Defining a city by its food: 17 truly St. Paul dishes

Defining a city by its food: 17 truly St. Paul dishes

Much poetry has been written as an ode to the city; the place where we were born and/or raised, that has shaped us. Poetry, pictures, paintings and films. We look for these things and as the arts they help us to define ourselves as they define the world around us. However, as the “roving gourmand” Jim Harrison states plainly, “How feebly the arts compete with the idea of what we are going to eat next.” Isn’t it true that a good meal trumps all else? That the Mona Lisa cannot truly be enjoyed on an empty stomach? That we will walk out of an Oscar-worthy film to satiate a begging appetite? That we cannot read, or write, or dream, or laugh when hunger pangs beg the largest question of them all: Who am I, if not someone who needs to eat? So then we define the city by its food. It’s step one, maybe, the base (cornerstone) of how to describe the landscape. We start here. But then we ask what kind of food culture can be created when a city’s identity is changing; when people are moving in, and out, of its borders at a rapid pace? Regardless of what the landscape will look like in 5, 10, 20 years or more, these dishes remain truly representative of the Capital City’s soul. It’s core. And they will keep us fed today so that we may go on and enjoy everything else she has to offer.   17 dishes that define St. Paul Pelmeni at Moscow on the Hill These dumplings are simple. They are delicious. As a happy hour...
What I ate when I was under the weather

What I ate when I was under the weather

Broth is the common cure for almost anything which ails you.  At least that’s my go to.  We all know grandmas have been taking care of business with their homemade soups and broths since the dawn of the soup bowl.  But more importantly I’m taking about spiced broth.  Spice gets the blood flowing, bringing more oxygen to all parts of your body.  Capsaicin, which puts the spice in spicy, can clear your sinuses, help against ulcers and get your metabolism running stronger.  Also can be a solid colon cleanse in large amounts. This is what I ate as I was laid up in bed for 48 hours craving nothing but spicy broth.   Pho ’79  (Nicollet Ave) Restaurant Grade: B Maybe it’s because I was dealing with a sinus infection, maybe it’s because we got it to go, or maybe the lazy cousin was working that day and forgot to put flavor in the broth, whatever the reason: this was the blandest Pho I’ve had in Minnesota.  Lacking on the spices and umami, only after adding the typical hoisin and chili sauce did it become appealing.  Pho broth is supposed to be this tried and true corner stone of depth that comes from hours of slow simmering and mélange of spices, so once you are given the necessary accompaniments you can tweak it how you’d like.  The lime, Thai basil, chili sauce, hoisin, bean sprouts, smoked chili oil, and scallions are all necessary and available for you to add the appropriate amounts.  These things are great but it doesn’t fix the missing layer of flavor from a boring broth....
Selby & Snelling now home to Athenian Street Food: The Naughty Greek

Selby & Snelling now home to Athenian Street Food: The Naughty Greek

A Greek native finds his home in St. Paul, and brings tasty pork gyros with him. Flirt, be chic, get naughty at the Greek The scene on Selby just got a whole lot feta. The Naughty Greek, run by Angelo Giovanis, has become a hot spot for the neighborhood. Located in the old Cupcake space, the new eatery opened in November 2016. Lead by frustration in finding authentic Greek food in Minnesota, Greek-born Giovanis decided to become “The big feta” and open his own authentic shop, based on the tastes Giovanis misses from the Greek hills of the Peloponnese. The entire menu reflects things he always wants to eat himself, making it hard for him to choose a favorite off the menu: “I would say I have two favorite dishes followed by a dessert. My favorite dish is the ½ lb lamb plate. I love lamb, I love tzatziki and fries and the combination of the three on one plate makes me happy. My pork gyro is the reason why I opened this restaurant – eating this “sandwich” brings me back to the streets of Athens.  Lastly, the orange filo cake is a favorite of me and my family, it is my Grandma’s recipe (thus called Yiayias Orange Fillo cake) and reminds me of her; it’s also the best way to end a Greek savory meal.” Inspired by his grandma, and the rest of his family, he has now managed to create and open an adorable shop in the heart of St. Paul. From the authentic ingredients to the family feel, The Naughty Greek has nailed it. The shop roasts locally-sourced pork and...
Wine and dine in St. Paul, Minnesota

Wine and dine in St. Paul, Minnesota

St. Paul is a city that is  “…put together in solid blocks of honest brick and stone, and has the air of intending to stay…” as Mark Twain wrote in 1882. You hear about the history; how charmingly quaint and quiet (though, for better or for worse, that is changing quickly) it is. But a unique place to wine and dine? Even though St. Paul is opening new and interesting restaurants left and right, it’s still Minneapolis that is thought of first as food-forward. But, that could be changing as well. There’s more than enough drinking and dining in St. Paul to fill an episode of a travel-based television show, impress any out-of-towner coming to visit, or, most importantly, serve the people who live here. Here is a quick look at a few of the the must-see, must-taste, must-feel places for a day of eating and drinking in the city.   In the morning: There is no shortage of brunch on the weekend. Virtually every restaurant in St. Paul does some sort of brunch, and people come in hungover droves for Bloody Marys and mimosas; for pancakes and Benedicts and burgers topped with fried eggs. Tongue In Cheek, Strip Club, Meritage, and Heirloom all come to mind when talking about fantastic dinner restaurants that also serve brunch on the weekend, and we’ll talk more about them later when it gets later in the day. Mucci’s serves awesome, old-school Italian for dinner. On weekend mornings, however, they also do donuts. There has been much fanfare surrounding these, and it’s worth getting in line to see for yourself for a quick breakfast treat. Although...