There’s No Perfect Oktoberfest Pretzel in Minnesota—There Are 5

When you hear “pretzels and beer” you can’t help but think of a classic bar pretzel: a chewy loop of mahogany bread sparingly sprinkled with massive grains of salt. But when we scoured Minneapolis–St. Paul in search of the perfect Oktoberfest pretzel, we found that the same “creative-to-the-point-of-anarchy” approach that American brewers bring to beer … [ Read more]

The Great American Chestnut Revival: How science is bringing chestnuts back to American soil

Anyone who has ever come across a raw, wild chestnut—burr intact—will likely remember the experience. My first encounter came while hiking the Camino de Santiago, an ancient pilgrimage route in northern Spain. I entered a stretch of the path where elder chestnut trees—some nearing a thousand years of age—act as anchors for the rigorous journey. … [ Read more]

Your Friendly Neighborhood Mushroom Dealer: One year in, Forest to Fork plans new growth

Mike Kempenich and I are on the patio of a North Loop bar trading notes about foraging and camper vans. His is parked around the corner, all geared up for his next-day departure for Canada to hunt for fruiting fungi. I’m lucky to have even connected with him considering how much time he spends in … [ Read more]

Growing Hope: The HAFA Farm gives Hmong Minnesotans a long-term stake in agriculture

In Laos, as soon as the first rain falls in April, farmers rush to sow their seeds in the ground. The terrain is sometimes rocky and very hilly for these farmers who have worked the land for hundreds of years, growing crops to feed their families. On a 155-acre plot of land in Hastings, Minnesota, … [ Read more]

Up in Smoke: Alejandro Castillon is using the smoker at Prieto Taqueria to unite classic Mexican fare and global techniques

The fiery heart of Alejandro Castillon’s new restaurant is an Oyler Pit smoker big enough to be a sauna. “It’s probably the biggest in Minneapolis,” Castillon says. The monstrous red box can cook six or seven hogs at once and it sports a hood that could comfortably vent a burning SUV. The chef’s takeover of … [ Read more]

Firehouse Feasts: Building bonds and perfecting recipes around the station’s dinner table

The kitchen at Edina’s Fire Station 1 is designed for utility: ample pale-wood cupboards, extensive white countertops, gas stovetop with a sizable range hood overhead, stainless steel mixer and toaster, and a heavy-duty, easy-to-clean concrete floor. Adjacent to the equally utilitarian tables and chairs is a set of recliners, looking for all the world like … [ Read more]

Our Odds On the New 2019 Minnesota State Fair Foods

A decade of experience in Minnesota State Fair food spelunking has given us a perspective—not jaded, we hope, but optimistically skeptical—that is handy for predicting how the next year’s fare will fare. What follows is your advance, purely speculative guide to the new foods of the 2019 Minnesota State Fair. We’ll share the as-tasted-in-the-field results, … [ Read more]

Boiling Point: The fiery Door County fish boil tradition has deep and native roots

It’s early June, and rain is falling near the tip of Wisconsin’s Door County peninsula. Despite the wet weather and a persistent wind, more than two dozen spectators are gathered together in a damp little community facing the water, awaiting the climax of a local ritual that dates back at least 350 years. At five … [ Read more]

Falls Landing at Artisan Plaza marks a new chapter for JD Fratzke and for Cannon Falls

I’ve always wanted a restaurant that had a canoe as part of the decor,” says JD Fratzke. Fratzke, one of Minnesota’s best-known chefs and a Growler contributing writer, has always led a dual existence: tethered to the fire and knives of the restaurant kitchen, sure, but also escaping as often as he can manage to … [ Read more]

Too Close to the Fire: A chef’s story of restaurant burnout and rekindling his love of cooking

This is the third installment of Off the Map, a column by chef J.D. Fratzke. It appears monthly on growlermag.com and occasionally in print. For literally decades, one of the most zen-like and enjoyable tasks of my 14-hour work day was the 45 minutes before dinner service wherein all the chopping, dicing, braising, searing, emulsifying, and reducing … [ Read more]

Bite of the Week: Pork Tacos at Casa Lupita in White Bear Lake

Bite of the Week is a weekly feature showcasing an exceptional meal or dish, curated by The Growler. White Bear Lake’s Casa Lupita is a taco joint that straddles two worlds. It offers some familiar Mexican styles of taco, but also tacos described simply as “chicken” or “pork.” And it offers classic toppings (onions, cilantro) … [ Read more]

Northern Lights: Talent and ambition powers the dining room of Poplar Haus on the Gunflint Trail

Ask a handful of Minnesotans about going “up north” and you’ll probably get a cluster of different responses that share a few things in common. Up north isn’t a specific place, although many people have a place in mind. It’s not a where, it’s a what—a slower pace of life, a retreat from the lacerating … [ Read more]

The Cheese Stands Alone: Willi Lehner forges world-class wheels on his self-sufficient wisconsin farmstead

Above the rolling hills near Blue Mounds, Wisconsin, at Willi Lehner’s 16-acre farmstead, a turbine spins in the wind. It looks like a child’s toy on top of an Erector set, but that wind turbine, in combination with a fleet of solar panels,  generates about five times as much power as the whole farm needs. … [ Read more]

I Left My Heart in Shafter Ghost Town

This is the second installment of Off the Map, a column by chef J.D. Fratzke. It appears monthly on growlermag.com and occasionally in print. It was in the waning years of the Clinton administration that I found myself standing on the roof of an abandoned blacksmith and livery in a southwest Texas ghost town. The journey had … [ Read more]

Disturbing the Peace, Honoring the Place: Amy Huo is cooking farm-to-table in Eau Claire, damn the cost and consequences

Amy Huo will tell it to you straight: she isn’t the easiest person to work with. “I have an addiction to doing something new, even if I piss off everyone,” she laughs. As a food truck chef and entrepreneur, she has built her reputation in Eau Claire, Wisconsin, by dishing farm-to-table food from her roving … [ Read more]

A Blind Tasting beer festival

Taste & Rate 48 Minnesota Oktoberfests

Sept. 20, 2019 | 5:30–9pm
Upper Landing Park
Tickets: GA $40 | DD $20