Fans of Lake & Irving will recall chef Andrew Ikeda, who helped open the Uptown restaurant with his brother Chris. For the past nine months, he’s been following a different career trajectory, embracing his passion for whole-animal butchery at Lowry Hill Meats in Minneapolis.
Seeing the shop’s pork bones stack up gave him an idea for a side business: broth. And that led to a catchy name: Abrothecary.
It’s easy to fall head over heels for this product. The selection ($9) fluctuates, but there’s usually a roasted chicken broth perfumed with ginger and turmeric, and a pork-based ramen broth, an umami-laden elixir built from the marrow of femur bones and shimmering with mirin, sake, smoky bacon and a shiitake mushroom dashi.
Ikeda sends his ramen broth buyers to the Dumpling & Strand stand (dumplingandstrand.com) for its fresh, handcrafted noodles. Instant dinner, right?
There’s always a vegetable broth on hand; morels were the basis of Ikeda’s most recent triumph. He also composes pestos.
“Last week it was wild arugula and garlic scape,” he said. “It’s pretty awesome, because we’re at the mercy of the growing season. I can’t wait for tomatoes, because that means gazpacho.”
Mill City Farmers Market
Spicing it up
Within her large social circle, Zahra Ismael is famous for the fiery chitney — or chutney, or hot sauce.
When family friend Fatuma Mohamed encouraged Ismael to transform a cherished recipe into a business, Ismael’s children and that encouraging pal jumped in to help. The lively condiment is now being bottled under the Shahiya (that’s Arabic for appetite) label, and any heat-loving fan should have a jar or two on hand.
All three ($10) rely upon organically grown ingredients, and reflect Ismael’s melting-pot background: her travels, her father’s Turkish roots, the flavors and traditions of her native Oromia (Ethiopia’s most populated region) and her adopted Minnesota home.
“It’s her secret recipes. She’s been making them for a long time,” said Ibrahim Mohamed, Ismael’s son. “I’ve grown up eating her chitney, and I don’t know exactly how she does it.”
The upstart enterprise is boosted by the family’s collective experience in the food business. Mohamed and his wife, Alyson Sweet-Mohamed, spent a season farming at Gardens of Eagan, and he and his sisters — Amina Mohamed, and, coincidentally, another Fatuma Mohamed — have worked at the Seward Co-op.
Next up: expanding production, and getting the family’s product onto the shelves of natural foods co-ops.
“We’re just so happy to share this with the people,” said Ibrahim Mohamed.
Mill City Farmers Market, tasteshahiya.com.
During her European travels, Rachel Thompson kept encountering waffles. Everywhere.
“I never tried one, and I’m kicking myself for not doing that,” she said with a laugh. “They were so prevalent that I was thinking, ‘No way can they be that good.’ ”
Yeast gives it punch, scandalous amounts of extra-fatty butter (from Hope Creamery in tiny Hope, Minn.) inserts much-needed heft and the pearl sugar that Thompson sneaks into the batter tends to caramelize on the iron, burnishing a tantalizing crunchy, sneakily sweet finish. Yep, an ideal farmers market breakfast item.
For toppings, Thompson wisely adopts a less-is-more attitude: powdered sugar, a thick swipe of Nutella, or an ever-changing sauce; peanut butter or salted caramel one day, lemon curd the next.
“Nothing too over-the-top,” she said. “I’m constantly coming up with new things. I lose sleep thinking of new combinations that I can put on a waffle. That’s fun for me.”
Fulton Farmers Market and Linden Hills Farmers Market, tbspwaffles.com.
In a pickle
For a different approach to pickles, look to the stand operated by Gyst Fermentation Bar.
Vinegar has nothing to do with these crisply preserved veggies. Instead, Jim Bovino and his crew rely upon a brining technique, one that accentuates the vegetables’ vibrant texture and color.
“We decided to use the traditional ‘pickles’ rather than ‘ferments,’ ” he said. “But that gives us a way to talk about other methods of preservation. I learned how to ferment because I had extra produce. We want to inspire people to think about preservation as something they can do year-round.”
Last week’s approachable, eye-grabbing selection included daikon radishes with chiles, turnips with leeks and dill, and peppery Cherry Belle radishes with garlic scapes. The farmers market’s face-to-face nature has been particularly beneficial for the Gyst crew.
“It has been a blast,” said Bovino. “When it comes to the fermentation process, there’s such a learning curve, so this is a fun way to meet people, talk with them and let them taste the products.”
Capella Tower Farmers Market and Linden Hills Farmers Market (and coming soon to the Whittier Farmers Market), gystmpls.com.
A nutty new milk
Fed up with the murky flavor and questionable additives in store-bought almond milk, Zelda Curti started making her own. When pal Susan Griak got a taste, she suggested they go into business. They christened it Me & Z Nut Milks.
Their formula? Simple. “It’s almonds — 35 percent almonds — and filtered water, that’s it,” said Curti. “We sweeten it with dates or honey, and flavor it with all-natural ingredients: whole organic vanilla beans, or spices like cinnamon and cardamom and nutmeg.”
Pristine and full-bodied, these almond milks ($9.50 for 16.25 oz., $16 for 33 oz.) are produced in a south Minneapolis commercial kitchen and are definitely worth seeking out. Here’s a mark of freshness: The contents separate, requiring a shake before serving.
“People saw that and said, ‘It’s not going to work,’ ” said Curti with a laugh. “But that’s what you sometimes have to do with all-natural food products.”
Mill City Farmers Market and Linden Hills Farmers Market, meandznutmilks.com.