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Looking for wild rice recipes? You're not alone

Posted by: Lee Svitak Dean Updated: November 25, 2014 - 4:29 PM

Wild rice casserole is the No. 1 recipe that Minnesota online searchers look for the week of Thanksgiving, says a report in the New York Times, prompted by the recent #grapegate controversy.

No surprise there, but at least it's official. The folks at the NYT who do data research asked Google to analyze the recipe searches prior to the holiday and compare the results to searches in the rest of the country.

It's a fascinating report with some unexpected twists, and worth a visit to browse among the states, if you have time to spare before cooking the big meal. 

The authors caution that the recipes mentioned are not the most iconic state recipes (which cooks may already know how to cook and have no need to look for). But they are the recipes that pop up as being most searched. 

Surprising on the Minnesota list is the number of sweet salads -- which makes me wonder if this recipe has appeared recently on a cooking show. "Snicker Salad" and "Cookie Salad" and "Apple Snicker Salad" are all in the top five recipes and, if you added up their search frequency, would top the number of searches for wild rice casserole.

The most popular recipes listed for each state include reference numbers that reflect how much more popular a search was in one state than in the rest of the country. Wild rice casserole, for example, has 16 times more searches in MInnesota than elsewhere.

In Wisconsin, it's Brownberry stuffing and pistachio fluff that tie for top of its list, followed by beer cheese dip (the Brownberry company roots are in Oconomowoc, Wis.). Snicker apple salad also appears on its list, along with taffy apple salad.

Iowa also has a sweet tooth, with Snicker apple salad and Snicker salad at the top of its list.

South Dakota has Snicker salad at the top of its list, with a whopping 34 times the national average.

UPDATE: To clarify, Google analyzed searches done the week of Thanksgiving for the past 10 years. The story says that the most popular dish for each state was not the focus of the analysis because, given the searches were conducted around Thanksgiving, that would have resulted in "turkey" for all the states. Instead, the researchers "looked for the most distinct" recipe searches, which is reflected in the lists that are part of the report.  

Here's the complete list for Minnesota, as reported in Upshot at the NYT, researched by Google.

Wild rice casserole ... .16x

Snicker salad .............13x

Broccoli bacon salad ...11x

Cookie salad ..............11x

Apple Snicker salad ...10x

Lefse ..........................8x

Scallopped corn ...........7x

Spritz cookies .............6x

French silk pie .............5x

A glass of wine -- and a chat -- with Jacques Pepin

Posted by: Lee Svitak Dean Updated: November 24, 2014 - 11:11 AM
Rochelle Olson and Jacques Pepin, Photo by KQED

Rochelle Olson and Jacques Pepin, Photo by KQED

By ROCHELLE OLSON
Star Tribune

 
In more than two decades as a reporter, I’ve met/encountered/interviewed the famous and the infamous – presidents, star athletes, rock stars, movie stars and convicted killers. It’s my job. After all this time, I don’t get nervous, but I can be apprehensive when the celebrity is someone I’ve enjoyed for years. I worry the person won’t live up to the image.

Like my brief brush with Mick Jagger years ago, my studio interview of Jacques Pepín exceeded my hopes.

I’d like to say I’m a devotee of Pepín’s method, that I’ve worked my way through a third copy of “La Technique,”  but I’m mostly a fan and a Francophile with a passion for Paris dreaming of the next time I can walk past the Tuilieries at dusk.

On his shows, Pepín charms, slices, dices and sautes while sharing sweet anecdotes and mildly mischievous asides. He seems so familiar and friendly it’s easy to forget he cooked for Charles DeGaulle and created food with Pierre Franey for the entire Howard Johnson hotel chain in its heyday.

He quickly assuaged my concerns with his calm, relaxed attitude. (If you’re unfamiliar with him, google his YouTube videos on omelet making. Fun and informative as always.) 

On camera, Pepín’s flawless. No fumbling or mumbling, just ease. Only a couple of times was he asked to do a second take for this episode. And each was a notch better than the first.I watched the taping on Monday at San Francisco’s KQED and expected to return Wednesday for an interview. But after all the audience members had  posed for photos, Pepín and his producers called me over for a shot. I followed orders.

