From rhubarb pie to mini doughnuts, here’s a rundown of our dining diaries’ greatest hits over the past seven days. What were your top eats of the week? Share the details in the comments section.
Rhubarb-orange pie from Vikings & Goddesses Pie Co.
True confessions: It was nearly two weeks ago when I had the good fortune to encounter — and subsequently devour — this stupendous slice of pie, which means I’m flagrantly ignoring the whole I-consumed-this-in-the-last-seven-days framework.
Sorry, not sorry.
In my defense, I was fully expecting to nab another slice this past Saturday, but owner Rachel Anderson wasn’t operating her stand at the Mill City Farmers Market. The good news is that she’ll be back this weekend — and most upcoming Saturdays through the 2020 season — selling up to a half-dozen pie varieties in whole ($28) and by-the-slice ($5) options.
It’s hard to believe, but this pie tasted even better than it looks. Because it’s June, I find myself craving rhubarb, and it’s a relief to learn that I’m not alone. Turns out, Anderson is also in major rhubarb mode.
“It’s about the color,” she said. “You’ve made it through winter, and you want to celebrate the little things that come your way, like cutting into rhubarb and seeing that beautiful color. When that happens, you go full-on, you go crazy. Right about now I want to do everything with rhubarb because I’m so tired of pecans, and pumpkin and sweet potatoes.”
Which explains why rhubarb is a theme that’s threading its way through the current Vikings & Goddesses rotation. Along with this uncomplicated-yet-effective rhubarb-citrus combination (the acid plays nicely against the rhubarb’s bright tartness), be on the lookout for some kind of rhubarb-berry pairing (probably blueberry, with strawberry coming soon) as well as an ingenious-sounding rhubarb chess pie that Anderson describes as “lemon custard swirled with fresh rhubarb jam.” Yeah, sign me up.
Beyond rhubarb, Anderson also likes to tinker with nontraditional pie formats. Two recent excursions into what she characterizes as “off the wall” fillings include a cherry-coconut custard that’s brightened with turmeric, and beets enhanced with orange zest, brown butter and brown sugar.
Abundance is a quality that is obviously important to Anderson, because she really lays on the filling. That’s one of the reasons why this rhubarb pie really grabbed my eye.
The other was the robust gorgeousness of the golden crust. One bite in and I knew it could act as a case study in tender, flaky sturdiness. Clearly, a secret to Anderson’s deft crust-making abilities is her attention to detail.
“We use Baker’s Field flour and Hope Creamery butter,” she said, rattling off two top-performing made-in-Minnesota products, just one of many examples of Anderson’s devotion to locally sourced building blocks. “Making a crust involves just a few ingredients, so why not use the best, and treat them well?”
Anderson’s wholesale operation is expanding its retail outlets, hurrah. Look for Vikings & Goddesses at two other Minneapolis farmers markets, the Linden Hills Farmers Market (which is currently operating more as a Sunday morning preorder pickup destination) and the Thursday evening East Isles Farmers Market. Her pies and breakfast pastries are also available in the Lowertown branch of True Stone Coffee, which is located in the same space — chef Tim McKee’s Market House Collaborative — where Anderson bakes.
Anderson’s resume includes a stint at pie-centric Revival Fried Chicken, and that experience encouraged her to start a business that’s focused on a single (and popular) product.
“Everybody likes pie,” she said. “It’s so approachable, it’s so come-as-you are. I want to make everyday rather than special-occasion food, in part because there’s a larger clientele. You become part of people’s everyday lives. You see them a lot more often than a birthday or something. It’s a lot of fun.” (Rick Nelson)
Find Vikings & Goddesses pies at the Mill City Farmers Market, 750 S. 2nd St., Mpls. Open 8 a.m. to 1 p.m. Saturday.
Mini doughnuts at the Donut Family
State fair food vendors are setting up in parking lots all over the metro, one way to recoup some of what coronavirus-related cancellations have taken away from them.
The Donut Family has only been a Minnesota State Fair presence for four years, but the vendor has been stationed at fairs all over the country for almost half a century. This summer, it’s stationed in the parking lot outside its own North St. Paul warehouse, and in another lot outside an Eden Prairie Harley-Davidson dealer. Red X’s mark the spot where customers can stand safely in lines that don’t seem to ebb.
“I think people have been cooped up for so long, people are just looking for that optimism and fun,” said Todd Hawkins, one of the members of the family behind Donut Family.
