Wednesday, January 2, 2019

These Are a Few of My Favorite Things: 2018

“Ponder well on this point: the pleasant hours of our life are all connected by a more or less tangible link, with some memory of the table.” - Charles Pierre Monselet 

I find that when I'm required to narrow my pondering of food-filled memories over the past year, I think of smiles, big forks, friendly toasts, and cheese. Here are some memories of the table from 2018 in no particular order:

On this day, I flew a kite, wore sequins, and dined at Hai Hai in Minneapolis. It was a very good day. So much of what they serve at Hai Hai delights with calculated splashes of lime juice and fish sauce and brings you back for more bites with delights of sun-dried shrimp and galangal. Their papaya salad is on point.


Ever heard of Colorado Style Pizza? Neither had I until I hiked Saint Mary's Glacier. As we climbed back down, I was informed by my cousins that pizza was our promised lunch, "And not just any pizza," they said, "Beau Jo's pizza!" The crust is thick, braided along the edge, and made with honey. Then they serve the pie with honey on side for dipping. Crispy pepperoni, honey crust, and giant glasses of water hit the spot after a glacier climb.


In my line of work (writing about agriculture), I sometimes have the privilege of participating in variety flavor taste tests. This year, the Cornercopia student-run organic farm at the U of MN invited guests to sample more than 80 varieties of organic, heirloom tomatoes, and vote for our favorites. If you have a chance to try a "Matt's Wild" variety of cherry tomato, do so, my friends.


I was informed by more than one Missourian that when visiting the Mizzou campus, one must stop at Buck's Ice CreamGold-colored French vanilla ice cream with dark Dutch chocolate swirls comprises their most popular and famous flavor, Tiger Stripe. After a harried morning of field tours and campus visits, a cone of Tiger Stripe had me feeling cooler and sweeter.


A salad? Yes, THIS salad. I visited Minneapolis' own Gatherings Cafe for the first time this year right before I caught a tour of Growing Lots Urban Farm. They focus on fresh, local, and indigenous ingredients, and their Harvest Salad boasts kale, sliced red onions, dried cranberries, roasted sweet potatoes, toasted pepitas, citrus honey vinaigrette, goat cheese, and shredded turkey. 


Did you know Restaurant Alma serves the most amazing cheeseburgers on Thursday nights? Well, they do, and if you can get there early and order one before they're gone, you'll be as awestruck as my main squeeze was in this pic.
Should you find yourself in downtown Lawrence, Kansas, get thee to Merchants Pub and Plate. My dining companions and I had fits about everything we ordered from their fresh, local, bistro-style menu, but the pan-seared trout and their fresh ricotta with heirloom tomatoes and fresh pesto (pictured here) sent me.


These little smoked trout cakes with stone ground mustard and clover blossom honey at The Informalist in Eau Claire are flavor bombs you won't want to share, unless you're all dolled up with your BFFs for an epic 40th birthday celebration.


Muffaletta in the Park closed after 40 years of serving fresh, locally-sourced comfort food. I had to get there one last time for their iconic beer cheese soup, famously topped with popcorn. I'll miss it!


Now it's time for some real talk. My homegirl, Liz, has been coming over to my house to learn the ins and outs of making my fruit cake recipe for the past three years. It's a long day of baking that usually includes Christmas tree chimes, football, cider, and drama. When it comes to fruitcake, we're ride or die. I love this gal, and I love this tradition. 
With a bit of encouragement from several supportive, dreamer types, (especially Chef Carrie Riggs at Restaurant Alma) I started my own little business growing edible flowers called Witch Kitchen. That I get to share in the blossoming endeavor with our 4 year-old daughter means growth aplenty, both in the garden and in the heart. 






Here are some recaps from years gone by. It appears that I forgot to do a recap last year. C'est la vie.

[where: Sustainable Food, St. Paul, Minneapolis, Twin Cities, Minnesota]

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