Eruption Effervescent: taste testing the new local energy drink

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Photo courtesy Eruption USA
Thinking outside the can
​The idea for Eruption, the new all natural energy drink came about as so many bouts of genius do, at 2 a.m. after a long night of drinking.  Unlike most late night revelations, the makers, Joshua Shirk and Brian Christensen, both of the Twin Cities, actually followed through.  After years of exhaustive research, planning and attempts, they arrived at their final product: A lime flavored packet that can be added to liquid for a burst of vitamin-packed energy without the repugnant flavor that so many energy drinks have.

The ingredient list reads like a highlight reel of the trending "all natural" good-for-you stuff of the moment, from ribovlavins to CoQ10, and it's also sugar-free, being sweetened with Stevia. Using the same effervescent technology that Airborne tablets use, the powder dissolves into liquid. Each packet costs about a dollar and is easily transportable.  Add a dose to a little rail vodka, tequila or light beer for a limey concoction designed to keep the party going until all hours. Or add to a bottle of water for an enhanced work-out.

But how does it taste?

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beer, Eruption

Graeter's ice cream--Oprah's favorite--arrives in the Twin Cities

Categories: Product Review

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Graeter's name hints at its greatness!
Missing your daily dose of Oprah? Well, at least you can now drown your sorrows in a pint of her favorite ice cream, as the Cincinnati-based Graeter's recently entered the Twin Cities market.

Graeter's is a super-premium, high milk-fat content product, like Häagen-Dazs or Ben & Jerry's. The ice cream is produced using an extremely labor-intensive process called French pot, in which the liquid ingredients--Graeter's avoids unpronounceable ones--are quick-frozen in spinning, two-gallon cylinders, and then hand-packed into pints.

The family-run company has been in business since 1870, but until last year, when the company built a new production plant that would quadruple production, the brand was little-seen outside of a few dozen ice cream parlors and the Kroger supermarkets in the Midwest, Texas, and Colorado. In 2002, after Oprah Winfrey declared on her show, "You haven't had ice cream till you've had Graeter's. The butter pecan is Stedman's favorite, and mine, too," the company was apparently deluged with 800,000 phone and Internet orders, enough to disable the Cincinnati Bell phone company's switch.

So does it live up to the hype?

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Bravo for Bravo's cream puffs: a sweet discovery

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Shauna Younge for City Pages
At $1.50 each, these are worth cheering for
We were overjoyed last week to learn that Cottage Grill's Minneapple Pie has been added to the Twins' Target Field food lineup. That little tidbit got us geared up for hand-held desserts with delicious fillings, and so our quest began. After sampling a few treats, we fell for Bravo! Cafe & Bakery's cream puffs.






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Dessert

Four Queso is Four Loko-style squirtable cheese

Categories: Product Review

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MPLS.TV
Alcohol, caffeine, and...cheese?
Following the recent ban of Four Loko-like beverages, Joshua Carlon conceived of its spray cheese equivalent: Four Queso. Carlon produced this funky ad for the theoretical alcoholic, caffeinated squirtable orange goo for MPLS.TV. Check it out:

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Is Alpaca meat the next big thing? A Hot Dish taste test

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Photo by Kelly Dwyer
Broiled Alpaca leg steaks from La Pacos in Minnesota
On Wednesday, the Hot Dish introduced you to the Welcks, a Princeton couple who recently launched a business selling alpaca meat. We promised to deliver a review of the products available from La Pacos, and answer the question: Will anybody actually want to eat this stuff?More »

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Alpaca, meat

Target macaron taste test

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Maddy Hague
Target throws down a sweet gauntlet.
Just when we'd finished marveling over Sweets Bakeshop's unconventional macaron menu and the convenience of Cocoa & Fig's Minneapolis Skyway macaron shop, hometown retailer Target enters the macaron ring. 

Unfortunately for these small-town bakeries, Target isn't pulling any punches with its recently launched line of wallet-friendly, authentically French sandwich cookies. Because we're all sugar addicts to varying degrees, we happily sampled each of the company's six flavor options.

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Wendy's new fries are natural, but are they better?

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Put on your buffet pants & grab the kids - we're going to Wendy's!
Just in time for sweat-pants season, fast food also-ran Wendy's has debuted it new "natural"  fries. After spending an estimated $25 million on a new ad campaign touting the benefits of the skin-on, sea-salted crispies Wendy's is hoping you'll take a chance on change.
 
The prevailing ideas behind the campaign are that sea salt is better than processed regular table salt, there are more nutrients in the potato skins that are discarded by their competitors, the thinner cut fry will be tantalizingly tasty, and at least on the surface appear to be more healthful.  The only thing that really matters is: How do these new fries taste?  



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The McDonald's McRib sandwich encourages queasiness, regret

Categories: Product Review
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Jason Zabel
The McRib is even less delicious than it looks. Notice the gray meat. It tastes like gray meat.
​​Yep, McDonald's McRib is terrible alright. I'm not writing this as a snob or an elitist or as someone who claims to never touch fast food or processed food or anything that hasn't come from the hallowed halls of The Wedge. These words come to you from the mouth of a pretty-regular Joe. If pork could be blended and re-flavored and solidified into a patty, then doused in an inoffensive BBQ sauce, and served to millions of Americans ... well, oh. That may be what we have here.

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TCHO Chocolate: killer bars & baking drops now sold here!

Categories: Product Review

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www.tcho.com
Early on, San Francisco established itself as a hotbed of American-made gourmet chocolate, raising up the likes of Ghirardelli, Guittard, and Scharffen Berger. The city's latest entrant into the market, TCHO--pronounced "choh," as it's the phonetic spelling of the first syllable of chocolate--has taken a tech-geek's approach to the confection, on everything from its design to manufacturing processes. (For example, the company's product development phase involved issuing "beta versions" of its bars for sale with a request for feedback, then, a few days later, issuing a second version. A year and 1,026 iterations later, they had their first 1.0 bars for sale. I wasn't surprised to learn that one of the company's owners was the founding editor of Wired.) Anyway, TCHO is now being sold in Minnesota.

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Summit Unchained 90/- Scottish Style Ale a delicious winter brew

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Photo courtesy Summit Brewing Company
Summit's new 90/- Scottish Style Ale.
It seems Summit has outdone itself with its new 90/- Scottish Style Ale, the second installment in the brewery's Unchained Series. The delicious new ale features a robust, smoky flavor with caramel overtones and will see limited local release in six packs and on tap between now and the end of the year.

In advance of Monday's 90/- event at Cherokee Sirloin Room, Hot Dish talked with brewer Eric Blomquist, who oversaw the development of the new brew.


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Summit

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