Put down the Kraft: 8 easy steps to arranging the perfect cheese plate

Categories: Advice

Rebecca Collins

Here's the scenario: You're invited to a dinner party. Because you know a thing or two about being a good dinner party guest, you ask your host if you can possibly bring anything in order to lighten their load. You're hoping to be assigned dinner rolls or, even better, to be told to "just bring yourself."

Here's what the host says: "An appetizer would be great!" And you heartily agree. It would be great -- if only you had any idea what to bring. The only thing you know is what not to be: the person who shows up bearing a plastic tub of "cheese food" and a sleeve of Ritz crackers.

See also:
St. Paul Cheese Shop introduces line of sandwich "melts"

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MN State Fair gluten-free food guide

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Gearing up for the Great Get-together, we're thinking of our gluten free friends

As the countdown to the Great Minnesota Get-Together winds down, we're readying our stomachs for the fried goodies and onslaught of pronto pups. For those of us who eschew gluten, the Northland Celiacs Support Group has pulled together a comprehensive list of all the gluten-free options at the fair.

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A Coffee Date with Michael Pollan [Interview]

Photo courtesy of http://hilaryrobertsphoto.com
Best Selling Author takes the time to talk to CP about a variety of issues

Last week New York Times best selling author and one of Time Magazine's 2010 Top 100 Most Influential People, Michael Pollan paid a visit to the Twin Cities to promote his new book, Cooked; A Natural History of Transformation. The book walks readers through a history of cooking while drawing attention to the greater implications of the industrialized food movement which has lead to an overall decline in home cooking.

Pollan is also the author of several other well known books including The Omnivore's Dilemma, In Defense of Food; An Eaters Manifesto and Food Rules; An Eaters Manual. We had the opportunity to sit down with Michael Pollan over coffee at Downtown Minneapolis restaurant Mona, to not only discuss his new book, but also a variety of other topics which include the challenges of being a home cook in Minnesota in the wintertime.

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Tips for new food trucks: an eater's manifesto

Categories: Advice, Food Truck
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We're ready and hungry for a new crop of food trucks

There are likely no bigger fans of food trucks than those of us here on the Hot Dish. We have eaten at nearly every one currently roaming the streets -- as well a few that have already driven off into that great parking lot in the sky. As the season revs up, we'd like to offer a few tidbits of worthwhile advice for the new crew coming up.

See Also:
Top 5 New Street Eats

Tip 1: Find a unique concept
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Time to carve the turkey: Here's the most important thing you'll need

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It's go time: don't screw this up

There's nothing worse after extracting your bird from a steamy hot oven, after hours of being tortured by that heavenly aroma, to then hack the poor thing into oblivion. While there is still a day before the big day, be sure you're prepared. There is one thing you need more than anything else to ensure a successful bird-to-table delivery.

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Get your favorite fair foods...without going to the fair

Categories: Advice

Avoid the chaos and the crowds, but still get your curds and corn dogs.
Only a few days left to enjoy the Minnesota State Fair ... or not.

If you're having a hankering for fried foods on a stick but can't bear traipsing through the stinky barns and stepping over the horse-plop-and-Sweet Martha's-cookie-littered sidewalks to get to them, we're here to help.

Here's our list of five favorite fair foods that are served at Minnesota restaurants.

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Fringe Festival dining guide

Categories: Advice

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Fuel yourself for Fringe-watching!
There are 168 shows in this year's Fringe Festival, which starts tomorrow, and how many you're able to watch all depends on your stamina.

To keep yourself fueled, check our our recommendations for which restaurants to hit near each venue.

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NuVal empowers shoppers to choose more nutritious foods

Categories: Advice

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Nu Val helps shoppers trade up to more nutritious choices.
We all know that food marketers like to stretch the truth, so we shouldn't be surprised that a cereal billed as Total nutrition scored only 29 points out of 100 on the new NuVal--nutritional value--system.

A Yale doctor, with the help of a team of nutrition experts, developed the system, which is used to grade all foods from least nutritious (1) to most nutritious (100). The score is determined by an algorithm that rates various nutritional factors, adding points for things like the item's vitamin and fiber content, and subtracting points for sodium, fat, and sugar. It basically tries to condense all the information on the item's nutritional label into one number to simplify comparisons. Tomatoes, score 96, Wonder Bread, 23. (NuVal has a game you can play to guess scores here. It's kind of like The Price Is Right, except you rank nutrition instead of price.)

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More about reservation wrangling...

Categories: Advice

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Lars Leetaru
The director of operations for Barbette/BLB/Red Stag/Gigis talks reservation policies.
This week's Dish column talks about the various ways restaurants pair diners with seats--some take a first-come-first serve approach, while others take reservations--and the pros and cons of each system.

Amy Kelly, Director of Operations of the Barbette/Bryant Lake Bowl/Red Stag/Gigi's empire, oversees restaurants that use some combination of all those reservations strategies. The Hot Dish touched base with her to learn more about why the Red Stag recently decided to start using Open Table and why it's always important to call ahead if you've made a reservation and the size of your party changes.

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Not sure about a CSA? Options for busy ethical eaters

Categories: Advice
Conscionable vegging out
Catch up with our guidelines for choosing the right Community Supported Agriculture from Friday here.

If your determination was that a full share won't fit in with your summer schedule, be it financial, time, or spatial constraints, there are still options out there for the CS-Lazy. Here are some ideas for local, sustainably grown foods that don't require a ton of commitment.

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