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Wahlberg brothers, Hy-Vee bringing Wahlburgers restaurant to Mall of America

Wahlburgers, the burger restaurant from the Wahlberg brothers made even more famous by an A&E reality show of the same name, is coming to Minnesota.

Mall of America officials announced that an outpost of the casual Boston eatery Wahlburgers is planned for the mall. The 5,500-square-foot restaurant will be on the second level at the north end of the mall and is slated to roll out next summer.

Chef Paul Wahlberg founded Wahlburgers with his two brothers, actors Mark and Donnie Wahlberg, who also performs with former boy band New Kids on the Block.

The restaurant will be operated by Hy-Vee. In August, Hy-Vee announced a franchise agreement between the grocery giant and Wahlburgers restaurants. Hy-Vee will almost double the number of Wahlburgers restaurants by building and operating 26 new locations. In addition, Hy-Vee plans to feature select Wahlburgers dishes at its Market Grille restaurants.

In addition to burgers, Wahlburgers restaurants feature house-made condiments, salads and sides such as chili, Tater Tots and mac and cheese. Fish, chicken and vegetarian dishes also are on the menu. The spot will have a full bar spotlighting adult frappes and floats.

“Families will have a great time, and hopefully share a lot of laughs and love when they enjoy my family’s delicious recipes at our new Wahlburgers in one of the top tourist spots in America,” Paul Wahlberg said in the mall’s news release. “Along with Hy-Vee, my family is committed to offering a unique culinary experience that goes beyond the basic burger, with customer service that will make you feel like family.”

Whatever it's called, we'll have more
Despite its reputation, Thanksgiving dinner is not a one-size-fits-all meal, a table set in brown from coast to coast. America is too vast, too inventive and too flush with immigrants from around the globe to subscribe to a single, unified vision of the holiday feast. The evidence is right on your table: You could argue that no other Thanksgiving staple better reflects the nation's diversity than the side dish known as stuffing. Variations abound, and they venture well beyond the choice of breads — white, corn or Pepperidge Farm — and even beyond such decisions as whether to add oysters or giblets. Americans can't even agree on a name or preparation: Some call it stuffing and bake it inside the turkey (except when they don't).
A collaboration is brewing

It's hard to perfect upon good music. Some tweak sound equipment and expand their influences. Others make beer. "We're doing something we've never done before," says Jason Keller, afternoon host for Manchester, Vt.-based WEQX. The independently owned radio station has paired with Shmaltz Brewing Co., in Clifton Park, to debut Independence Ale, a new collaboration beer born from the idea that great music should have its own beverage to round-out the aural experience. "It was about creating a beer that we all thought would go well at an EQX concert, but also goes well with just listening to the radio," Jeremy Cowan says. As owner and founder of Shmaltz, he's no stranger to collaboration brewing.

La Retorta de Finca Pascualete, mejor queso de España y sexto del mundo
La Retorta, elaborada por la firma extremeña Finca Pascuelete ha sido elegida como el mejor queso de España y el sexto mejor del mundo en los World Cheese Awards 2017, según ha informado la compañía española en un comunicado.
Sipping: Wine pick of the week
Moet & Chandon Grand Vintage rose France 2008 $84.99 Champagne goes exceedingly well with roast turkey and a rich dressing. A hint of orange peel, licorice and honey, crisp and complex. In truth, a glass of the real deal is grand anytime, anywhere. This wine is available at All Star Wine and Spirits, Latham. — Fred LeBrun
Round 2: Taste test on Dec. 2
We're one step closer to determining our winners for the Naughty or Nice Cookie Challenge, presented by the Honest Weight Food Co-op and the Times Union. Last week, we hosted the digital vote for our contest, in which photos and descriptions of our six semifinalist cookie recipes were posted on the Times Union Facebook page. We encouraged readers and cookie fans to like the image of the photos that made them want to get into their own kitchens and whip up a few batches. More than 400 likes later, we're ready for our second round of voting. Something tells us you'll be hungry for it, too. From 1 to 3 p.m. on Saturday, Dec. 2, we'll host a tasting of all the semifinalist recipes at Honest Weight (100 Watervliet Ave., Albany).
Bite-Sized: Morsels of food news
Santa brunch slated at Century House The Century House in Latham will host a brunch with Santa with seatings at 9:30 and 10 a.m. and noon and 12:30 p.m. on Sunday, Dec. 10. There will be a buffet brunch, photos with Santa, children's activities and music. The price is $32 adults, $17 for kids ages 5 to 10, free for younger than 5, plus tax. Advance purchase required by Dec. 4 by visiting www.eventbrite.com/e/brunch-with-santa-tickets-38847152880. The Century House is at 997 New Loudon Road (Route 9). Wine bar lands Druthers/Olde English chef A wine bar and restaurant called Vintage is in the final stages of construction in preparation for a December opening at 897 Broadway in Albany's warehouse district.
Basmati rice and spinach make this side dish special
With the exception of ooey-gooey potato concoctions, side dishes rarely get any respect. Most of us devote our love and attention to the protein in the center of the plate and then throw together some kind of vegetable and/or starch as an afterthought. Here, however, is a pilaf fully capable of stealing the limelight from the usual star of the show. It's basmati rice that makes Greek-Style Rice Pilaf so special. An especially aromatic grain used for centuries in India and Pakistan, basmati doesn't usually show up in a Greek-styled pilaf. But I prefer its naturally nutty taste to the blandness of the usual varieties of long-grain rice.
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