From hamachi collar to Suugo Suqaar, here’s a rundown of our food writers’ dining diaries over the past seven days. What were your top eats of the week? Share the details in the comments section.


Breakfast sandwich at Lowry Hill Meats

When it comes to breakfast sandwiches, owner Erik Sather has the right idea.

“I don’t like overcomplicated things, and breakfast sandwiches are really simple,” he said. “Which means they have to be really good. I’m certainly hooked on them.”

That makes two of us.

It’s immediately evident that this sandwich takes no shortcuts. English muffins, the skilled handiwork of Lowry Hill-er Gabe Carlson, are a key component to this most-excellent hand-held morning meal.

“You can make them like a drop biscuit,” said Sather. “But we roll them out, cut them and toast them on the griddle. “They rise really nice — they develop big air bubbles — but they also have that soft chew to them.”

They’re terrific. Ditto the crisp, smoky slab bacon from Nueske’s — the pride of Wittenberg, Wis. — that’s cut thick and stacked over thin shavings of tender ham that Sather buys from Compart Family Farms in Nicollet, Minn.

The other two primary components hit the spot, and then some: an expertly fried egg (sourced from an Amish farm) and a gooey layer of housemade American cheese. The finishing touch is a liberal splash of Minneapolis-made Cry Baby Craig’s hot sauce, which insinuates a welcome wake-up call into each bite.

The shop could offer tutorials on online ordering and takeout/curbside service, and after starting out as a weekend-only special, the breakfast sandwich ($6-$9) has grown into an all-day, everyday offering.

“It takes me a while, but I can take a hint when enough people ask,” Sather said with a laugh. (Rick Nelson)

1934 Hennepin Av. S., Mpls., 612-999-4200. Open 10 a.m.-6 p.m. Tue.-Fri. and 9 a.m.-4 p.m. Sat.

Hamachi collar at Travail Kitchen and Amusements

When chef Mike Brown dropped a pair of black disposable gloves in front of me, I wondered if one of the experiential courses on Travail’s new many-course tasting menu was going to involve shaking hands.

I wasn’t that far off. Brown brought over a large plate with a succulent hamachi collar, glazed and sprinkled with a rainbow of peppers, seeds, herbs and flowers, and set it between me and my friend. He then informed us we would be reaching in with our (gloved) hands and using our fingers to pluck the yellowtail flesh off the bone. When we were done, Brown removed the plate with the fish and mixed it up with some umami-rich Kewpie mayo, serving us our own separate portions. An interactive, fine-dining take on tuna salad.

Is there any more revolutionary act these days than touching your food with another person? Of all the bites on the evolving menu at the debut dinner party (called “A New Hope”) in Travail’s new home, this one stood out. For being ridiculously tasty, but also because, for a moment, I had nearly forgotten how our hands had become the enemy. Once the gloves were off, I spritzed with the bottle of hand sanitizer on the table, picked up my fork, and dug in. (Sharyn Jackson)

4134 Hubbard Av. N., Robbinsdale, 763-535-1131. Tickets (at start at $145 per person, which does not include drinks, service fees or add-ons. Dinner starts at 6:15 p.m., Tue.-Sat.

Suugo Suqaar and Xawaash from “In Bibi’s Kitchen”

For a story about Somali chef Hawa Hassan’s beautiful new cookbook, “In Bibi’s Kitchen” (Ten Speed Press), I tried out a few of the easy and flavor-packed recipes that were handed down from East African bibis, or grandmothers.

Suugo Suqaar charts Italy’s influence on part of Somalia as one of its colonizers. It’s a lot like spaghetti Bolognese, but with the transcendent flavors of East Africa that come from three heaping tablespoons of a Somali blend of spices called Xawaash. (Don’t just replace it with something else from your spice rack; the spices in Xawaash are easy to find and a coffee grinder does a quick job of making it at home.)

The meat sauce made Somali-style, infused with the warming spices of cinnamon, clove, cumin, peppercorn and cardamom, and bright notes from coriander and turmeric, is as complex and comforting as it gets. Find both recipes here. (S.J.)

Carne Tampiqueña from Andale Taqueria & Mercado

The parking lot is perpetually busy, even midweek, at Andale Taqueria & Mercado, a 10-year-old restaurant and market on a Richfield corner that both highlight and celebrate scratch-made Mexican food.

There’s a butcher on duty that processes meat for both venues, including the 8-ounce rib-eye steak that is the centerpiece of the Carne Tampiqueña plate, an internationally popular dish inspired by the city of Tampico, yet rumored to have originated in a Mexico City restaurant in the 1930s. As the story goes, the place was open 24 hours a day and served a hearty breakfast with a little bit of everything, which quickly caught on for lunch, too.

