Do you have a happy place? You know, somewhere you can visit a hundred times and always regret having to go home. You regularly catch yourself day dreaming about going there when you’re stuck in traffic or having a bad day at work. The place that “fills your bucket.” Since our first trip nearly 5 years ago the North Shore has been my happy place. I love Duluth and beg the kitchen partner to buy me a house there all the time. We try to make it up there 3-4 times every year–to relax, get away from the city noise, and take in Lake Superior.
Last weekend we snuck away for a 3 day weekend before the holiday rush begins. We experienced a mini-version of “The Gales of November” with mist, rain and 6-10 foot waves from our hotel room overlooking the lake. What better reason to snuggle in with a cup of tea and work on my NaNoWriMo project. I finished up a Simple Good and Tasty Thanksgiving post that went up this week and prepped for the big Give to the Max Day campaign for the foundation I work with: GiveMN.org: Autism Recovery Foundation. Two big items I’m proud of this week!
The weather didn’t keep us locked in all weekend though. We also saw the new James Bond movie – if you haven’t seen it. It’s simply excellent. And we ventured out to dinner at a locavore hang out in the area. The Duluth Grill was so good the kitchen partner and I went not once, but twice last weekend. First for Friday night dinner and then for brunch on our way home on Sunday. If you’re heading to the North Shore for your winter activities this season, I suggest making a stop off I-35 for some of the best local food in the area. Here’s 4 things you’ll love about the Duluth Grill:
Caramel Pecan Roll – Duluth Grill
1. The Classic Tastes- The Duluth Grill promises fresh, organic and locally sourced meals without the “trendy” hype these buzz words have gotten recently. Don’t get me wrong, I enjoy the gastronomic creations the farm-to-table folks put together in the Twin Cities. But local food doesn’t have to be fancy or more full of trend than taste. The dishes at Duluth Grill match what you’d find at any American diner including burgers with local beef, breakfast served all day, and a lasagna worth the 3 hour drive all on its own. The kitchen partner had the largest pecan cinnamon roll I’d ever seen for brunch on Sunday morning and I had the beef and vegetable pasty on Friday. This pasty is my new Iron Range staple – with local grass-fed beef and root vegetables. Perfect for a late-fall dinner in the blustery weather we had.
2. The Local Ingredients - 33% of Duluth Grill’s ingredients come from small family farmers. Not an easy task for a smaller market restaurant making a go way up North. Cage-free eggs, organic eggs from local farmers, fish from the Lake Superior Fish Company, tomatoes from Bay Produce in Superior, WI and organic produce from the University of Minnesota-Duluth farm during the summer. Even the ketchup that comes to the table is homemade from local ingredients. What’s not local is often organic or sustainably sourced – including their coffee, tea and hot chocolate. We had the hot chocolate on Sunday morning and I’d definitely recommend it!
The Quack and Cluck – Roasted Duck Omelet – Duluth Grill
3. Diners, Drive-Ins and Dives - Okay, so maybe Guy Fieri doesn’t sell you on restaurant choices. But his visit to the Duluth Grill showcases my favorite item on the menu: the banana cream pie. There’s another North Shore favorite for pie that will go unmentioned…because this pie is so much better! Check it out here:
4. They Grow it the Parking Lot We were too late in the season to see the fresh produce, but there were lots of pictures around the restaurant showcasing the fresh greens, tomatoes and produce grown in the parking lot of the restaurant. That’s right. The restaurant has a garden manager who supplies the kitchen with as much fresh food as they can grow in the greenhouse behind the store and in the large raised-bed planters out front. Edible landscape for the storefront. Oh, and did I mention they keep bees on the roof? Check out what they’re growing in a “Parking lot gardeners” feature on Relish.com
Julia Child would have been 100 today. For those of you who have read Minnesota Locavore from the beginning, you know that she holds a special place in my heart. I’ve written final term papers in college about her life and affinity for butter. She’s brought me back to the kitchen to “learn from your mistakes, be fearless, and above all have fun.”
