These Are a Few of My Favorite Things: 2013

Dorothy Day once said, "Food for the body is not enough. There must be food for the soul." So many of the meals I've enjoyed this year were about more than just the food. The company, the atmosphere, the location, the dirty jokes, the variety of forks - all of that contributed to my highlights this year.

I had so many dining experiences that served as food for the body AND the soul.

So without further belaboring the point, here are my favorite edible things from 2013, in no particular order.

1. BOROUGH. Gerg and I had the opportunity to enjoy a five-course, Skuna Bay salmon dinner at Borough shortly after they opened last year. The gravlax topped blini (upper left) was particularly lovely.

2. GLAM DOLL DONUTS. Glam Doll Donuts opened this year, to the cheers of late night donut lovers everywhere. After a night on the town, we grabbed a heaping platter of donuts, featuring my favorite, the Femme Fatale, filled with fresh raspberry curd and topped with vanilla icing. I DIG IT.

3. VALENTINO PASTA. Much to my surprise, a blast from the past started a pasta business last year. These home made pork meatballs and red sauce with Valentino spelt lumache pasta were perfection. Valentino pasta is handmade, small batch pasta from Chicago. 

4. FROZBROZ. We adored the Cinnamon Candied Pecan AND the 3x Chocolate ice cream we got from Froz Broz as our prize for supporting their kickstarter this year. The ice cream-making duo known for their zany flavors and random Facebook ice cream giveaways is finally selling pints of their killer ice cream at their new commercial kitchen space at CityFoodStudio.

5. FRESH INDIANA PEACHES. These freshly harvested peaches at Tuttles Orchard in Greenfield, Indiana were mind-blowingly good. My colleagues and I had an opportunity to do a multi-day farm tour around Indianapolis this year, and we stopped by Tuttles Orchard at peak peach season. Lucky us.

6. PIZZA NIGHT AT TWO PONIES GARDEN. Four fabulous friends had a chance to grab a margherita pizza at Two Ponies Garden in Long Lake, MN this fall. The pizza was a high five for your mouth, but the atmosphere was even better. We loved hiking through their dahlia garden.
7. RESTAURANT ALMA. A noteworthy birthday celebration at Restaurant Alma included a 9-course dinner and 3-course dessert. The standouts for me were the wild cod and mussel stew and the honey chocolate pot du creme. We also raised a glass to our friend, Carrie, who became the pastry chef at Alma this year.

8. FRESH MICHIGAN BLUEBERRIES. On a week-long farm tour through Michigan, some colleagues and I stopped to talk with blueberry growers in Covert, MI. We walked and talked through the rows of bushes and nibbled on freshly harvested blueberries for lunch!

9. LAKEVIEW DRIVE INN. On a day-trip date to Winona, MN, Gerg and I stopped at the Lakeview Drive Inn for some fried sunfish and a home made root beer. It was a perfect Minnesota summer lunch with the handsomest companion.
10.  GOOD THUNDER. Made with grass-fed milk from Cedar Summit Farm, Alemar Cheese's Good Thunder has a stiffer, pasty texture, with a smoothness that is slightly reminiscent of its sister cheese, Bent River. New this year, these lovely squares of cheese are molded and salted by Kieth Adams and his crew, and then the rind is washed in Surly Bender, an oatmeal brown ale. 
11. BURCH STEAK. Burch opened in 2013 to thunderous applause, and while I adore their dumplings and pizza, the wood roasted marrow bone with gremolata is my favorite dish there. We rang in the New Year at Burch this year, with a grip of some of our favorite folks, and it was a damn good idea.

12. TRAVAIL AND UMAMI. Before Travail closed in 2013, we had to stop in for one last supper. My favorite dish that night was thangliotti with asparagus, a poached egg, and a buttery foam sauce reminiscent of hollandaise. After they closed, I had a couple of opportunities to check out Umami by Travail, their temporary, pop-up restaurant. I'll never forget Umami's legendary chicken wings. 
13. NEW GLARUS. A group of us goofballs made a trek to the New Glarus Brewing Company's 2013 Beer, Bacon, and Cheese Fest. It was an epic day filled with sun, tons of glorious suds, and a fabulous Wisconsin supper club fish fry for dinner afterwards.

Other edible noteables:

  • My royal birthday cake, whipped up by Carrie Vono.
  • TWO Jello molds for Shanny's Halloween party, crafted with care and booze.
  • Pizza and pumpkin pie in the hospital after my sister delivered her first baby.
  • Entering jams, jellies, and pickles in the MN State Fair, even though I didn't win a ribbon. AGAIN.
  • An epic gingerbread house building competition with my in-laws.
  • An off-the-hook fish fry the night before Mark and Sarah's wedding. 
  • My last drink before I found out I was pregnant in August was...a bottle of Schlitz.
Previous Year's Recaps:
These are a Few of My Favorite Things: 2012
These Are a Few of My Favorite Things: 2011
These Are a Few of My Favorite Things: 2010
2009: A Few of My Favorite Edible Things

[where: Minnesota, Food, Minneapolis, Twin Cities, 55418]

Enter to Win Reetsyburger's Cheese Giveaway!

When a box of cheese arrives at your doorstep, an average day gets upgraded to first-class - especially when it’s Culture Magazine sending you new cheese from Coach Farm. And today could be YOUR most excellent day too. Right here, right now, you have an opportunity to win free Coach Farm goat cheese from yours truly.

