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Let's talk food, from restaurants and recipes to farmers markets, food issues and wine. Lee Svitak Dean, Rick Nelson, Kim Ode and Bill Ward will start the conversation.

Posts about Holidays

Twenty last-minute Thanksgiving dining ideas

Posted by: Rick Nelson Updated: November 27, 2013 - 4:07 PM

More and more dining-out options are becoming available on Thanksgiving. Here are 20 (very) last-minute ideas (reservations, when available, are strongly suggested):

At Cosmos, the gorgeous dining room (pictured, above) inside the Graves 601 Hotel, chef John Occhiato makes Thanksgiving special with a sumptuous three-course dinner ($45 adults, $12 children ages 12 and under), with multiple choices in each course (check it out here). The smooth, professional service is an added bonus.

The Beacon Public House, the stylish restaurant inside the equally stylish Commons Hotel (formerly the not-so-stylish Radisson University Hotel), is offering a traditional Thanksgiving dinner for $35 per person, and everyone leaves with a turkey sandwich. Here’s a nice twist: bring in non-perishable food items and exchange them for raffle tickets. The grand prize is an overnight stay at the hotel, and dinner for two at the Beacon.

The lovely main-floor dining room at newcomer Marin Restaurant & Bar (in the Le Meridien Chambers Hotel) is a fine venue for a four-course holiday celebration (find the menu here), brought to you by the same team behind St. Louis Park’s health-conscious Mill Valley Kitchen. The $45 per person cost includes a glass of wine.

You won't find a traditional Thanksgiving spread at Bank in the Westin Hotel -- the restaurant is sticking to its standard menu. Still, the setting is one of the city's stunners, the landmark art moderne banking hall of the former Farmers and Mechanics Savings Bank.

A brunch with all the usual Thanksgiving suspects is on the brunch menu at the Marquette Hotel, which is kicking open the doors of its Windows on Minnesota -- on the gasp-worthy 50th floor of the IDS Tower -- for the big event. Cost is $41 per person, which includes free parking in the convenient IDS Center parking ramp.

The historic Nicollet Island Inn is preparing a four-course meal (with a choice of three entrees: roast turkey, prime rib or broiled walleye) in its charming riverside dining room, for $68 per person.

The comfortable and attractive Bloomington Chophouse in the Hilton Minneapolis/Bloomington is putting out a turkey-and-trimmings-and-more buffet ($35 adults, $17 children ages 6 to 12, free for children under age 5).

How about a steak? Manny's Steakhouse in the W Hotel is open for business. Splurge on the menu's 85-day aged bone-in rib eye. A few blocks away, another steakhouse -- the Capital Grille -- is also serving dinner on the holiday.

At the Mall of America, Black Friday early birds can slip into the Napa Valley Grille for its a la carte menu, which includes butternut squash soup with petipas ($4 and $6) and roasted turkey with cranberries, garlic mashed potatoes and a savory bread pudding for $17.

Shoppers can also feast on a family-style holiday menu at swank, Rat Pack-ish Wildfire in Eden Prairie Center ($35.95 adults, $15.95 children ages 12 and under).

The News Room is marking the holiday with a three-course ($24.95) dinner that features roasted butternut squash soup, roast turkey with a Brussels sprout casserole and maple glazed sweet potatoes. Dessert? An apple-sage bread pudding topped with a cranberry compote. 

Although expats can enjoy the regular bangers-and-mash menu at Merlins Rest, the kitchen at this British Isles pub also embraces its American side, serving a $15.75 dinner that includes wild rice soup, turkey breast braised in Finnegans Beer, a potato-parsnip mash, herb stuffing, Yorkshire pudding and pie.

Perenially popular Stanley’s Northeast Bar Room is putting together a T-giving dinner — turkey, mashed potatoes, stuffing, gravy and more — for $11, with a $15 all-you-can-eat option.

At Common Roots Cafe, owner Danny Schwartzman is thinking of adding some kind of turkey daily special but will otherwise concentrate on its regular daytime fare. “We’ve learned that what people really want on Thanksgiving is to have brunch away from their families,” he said with a laugh.

Across the street, the words organic, vegetarian, vegan and gluten-free are all on chef George Lohr's $35-per-person menus at the French Meadow Bakery & Cafe. Farm-to-table, too, with turkey from Wild Acres Game Farm in Pequot Lakes, Minn.

Chef David Fhima is offering a handful of Thanksgiving-inspired appetizers and entrees -- along with his standard menu -- at lively Faces Mears Park, starting at 3 p.m. 