The bright red and yellow trailer is serving a highly specific menu of lemonade, sweet iced coffee, cheese curds and, of course, those little machine-stamped and deep-fried doughnuts. I bought a bucket of them for $14, and even though I took my first bite in a windy lot on the side of a construction-torn road, it transported me back to the fairgrounds, circa 2019, when life was just a little less of a dumpster fire. (Sharyn Jackson)
2275 McKnight Road N., North St. Paul; Wild Prairie Harley-Davidson, 12480 Plaza Dr., Eden Prairie. Open 10 a.m. to 6 p.m. Wednesday through Saturday
Popcorn at the Grandview 2 Theatres
I consider myself fortunate to have a neighborhood movie theater that’s within walking distance of our house. Early on during the pandemic, the Grandview’s marquee telegraphed a welcome sense of comfort, with a message that read “Be Kind. Stay Safe.” Later on, the folks running the theater provided a more visceral kind of comfort by selling freshly popped popcorn on Saturday afternoons. What a treat! Although I skipped the butter (a mistake that continues to cause regret), that big-old bag of crunchy, salty goodness was a reminder that popcorn from the supermarket snack aisle is a pale stand-in for its freshly-popped movie theater counterpart. Last Saturday was the Grandview’s final popcornfest; the theater reopens to the public on June 26. For those in search of movie theater popcorn, minus the movies, check out the fantastic “Popcorn to Go” program at the glorious Riverview Theater (3800 42nd Av. S., Mpls.), which runs 4 to 7 p.m. Thursday and Friday, 2 to 7 p.m. Saturday and 2 to 6 p.m. Sunday. (R.N.)
“Artisan” breakfast sandwich at Rise Bagel Co.
There are four egg-centric breakfast sandwiches on the menu at this exceptional bagel bakery/cafe, and while all are impressive, this has become my go-to ($8). There’s something about the combination of melty havarti cheese, smoky bacon, freshly crisp greens, rosemary-scented butter and tangy apple mustard — not to mention an impressively sturdy and chewy bagel — that satisfies. I try to reserve half for lunch, but that rarely happens. Another reason to appreciate Rise (although this quality is not reflected in this particular sandwich) is the kitchen’s commitment to its vegan clientele. (R.N.)
530 N. 3rd St., Mpls., 612-354-3349. Open 8 a.m. to 1 p.m. Thursday to Monday.
THE Chocolate Chip Cookie at the Grocer’s Table
There are plenty of reasons to check out this great-looking counter-service newcomer in downtown Wayzata. One of them is to revel in this bruiser of a cookie.
This treat is as thick as a Manny’s porterhouse and yet it somehow manages to retain all the admirable textural contrasts of a pitch-perfect Toll House specimen, with a crisp, golden exterior that yields to a soft, gooey interior.
Owner Lindsay Pohlad said she devoted a considerable amount of research into recreating a longtime favorite: the signature chocolate chip cookie found at New York City’s Levain Bakery.
“I tried for years, and years, to replicate that recipe,” she said. “What we came up with is definitely a labor of love.”
The formula that finally earned her seal of approval exploits the traits of three flours (all-purpose, bread and cake), uses a two-tiered baking temperature (hotter at first, then reduced) and clearly relies upon lots of butter as well as two varieties of chocolate: semisweet and a darker, more bittersweet version.
Translating from Manhattan to Wayzata, Pohlad inserted a twist. She skips the walnuts in the Levain version (she’s not a fan) and replaces their volume with more chocolate. Good move. It’s such a lavish pile-on that the results resemble a handful of semi-melted chocolate being magically held together by cookie dough, a spectacular feat.
There’s an on-trend finishing flourish, in the form of a few flakes of flavor-enhancing Maldon sea salt. The $5 price may at first seem off-putting, but it’s justified. Honest.
To describe this cookie’s proportions as epic is no exaggeration; when they go into the oven, each slab of dough weighs in at 6 ounces. Dainty, no (“I’ve seen people using a knife and fork to eat it,” said Pohlad with a laugh); highly shareable, absolutely.
“Our bakers kept asking, ‘Seriously, you want them this big?’” said Pohlad. “And I said, ‘Yes.’ They have to have an impact.”
That, they do. As for the “THE” name, that kind of self-anointed coronation usually bugs, but in this situation, it’s a spot-on assessment. This just might be my new favorite chocolate chip cookie, and for a chocolate chip cookie freak like yours truly, that’s high praise. (R.N.)
326 Broadway Av. S., Wayzata, 952-466-6100. Open 8 a.m. to 8 p.m. Tuesday to Thursday, 8 a.m. to 9 p.m. Friday to Saturday, 8 a.m. to 8 p.m. Sunday.