Brunching Lately

I’m often asked, what is your favorite place to eat?

Makes sense right, as I blog about food, eat food, check out the new and the old “hot” places. Duh.

I read articles about food, new restaurants and local chefs’ accomplishments on the daily.

I’d rather be lost in a pile of recipes or Foodnetwork’s archives than be stuck with my daily work. (shhh)

Cookbooks are my secret pleasure… reading them. Yes I read them…. I don’t really cook with them, as following a recipe is not for me; I’m a pinch there, squirt there, cup or two here kinda girl.

For the most part, my pinches, squirts and random cups work out.

A few days ago, when asked where my favorite place to brunch was… I blanked. I’d like to blame the oodles of cold medicine I was under the influence of…. however it may also be due to the fact that I haven’t brunched in a while! Shocking.  I know.  I am the self proclaimed bruncher and would gladly wear any article of clothing, exclaiming, “But First, Brunch!” should you happen to want to send me such article of clothing… really I’ll take them 😉

The only cure to this mind fart is of course, to go BRUNCH!

So off to Birchwood Cafe we went.  Please slap my hand because it has taken me far too long to try this place out.  Birchwood’s commitment to real, local and community shines true on your plate.

The commitment is apparent in that first bite. And that first sip of an afternoon cocktail.

I had to try the Birchwood Beef Burger… with housemade ketchup, mustard and onion, pickled cucumbers, and lettuce on a birdseed bun. (I have this thing with burgers)

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To sip on the side I had the Rosemary Elderberry Mimosa. Just yum. I’ll take another and another please!

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If you are like me, and Birchwood Cafe is still on your must try list, perhaps check it off this weekend? 🙂

Other places to try: here …. here.. and here.

Slurping Away…

When we moved from Singapore to Tokyo, the city was in the throws of winter. The city was blanketed in its first measurable snow in quite some time.

Our family was not equipped for the seasons, having left behind our winter gear in the states. My long blonde hair sun kissed and skin about as tan as it will ever get… A stark contrast to our new home.

Tokyo’s winter was shock to me and my family. Although we new it would be there….

We used socks as gloves and had a little snowball fight outside our new apartment.  I’ll never forget that sock fueled snowball fight. My first memory of our new home. Our newly adopted country. Our second expatriate move.

A new culture for my childhood to explore, absorb and bond with.  The noodle shops quickly became our favorite stomping grounds.  How many bowls of ramen could my brother and I slurp away?  Who could slurp the loudest? And yes this is totally acceptable in Japan.  A noodle shop without slurping is a bad noodle shop… you don’t want to be eating it.

On home leave back to the states, mom had to remind us that slurping was not acceptable in the US.  Mind your American manners…

O how I miss those noodle shops, welcoming me in with their plastic bowls of food….. encouraging you to point and order. Those flavors, those sounds, the smells and the familiar feel of the shops are forever engrained in my mind. The one we went to every Saturday, where baby sister was so coddled by the owners. Treat after treat they would bring her, hold her as my parents ate.  We could only communicate in broken language of the other, but you were family here.

Lucky for me, a new ramen shop has opened in Minneapolis. One with hype around the block.

Within a couple weeks of the opening, we had to check it out.

Ramen Kazama.

I walked in with high expectations.  The way the menu is laid out brought back a familiar feeling. I knew this was going to be good.

We ordered the spicy pork and the chicken.

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The ramen broth here is some of the best. It touched a nerve, a feeling, a memory I haven’t had in a while.

This is the closet ramen to what I remember from Tokyo, that you can find in Minneapolis. You must go here.

When Minneapolis is in its throws of winter, there could be no better cure. It is truly delicious.

 

Pickle Please.

Happy Friday Y’all!

(Y’all is the last remnant of my Austin Trip a couple weeks ago….)

I’m in Milwaukee to celebrate my fourth Bachelorette lady since May… off to drink champagne, dance around and share delicious food and memories with some wonderful ladies.

To kick off the weekend festivities, how about some funny facts about me you may not know and a contest!?

1. I have many nicknames. Tina, Xtina… Peanut… “my little pigpen”… and Chris (though you must gain my permission to call me Chris).

2. I took multiple years of Tae Kwon Do and actually competed in the Junior Olympics twice. Who knew?! 😉 My championship photo actually hung in our first post college house… Eat your heart out…

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3. I must avoid the throw pillow section at Target or HomeGoods, as I will leave with an entire new set of throw pillows every time.

4. I totally dance around my bathroom as I’m getting ready or about to hop in the shower.

5. I used the same tennis shoes from high school until I was 28 years old…. yes I know. I’m a phenomenon.

6. Pickles and I are in love. Did you know I’m a pickle person? Put a few in my fridge and they won’t last long. Snack away I will. Which is perfect for National Pickle Day tomorrow!

