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An email popped into our inbox a few weeks ago notifying us of a special event that was going to take place at Canterbury Park on April 24th.

Savor Minnesota
The Best of Minnesota Wine, Food and Beer!

Admission was $35 in advance, $40 at the door. The price included a souvenir tasting glass and a Savor Minnesota booklet with discounts and free offers from participating wineries.

The following Minnesota wineries were present:
Cannon River Winery
Crofut Family Winery
Falconer Vineyards
Fieldstone Vineyards
Forestedge Winery
Garvin Heights Vineyards
Glacial Ridge Winery
Goose Lake Winery
Minnestalgia
Morgan Creek Vineyards
Northern Vineyards
Parley Lake Winery
Saint Croix Vineyards
Warehouse Winery
Wine Haven Winery
Woodland Hill

A lot of the guys could be found hovering at the Summit Brewery stand. There were also educational booths and free food! Chester Creek Cafe (from Duluth) was there offering a plate full of goodies like green coconut curried mussels, roasted potatoes and veggies, seasoned almonds, olives and buttery baguette.

This was the perfect opportunity to become better acquainted with our friends Edelweiss, LaCrescent, Frontenac, Frontenac Gris, Marquette, St. Pepin, Foch, LaCrosse, as well as the growers and winemakers.

Of course the wine was great, but I loved, loved, loved the Honey Butter from Bee Happy Honey. Who knew that mixing butter and raw honey could be that good? I want to spread it on everything and if I can’t spread it on something, then a spoon works just fine.

For next year…bring a bag to hold all those flyers and keep your fingers crossed for more food booths. It is such a shame that you can’t buy the wine there, not all are offered in the local liquor stores and some wineries are a trek.

Stay tuned for more Minnesota wine writings… the 3rd annual MN wine weekend trip is quickly approaching and we will be hitting the open roads of Northwest MN to sample all the fine wines our state has to offer!

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Maybe I am the only one that was curious, but I had to check out the new Subway breakfast menu. For being in South Mpls I am always a bit bummed that the only food establishment that is within an easy walking distance is Subway. I feel this responsibility to frequent it at least once a month. Maybe if people go here other restaurants will open?? That is my reasoning and dream.

A lazy Sunday finally found its way into my schedule so I thought I would start the morning with a brisk walk to Subway and try out this new menu. There are 5 different breakfast sandwiches you can choose from, I settled on the basic egg and cheese. For $1.75 I could order the English muffin and for a bit more you could get it served on a flat bread or other Subway sandwich bread.

So the positives, the egg is an egg white omelet and the English muffin is a light wheat. So if you are looking to beat the McDonald’s Egg McMuffin in calories and fat, the Subway sandwich will do it. The Subway egg and cheese is 4 grams of fat vs the McMuffin egg and cheese which is 12 grams of fat. The Subway breakfast sandwich also gives you the option of adding any of the toppings that are available to you when ordering a normal build your own sandwich, so you can easily add in some veggies to the mix. The refrigerator case has also expanded to include things like juice, yogurt, and apple slices.

However, we all want to know if it is worth it, right? I guess if I was on a road trip, saw a Subway on the side of the road and needed a quick to-go breakfast I would consider ordering it again, but I won’t make a point to walk there again for breakfast. The English muffin was  cardboard and I couldn’t taste the egg omelet. I would recommend spending more to try the flatbread and adding some veggies to ramp up the flavors. Or maybe what I am really recommending is finding a few friends, heading to a yummy brunch location and really starting the day right!

Breakfast served til 11am.

Subway: http://www.subway.com/subwayroot/index.aspx

This past holiday weekend was a great excuse to open the recipe books and search for new recipe to bring to the family gathering. I always jump at the opportunity to bring something so I can try another recipe in my never decreasing stack. The challenge when having to transport something to another location is temp. I don’t want a recipe where it has to be served chilled or served hot – I just can’t guarantee that I can pull that off when driving all around town. When I saw these tarts could be served room temperate – score! The original recipe called for the zucchini slices to be folded and placed in a concentric circle so it would form a rose. Well that sounded a bit complicated to me and maybe too much zucchini to support the small pie crust circle it would sit on. I decided to just use 2 zucchini slices and place the folded edges against each other which made for an interesting look in itself.

