Food and drink are your love languages, vomFASS is your translator! In Mall of America's Culinary on North (N345), we delight in experiencing extraordinary olive oil, balsamic vinegar, spices, wine, whiskey, brandy, liqueurs and more. Free tastes daily. Cooking, wine and spirits classes weekly. Gifts of great taste, customized as desired. Only the best, always.
Viola’s Congratulations! Seasoned Sea Salt, to taste
1 tsp. garlic, minced
Calamansi Caper Butter Sauce:
1 T. vomFASS Calamansi Balsam vinegar
1/2 C. white wine (I used Chardonnay)
4 T. chilled butter, cut into small cubes or slices
2 T. capers, drained
Cut salmon into 4 equal pieces or leave the filet whole. Place salmon on aluminum foil, in a plastic zipper bag, or in a covered dish. Whisk the marinade ingredients together and drizzle onto salmon. Refrigerate 30 minutes or up to 2 hours.
Remove salmon from the marinade, or if you made a foil packet, leave in the foil and vent it.
Grill or broil for about 10 minutes, depending on the thickness. Remove any cover and finish grilling or broiling, to your preferred level of cooked.
While salmon is grilling, place the wine and Calamansi Balsam vinegar in a saucepan over medium high heat and allow it to come to a boil for 5-10 seconds. Keep your nose away from the vapor!
Reduce heat to lowest possible, whisk in the butter a few pieces at a time until the sauce is thick enough to coat the back of a spoon. The butter must never come to rest, or the sauce will separate and become oily.
Once the butter has completely incorporated, remove from heat and stir in capers.
Serve over the salmon.
Lemon Almond Rice
1 Pkg. Viola’s Lemon Almond Rice
1 T. vomFASS Basil Extra Virgin Olive Oil (or your favorite)
2 1/2 C. chicken or vegetable stock (more if needed)
Viola’s Congratulations! Seasoned Sea Salt, to taste
1 – 2 tsp. Calamansi Balsam vinegar
1 T. butter (optional)
Add olive oil to a medium saucepan over medium heat. Add rice and stir until glossy and warm. Add broth and seasoned sea salt. Bring to a boil. Reduce heat to simmer and cook about 20 minutes until al dente or your preferred texture, adding more liquid if needed. Add more seasoned salt, if needed, the splash of Calamansi vinegar and butter, if using. Stir and serve or cover and keep warm until serving, adding more liquid if needed prior to dishing up.
This salad recipe has no proportions indicated because it is completely scalable to the number of people you are feeding. For a single serving, I use a combined total of about 1 1/2 to 2 cups of veggies, an ounce of cheese, 1 – 5 oz. can of tuna, and a total of about 2 tablespoons of vinaigrette. For the vinaigrette, use 1 part vinegar to 2 parts olive oil, season with mustard and spices to your taste. Adjust the contents and proportions to what you like to eat. Really, you can’t mess this up. You can do it!!! 🙂
Not Quite Nicoise Salad
Spring greens or baby spinach
Tomatoes, cut in bite-sized pieces
Green beans, steamed for 3 minutes and chilled
Red onion, sliced vomFASS Olives, with pimento
Feta Cheese, cubed or crumbles
Canned tuna (or chicken)
Vinaigrette made with these vomFASS products:
Honey Balsamic Vinegar
Lemon Extra Virgin Olive Oil
Viola’s Mediterranean Fish Seasoning
Pyramid Sea Salt
Veggies of choice: eggplant, zucchini and yellow squash, onions, bell peppers, mushrooms, asparagus, radishes, garlic, etc.
Pyramid Sea Salt vomFASS Pizza Extra Virgin Olive Oil vomFASS Aceto Balsamico Maletti or di Famiglia
Slice veggies into ½ inch to ¼ inches, depending on density of vegetable. Combine olive oil and sea salt in a large bowl or pan. Add veggies and toss gently until lightly coated. Place on grill mat on a 425 degree grill, or spread in a single layer onto a pre-heated sheet pan. Roast or grill at 425 degrees, turning halfway through to get a slight char on each side. Time varies from 10 – 30 minutes, depending on types of veggies and desired char.
Enjoy as a side dish (Drizzle with Aceto Balsamico for serving), cool for an antipasti plate with the remoulade below, enjoy as a healthy snack, blend into a dip (see recipe below), add to a salad, or make them into soup!
Roasted Veggie Remoulade
¼ C. plain Greek yogurt
¼ C. mayonnaise
1 T. capers, rinsed and chopped
½ T. vomFASS Calamansi Balsam Vinegar 2 tablespoons vomFASS Dijon mustard vomFASS Sea Salt and Viola’s Pepper with Herbs, to taste
Whisk together all ingredients. Serve in a small bowl on a platter with roasted veggies.
