The Foodies Gallery

The Foodies Gallery

Have your art and eat it too. Okay, maybe not literally, but take a look at what Minneapolis has to offer with a one-two culture + culinary punch.

By Caitlin Nugent

If life imitates art, then you can bet that food is sure to imitate them both. Current food trends embody wellness, taste, and lifestyle. It’s a trend that has no foreseeable end, and why should it? Food is our sustenance, a measure of our feelings of self, and a way of social centering. This trend is not lost inside Minneapolis museums, and leading the way in this movement are three standouts: The Minneapolis Institute of Arts, American Swedish Institute, and the Walker Art Center. If you thought museum visits were something you already covered during your field trip years, think again. The Minneapolis museum scene is alive and ready for hungry visitors. A rebirth in museum eats has begun, but this time the new concept opens the doors for a wholly immersive experience.

Mia For You and Mia For Me

 Photo provided by the Minneapolis Institute of Art

Photo provided by the Minneapolis Institute of Art

Winter is the best of seasons to hightail it inside for some warmth, sustenance, and a little artful reflection. The Minneapolis Institute of Art (Mia) is a good place to start. Self-proclaimed as The People’s Museum, even the most plebian among us is welcome to flow through the museum doors during open hours for free. Enter the museum at the 3rd Avenue South entrance through the wall-to-wall set of glass doors. The museum’s main lobby is just to the right upon entering where one can assume home base before taking in the many galleries that encompass this museums’ large campus. Look straight up. You can’t miss Dale Chihuly’s 1999 piece entitled “Sunburst”, burning overhead in a tangle of blown glass which seems to defies gravity. The Target Wing houses recently added modern and contemporary art, including a must-see photography and furniture collection that will catch you off guard with its inclusive depth. Man Ray lives here, as does Avedon, Frank Lloyd Wright and newcomer Jennifer Steinkamp with her digital projection piece of what she calls, “intelligent asteroids” hovering in constant digital motion inside of a domed ceiling. And don’t leave the galleries without paying a visit to Lady Tashat, the Mia’s resident mummy. Her age alone, 945-712 B.C., garners respect, as does her ancient egyptian background. While considering the mass of great art that this centralized city museum has to offer, the Mia is ready to shine in the food department as well. After a few years of restaurant rotation, the Mia has finally found its soul mate in the health-centric Agra Culture. If you’re yearning for a specialty coffee, cold-pressed juice, on-tap craft beer or even glass of wine, take a traveler time out and make your way back to the main level for a re-boot at Agra Culture Coffee Shop and Café. Visitor favorites include the trendy bulletproof coffee, (a low-toxin coffee, involving a shot of butter) organic chai lattes, and array of organic teas served at their chic but compact modernist-style café. Additional seating can be found just outside the cafe on the main level. The cafe space embraces a decidedly black and white look, right down to the bar and seating area. This look is carried through at the mezzanine level where visitors can find the museums’ sit-down lunch establishment, Agra Culture Kitchen and Press. Save for the half-moon backed retro chairs, a smattering of black and white design inhabit this space. This is the spot to investigate a neatly designed lunch menu with lots of the usual lunchtime suspects, but built with today’s health-nut in mind. The menu speaks to a diverse mix of dietary lifestyles including vegetarian, vegan, dairy-free, gluten-free, and even those following a paleo diet. If you’re more of a one-size-fits-all type of diner, don’t let the health-conscious menu scare you off just yet. The chicken-chili soup delivers on its savory promise to the winter weary soul, and the toasty crowd-pleasing panini melts are made to impress the masses. Agra’s accessible menu also includes those anticipated healthful salads and sides, which all cumulate into a nice nosh for a day spent engaging in all of that artful reflection. More information can be found on their website: new.artsmia.org

Fika Forever

 Getty Images

Getty Images

 

