Local food news, rhubarb season, and a mini-review from … Rochester?

Closings and one new location

Local Roots closed in April.

Hi, local food lovers. We’re being hyper-local this month right up to the restaurant review, which is … well, it’s still in Minnesota anyway. We’ll start with places closing, because that’s sad and we want to get it out of the way. Hot Indian, inventor of the “indiritto” (dropped from its menu in early 2020), which merged the burrito format with flavors and ingredients from India, is closing its location at Midtown Global Market. Other locations are still open at the Mall of America and Target Field. Local Roots of Richfield, a diner but more local and healthier, is closing its dining room permanently. They will still do catering and third-party delivery. Midori’s Floating World, a small but excellent Japanese restaurant, was burned out of their site on Lake Street between Minnehaha and 27th Avenue in the George Floyd uprising. After two years of popping up at Seward Cafe’s location, they have their own space now at 3425 E. Lake St. They are open Thursday through Sunday from 4 p.m. to 8 p.m. It’s takeout only for now, but they hope to open their new dining room soon.

Burritos El Patron


The Sioux Chef is bringing back his food truck, the Tatanka Truck. It will be parked outside Owamni throughout the summer. Lutunji’s Palate, a catering business I have mentioned before, has finally opened a brick-and-mortar cafe on the ground floor of an apartment building on Park Avenue in Elliot Park. Sadly, it was broken into by thieves less than 24 hours after its grand opening, but not hurt enough to close the business. Lutunji is known for her peach cobbler and other southern-style bakery items. Burritos El Patron has just opened (their grand opening was on June 1) in the former Flag Foods space on 42nd Street at 29th Avenue South. Find out more on their Facebook page at www.facebook.com/BurritosElPatron/.

Four Sisters Farmers Market is back for 2022

Native American Community Development Institute, NACDI, announced that its sponsored farmers’ market, Four Sisters, will run from June through October 2022 at the same site, the parking lot to the east of Pow Wow Grounds coffee shop, 1414 E. Franklin Ave. It runs on Thursdays from 11 a.m. to 3 p.m.

Lutunji’s Palate with owner Lutunji shortly before the opening on
May 15

Walmart is dragged for exploiting Juneteenth; meanwhile,
Starbucks United celebrates its 100th and 101st unionizations

Well, honestly, what did they expect? The whiter-than-white billionaire owners of Walmart probably didn’t come up with this concept, but the folks that did ought to have anticipated how cringey it would be. Walmart introduced a line of products for celebrating Juneteenth – a beer koozie, disposable plates, and a Juneteenth ice cream. If you can bear it, you can read about this PR disaster at https://www.eater.com/23139650/walmart-apologizes-for-juneteenth-ice-cream-beer-koozies.
Starbucks workers have been unionizing at a rapid pace. Both of the two original Minnesota sites to announce their intention have now won their unions – one on Snelling Avenue in St. Paul and one on Cedar Avenue in South Minneapolis. On May 27, SB Workers United, the national Starbucks union organization, announced the win at number 100 – Eastlake Avenue in Seattle. The 101st union win occurred later the same day.
The next three Twin Cities Starbucks to hold NLRB elections will be in Eden Prairie, at the Mall of America, and on Lyndale Avenue South in Minneapolis. Last Saturday, Twin Cities DSA’s Labor Branch, in connection with the national solidarity group DSA for a Starbucks Union, held an event called Comrades in Cars Getting Coffee. Members and friends packed into carpool cars and drove to each of the Starbucks in turn in caravan fashion. At each shop, we ordered coffee and expressed solidarity and best wishes for their election.

June 2021 sign at Sovereign Grounds

What the heck do I do with all this rhubarb?

Although it came a bit late this year, it’s finally rhubarb season and the floodgates have opened. If you’re looking for inspiration about what to do with all that pink, tart, girly-looking vegetable, the Eater online magazine will come to your rescue with a bunch of unusual recipes to add to your rhubarb classics, like an ice cream, a picnic bar, or using it as an ingredient in a sausage casserole. www.eater.com/23139986/rhubarb-how-to-cook-recipes. Also, here’s a tip from me: rhubarb is easy to freeze for later use. Or maybe your neighborhood coffee shop/bakery will take some of your excess to keep it out of the waste stream.

