Saturday, January 31, 2009

Golden Fig - Grand Ave. St. Paul

My parents gave me a great little book called twin cities for Christmas and I've found that it has proven itself most useful. I already have a lengthy list of new places I want to eat at, and a few shops I want to try and hit as well. One of the places featured in the great little book spans the gap between eating and shopping. It's called The Golden Fig and it's comfortably nestled on Grand Avenue near Grotto and Avalon.

The store is filled with a wide range of culinary goodies ranging from artisan salad dressings to dips, spreads, vinegars, craft cheeses and sustainably raised meats. They really do have a tremendous selection and there are samples everywhere! You could skip lunch if you plan your trip well, or should stop in if you are looking to buy something new and wouldn't mind a nice snack! I fell victim to the East Shore dipping mustard spiked with chipotle (they wrap things son nicely!). I know it's primary use is for dipping, but I spread it on bread to give sandwiches a good wallop of flavor.
They were sampling a carrot ginger soup that was divine and also sell a few other homemade goodies including take-and-bake mac and cheese! Pair the soup with a nice bubbly mac and cheese and you have the perfect cold busting lunch. Add a nice green salad with one of the many salad dressings they sell and you've got a robust, decadent and flavorful dinner. I recommend you check it out ASAP!

Happy Eating,


Friday, January 23, 2009

The Splendid Table's How to Eat Supper

You know you're a food enthusiast when at the age of 26, you hope to get cookbooks, a table top griddle and a mandolin for Christmas. Although I've enjoyed all those gifts, I may have put one of them to use more then the others in the last few weeks.

Lynne Rossetto Kasper and Sally Swift converged to create an awesome book titled "How to Eat Supper," and I really recommend that you check it out, regardless of whether or not you are an advanced cook or even if you cook all that often. The book does a nice job of dissecting dinner and all it's courses including salads, soups, eggs and small plates, vegetable main events, pasta, main dishes, sides and sweets. The book is full of tremendous recipes (The Cuban Black Bean Stew is perfection) and cooking tips, but I really like all the additional little extras they've baked in.

There are all sorts of little goodies sprinkled throughout on a variety of subjects including how to pick out the perfect kitchenware arsenal, and how to build dressing and soup bases to be expanded upon in a number of variations. They even get as detailed as to instruct you upon which tomatoes are the best for what application, which greens make the best pairings for salads and what to do with leftover or rapidly aging bread. This book is part frugal, and all, simple and flavorful gourmet. I highly recommend checking it out! Let me know if you've picked up any good books recently as I am rapidly building my library.

Happy Eating,


Sunday, January 11, 2009

Mexican Food Extravaganza

We are blessed to have good friends who have their own place down in Puerto Vallarta and are generous enough to share their escape with us. We headed down to Puerto Vallarta for the New Year and had a great time. The food was great, the weather was superior, and the friendship was incredible. We visited a number of beaches, took a boat out into Banderas Bay and enjoyed several meals at nice restaurants along with too many cervezas.

The highlight of the trip may have easily been getting back to fresh, locally sourced produced straight from the farm. Some people may find it intimidating to cook your own food in the land of Mantazuma's Revenge, but our friends had found good places to go and we enjoyed several nice meals at their place. The one thing I will mention is that a foreign butcher shop is not for the faint of heart!
The produce down there is super fresh and best if used immediately. We made several trips to the market over the course of the week, and each trip was well worth it. We got our hands on fresh cilantro, ripe avocados, fresh sour cream, tortillas that were pressed right before our eyes and delicious, lip-burning and flavorful salsas. Cooking and gathering around the table together was a special treat elevated by the fresh and flavorful foods.

We also enjoyed several nice meals in local restaurants that featured settings that could not be matched. We were lucky to have such knowledgeable hosts that also have an eye and stomach for good food, and they helped us navigate our way to some great meals in places that thankfully, were not crawling with tourists.

I already miss Puerto Vallarta and have to get back down there soon. For now, I'll just try and stay warm by keeping my oven busy. The chicken is roasting and the bread is rising!

Happy Eating,

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