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Twin Cities and 'The New Best Recipe'

Wednesday, June 13, 2012

Rather than posting a new recipe or culinary lesson today, I thought it'd be appropriate to briefly mention some highlights from a recent weekend trip to the Twin Cities in case anyone is planning a similar trip.  With the majority of Friday and Sunday devoted to driving, we (myself and my older sister, aunt, and uncle) tried to make the most of Saturday.  Along with seeing some landmark bridges and buildings downtown, a lot of our time was spent visiting some foodie hot-spots.  We started off Saturday in Uptown at Kitchen Window, which is a 20,000 square foot kitchen supply store that offers an insane amount of cookware, bake ware, gadgets, cutlery, appliances, etc. in addition to hosting over 400 classes a year.  Needless to say, I could have spent the whole day here.

Image from www.kitchenwindow.com.
Just across the street, we made another stop at Penzey's Spices, which is a specialty store located throughout the U.S. offering over 250 different types of spices.  I ended up getting some vanilla beans, garam masala, lemongrass, and a few different types of steak rubs.  As we were about to head out, my aunt and uncle surprised me with a cookbook they picked up at Kitchen Window, called The New Best Recipe.  It's a book I've had my eye on for a while, but haven't been able to get my hands on...until now.  Without a doubt, it's my current favorite cookbook for a couple of reasons:

  1. In order for a recipe to make it in the book, chefs from America's Test Kitchen picked up to 50 different versions of the same dish to test, and voted on the winner.
  2. There are 1,000 of these fully tested recipes in this Bible book.
  3. There's usually a good page or so of text and illustrations before each recipe that explains the science behind why this particular recipe works.  Alton would be proud.
In summary, this book "is for beginning cooks nervous about messing up, experienced home cooks looking to expand their repertoire, and anyone who likes recipes based on solid techniques that have been thoroughly tested." - The Washington Post.
After some more sightseeing and a brief break from the city, we returned back to Minneapolis for dinner at Brasa.  After reading about them in Food & Wine, I wanted to stop there after noting that nearly all of the food they use is locally produced on family farms, many of the ingredients are organic, and the meats they use are naturally raised without hormones or antibiotics.  As if that wasn't enough, their prices are very reasonable and the pictures and reviews looked promising.  I think it's fair to say that we all left happy.
Slow roasted pulled pork seasoned with garlic and lime, fried plantains, and homemade chips and guacamole.
After driving around downtown a bit more, we made our last food stop of the night at the Grand Ole Creamery in St. Paul.  Despite passing up some pretty tempting ice cream flavors (including an amazing chocolate-Mexican cinnamon-caramel-praline concoction that my aunt got), I resorted to my all-time favorite: cotton candy.

And thus concludes one of the greatest foodie-friendly days to date.

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