Thursday, August 24, 2006


For the last couple years, we’ve been stopping in Duluth for lunch on our way to the North Woods. This harbor city, which we used to whiz past, is becoming known for independent-minded restauranteurs with a desire to serve simple yet delicious food from seasonal, locally produced ingredients. We ate lunch this year at the Nokomis Restaurant & Bar ( on the scenic stretch of old highway 61 just outside of town. The restaurant occupies what was once a lakeside supper club, and with its large plate-glass windows offers a spectacular view of Lake Superior just across the road.

We started our lunch with a salad of field greens encircled with a long strip of thinly sliced cucumber and topped with roasted tomatoes, thin slices of radishes, white enoki mushrooms, roasted pumpkin seeds, and Maytag blue cheese dressing. For the entrée, SJG chose a hamburger of grass-fed beef and shredded short ribs on toasted focaccia. I opted for vegetarian fare: slices of toasted ciabatta spread with black olive tapenade and layered with fresh basil, slices of red and yellow tomatoes, and quenelles of ricotta. SJG raved about the molten chocolate cake she chose for dessert, while my warm blackberry-raspberry cobbler brought back memories of my Missouri grandmother’s recipe for a blackberry dessert that was part-cobbler, part-crisp, part-buckle—a recipe I’ve never seen replicated in any cookbook. Below is an approximation of that summer berry recipe.

Missouri Ozarks Blackberry Cobbler

1-1/2 pints blackberries
1/3 cup sugar
3 TB cold water

6 TB unsalted butter (room temperature)
½ cup sugar
Pinch of salt
½ cup flour
½ cup old-fashioned pearl tapioca
Ground cinnamon (optional)

1) Preheat the oven to 350 degrees F. Place the berries in a 9 x 13 baking dish. Sprinkle with the sugar and pour in the water, combing gently with your fingers.
2) Cream the butter, sugar, and salt. Stir in the flour, tapioca, and cinnamon (if using).
3) Sprinkle the topping over the berries. (If you like a lot of topping, as I do, feel free to make more of it. This is up to the individual palate, though it may prolong baking a little.)
4) Bake until done (roughly 20 minutes; check frequently just to be sure).
5) Cool briefly, and serve warm with vanilla ice cream.

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