Taco Cat's founders: "We're a couple of dumb guys"

Categories: Interview

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Courtesy of Taco Cat
Last week, Taco Cat made every Minnesotan's mouth water when they announced the return of their bicycle-delivered taco business. But that wasn't all. They also revamped the menu and extended their delivery services from one to five days per week.
Taco Cat will now be up and running from 6 p.m. to 1 a.m. on Tuesdays through Saturdays.

On Monday, Taco Cat announced that they'll expand the delivery zone to cover more of Uptown, including the areas surrounding Lake Calhoun and Lake of the Isles.

Addressing those who still fall outside the delivery zone, they wrote: "Nothing is set in stone. We do bend the rules (that's kind of our thing), but don't take it personally if we say no."

Hot Dish caught up with Taco Cat founders Tristan Jimerson and Daniel Laeger-Hagemeister to chat about none other than bikes, cats, and tacos.

See also:
Taco Cat launches taco delivery service: "Call number. Get Tacos."

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Rebecca Pfeiffer talks Twin Cities Brewery Tours, local beers, and heading outstate

Categories: Beer, Interview

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photo courtesy of Twin Cities Brewery Tours

The growth of craft brewing in Minnesota is a wide ranging phenomenon. It's not just for bars and brewers -- it's an industry-wide movement that affects production, retail, and tourism.

Rebecca Pfeiffer, founder of the Taste of Twin Cities tour company, noticed all of the new breweries opening and saw an opportunity to expand, branching out with a new venture: Twin Cities Brewery Tours.

The company offers commercial tour packages (three breweries in five hours) within the metro, and also private and corporate outings. Currently two-thirds of the way through the tour cycle that hits Flat Earth, Great Waters, and Fulton, the tour company will soon switch its route and destinations, as it does every three months. Beginning in May, the bus will be taking thirsty patrons to 612 Brew, Dangerous Man, and a third still to be announced brewery.

Hot Dish wanted to know more about the blooming beer tourist biz in the Twin Cities, so we reached out to Pfeiffer to hear more about the tours, the company, and what happens when people enjoy just a little too much of a good thing.

See also:
Beer of the Week: Excelsior's Oar Lock Oat Stout

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Ryan Pitman of Eastlake Craft Brewery on setting up shop in Midtown Global Market

Categories: Beer, Interview

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Bethany Pitman
Ryan Pitman

This fall Eastlake Craft Brewery will open inside the Midtown Global Market on Lake Street. The brewery will focus on the taproom experience, selling $5 pints of its craft brews and allowing patrons to bring in outside food, an opportunity to pair the beers with various food choices inside MGM -- Middle Eastern, Mexican, and Vietnamese cuisines, to name just a few.

Eastlake brewery will face Lake Street and will be open until 11 p.m. with a separate entry for when the market is closed and its own restrooms as well. The brewery will also be family-friendly, with an array of house-made sodas for non-beer drinkers.

The Hot Dish wanted more information about Eastlake so we sought out owner and head brewer Ryan Pitman to get a few answers about how the taproom will fit in with its neighbors. Pitman is quite busy between his regular full-time work, brewery set-up, and family, but we managed to get hold of him as he was in the process of having his zoning permit approved.

See also:
Comedian Sam Harriman to open Sisyphus Brewing


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Amanda Rettke of I Am Baker on "Surprise-Inside Cakes" [VIDEO]

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Courtesy Surprise Inside Cakes

"Love to cook, hate to bake" is a commonly held sentiment among chefs. Why? Baking in general, and confection in particular, has a reputation for being tedious, inflexible, and focused on perfection. But baking blogger and cookbook author Amanda Rettke thinks that shouldn't be the case. She makes what she calls "Surprise-Inside" cakes, which when sliced into reveal three-dimensional, multilayered, rainbow-colored shapes and images. They may look complicated, but Rettke says the stakes with baking like this are actually pretty low. Her methods work just as well with boxed mixes (though she does encourage using homemade frosting) and she makes a very good point about the upside of screwing up when you bake: "You can always eat the evidence." 

Rettke has a book signing and baking demonstration coming up this Friday at 5:30 p.m. at Kitchen in the Market at Midtown Global Market, where you can sample treats, drink bubbly, and see how, exactly, she gets cake inside of cake. We caught up with Rettke to chat about her most ambitious designs, the cons of writing a book about something new, and the best food dye for the job.

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Daniella Martin of Girl Meets Bug on how eating bugs is healthy, sustainable, and tasty

Categories: Interview

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Daniella Martin dines on mealworm, wax worms, and crickets
Daniella Martin's life revolves around bugs. She eats bugs, raises bugs, writes about bugs for the Huffington Post, and just released Edible -- a book dedicated to the benefits of bug consumption -- in February. She also inspired an episode of The Simpsons, regularly blogs about bug-eating adventures on her website Girl Meets Bug, and has filmed two short episodes of a bug-centered cooking show under the same name, featuring deep fried scorpions and wax worm tacos.

When Hot Dish met up with Daniella Martin at her Linden Hills home last weekend, she went over the menu and introduced us to her pets, an unnamed tarantula and a tailless whip scorpion named Freddy, whom Martin placed on her cheek. For the interview, Martin prepared three varieties of bugs in three separate dishes, including wild rice with crispy crickets; slaw with toasted mealworms; and Honeycrisp apple with cheese and larvae. The meal, which will be thoroughly covered in this week's "Plate or Pass," was delicious.

