Minnesota Spoon: Back to base camp with J.D. Fratzke

J.D. Fratzke tucks a brown paper bag under a small teepee of sticks. It’s been raining here, last night and early this morning. He searches for drier kindling, finding only a little. The chef will make do. We’re perched at a campsite above the St. Croix River, surrounded by scraggly trees and a cool wind … [ Read more]

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Minnesota Spoon: Anaerobic exercises with Matti Sprague

Matti Sprague and I appear to be talking about fermentation. We are standing in Jon Wipfli’s well-lighted kitchen, and we are using all the words that you use when you talk about fermentation. We are talking about salting down vegetables, creating anaerobic environments, and encouraging the right kinds of microbial life while discouraging the wrong … [ Read more]

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Minnesota Spoon: Making peace with beef

The case for a more sustainable steak with Jon Wipfli and Erik Sather I suffer from a chronic condition that I keep mostly under control. You haven’t heard of it. It’s called Sustainability Exhaustion. Most days I live just like you. I stand blinking in the fluorescent glare of the pre-wrapped meat section, trying to … [ Read more]

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Five Tables and the Sea: The restorative simplicity of Anne Majourel

Steve Hoffman, our Minnesota Spoon columnist, has spent the last five months in the Languedoc region of southern France, and submitted this tribute to his favorite restaurant in the world for our Travel Issue. What if a restaurant existed on a steep hill just outside a French fishing port? And what if this restaurant featured … [ Read more]

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Minnesota Spoon: Sameh Wadi’s last meal

“First you pour the arak,” insists Sameh Wadi. “Then you add the water. And only then do you add the ice.” Outside the windows of Jon Wipfli’s kitchen, the first big winter snow sits thick on a pair of spruce trees. It is an unexpected setting for a round of arak—a Middle Eastern version of … [ Read more]

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Kimchee and KFC: Young Joni’s Ann Kim and Adam Gorski on new American food traditions

So there’s Young, and there’s Joni. Two moms. One attentive and skillful Korean family cook: Young. One affectionate and bibulous North Dakota family host: Joni. Right? Okay, so there’s this restaurant: Young Joni. Coming soon. Northeast Minneapolis. Front dining room in the spirit of Young: Wood-fired ovens, open grill, shareable meals, generosity. Back bar in … [ Read more]

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Minnesota Spoon: Wine pairing with Jill Mott

Earlier that afternoon, just outside Jon Wipfli’s patio door, an entire boneless leg of lamb had twirled slowly on a string suspended above a hardwood fire for six hours or so, dripping occasional runnels of fat into the coals, and wrapping itself gradually in a cloak of char. Now, on the cutting board in front … [ Read more]

Minnesota Spoon: Tacos and timing with chef Jorge Guzman

At some point early on Sunday afternoon, I looked up from my work as enthusiastic-but-mostly-unskilled sous chef, and felt a pang of concern. This was not coming together. We were all over the map. Jon Wipfli, The Growler’s resident chef, was downstairs fussing with his new smoker on the sidewalk. Somebody was out on the … [ Read more]

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Minnesota Spoon: Pork chops and plating with chef Paul Berglund

Chef Paul Berglund picks through the selection of knives available in Jon Wipfli’s kitchen, hefts a couple of them, and settles on his weapon of choice. Holding it in his left hand, he trues up the root ends of a row of scallions, rocks the knife up toward its tip, and with a single smooth … [ Read more]

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Minnesota Spoon: Halibut with Mike DeCamp of Monello

The beard is magnificent. Untended and unfashionable. The anti-hipster beard. It streams down from his jaw in uneven rust-colored rivulets, and spreads high up his cheeks and toward his ears in a way that is tempting to compare to a blush, if we weren’t talking about maybe the least blushful person in this zip code. … [ Read more]

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Minnesota Spoon: Smoked brisket recipe from Thomas Boemer of Revival and Corner Table

The brisket hit the smoker at 8am. The whiskey was open by 11am. An early start is important. It’s well established that good barbecue should begin around dawn. It needs the better part of a day to drip, blacken, and break down into tender perfection. That’s why Thomas Boemer, chef at Revival and Corner Table, … [ Read more]

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Minnesota Spoon: Smørrebrød with Erick Harcey of Upton 43

Things on toast have special place in my heart. I honestly can’t think of a better vehicle for getting food into my mouth than buttered, toasted bread. There are no rules and it fits into any meal of the day. Chef Erick Harcey of Upton 43 shares my enthusiasm, and he’s upping the ante with … [ Read more]

The Minnesota Spoon: Marinated skirt steak fry bread sliders

I’ve always struggled with winters in Minnesota. But even though there are at least 100 reasons to hibernate and avoid human contact, I’ve found that becoming a hermit isn’t the best way to attack winter. One thing that’s always gotten me out of the house and limping back into society is cooking and hosting parties. … [ Read more]

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Holiday Goose Recipe

Confit Goose Legs and Goose Breast Sous Vide with Goose Jus By Jon Wipfli, The Minnesota Spoon Goose might not be your go-to holiday bird, but this recipe will make you a believer. Don’t let fancy French words like confit and sous vide scare you off, these techniques are within your reach. If you can … [ Read more]

The Minnesota Spoon: savory wild rice pancakes with anchovy butter

Photos by Matt Lien Minnesota has an obsession with wild rice. The grain is so emblematic of our state, it’s baffling how we became labeled as a group of grape-salad eaters. Apparently the importance of this abundant, local grain isn’t abundantly clear to the rest of the country. From being a staple of Native American … [ Read more]