Spasso is putting out a Thanksgiving buffet ($19.95 adults, $12.95 children ages 11 and under) and serving its extensive, retail-price wine list, too.

Finally, a few affordably priced chains are open on Thanksgiving, including Bakers Square and Old Country Buffet.

Open on Thanksgiving

Posted by: Rick Nelson Updated: November 26, 2013 - 10:51 AM

To satisfy some truly last-minute Thanksgiving shopping needs, some Twin Cities supermarkets, grocers and natural foods co-ops will be open on Thursday, including:

Dragon Star Oriental Foods (633 W. Minnehaha Av., St. Paul), open 8 a.m. to 6 p.m.

Eastside Food Co-op in Minneapolis, open 8 a.m. to 2 p.m.

El Burrito Mercado in St. Paul, open 7 a.m. to 5 p.m.

Both branches of Mississippi Market in St. Paul, open 7:30 a.m. to 2:30 p.m.

Seward Co-op in Minneapolis, open 8 a.m. to 3 p.m.

Sun Foods (544 University Av. W., St. Paul), open 8 a.m. to 6 p.m.

Select Twin Cities Walmart Supercenters, open 24 hours.

Wedge Co-op in Minneapolis (pictured, above), open 9 a.m. to 2 p.m.

All six Twin Cities Whole Foods Market locations, open 8 a.m. to 3 p.m. (some stores open at 7 a.m.)

Several bakeries are also serving customers on Thanksgiving, including:

All three Minneapolis locations of the Turtle Bread Co., open 6 a.m. to 2 p.m.

A Baker’s Wife’s Pastry Shop in Minneapolis, open 6:30 to noon. 729 6898

Patrick's Bakery & Cafe in Richfield, open 7 a.m. to 8 p.m.

Lucia’s to Go in Uptown Minneapolis, open 8 a.m. to noon. 

All Twin Cities Bakers Square locations are open 7 a.m. to 5 p.m.

The turkey you should be roasting on Thanksgiving

Posted by: Rick Nelson Updated: November 27, 2013 - 8:31 AM

My Thanksgiving wish? A better photograph of the magnificent turkey that I've been making for the past six years.

If I posted the one that I snapped from my (not-so-great) Android smartphone from Thanksgiving 2012, no one would continue reading this post. Not pretty. And I'm usually so busy getting dinner ready that it doesn't occur to me to stop for a moment and snap a food-porn image for Facebook posterity.

Instead, I'll run the image from the cover of Saveur magazine, November 2007, which featured a you-can't-believe-how-amazing-this-is recipe for the ultimate Thanksgiving turkey. Wait, doesn't that sound like a food magazine cover blurb: "THE ULTIMATE THANKSGIVING TURKEY'?

Truth to tell, that's exactly what it is. Naturally, it's the handiwork of Lynne Rossetto Kasper, the gilded-voiced center of The Splendid Table universe. Her recipe (find it here) goes to considerable pains to insert flavor -- in this case, the tail end of apple season -- into turkey, which, if we are honest with ourselves, is not exactly the most flavorful of animal proteins.

Most of that autumn apple goodness materializes via an overnight brine, one that's composed of pureed apples and apple cider. Rossetto Kasper balances the fruit's sweetness with plenty of garlic and chile powder, then finishes with fragrant basil. A third nod to apples comes in the form of apple brandy, a building block for a remarkably robust gravy.

Prior to embracing the Lynne Rossetto Kasper Path to Thanksgiving Enlightenment, I'd never brined a turkey. Now I can't imagine our Thanksgiving turkey any other way. This is one sublimely juicy bird, and the various complementary notes sneak into each bite in a nuanced chorus of whispers rather than shouts.

Another bonus: This is one great-looking Thanksgiving table centerpiece, glowing with a crisp, deeply browned, caramelized skin (photo, above, from Saveur and photographer Landon Nordeman). My suggestion is that you show it off to your guests (what cook doesn't like to hear oohs and aahs?) before carving it, if a tableside knife show isn't part of your itinerary.

The multi-step recipe may seem daunting at first. But persevere. It's detailed, yes. But complicated? No. Just make sure you read it carefully, several times, and several days before starting. After going through it once, first-hand, you'll understand its inherent logic and simplicity.

I'll admit that I cheat with the gravy (don't tell Lynne) by dispensing with the whole making-the-broth routine. Although it's not a terribly time consuming step in the process, I prefer to channel my limited time into other cooking tasks.

