Have you heard the buzz about J. Ryan Stradal’s Kitchens of the Great Midwest? Stradal is originally from Minnesota and much of the story is set here. While the story centers on chef Eva Thorvald, we actually see it unfold through the eyes of the people around her. Through Eva’s journey, we are treated to many excellent and mouth-watering presentations of Midwestern culinary favorites, both traditional and with a twist, making the food in the story the true star of the show. —Raela Schoenherr
Excelsior Bay Books
Raela Schoenherr is a fictions acquisitions editor at a Minnesota publishing company and enjoys reading whenever possible. She also loves to talk books and writing on Twitter at @raelaschoenherr.
Knob Creek bourbon is part of the Jim Beam portfolio. What you’ll see on most shelves is Knob Creek’s flagship bourbon, but this month, we’ve got something hand-selected. Knob Creek’s Single Barrel project lets us select our favorite barrel from several samples in the rickhouse (the barrel room). For Wayzata Wine and Spirits, we’ve chosen our personal favorite with a healthy amount of rye, giving the bourbon a hint of spice.This beauty is aged in a barrel for a full nine years and bottled with our Wayzata logo, with a note from master distiller Fred Noe. Regularly $41.99; on sale for $34.99. —Kevin Castellano
Available at Wayzata Wine and Spirits.
Kevin Castellano is the general manager of Wayzata Wine and Spirits and a respected lake-area wine and liquor expert.
Red’s newest release, Of Beauty and Rage, desperately wants you to believe it has something to say. Don’t be fooled. Each of the 15 songs on the album plod along at a mid-tempo, guitar-driven stumble, backed by orchestral layers dripping with overwrought angst, transforming the entire album into something better suited for a CW teen drama than a rock station. Had Red injected more variety into the song structures, an occasional dip into the dramatic might not have dulled the experience. But the crescendo-to-arena-ready-chorus blueprint goes stale within the first few songs. —Alex Skjong
Available at Barnes & Noble.
Alex Skjong has written for a number of publications in the Twin Cities, Chicago and Atlanta. He is a music lover first and an unreasonably tall human being second.