Roasted Veggie Dip with Flatbread
2 C. roasted veggies (see recipe above)
7 T. vomFASS Pizza Extra Virgin Olive Oil 2 t, vomFASS Vingre Viejo de Montilla (Spanish Red Wine Vinegar)
1 small clove garlic, finely chopped (unless garlic is in roasted veggies) vomFASS Sea Salt and Viola’s Pepper with Herbs 2 t. Viola’s Smoked Paprika (spicy or sweet)
1 t. Viola’s Cumin
3 6-inch pitas, flatbread or cauliflower pizza crust
When cool enough to handle, coarsely chop vegetables and transfer to a food processor along with 1 Tbsp. olive oil, vinegar, garlic, salt and pepper. Pulse until mixture is finely chopped with some texture remaining. Taste and season with more salt and pepper, if needed. Transfer to serving bowl.
Preheat oven to 350°F. In a small bowl, stir together paprika, cumin and 1/2 tsp. salt. Cut each pita or flatbread into triangles. Arrange triangles in a single layer on 2 large baking sheets. Lightly drizzle with remaining 3 Tbsp. olive oil and sprinkle with spice mix. Bake until crisp and golden brown, about 12 minutes. Serve dip at room temp with pita chips or flatbread.
Have you ever entered a room to meet eight people for the first time and leave 90 minutes later with eight new friends? That’s an awesome feeling, and it’s how tonight’s cooking class went. In fact, the photos ended up being more about the people than the food, but the happy smiles are because of the food and the experience, so that’s OK, right?
Francis is not THE most common name, yet we had two people in the class by that name and almost every else knew or were related to a Francis, including me – so we got off on a congenial foot by declaring it Francis Night at vomFASS! The night was also special because Francis from Memphis was celebrating her birthday and because we were graced by the presence of newlyweds who joined the class during their 12 hour layover on their way to honeymoon in Iceland! (Coolest newlyweds of the year!)
But enough about how much fun we had (DO join us next time!), let’s get to the recipes!
Shrimp Salad / Dip / Tacos
2 C. cooked cocktail-sized shrimp (mini) vomFASS Chili Sea Salt, to taste 3 T. vomFASS San Domenico or Jalapeno Extra Virgin Olive Oil 1 1/2 vomFASS Calamansi or Mango Balsam Vinegar 1/4 C. minced cilantro 1/4 C. sliced green onions 1/4 C. diced red bell pepper 1/4 C. Poblano pepper Tortilla chip scoops, romaine leaves, taco shells or salad greens Directions
Whisk together oil, vinegar and spices. Add remaining ingredients. Serve as desired: on greens for a salad, on lettuce leaves or taco shells, or with tortilla chips for an appetizer.
Sun-Dried Tomato Basil Pasta 6 servings
1 pkg vomFASS Basil Pasta OR 8 C. zoodles to replace pasta
1 t. Violas’ Caprese Salt or to taste
1 t. Violas’ Pepper with Herbs, or to taste
¼ C. vomFASS San Domenico Extra Virgin Olive Oil
1 – 2 T. vomFASS Herb Garlic Sunflower Oil OR Chili Sunflower Oil
1 jar vomFASS Sun-dried Tomatoes
½ C. chopped sweet onion
½ C. chopped orange bell pepper
2 t. minced garlic (fresh or jarred)
1 C. chopped fresh baby spinach
Parmesan Cheese, to taste
vomFASS Aceto Balsamico di Famiglia
Chop sun-dried tomatoes and set aside. Sauté onion and pepper with sunflower oil over medium high heat, just until tender crisp. Add garlic and sauté about one more minute. Stir in sun-dried tomatoes and seasonings. Set aside in pan. Cook pasta in boiling salted water 1 minute less than minimum recommended on package. Lift out of water and into the pan with sautéed veggie mixture, along with about ½ cup of pasta water. Add olive oil, spinach and adjust spices. Toss, cover and let rest in a warm place until ready to serve. Serve with parmesan and drizzle with Aceto Balsamico.
That’s right we’re talking about grapes! Over the next few weeks we will discuss the many fermented faces of grapes and the integral parts they play in many a famous and sometimes not so famous beverage.
There are over 10,000 different wine grape varietals in the world. As hinted to above, grapes’ role in getting us buzzed transcends their use in wine making and in fact for some spirits/adult beverages, wine is only the beginning.
