Best pumpkin dishes in the Twin Cities, part 1

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Wikimedia Commons
So many pumpkins, just one season

Ah, mid-autumn. The time of year best marked by your level of annoyance with people who are still talking about how great it is that pumpkin lattes are back. But savvy foodies know there are so many more interesting uses for this in-season squash than as a syrupy synthetic shot in your morning coffee.

Here's a roundup of some of our favorite seasonal dishes where pumpkin is the star.

See also:


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Poutine roundup: from classic to 'obscene'

Categories: Eat This
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Wikimedia Commons
You know what it is, but do you know where to get it?

Admittedly, we're not exactly on par with Canada when it comes to the availability of poutine. In fact in Quebec, where the dish is said to have originated, you can order a side of the cheese-curd and gravy-covered fries at any McDonald's. We'll probably never get to that point (do we really want to?), but quite a few Twin Cities restaurants have poutine on the menu, and among those are some really fantastic standouts.

We've listed some of the local eateries you can count on to get your poutine fix -- in no particular order, by the way. Think of this as more of a public service announcement.   

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'Amaize' white sweet corn is dessert on a cob

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Crookshank Company
Amaize Sweet Corn actually looks like the promotional pictures.
Maybe we're too cynical.

We rolled our eyes when the Idaho-based, sweet corn breeder and producer Crookham Company sent our office a few ears of "Amaize" sweet corn with a note claiming it's caused a taste-tester to propose marriage to farmers. We grimaced while reading a statement from the company's president, George Crookham, claiming the corn "takes us beyond what we thought a sweet corn could be." And we crumpled up the sheet when we read the words "sweet corn nirvana."

Then we took a bite and discovered, to our chagrin, that it truly is dessert on a cob.

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Origami, Nami, and Wakame join forces to help Japan's Tsunami survivors

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Wakame
Eat sushi, help earthquake victims
​CNN and BBC switched their 24-hour coverage from Japan earthquake to Libya last week, but the hardship for survivors is far from over. Behind the news coverage of the nuclear crisis in Fukushima are hundreds of families in evacuation shelters, as well as farmers and business owners who will never be able to run their lives like they used to. Even if we don't see it on TV, thousands are still living in shelters and lack access to basic needs like food, heat and running water.

To help the survivors of Japan earthquake and tsunami, Origami, Origami West, Wakame, and Nami have joined forces to raise money for the relief effort.



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Korean food 101: Intro to banchan

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Kei Terauchi
Korean meal is never complete without banchan
Recently, the Hot Dish received a letter from a reader suggesting an article on banchan, the little dishes that automatically appear on tables at Korean restaurants.

I find that whole process alienating, since I have no idea what I am getting, or what to do with it. Do I use the kimchi as a condiment? What did they do to those sprouts? What do I do with this food?

To answer these questions, we went on a chili- and garlic-laced mission to find out what banchan is all about.


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Tags:

Hoban, Korean

Pregaming Thanksgiving with Wisconsin's best cheeses

Categories: Eat This

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We're thankful for cheese
Want to impress your Thanksgiving guests with some of the best--and, at times, hardest to get--cheeses in the country? The two cheeses produced by Uplands Cheese in Dodgeville, Wisconsin, fit the bill: the extra-aged Pleasant Ridge Reserve was recently named Best in Show at the American Cheese Society's annual competition (that means they whupped 1,400 other cheeses), and the creamy Rush Creek Reserve, a smooth, mild cheese wrapped in spruce bark, is perfect for scooping.


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Nonna Rosa's brings red sauce to Robbinsdale

Categories: Eat This

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Travail too busy? Try Nonna Rosa's next door.
If you drove all the way up to Robbinsdale and found the lines too long for a table at the new gastropub, Travail, your next best bet is to head down the block to the cozy Nonna Rosa's.

It's not the kind of restaurant that's necessarily worth the drive, as it doesn't so much distinguish itself from other metro area Italian joints, but the new-this-summer restaurant is good enough to be a boon for those in the the neighborhood.

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The best thing I ate this week

Categories: Eat This

Treating yourself to chicken tikka.
What would I have to do to get a little tandoor in my kitchen, to supplement the workhorse Caloric? I could cook up skewered meats and puffy disks of hand-patted naan, while warming up the whole house with the oven's 900-degree heat. Or, I suppose, I could just go back to this new Minnetonka eatery for an order of its chicken tikka.

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The best thing I ate this week

Categories: Eat This

Crowning a new banh mi king!
The best thing to come out of France's colonization of Vietnam is, arguably, the banh mi. The pitch-perfect sandwich marries a pillowy, delicately crusted baguette with meat (often pork) or mock meat, pickled and fresh veggies (carrots, cucumber, and usually cilantro), and a generous swipe of mayonnaise. And, best of all, banh mi are super cheap: nearly always less than $5. While I'm a fan of the ones at Jasmine Deli and Saigon, I'm currently enamored with one from Minneapolis's newest street truck:


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Pizza Luce, Nick & Eddie, and more: The most popular dishes at your favorite restaurants

Categories: Eat This

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Photo: PizzaLuce.com
Here's what's hot at Pizza Luce
When you go out to eat, do you ever stare at the menu for minutes on end, waffling over what to order? Do you ever wonder if the restaurant's regulars know something you don't? Here's a handy guide to what customers order most at some of the Twin Cities' most popular eateries, plus recommendations from the chefs. Check out more of our Eat This posts here.

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NICK AND EDDIE
Most popular: At the Loring Park mainstay, customers spread their favorites pretty evenly, says chef Derik Moran, but one of the most popular orders is the Mississippi Greens salad. "It's a blend of micro herbs and frilled lettuces that I get from a local farmer," he says. It's a mix of 23 varieties, "all in micro form, so it's really dainty, really pretty, lots of color." The salad ($7) is served with a buttermilk vinaigrette, roasted beets, house-made bacon, and local goat cheese. As far as entrees, the mac and cheese is a hot seller. It's baked and rich, with lobster, house-made andouille sausage, cheddar, and Gruyere ($15).

Chef's choice: "I'd have to pick the scallop dish," Moran says. "It's pan-seared dayboat scallops with a pearl barley risotto, with local shell peas, ramps, and avocado [$19]."

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