On Sunday after church Justin and I drove over to Minneapolis (again). We had two main objectives for this visit: To connect with good friends and To eat good food (not to be confused with connecting with food and eating friends…). I am pleased to report that we were successful on both points.
While the weather was fine as we drove, the evidence from the previous day’s snowstorm around Minneapolis became evident.
It did appear that many Minnesotans embraced the early snowfall, and it was easy to get around as the snowplows had been busy overnight. We arrived at our downtown hotel, marveled at how fantastically it was stuck in an episode of Miami Vice, then headed out to meet up with Luke & Becca Rickert. Luke and Becca live in Duluth now but were in Minneapolis for several conferences. It was fun to be able to catch up for a few hours.
We parted ways, they heading to their hotel in the suburbs, and us, after a quick stop at our hotel, to meet up with more good friends, Mark & Kerry, at Barbette. Over the last few weeks I had connected with my cousin Mike, a chef at Barbette, and he was planning on cooking for us. We didn’t know what to expect, other than that it was going to be good. As with the last time we were at Barbette, the lighting was not conducive to pictures, but here are the seven courses we were served:
1) Mixed baby greens topped with micro herbs, tossed with a hazelnut reduction, baby shiitake mushrooms, and prosciutto served with a toasted baguette. (Justin declared it the best salad ever)
2) Charcuterie platter with liver pate on a toasted brioche triangle, rabbit with soaked currants and golden raisins, Dijon mustard, cornichons and radish. (sooooo interesting, and sooo good)
3) Creme fraiche cauliflower purée and chanterelle mushrooms topped with a piece of skin-on whitefish pan seared in olive oil, topped with micro basil and a saffron-mussel foam. (amazing.)
4) This one is hard to describe: they make the equivalent of bacon, but from lamb, roll it and roast it, served with butternut squash purée and crispy fried delicata squash. (Very unusual, but very good)
5) “Meat and Potatoes” – Perfect slices of New York strip steak, with Parmesan-sage gnocchi, topped with caramelized pork belly and red onions, freshly grated horseradish and a horseradish cream sauce. (incredible. Probably our favorite.)
6) Cheese course – triple cream brie whipped, with grated black truffle folded in, and a french goat cheese “buche'”, strawberries, served with french bread. (Both were fantastic, but the brie was something else. Like the richest, most flavorful, creamiest butter ever. We needed more bread.)
7) chocolate lava cake with salted caramel sauce, almond tuile, and vanilla bean ice cream. (yum. Was tempted to use an extra piece of bread to wipe the plate.)
It was such a fun evening. Great to catch up and visit with Mark and Kerry, great to connect with Mike, and great to enjoy an absolutely fantastic delicious meal. We drove back to the hotel with very full bellies and hearts.
The next morning (early – the hotel alarm clock had been set and we hadn’t thought to check it!) we got up and shared an omelet from the hotel’s free breakfast spread (made-to-order omelets! It was one of the best free hotel breakfasts I’ve seen, though we really weren’t overly hungry). We took our time getting ready, watched some television, etc, then headed out to check out Salty Tart Bakery. Mike had recommended we check it out, as Barbette’s pastry chef raved about it.
With difficulty, we narrowed down our choices and selected four items. Clockwise, starting at the top, we had a Chocolate Salted Caramel Tart, Pear Gallette, Pastry cream-filled Brioche Bun, and Sticky Toffee Pudding. And everything was delicious. We started with the Brioche, then shifted to the Gallette, then on to the Toffee Pudding, and then I suggested we hold off until later in the day for the Tart. Justin looked at me like I was a bit insane, and so we went ahead and took a bite of it. And all of a sudden the lights shone brighter and we knew what we would eat in heaven. Crazy delicious. Silky, dense, and dark chocolate ganache hid a layer of sweet and salty smooth caramel that was nothing short of ridiculous. We finished the tart without a second thought. And then I returned to the line to get four more of the little buggers to take home. SO glad we didn’t wait until later in the day!
From Midtown we drove through town to Bloomington and IKEA. We had a few things we were looking for and found with relative ease, and were back in the car, with our purchases able to fit in the trunk, and were heading home by early afternoon. Again, it was a short visit, but we managed to pack a lot in. Already planning on heading back, though it may wait until after the holidays.