Bizarre Eats Twin Cities
Try them—you’ll like them.
Pig face dinner
You know what’s better than string? Caul fat. Chefs have long used the lacy, sinuous fat membrane surrounding the internal organs of animals to finer ends, thus the glory of snout-to-tail cooking. This webbing can be used to bind rolled meat or as a wrap for low-fat proteins to add flavor and retain moisture, giving venison that extra boost. Source it from your local butcher or find it in the case at Heartland’s Farm Direct Market. 289 E. 5th St., St. Paul, 651-699-3536
You love charcuterie, right? You’re all about sucking down some cured meats, but you’ll just leave that hunk in the corner for someone else. Get over it—headcheese is here to stay. The stuff of our grannies looked oddly like chunks of erasers floating in brown meat jelly, without tasting much different. But today, this terrine of parts is less a slice of leftovers than an intentional melding of earthy flavors. Eating a slice prepared by Mike Phillips of Three Sons Meats is beautiful enough to erase any lingering hauntings from your past.
Pig Face Dinner
If you want to get all metaphysical, is there really much difference between eating pork face and eating pork belly? Maybe it’s just that your food is staring back at you. If you can handle the glare, pop into The Sample Room and order half of a hog’s head. It’s delicious. The head is cooked in beer overnight, then deep-fried so that when you plunge your knife into the pork jowls (a true delicacy—ask a European), there is nothing but crispy skin and melty fat with luscious white pork meat. 2124 Marshall St. NE, Mpls., 612-789-0333
Any reader of 19th-century Russian novels knows kvass—the stuff the peasants are always getting drunk on. But even the most avid Dostoyevsky reader is unlikely to have tried the drink that comes about when you're fermenting things neither grapes nor grain—till now. Angelica's Garden, the local pickle, sauerkraut, and kimchi master, has been making nonalcoholic versions of kvass. The beet kvaas tastes crazy: It's the fresh and tart side of beets—earthy, sweet, and tangy. The carrot one is less sweet, bringing forward an unexpected dry, malty side. Try them for bragging rights with the Russian-lit set. Various locations
Certainly in Shakespeare’s time there were dozens of London brewers. But what did that beer taste like? It wasn’t made in stainless steel (a 20th-century invention) and it wasn’t artificially carbonated (an 18th-century innovation). For one sort of answer, stop by Barley John's for Cask Wednesdays to taste gravity-decanted, cask-aged ales—just like they did in Shakespeare’s time. They are delicious, fragrant, and memorable—a flavor profile developed, oddly enough, without any Twitter whatsoever. 781 Old Hwy. 8 SW, New Brighton, 651-636-4670
Much fuss has been made the last few years over nose-to-tail eating. And yet, on those feet-filled plates are the same old veggies. Unless you go to Grand Szechuan. Start with kung-pao lotus root, soy-slicked savory rosettes that taste like some lovely halfway point between water chestnuts and chrysanthemum leaves. Add chili-pepper-slicked cold bean jelly, an order of hollow root vegetable (imagine hollow spinach stems), and maybe some stemmy, iron-tasting Chinese bracken. 10602 France Ave. S., Bloomington, 952-888-6507; 187 Cheshire Ln. N., Plymouth, 763-404-1770
Video: Bizarre Eats Twin Cities
Stephanie March checks out four funky foods found right here in Minnesota.