BY DEBRA KEEFER RAMAGE
Openings, reopenings, closings, reclosings
Just kidding. Well, not really. It is like that sometimes. Anyway, two that have recently closed or announced imminent closing are Grand Catch on Grand Avenue in St. Paul and Dumpling on Minnehaha Avenue. One that will have just reopened by publishing time is the West Bank’s great breakfast spot and late-night hangout, Hard Times. And one that reopened in February, although you may miss it if you don’t know because it’s only open Saturday and Sunday, is Lucy’s Market, which is a sort of convenience store, but also a very good neighborhood Ethiopian restaurant. It’s on Cedar, just north of 38th Street.
Tabernas de Moe in Latin America
This one isn’t a joke, even though it might sound like one. The Eater has this delightful piece about the many “bootleg” Moe’s Taverns found scattered throughout Mexico and Central and South America. “The Simpsons” is very popular there, and some entrepreneurs have created little Springfields, complete with Tabernas de Moe. Read it here: www.eater.com/22966376/moes-tavern-real-simpsons-themed-bars-latin-america
If I ever pay $25 for a Caesar salad, Brutus had better stab me
The above headline was found on Twitter and I just liked it. But it’s a good tie-in to my monthly labor organizing subsection. (I don’t put a bit about labor organizing in food and beverage industries in every issue of The Dish just because I’m a fanatical supporter of organized labor, although I am. I do it because it’s what’s happening, and I owe it to future historians to record it.)
But seriously, et tu, Amy’s Foods? (See what I did there?) Every time I hear about a company that touts its grassy roots, its communal happy workplace, its dedication to values of blah blah blah and that suddenly turns out to be just another union buster, I feel a jolt as if this had not happened before. Or if it did, this company was not like that, surely? But yes, it is. In fact, Amy’s Foods, with its whiff of Amish or Quakerish or at
least Hippie Americana, treats its mostly Latina workforce with Amazon-warehouse level cruelty, just on a smaller scale. Or so it appears.
Oh, no, et tu, Peace Coffee? This one is a real “oof.” This is a beloved local institution, and a certified B Corp (Google it if you don’t know) and on top of that, they make damn fine coffee! And yet they haven’t learned from other similar union drives that they ought to voluntarily recognize their union if they don’t want to be despised by a surprising number of former customers.
Racket (racketmn.com) has the story “Peace Coffee Is Unionizing.” Eater (www.eater.com) has “Labor Disputes at Amy’s Kitchen, Explained” and also another great union story, “How Scared Is Howard Schultz of the Starbucks Union Wave?”
How to quit meat without feeling or being sick
But first, why quit meat? If you have kids, you could do it for your grandchildren. If you don’t have kids, I fully support you not having kids, so you could do it for my grandchildren. In other words, though a lot of people quit meat to save their own body and health, anyone can and should do it to save the future and even the present environment. Cows and pigs are going to be the death of us.
The production of beef, dairy, lamb, pork, and animal by-products is second only to transportation (all shipping, all automobiles, all flights, commercial and military) in emission of greenhouse gases. If you also count in water impacts – use of water in the industry and as an input for the feed, and pollution of water) it makes the raising and slaughtering and marketing of animals the most environmentally destructive thing there is.
Not everyone can quit meat entirely. Even before I was a restaurant reviewer, I tried not to be fanatical about it, because I attempted to be vegan a couple of decades ago and failed. I am now a reducitarian. It’s an actual thing. I say, do what you can. Eat less meat. Fish and game are somewhat less destructive to the environment. A hamburger or a roast chicken every year or so is still going to put you way in front of most people in developed nations.
I saw this piece in Men’s Health about how to quit eating meat without becoming sick. It’s basically about what you might be missing in a vegan diet and how to get that in plant-based foods. What you might be missing includes: enough calories that aren’t carbs, or just enough calories period; the satiation factor of a good protein-to-fat ratio; plus the juiciness, the flavor, iron, calcium, vitamin D3 or vitamin B12. Go to www.menshealth.com and find “How to Give Up Eating Meat Without Becoming Sad or Weak.”
Food sovereignty for Red Lake Nation
A Facebook friend shared a post from a group called Gitigaanike, which is a public group run by Red Lake Nation. The post concerns the activities of Red Lake Nation to achieve and sustain “food sovereignty” for the nation. Read the link copied here to learn about their buffalo ranch, their garden, and their hemp farm, and the new product they’ll be producing – a protein bar made with puffed wild rice, hemp seeds, maple syrup and pumpkin seeds. www.facebook.com/groups/gitigaanike/posts/5208491995848092.
15 brunch places plus one that I like best
The Eater Twin Cities (the online magazine has a national section, and regional sections for all the metropolises that rate one, which fortunately, we do – twin cities.eater.com) has frequent listicles about the X number of “whatevers” in the area. On April 14 they published “15 Essential Twin Cities Brunches.” It’s a pretty good list but it doesn’t include Modern Times! I’m sure you’ll agree with me that no matter how you cut it, there has to be at least one on that list of 15 that is nowhere near as good as Modern Times.
Mini-review: A 60th birthday dinner at Creekside Supper Club
There have been a lot of reviews of the Creekside Supper Club in the four or so months since it opened in the former Pepito’s space on Chicago Avenue. And now there is one more. Because I brought my friend Patricia, who was turning 60 on that very night, to supper there as a celebration. (One might wonder why her husband was not doing the honor. Well, best not to get into that, but don’t worry, they’re OK. He’s a musician, you see.)
The Creekside Supper Club is a trip down nostalgia lane for sure. Even if you didn’t grow up in the Upper Midwest, where the supper club was a particular institution, for those of us who are Boomers or older, you probably had something similar in your area in the 1950s to 1970s, before people were cool. One reviewer succinctly described the decor and ambience as “fancy for a farmer.” Another word that occasionally cropped up was “kitsch,” which implies irony. There was none in the previous period alluded to – this was the fine dining experience of the untraveled American masses – and what irony there is at the Creekside and other modern-day supper clubs is gentle and forgiving.
Even if the kitsch is just a little too much for your taste, you’ll forgive, too, if the food is good enough. And it is good enough. It is very good. I will rhapsodize about just one thing – the mussels. Champagne mussels, as they’re called on the menu. The mussels were good and plump, perfectly fresh, and absolutely swimming in a thin champagne cream sauce that seemed half butter, half mussel broth, and just a hint of champagne wineyness and creamy cream. Maybe a smaller hint of garlic and herbs. I love things like this that let good ingredients speak for themselves without overloading them with clever touches. It was balanced and at the same time sumptuous. This is listed as an appetizer, but I had it as a main course, with a side of very good fries. (I like to pretend I’m in Belgium.)
But we did have appetizers! And those are good too! If you like to go out for cocktails, and you like retro cocktails, because that’s what they have, these appetizers would be a perfect accompaniment and you wouldn’t even need dinner. The relish tray, a supper club staple, contains everything that makes it “Wisconsin” in style, as advertised. Fried cheese curds, check. Game sausages, check. Pickled vegetables, check. And oh good, a smooth pate of smoked lake trout, check. Along with that we had perfect popovers, four massive ones, with maple butter.
I highly recommend Creekside Supper Club. You can be fancy for a farmer without dressing up too much, or shelling out for downtown parking, or breaking the bank to pay the check.