All posts filed under: Journalism

The HI-LO Diner Opens

Ever since the Hi-Lo Diner pitched up on East Lake Street — in all its stainless steel and neon glory — we have been standing on the curb, eagerly watching the windows for signs of life. Was it six months or a year? It seemed a century, during which rumors of milk shakes and doughnuts only increased our vigilant anticipation, so it’s no surprise that the place has been packed every meal of the day since it opened a few weeks ago. And, now that we’ve been inside and had a bite to eat, we can say that it looks just like we hoped it would and early tastes are promising. Read more [Appeared in Heavy Table. Photo credit: Sarah McGee]

The Genius of Birds book cover


Neurobiologists once thought that birds possessed tiny, reptilian brains hardwired for instinctive responses to the world. Now they know better. In her latest book, The Genius of Birds (Penguin Press, 2016), Jennifer Ackerman explores new research that shows how closely bird brains resemble our own. They, too, have a cerebral-cortex-like system in the forebrain, rapidly firing neurotransmitters, and pathways between the brain regions. Read more [Appeared in Sierra Magazine. Photo credit: Lori Eanes]

Unpacking Our Palates

I AM A FOOD WRITER. At restaurants, I taste as much of the menu as possible. I bring people who are willing to let me eat off their plates. I come to the meal ready to be delighted, to coo over the red kuri purée, and gamely tuck into the Scotch eggs, jellied head cheeses, black corn fungus, whatever you’ve got, yes please. At home, I like to cook and to feed people — the best of my friendships have been established over long-winded meals — and, being a food writer, people like to feed me. Friends bring me bourbon from Kentucky, pork rillette from California, and truffle flour from France. They bring me pocket melons and wonder beans from their gardens, and all kinds of goodies from their kitchens, too — crumbly shortcakes, goat-milk ricotta drizzled with honey, pickled watermelon rind. If it all sounds a little precious, let me say that I’m equally pleased to receive a piece of hot, buttered toast. In the words of Jonathan Richman, I eat with gusto, damn! …

the skate at Vincent

Review: Vincent

There is something luxe about dining at Vincent – A Restaurant. Even a midweek lunch, even on the most impossible spring day — when chunks of ice are flying down Nicollet Mall and pummeling the restaurant’s great windows — even when the dining room is filled with grownups in fussy work clothes. Even when all these things would signal otherwise, the light-filled dining room, the low murmur of conversation, the comfortable chairs, and a glass of wine at your elbow (if you’re lucky) all conspire to create a relaxed air. It feels like a real break in the day. The other day, we had just such an experience as we lingered over the Signature Prix Fixe Lunch ($13.50). The prix fixe offers two courses, with a choice of Belgian endive salad, an open face sandwich of leg of lamb, or a farro risotto. We opted for the latter and were not sorry for it. Non-rice grains can sometimes fail to produce the creaminess that risotto implies, but this was not so with the humble farro. …

Beth Dooley

In Winter’s Kitchen

In a recent essay in The New York Times, chef Jacques Pépin talked about how meals are fleeting, “You make it, it goes, and what remains are memories.” For him, for all of us, ingredients and dishes are forever associated with people and times in our life, and tastes and smells — even the seasons — have the power to evoke those food memories. “These memories are essential for the cook, the food critic, and the writer,” Pépin says. “They enrich your day-to-day life and your relationships with your family and friends.” This quote came to mind reading Beth Dooley’s latest book, In Winter’s Kitchen ($25, Milkweed Editions, 2015), in which she uses food memories, friendship, and family as a way into conversations about our food system. Fans of the local author will be surprised to learn this is not a cookbook — though there are some recipes — but a kind of hybridized memoir. Read more [Appeared in Heavy Table magazine]

Peace Coffee team

Peace Coffee’s Alchemy Series

This week, Peace Coffee launched the newest coffee in its Alchemy Series: a bean from the Eastern Democratic Republic of Congo that is notable for its story, for the long and, at times, fraught journey it has made to Minneapolis, and for its beautifully balanced cup. It also happens to the 10th Alchemy coffee, and so it seems like a good time to check in on the progress of the small batch series (you can read our earlier piece about the launch of the series here). In the mid-1900s, specialty coffees were produced in the Eastern Democratic Republic of Congo. But during a long period of violent conflict and its aftermath — the Second Congo War, during which 450,000 people died, most from the effects of malnutrition, poor sanitation, and disease — trade steadily declined and farmers were forced to either abandon their land or to smuggle coffee across Lake Kivu into Rwanda, where they could barter beans for food. Lake Kivu is 55 miles across, and many farmers drowned making the journey. Read more [Appeared …

Voices of the Wild cover

Voices of the Wild

In the late 1960s, when musician Bernie Krause first wandered into a park to record nature sounds, he had 30-plus pounds of recording equipment and little idea of what he had come to collect. Half a century and 4,500 hours of recordings later, he has written Voices of the Wild: Animal Songs, Human Din, and the Call to Save Natural Soundscapes, an introduction to soundscape ecology—the field he helped pioneer. Krause has traveled around the world recording Arctic glaciers, Rwandan mountain gorillas, Sumatran rainforest, Antarctic seals, and more. But more than half of his archive comes from locations that are now “so badly compromised by … human intervention that the habitats are either altogether silent or … can no longer be heard in their original forms.” Read more

sumac infusions

Emily’s Sumac at the Craftsman

What do you do when a bushel of lovely yet slightly suspect fruit turns up at the kitchen door? If you’re Michelle Derer, bartender at The Craftsman, you bring it in and see how it fares on the seasonal drink menu — but only after a fortifying soak in spirits, of course. Recently, one of her co-workers abandoned the Minneapolis restaurant for what sounds like a more bucolic life, living aboard a houseboat in Winona, working on a farm and harvesting wild food. “Emily’s always been a big forager for mushrooms and things like that,” says Derer. “She called to tell me she’d collected all these sumac berries for me, and I thought, ‘Oh, what am I going to do with those?’” Read more [Appeared in Heavy Table magazine. Photo credit: Kelly McManus]

Climate Justice

This week in Paris, historical multinational negotiations are taking place in an attempt to reign in climate change and its disastrous impacts. Although the delegates agree that the threat to civilization is real and imminent, and they promise a record reduction in greenhouse gas emissions, their pledges still leave us with a catastrophic 6° F rise in the earth’s temperature by 2100. Delegates also seem to agree that the only way to hold off the worst effects of global warming is to leave a large percentage of the available fossil fuels in the ground and switch to clean sources of energy, but even as they are meeting, House Republicans are trying to pass bills that will block the EPA’s ability to regulate emissions from coal-fired plants. It’s not enough, it’s too slow—and it feels hopeless. Read more [Appeared in Sierra Magazine]

Reclaiming real food

One expects a book about giving up processed foods to be essentially a foodie’s journal of gonzo home cooking projects. Megan Kimble’s debutUnprocessed: My City-Dwelling Year of Reclaiming Real Food serves up plenty of that as she mills wheat berries into flour, boils the salt out of seawater, and strains oat milk from gruel. But wait a minute, isn’t all of that a form of processing? For Kimble, there are processed foods and then there are overly processed foods that are high in mysterious additives and manipulated in ways that she can’t duplicate in her own kitchen. So milk is in, refined sugar is out. Since her goal is to impact not only her health and the environment, but also the local economy, Safeway is also out–and she’ll do it all on a graduate student’s salary of $16,000 a year. Read more [Appeared in Sierra Magazine]