Since I was standing next to him, I started asking questions. Then he asked if I wanted a glass of pinot noir. He was still drinking his wine from the show. I don’t usually drink on the job, but at this time, on the set with Pepín, I responded,  “When Jacques Pepín offers a glass of wine, who am I to say no?”

Pepín decided he had time before his afternoon taping to sit for an interview in the green room. Once inside, he asked a producer to get some more wine for us – chenin blanc left over from the show.

Now remember I had gone into the interview wary that the real-life Jacques would be justifiably less amusing than TV Jacques. Instead, here I was relaxing and on my second glass of wine with the great Jacques Pepin  – the man who cooked with Julia and any other significant chef in the past 50-some years.
And he was more down-to-earth and direct than I expected. He didn’t bristle at any questions. He was also much more handsome than he appears on TV. He has these deep brown eyes and is as handsome as an older George Clooney  –  if the movie star had that adorable French accent.

So here are a few snippets I learned that didn’t make my recent story in print:

Rochelle Olson and Jacques Pepin, Photo by KQED


When I asked about Julia, he told the story about how his neighbor, reporter Morley Safer, asked for an introduction to Julia ahead of a planned “60 Minutes” profile. Safer, most likely, was hoping to warm up his subject before sitting down with cameras.

Pepín shook his head as he recalled telling Safer, “I can introduce you, but it won’t matter. Julia is Julia.”
Still, he and Safer attended one of Julia’s public events. Pepín  didn’t recall the first question from an audience member, but he did recall Child’s response: “What a stupid question.”

He met Julia after a publishing agent asked him to read her manuscript for “The Art of French Cooking.” Pepin recalled the agent saying, “I’ve met this very big woman with a terrible voice.” He gave the manuscript a thumbs up  – and eventually teamed with Child for their own famous cooking series.

Pepín won’t retire. “What would I do? Now I get up every day at the crack of 10 a.m. I am not an early riser.” But he’s got a heavy schedule of public appearances, cooking events, petanque playing (a French game of tossing metal hollow balls, similar to bocce ball), walking his dogs and hanging out with his wife of 49 years, Gloria.

He hasn’t been to Paris in more than a decade. In the past when he would travel to France, it was to see his mother near Lyon where he grew up. He saw her last summer and she died soon after at 99 1/2, he notes.

He paints as a hobby and considers Picasso the master of the 20th century.

Because he never owned or ran a restaurant, Pepin said, “I didn’t have to worry much about what I said.”

As he’s grown older, Pepin said, “I like things much more spicy than I used to.”

He repeatedly praised simplicity. “Imagination is not something I’m crazy about. Sometimes they can really screw up the meal,” he said.

He likes teaching his granddaughter Shorey how to cook. “The kitchen is the right place to be after school  – the noise, the smell of it – all that stays with you the rest of your life.”

Follow Rochelle Olson on Twitter: @rochelleolson
 

First glimpse at "The Victory Garden's Edible Feast"

Posted by: Rick Nelson Updated: November 17, 2014 - 3:12 PM

Minneapolitans and two-time James Beard award-winning filmmakers Daniel Klein and Mirra Fine of the Perennial Plate are back in the news, this time with a preview of their soon-to-debut effort on PBS.

It's a reboot of the network's popular and groundbreaking "The Victory Garden" series, this time seen through the couple's storytelling prism, with an assist by the national network of Edible magazines.

TPT hasn't announced when it's running the show (the series launches, network-wide, in December), but look for an upcoming announcement on its website.

Catch the preview here:

The Victory Garden's Edible Feast TRAILER from The Perennial Plate on Vimeo.

A presidential visit to Golden Fig

Posted by: Lee Svitak Dean Updated: June 27, 2014 - 5:32 PM
President Obama with Laurie Crowell at right, and her sister Lisa McCann, at left

President Obama with Laurie Crowell at right, and her sister Lisa McCann, at left

Laurie Crowell is still smiling.

A day after President Barack Obama stopped by her gourmet food shop, Golden Fig Fine Foods, in St. Paul for a visit, she is still giddy. Bubbling over, in fact. “I don’t think I’ll ever stop smiling,” she said in an interview.

