Thursday, April 23, 2009

Warm Weather and Good Food

There simply isn't a better combination then a nice warm night and good old outdoor dinning.

Let's face it, it's been far too long since we've been able to enjoy either. Given that void, I got real excited when I read that the Chef Shack would be making its first appearance of the year at Urban Bean. Then I noticed that there was suddenly a lot of banter about the lack of street food in MN. Over the course of this week, the temperature started to rise and so did the amount of news about this event. It was the perfect storm for an awesome kick-off to summer. The combination of blog buzz, good food, warm weather, and free PRB was compelling enough to get me off my arse and out of work at the stroke of 5 to take it in.

I showed up at Urban Bean around 5:25 and the patio was already rocking. The fact that the weather was perfect seemed a good enough draw, and I was excited to enjoy my first dose of summer. There was a good line around the shack as people lined up for their Thousand Hills burgers. The sweet perfume of the coals and caramelizing beef was completely captivating, causing me to pause for a brief moment to take it in. Despite the allure, I was in the mood for something else. "Got any tongue tacos?" I asked with nervous uncertainty. The answer was a very unfortunate "no," but the disappointment was forgotten once I saw pulled pork on the board. They had a sandwich ready to roll and I gladly forked over my 7 bones - a small price to pay for some seasonal satisfaction

I make pulled pork quite a bit and I love the stuff. The chef shack's version is no slouch. The flavors are subtle enough to still appreciate the purity of the tender pork, but it also has a craveable brine-y BBQ quality that makes it totally addictive. They pile on a gingery-pickled cabbage - a serious twist on slaw - that is so deeply purple it could easily make Prince appear muted. The slaw is spiked with raisins offering a layer of sweetness that make this sandwich truly unique. Finally, a nice grilled bun offerd a final much-anticipated summer accent.

One of the best parts about eating at the shack are their kick-ass condiments. Homemade ketchup, kraut, hot pepper sauce and a number of other specially prepared options really rasie the bar. I simply threw on some sport peppers and razor thin pickles before I started in on my little summer retreat. It all went too fast, but it's hard to control yourself as you try and make up for the time lost cooped up inside all year. Thankfully the shack will make the rounds at the Mill City and Kingfield markets during the growing season. My grill will be in full effect to fill in the voids, but I still need to get my hands on some of those tacos - and those darn doughnuts!
Side note - really impressed with the crowd tonight. It's good to see all the spirited Minnesotans out to support such a fun food experience. It's awesome that everyone rallies around the people and things they enjoy given the harshness of the economic climate right now. If nothing else a nice night out with friends offers a nice temporary reprieve.

Happy Eating,


1 comment:

kat said...

Looks like a great time. We always eye them when we go to Mill City Market so next time we'll actually have to try them out.

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