In Rochester paczki is available at Daube's Cakes and Bakery.
In Rochester paczki is available at Daube's Cakes and Bakery.
News and views about "healthy" chocolate seem to only get better (http://www.huffingtonpost.com/john-robbins/chocolates-startling-heal_b_825978.html) and what's more, some of the best chocolatiers are right in our midst--in Minnesota, Wisconsin, Michigan, and (just a tad south) Chicago.
Let's start local with B.T. McElrath, out of Minneapolis: https://www.btmcelrath.com/index.asp. Offered by a number of Minnesota retailers, its shiny-as-if-buffed, refined candies can be discovered south of the metro Cities at ZZest Market & Wine Cafe, Rochester, Slant Avenue Mercantile, Laneboro, and Present Perfect, Northfield.
Fresh from Duluth, 185 Chocolat (http://185chocolat.com/links.html) is featured in Rochester at Sopra Sotto.
Our next door neighbor, Wisconsin, claims greatness with artisan dairy products and now can also pride itself on Candinas Chocolatier, made and sold only in the Madison area. (http://www.candinas.com/)
Traveling via the northern route around Lake Michigan, GG arrives in Fudge Country--but that's for another blog post. Here is Grocer's Daughter Chocolate, in Empire, Michigan. /http://www.grocersdaughter.com/ Then its on to truffle specialist The Chocolate Garden, Coloma: http://www.chocolategarden.com/
Last stop, all off, Chi-Town USA. Vosges Haut-Chocolat, popular for its bar chocolates, offers bittersweet-and-salty selections, among numerous concoctions that give tastebuds a sensory high: http://www.vosgeschocolate.com/?gclid=CIL02sW4nqcCFQgHbAodtXSQcQ Vosges is sold in Rochester at Zzest Market & Wine Cafe.
Ah, this was such a hard blog to post....The agony. GG indeed has tried candies from all of the makers listed here and can confidently state they are right up there (or close) with fine Belgian chocolates, yet they stand on their own in mix-it-up, witty American style. GG is undoubtedly missing some other splendid makers; please comment on your faves.
"Who's Afraid of Virginia Wolff"
Chartreuse smash and steak tartare at just-opened Maude's Liquor Bar.
It is, according to this news:
But Great Taste is skeptical. She went to Alinea years ago.
Been there, done that, as they say!
Great Taste isn't as excited about Alinea as others are. Regarding Alinea, she asks if you might agree or disagree to the following questions:
Do you like food that costs big $$$$? Food that looks so pretty it's easy to forget you're supposed to eat it? Do you like to sit in a room at a table that's kinda close to other people sitting in the room at tables, speaking in library voices? Do you like super-sleek understated ambiance? Do you like not recognizing your food because it's so minimalistic-ally decorative? Do you think of your food as something highly distilled from its origins? If you answered "yes" to many of these questions, you'll probably love Alinea!
For more down-to-earth, superlative culinary experiences, try Corner Table in Minneapolis, and Heartland in St. Paul. Great Taste would return to these soulful restaurants over Alinea. She would also rather go to the top dozen restaurants in New Orleans any day of the week.
But it takes all kinds....
Among Great Taste's fave meals ever were lobster tacos at a simple beach spot in Huatulco, Mexico. Tortellini in cream sauce in Florence, Italy, 25 years ago. And a sliced-up perfectly ripe, large, thin-skinned beefsteak tomato grown in pitch-black garden soil in Illinois, with a dash of salt.
There are subtleties and sensory experiences you just can't rank.
Interesting twist on Yelp, the consumer-driven review website:http://www.huffingtonpost.com/2010/03/26/yelp-chicago-business-joi_n_515179.html
Here is Yelp's restaurant list for Rochester:
Great Taste observes:
Sontes should be much higher on this list. In 15th place it's ranked lower than T.G.I. Friday's, number 13. Chipotle should be higher--and strangely, even though it's a chain with the same menu, it's rated 27th and 44th, depending on location. Avocados World Bistro, number 42, has been closed since fall of 2008; Zzest Culinary Market & Wine Cafe, which opened months ago in its place, is not to be found--and it has proved to be one of the top gourmet dining experiences in town.
These are just a few of the issues here....There are too many to mention.
