My Blog on WCCO-TV: Bite of Minnesota

Thursday, April 8, 2010

FRESH + Quiessence

Have you heard of a little movie called FRESH? Shot documentary style, it is the creation of director, Ana Joanes and focuses on people who are re-inventing the way our food system runs.

Thanks to the Birchwood Cafe, I was able to see a screening of this film last summer when it was brought to the Riverview Theater. The theater was packed with educated and curious consumers who munched on Pastureland butter coated popcorn and absorbed every word spoken by the film’s stars, Polyface’s Joel Salatin and Growing Power’s Will Allen. They are everywhere nowadays aren’t they?

The time has come for the theatrical release of FRESH. To celebrate, cities around the country are offering special farm to table dinners that include a ticket to FRESH in your area.

I was invited to be the official blogger for Quiessence, located on a 12-acre farm in Phoenix. Quiessence regularly offers farm fresh items from Maya’s Farm (located on the 12-acres) along with produce from other farms in the area like the ever-popular McClendon’s.

I started my meal with the signature cocktail, an Orange Caprioska which uses fresh Arizona oranges and lemons, a touch of sugar and a shot of vodka. It was quite refreshing and delicious (and totally local).

First course was a salad of Lolla Rosa (red leaf lettuce), Haricot Vert, fresh herbs (I tasted cilantro and mint), toasted almonds from McClendon’s farm and red wine vinaigrette. I was sadly disappointed in this salad. The dressing had WAY too much salt and it ruined the taste of the surrounding vegetables. Farm fresh ingredients don’t need much seasoning, so I was surprised at this mistake. Robotically my server offered a replacement, but I declined as I just wanted to move on.

The second course helped make up for the first. Handmade cappellinni with asparagus, cauliflower (which unfortunately didn’t make it to my plate), fava beans and sliced carrots. The pasta was so delicate it almost melted in my mouth.

To round it all out, dessert was a tart dripping with lightly sweetened crème, grapefruit and tangelo segments with thin swirls of candied orange zest. I have to say this was one of the best tarts I have ever eaten.

I really like the concept of Quiessence, but tonight it did not impress.  Considering it is an award winning restaurant and my bill was $73, I guess I expected a lot more.  Live and learn, right? 

More FRESH events are going through next week here in Phoenix.  Check them out here.

Luckily for me, FRESH events don't start in Minnesota until I return, so I can do it all over again at a place close to home.  I'm mulling over hitting up Barbette or Bryant Lake Bowl.  Here's a list of Minneapolis events.


  1. The drink looks tasty! Too bad the rest wasn't amazing.

  2. Oh man, I totally remember making a dressing from the 'refresh' cookbook that had too much salt. Unfortunately I was not experienced enough at the time to say...hold up, wait a minute, I should not put more salt in it. Looks tasty though.


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