Are upscale Native American inspired foods the next food trend? North Coast Nosh brings in hundreds who think it is.

If fry bread tacos are the only Native American food you’ve heard about, you may be in for a surprise. A new movement, to take traditional and native ingredients – pre-colonization ingredients like potatoes, corn, dandelion, fish and buffalo – and move them upscale is taking root in Minnesota. The North Coast Nosh, held at the Minnesota History Center on Feb. 19th, featured more than 20 regional food businesses, with food samples and chances to learn about the new take on an ancient style of food. Many Native American operations were represented, but all focused on traditionally inspired high quality local ingredients and healthy cooking. Chef Sean Sherman, owner of Sioux Chef catering, a featured host at North Coast Nosh, was handing out samples of a mixed bean stew with maple braised turkey legs, wild rice and micro amaranth greens. Sherman has been on a mission to educate people on cooking and eating haute native dishes since 2011, giving talks and holding pop-up restaurant events. At the most recent, held at the Astor, he served elegant versions of rabbit, duck, squash, and smoked whitefish, using all local ingredients. “I’ve been working in fine dining for years, so building composed plates is something I do,” he said. Continue Reading

Not your usual food competition, MN Cup food division winners create healthy foods and healthy chickens

Awards for the MN Cup’s food, agriculture and beverage division were presented Feb. 5, at the Green Acres Event Center in Eden Prairie. The 11-year old statewide contest for entrepreneurs is the largest statewide new venture competition in the country. The food division of the Cup competition is the newest, only in its second year. The presentation event was packed with food fans, sampling the offerings from 29 start-up food companies. Visitors crowded around tables, sampling macaroons, sodas, sausages pizzas, ice cream bars, kraut, BBQ sauce, chocolate-chip cookies, honey, juices, spice mixes, popcorn, cheeses and much more. But, the winner of the top prize wasn’t any of these. Continue Reading

GLOBAL GROCERIES | One of the few true butcher shops still left in Minneapolis has a lot of fans

The Finer Meat Company, the tiny butcher shop near the corner of Nicollet and 38th, has been providing the best in meat to South Minneapolis since the depth of the Great Depression. First opened in 1932 at 36th and Bryant (now Gigi’s,) the shop moved to its current location and was then sold to Aaron Knopik in 1963. It hasn’t changed very much since then.Many customers have been coming to Finer Meats for years, even before a very young Brian Knopik stood on a milk crate helping stock the shelves for the family business. “My grandfather bought it on Saturday and opened it again on Monday,” said Knopik, who now runs the place. Knopik works with his fiancé, Stacy Tollefson who met Knopik five years ago and signed on as a rookie butcher the same night.The shop’s customer demographic is mostly the same as it was 50 years ago – African-American soul food cooks from the local neighborhood. Continue Reading

One last Polish martini; Nye’s employees and patrons reminisce before the closure

Nye’s is a special place where hipsters and AARP members rub shoulders. Where families come for plates of pirogues and cabbage rolls, and people gather around the piano bar to confidently sing old classics while nursing glasses of Polish beer, schilowitz and large Polish martinis – a pickled mushroom instead of an olive.When the news first broke last week in the Minneapolis/St. Paul Business Journal, the reaction across the City was as if they’d announced the dynamiting of Minnehaha Falls. Nye’s Polonaise Room, in business since 1950, would be shutting its doors next summer.In its place, developers are talking of a new high rise apartment, part of the New Urbanism, a social theory that may do to Nordeast Minneapolis what Urban Renewal did for the Warehouse District. It appears as if what little past Minneapolis still has, it seeks to destroy.Rob and Tony Jacob, the owners since 1999, broke the news to the staff, some who’d worked there for decades. Continue Reading

GLOBAL GROCERIES | A final word on #Grapegate

By now, you’ve heard of #Grapegate. But, if you’ve been living in a snow bank, here’s a quick update.On Nov. 18, the esteemed New York Times ran a piece called The United States of Thanksgiving; 50 States (and D.C. and Puerto Rico). Food writers at the Times apparently “scoured the nation for recipes that evoke each of the 50 states,” and published each one along with photos of the foods and complete recipes.Some were hits. For Alabama it was Oyster Dressing. Continue Reading

GLOBAL GROCERIES | Looking to cook Southern? Mary Hall has the greens and beans

It can be hard to find the fixings to make southern style food up here in the Northstar State, but if you want to cook like those who live at the other end of the Mississippi River, look to Mary Hall. Hall has been selling southern style foodstuffs at the Minneapolis Farmers Market since 2006, when she and her husband Lester inherited their stall from Lester’s father, Bill Hall, one of the few Black farmers in Minnesota. Along with the market stall, Mary Hall inherited a passion for southern style cuisine. She soon expanded the stall’s inventory beyond blueberries and greens to include specialty peas, beans, lentils and rice.“It surprised me how little people up here knew about southern cooking,” she said. “People would ask, ‘What are these?’ about greens or sweet potatoes.”Hall is happy to be the teacher, telling anyone who asks about how to prepare exotic ingredients like fresh sweet potatoes, okra, and greens – collard, turnip, mustard and kale. Continue Reading

GLOBAL GROCERIES | Sports, whiskey, cool technology and food

I got the Call of the Wild late last month. The Minnesota Wild invited journalists and local VIPs to the “See the Big Picture” event, to show off new digital renovations at the Xcel Energy Center. Of course, when new fancy technology isn’t enough to bring in the curious, just add free food and drink and a connection to St. Paul city pride.

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