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 Heartlanding Through the Breadbasket

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wanderingjew

  • Total Posts: 7385
  • Joined: 1/18/2001
  • Location: East Greenwich/ Warwick, RI
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Heartlanding Through the Breadbasket Thu, 09/9/10 9:04 PM (permalink)
I promised Chi Town Diner I would begin my trip report this evening since he is suffering from withdrawal symptoms after 2 weeks of consecutive pie photos.
 
This was a 2 1/2 week long venture into America's heartland precipitated by this previous thread which I started 4 years ago.
http://www.roadfood.com/Forums/tm.aspx?m=238997
 
If you review the thread it seems that the heartland received the least love regarding favorite american cuisine. Well I hope I can prove that not only is the heartland a definitive region of culinary diversity  but that many of the specialties which sadly have been neglected as of late and labeled as dead or dying are in fact alive and well and better than ever...
 
Thursday August 19
 
An early flight out of TF Green ensured an early arrival of 11 AM in Minneapolis St Paul after a brief layover at Midway in Chicago.
After getting my car rental, I was on my way down to Red Wing just under an hour from the Airport. I was on a quest. I was looking for that definitive Minnesotan Dish. I did my research, and yes it does exist, although usually as just an alternating weekly or monthly special and it's  even more challenging to find in the summer months.
 
You see I was looking for Hotdish
 
Not Gimmicky Hotdish
 

 
or
 
Pretentious
 

 
"Haute Dish"
but the real deal
So I went to visit an old friend I last saw in 2006
 

 
and found it there!
 

 
When I arrived the place was packed and in full swing. I enjoyed a superb Hot Roast Pork Commerial when I last  visited Bev's Cafe in 2006 and was hoping for another fine experience.
 
Of course I ordered the Tater Tot Hotdish which I never had before and was somewhat apprehensive if it would meet or exceed my expectations or be a flat out disappointment.
 

 
My meal arrived with a side of Asparagus and it exceeded my expectations. It was heads and shoulders above  my Tater Tot Hotdish on a stick I experienced at the Minnesota State Fair 4 years earlier (which lead to my initial apprehension). With hints of Cardamon Spice there was definitely a Scandinavian touch to this meal.
 
I finished my meal off with a slice of good ol' homemade apple pie.
 

 
At the end of my meal I also met the owner which I also had the opportunity to do at  several other restaurants I visited on my trip.  The entire staff was extremely accommodating and gracious.
 
What I noticed at many of the cafes in the midwest is that most folks go for lunch just before noon and shortly after 1pm the place clears out.
 

 

 
Same thing with dinner too. Shortly before 6pm everyone arrives and shortly after 7pm the restaurants are empty..
 
Anyway, my take on Tater Tot Hotdish is that I probably wouldn't go out of my way again to find it, but if it's on the menu I would certainly order it again.
 
After lunch I headed back towards the Twin Cities to meet up with Davydd at one of his favorite watering holes
 

 
Lord Fletchers on Lake Minnetonka
 
Arriving first, I enjoyed the view
 

 
and noticed that they paid homage to my old neck of the woods
 

 
Davydd arrived about 5 minutes after I got there and we each ordered Minnesota's own Summit Beer which I actually enjoyed numerous times over the course of this trip. We talked for probably close to two hours and discussed just about everything including my trip up North a few days a way, as well as Davydd's house on Lake Minnetonka, his trip with his family the following day and of course Breaded Pork tenderloins, the meaning behind his screen name and several other interesting subjects,  and of course I had to let him know what I enjoyed for lunch before our meet up and even Davydd conceeded that hotdish can be good. As rush hour was approaching I had to leave since I was heading about an hour north for dinner and didn't want to hit too much rush hour traffic which Davydd warned me about. I enjoyed meeting Davydd.
 
Well, Davydd was right I hit insane traffic as I tried to head north from the Twin Cities. Considering I was up since 4am and had already done quite a bit of driving I decided not to take the nearly hour long drive up north (having to return back to the Twin Cities after dinner) and decided I would flip flop my meals and do Friday's lunch for Thursday's dinner and vice versa, besides at this point I was only a few miles away from what would have been Fridays' lunch...
 
In 2001 the Stern's put out their book Blue Plate Specials and Blue Ribbon Chefs.
In that book they praised a restaurant called Carol's Calico Kitchen. Unfortunately that restaurant suffered a fire loss and the owner reopened as
 

 
Carol's Restaurant and Vintage Rose in Blaine MN with continued rave reviews on both YELP and Urbanspoon.
 
The interior
 

 
reminds me of the type of Roadfood restaurants the Stern's used to write about pre website.
 
After reviewing their online menu I already new what I wanted....
 
I ordered  the hot meat loaf commercial
 

 
Unfortunately they accidentally delivered a hot turkey commercial which looked absolutely fantastic but it wasn't what I wanted. Had I had time to go back, I would have tried it. I notified the waitress of the error and she apolgized and immediately corrected it. The original owner's daughter who is also part owner also came over to ensure that everything was ok.
 
This was a fine sandwich and even the cranberry sauce on the side was a nice touch with the meatloaf, everything was absolutely homemade, even the bread. Truly the first highlight of the trip.
 
I wish I could say the same thing about dessert. Carol's has a website on "my space" their menu indicates they have sour cream raisin pie on the menu. Unfortunately I found out it is no longer offered on the menu and is more or less a seasonal item. I also found out that they don't do their own baking. They did have rhubarb pie on the menu. I never had rhubarb pie before, I've had strawberry rhubarb, raspberry rhubarb, etc.
 

 
I found the pie to be somewhat bitter. I guess you really need to acqure  a taste for rhubarb pie, unfortunately I didn't.
 
After dinner I was exhausted, I checked into my hotel the fairfield inn near Mall of America. I was just planning on staying there one night as I will staying in downtown Minneapolis the next few nights....
 
Much, much much, much more to come....The next installment will likely be tomorrow.
<message edited by wanderingjew on Thu, 09/9/10 9:17 PM>
 
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