Oh Snap! Pickling Co. wants to celebrate National Pickle Day by giving lucky pickle fans a chance to win $100 and free Oh Snap! pickles.

Um yes please!

To participate:
  1. Like Oh Snap! pickles on Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/Oh-Snap-Pickles-1451071898529397/?fref=ts
  2. Find the hidden Oh Snap! Pickle on the contest page http://ohsnappickles.com/pickle-day/
  3. Enter your name, email, and location of the Oh Snap! pickle for the chance to win $100 and free product samples.

$100 and free pickles wohoo!

Good luck and Happy Friday Y’all!

The Sauce and I..

A few weeks ago I hopped in my car.. off to meet a friend and explore a new to me place.

Lately I’ve been swept up on the “New Restaurant” hype. So many places are opening up around Minneapolis and they’ve created an entirely new must try list in my notes app..

So much so that I’ve neglected my long running must eats list..

Friend D brought me back to this wishlist when she suggested we meet at Chimborazo.

Have you been to this intriguing place off of Central in northeast Minneapolis?

It was my first intro to Ecuadorian cuisine… an introduction which will usher in many more dining adventures if Chimborazo has anything to do with it!

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The special called to me that night and while the name escapes me, it was a dish of scallops and shrimp topped with a creamy, spicy coconut sauce…..

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I could just take a spoon to that sauce…. just the sauce and I… alone in a room….hmmm.. OOOO you’re there. oops.

I mean.. enough about the sauce.

The sweet fried plantains on the side didn’t stand a chance either.

Seriously this place is amazing.  The flavors bring me back both to Asia and my (one) trip to Chile. There is such a complexity of flavors here.

If you do not go here… I’m sorry.

Thank you to D for bringing me to a place that has been on my must try list for far too long. I’ll try not to get inappropriate with my sauce explanations next time 😉

Joys of Fall….

Remember those blanks in the calendar I once professed my love and excitement for?

Well those blanks somehow dwindled…. were too few cherished evenings.  In their place have been the joys of fall.

Joys of fall…. something I don’t normally say.

I mean.. I know what comes after fall in Minnesota. What those tumbling leaves mean. Those fire red leaves, flashing at me to book my beach vacation now!

Fall to me means winter is coming….

But this year something is different. I’m taking in all the fall activities without that grain of salt or nagging feeling of “I know you’re coming snow….”

Like Fall Funday, which friend Kbail plans every year.  This year a tour of breweries and “hop off the light rail spots.”

Like Bang Brewery.

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At Bang Brewery you can apparently find men posing in the door way…. who wouldn’t want to go there 🙂

Joking.

Like all the plaid you can wear required.

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Post Fall Funday, do you know what is required?

Um… Bacon.

Did you know all the things you can do with bacon? Or the types or meals you can add bacon to? (psst even vegan bacon :))

Like this Praline Bacon from Heyday!!

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When fall comes around, I’m over here throwing bacon in and on everything… like salads, pastas and my brussel sprouts. For other ways to use bacon, check out this article

Do you have a favorite fall ingredient?

AND Are you out there enjoying all Fall has to offer? If not, get to it!

Snow is coming…. shhhhh 🙂

Just Hanging Out

Ever have that nightmare…. where something happens in public.

That nightmare where you toss out your yoga mat in class, and out comes underwear flying onto the floor?

Or that high school nightmare of tampons spilling down the classroom row?

Or you accidentally, somehow split your pants at work?

Well…..

Nightmare became reality for me on Monday.

Picture this:

It is 3pm and you’re walking to grab that necessary afternoon coffee. You’ve met with company big wigs for a charity kickoff event.

You were introduced to the head of your department’s head.

And now… on that caffeine trek downtown…. you feel something hitting your ankle…. What is that….

You look down….

And there it is…

A pair of underwear hanging out of your pants! (yes its yours!) Time and space freezes, your cheeks flush and your breath pauses.

There it was, just hanging out!

THANK GOD FOR BLAZER POCKETS.  You do a quick, “let me brush my pant leg off” move and into the pocket it goes.

Did anyone see, because this is totally real life and NOT a nightmare. I hope this is entertaining to someone…. because here it is, out there for you all to see!

Anyway! You know what is not embarrassing?

THIS burger from IL Foro.

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The only available at lunch, brisket blend, dripping in cheese, perfect amount of salt, heaven in your mouth burger, can only sit at the bar unless you snag a reservation burger.

For real, go, no run here at lunch. Try this burger.

I’ll be back for more menu items in the future 🙂

Overheard…….

My days walking to work are over. (for now)

The crisp fall air in the morning has me seeking cover in my friendly city bus.

I now take the bus to work. Let me tell you, the first couple of times had me all up in arms. Who knew you actually had to pull the cord  hard enough, it has to make a sound…. Stop requested.