Today I’ve had fun reading how she’s shaped and inspired other food writers around the web. (Google and the White House even joined in the celebration!) Bon Appetite everyone!
This post is part of the guest series “Locavore Q & A“. Whether a beginning cook in the kitchen or a seasoned local farmer, we all have different motivations for choosing a locavore lifestyle. Each post highlights a different perspective on local food. Today’s post was written by Simon Helgeson, a friend of the kitchen partner and I who also writes at 20Food.net. Simon is one of my favorite people to cook/dine with. He has great stories about cooking, growing, and traveling in the United States and in South America. So glad he’s able to answer some locavore questions for us!
Photo Provided by Simon Helgeson
Eating local means creating better habits, getting creative, and filling your life with the joys of food you can feel good about. Luckily, the Twin Cities and farmers are making it easier than ever to find high quality, healthy, sustainable food without going out of your way. That’s why summer is a great time to make local eating a way of life.
Q: Which farmers’ market do you shop at and what are your tips for successful market trips?
A: One of the great incentives for eating local is to make grocery-shopping fun. For me, that means visiting the Saint Paul downtown market on Saturday or Sunday morning. Last year I made the trip extra fun by biking to the market. When I arrive, quickly survey all the booths to see what is for sale. Every week brings something different to the table. I think about how I might utilize the available produce to make at least a couple different meals and buy accordingly. I try to only plan a few meals for the week ahead, because inevitably life will happen, and that perfect plan for cooking a huge bag of produce will fall apart. Resist the temptation to buy more than you will have time and energy to prepare. For a directory of local farmer’s markets try checking out the Simple Good and Tasty directory.
Q: What are other ways new or interested locavores can be more involved and engaged in the community?
A: In addition to having fun at the farmer’s market, you could purchase a share of community supported agriculture (CSA). This summer I will be utilizing the overflow produce from my friend’s share. A CSA brings new colors and flavors to your door each week—a handy option if you are extremely busy or there is not a market nearby. If the CSA offers an opportunity to visit the farm, take advantage. Last year, in addition to the annual thank you dinner hosted by our CSA, I had the opportunity to attend an event organized by Dinner on the Farm, which involved a meal prepared by a local chef at a local farm. It was a fantastic experience, not only for the food itself but to see where it was grown, meet the growers and talk with like-minded folks. I also plan to attend a few of the monthly dinners hosted by the nonprofit Eat for Equity. These are great opportunities to make new friends who share an interest in eating local.
Q: What are your suggestions for new locavores in the kitchen? What about preserving and canning?
A: One of my favorite summer activities is picking seasonal fruit at a farm. In the next couple weeks it should be time to go collect a big box of strawberries and make some homemade jam. Be sure to check out Amy’s strawberry freezer jam video on 20food. In July, it will be time to go for raspberries and blueberries. Last year on a family trip to Michigan over Labor Day, I found the peach orchards bursting with perfect fruit and ended up picking and canning 35 pounds of delicious peach butter and jam in addition to enjoying many fresh from the tree. Be sure to check out the Minnesota grown directory or PickYourOwn.org for farm locations and seasonal availability before you visit.
Once you’ve got your local food groove going, I highly recommend making your own salsa. It is easy and super delicious. I tend to make a batch almost every week in the tomato season. Fruit salsa makes a special treat—sweet, spicy, and salty—what more could your taste buds ask for? Check out Mark Bittman’s video for a primer.
When the summer heat turns up I will seek out some fresh Minnesota dairy from my local co-op to make a batch of delicious homemade ice cream. A good ice cream maker can be found for less than $50 and the reward of a fresh ice cream loaded with the season’s best fruit is definitely worth the cost and effort. For directions check out my Strawberry Angel Food Cake Ice Cream post or Amy’s Vanilla Ice Cream post.
Q: Anything else?