What's your opinion about Yelp?
In response to a reader question about where to buy corned beef for a Reuben sandwich, Great Taste did some research. For the real deal, it looks like the nearest location is The Brothers Deli in Minneapolis.
Great Taste has not yet been to the deli to taste test herself. If you have, please share.
On the other hand, Great Taste can recommend a serious deli in the Chicago area that offers shipping. http://www.kaufmansdeli.com/
For more on Jewish delis, check out this NPR link: http://www.npr.org/templates/story/story.php?storyId=113754874
More about "Save The Deli": http://www.savethedeli.com/?page_id=8
Do you have a lot of leftover turkey in the fridge right now?
Below is the recipe for Great Taste's hands-down favorite use of turkey. It's the secret reason why we choose to make turkey with gravy for dinner in the first place. Merry Christmas!
Marshall Field's Special Sandwich
One fresh, crispy head iceberg lettuce
Three to five thin slices of freshly roasted turkey breast (white meat only), room temperature
Three-fourths cup thousand island dressing (recipe to follow)
One thin slice of aged Swiss cheese
One fresh slice of Jewish or other mild (but flavorful) rye bread
One to two teaspoons butter, softened
Two slices of your favorite bacon
Slice of hard-boiled egg
Slice of tomato
Olive and parsley garnish
Butter rye bread and place on a large cold serving plate. Cover bread with Swiss cheese slice, followed by one or two slices of turkey. Take a nice large outer lettuce leaf from the head of iceberg and set aside. Slice the iceberg lettuce in a few large sections and arrange a section on top of the turkey and Swiss cheese.
Cover the open-face "sandwich" with big lettuce leaf. Top with several slices of turkey. Pour a very ample amount of dressing over the lettuce, allowing it to puddle slightly all around the plate. Place a slice of bacon and an olive on either side of sandwich mound. Place tomato slice and egg slice atop mound with parsley sprig. Serve immediately.
Yield: one special sandwich
Thousand Island Dressing
One cup real mayonnaise
One-half cup Heinz chili sauce
Two tablespoons sweet pickle relish
Two large green olives, pitted and finely chopped
One-half teaspoon dried tarragon
Dash Worcestershire sauce
One hard-boiled egg, finely chopped (optional)
Salt and pepper to taste
Combine all ingredients. Refrigerate at least 30 minutes. Serve.
Yield: One and three-fourths cups dressing
Background: In the 1970s Great Taste learned to make "Field's Specials" at a part-time job in the kitchen of a Marshall Field's store near Chicago. These "sandwiches" are in fact mountainous, delightful salads and were a popular menu item for the dyed-in-the-wool Field's customer. The Thousand Island dressing is GT's personal recipe.
Southern Minnesota has no Thai food restaurants. So GT ordered take-out Thai from the Burnsville area--which looks to be the nearest source--based on reading positive consumer online reviews.
Result: We nibbled at pad Thai, slurped spicy coconut chicken soup, and tried mango with sticky rice dessert. We tasted Thai iced tea. Then we headed to the trash pail and threw it away. Not only was the food hopelessly inauthentic, it looked and tasted less than fresh.
How can there be numerous glowing online reviews for this restaurant?
Great Taste has never been to Thailand but knows a little about the food. GT took a series of Thai cooking classes in New York City, and has prepared dishes at home. Great Taste used to sit captivated as a Thai friend described native cuisine, including fire-hot details of the burning spicy dishes that Thai people truly like. In Chicago boho days of yore Great Taste dined regularly on cheap, delicious and authentic Thai food. In later years GT continued to frequent simple storefronts (including all-time fave Penny's Noodle Shop by the elevated tracks) but also graduated to four-star gourmet Arun's.
Today, after more than two years full time in this state, GT admits that the lack of sophistication about most ethnic foods is numbing. In general writing about the dining scene here feels like folly. GT visits restaurants that are widely known as best in the area and walks out not knowing what to write about.
A recent trip to Chicago was like a return to civilization.There are glimmers of hope, however, like awesome Amish-made doughnuts at Thursdays on First.
We'll stop whining now. The grass is always greener.... If we're missing out on some decent Thai food in southern Minnesota, please do tell us about it!