star Prairie Smoked Trout Crepe.  Just look at the Breakfast and Brunch menu listed below and you’ll see why I was excited to try it.  When the waitress arrived to take my order, however, she totally changed my mind and I ordered the Pork Rillette & Terrine.

The Pork Rillette & Terrine was served with arugula, frisée, dijon vinaigrette and two grilled baguettes.  Big congrats to my waitress for recommending this one!  I totally understand that I’m about to talk about how good a salad and pureed pork ball was, but hear me out.

While this dish looks simple, the flavors were amazing.  Beginning with the salad, I was surprised and delighted to find spinach chips sprinkled on top.  They gave a regular salad a wonderful, salty, crispy texture that had me stopping to enjoy every last bite.  I haven’t been to a restaurant that’s done this before.  Additionally, I was so thankful to find that every vegetable was fresh.  I’ve been to a few diggs that actually serve the greens a little on the yellow side.  What’s included in this salad?  You get tomatoes, arugula, spinach chips, carrot, cucumber, pepper and asparagus.  Just delightful.

As for the Pork Rillette, I’ve never tried something like this before either.  (This was a day of “firsts” for me.)  Honestly, I would order this again for lunch.  Not only did the Pork Rillette taste fresh, but, with the addition of the dijon vinaigrette, it became perfect assortment of flavors.  Traditionally, the Pork Rillette is served at room temperature and that’s how I got it.  It was easy to spread and absolutely made my lunch a great experience.  A big thank you goes out to my waitress, who brought me more baguettes to help me finish it off.

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I’m definitely going back again.  If the rest of their menu is as delightful as the Pork Rillette, which I’m betting it is, I have many more surprises heading my way.  I do want to highlight a couple things about Barbette.  They have an extensive wine list and spirits list, which you can enjoy at their daily happy hours.  Also, be sure to check out their Prix Frixe Mondays where customers can have a four to five course dinner for $32.  I’ll have to check this one out myself!

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

Breakfast and Brunch Menu
Dinner and Dessert Menu
Late Night Menu

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