|By Kathy Couturié|
|This is my last day to consume the local food scene while writing for Edible Twin Cities. I’ve enjoyed seeking unique, local foods and I hope to return soon to further forage. Following is a food fanatic’s journal of my last day in Minneapolis, St. Paul, and Stillwater…
We headed out to Stillwater, stopping first at the Trade Winds Spice Company. This is a charming shop featuring an extensive selection of spices, seasonings, and extracts from around the world, along with numerous gourmet food items. We liked the looks of Cannon River Kitchens products, including bread mixes such as limpa sweet rye, dark caraway rye, and even the bread pudding served at the St. James Hotel in Red Wing… They stock an extensive selection of mustards, vinegars, oils, teas, coffees, hot chocolate, soup mixes, etc., and we even found our favorite marinades and sauces from the Ginger People in Monterey, California. We purchased exquisite, maple leaf shaped bottles of Waletzko Maple Farm’s pure maple syrup from North Branch, MN-inhaled upon our return to California… You can visit Trade Winds Spice Company at 423 S. Main Street in Stillwater, MN; tel. (651) 351-0422, or shop their easy-to-use website at www.tradewindsspice.com.
We thoroughly enjoyed a late lunch at Marx – a good thing considering there was a line out the door until around 1:30 p.m. This is a delightful, colorful wine bar/bistro with fantastic service and a terrific menu… After we’d adjusted our eyes to the lime-green walls with bright blue wainscot, red lacquer tables, and the rainbow-striped upholstery, we couldn’t decide if we required sparkling wine, red wine, white wine, or all three. Our server graciously offered us tastes of three of the house’s favorites-very impressive. We settled on the De Loach 2002 Pinot Noir from Sonoma, CA – heavenly with the Caesar salad with parmesan and roasted garlic, as well as the grilled shrimp and gazpacho cocktail… For the main course we couldn’t refuse a pizza with grilled lobster, fresh mozzarella, roasted peppers, basil and garlic… I feared this concoction would be way too rich, but it was simply divine and we devoured every bite… Hard to say no to a chocolate truffle cake with fresh raspberries, and we left Marx determined to return someday for dinner… Marx is at 241 S. Main Street in Stillwater; tel. (651) 439-8333 or visit www.marxwbg.com.
We walked off our lunch at The Chef’s Gallery – accurately described as a hardware store for cooks. Twin Cities residents are blessed with a number of gourmet retail shops that also combine a separate cooking class area, and it took us over an hour to unwillingly extract ourselves from the Chef’s Gallery… We were initially deceived into thinking the shop consisted of a considerable amount of kitchen utensils, baking pans and cookware, but oh no… There were beautiful linens, cookbooks, gourmet food products, candles, and an entire back room of dishware, glasses, and serving accessories… In the extensive martini section, I debated purchasing my grandma some fabulous new martini glasses, but didn’t want to risk shipping them. We admired a large selection of our favorite dishes, Vietri from Italy, along with many others-hard to take it all in. We had big fun with the full line of Schott Zwiesel titanium wine glasses, which are virtually unbreakable (we tried). We even located Zhena’s Gypsy Teas from our hometown of Ojai, CA, and that’s when we realized we weren’t in Kansas any longer… We debated whether or not to purchase a beautiful spice grinder, a crème brûlée torch, and a jadeite baking dish-and then impulse-bought all three, just in case we woke up too early from this beautiful dream… The cooking class area is separate and nicely laid out, with large overhead mirrors to enhance your ability to see the action. The schedule of classes was painful to read, since I wouldn’t be able to partake in any of them. However, I still dream about classes such as “An Evening with Marx Wine Bar” and “Wine Design on a Dime.” The Chef’s Gallery is also available for private events, and they feature monthly 20% off sales on items such as knives, sauces and rubs, cookbooks, etc. Do not miss a chance to visit this fabulous emporium located in the Grand Garage at 324 South Main Street in Stillwater; tel. (651) 351-1144 or visit www.thechefsgallery.com.
Afterward, we headed back to St. Paul, first visiting Izzy’s Ice Cream Café, where I couldn’t resist tasting their homemade artisan Peace Coffee ice cream while admiring the extensive and delectable menu of ice cream treats, including sundaes, banana splits, root beer floats, and-my favorite-the Dizzy Izzy, consisting of five Izzy scoops in a sugar or waffle cone… They make ice cream cakes and pies with a graham cracker or cookie crust on the bottom, and they thoughtfully have these available in the shop if you haven’t had the good sense to order one in advance… Izzy’s even offers party packages for corporate or family parties, including private tours, dessert dining, and ice cream making… Izzy’s Ice Cream Café is in St. Paul at 2034 Marshall Avenue; tel. (651) 603-1458 or visit www.izzysicecream.com.
