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Best Of 2000

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Food & Drink

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Best Of :: Food & Drink

BEST CHEESE SELECTION
Surdyk's

Thank God for monks. Along with their other frugal toils (prayer, bird feeding, and the like) we must also credit the monastic brothers of old with civilizing cheese. Sure, Charlemagne loved his bloomy Bries, and Remus suckled on wolf's-teat fontinas, but it was berobed medieval men leading lives of quiet contemplation who established as holy the marriage of milk and time. The good people at Surdyk's understand this, on some divine level. Their smartly stocked cases are a testament to years' worth of study, selectivity, and plain right-mindedness about cheese. Thousands of wheels, loaves, braids, and globes in hundreds of varieties arrive from the world's four corners and pass through Surdyk's doors every year, ripe and ripening, curdled, spiced, carved, cured, blessed. Green-veined and moldy as gym socks? A young-grass French-cut delicate as a midsummer night's breeze? The Spanish Manchego Don Quixote described as "harder than if it had been made out of sand and lime"? An American artisan's sheep's-milk humdinger with just a whiff of herbs? A little doozy with a bunch of holes and an umlaut? Name your pleasure, this almighty cheese outpost probably has it, along with savvy recommendations for accompanying beverages, which can be found in Surdyk's adjoining liquor store.

303 E. Hennepin Ave., Minneapolis, 55414
MAP
612-379-3232
BEST ADDITION TO THE BREAKFAST SCENE
Victor's

Even though some of us are still bitter about last year's demise of Rick's Ol' Time Café, Victor's is garnering a larger following with each passing month. There's plenty of standard yanqui breakfast fare, but the Cuban entrées are the real reason to get out of bed to beat the crowd to this trailer-sized neighborhood fixture. You can have your eggs accompanied by black beans, a nippy creole sauce, fried yucca, sweet plantains, toast with guava jam, Cuban steak, mango pancakes, and a whole host of other tropical tasties--and you'll rarely spend more than $6 for your morning boost. Owners Victor and Niki Valens have painted the interior a pale yellow so sunny and cheerful that, even with winter coats draped over the ends of the booths, it actually feels like breakfast at the beach.

3756 Grand Ave. S., Minneapolis, 55409
MAP
612-827-8948
BEST APPLE ORCHARD
Emma Krumbee's

Yeah, okay, this Best of the Twin Cities pick isn't in--or even really near--the Twin Cities. But cut us some slack: Emma Krumbee's is worth driving a few miles out of the way. Set on 45 acres about halfway to Mankato near scenic Belle Plaine, this operation has all the amenities you'd expect: wagon rides, cider sampling, homemade apple pies, and a great pumpkin patch. And oh, those apples! Arrive in August for Connell Reds, that sweet, ruby-red Minnesota breed. Or come later in the autumn, when you can pick your own McIntosh and hard, tangy Honeygolds. If you wait till October, you'll still be able to take home a bushel of tart Honeycrisps--the perfect flavor to compliment a glorious and fleeting season.

501 E. South St., Belle Plaine, 56011
MAP
952-873-3006
BEST ASIAN GROCERY
United Noodles
Photo by Tony Nelson

Make your own maki? United Noodles sports ten varieties of nori. There are aisles of cookies, crackers, and canned goods, plus Asian seafood and produce you won't find anywhere else in town. The staff is pleasant and helpful--which comes in handy when you're in no shape to discern one kind of noodle from another, or to gauge which rice-paper wrappers are best suited to your first foray into spring-rolling, or even when you're idly wondering what one might do with a baby duck egg. While you're at it, there's a well-stocked herbal medicine counter and a small acupuncture clinic, for whatever ails you.

2015 E. 24th St., Minneapolis, 55404
MAP
612-721-6677
BEST BAGELS

Bagels aren't that complex a foodstuff, so why are there so few good ones west of the Hudson River? A bagel lover in these parts must simply make do, taste-testing the local offerings, compromising, always compromising, and then, inevitably prevailing upon a loved one who's traveling to New York City to bring back the real thing. Then along comes Big City Bagels and gives us hope. While you're still better off going to New York, the price of a Sun Country ticket is admittedly a little steep when all you want to do is nosh. These Big City bad boys are big, sufficiently odd-shaped, tasty, and yes, even somewhat chewy. Grab one, slather on the cream cheese, add some lox, and feel the joy.

BEST BAKERY
Turtle Bread

The more widely we taste of the world's bread, the more convinced we are that Turtle Bread isn't merely the best bakery in town, it might well be one of the best bakeries on Earth. Case in point: Last fall we were in Paris and had the chance to swing by Poilane, widely reputed to offer the best boule (a wild-yeast bread) in the world. The world! And while it was an amazing bread, it wasn't all that far ahead of Turtle Bread--and Poilane didn't have the yummy little cookies, addictive olive crackers, buttery Danish, fantastic fresh-fruit pies, or breakfast-perfect cardamom coffee bread we've come to swear by. Don't buy it? France awaits...

3421 W. 44th St., Minneapolis, 55410
MAP
612-924-6013
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BEST CHEESE SELECTION: Surdyk's

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