Friday, May 9, 2014

North Coast Nosh

Heavy Table's North Coast Nosh

Happy Friday Everyone! 

I know that I keep saying this but I really can't thank you, our readers, enough for all your support. My spring ratatouille recipe made it on the Seward Co-op's facebook yesterday. I am extremely flattered and am grateful to have such an interested audience.

I have had a pretty eventful week. I decided last friday that I would spend my weekend exploring the local Minneapolis food scene. Saturday I had the rare opportunity to attend Heavy Table's North Coast Nosh. Heavy Table is a daily Twin Cities online magazine that shares stories of local farm to table food and drink. They hold an event four times a year celebrating the farm to table movement in both MN and WI. This event is extremely unique it allows local food and beverage vendors the opportunity to provide samples and talk to the community about what makes their specific product special.

It was a food bloggers dream. The room was filled with local vendors just ready to spill over with information about their lovely products. It was very reminiscent of the times I spent at the grocery store as a child-running from sample lady to sample lady and just stuffing myself with the specials of the day. Although similar, this event was a bit more sophisticated because they only feature vendors with really high quality items.

My absolute favorite of the night was the Alemar camembert cheese. They are a small batch French cheese producer out of Mankato, MN. They started producing soft-ripened cheese in 2008 and have really captured the essence of a great french camembert. Their good thunder product was absolutely exquisite, so smooth and creamy. I have to admit I think I visited their booth over five times... It was just so great! If you are looking for a fun addition to your next cheese plate Alemar has a link on their website that lists all the locations they sell their cheeses, their product is available in various states throughout the US.

I can tell you now I have a really immense love for all things cheese. Coming from a family that is rooted in WI, we have always had a deep respect for cheese making. Shepherd's Way provides a really unique way to purchase your local cheeses. Danielle had touched on the concept of a CSA this week and it just so happens that Shepard's Way has their own cheese CSA. They are an artisan sheeps milk cheese maker located in Carver County, MN. Participating in their CSA is not only amazing for you as the consumer (you get a weekly or monthly sampling of tons of great local cheeses) but you are also directly supporting local, sustainable food production, artisan cheesemaking, and a small family farm. It is a really great way to help support your local purveyors

I will finally step away from cheese. There were a ton of great beverage vendors as well. They had a local soda maker Joia that combines real fruit, herbs, and spices to create really amazing beverages. There was a few local beers and a new cider company called Sociable Cider Werks out of Northeast, MN. But I was really interested in the teas. I am a bit biased because I work with Katey and Jon of Gray Duck Chai, they were actually the reason I decided to attend the event. They started in 2011 and provide a really great small batch traditional Chai for the Twin Cities. Their tea concentrate can be purchased at most of local co-ops and whole foods. In a couple weeks we will be focusing on the health benefits of spices and I will be interviewing Gray Duck for our Wednesday interview series. 

Verdant Tea's Sweet Congee
Another amazing sample was the Prohibition Kombucha from Verdant Tea House. I am going to be honest, I am not a huge kombucha fan. Most of the products that I have tried in the past have always teetered to close to the vinegar line for my taste. I was even a bit hesitant to try the Verdant tea kombucha but I am so happy that I finally wandered over to their booth. The tea maker was extremely friendly and really provided me with a great bit of information on his process. He said that most of his kombucha flavors are focused on the quality of the tea leaf itself. He combines tea sourced directly from small family farmers growing their tea in china. They have designed a cleaner, brighter kombucha with a great taste that is inspired by the natural flavors that come from the tea leaf. I was so impressed that I took a trip to the Verdant Tea house the next day to enjoy some more kombucha and participate in their traditional Chinese breakfast, which was also out of this world. 

I had an amazing weekend! I really encourage any MN locals that have not yet attended a North Coast Nosh to consider catching the next event. The vendors are informative and extremely friendly- and who doesn't like to feel like a kid again running around sampling all the different goodies? 

This weekend holds some other really exciting events that I will be talking about Monday. We are headed into Mother's Day weekend and that means the Friend School Plant Sale at the State Fairgrounds. I will start the week off with some background on edible and medicinal herbs and Danielle will explore it a bit further on Tuesday- she just attended a seminar taught by a master herbalist. 

Have a wonderful weekend & I would love to leave a shout out to all the fantastic mothers out there, I know my mom means the world to me and I hope that you all have a great fun filled Mother's Day!


P.S. To see all of the posts in this week's series you can see Monday's: Fruits and Vegetables, Tuesday's: How Not To Break the Bank and Save Money Buying Organic, Wednesday's: How To Store Fruits & Vegetables, and Thursday's: Spring Ratatouille
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