My Blog on WCCO-TV: Bite of Minnesota

Sunday, September 25, 2011

Food Nirvana at Minnesota Street Market

If you've read this blog for awhile, you probably know I'm a fan of road trips. So, when I was asked to judge a cooking competition in St. Joseph, I jumped at the opportunity to check out a new city and spend time with our friends who live in St. Cloud.

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
  • Originality
  • 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.  
First Place Appetizer :: Pate Tempeh by Michael Willems

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.

Thursday, September 1, 2011

New: Grape Chia Kombucha

I'm a HUGE fan of kombucha, especially GT's Synergy brand. I've been following along on Facebook and keep hearing about their latest product, a chia kombucha. As you know, I love chia and have made several things using chia seeds, so I really wanted to try it.

Luckily, chia kombucha has recently made its way to Minnesota and I picked up a bottle to try. After pondering the flavor and texture, I'm still not sure if I like it or not. I really really missed the grape flavor (it was my favorite flavor back before it was pulled from the shelves), so I love that grape is being offered again, but the slightly gelatinous texture confuses my brain a little.

Have you tried the new chia kombuchas? What did you think?
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