Ah, yes, it's spring, and that means the seasonal farmers markets are opening and local, sun-ripened produce is returning to Minnesota. And what better example could we find than at—a German restaurant?
Yes! Minneapolis's long-time (since 1965) German restaurant, the Black Forest Inn, kicks off its annual tribute to one of spring's finest vegetables this weekend with Spargelfest. Given that the Black Forest has one of the Twin Cities' best outdoor spaces, the time is right to enjoy the warmer weather along with your feast.
And yes, the restaurant may be German, but it buys its asparagus from the Southeast Minnesota Food Network. It's a connection the restaurant's owners made through a caterer who contracts use of the Black Forest kitchen (which, by the way, thanks to its huge size, is also used by the likes of Saucy Burt's and A Fork in the Road food trucks, when they need more kitchen space than their trucks allow).
What can you expect at this year's Spargelfest? Among the items offered is an appetizer of ham-wrapped asparagus, which is then wrapped in puff pastry and fried, and served with sauce. Delicious.
This salad, composed of asparagus with fennel, radish, mushrooms, brown rice, barley, and mixed greens, and served with a lemon dressing, is fresh and bright.
Grilled ham and asparagus, served with hollandaise sauce. Other menu offerings this season include asparagus with veal, asparagus with venison, and asparagus with salmon. Also:
Spargel perogi. Seriously, this might be my favorite, although it's a tough call, especially with the appetizer and salad. Handmade perogi stuffed with asparagus and cheese, served on a warm asparagus mousse and drizzled with a butter-hazelnut sauce. Slightly sweet, lovely and rich.
Dessert with—yes—asparagus: asparagus and rhubarb strudel with whipped cream. As flavorful as asparagus is, the rhubarb holds its own.
There are other options too: spargel flan, cream of spargel soup, spargel dumplings, and three spargel-based cocktails.
Given the Black Forest's work with food trucks, I asked the owner if she had ever considered starting her own. She said it's not in the plans at the moment, but what she would like to do in the future is open something like a sidewalk space, where people could walk up to a window at the restaurant and order something to enjoy on the go, or to sit on at a streetside table for a quick break. I love that idea. Imagine a beer and brat as a quick lunch…
Go. Sit on the patio. Enjoy the weather, and the fresh and local asparagus.
My thanks to the Black Forest Inn for having me as their guest.
What else is happening in our state? Be sure to check out the 10 p.m. Sunday night WCCO newscasts, where you can learn more in the weekly segment, Finding Minnesota.
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