Dosai, Do

When Nagappan decided to open a restaurant in the Twin Cities--with absolutely no connection to the place except a friend who works for Dayton Hudson Corp.--he simply scouted out a location, then showed up with seasoned staff, equipment, and ingredients, and threw open his doors. That large, coordinated, imported staff is a true pleasure to behold: Orders are filled with lightning speed, water glasses are paid the sort of careful attention usually reserved for howling babies.

But how will that staff--and the similarly imported personnel at Uptown's new Passage to India--weather its first winter in the Big Icy, when the ten lanes of Central Avenue turn into a Siberia dancing with swirling snow devils? Will the paper dosai soar as high? Will the staff zip as perkily? Will we be lucky like Pittsburgh, which kept its Udupi--or unlucky like Chicago, which lost its? The only advice I have is: Devour your paper dosai with the greatest haste. Life's too short to waste time marveling.


Teddy Maki

Location Info


Amu's Madras Cafe

4920 Central Ave. NE
Columbia Heights, MN 55421

Category: Restaurant > Indian

Region: Columbia Heights


IT'S THE INGREDIENTS, STUPID: Longtime readers know that I often write about local farmers and food producers. What you may not know is that I regularly get flack from local restaurant people who feel those columns are "wasted" when I could be promoting their establishments. Well, finally, someone has articulated why restaurants should care about farmers: "Cuisine is 70 percent ingredients," trumpets chef-superstar Jean-Georges Vongerichten in the August 16 issue of New York magazine. The article, by Peter Kaminsky, details the efforts New York City chefs have made to get small, local farms to grow their food, and the reasons why. David Bouley, another überchef, explains why he invested thousands of dollars to get a Hudson Valley grower to raise potatoes for him: "The point is that ingredients--more often organic ingredients--that are grown locally can maximize their ripening so that they fully develop their flavor potential." Kaminsky notes in the article that 15 of France's 21 three-star Michelin restaurants are located outside Paris, near the farms where the ingredients grow. (Is this why so many of our local great restaurants, like La Belle Vie, Bayport Cookery, and the Harbor View Café, are out in the St. Croix Valley?)

The chef in charge of New York's ultra-fancy-pants Lespinasse puts a fine point on it: "You can have all the technique in the world...but it is only by starting with great ingredients that I can make a dish that explodes." The whole article is available on the magazine's Web site ( Meanwhile, let's all just keep repeating to ourselves: Nasty, desiccated chicken breasts in, nasty, desiccated chicken breasts out...

SPEAKING OF LOCAL INGREDIENTS: How's our local apple crop looking? Will your local apple pies be up to snuff? (If you're making a Washington State apple pie after all this, you're lost. Just spray some air freshener around--voilà, you're in the Boundary Waters!) To the west, Tom Meyher at the St. Boni Orchard in St. Bonifacius says the ripening fruit look to be "as early as last year, though probably not as big as last year." Why? "I don't know--nature decides that one. As a grower it always seems like they won't be as big as you want them. But then, they never really get big enough for me." To the east Cindy Femling, who owns Afton Apple Orchards, says apples in her neighborhood "look great. Everything looks great--there was no major hail or storm damage this year, and apples are about on schedule. We're getting nice size and coloring." Femling reminded me that if you've got pie in mind the later varieties--including Haralson, Regent, and Cortland--hold their shape best. And, she noted, if it was a good year for apples it was less so for pumpkins: The wet spring and hot July meant the crop didn't "set" right, so if you see your perfect jack-o'-lantern, snap it up quick. (Call the orchards for directions and hours. St. Boni Orchard: (612) 472-5752; Afton Apple Orchards: (651) 436-8385.)

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