Ryan and I drove about an hour and a half northwest to Minnesota Street Market, the new food and art co-op in St. Joseph.
With the grand opening of the market, there was live music, yarn spinning, food and art demos, and the main event (at least for me) was the cook-off, Food Nirvana, where each entry must use at least 3 co-op ingredients.
Darrel Halverson, Executive Chef at the College of St. Benedict and I were co-judges for the day.
We tasted and rated appetizers, entrees and desserts based on based on 4 criteria:
- Taste and flavor
- Use of co-op ingredients
- Technical (did they follow the rules?)
Darrel and I scored similarly, so the winners of each category, as well as the overall winner, was pretty clear.
This appetizer was so flavorful and had a nice mouth feel. Plus, the way it was served was such a cute and creative idea.
First Place Entrée :: Curried Squash and Wild Rice Soup by Lisa and JJ Torborg
The curry and coconut flavors in this soup paired well with the nutty wild rice. It was something I could see myself making and is easy enough for a beginner cook to put together too.
First Place Dessert :: Three Ginger Cookies by Katie Ritger
The combination of fresh and crystallized ginger made for an impactful flavor and didn't overwhelm the subtle rustic taste of home-ground spelt flour.
Overall Grand Winner :: Greek Yogurt Panna Cotta with Honey, Peaches and Hazelnuts by Ellen Peterson
One word: delicious. The panna cotta was delicate and flecked with fresh vanilla seeds that complimented spicy cardamom flavors in the peach and honey topping and could easily be switched up to accommodate the seasonality of fresh fruit.
I could tell a lot of effort was put into each entry and I enjoyed every bite of fresh flavor. It was a fun job to taste all of the dishes and to meet folks in the local community of St. Joseph. With two college campuses nearby, I think Minnesota Street Market is a much needed neighbor.
Find more pictures from the Food Nirvana event on the Café Cyan Facebook page.
Winning recipes can be found on the Minnesota Street Market website.