At Andale, the plate is piled high with the marinated steak, rice, refried beans, guacamole, pico de gallo, a whole jalapeño, onion, lime, and best of all, a lone chicken and cheese enchilada that’s been smothered in a deeply savory mole sauce.

“Here’s the rules: no cans,” said Andale manager Wilberth Valdez. “Everything is fresh.”

The mahogany-colored sauce gets its richness from many ingredients: plátano macho (which is like a big plantain), peanuts, sesame seeds, onions, three kinds of chiles, and most importantly, chocolate.

“When you taste it, it’s kind of like a spicy sweet, very different,” Valdez said.

Carne Tampiqueña is just one of Andale’s specialties. The place was featured for its tamales and tacos al pastor on the Food Network’s “Diners, Drive-Ins and Dives.” Bonus: there’s a recipe for the pastor here.. (S.J.)

7700 Nicollet Av. S., Richfield, 612-259-8868. Open for takeout and dining in, 7 a.m.-10 p.m. daily. Market hours 6 a.m.-10 p.m. daily.

“Perfect” Chocolate Chip Cookies

I should probably have the words “best chocolate chip cookie recipe” on a Google alert, because whenever I encounter anything remotely resembling that phrase, I feel compelled to bake.

When the New York Times recently taunted its readers with “Perfect Chocolate Chip Cookies,” I revved up our KitchenAid mixer. The results? Excellent: thickish, chewy, nicely browned and buttery, and packed with bittersweet chocolate.

But “Perfect?” Maybe. Certainly a member of the “keeper” community.

This was not the Times’ first flirtation with chocolate chip cookie transcendency. A dozen years ago, the newspaper published a recipe (created by Jacques Torres and adapted by David Leite) that calls upon a number of the techniques used in the latest recipe.

This new version, by British pastry chef and cookbook author Ravneet Gill, comes together in a snap; well, after refrigerating the dough for 12 hours, anyway. The dough is slightly dry and crumbly, a texture that differs from the standard-setting Toll House formula.

Having baked — and tweaked — the recipe a few times, I have a few notes.

Because I prefer cookies on the smallish side, I used an 1/8-cup scoop instead of the suggested 1/4-cup measurement. I’d also recommend slipping 1/2 teaspoon of instant espresso powder (the Medaglia D’Oro brand is available in the coffee aisle of many supermarkets) into the flour mixture.

Finally, I think the recipe gets closer to approaching “perfect” with a teaspoon or two of vanilla extract (add it with the egg), an ingredient that Gill skips, in accordance with its current astronomical price. I missed vanilla extract’s flavor-boosting superpowers, which gives me the sneaking suspicion that it’s the detail that makes the Toll House cookie a Toll House cookie. (R.N.)

Perfect Chocolate Chip Cookies

Makes 14 cookies.

Note: Don’t have superfine sugar? Place granulated sugar in the bowl of a food processor and process for 30 seconds. From “The Pastry Chef’s Guide: The Secret to Successful Baking Every Time” by Ravneet Gill, and adapted by Charlotte Druckman for the New York Times.

• 1/2 c. plus 2 tbsp. (1 1/4 sticks), butter, at room temperature

• Scant 3/4 c. dark brown sugar

• 2/3 c. superfine sugar (see Note)

• 1 egg

• 1 3/4 c. plus 2 tbsp. flour

• 1 tsp. baking powder

• 3/4 tsp. baking soda

• 3/4 tsp. Maldon sea salt (or kosher salt)

• 6 oz. dark (bittersweet) chocolate, chopped into large chunks


In the bowl of an electric mixer on medium speed, combine butter, dark brown sugar and superfine sugar and beat until paler but not fluffy, about 1 to 2 minutes; do not mix for too long; if you beat the mixture until super light and fluffy, that will cause the cookie to deflate later when baking). Add the egg and beat over medium speed until evenly combined.

In a medium bowl, whisk together the flour, baking powder, baking soda and salt. Using a rubber spatula, fold the flour mixture into the butter mixture until combined. Add the chopped chocolate and fold into the dough until evenly distributed.

Line a baking sheet with parchment paper. Scoop out heaping 1/4-cup portions of dough (or smaller), roll into balls and place on prepared baking sheet. Cover with plastic wrap and refrigerate at least 12 hours.

When ready to bake, preheat oven to 350 degrees and line additional baking sheets with parchment paper.

Space dough balls 2 inches apart on prepared baking sheets and bake until cookies are puffed and golden at the edges, about 13 minutes (or 15 minutes if the dough is frozen); the middle of the cookie should be ever so slightly not-quite set. Remove cookies from oven and allow them to cool completely on the baking sheet; they will continue to firm as they cool. Store in an airtight container for up to 3 days. The balls of dough will keep in the refrigerator for up to 2 days and in the freezer for up to 2 weeks.