When it comes to Minneapolis, we’ve been trying to get our foot in the culinary door for years – with some success: writers like Rachel Hutton and Rick Nelson have been heaping on praise since the Mid-Aughts, our fanciest distributor, Classic Provisions, has remained a hugely supportive and helpful resource and mouthpiece, and Page Productions plunked us into prime-time Food Network territory when they scouted us for Diners, Drive-Ins, and Dives.
However, when you’re a business in triage formation (due to a good kind of boom) you don’t get around much anymore. It was just last week that we finally were able to break free of the deli and check out our urban counterparts, hoping for inspiration, new products, and some fantastic food.
Who knew there would be so much love? Everywhere we went, we were treated like long-lost cousins: lavished with food, drink, and attention, regaled with information, and positively bolstered with support. And the food was amazing.
We really enjoyed Midtown Global Market: the spicy curry from Safari Express, the cleverly-named snackies from Left-Handed Cook, and the cheese samples from Grassroots Gourmet whetted our appetites, culminating in a trip downtown and a beer garden bacchanale at Butcher and the Boar, where the riot of garnish on their foot-long hot dogs elevates them to a spiritual plane, and the brussels sprouts are so good they could make you tear up.
One of the best stops on our tour was the Minneapolis meat church Kramarczuk’s, where we got a tour, some tips, and heaps of Eastern-European style charcuterie. To be acknowledged by a deservedly worshiped shop like Kramarczuk’s was absolutely beautiful and absolutely unexpected.
We finished our trip at the warehouse of Classic Provisions, where we perused aisles upon aisles, cooler upon cooler of the finest foods in the world. The awe was ushered by the equally fine staff at Classic, who somehow know the story behind every one of their hundreds of products. Who knew a warehouse could be an enlightening experience?
When we returned to the Smokehaus this week, we had plenty of stories, menu ideas, and new products to share, but also our Classic Provisions and Kramarczuk’s spoils, which are being devoured as I type.
So, thanks, Minneapolis. We didn’t know how much we needed that – you burst our Duluth bubble and we don’t need it anymore, because if we took one thing away from this experience (besides several pounds of sausage, specialty chocolate, and enough domestic cheese to open a temporary fondue restaurant) it is that food makes the world smaller, it binds us together, but it is of course bigger any of us – it makes so much possible. This is something we always knew, but started to forget.
Here’s a few shots of our show-and-tell, courtesy of Kramarczuk’s, Classic Provisions, and Grassroots Gourmet: