Category Archives: Restaurants & Cafes

Farm to Fork Stories: Meet Your Farmer, Tony Root

We have neglected the truth that a good farmer is a craftsman of the highest order, a kind of artist.”   ~ Wendell Berry

It is my pleasure to introduce you to Farmer Tony Root (Anthony Schaden is his family name).  If you’ve dined at any of the 9 marvelous restaurants within the Bartmann Group this summer, you’ve more than likely experienced the outcome of Tony’s endeavors.  Tony is the farmer in charge of planting, growing and harvesting the bountiful produce exclusively for this restaurant group.  Kim Bartmann leases a 1 acre plot at Riverbend Farm* in Delano, MN and Tony skillfully tends to all of it.  Tony works with the chef’s to coordinate the distribution of the produce to all of these establishments during the summer/fall months.  Kim Bartmann and her team have created a true farm-to-table framework that has been scaled to meet their demand.  Continue reading Farm to Fork Stories: Meet Your Farmer, Tony Root

The Tiny Diner Permaculture Garden: A Sustainable Urban Oasis In Minneapolis

“We will continue to create a new world – seed by seed, person by person, community by community – until this planet is embraced in a circle of resurgent life and resurgent love”  ~ Vandana Shiva (Indian Scholar, Environmental Activist, Food Sovereignty Advocate)

The permaculture garden project at the Tiny Diner is 6 years old.  From the vast array of edible plants, to rain water re-use, to the pollinator gardens and solar panels, the Tiny Diner garden is the quintessential example of the concept of resurgent life.  The meaning of resurgent is “to rise again” and every season the Tiny Diner garden does so with fervor.  It is used to generate energy, nourish customers, share knowledge and build community in the most eco-friendly and sustainable ways possible.

This urban permaculture garden was Kim Bartmann’s vision. Kim is a chef & restaurateur, a positive change agent and a sustainability leader in every sense of the word.  She is a two time James Beard Award semi-finalist and self described “instigator”. She has made significant and inspiring contributions in all areas of sustainablity within the restaurant industry and in the communities that her businesses are located in.  There are 9 restaurants in the Bartmann Group portfolio and all of them have sustainable measures built into their day to day operations.  The Tiny Diner is an amazing representation of the abundant returns that are possible in a small, urban garden space.

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Farm to Fork Sustainability: The Story Of Skuna Bay Salmon

“If there is magic on this planet, it is contained in water”  ~ Loren Eiseley

Recently I had the pleasure of speaking with Jeanine Siemens of Skuna Bay/Grieg Seafood.  Skuna Bay is owned by Grieg Seafood and is the premium seafood product that Grieg Seafood produces. I had the good fortune to meet Jeanine at the Women Chef’s and Restaurateurs conference, held in Minneapolis this past April.  I attended a panel discussion called: Skuna Bay From Farm To Table: The Complete Breakdown.  This was a fascinating and informational session where Jeanine talked about the important work that Skuna Bay is doing to impact the seafood world. Jeanine is dedicated to the craft of  raising farmed salmon.  She is a specialist in her field and was one of the first females to enter this profession.  Jeanine shared the Skuna Bay story and then partnered with Chef and butcher Erika Nakamura to demonstrate how to properly filet (break down sushi style) a gorgeous Skuna Bay salmon. 

 

Following a wonderful post-conference phone conversation with Jeanine, I also had the opportunity to talk with Dean Trethewey, production director of Grieg Seafoods.  Like Jeanine, he has been in the industry for a very long time, 25 years to be exact.  Dean worked on commercial boats prior to this role. In his role as production director he oversees all of the certifications and regulations for Skuna Bay.  He looks after all of the sea sites and supports the farmers to make sure they have all that they need to do the job of growing healthy salmon.  Dean noticed many years ago that the wild salmon industry was beginning to struggle and was excited about being a part of an aquaculture business that took pressure off of those wild stocks. 

