Oh, the weather outside. It's not yet frightful, but it's no longer completely delightful. But we hardy folk are not deterred by winter temps. We're smart enough to recognize that coziness is a limited-season indulgence too, one we prefer to partake in with fantastic food and boozy beverages.
Thus we've compiled a list that gives you something to look forward to, with our top 10 favorite winter foods and drinks.
We're not talking about the annual festival where it's socially acceptable to wield a chainsaw in public and tell everyone you're a Vulcan. No, we're talking about the sweet and boozy after-dinner drink at the St. Paul Grill inside the historic St. Paul Hotel. Class up your winter drinking with this rich 50/50 blend of strong coffee and fancy hot cocoa spiked with Bailey's Irish Cream and Tia Maria, a coffee-flavored Jamaican rum-based liqueur. Even if you bail on attending the carnival, we promise you'll feel very festive indeed.
Pick a ramen. Any ramen. There is no wrong way to go when you're trying to choose a bowl that contains every conceivable element of deliciousness. Fragrant, steamy broth? Yes. Woody and weird seasoned bamboo? Of course. A freakin' marinated soft-boiled egg? Put it on the side of everything you plan to eat from now until you die. And that's all before we even get to the noodles and meat. It's a square meal in a round bowl and it will make you feel ready to conquer any snow bank or difficult winter parking situation.
Apologies for getting so literal with the idea of warming up, but winter really is the ideal time to get whisked away by some super spicy Caribbean food. In the summer months the thought of getting eating Marla's Doubles, though always delicious, is just too much to bear but come December we're begging for something other than shoveling the front walk to get our internal temperature up. Whether it's oxtail brown down, jerk chicken, channa and potato roti, or the impressive whole salted cod fish with ackee, venture out of your spice comfort zone and dare to order it "Marla's Hot." It's like sleeping in a sauna after a long soak in a sriracha bath. Have fun.
It's available all-year round, but this crumbly, meaty, ultra-buttery pie from Potter's Pasties truck or brick-and-mortar location in Minneapolis is really best enjoyed in the colder months, when our bodies need the extra sausage calories to keep us going. It's little more than crust and softly spiced ground pork, but you'll feel like heaven holding this whole meal in your hot little hand.
Fewer and fewer places are offering latkes to go around the Twin Cities, and though there is nothing wrong with making your own, it's nice to know that a couple of Jewish delis will still make them up right nice to bring to your Hanukkah dinner party. Rye's thin and crispy potato pancakes are delicious with sour cream and house-made apple compote. For a few short weeks Rye also fries up batches of traditional Sufganiyot a.k.a jelly doughnuts.
The pure holiday scent just wafts to the rafters as soon as you pop the cork on a bottle of Boom Island's winter seasonal Yule. It's a masterfully malty brew with hints of fruit reminiscent of an Italian panettone and Thanksgiving dinner all in one. Sip this beer slowly or plan to settle down by the fire for quite some time because this one's got a pretty high ABV. That's all part of the fun though. Bonus: If you bring this beer to a party you get to make endless puns using the word "yule" throughout the night.
For some people the concept of glugging down a sweet, creamy alcoholic beverage like eggnog is unappealing on many levels, but present it to them in a frozen format and you'll hear no complaints. Sweet Science's seasonal eggnog ice cream has all the Christmas-y spice and complementing booziness of the punchbowl favorite, but it's carefully created with real spices and organic dairy ingredients. Can you say the same for your Aunt Linda's "egg-stra special naughty nog"? Probably not.
Ian Gray is a farmers market regular, so there's really no telling what his handmade tortelle might be stuffed with on your next visit, but you can bet it will be seasonal. Last year's hearty, German-influenced tortelle stuffed with ham hocks and squash and served with blue-cheese butter, figs, pickled onions, and a port reduction was a memorable favorite that we can only hope will make a second appearance this winter.
Prescribed by Jewish mothers everywhere as the failsafe remedy for cold, fever, or general world-weariness, chicken matzo ball soup is known for its mystical healing properties. You probably wouldn't expect to find such a good example of it at a schmancy downtown French restaurant, but chef Russell Klein really knows his way around matzo meal. The giant globe of a dumpling is tender, not stodgy and the broth is stunningly clear but rich with that bone-deep flavor. It's set off simply with the lightness of dill and sweet cubes of carrot. Call it divine intervention or just call it dinner.
Only available at lunch and only recommended for consumption once a year because it will ruin other grilled cheeses, sandwiches in general, and the laughter of children for you, the namesake grilled cheese at Lisa Hanson's Mona Restaurant & Bar is made with three different cheeses, sun dried tomatoes, scallions, crushed potato chips, and a smear of roasted garlic bechamel, all fused together by the heat of a waffle iron. Add Mona's house bacon because literally everything on the menu is better with it. Including the side of house bacon.
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