The difference

Speaking of food excesses, I suddenly found myself with almost two pounds of excellent flat leaf (Italian) parsley. This led me to investigate something I had been wondering about – what are the defining qualities of all these different uncooked herb sauces with the exotic names? I’ve made a little list, and I have made and consumed almost all of these condiments.
• Pistou (French) is like pesto without nuts, so it’s runny. You mostly put it on things, all kinds of things: meat, vegetables, fish, soup and bread. Ingredients are simply finely minced or processed basil and garlic, a pinch of salt, and extra virgin olive oil (EVOO).
• Pesto (Italian) can be made with a variety of green herbs, but the classic pesto Genovese is just Genovese basil. This is combined with pine nuts, garlic, salt and EVOO, parmesan cheese optional, and crushed to a rough paste. It is usually put on hot pasta or toasted bread with goat cheese and tomatoes to make a Katerina. Fun substitutes are walnuts, pecans or almonds for the pine nuts (pricey little devils) and half Italian parsley for the basil. You can also make cilantro, chervil or oregano pesto.
• Gremolata (Italian) is like a parsley pistou but brightened up with acid such as lemon. Recipes vary but usually include flat leaf parsley, zest and juice of lemon, garlic, salt and pepper, and EVOO.
• Chimichurri is a Spanish version of gremolata. It’s a similar recipe but with cilantro and the addition of chili peppers.
• Chermoula (Moroccan) is the fanciest of these sauces. Chermoula contains parsley and cilantro, and its lemon juice ideally should be from a preserved lemon (available in many grocery stores). In addition to the EVOO and salt, it is further seasoned with paprika, cayenne, cumin and saffron.
• Mint sauce (English) is a bit of an outlier, but a favorite of mine. It’s easy to make, and runny like a pistou. Simply combine fresh mint leaves, sugar and distilled white vinegar. You can blend it in a blender or smush it in a mortar. Eat it on white fish along with mushy peas and “chips.”
You can find many recipes for all these things, including fish and chips, and making your own preserved lemons, on the internet.

Crave’s conservatory at Hotel Indigo in Rochester

An almost perfect meal at Crave in Rochester

I was in Rochester recently for the DFL State Convention. I stayed at the Hotel Indigo in the heart of downtown Rochester. The hotel has a branch of Crave restaurant in it, which also provides room service and guest breakfasts. I had a pretty terrible breakfast there, so the less said about that the better.
But you should never judge a mainly-dinner restaurant by its breakfast. Rare indeed is the high-end restaurant that can excel at both these modalities. Consequently, after a long, grueling, mostly fasting (involuntarily) day, I escaped in the late afternoon back to my solitary hotel room and dithered around about what to do for a meal. I ended up giving Rochester Crave a second chance and had one of the best fish meals I have ever had so far from any ocean.
It wasn’t ocean fish, for one thing. It was walleye, our state fish. I had a Walleye Shore Dinner accompanied by an artisanal beer, Finnegans Irish Amber Ale. This was one memorable plate of fish. You know how restaurant plates are sort of massive? Well, this Shore Dinner filled the plate and in fact the gorgeous, perfectly fresh walleye filet hung over both edges of the plate.
The walleye was lightly breaded in panko and drizzled with a creamy lemon-butter sauce dotted with minced parsley. There were but two accompaniments. In the middle of the plate was a wide mound of silky pureed mashed potatoes with buttermilk and butter. The final third of the plate held several massive spears of grilled asparagus, shining in warm olive oil. I polished off this entire huge plate of food, something that almost never happens with restaurant portions, no matter how hungry I am.
I even indulged in a single scoop of vanilla ice cream from Sebastian Joe’s. And a post-prandial tot of cognac to liven it up. I believe I chose … wisely.

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