These were perfect bite size delights! Within a matter of minutes there was only 1 left. Why will no one eat the last one!? The pie crust was a bit sweet and the goat cheese a bit tangy. The zucchini was perfect – it still had a bit of crisp when biting into it but not a mushy mess. This recipe will be transferred to my permanent collection. I can’t wait til my garden starts producing an abundance of summer squash so I have reason after reason to make these over and over again!

Mini Goat Cheese Zucchini Tarts

adapted from Epicurious

Ingredients

  • 1 refrigerated pie crust (half of 15-ounce package)
  • 48 2-inch-diameter zucchini slices, cut into 1/16- to 1/8-inch-thick rounds (this is 1 to 1 1/2 zucchinis)
  • 1 teaspoon salt
  • 2 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil
  • 2 teaspoons chopped fresh lemon thyme or regular thyme
  • 3 ounces soft fresh goat cheese, room temperature
  • 1/4 cup freshly grated Parmesan cheese
  • 1/2 tsp pepper (more or less to taste)

Preparation

Line rimmed baking sheet with parchment paper (or SilPat). Place pie crust on floured work surface. Using a shot glass (or a biscuit cutter about 2 inches in diameter) cut out 24 rounds; transfer to prepared sheet, spacing 1/2 inch apart. Place in freezer until dough is firm, about 30 minutes. DO AHEAD: Can be made 1 day ahead. Cover; keep frozen.

Toss zucchini with 1 teaspoon salt in medium bowl. Let stand 15 minutes. Drain and pat dry. Place zucchini in another medium bowl; toss with 2 tablespoons olive oil and thyme.

Preheat oven to 400°F. Spread goat cheese generously over each frozen dough round. Fold 2 zucchini slices in half and place atop 1 dough round. Repeat with remaining zucchini and dough (reserve any remaining zucchini for another use). Sprinkle with Parmesan and pepper. Bake until crusts are light golden, about 20 minutes. Transfer to platter. Serve warm or at room temperature.

Remember when eating real food was normal and not a fad? It is a little bit sad but promising that movies like Food, Inc and shows like the Jamie Oliver’s Food Revolution are starting to wake people up to the idea of eating things like apples and bananas, instead of fruit roll-ups. Well, I recently read about the newest MPR series – Fighting obesity one meal at a time – and of course it got me interested. What is in our fridges? It is everyone’s favorite segment on MTV Cribs, right? 🙂 Jen and I don’t have any Cristal in our fridges, but we do have some real food! And one of us has beer. Lots of beer…

I heard someone say recently… “if your grandma doesn’t recognize the ingredients in something, then you shouldn’t eat it.” So true. Are you listening xanthan gum?

BTW – If you haven’t seen Food, Inc yet, be sure to check out the special airing on PBS coming up on April 21st.
Check your local listings: http://www.pbs.org/pov/tvschedule/

Dominguez Restaurant
3313 E 50th St, Minneapolis, MN 55417
(612) 729-2353
no website

“Let’s go to the Mexican place! You know, the Mexican place!” Thankfully my friends can decipher my cryptic talk because they all call it “the Mexican place” too! I first discovered Dominguez back in 2007 and I find myself going back again and again. You will find the Mexican place right off 34th Ave on 50th street in Minneapolis. It is a little orange building with bold, yellow block letters spelling out: RESTAURANT. There are some charming lawn ornaments in the front of a little man with his donkey and cart – they always make me smile when I pull up.

My favorite dish is the chimichanga. The veggi chimichanga. A deep-fried burrito, smothered in cheese sauce. Ooh my. The veggie chimichanga is filled with fire roasted peppers and onions, accompanied with a side of rice and a side of refried beans. The beans are not that special, but the rice is fluffy and lightly flavored, overall I always leave with a full belly and not feeling greasy and gross like other Mexican establishments have left me. The food is fresh and served by the nicest servers.

One word of advice – stay away from the margaritas. Your choices are lime and cranberry (yes, cranberry) and they are just weird. The taste is like an energy drink or HI-C juice box that has gone bad. I mentioned this to a friend of mine and they pointed that Dominguez does not have a full liquor license, they just sell beer and wine. So would mean the margarita probably doesn’t have tequilla. Hmm, wonder what it does have?? Your best move is to stick with the beer, can’t go wrong there!

