Lakes, Gnomes, boats, a City rivalry, large communal feasts, outrageous storms, winding rivers, and a castle, no this is not the next episode of Game of Thrones, but the Twin Cities Mash I speak of. Our week kicked off with a dinner hosted by Monica Walch of Dinner on The Farm, on the rooftop of Solera, overlooking scenic downtown Minneapolis, and ended with our Slow Supper dinner hosted by The Brooklyn Brewery team, Jamie Malone of Sea Change and Monica Walch at Soap Factory, cyclical or what?
Our whirlwind week continued at Happy Gnome (our Mash Headquarters) where beer and cheese abounded, and I had the opportunity to get to know some Twin City beer aficionados as well as sample some local brews. Besides being home to a slew of Craft Breweries, Twin Cities has a cutting edge restaurant scene that is borderline incestual, but incredibly delicious. All the young talent of the last 10 years seems to have worked together at one point or another as they trained under their predecessors, and are now operating (or own) the best kitchens in town. I had the chance to work with two of these rising stars who are running great teams, cooking exceptional food, and inspiring those who work alongside them (and me).
Our Local 2 Ways dinner with Landon Shoenfeld, Executive chef, and owner of Haute Dish was one of the best meals I have collaborated on. Each dish not only paired perfectly with the beers selected but had incredible nuances, flawless execution, and were true visual works of art. I have never been in a kitchen where so many chefs seemed genuinely happy to be there, engaged, knowledgeable and incredibly motivated to follow the lead of their Phish loving, easy going leader. Haute Dish was a night to remember, even if the high gravity of the beers consumed made it easy to forget.
Landon is not the only talented chef in town, Jamie Malone of Sea Change not only impressed me (a far easier task), but the folks at Food & Wine, earning herself a place on the list for top ten chefs of 2013 (insert applause here) Jamie may be leading a crazy jet setter life these days ( I can sympathize) but her humbleness, composure, good natured humor, incredible skill, dedication, and mischievous smile make her a great gal to work with and learn from. Slow Supper in a giant art space, langoustine crudo, Sweet bread tortellini, potato pave seared to look like drift wood, Ghost bottles abounding, and a room full of boisterous happy guests, throw in an installation from Nuit Blanche, Stephanie Jarrett (vintage day dreams), and you have one hell of a dynamic eating experience.
Two great meals, boat trips on the purifying waters of Lake Minnetonka, a specialized Found footage Fest, a king sized temperpedic mattress at Castle El Maraghy ( anything feels like a castle compared to my Brooklyn apartment), a stop at The Beer Dabbler to see my main man Joe Alton for all the copies of the Growler, the greatest lightning storm of my life, The sounds of Jonathan Toubin, and riding tandem on a tube with my favorite event producer in the whole wide world, yah you could say it was a great week, Ya-knoow?