Monday, March 19, 2012

D'Amico Kitchen Osteria and Bar

D'Amico Kitchen Osteria and Bar

D'Amico Kitchen Osteria and Bar

Photography by Jenny Lunde
Written by Jeff Johnson ( and Jenny Lunde
D'Amico Kitchen, on Nicollet Mall in downtown Minneapolis,
is an amazing restaurant that naturally stimulates your senses. I'm not sure which was my favorite part of the dining experience: the atmosphere, which draws you in visually and physically, or the food, with dishes that tickle your tongue and delight your soul. Luckily, I don't have to choose my favorite, because D'Amico offers both... abundantly.

The sense stimulation begins even before you enter. As you approach the restaurant, your eyes are drawn to the beautiful raw rusted doors, as well as the sign above the door that reads D'Amico Kitchen Osteria and Bar in rich color and texture. (InItaly, an Osteria is traditionally located in a small town or suburb - it's a location where people spend the evening with friends over local wine and simple food made with ingredients from nearby farms. It is an informal, relaxed atmosphere in which people sit at shared community tables. In recent generations, the emphasis in many Osterias has shifted from a meal's social aspects to the actual food, although menus still tend to be relatively simple with local specialties like pasta and grilled meat and fish.)

Once inside, a palpable feeling of serenity washes over you. Large windows along two of the walls allows light to warmly fill the room. The clean, crisp color of white is all around you - tables, chairs, draperies to add privacy, walls, and candles. While some shades of white are cool and distant, other shades - including all of those inside the restaurant - are warm, inviting, and cozy. The interior designer did an amazing job (and not just because of the pumpkin-colored accent wall - my regular readers know I have a bit of an obsession with all things pumpkin). What makes the design work so well is the placement of objects around the restaurant, the warmth of the white shades, the windows providing natural light, and yes, that accent wall doesn't hurt. This serenity of the restaurant extended even to the staff. I could tell immediately that there were no snobby waitresses here. The waitstaff was there merely to facilitate this excellent Italian dining experience.

I try to learn at least one new thing each day, and on the day of my visit to D'Amico, I learned once and for all how to pronounce the word gnocchi, which I have apparently been saying incorrectly for many years! It was fitting that I would learn the pronunciation on this day because this gnocchi dish was like no other gnocchi I have ever eaten. It was a very soft puff pasta cheese ball delight that simply melted in my mouth. D'Amico's gnocchi, my "You've got to try this dish!" selection, has set the new standard against which all future gnocchi will be measured.

Beet salads have become a little trendy, and many restaurants offer a typical salad with a couple of slices of red beets thrown on top and call it "beet salad." Not here. D'Amico uses striped beets and when cooking it, they use a few red beets to accentuate the stripes. This gives the dish several different layers of vibrant color. And they don't stop there! Chucks of beets are placed on a bed of Gorgonzola cream, and even the oil drizzled off the plate is packed with a pistachio flavor that dances on your tongue. I'm a beet connoisseur, and I was very happy with this dish.

I also enjoyed the tomato soup, where beautiful lines of oil created a window of sorts, through which I could see the soup from all sides.
As most of you know, I love pumpkin, sweet potato, and most
squashes. So selecting D'Amico's Winter Squash Ravioli was something of a given. Light pasta pockets filled with squash were accompanied by leaves of sage in a butter citrus sauce that glides on the tongue before the creamy yummyness of squash emerges. Sage is so beautiful with textures, and when cooked, these texture become very rich.

I've been visiting restaurants during Restaurant Week for several years, and I can confidently say that D'Amico Kitchen is now my #1 ranked destination. The food, the staff, the atmosphere, and the cost (in that order) are what determine my restaurant experience - and D'Amico is a clear-cut winner.

One special thing to note about this restaurant is Date Night. They offer a special where you and your partner choose 3 courses and a bottle of wine for $50. Looking at the date night menu, most of our dishes were on it (just not the soup), and one of the dessert options was an Almond Crepe, which caught my eye.

Friday, March 09, 2012

Sea Change Restaurant during Restaurant Week

Sea Change Restaurant
Photography by Jenny Lunde / Written by Jeff Johnson

Eating lunch at Sea Change is less of a meal and more of an event. But the truly fascinating aspect of this trendy restaurant is that you aren’t there to watch the event. No, at Sea Change, you are the event. Allow me to explain.
The restaurant’s interior is a cross between a planetarium and an aquarium. Shiny, seafoam green-colored pillars run from the floor up and into the ceiling, where recessed lighting provides a mysterious and Saturn-like ripple of rings. Tiny lights pepper the ceiling giving it a wonderfully summer-night sky feel, as though the stars are actually holes in the sky – and on the other side is a much simpler time. If you stare long enough, you can almost feel it…
If you take your eyes off the ceiling and look around the restaurant, you notice seagreen booths patterned to look like welcoming beds of underwater plant life. For no extra cost, you can take your meal at the rounded counter that surrounds the chefs who are busy at work shucking oysters, tossing salads, and grilling seafood. To sit here is to be the young, curious eyes of a child who presses his face up against the outside of a fishbowl to get the best view possible of the strange creatures swimming inside…
Finally, you sit. You look at the menu, you order, you chat with your partner. Windows three stories high stretch out in front of you, and while you initially admired the vista this ground floor restaurant provided, when your food arrives and you begin eating, you can’t shake the feeling that the tables have turned and those gorgeous windows have turned the world’s eyes on you. And finally it is clear: it is you who is smack dab in the middle of the fishbowl, and it is you who is the strange creature swimming inside. I don’t know… maybe it’s the giant paintings of humungous faces that really are staring right at you – but in a very surreal way, you begin to realize you are the event these faces have come here to watch. And although the restaurant’s crisp silver, black, and green decor reminded me of a stylish Roger Moore-era James Bond movie, I just couldn’t shake the feeling that I was actually starring in a Stanley Kubrick film.
Oh, the food? I had Mixed Green Salad with sherry hazelnut vinaigrette served with toast with chevre goat cheese and a fish sandwich with fries. It was fine. I had a chocolate dessert plate called chocolate cremeux, brownie slice, chocolate mouse, black currant caramel crumbs, thin slice of cocoa jelly dressed with chocolate sauce. It was fabulous. But for me, the food was secondary. I realized pretty quickly that you don’t necessarily go to Sea Change for the food. You go for the experience. You go for the emotion. You go to be a part of something. Though I’m still not exactly sure what, I do know that I was part of something there. It really sticks with you…
Sea Change Restaurant during Restaurant Week 2012
Lunch Menu $10