Hard to know if it was the presidential hug that prompted her smiles (more on that in a moment). Or the 30-minute chat she had with the president. Or the knowledge that he dropped by because of a letter she wrote.

About that letter: Through weekly emails she gets from the White House, she realized the president would be in town. “So I replied to the email as though the email was just for me. And I said, ‘I’m glad you’re coming to Minnesota and if you have time you should definitely swing by my store. Everything is made in the U.S. We buy mostly local, and so there’s local grass-fed steaks and chocolate and jams and jellies and milk in glass bottles. It’s all about direct from the producers and the farmers.’

“Of course I got the auto-reply and figured no one would see it. But apparently they did,” she said..

At 4 p.m. on Thursday, the first day of the president’s visit, her store manager called to ask when she would be back in the building. “I said I was just going to go through the car wash and stop at the bank. And she said, ‘Could you not do that? Could you just come here?’ ”

When Laurie got to the store, the Secret Service was there, along with bomb-sniffing dogs. “They were rolling racks in front of the doors so no one could come in behind them. And they asked if the president could come for a visit,” said Laurie. “And I thought, ‘Are you kidding? Of course'.”

And President Obama did. They chatted for a half hour on the importance of buying local, and about sustainability and organics and researching bee issues. 

President Obama signed his merchandise receipt for the owner of Golden Fig.

President Obama signed his merchandise receipt for the owner of Golden Fig.

He bought about $80 worth of Minnesota foods and paid with cash. “I don’t know if they jam everything, but we couldn’t make any phone calls; we couldn’t run credit cards. No one’s internet worked,” she said.

At the cash register, the president opened up his wallet and said, “Pretty much all I have is cash and a Chicago driver’s license," she said. “He showed me his license and I looked at his hair in the photo, and we both laughed because it was much more full and not gray. He said, ‘Yeah, it expires in 2016 so I’m good for a few more years’.”

The president left the store with two bags of Minnesota-made products, which Laurie – ever the entrepreneur – has pulled together into the Presidential Gift Box, wrapped in red-white-and-blue ribbon, should any shopper want to bring home the same.

That includes the raspberry jam from HeathGlen Farms (from Forest Lake), Minnesalsa and whole-grain blue tortilla chips, Mademoiselle Miel honey bon bons, sea salt caramels, chocolate-covered caramels from Painted Turtle, Golden Fig balsamic vinegar and apple chips from Eden Apples of Eden Prairie.

Then the president headed out for a stroll down Grand Avenue after noting that he was in the mood for ice cream.

And about that hug.

“I’m a total hugger, but I wasn’t sure if it was appropriate to hug him – I didn’t want to be thrown down to the floor by the Secret Service because that would have been embarrassing!” she said with a laugh. “I went to shake his hand and he said “Wait, come here” and he totally gave me a hug.”

Other food spots the president visited:

Matt's Bar for a Jucy Lucy and iced tea.
Grand Ole Creamery for a waffle cone of Black Hills Gold ice cream
Wild Onion Bar and Restaurant for a chat with those in outdoor seats

President Obama with Rebekah Erler, who had also written a letter to the White House. Photo by Jerry Holt, Star Tribune

President Obama with Rebekah Erler, who had also written a letter to the White House. Photo by Jerry Holt, Star Tribune

Piccolo gets a shout-out

Posted by: Lee Svitak Dean Updated: June 2, 2014 - 11:18 AM

When the Wall Street Journal asked Hugh Acheson (James Beard award-winner, 'Top Chef' judge, New South chef) where he had eaten a recent memorable meal, Acheson singled out Piccolo in Minneapolis where he had dined about six months ago.

"I had dinner at Piccolo, which serves modern American farm-to-table food. The chef, Doug Flicker, is cooking with a seasonal sensibility that is profound, professional and inspiring. The food was just so fresh and smart, even on a cold, fall day. I had speck-wrapped capon with chanterelles, parsnip chow-chow, cockscomb pain perdu and parsnip milk. Nothing like a castrated chicken to make a meal sublime. And it makes you feel good when you find food of that caliber in a place where you didn't expect it."

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