|Naturally I had to stop in and give my highest regards to Legacy Chocolates, whose truffles I’d enjoyed for breakfast for the past two days… This is a fabulous little shop full of nothing but trouble, and I was delighted to see a copy of Mort Rosenblum’s book, “Chocolate: a Bittersweet Saga of Dark and Light” prominently displayed on the counter. You know they’re serious if they’ve read Mort, and I marveled at row upon row of truffles available in four cocoa intensities: 41%, 58.5%, 73.5% and 85%. These little sweeties come in delectable flavors such as mint, raspberry, caramel, almond, double chocolate, espresso and red wine… Purveyor of Chocolate Micheal Roberts uses Criollo cocoa beans from Venezuela, thus when you buy Legacy Chocolates products you are supporting small-scale, sustainable farmers in Latin America… These exquisite morsels are made fresh by hand, and I fondly recall Beatrice Wood as I partake of one nightly, hoping that I too may live to be over 100-due to enjoying heavenly chocolate such as this on a daily basis… Thank goodness they ship – now I can return to California with full peace of mind. Legacy Chocolates has two locations. We visited the one at 2042 Marshall Avenue in St. Paul; tel. (651) 646-0644 or visit www.legacychocolates.com.
Next we visited the Linden Hills Co-op & Natural Home stores – yet another fabulous co-op in the heart of Minneapolis. We liked the red “local” signs in the produce department enabling shoppers to identify locally grown goodies such as chives, ramps, celery root, and wild watercress… The “staff pick” signs are another nice touch, and I purchased some excellent chipotle pepper based on this recommendation. They have a huge bulk spice section, as well as pastas and beans, and we picked up some Ames Farm Bee Pollen because we knew it was good for us-not entirely sure why… There’s a spiffy soup and salad bar, and Urban Fare soups from St. Paul such as tomato basil, and corn chowder… The meat section stocks locally raised grass-fed beef from Thousand Hills Cattle Company in Cannon Falls, Minnesota, and the deli had superb offerings such as mushroom and potato pierogis, pasta primavera, and a divine smoothie menu… The co-op’s new home store across the street has exquisite Green Glass glassware from Wisconsin-made from recycled wine bottles, and lots of useful household items such as composting pails, and a Champion 2000 juicer-two items no household should be without! The Linden Hills Co-op is at 2813 W. 43rd St. in Minneapolis; tel. (612) 922-1159 and the Linden Hills Natural Home store is at 2822 W. 43rd St.; tel. (612) 279-2479, or visit www.lindenhills.coop.
We ended this lovely day, and our trip to Minnesota, with dinner at Broders’ Pasta Bar. We wanted to wind it all up at a local’s favorite, and this was the first choice of our friends in Minneapolis. While waiting on the terrace for our group to arrive, we enjoyed wonderful glasses of 2002 Castello di Corbara, a Merlot, Sangiovese, and Cabernet Sauvignon blend from Umbria. We Californians marveled at the incredible bounty the Twin Cities area has to offer… Over the past four days, we’d been happily surprised and completely won over by the amount of great, local foods we’d found-not to mention how nice everyone we’d met had been. Once seated, we admired Broders’ active dining room, with its light sconces made of kitchen colanders, a large bar-style seating area in the middle of the restaurant, and most of all, our delightful, expert server. Starters consisted of an excellent pizza with olive oil, roasted tomatoes, kalamata olives, fresh mozzarella and basil, a fresh insalata di Valeriana with spring greens and mint in a light, Meyer lemon and olive oil dressing, a Caesar salad with anchovy vinaigrette, and crostini topped with savory salmon mousse and Parmigiano-Reggiano shavings. We happily moved on to primi and secondi: fettuccini con pollo e porcini-homemade pasta with chicken, wild mushrooms, green onions, and pine nuts tossed in extra virgin olive oil; a lovely cannelloni con frutti di mare, filled with lobster, crab, salmon, and ricotta, finished with fragrant saffron caper sauce; quadrucci con pollo-homemade pasta with fresh greens, chicken, prosciutto, almonds, asparagus, balsamic vinegar, and mascarpone; and a ragù di pollo Siciliano-saffron fettuccini with chicken ragù, Sicilian olives, Tuscan kale, and mint. As it was our last meal together, we had to sample the dolci-a slice of rhubarb ginger pie, and profiteroles with Sonny’s caramel pecan ice cream, and a tiramisu just in case of last-minute hunger pains… These were served with hand-made truffles, and we wandered out of Broders’ in a blissful haze, delighted to have been able to relax and enjoy our last night out … Broders’ offers two dining destinations, as well as catering services and an amazing array of delectable gift baskets… The pasta bar is at 5000 Penn Avenue South in Minneapolis; tel. (612) 925-9202, and across the street is their delightful Cucina Italiana, where you will find a selection of pizzas, panini, salads, hot entrées and dolci, in addition to an array of retail Italian delicacies. Broders’ Cucina Italiana is at 2308 West 50th Street; tel. (612) 925-3113 or visit www.broders.com.