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Minnesota's First Vermouth
By: | Posted: 09/19/2012
I live in the Twin Cities. Lots to do around here these days. This Friday night on Sept. 21, one of the coolest stores in town, Gallery Co, is hosting an open house at its gallery/consignment shop/furniture and design hub. It’s at 1609 Hennepin Avenue South from 6-10 p.m., off Loring Park. It’s going to be fun. Cool people, great music, fun stuff to see and buy, and great food from yours truly courtesy of the AZ Canteen. Other stores in the neighborhood will also be there showcasing their stuff. It will be a great night.
On Saturday, Sept. 29 at 6 p.m. at Cooks of Crocus Hill in St Paul you can save a FORTUNE on, amongst other things, Wusthof knives. Sign up at cooksofcrocushill.com because if you aren’t signed up early you won’t get in to be able to spend money to save money. Seriously, they have several of these sales each year and they are amazing: top tier products at rock bottom prices. If you love to cook, get on it.
The Meritage Oyster Fest is coming up in St Paul as well, sign up for that here, and you will take part in what is fast becoming one of the premiere food events in the state. No joke, and it’s only in its second year!
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Speaking of St Paul, the rumor is true, I will be at the St. Paul Farmers’ Market this weekend on Saturday morning with camera crew in tow to shoot an episode of Appetite For Life, my msn.com web series. Come say hi. We will be there in the morning after 9 a.m. Check out details at stpaulfarmersmarket.com.
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Michael White from Beloit, Wisconsin, now lives in New York City. When he was a teen, he was one of the town’s beloved football players at the local high school. He went to Italy, decided to cook for a living, and is now one of the best chefs in the world. He is one of my favorite people on the planet, and we are off-the-clock pals. Once he let me cook in his kitchen for the Bizarre Foods NYC episode. I don’t think he ever will again. That’s a different story. He has restaurants all around the world including several in NYC: Marea, Osteria Morini, Ai Fiori, etc. Morini specializes in the foods of Emilia Romagna and this coming Monday on Travel Channel you can watch No Reservations and watch Tony trot all over Emilia Romagna with MW. It's on Sept. 24 at 9 p.m. Set your DVRS. It’s a good one.
There are thousands of people living in NYC who are residents of Services for the Underserved’s housing facilities. I am on the board of this amazing group, and you can learn more about it at sus.org, but while we are celebrating harvest all around the country, I wanted to share this beautiful news. Over the last three years, SUS has been developing an urban agriculture program that has been a source of healthy, organic produce for our supportive housing residents as well as an opportunity for employment. With “farms” located at four supported housing sites, 32 raised soil beds have yielded 1,530 pounds of produce such as lettuces, cabbage, spinach, broccoli, tomatoes, eggplant, squash, and melons, just to name a few. That’s the power of love, dignity, and respect shot through the prism of food. We weren’t the first to do it, and I pray we aren’t the last, but the important thing is that we are doing it. If you want to make a difference in the world, help people feed themselves.
My friend Jim Choi lives in San Francisco. He is a pro’s pro, a great sound engineer, audio genius, photographer, documentarian, and one of the most passionate and knowledgeable food geeks I know. I get to work with him from time to time and we are always talking food. His fiancee’s family owns a small restaurant in San Fran called To Hyang. It is the stuff of legend, with a real grandma, Hwa Soon Im cooking behind a small stove using her own fermented bean pastes, pickles and home style food. Check out my Instagram feed (chefaz) and andrewzimmern.com for pictures. Suffice to say it’s the only place in America where you can find some of the foods on their menu. No one I know is making fermented bean paste (doen jang) from scratch with the depth of flavor that you find at To Hyang. Hwa’s husband used to be a fisherman, and the salted and dried yellow croaker, with the roe, crisp fried and eaten with chilies and rice may have been the best dish I have eaten in a long time. Everything here is made from scratch: the soy sauce, the chili sauces, the bean pastes, even the fish sauce. Her noodles are insanely chewy and elastic and melting at the same time, the goat stew with perilla leaf is alone worth the drive across country as is the sweet braised oxtails or the fish head chigae with chiles and radish. Anyway, in today’s e-mail I found a special gift. Sure, you can see To Hyang get its star turn in Anthony Bourdain’s Layover SF episode when my pal Chris Cosentino took AB for a quick bite there, but Jim’s love letter to his future mother in law (Min, his soon-to-be wife runs the front of the house, by the way) seen in this short doc is awesome. Check it out.
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My dad lives in Maine. And I love the Kennebunk Inn. Phineas Cole built the original building as a private residence in 1799. More than a century later the private home was converted to a hotel and restaurant known as “The Tavern.” In the 1930s the name of the hotel was changed to The Kennebunk Inn. This 200 plus-year-old property right in the heart of Kennebunk was remodeled in 2008 and has 18 guest rooms and eight family suites . . . and a great restaurant, Academe. Cat Cora put these folks on the map thanks to the Food Network TV show The Best Thing I Ever Ate, selection of the Maine lobster pot pies from chefs Brian and Shanna O’Hea. Big news! Now they are shipping across the country these days. Just go to mainelobsterpotpies.com; they are great and everyone is always asking me about those types of Maine treats and in the fall in Minnesota they are a perfect way to feed the fam.
Andrew Zimmern is a columnist for Mpls.St.Paul Magazine and the host of Travel Channel's Bizarre Foods with Andrew Zimmern.See bio
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