Hormel's Compleats Breakfast: I can't believe it's not cat food

Categories: Product Review

Emily Eveland
When the apocalypse hits, you'll be forced to think strategically. The first step is safety. The second is shelter. The third is finding a hefty supply of dry food.

Fortunately for us apocalypse-fearing folks, a variety of meals lend themselves to dry storage and easy prep. In the event of a nationwide emergency, we'd still be able to chow down on Spaghettios, Campbell's Soup, and Velveeta mac and cheese, among countless highly processed others. Eggs have now been added to the list, thanks to Hormel, the Austin, Minnesota-based company behind Spam and other meaty delicacies.

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Austin, Minnesota rejects new Spam-inspired logo

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White Castle waffle sandwiches: A surprisingly tasty fast food breakfast

Categories: Product Review

Emily Eveland
An inside view of White Castle's chicken and waffles sandwich
Fast foodies, start your cars. Stoners, ready your joints. Hungover people of America, it's time to slide into those sweatpants, pop a few Advil, and lug your tired asses over to White Castle to try their new trio of Waffle Sandwiches, including bacon, egg, and cheese; sausage, egg, and cheese; and a chicken and waffle sandwich with bacon gravy. We're serious. They're actually pretty good.

Belgian Waffle Sandwiches were introduced to White Castle's already-existing breakfast menu on Sunday at 7 a.m., just over a week after Taco Bell debuted Waffle Tacos, among other despicable breakfast items (we're sure you remember our controversial review from a few weeks back). According to the Castle's corporate entities, the eggs are cracked and cooked fresh while you wait and the waffles are imported directly from Belgium.

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Taco Bell's breakfast menu: The bad, the ugly, and the irrevocable

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Taco Bell's breakfast menu: The bad, the ugly, and the irrevocable

Categories: Product Review

Taco Bell breakfast: a culinary journey in shades of brown
Taco Bell breakfast is finally here. On Thursday at 7 a.m, every stoner's favorite fast food chain unveiled its brand new breakfast menu, complete with Waffle Tacos, Cinnabon Delights, AM Crunchwraps, AM Grilled Tacos, Breakfast Burritos, Flatbread Melts, hash browns, and coffee. Hot Dish joined the impatient masses and lined up to sample from the new selection.

Talk about bad decision making. Hours later, our stomachs were still in knots. Unless you're absurdly intoxicated, you're probably better off eating dust from your computer monitor. We were spared some of this breakfast bastardization because, on its first morning fueling America's workday, this particular Taco Bell had run out of eggs. Or egg-like product. Presumably because there had been a rush on the Waffle Tacos. America, we fear for us.

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A painful tour of the hottest peppers at Pepper Palace

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A painful tour of the hottest peppers at Pepper Palace

Emily Eveland
Sometimes people do stupid things just for the sake of saying they did them. YouTube is rife with idiotic decision-making, with videos of people doing everything from jumping off rooftops to lighting firecrackers off in their butt cracks. In 2007, the ghost pepper was named the world's hottest pepper by the Guinness Book of World Records and quickly gained notoriety when online "daredevils" began filming themselves taking the ghost pepper challenge (a.k.a. eating whole dried ghost peppers).

Though the ghost pepper has since been unseated by the Trinidad Scorpion Moruga and, more recently, the Carolina Reaper, the ghost pepper continues to lure adrenaline junkies to the Mall of America's Pepper Palace, a one-stop shop for pepper everything.

"What's your hottest hot sauce?" The question is asked at 10-minute intervals by pepper-heads and the heat sensitive alike. But not everyone gets the pleasure of subjecting themselves to a blazing, internal bonfire -- customers have to be 18 to work through Pepper Palace's wide array of samples, including everything from hot sauces, barbecue sauces, salsas pickles, ghost pepper peanuts, horseradish, and wasabi peas. And if you really want to try their hottest hot sauce, the "Hottest Sauce in the Universe, Second Dimension," you have to sign a waiver.

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Top 5 spicy bar bites in St. Paul

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Twin Cities Veg Fest re-cap: Vegan nachos and honey without bees

Compassion and community at Coffman Union
Despite game day traffic and the obnoxiously expensive parking rates that come along with U of M sporting events, this past Saturday the 2nd annual Twin Cities VegFest was a rousing success.

This year's gathering was considerably bigger than last, with food vendors including Flamingo Ethiopian and Kitty Corner Cafe; about a dozen companies handing out samples of their vegetarian goods; plenty of interesting exhibitors and speakers; and approximately 1,800 people in attendance. 

Here are some highlights from the day.

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Xcel Center now serving a fake loon sausage and Zenon Konopka's wine

Dawn Brodey
New and improved brats from Husnik's Sausage.

While you're reading this week's cover story about the Minnesota Wild's controversial new arrival, Matt Cooke, you may find yourself wondering what kinds of tasty foods will be available at the Xcel Energy Center this year. Indeed, there will be quite a few new menu options for sports fans and concert-goers.

Executive chef Jason Steidle tells Hot Dish that people are going to find improved cuisine with a focus on local foods and local inspiration. For example, among the many new foods being offered is a "Loon Sausage," made by South St. Paul's own Husnik's Sausage. The brat-style sandwich comes stuffed with cheese, wild rice, and -- no, not our state bird -- pork.

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Jake's Wayback Burgers brings nine-patty cheeseburger to Twin Cities

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Soul Food Junkies: Local filmmaker works on documentary about soul food and its "unhealthy" side effects [VIDEO]

Photo Courtesy of B FRESH Photography
A plate of soul food prepared by the Hurt family on set of Soul Food Junkies

Soul food, is it putting black communities in jeopardy? This is the question asked by director Byron Hurt in his newest film, Soul Food Junkies. The film takes a mostly lighthearted look through the history of soul food, but it also tells stories of hardship and illness brought to communities of color through unhealthy, high-fat diets. The film is narrated by Hurt as he tells his personal family story of his father's addiction to unhealthy eating while exploring the cultural roots of what we now call soul food. 

Local photographer/videographer Rebecca McDonald served as part of Hurt's production team during the filming of the documentary. We were recently invited to her home for the premiere of the film. McDonald's significant other/aspiring caterer Cheo Smith provided guests with a nice soul food tasting before the showing, in which he tried to highlight some healthier takes on soul food classics, but he was kind enough to not omit some beautifully pan-fried chicken.

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LivingSocial launches Gourmet dinner series

Champagne (167x250).jpg
Champagne dinner for a deal
As the daily coupon deals begin to flood our in-boxes, the companies are working on differentiating themselves. LivingSocial recently expanded to include a new offer it's calling Gourmet, which is described as "an invitation-only collection of culinary experiences." LivingSocial is launching its Gourmet series of dinners in six cities, including Minneapolis. The company offered to host the Hot Dish at one of its inaugural events in return for some feedback. We attended, at the company's expense (tickets are typically $100 or more), a five-course dinner held at Urban Eatery in Minneapolis featuring Veuve Cliquot champagne. 

What did that entail?

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Todd's Salsa: The new face of local salsa

Sociably responsible and tastes good!
​ Todd's Salsas are the latest locally made products to enter the realm of all-natural foods. The label boasts that it's gluten free, with no added sugar or preservatives, and even reminds you to recycle the glass bottle. These salsas are handcrafted in small batches with all the ingredients being recognizable and easily pronounced.

We sampled all three varieties to see how they stacked up.

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'Amaize' white sweet corn is dessert on a cob

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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