The Early and the Late: Champagne and TokajiAzsu
Grape meet human, human meet grape. Fast forward a few thousand years and you’ve got one of man’s best friends. Wherever we went we made sure we were never too far from one another, mostly because wherever we went we were sure to bring vines with us. Rudimentary fermentation practices led us out of the dark ages and into a period when the first carbonated wines were stumbled upon by monks who just so happened to have a hard time making still wine. Falling in love with the idea of sparkling wine they continued to perfect it. Thus solidifying the style as desirable. Very, very desirable. Champagne itself is a region in the north of France famous for it’s bubbles. Sparkling wines made in this region, using only the traditional method (Method du Champenoise), as well as any of the three grapes allowed for Champagne, are the only wines that can be called true Champagne. The region has very chalky soil and is significantly cooler. Grapes destined for Champagne are picked intentionally early meaning a high acidity and a low sugar content, given that they haven’t had enough time to fully ripen. Without an early harvest the wine’s acidity would dwindle over time and be over come by the inherent bubbles leading to an unbalanced wine. The Low sugar content however is either left as is or in most cases adjusted by adding a Dosage (a combination of wine and sugar) which allows for different sweetness levels of the, more often than not, rather dry Champagne. The traditional flavor profile of Champagne can vary dramatically but you can expect citrus, green apple, cream, biscuit and almond. Here at vomFASS at our location in Mall of America, we carry several gorgeous Champagne options. On the zestier end we carry, “Marie-Hanze Eaux Belle Brut.” Bright, fresh and tart, this is on the less yeasty side and definitely mouth watering. “Noel Bazin Blanc de Blanc” retains the citrus and lively fruit but we pick up that warmer autolytic, brioche quality that I personally live for. Rounding out our lineup is “Jacquesson Brut Cuvee 736.” Utilizing all three traditional grapes, (Pinot Noir, Pinot Munier and Chardonnay) this Champagne is beautifully rich with a heavenly mousse and flavors like buttered toast, elder flower and ripe red apples. Lastly if you’re the type of person who enjoys the saltier treats in life, be sure to pair your popcorn or french fries (seasoned of course with Viola’s Seasoning Salt for French Fries, available at vomFASS Twin Cities) with a bottle of Champagne. I know it sounds weird but trust me, they are BEST friends.
As is often the case with early alcohol production, we have only the mistakes of others to thank for some of the world’s finest drinks. How in the world the though we first stumbled upon Tokaji Aszu is beyond me…
While an early harvest of grapes offers the potential for beautiful sparkling wine, patience and borderline neglect go a long way when one strives to create a legendary beverage. In the northeast of Hungary it would appear to the uninitiated that the grapes have been totally forgotten. Wet conditions followed by warm drying heat and sun mean the grapes that hang on vines here…well…they get moldy. And over the course of the long ripening season they shrivel. This shriveling removes virtually all moisture and leaves all the delicious, now concentrated, sugar. Side note: this mold is responsible for some of the most famous wines in the world. Botrytis Cinerea, AKA Noble Rot, is what makes Sauternes the grand pappy of desert wines. On the wrong vineyard Botrytis is a vintage killer, on the right vineyard Botrytis can be responsible for liquid gold. Back in Hungary these shriveled moldy little grapes are hand selected and separated from the rest of the flock to be mashed up into a paste. Later this paste will incorporate its sweetness into a base wine that will be set aside in oak to be aged for literal years. Tokaji Aszu, like Champagne, has several different levels of sweetness. Now make no mistake, Tokaji Aszu is leagues above Champagne in terms of sugar content but like the Dosage, ‘puttonyos’ handles the level of sweetness in Tokaji. Referring to the original method of measuring out sweet and moldy grapes with baskets, ‘puttonyos’ is now used as a general measurement for sweetness in Tokaji Aszu, bare minimum of which is 120 grams of sugar per liter. This is a wine that has historically been celebrated and consumed by both nobility and plebs like me. Heck, even Dracula appears to have stocked the stuff in his cellar (coffin?). Supposedly due to it’s sugar content as well as a little bit of alcohol, the finest of Tokaji Aszu’s (or more probably it’s even sweeter sibling, Eszencia) have the potential to age for hundreds of years.
If you have a sweet tooth but the idea of moldy wine sends you running for the hills, drop on in and try some of our Portos. Sweet, rich, complex and produced by the oldest Port house in Portugal, Kopke. Also on our shelves here in Bloomington, MN, is a set of late harvest Mueller Thurgau wines from Anne Amie Vineyards in the Willamette Valley. One similar to an ice wine and another closer to a Sherry. Also stocked on our shelves is a luscious Australian desert wine made from the famous Pedro Ximenez grape. Averaging 30 years old, this sweet treat contains wine vinified in the 1940’s.
