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When you think of Minnesota food, you might think of a few classic staples: nutty wild rice, flaky walleye, and stick-to-your-guts hot dish. Change, of course, has arrived with a vengeance as a food revolution has swept the state, and tradition is increasingly seen as a platform for invention. Chefs around the state revel in adapting and sometimes completely transforming hidebound dishes, creating menus that riff playfully on familiar flavors and foods.
Minnesota has a proud history as the nation's breadbasket, from its fields of wheat, to its pork and dairy farms, to the grain mills of Minneapolis. It's no coincidence, then, that the swath cut by Minnesota's food personalities is a wide one indeed. You can see them on national television, hear them on the radio, and taste their creations by way of books and the Internet. And their influence cuts from the biggest of the mass-market heavyweights to the highest-flying of the gourmet, as illustrated by this (brief and greatly abridged) collection of biographical sketches.
Most people can appreciate the flavor and texture of a ripe apple, but few are capable of improving upon it. The University of Minnesota managed to achieve such a feat in 1991 when it released the Honeycrisp apple cultivar. A true, ripe Honeycrisp tastes like an apple with the volume turned up: Both honey-sweet and bracingly tart, it conveys its full flavor in extra-juicy bites. Its larger-than-typical cells allow for the delivery of more moisture than most apple varieties.
For years, domestic beer was viewed as wine's lowbrow cousin, suitable for drinking during sporting events or cookouts, and little else. The craft brew revolution has turned that thinking on its head, and the past five to 10 years have seen an explosion in artisan beer production in Minnesota.
When you head north to the stunning rocky shores of Lake Superior, food may not be the first thing on your mind. But the region has a lovely gastronomic style all its own. From smoked fish to fresh berries to cured meat to some of the region's tastiest breakfasts, the foods found here can transform a pleasant trip into a great vacation.
Classic doughnuts, both cake and raised, are available throughout Minnesota, made with old-fashioned love and a lot of sugar, powdered or otherwise. But the last five years have also seen a nouveau doughnut renaissance in the Twin Cities, with newer shops offering exotic twists (maple long john with a strip of bacon on top, anyone?) and cupcake-shop-level marketing.
The link between food and love may be ancient, but it continues to thrive in modern times right here in the Upper Midwest. Wherever you travel in Minnesota, there's likely to be a romantic culinary getaway awaiting you.
Airport dining has evolved, and we're all better for it. While there are still plenty of spots to grab quickly prepared, mass-market fast food, restaurants that emphasize creative use of high-quality (and often local) ingredients are starting to take over the concourses at the Minneapolis-St. Paul International Airport. A recent overhaul of Concourse G in Terminal 1 has brought in a whirlwind of internationally inspired dining, but other spots of note are scattered throughout the airport, as well, including the formerly sparse Terminal 2. If you're swinging through MSP, bring an appetite—you've got options, and they're delicious.
Just because visitors don't typically come to Minneapolis-St. Paul to eat Japanese food doesn't mean that they shouldn't. The metro area boasts more than just respectable sushi — from warm, soothing bowls of noodles to fried pub delicacies to skewers of marinated meats to sustainable seafood with a modern story to tell, there's something in Minnesota — by way of Japan— for every diner's taste.
What makes a perfect pie? Much is made of crust (butter versus lard, shortening versus everything else), and its flakiness, or lightness, or general durability. But the real heart of a pie is the filling—so much filling veers toward the goopy, and/or the oversweet, that it's a delight to find a pie with a sense of balance and restraint to it, something that challenges you not just to finish a piece, but to avoid finishing the whole pie.