Thank you to Sociable Cider Werks, Linden Hills Farmers Market, Mill City Farmers Market, Farmers Markets of Minneapolis, RED Food, and Frank & Ernest Foods for sponsoring First Taste, a media preview event. As always, all content and opinions are my own.
I recently got a chance to sample foods from the newest vendors at this year's Linden Hills and Mill City Farmers Markets. It was an afternoon of delicious eating, but the true highlight was connecting with people who are pursuing their passion, whether that's brewing ginger beer or baking artisanal pastries. Here's a preview of the exciting new vendors you'll find at the Linden Hills and Mill City Farmers Markets in 2017:
Dumpling & Strand makes whole-grain noodles from a variety of grains--I sampled hearty mafaldine noodles made with kernza, an eco-friendly perennial grain. Another brand-new offering is a pasta made from wild rice.
K'ul Chocolate makes artisan farm-to-bar and superfood 70% dark chocolate bars. I loved the "Stamina" bar, which is flavored with cranberries, cherries, pomegranate, raspberries, and maca root.
Kappers' Big Red Barn produces, processes, and packages fresh hand-pulled cheese curds, milk in glass bottles, and ice cream at their small dairy farm in Chatfield, Minnesota.
Gingermann (no website) brews a refreshing ginger beer made with much less sugar than typical sodas--a 12-ounce serving has 20 grams of sugar, half of the 39 grams of sugar in a 12-ounce serving of Coca-Cola.
Darling Pickle Dips are made with a cream cheese and white bean base blended with pickled vegetables, herbs, and spices. Each of the unique flavors--original dill pickle, dill pickle with white cheddar and mustard, spicy giardiniera, and roasted tomato and jalapeno--was delicious, but the roasted tomato and jalapeno had the slight edge as my favorite.
Turtle Hare Farm grows a variety of microgreens (greens harvested small, when they have more nutrients and a more intense flavor) on a less-an-eighth-acre farm in Lake Saint Croix Beach, Minnesota. I loved the sweetness of the golden popcorn shoots, which taste like a diminutive ear of sweet corn at its peak. Other tasty microgreens I sampled included nutty sunflower shoots and spicy radish shoots.
Ommie Snacks makes satisfying all-natural energy bars. Made with sunflower seeds, pumpkin seeds, and dried fruit, the bars are free of the top 8 allergens (nuts, tree nuts, eggs, dairy, soy, wheat, gluten, and shellfish free) and vegan. I loved the banana and apple cinnamon flavors, which tasted like a much healthier, energy-dense version of my favorite quick breads. Other flavors include apricot chai, cherry chocolate, coconut carob, coconut pineapple, coffee, cranberry, and lemon poppy.
Taking Stock Foods specializes in drinkable broths, with classic salted, classic unsalted, and ginger turmeric bone broths made with organic chicken, as well as a vegan mushroom ginger broth. Besides selling the broths at local retailers and farmers' markets, the broths are available via a monthly subscription service.
Superior Switchel brews switchels, a lightly sweetened and tangy beverage made with ginger and apple cider vinegar. The Haymaker, seasoned with cinnamon, is the original flavor; others include Orange Maple and my favorite, a refreshing, herbal Lavender Lemon.
Dulceria Bakery offers a variety of artisanal Mexican pastries and desserts. I loved the polvorones, thick sugar-dusted cookies flavored with orange zest and with a lovely dense texture from lard. I also sampled some delicious conchas, fluffy sweet buns with a sugar crust, and an adorable (and fudgy!) Frida Kahlo cake pop.
Ancient Indian Spices crafts organic spice mixes that make Indian cuisine easy to cook. The spices mixes are also delicious sprinkled on popcorn, and the golden turmeric powder mixed with warm almond and coconut milks makes for a comforting beverage.
Calvit's Drinking Shrubs can be used as a mixer for soft drinks or cocktails. Each of the flavors features a two complementary fruits or vegetables, plus a slightly spicy or herbal kick at the end. Current flavors include Ginger/Lemongrass, Beet/Ginger, Tomatillo/Tamarind, and Thai Basil--each was so delicious and unique that I couldn't pick a favorite.
Candor Bar makes grain-free, vegan, paleo, no-added-sugar bars from coconut puree, coconut flakes, nuts, dates, and other natural ingredients. The lemon bar tasted like a delicious, wholesome version of a lemon meringue pie, but the curry was my surprise favorite, with a hint of spice and slight sweetness. Other flavors include matcha, almond cocoa, and chili cocoa.
Root to Rise Kitchen cooks up comfort food-style vegan cuisine, like a meatball-style sub made with sprouted lentil, buckwheat, quinoa, hemp, and walnut "love balls." I sampled a walking taco made with sprouted lentil and walnut meat, shredded cabbage, cashew nacho cheese, and a mango pico de gallo that put the concession stand-versions of my youth to shame.
Greenhearts LLC makes Asian-inspired seasonings and sweet potato noodles. I loved how the seasonings tasted mixed into a vinaigrette salad dressing, and the sweet potato noodles are a tasty gluten-free alternative.
Best Cellar Pickle Company makes delectable spicy carrot dill pickles--although they're recommended as a Bloody Mary garnish, I could easily eat a plate of them straight up. Other tasty products include a better-than-beef mushroom jerky with a great chew and spicy soy hickory flavor; balsamic onion preserves; and craft beer jelly.
Worker B manufactures artisanal skincare products from raw, sustainably-sourced honey. They also sell varietal raw honey--I loved the intense, molasses flavor of the buckwheat.
Nutmeg's produces small-batch peanut, almond, and cashew butters. I would happily eat each of them straight from the jar, but my favorite was the almond butter flavored with a hint of cinnamon. Besides making a delicious product, Nutmeg's is a business you can feel good about supporting: a portion of the profits support local non-profits in Kenya.
Interested in trying some of these delicious local foods? Look for them at the Linden Hills Farmers Market and the Mill City Farmers Market--check the markets' and vendors' websites for details. Many of the products are also available online via the vendor links included in this post, as well as at other local markets and retailers.