Earlier this month, I was selected by Culture Magazine for their "Hello My Name Is...Blogger Contest" to write about a new style of cheese. For this particular contest, they sent me a shipment of Coach Farm goat cheese including a brand new variety of raw goat’s milk cheese.

Many remember Miles and Lilian Cahn as the owners of the famous Coach Leatherware Company – you know, the makers of belts, wallets, and those oh-so coveted handbags. Well, in 1985, the Cahns sold Coach Leatherware, and since then they’ve been “held hostage” by their herd of more than 1000 Alpine French goats at Coach Farm. 

Located outside of New York City in the Hudson Valley, Coach Farm's cheesemaker Mark Newbold crafts artisanal goat cheese for a wide variety of customers, including foodie major leaguers like Mario Baltali and Pierre Chambrin. Coach Farm bagged a 1st place prize at the 2008 World Championship Cheese Contest for their Triple Cream Wheel, and that’s just one of many awards they’ve locked down.

Coach Farm's new, raw goat's milk cheese. Photo by Marie Flanagan.
The as yet unnamed, Coach Farm raw milk goat cheese that arrived on my doorstep was all dolled up in an insulated box, tucked in alongside a few cheesy companions. As I unpacked the box, I smiled when I got my mitts on the big hunk of raw goat’s milk cheese. Reminiscent of bûcheron, a French cheese which is usually aged for 25-50 days, Coach Farm's raw milk cheese is made with unpasteurized milk and aged for at least 60 days. 

It has a bloomy, edible rind, and inside the rind, the cheese proffers two layers of flavor and texture. A thin creamline of smooth pâte gives way to a substantial layer of semi-firm, slightly tangy chèvre. Pair it with a glass of sparkling Vouvray and some grapes, and enjoy it at brunch or for an evening dessert. The flavor is clean and bold enough to pair with your beet salad, but it expresses itself more nobly alongside some simple fresh fruit. And for that reason, I suggest Noble Raw as the name for this new cheese. 

My first-ever cheese giveaway. A collection of Coach Farm cheeses. Photo by Marie Flanagan.
With so much cheesy splendor in the house, I'm obligated to pay it forward, so I’m sharing some of this shipment with one, lucky reader. Included in the shipment will be a round of their award-winning Triple Cream, 4 ounces of their classic fresh goat cheese, and a piece of their brand new, unnamed raw goat’s milk cheese. 

The time is NOW. Do what the readers of this blog do best – gush about food. To enter for a chance to have this cheese shipped to you, either share this post on facebook -OR- write a description of your favorite goat cheese dish in the Twin Cities in the comments section below (if you live elsewhere, share a favorite restaurant's goat cheese preparation in your locale). This is your chance to WIN FREE CHEESE! Enter by the 18th.

Please note: This has been posted on multiple blogs. You need only enter on one of them.

[where: Minnesota, Food, Minneapolis, Twin Cities, 55418]

Rachelle's Fanciful Figolli

Look at this awesome wedding. 
A couple of our travel junkie pals, Dan and Rachelle, got hitched in Malta in 2004. To commemorate their time spent in Malta, the ever-thoughtful Rachelle started making a Maltese speciality - figolli - for Easter celebrations. 

Figolli are
colossal, splendid cookies stuffed with almond paste. Rachelle's figolli always steal the show with their ultra-mega size and fancy-pants decorating. Scads of people asked about them at our Easter lunch this year, so I asked Rachelle if I could share her recipe and story.


Rachelle's Fanciful Figolli 

(Adapted from the Gourmet Worrier recipe, which was adapted from The Food & Cookery of Malta recipe (1999))   

This quantity will give you enough dough to make approximately SIX average sized Figolli. 

For the pastry:  
  • 800g organic plain flour, sifted
  • 350g caster sugar
  • 400g butter
  • 4 organic egg yolks, lightly beaten
  • Grated rind of a lemon, lime and orange 
For the filling:
  • 600g icing sugar, sifted
  • 600g ground almonds
  • 4 organic egg whites
  • Grated rind of 2 lemons
  • A couple of capfuls of Orange Blossom water 
  1. Preheat the oven to 180C/350F
  2. Rub the butter into the flour and sugar until it resembles fine breadcrumbs. Add the egg yolks, lemon zest and a little cold water. Knead it gently to form a smooth ball. Wrap in cling wrap and chill in the fridge for 20 minutes.  
  3. Meanwhile add the lemon zest, orange blossom water and sugar to the ground almonds. Add the egg whites and mix until well combined.
  4. On a floured surface roll out your pastry to a 2-3mm thickness. Cut out your desired shapes ensuring that you have two of each figure as they will be sandwiched together with the almond filling.
  5. Lay the figolla on a lined baking tray and spread the almond filling at least 1cm thick. Lay the second shape over the top and press the edges together sealing it with a little water. Bake for 20 minutes until a pale golden colour. Allow to cool before decorating with lemon glace icing. Use royal icing to hold the chocolate eggs in place. 
From the baker herself, (Rachelle):

"This is my fourth or fifth time baking these and I tend to use a different recipe each time, learning new tricks each year.  I really liked how the cookie and filling turned out this year, but I ran out of mojo by the time I got to the decorating and had a few frosting fails, so I didn't get as elaborate with the decorating."

Rachelle and Dan = couple crush

[where: Minnesota, Food, Minneapolis, Twin Cities, 55418]