Saturday, March 28, 2009

Breakfast Obsession: Hell's Kitchen

I've been putting a new emphasis on breakfast and brunch and hope to author a few posts concentrating on these subjects in the near future, especially since the majority of this blog has focused on meals that occur later in the day. I'm really trying to get Cafe Maude as well as Levain's brunch in the next couple of weeks (I'll have to work a trip into my favorite, Zumbro Cafe, too!), so stay tuned.

I had brunch a few weeks back at Hell's Kitchen and was impressed with the operation they run there. The menu is diverse with some seriously creative dishes and I think it offers great fare that can satisfy even the pickiest eaters. The place was packed and everyone was having a good time (seriously lots of drinking going on for a Sunday morning), so I figured I was in for a treat - a serious underestimation. Jess and I each decided to focus on the "unch" portion of brunch by ordering sandwiches, but I had heard so much about their sausage bread that I decided we had to try some.

One bite of this majestic bread is every bit as spiritual as the most dramatic gospel reading and it's dense enough to serve as a solid meal on its own. Looking beyond the perfect texture, you'll find that the flavor is amazing. The thought of sausage bread is odd and the flavors are quite bi-polar, but trust me here. The sausage provides a savory hint, but isn't too overpowering. The finished product tastes much more like a really eclectic spice cake with an extra savory element. The walnuts, black currants and coffee combination pack in bold flavors that compliment the sausage, and is yet to be matched in any of my breakfast adventures. It was easily one of the best, if not the best baked good I have ever tasted. I'm instantly addicted and will have to get back there soon to calm this peculiar reoccurring craving. I'll be back at Hell's for sure and suggest that you check it out next time you're looking for a little pick-me-up or a good hangover cure!

Happy Eating,


Wednesday, March 18, 2009

The Armatage Room Brings Dessert to a Whole New Level

I was searching around for some good food news the other day and discovered a juicy bit of food news from AZ . Turns out my neighboring Armatage Room will be hosting the mother of all dessert events. On Sunday, March 22nd Adrienne Odom, previously of Aquavit and Gotham Bar and Grill (to name only a few, mind you) fame, will be putting on what promises to be a outrageous five course dessert and wine tasting. To me, this event highlights the shift back to the indulgence and comfort of the Sunday Supper. Odom boasts the resume of a true pastry rock star and her craft will be in the spotlight for what I can imagine will be a rare and exciting event. I was at Cafe Maude on Sunday and decided to do some snooping and turned up what is a beyond promising menu. Please note that each of the below courses will be paired with wine, beer or coffee.

Passion Fruit Curd
Tropical Fruit Tartare and Ricotta Sorbet

Sheeps' Yogurt Cheesecake
Ras El Hanout Shortbread
Oven Roasted Pears
(Tell me this doesn't sound amazing)

Warm Olive Oil Cake
Sherry Poached Figs
Fig Ice Cream
Saffron Orange Gel

Thyme Ice Cream, Chocolate and Sea Salt

Chocolate Caramel Tart
Earl Grey Parfait and Citrus Dust

Assorted Handmade Chocolates
(Three of my favorite words)

I'm not a huge dessert guy as my taste buds seem to lean more towards the savory, but calling the above simply "dessert" clearly isn't doing the menu justice. This sounds like a truly unique experience that is not to be missed. The cost of the event is $45 and reservations are required.

Call 612-822-5411 or visit for more info on this limited event.

Happy Eating,


Tuesday, March 3, 2009

Food and Wine Show

I do some volunteer work for a really cool initiative in the beer category, and one of the perks was getting to do some pouring at the Food and Wine show last weekend. I'd never been before, but know that people make a big stink (OK, not a good food term) about it every winter. Since I was technically an exhibitor I was able to get in early and really walk around the place before the crowds arrived. There were a staggering number of vendors there touching almost every food and beverage category including beer, wine, restaurants, catering, kitchen furnishings and an expansive group of dairy farmers (shout out to Burnett county) to name just a few.

Before I knew it the Convention Center was filled with the sweet smells of cooking. The guys from Zhatar were grilling little Kobe sliders and a few folks were roasting some pork. You could catch a hint of fresh oyster as you strutted by the Stella's booth, and the folks over at Thousand Hills always had something good going - I tried their weenies for the first time and will have to pick some franks up this grilling season. Soon the whole place was filled with the aromas of peace coffee, BBQ and just about anything else you could imagine. All the folks that were setting up seemed to be in great spirits. We exchanged a few beer samples for a nosh here and there, and everyone seemed more than willing to take care of each other. There were a lot of demos starting to get set up and I would have loved to observed, but I knew we were about to get started I quickly made my way back to the FINNEGANS booth.

All of a sudden the doors opened and the masses flooded in. Before I knew it, people were flying around with their glasses out and were lining up to try a little sample of everything. It all seemed a bit odd as I feel that food is something to be appreciated in a nice setting with good conversation. This event was seemingly more conducive to eating while on a run amongst thousands of your closest strangers, which I didn't really care for. The lines to sample became quite long and I could tell this event required an odd juxtaposition of patience and urgency that seemed really unappealing. I couldn't believe how long the line was at Qdoba when there were so many other great vendors there to enjoy. The whole vibe was a bit commercial, and I quickly realized that I was glad I was there to volunteer and help out vs. shelling out some serious coin to graze with the masses - especially on fare that was essentially being cooked on little grills or hot plates - it all seemed very rushed. I think I'd rather take the $65 or so and cruise to a nice Saturday or Sunday meal with a small group instead of flinging myself to the hoards in hopes of grabbing a few bites here and there. I'm down for family style eating, but if I'm going to do that, I'd rather do it in a bit more intimate environment.

Hope everyone is enjoying restaurant week.

Happy Eating,

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