Wednesday, March 07, 2012

Website goal

Current view of US visitors to websiteGoal: Website to be seen in every state

Tuesday, March 06, 2012

Tortialla Soup with vegetables

Tortialla Soup with vegetables
from the Williams-Sonoma Soup & Stew cookbook

This is the fourth time I have made this soup from this cookbook and every recipe is wonderful.
I little different spin on some recipes.

Tortilla Soup with vegetables
2 tbs Corn oil
1 yellow onion, chopped finely
4 cloves garlic, minced
4 tbs cilantro, chopped
1 14 oz can diced fire roasted tomatoes with juice
1 tsp ground cumin
4 cups chicken stock or vegetable stock
1 zucchini, julienned
1 carrot, peeled and julienned
4 corn tortillas, slightly stale or dry, halved crosswise and sliced into thin strips
1 dried pasilla chile, stemmed and seeded
or 1 can of chile peppers
1/4 cup coarsely shredded Monterrey jack cheese

In a soup pot over medium heat, heat the oil. Add the onion and saute until golden brown, about 7 minutes; do not burn. Add the garlic and 2 tablespoons of the cilantro and saute 1 minute longer. Add the tomatoes with their juice and the cumin and cook, stirring occasionally, until slightly thickened, about 5 minutes. Stir in the stock and remove from the heat. Using a handheld or standing blender, puree the soup until smooth.

Return the soup to medium low heat. Add the zucchini and carrot, partially cover and cook, stirring occasionally until the vegetables are tender, about 15 minutes. Season to taste with salt and pepper.

Meanwhile, preheat the over to 400°F. Arrange the tortilla strips in a single layer on a baking sheet and bake until crisp and beginning to brown, 7-8 minutes. Set aside.

Place the chile in a dry cast-iron or nonstick frying pan over medium high heat and cook until it is fragrant and puffed about 2 minutes per side; do not let burn. Remove the stem, crush the chile in a mortar or with the side of a heavy knife, and set aside.

Ladle the soup into warmed bowls. Garnish with the toasted tortilla strips, crushed chile, remainign 2 tablespoons cilantro and cheese. Serve immediately.

Tortilla Soup promo

Working on the next postcard and email blast.
Best soup ever Tortilla Soup with Vegetables
from the Williams-Sonoma Soup & Stew cookbook

Wedding Soup

"Wedding Soup" a marriage between meat and vegetables or design and the food. Sometimes an idea is inspired by a prop and just builds from there - the leaf plate and bowl caught my eye from the clearance rack at Target. And from there, I developed the marriage captured in this image.

Jenny Lunde Photograhy



c: 651-357-7208

Food is Art, and Art is a masterpiece of beautiful food.

Italian wedding soup

Italian wedding soup also known as Minestra Maritata or Pignato Grasso. Minestra Maritata is a traditional Neapolitan Green and meatball soup. Maritata is the Italian word for marriage. Minestra maritata is usually associated with the southern-most parts of Italy. Some historians think the dish is a Spanish soup olla podrida, a liquid stew with meat or even a traditional Roman soup. The Rome Soup - Minutal Apicianum is made with oil, broth, leeks, mint, wine, fish, pork sweetbread, green coriander and kidneys and cooked for days. The Italian recipes for Minestra Maritata usual have varies verities of meats boiled and shredded. The American versions of contain meatballs. Some Italian Wedding

Friday, March 02, 2012

Thursday, March 01, 2012


1070 Nicollet Ave.
Mpls., MN 55403

Items from the tasting menu during restaurant week

  • Guacamole Picado
  • Mashed avocado with white onion, tomato, serrano, cilantro, and lime; served with raw vegetables

  • Sopa de Tortilla con Pollo
  • Tortilla soup with chicken, avocado, chile pasilla, Chihuahua cheese; served with lime and fried tortilla strips

  • Ensalada de Jicama y Mango
  • Mango and jicama salda, cilantro, lime vinaigrette and cotija

  • Taco

  • Carbone - marinated skirt steak, lettuce, and onions
    Pescado - pico de gallo, lettuce, and guacamole

  • Half Torta con Pollo
  • Grilled chicken breast marinated in guajillo salsa; served with cucumber, chile serrano, red onion, cilantro and tomato

Peter Strzyzykowski

I like to introduce you to Peter Strzyzykowski.

A food Stylist originally from Chicago area, who now lives in the twin cities. We have worked together on a couple of shoots. Recent work with Peter was on the Viva la Tea project. Also check out the images for Viva la Tea's website. You can find these images on my blog too.

Picture with Peter and the lemon were just taken for fun after the shoot was done. As you can see he has a playful side.