Whatever product you tend to fancy from the world of fermented grapes, vomFASS will likely have something for you. Tune in next week as we continue our deep dive into the world of grape based alcohols.
Will O’Reilly had a grape time writing this. Find him at vomFASS in Bloomington, Minnesota.
Ah, the North. Home to hot dish, Spam sandwiches and sub zero temperatures for 13 months out of the year. It’s like Winterfell but the locals have a different accent, dontcha know. Yes the food is weird and the weather feels like it should be spelled in all capitals but there’s a lot more happening here beyond those two talking points! For one, (and the focus of this week’s post) Minnesota is home to a healthy amount of distilleries, breweries and scenic wineries. After all, we need something to warm us up in the winter and to keep us cool in the summer!
Outside of the high quality, small batch and craft distilled products under the vomFASS label, we also stock quite a few MN products!
Carlos Creek winery in Alexandria, Minnesota, (easy to find, hard to leave) has been producing wine since 1999. Here at vomFASS in Mall of America, you can track down a number of their products available for purchase. Minnescato is an inspired homage to the much loved Moscato. It sparkles, she’s sweet and any hot dish would be lucky to pair with this wine made from local Minnesota grown grapes. For red wine lovers who don’t have that sweet tooth, Carlos Creek produces a Marquette from the grape of the same name which was developed by the University of Minnesota…It really doesn’t get more Minnesotan than that.
Also on our shelves you can find Round Lake Vineyards Frontenac Gris and Brianna. Two semi sweet options made for those long summer nights up at the cabin. Brianna has a decidedly tropical personality while the Frontenac Gris is packed with explosive notes of cranberry. Round Lake Vineyards is located just North of the Iowa border but that doesn’t stop them from frequently visiting us to drop off a sample bottle or two, come on in and give their wine a try!
Beer & Cider:
Beer is my first love. I’ve never met a brew I didn’t like. Okay maybe not that habanero IPA I had in Manhattan but that’s neither here nor there. A local Minneapolis Brewery, Boom Island, stole our hearts here at vomFASS Twin Cities. We carry their Dubbel, Tripel, Quad and Saison Belgian style ales as well as their Russian imperial stout, ‘Kollusion’ which is made with Dunn Bros. coffee and aged in Tennessee Whiskey barrels. Seriously consider picking some of this up, I don’t know where else this is still in stock other than our shelves.
Our Ciders are from Milk & Honey out of Cold Springs. “Alchemy,” an ice cider made from MN’s own Chestnut crab, is mellowed in bourbon barrels and sports a hearty, sweet and smooth personality. We also carry four other drier sparkling ciders also from Milk & Honey. If you’re on the lookout for ciders with a bit more depth and less of that alcoholic apple juice quality, be sure to check out the Milk & Honey products in our store!
The Hard Stuff:
Far North Spirits, Panther Distillery, Vikre Distillery and Rockfilter Distillery. All hand picked by us to stand tall on our shelves here at MOA in Bloomington.
Far North Spirits you will find…well, far north up in Hallock, MN. Basically put your toes in Canada and fall backwards and you’ll land in Hallock. We carry their Nordic style spiced rum, “Alander” and it would seem like the distillers unlocked the secret of distilling holidays because this tastes just like Christmas. Also on our shelves is ‘Roknar’ a rye whiskey from Far North (which we will be discussing more in next week’s post all about rye) that was bottled specifically for vomFASS after we tasted through their single barrels and picked our favorite! Panther Distillery from Osakis, MN, near the dead center of the state is well represented on our shelves. We carry “Saint Paul,” a three year old straight Bourbon, “Pike Street, which is another three year old bourbon, as well as “Spiked Apple” and “Minnesota 14 Maple” which are both sweeter and flavored two year old corn whiskeys. Vikre up in Duluth utilizes water from the mighty Lake Superior to produce their alcohol. If you are a fan of gin or absinthe or just happen to be a curious drinker, come in for a sample of ‘Ovrevann’. Meaning Lake Superior or Upper Lake in Norwegian, ‘Ovrevann’ is Vikre’s Aquavit. Definitely worth a taste. Finally from as far south and as far east as you can go here in the North Star state you’ll find Rockfilter Distillery in Spring Grove, MN. We carry their two year old bourbon, ‘Giants of the Earth’ which has a mash bill made up of corn, winter rye and sorghum. This one is for the fans of the bolder bourbons.
Minnesota is home to a hard working bunch. Here at vomFASS in MOA we stock the fruits of all that labor. I find that Rockfilter’s mission statement says it best:
“Our Norwegian ancestors fled a cold, hard place for a colder, harder place. It didn’t make them bitter, just busy. Like them, we continue to make the best of it. We farm. We make bourbon. Happily ever after.”