I realize this neighborhood joint probably isn’t in-between everyone’s home and work but I recommend making the trip to visit, your bellies will be happy!

In case you haven’t heard, Kieran’s Irish Pub opened in Block E last week. As I stood there last night, gaping at the massive, beautiful, mountain of a bar, I realized I was not in the mood for the brown bubbly stuff.

I was hungry for wine.

A peek at the wine list:


I enjoyed the Cocannon Cabernet.

It’s too soon for a full review, but here are a  few early observations.

The new Kieran’s is larger than the previous location with a more complex floor-plan. There is a main dining room with a stage, a small separate dining room (with another bar), a couple of private rooms for groups of 10-15 people, and a new Titanic Lounge. In my opinion, the space is pleasant and comfortable. There are nooks, crannies, cozy booths, high and low tables, gas fireplaces and the same random art that covered the walls in the old space.

The food was creative (ie.: bison, walleye, curry, and yes…fancy pretzel dipping sauces!), tasty and well-priced. The wait staff and bartenders proved friendly and attentive. The Tim Malloys rocked the house with dirty toast after dirty toast.

So far, business is booming. The place was packed when we arrived around 7:30 for dinner, and by the time we left at midnight–a line had formed outside!

Before robins and tulips, the first signs of Spring for me are:
1. A sighting of someone wearing shorts, while the snow is still on the ground,
2. A motorcyclist all bundled just to be the first on the streets and
3. Minnesota Monthly Restaurant Week!!

Last week, I got to visit 2 restaurants that were offering special tasting menus: Kafe 421 and Ginger Hop

Kafe 421
421 14th Avenue Southeast
Minneapolis, MN 55414-2005
(612) 623-4900
www.kafe421.com

$15 Dinner Menu

Starter: Greek Salad—Romaine hearts, tomatoes, cucumbers, red onions, green peppers, feta cheese, kalamata olives and oregano vinaigrette
This was a just fine Greek salad. Nice crisp lettuce, with cheese and kalamata olives. Always a good way to start dinner and get that stomach ready for more!

Entrée: Vegetarian Moussaka—Layers of potato, eggplant, zucchini and tomato topped with a thick béchamel and parmesan crust served with pomodoro
This was so good and I didn’t see it on their regular menu so this was a treat! The sauce was much more tomato than bechamel (a white sauce of milk, butter, flour), but lovely and rich.

Dessert: Ouzo scented crème brulee Baklava a la mode
Well the dessert was suppose to be the crème brulee, however the server told us they just ran out and will have to substitute with the baklava (a la mode!). I may have been too excited upon that news! I am not a crème brulee fan, but baklava? Stand back!

Overall: I wish I would remember to go here more! Good wine list, good food and the parking lot off 5th St SE validates (so I only had to pay $2). They also have a meal deal on Tuesdays and Sundays – check out the website for more info.

Ginger Hop
201 East Hennepin Avenue
Minneapolis, MN 55414
(612) 746-0305
www.gingerhop.com

$15 Dinner Menu

Starter: Three cream cheese -OR – cream cheese and onion wontons
I picked the three cream cheese and it didn’t disappoint! There was just the right amount of cream cheese so I wasn’t left with a pile of fried dough with no cream cheese to eat with it.

Entrée: Sweet Green Curry -OR- Thai Fried Rice
This was a tough choice, I am not sure how much I like Thai curry, but this was the night to try! So I ordered the Sweet Green Curry. It is not sweet! It is the spiciest thing I had in a long time, in fact I was pretty surprised how spicy it was without giving a person any warning. However, I can say I like curry when it is a coconut curry dish like this was! The crisp, fried tofu blended in wonderfully along with the red pepper, peas and eggplant.

Dessert: Ginger ice cream with a ginger snap cookie
Lovely finish, a nice creamy ice cream with a soft delicious gingersnap cookie

Overall: The service was pretty lacking this night and I wish they took reservation instead of just call ahead. The sweet green curry is real spicy, with no warning, hoping that next time I can order with a reduced spice level. However, I learned that if I see coconut curry on the menu, I will ordering it again and again!