A:Eating local is a lifestyle and enjoying food culture is a lot of fun. Eating should never be just a chore. Once you start to visit farmers’ markets, meet farmers, and get creative in the kitchen, you won’t want to stop. It is fun, affordable, healthy, and delicious. What more could you want from your food?Amy’s commitment to local food is outstanding and this site is a fantastic resource for Minnesota foodies. Kudos to Amy for her hard work and thanks for giving me the opportunity to write a guest post.
This post is part of the guest series “Locavore Q & A”. Whether a beginning cook in the kitchen or a seasoned local farmer, we all have different motivations for choosing a locavore lifestyle. Each post highlights a different perspective on local food. Today’s post was written by Jeni Hill from An Herbalist Eats and Like a Fish out of Fargo. Jeni also contributes her recipes and thoughts on food to 20Food.net, where she and I had the chance to meet. Jeni calls Fargo, North Dakota home and has been documenting the challenges of eating local in a smaller community than the Twin Cities.
Q: What is the easiest part of eating local? The hardest?
A: I am relatively new to the locavore movement. Similar to many other families, eating local wasn’t a priority when I was growing up. Eating local or seeking out local products wasn’t in our consciousness. In Apple Valley in the 90’s, I didn’t know of any families raising backyard chickens or tending to vegetable gardens. Now I know a lot.
Eating local is a change in worldviews. It’s still not automatic, so my fiancé and I have to be intentional about consuming more local products. We are not great or even good, by any means, at eating mostly local foods, but we’re being more intentional about supporting local producers, restaurants that prepare local foods, and trying to grow our own food.
For me, the hardest part of eating local is having to put more effort into finding local products. We were surrounded by co-ops in the Twin Cities. A few stores in this community sell local produce but their selections are unpredictable (though Sidney’s welcomes special requests). I have been impressed with the local grocery chains that also incorporate some local products. For example, I can easily find local honey, flour, and sacks of potatoes. Purchasing local, organic, and grass-fed meats in grocery stores is cost prohibitive. I could buy directly from farmers, which would require a lot more foresight and planning (not to mention freezer space).
Q: Summer is in full swing. How are you planning to eat local this season?
A: Soon the farmers market will be open and local farms offer CSA’s. We are very excited about purchasing our first CSA share this summer, which will ensure organic, local produce each week. In addition, I tried my hand at container gardening on my balcony. I have a horrible track record at keeping plants alive and this was no exception. All of my seedlings died so I replaced everything with arugula and herbs. Lots and lots of arugula. I look forward to the challenges of using all of our CSA produce and balcony “garden” and am proud of our two baby steps towards eating more local.
This post is part of the guest series “Locavore Q & A”. Whether a beginning cook in the kitchen or a season local farmer, we all have different motivations for choosing a locavore lifestyle. Each post highlights a different perspective on local food. Today’s post was written by Amy Peterson from Green Your Plate. Amy’s blog was one of the first Minnesota food blogs I started reading when looking for local, seasonal, and sustainable recipes. She’s a working mom so I love that her recipes are fast and functional in a busy lifestyle. Thanks for joining us Amy!
Photo provided by Green Your Plate
Q: Why do you choose local?
A: There are so many reasons, but the #1 reason for me is taste – I think that local food is fresher and simply tastes better. I also like supporting smaller producers and keeping money in the local community. Local food feels more meaningful to me.
Q:It’s farmers’ market season. Which market do you shop at and what are you most looking forward to buying this summer?
A: Though I shop sometimes at the Audubon, Northeast and Mill City markets, I tend to go to the Lyndale location of the Minneapolis Farmers Market the most. I appreciate the wide selection of vegetables, herbs and plants sold there and the bustling nature of the market. I’ve gotten to know some of the vendors, and that personal connection makes shopping fun. It seems like I always run into people I know at the Minneapolis market.
Every summer, I get super excited about the arrival of local strawberries and tomatoes – you can really taste the flavor difference. Throughout the season there’s always something to look forward to: in May, it’s ramps and morel mushrooms; in June, my favorites are sugar snap peas and strawberries; in July & August, local tomatoes and corn excite me; and in September, I can’t get enough of red peppers. It’s all good!