Plate or Pass: Live sea urchin

Emily Eveland
Why is it that some of the least sexy foods are considered the most divine? Sea urchins, for example, are essentially spiky sea floor garbage-eaters with anuses on the tops of their bodies, that sell for upward of $14 per pound. Sound appetizing?

Last Friday, Hot Dish headed to Coastal Seafoods to find out what all the fuss was about. Since urchins usually sell out within a few hours of their arrival, we asked an employee to put one aside for us. What we got was likely the largest urchin of the of the bunch -- weighing in at just under two pounds, the spiky black creature was the size of a basketball.

See also:
Plate or Pass: Camel Meat
Plate or Pass: Durian

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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.

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

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Bike to dinner: St. Paul edition

Dawn Brodey
The chariot of the dining bicyclist.

Dare we say it -- summer has finally arrived -- and as it does, increased numbers of weather-weary Twin Citians are taking to their bicycles and hitting the town. They pedal the Lakes, the Grand Rounds, the Greenway, or any of the many urban bike lanes. It is for good reason that we are regularly voted among the most bike-friendly cities in the country.

But bike-friendly isn't the only feather in our cap -- we are also regularly voted among the best cities for foodies. So why not combine the two?

A few weeks ago Hot Dish brought you a course for your courses -- a bike-friendly route with recommended stops for appetizers, dinner and dessert. Beginning and ending in Minneapolis, the 10-mile course was a big hit.

Now Hot Dish pedals East and presents a course for your courses in St. Paul. This seven-mile route hits some of Saint Paul's classic locations and new favorites -- and burns a lot of calories along the way.

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In Pursuit Of: The perfect Manhattan

Dawn Brodey
A perfect pair. Manhattans as presented by The Monte Carlo.

It is understood, especially around Hot Dish, that the culinary arts are just that -- an art. We are lucky to amble among some of the finest displays of food culture and then report back to you, our readers.

But reporting about any art is itself, well, an art. Especially when it comes to classics -- those items with which foodies have had more time to apply countless variations. And so we present to you our newest column: In Pursuit Of. We'll visit and revisit culinary classics at different Twin Cities eateries and bars in pursuit of just what makes them so great.

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Bike to dinner: A course for your courses

Dawn Brodey
The chariot of the dining bicyclist.

The Twin Cities is regularly voted among the most bike-friendly metro areas in the country. currently has us in the #1 spot although we regularly swap the prestigious ranking for second place with Portland, Oregon.

Similarly, publications such as Travel and Leisure also have the Twin Cities and Portland sharing top spots for best cities for foodies.

The situation has us asking two big questions: One, how do we get rid of Portland; and two, how do we best pair our Cities' tremendous and unique opportunities to bike and eat out?

Biking to dinner can be a trick. Does the establishment have a bike rack? Will my helmet hair and wrinkled right cuff solicit snubs from the other diners? Do they serve Surly?

Well, Hot Dish cooked up a sample course for your courses: a scenic, bike-friendly, 10-mile loop with recommended stops for beer, apps, dinner, and, since you've earned it, dessert. On your next date night, why not ditch a couple of wheels and take this road less traveled.

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Herkimer's summer sports leagues are back

Herkimer Sports LeagueII.jpg
Courtesy of the Herkimer
Herkimer's outdoor sports stadium.

For over 13 years, The Herkimer has been serving up more than just beer and food - they have also sponsored a variety of sports leagues from kickball to bean bags.

Caroline O'Halloran, social media and marketing manager for Herkimer, tells us their roster also includes volleyball, softball, hockey, dodge ball, and shuffleboard.

See also:
Herkimer: Best happy hour in town?

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Pearson acquires Bit-O-Honey: A reaction from a local fanatic

Wikimedia Commons
An old-time favorite candy comes to Minnesota: Bit-O-Honey's biggest fan reacts
As the unrivaled number-one fan of Bit-O-Honey in the Twin Cities--and possibly the universe--I find it hard to characterize the complex set of emotions I was confronted with Wednesday upon learning that Pearson Candy Company has acquired Bit-O-Honey. The St. Paul based confectioner famous for its Salted Nut Roll will now be making the best damn candy on earth right in our backyard.

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Signature Dish: Jamie Malone of Sea Change

Photo by
Sea Change's Chef Jamie Malone presents her signature abalone & shaved asparagus

In the search for the Twin Cities' best culinary creations, we often come across dishes that stop us mid-bite and force us to reflect on the level of thought and artistry chefs put into their work. The efforts of the chefs are often laborious, and the end results are regularly consumed before the full concept can be appreciated. We've been tracking down some of these dishes to get the chef's side of the story; their thoughts, motivations, and processes. It's our hope that we can give you a deeper insight into the talents of Twin Cities chefs and to have a better understanding of what you're getting when you sit down to dinner.

Chefs are often known for their drive and work ethic. To be committed to a job that requires you to donate your life to it, especially on weekends, takes a special kind of person and Sea Change's Chef de Cuisine Jamie Malone certainly fits the bill. To say that Chef Malone is a driven person is to short sell her accomplishments. At an age much younger than most other chefs given the task of running a fine dining restaurant, she's already done more than many will do in their entire careers.

Chef Malone has a soft yet commanding presence in the kitchen and her attention to detail can be seen on every plate delivered to the dining room. Her current focus at Sea Change is on sustainable seafood, a difficult task for any chef and even more so for a chef in the Midwest. Malone goes above and beyond in this category as she has also been known to advocate the use of sustainable fish not just inside, but also outside the restaurant world.

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Inspired by City Pages' horoscope, couple bakes 'Unicorn Poop' cookies

Unicorn cookies.jpg
Photo courtesy of Michael Uss.
Jessica Burdette baked these "unicorn poop" cookies after she got the idea from our horoscopes.
Minneapolitan Jessica Burdette was reading City Pages over Labor Day weekend when she stumbled upon this life-changing message in our horoscope section by Rob Brezny:

"You need more magic in your life. ...Consider getting the process started by baking some unicorn poop cookies."

According to her boyfriend Michael Uss, Burdette got all riled up. "She doesn't get excited about a lot," he says. "But she got uncharacteristically very excited."

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Diamond Dog eating contest at First Avenue [VIDEO]

Thumbnail image for Diamond Dog by Jana Frieband.jpg
It's man vs. sandwich
On the Fourth of July, six brave souls competed at the Depot Tavern to see who could eat the most Diamond Dogs in 10 minutes.

The event, hosted by Bobby Kahn, featured six contestants going up against City Pages' Best Hot Dog of 2012--quarter-pound dogs wrapped with pepper bacon and deep fried, and served on a pretzel bun.

Here's more on the event, and a video of the contest that set a new Diamond Dog record.

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