As Daniella baked crickets and carefully organized mealworms atop a purple cabbage slaw, we grilled her about the benefits of bug eating, the ethics of bug slaughter, and the best places to purchase bugs for snacking.

See also:
Kate Moore of "Community Cooking with Kate" on reinventing the potluck


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Kate Moore of "Community Cooking with Kate" on reinventing the potluck

Categories: Interview

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Emily Eveland
Seven years ago, Kate Moore decided she could no longer tolerate the Minnesotan tendency to hibernate over long winters. To combat isolation, she combined two of her favorite things -- community building and cooking -- and started what she considers a "modern, urban reinvention the potluck," otherwise known as Family Dinner Minneapolis. Every Monday, Moore comes up with a menu and sends a mass text to her regular Family Dinner guests, asking who plans to attend. When she hears back, she assigns each guest $6 worth of ingredients. Guests arrive with their ingredients at 7:30 p.m. and the 8-16 person group proceeds to cook, eat, and clean up the meal together.

Moore's culinary background is extensive. She started cooking at the age of nine, got her first restaurant gig at 17, graduated as valedictorian at the New England Culinary Institute, and spent six years training under Lucia Watson of Lucia's Restaurant.

Eventually, Moore left Lucia's to start teaching classes at co-ops, corporations, and homes under the name "Community Cooking with Kate." The business is flourishing, especially her corporate "Lunch & Learn" demos, and it's clear why: Kate is kind, enthusiastic, and a total culinary badass.

See also:
Q&A: Five Friends Food, makers of the Fresh Bar


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Tricia Cornell on how to shop Minnesota's farmers markets like a pro [RECIPE]

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The Minnesota Farmers Market Cookbook by Tricia Cornell

It seems like a shopping no-brainer: instead of getting in your gas guzzler and motoring across town to a big box grocery store for your imported asparagus from Peru or heads of garlic from China, you spend your hard-earned food budget at your neighborhood farmers market, supporting the farmers who live and work near you, and getting the best quality produce you can. So why are so many people intimidated by the farmers market, and so few see it as a legitimate place to shop and feed their families?

Tricia Cornell tackles this question in her latest book, The Minnesota Farmers Market Cookbook. Brimming with easy to accomplish recipes, the book also includes a comprehensive directory of farmers markets throughout the region, and helpful notes on each type of produce covered, so you can shop and cook with confidence. She took the time to chat with us about kohlrabi, the lies we've been told about stir fries, and all of her best tips for shopping locally like a pro.

The Hot Dish: Describe your new cookbook. What should readers expect?

Tricia Cornell: The most exciting thing about The Minnesota Farmers Market Cookbook is that it's organized by product, so that you can experience it the same way you experience the farmers market. You can either start at the beginning of a row and walk all the way through, or you can drop in and see what you see in front of you, or you can go straight to the beets if you need beets. So the book is organized that same way.

HD: Why did you decide to write this book? Your previous book, Eat More Vegetables, tackles the questions of what to do with your seasonal produce. How does this book differ from or expand on the first?

Well, that book was also a lot of fun to write. That was 100% my recipes and the foods that my family eats at home. This book allowed me to talk to a lot of really dedicated farmers and chefs, some of them practically celebrities here in Minnesota and some them ordinary farmers market fellows. And the other thing is that this book allowed me to get really in depth and geeky on each vegetable in a way that I wasn't able to do so much in the first book. I take you through how to find a vegetable, when to buy it, what to when you get it home, how to store it...So, yeah, it's a little geekier on the vegetable front.

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Dustin Brau of Brau Brothers Brewing on the craft beer boom, soda, and guilty pleasure beer

Categories: Beer, Interview
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Photo courtesy of Brau Brothers Brewing Co.
Head brewer, Dustin Brau, talks craft brewing in Minnesota


At a recent tasting event held at the Roseville location of Cellar's Wine & Spirits, Brau Brothers Brewing Co. head brewer, Dustin Brau, talked to an audience of craft beer enthusiasts while offering up samples of several varieties of their craft brewed beers. We had the opportunity to catch up with Brau about his family business and the expanding craft beer boom in the Twin Cities.

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Q&A: Five Friends Food, makers of the Fresh Bar

Categories: Interview

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Hinkle, Pomeroy, Johnson, and Handke
Try telling Will Handke, Mike Steffan, Austin Hinkle, Ross Pomeroy, and Tom Johnson that friends shouldn't go into business together. The five 20-somethings grew up together in Mankato, MN, separated for college, then came back together in 2012 to bake up to 2,000 granola bars per week under the name Five Friends Food.

"When we were in high school, they used to call us the nerd herd because we played a lot of video games," Johnson said.

We think the new name (and pursuit) is a better fit.

See also:
Q&A: FrozBroz Erik Powers and Ben Solberg


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Robb Jones talks about the transition from chef to bartender

Categories: Interview
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Stephanie A. Meyer
Jones mixing up a cocktail inside Saffron
Robb Jones ambles into Saffron in the early afternoon and immediately takes command of his bar, simmering simple syrups and prepping herbs and brews. His cocktails are carefully built from extensive knowledge; he reads everything he can get his hands on about the craft. 

Our 2013 Best Bartender, Jones is now getting noticed on a national stage. He was in the Top 10 at the prestigious Bombay Sapphire Gin and GQ sponsored Most Inspired Bartender competition in Las Vegas this year (just barely missing the chance to compete on a world-wide level). His expertly mixed drinks have the local liquorati at attention.

Jones took a moment to tell us about his journey from the back of the kitchen to behind the bar.

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