Ten blocks past my stop later, in the rain, I learned my lesson.

I’ve learned my afternoon bus is always late. By five or six minutes.

One time it never even showed up?

However, the stumbling blocks are over and I’m having a love affair with the bus.

Where else can I eavesdrop on my fellow commuter’s supper? Multiple days in a row I was privy to whether or not this guy is going to eat the squirrel in his freezer…. it has become a heated debate between himself and two female fellow riders….

I’ve yet to learn how the squirrel became a resident in his freezer ….. eagerly hoping this detail comes to light on the next ride.

I’m ready for any and all future overheard sessions… Bring on the morning, or afternoon, comedy.

All jokes aside, know where you should be taking the bus to? Kyatchi.  For Ramen Mondays. (no squirrel included)

$13 for ramen and a beer, I’m there!

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Have you been?

If not, lets go! I’ll take the bus 😉

The Middle of What?!

Wait, its the middle (almost end) of September already?

In the midst of travels, weddings and adventures, I’ve failed to get caught up on the present.

My planner is filled to the brim, and while being busy is a blessing and keeps me going, I’m ready for a minor cool off.  (Not weather related) Events cool off.

To look at the upcoming weekend and see blanks, nothing penciled in… nothing cooking… it brings a slow, sweet smile. It means time for coffee and perusing online… on my couch.. with the wild puppy snoozing at my feet. She too loves quiet mornings, smelling my coffee ad gazing up at my unmoving body. She likes the blanks in my planner most likely more than anyone.

Blanks lead to unplanned evenings.. the opportunity to try new places. You know, my M.O.

Like Saint Dinette over in Lowertown. The place of the fabled cheeseburger. The participant in the Twin Cities burger war of 2015. I keep questioning who is next, who will throw down another….. Who will attempt to conquer next?

Saint Dinette’s story is one of coming together.  Of “invoking the welcome and comfort of a “maison,” or house — a gathering place for this re-born River City.” They wish to share the flavors of the region with you.

Head there and I think you’ll agree, they’ve done just that.

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Next time I find a few blanks in the planner….. you know where you can find me 😉

Have you been?

Up the Funk.

While I am a steadfast non-rule breaker… I sometimes fall into the old adage of “some rules are meant to be broken.”

However that typically only applies to food. Food rules. Is there such a thing? I mean I’ve never gone to culinary school. I’m not trained and my techniques in the kitchen are… not chef like.. but I eat.

I know when food tastes the way it should.. I know when food is mediocre.

How? Because I eat a lot and wide varieties of foods. So I’m not sure if there really are food rules, but I do know when classics are taken for a spin. When things get funky and the ante goes up.

Which you can absolutely find at Nighthawks.

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Like bacon. Scallion. Kimchi pancakes.  HUGE chunks of bacon.

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I’d say the rules or the funk have been turned up in this case.

And foot long wieners come rolling out, piled with a mass of ingredients. We pretty much ordered this out of fascination. But it had to be ordered.

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AND the chicken. My first nibble into the fried chicken wars of 2015…

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Delish. Crispy on the outside, not drippy greasy and juicy on the inside. The flavor, the spice, so on point. We tried the Kingfield spice.

My only disappointment? Not ordering the burger.  I sat at the counter and watched dozens of these prepared in front of me. They called to me, each and every one of them.

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Hey lonely little burger……

Next time.

Yes….. next time.

Have you been?

A Little Sip n Flow

Alright, one cool weekend and everyone is all “Where’s my comfy sweater and PSL latte?”

I’m over here soaking up the sun and the mornings where I can still take the dog out in barely there layers…. 🙂

I’m not yet ready for fall and am not one who invites it in so soon.

I’m the one praying for 70 degree October days and keeping my boots and sweaters at bay…. (for as long as I can!)

I will wear open toe booties until the first snow falls..

So…

Here are a few of my favorite ways to enjoy the rest of summer!

1) Yoga at the brewery! How could you beat a morning flow session and a cool environment to get your sweat sesh on?

2) Slow Saturday mornings and brunch at home..

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3) Sipping my iced coffee with Almond Breeze Almond Coconut milk… I’m a true “iced-coffeer”, you know the kind that prefers iced to hot coffee, so when Blue Diamond sent this to sample, I was all about my iced lattes! (I will drink iced even when it snows!) Call me crazy 🙂

Have you tried their Almond Breeze Almond Coconut milk?

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4) Summer BLT Salads, because, tomato season, hello!IMG_3535

5) Cherishing those lingering cabin days..

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So while some may be wishing for fall, you can find me in the city, sipping my iced almond coconut milk latte, begging summer to stay and participating in a little yoga flow 🙂

This post is sponsored by Almond Breeze Almondmilk