by Anthony Enright
It’s likely you’re one of the many people who does not have the luxury of coming home and finding a delicious meal ready and waiting for you. That’s just not the world most of us live in unless we’re very fortunate. That said, you may well dread that daunting moment when you stare vacantly into the maw of your well stocked refrigerator pondering how you could possibly do justice to the bevy of great ingredients staring back at you. It’s a nightly ritual in my house, and too often the sheer force of my cooking indecision leads to a hastily assembled dinner of salami, olives and cheese, or a desperate phone call to Galactic Pizza.
A confession; I love to shop, and not just for anything, I love to shop for food. The city’s best grocery stores are my temples, and I worship at these holy places more often than is either necessary or advisable. In every piece of produce and gleaming raw ingredient I see a endless number of possibilities. The ‘choose your own adventure’ nature of all those options leads me to overindulge in a terrible way. Later the guilt sets in, and I realize the desperate need to use that whole duck or bunch of kale before it turns and becomes an expensive waste. Too often, in the harsh light of the refrigerator bulb, I just have no idea how to actually transform those brilliant ingredients into a satisfying dinner. I typically resort to asking chef friends for tips and then attempting to simplify their ‘easy’ recommendations by half a dozen notches, but that’s becoming embarrassing. Lately I’ve been proactively checking out some great local food blogs to try to indulge my foodie tendencies in a more controlled manner (a kind of grocery shopping methadone) and also to get ideas for using all those frighteningly perishable ingredients which I will inevitability buy no matter how much I restrain myself. A roundup of a handful of local foodie blogs with a variety of interesting voices is below. I find each of them fascinating and inspiring in different ways; I’m sure at least one will speak to you.
This is the grandaddy of local food blogs with considerable resources dedicated both to covering the local restaurant scene, and proving insightful forays into all things local food and drink related. The depth and range of their coverage shows what a complex food culture has developed in the Twin Cities, and they’re always on top of the trends, restaurant openings and what’s new and hot. I find the site inspiring in a general way rather than as a place to get specific recipes or menu ideas. One reason I keep coming back day after day is the exceptionally fine food photography. I defy your mouth not to water!
Keane Amdahl at the Food Stoned blog is one of those evangelical voices that’s highly committed to improving and supporting the local food scene while providing some delicious inspiration in the process. His irreverent, well written and cheeky reviews and recipes show personality with minimal posturing or snark. The recipes on the site tend to be full of flavor and full of seasonal and local ingredients. He also curates the MN Food Dudes site which acts as a forum for food and wine loving guys to share their food finds and experiences. It’s a mini-empire of local food journalism, and always fun and exciting to read.
With Thyme in Our Kitchen, Matt Weber has an ambitious agenda of elevating the gourmet into the everyday, which is a goal near and dear to my heart. I love the way he introduces ambitious techniques or ingredients in ways that make them seem accessible and worth trying. I also think the blog is just conversational and personal enough that you get the sense of a real person behind the narrative and not the constructed perfect life that some personal food blogs can veer into. I’ve found Thyme In Our Kitchen to be a go to for recipe ideas, and nearly all have been easy to execute and delicious!
Speaking of places to go for everyday food inspiration, last month this great local blog embarked on a “30 Days of Food Inspiration” with a daily post sharing an inspiring meal idea. It was a charming reminder of the daily food choices and pleasures of eating interspersed with some distinctly MN events and activities (a visit to Jake Rudh’s Transmission and the Duluth floods made an appearance). I like the local character of this blog and it has a way of humanizing more complex recipes that I find useful in my own kitchen.
The chef behind Sourtooth is clearly highly competent and qualified (having cooked in some of the finest kitchens on the East Coast) but moving to North Central Minnesota leaves less opportunity for her to flex her culinary muscles. With this awesome blog about home cooking, we get a little glimpse at an elevated way of thinking about what you produce in your own kitchen. Again, the photography really pulls me in on this site, but I also live the practical concerns (like actually acknowledging that ingredients cost money!) and the confident knowledgeable tone. The author teaches cooking classes both in her home and at Cooks of Crocus Hill, and it’s hard not to see the connection between the blog and the desire to share her considerable talents. Sourtooth is a great food blog from a unique voice.