Whichever Minnesota beverage you choose to enjoy this summer, take a moment to appreciate who made it and where it came from. Happy drinking everyone. Skol!
Will O’Reilly is a Minnesota native who enjoys Minnesota spirits, wines and beers. Find him at vomFASS Twin Cities.
It’s January and its Minnesota. A healthy, delicious soup is just the comfort food your fitness goals and the weather call for! This Tuscan White Bean, Sausage and Veggie Soup will feed a family or provide a few meals for one or two! Skip to the end to read my “quick and easy” note, which was the path I chose for our Mediterranean Lifestyle cooking class tonight! This soup pairs beautifully with a Chardonnay (sparkling or still) or Pinot Noir.
2 T vomFASS San Domenico Extra Virgin Olive Oil
1 pound Italian sweet or spicy sausage, casing removed
1 medium onion, chopped
2 large carrots, diced small
2 large potatoes, diced small
2 cloves garlic, minced
1 Viola’s bay leaf
2 (15 ounce) cans white cannelini beans
2 small bunches of kale, ribs removed and roughly chopped
8 C. low-sodium chicken stock (read the label to find one that doesn’t have sugar and a bunch of other stuff you don’t want in your soup!)
Violas Feta Seasoning, to taste (at least a couple teaspoons!)
vomFASS Herb Vinegar, to taste
In a large pot, heat olive oil over medium heat. Add sausage and brown, stirring occasionally to break into smaller pieces, approximately 10 minutes.
Add onion, carrots, potato, and bay leaves salt and pepper. Cook until vegetables begin to soften, stirring occasionally, approximately 10 minutes. Add garlic and beans; cook for another 2-3 minutes. Add kale and cook until slightly wilted. Add chicken stock, season and cover with lid.
Bring soup to a boil, then reduce heat and keep at a simmer for about 45 minutes, although a bit longer is completely fine. The soup will thicken as the potatoes begin to release their starch into the soup. Serve with a splash of Herb Vinegar.
Vegetarian option: eliminate sausage; replace San Domenico EVOO with vomFASS Smoky BBQ EVOO.
Fast and easy: Use pre-cooked Italian sausage (I used Chicken Italian sausage from Fresh Thyme Market), and pre-minced garlic. Add all ingredients, including olive oil, to crock pot or pressure cooker and cook as appropriate to appliance type. I used an Instant Pot on High Pressure setting for 6 minutes. Don’t forget that pop of Herb Vinegar right before eating!
Even Skinnier: Replace potatoes and carrots with a variety of other veggies, such as chopped or spiralized zucchini, cauliflower, shredded cabbage, celery, fresh fennel, or tomatoes. Reduce cooking time to adjust for higher water content veggies.
Summers in the Midwest are short, and therefore incredibly sweet. We savor every moment of sunlight. We come out of our homes and reconnect with neighbors. We play hard. We party like snow and ice are just around the corner, because they are.
With the Summer Solstice already in the rear view mirror, it’s time to celebrate summer with your favorite people, patio food and refreshing drinks. Sangria fits the bill to a T.
Sangria is originally a Spanish concept that we have embraced and embellished to basically be a light and enjoyable alcoholic fruit punch that you can make with a wide variety of ingredients. The basic recipe includes some combination of these ingredients, with the proportions tweaked to please your preferences:
1 bottle of wine (red, rosé, white)
1 Cup of bubbly (sparkling wine, club soda, sparkling water, etc.)
1/4 Cup Liqueur and/or 1/4 Cup Spirit (or 1/2 cup of one)
1/4 Cup Fruit juice
1 – 2 Cups Fruit
Combine all ingredients except the bubbly in a pitcher. Refrigerate for at least a couple of hours, and as long as 24 hours. Add the bubbly right before serving, either by adding all at once to the pitcher or topping off each serving with a splash of bubbly. Adding to individual servings allows you to make the sangria as light in alcohol content as the drinker prefers.
The sangria I made for my daughter’s birthday this week included these ingredients:
Bobbie’s Birthday Sangria
1 bottle of rosé wine (Paul Blisson from vomFASS)
1 Cup of sparkling pink lemonade (Trader Joe’s)
1/2 Cup vomFASS Elderflower Liqueur
1 1/2 Cups (approximate) of fruit, including apples, orange slices, blueberries and watermelon (great way to use whatever you have in the frig!)
Prepare as indicated above, using the sparkling pink lemonade as the bubbly. If you want a lighter sangria, just add more sparkling lemonade.