Continue reading Farm to Fork Sustainability: The Story Of Skuna Bay Salmon

Where to Eat & Drink In And Around Minneapolis During The NCAA MEN’S Final Four Basketball Tournament

“Basketball isn’t just a sport. It’s an art, one that must be mastered to succeed”

~ Stephen Curry

Happy Final Four week everyone! Welcome to the glorious city of Minneapolis!

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It’s an exciting time to be here as we are once again hosting a major sporting event.  In February of 2018 the Super Bowl came to town.  This weekend basketball will reign supreme.   Continue reading Where to Eat & Drink In And Around Minneapolis During The NCAA MEN’S Final Four Basketball Tournament

The Farm To Fork Project: How We Can Work Together To Achieve Sustainability

“If you just think exclusively about what would be the best tasting or most profitable, you’re just not seeing the big picture”

~ Dan Barber

Sustainability. What does it mean? And why is it so important?

You will get a multitude of answers to the above questions depending on who you ask. It can vary based on a myriad of factors including the environmental, social and economic conditions in a given region.  

The EPA’s formal definition of sustainability is:

“The idea of sustainability—commonly defined as the ability to maintain or improve standards of living without damaging or depleting natural resources for present and future generations—was ingrained as a foundation of environmental law with the signing of the 1969 National Environmental Policy Act.Jun 26, 2018″   ~ United States Environmental Protection Agency

What I know for certain is that instituting sustainable living habits into our daily lives is crucial to our future, and we need to work together to achieve long-term sustainability.

Continue reading The Farm To Fork Project: How We Can Work Together To Achieve Sustainability

When Ramen And Michelin Stars Intersect In Tokyo, Japan

“The ultimate ramen is something that exists perfectly in the moment”

~ Quote from the Ramen Heads documentary

On November 29, 2017, Nakiryu was awarded its first Michelin star.  Nakiryu is only the second ramen restaurant in the world to receive this prestigious honor.  Tsuta was the first and they are both located in Toshima, a Tokyo Prefecture.  We visited Nakiryu in early October of 2018.

To be awarded a Michelin star and ultimately be listed in the Michelin Guide is no easy accomplishment.  There are no specific guidelines available for restaurants regarding how to obtain this level of recognition.  Some known objectives are the chefs ability to achieve the highest levels of mastery in terms of flavors and cooking techniques.  Consistency in regards to the food and dining experience are also key.  If the first visit by the anonymous Michelin Guide inspector is favorable, a second visit will take place approximately one year later. The road to a Michelin star is not a rapid one.  Receiving one star is not a guarantee that more stars will be awarded in the future, and restaurants can lose stars if they do not maintain the Michelin standards. The most stars a restaurant can be awarded is three.

At Nakiryu there was a clear reverence for the ingredients and the noodle preparation.  The way the ramen noodles were expertly and visibly laid out on the counter waiting for their arrangement in the bowls elevated our anticipation.  From the precise placement of the noodles, to the ladling of the broth, to the moment the bowl is handed to the customer, there is a sense of ceremony.  This was my maiden voyage to Japan as well as our first visit to a Michelin star restaurant.

There is no question in our minds as to why Nakiryu received their star.  For us, the taste of the ramen and the moments we spent there were impeccable and we won’t ever forget it.

Continue reading When Ramen And Michelin Stars Intersect In Tokyo, Japan

Empty Nester Adventures in Italy: A Photo Gallery of Our 5 Day Visit to the Amalfi Coast

“Italy is a dream that keeps returning for the rest of your life” ~Anna Akhmatova

The hills of the Amalfi Coast are steeped in romance and tradition.  As a travel enthusiast I’m extremely grateful to have the had the opportunity to visit many unique and beautiful destinations.  This particular area of Italy holds a special place in my being that keeps calling me back.  I am of Italian descent so maybe that’s why it feels so much like home every time I return.

Continue reading Empty Nester Adventures in Italy: A Photo Gallery of Our 5 Day Visit to the Amalfi Coast