Despite my constant efforts over many years, the American food supply continues to ever consolidate, ever concentrate, ever incentivize anonymity, cheapness, and scale over any other quality—such as quality! Worrying news crossed the wires the other day alerting us to the fact that 92% of the pork supply in the United States will now be effectively uninspected. Minnesota has lost more than a thousand dairy farms since 2012. Our total number of farms is in steep decline. Would you know about this dire situation from reading the urban restaurant-press? Of course not. Restaurant critics like me adore “farm to table” restaurants, and products, and we seek them out and sing their praises. We do this because the best products in fact come straight from a farm—they’re not old, stale, and poorly made, they’re fresh, ripe and carefully made! That’s why if you read our work over the course of a year you’d think the farm-to-table movement was the main thing happening in food. It is not.
In fact, what I hear too much of lately is that people are bored of the farm to table message, they’d like a new story please—maybe something 3D printed, with lazers? But that’s not what food needs. Food needs to be sustainable, tied to the land, knowable, handmade, and human-sized. That is what has sustained us biggest-brain animals for our 200,000 years of making trouble (both good and bad) and constantly reinventing everything. That’s where flavor comes from. That’s where social stability comes from—when farmers are supported, the land isn’t eroding and washing down into the Gulf of Mexico, and rural communities are supported. When we value farmers, and treat the things they raise with care and respect, and pay for them, and nurture and nourish ourselves with them, that’s the gold standard of being a human!
That’s why the brave, bold, smart leap of faith that is Kieran’s Kitchen is my restaurant of the year. It’s not just that chef Ian Gray’s food is swoony, sensuous, and spectacular, (and please, please don’t miss the pasta.) It’s that this supergroup bringing together Mike Phillips’ world-class Red Table Meats, Keith Addams’s exquisite Alemar Cheese, and Steve Horton’s Baker’s Field Bread and Flour in Ian Gray’s kitchen is the realization of a dream that so many of us have had in food for a generation—that Minnesota could be the Lyons of America, producing the best of the best from our well-run farms.
You can taste the realization of that dream all day here, in characterful sourdough donuts in the morning, in the sandwich bursting with the best charcuterie talent can make, in the special house-milled, fresh local flour pastas all evening, floating in their bowls like tender clouds.
You could, and you should, shop from here, for just-milled flour to make your popovers better than you dreamed and bagels, donuts, cookies, and bread. For Red Table n’duja or bacon (this is a real thing that only happens here, now and then!) For wheels of just-released Alemar cheese.) Get yourself a sandwich for your trouble, and live as well as any rhapsodic food writer. Ever read one of those stories that says, ‘growing up on Arthur Avenue, I couldn’t help becoming addicted to good food?’ That could be you, and your kids. If you make a commitment to having a better life.
Real farm to table, despite all us loudmouth fans, is only the smallest part of American food. Kieran Folliard founded the Food Building with the dream of showing us all that fresh milled, carefully grown bread from local farms is so good you’d never backslide to the preservative-laden kind. That real salami is as worth gathering around as cake, or wine. That just-made cream-cheese from a local dairy farm is ten times better than the old shelf-stable packaged brands. Is that news enough for you?
It’s news enough for me, and that’s why Kieran’s Kitchen is not just my favorite restaurant of 2019—it’s my great hope for the future.
Source: Thanks http://mspmag.com/eat-and-drink/foodie/daras-favorite-restaurant-of-2019/