Not to be outshined by its larger contemporaries, The American Swedish Institute and its lunchtime superstar, FIKA, are doing right by museum-lunch standards. Forget the mostly cloudy details of your own family heritage because today, at the ASI, you’re a Swede, and you’re going to lunch like a Swede. Meeting at the corner of 26th Street and Park Avenue is the ASI’s angular modern addition to the enduring Turnblad mansion. Inside, you’ll feel this place promptly pull you into its Swedish orbit. And, once in full rotation, you can step back in time by exploring Minneapolis’ gilded age past with a tour of this castle-like abode. An architectural example of the ambition of Minneapolis’ best known Swede-made-good, and son of Swedish immigrants, Swan J. Turnblad. The mansion was a domestic creation of its original owner, but today houses a room-by-room history of the Turnblad family along with all things Swedish. Highlights of the mansion include the solarium, ballroom, and the 11 authentic swedish tile stoves throughout. To carry you through this double dunk of Sweden’s past and present, you’ll need to get your fika on. A fika, by definition, is Sweden’s answer to the coffee break. It’s a time to hang with friends mid-day, drink your fill of caffeine, and pig out on pastries or other feel-good food. You’ll find this concept in action at ASI’s lunchtime hotspot, and aptly named, FIKA, located just inside the main lobby. Upon entering, take in its welcoming space that’s filled out with natural light, illuminating the modern-day Swedish design all around you. This clean, bright, and mostly white space is punctuated only by the sixties-esque orange globe lights overhead. One can almost zen-out in its cafeteria-style comfort that brings a casual vibe all-day-long. Get seated near the kitchen to gawk beside the largest glass pastry counter this side of Stockholm. Its menu is born and bred on items that echo gourmet-style Swedish comfort food. Who can deny that tangy lingonberry sauce anyway? Plus, with a $4 cup of soup, one can easily ride on the roasted root goodness all afternoon. Between the potato dumplings, Swedish meatballs, and the open-faced salmon sandwich, there’s no dark foodie-corners that this dinette darling can’t brighten with its Scandinavian magic. Here’s betting you’ll be searching iTunes for some Swedish indie-pop sounds by the Shout Out Louds on your way out the door. To learn more, visit their website. asimn.org


Modern Love

Looking to be wrapped up in a full-on modern art embrace? Creative spirits can unite in that deft love connection at the renowned Walker Art Center. A bastion of modern art since 1940, the Walker Art Center is really less of a traditional museum in concept and more like a meeting ground for those like-minded creative-types prepped to admire, discuss, and indulge in all things modern. Join the conversation with the Walker’s ongoing talks, readings, short films and steady rotation of events year round. This place speaks an art-for-all language that rejects the inauthentic with a modern day shake down of the phony and the false. It speaks directly to what the destination traveler yearns for. New places. New faces. New ideas. The Walker houses all kinds of today’s collectable artists like local favorite Todd Norsten, next to Warhol and Motherwell. It would be impossible to leave this place without having your mind challenged and notions renewed. As it has always done, the Walker continues its creative growth spurt with yet another major overhaul, this time including a re-imagined, updated sculpture garden and adjoining green space leading to a new main entry pavilion. As a part of this new campus renovation, the street-level entry will include the Walker’s latest restaurant concept, Esker Grove, a café and bar twist that will be brought to us from Dallas based, Culinaire International, the group behind The American Swedish Institute’s eatery, FIKA. Taking the culinary helm will be local Chef Doug Flicker, the creator and midwestern visionary behind Minneapolis hotspots, Piccolo and Sandcastle. Esker Grove will feature both to-go lunch options and table service for dinner. The space promises to be filled with visual warmth and natural light provided by floor-to-ceiling windows, oversized skylights and walnut floors surrounding a 40-foot long wall displaying a rotation of selected art. The space flows outdoors as well to include a 60-seat tree canopied terrace. The menu will be vegetable-centric in its overall approach, without ignoring those old-school meat lovers in the room. Flicker divulges plans for the installation of a custom built rotisserie as well. Hungry for more? Check out the Walker’s website for updates. While you're there, make sure to check out the newly re-opened Sculpture Garden! walkerart.org.

 

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Caitlin is a Minneapolis-based freelance writer and contributor for Carry On. She has a background in the world of graphic design and art direction, and her writing and design work have been on exhibit at the Minnesota Center for Book Arts. She keeps her creative focus fueled through travel, and enjoys its renewing quality. She admits to having a mild deviled egg fixation and recently discovered her love for Okonomiyaki. She has three children and a sheepdog named Wendel who works overtime to keep things interesting. Read more about Caitlin on her website. 

Caitlin is a Minneapolis-based freelance writer and contributor for Carry On. She has a background in the world of graphic design and art direction, and her writing and design work have been on exhibit at the Minnesota Center for Book Arts. She keeps her creative focus fueled through travel, and enjoys its renewing quality. She admits to having a mild deviled egg fixation and recently discovered her love for Okonomiyaki. She has three children and a sheepdog named Wendel who works overtime to keep things interesting. Read more about Caitlin on her website.