I buy it. Not from the supermarket, but from Clancey's Meats & Fish in Linden Hills. Not only Clancey's version a far more convenient alternative than preparing it myself, but the deeply flavorful results are better than anything I could hope to make, not only for gravy, but for basting the stuffing.

Another Thanksgiving tradition? Buying our turkey at Clancey's, which owner Kristen Tombers imports from Wild Acres Game Farm in Pequot Lakes, Minn. It's a superior-quality product, and since the turkey is the sun around which the Thanksgiving solar system revolves, the splurge, price-wise, is more than worth the investment. 

One last suggestion: While you're preparing this awe-inspiring turkey on Thursday, tune into "Turkey Confidential," Rossetto Kasper's annual live (and entertaining) Thanksgiving Q&A, with guests Michael Pollan, Mario Batali, Ted Allen, Alexandra Guarnaschelli and Pati Jinich. Catch it from 10 a.m. to noon on Minnesota Public Radio. In the Twin Cities, find it on KNOW, 91.1 FM, or listen to the program's live-stream.

A valentine cake: Shades of Love

Posted by: Lee Svitak Dean Updated: February 1, 2013 - 1:54 PM


Photo by Tom Wallace

Photo by Tom Wallace


The cake that wowed readers of the Taste section last year around Valentine's Day impressed those in charge at Williams-Sonoma, too.


As part of her Baking Central monthly series, Kim Ode detailed the beautiful Shades of Love cake and its recipes (cake and frosting), developed by lifestyle expert Ross Sveback of the Twin Cities. 




Now the cake is available from Williams-Sonoma for those more inclined to buy it ready-made ($99.95), prepared by Platine Bakery of Los Angeles and shipped frozen. The cake also got a shout-out in People magazine (see left).

Want to check out the cake in person? This weekend Ross will be at the Williams-Sonoma stores at the Mall of America (Saturday, 1 to 3 p.m.) and the Galleria (Sunday, 1 to 3 p.m.). No samples, but plenty of visuals.




For last-minute shoppers of hard-to-please cooks

Posted by: Lee Svitak Dean Updated: December 24, 2012 - 11:16 AM




You've only got hours to shop if you're still hunting for a Christmas gift. (Really, you still have shopping left?)

If you've got a cook with an attitude (think "more naughty than nice") -- or at least one that doesn't mind crude and rude in a sense of humor -- any of  three new books may strike a fancy. Two of them are by anonymous writers.


A reprint of Anthony Bourdain's "Kitchen Confidential" -- what's billed as an "Insider's Edition" -- is out with Bourdain's handwritten comments, though the notes are few, far between and generally not very insightful. A press release says that 50 pages are annotated. (That includes many lightweight comments such as the one at left.) The handwritten intro -- three pages of scrawl, would have filled less than a single page of type, so "annotation" is a bit of a misnomer. Still, his story of what he calls the "culinary underbelly" holds up amazingly well after 12 years, though a few historical references may be obscure to up-and-coming cooks who are unfamiliar to such references as Hunt and Liddy or Patty Hearst.


Bourdain's memoir of his time in the restaurant biz is always blunt, often crude and definitely opinionated. He set the tone for many other food memoirists that followed.

Tired of Anthony Bourdain? Then perhaps Ruth Bourdain may be to your liking. The anonymous Twitterer, a parody mashup of Anthony Bourdain and Ruth Reichl, has come out with a book, "Comfort Me with Offal: Ruth Bourdain's Guide to Gastronomy." The title is a takeoff of Reichl's memoir "Comfort Me with Apples."  The book is as irreverant and crude in its humor as Ruth Bourdain's 140-character (or less) thoughts found daily on Twitter. Let's just say that there's very little I could quote from the book for a newspaper blog. Who is Ruth Bourdain? Well, New York magazine and I (as reported a year ago) think it's Robert Sietsema, restaurant critic of the Village Voice.











Have a "Fifty Shades of Grey" fan on your list? "Fifty Shades of Chicken: a parody in a cookbook," may be the gift for you to present. This, too, has a pseudonym for an author, FL Fowler (who else?). The book offers vignettes of Miss Hen, a young "unexplored" chicken, at the mercy of Mr. Blades, the cook, who teaches her the pleasures of being whipped up for dinner. It is a one-note joke carried through 50 recipes, which include Mustard-Spanked Chicken, Hot Rubbed Hen, Extra-Virgin Breasts, Spatchcocked Chicken and many more that will make the occasional cook blush, with food porn pictures of the recipes, plus the occasional Chippendale shot of the cook.

Buyer beware: Choose carefully if you're gifting any of these books.
















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