Wedding #458

Wedding Number 458. That is officially the numbers of weddings I’ve been to in the last year and a half.

Well ok NOT 458 but it feels that way. People ask if we do anything else. Others ask if we TRY to get invited to as many weddings as possible.

As if its our hobby…

Nope. No sir, we do not.

It just happens to be an ongoing season of love, of two people coming together who happen to invite us. And you know, we go. We eat, we drink and we dance the night away. I am officially a wedding pro. I may be adding it to my resume.

Professional love fest aka wedding attendee.

In the spirit of adding to my resume, I’d also like to add Professional Foodie. Is this a thing? I am a phenomenal eater. I even practiced my skills at the new Pimento Jamaican Kitchen on Eat Street.

The space is bright, colorful and with the open garage style window, has a flowing breeze. All of which remind me of a previous Jamaican vacation, so my mouth just watered with anticipation and memories of jerk chicken. My hopes were high.

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My taste buds were ever so delighted with flavor, texture and spice. Man were they on fire after a few of those sauces! Gimme all the spice!

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I had to go with the One Love Special, a combo of the fire grilled jerk chicken and the slow roasted jerk pork.

Hello bowls of love.

AND the Jamaican pattie with spicy beef. (These brought me back to ALL those patties I ate at the beach…)

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Curried vegetables and other meats were ordered around the table. My nose may have been dripping from spice but my fork just was not stopping. Word of advice, just order another Red Stripe!

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I’d say my Professional Foodie skills were put to good use here.

P.S. This week I’m off to another wedding…. #459 😉

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Skyway Delights: Must Eats in the Minneapolis Skyway

It took me many a year before I was working downtown Minneapolis… But once I did the Skyway world became my oyster.

The tunnels connecting our downtown; an almost different city living within these bubbles. (or the official name of “pedestrian footbridge”…) Many and I included, not daring to venture out when the snow starts blowing.

These tunnels are a mystery to many. Every day I see a soul wandering around praying they find their way. I myself have been lost many a time and have relied upon my trusty skyway map.  (That map has mysteriously disappeared)

Thankfully I no longer need such a map, having made these tunnels my oyster and all.

The remaining mystique of the skyways to me is devoted to the food offerings within.

The skyways have no shortage of chain restaurants. The Chipotle line, 100 people deep, kills me every time. There are so many more and better options. Why spend your entire lunch hour and I mean HOUR in that line?! Its reliable I know. It can be safe, or not……. (See recent food illness claims.) Take a chance and switch it up once in a while.

Below are some of my Skyway favorites.

Andrea Pizza: A staple really. You see those little white bags floating around the skyways. People carrying them proudly back to cubes and offices around downtown. Join em. Be a part of the lunchtime cult. Mix and match your pizza slices and call and thank me after you’ve had a glorious nap under your cube.

Kikugawa: I remember the days of Kikugawa in Northeast. Bummed were we when those lights went out. But all can now rejoice as they are serving up ramen and sushi and overall hitting the spot in the skyways. Order the ramen spicy and thank me later.

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Takatsu Sushi: I discovered this place on yelp and for the life of me could not figure out where I was. (Pre-Skyway oyster making) However I went early and discovered the freshest sushi one will find for that 9-5 lunch hour. Don’t go late, the line will intimidate you and mimic Chipotle lengths.

World Café: World Café has recently changed ownership hands which has allowed the options and creativity to flow. My favorite breakfast sandwich is housed within these walls. My next order will be one of their lunchtime bowls.

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Bep Eatery: Bep has seriously the friendliest staff. I always feel welcome and wanted as I’m ordering my pho with all of the ingredients. The spring rolls here are also on point, have a few and roll yourself back up to the office.

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La Belle Crepe: Rightly so this place puts heavy competition on Bep’s pho. Both however are different and delicious in their own right. I love the feel here with its teeny tiny eat in counter. I get flashes of my trips to Paris and Vietnam. If I can get glimpses of my past wanderlust in the skyway; it adds that extra flavor oompfh.

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Sprout Salad Company: So I eat many more a salad than this blog or my Instagram may exude. You can find me here at least once a week switching up my salad selection. Remind me next time to get that frequent buyer card. For real.

Il Foro: I could not leave out the infamous only served at lunch burger. I have had this burger now three times. It is a lunchtime indulgence that cannot be beat. After those annoying and often heated conference calls, go and shove your face in this burger. Trust me, it helps. The oooey gooiness of the cheese is the perfect post conference call antidote.

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It occurs to me now…I should have really titled this post: Skyway Noodle Wars… per all of the noodle dishes above. Or have done a completely separate noodle post… But hey, its Minnesota where seven months out of the year have me craving spicy, brothy noodles anyway. What else would you eat?!

Now I know I’ve neglected a few other loved spots. What are your favorite skyway eats?

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Forgetting Nirvana…

On Mondays the boyfriend gives me a ride to the office.

It is a tradition he has started perhaps to ease me into the week. Or,  perhaps its a tradition he has started because of the new breakfast place he discovered after dropping me off…. perhaps this eases HIM into the week.. (wink wink)

Either way, I like this new tradition.  It was during this ride that he decided a new Pandora station was necessary as well.  Nirvana for your 7am tunes?

After the first song, we looked at each other and said, “Man, I forgot how good Nirvana was.” Yes… I use “Man.”

Nirvana wasn’t the only thing I’ve forgotten as of late..

Namely I have forgotten how good the dinner party was, excuse me, is. How good the dinner party is.  The last time I had friends over for a dinner party? Well.. its been months.

The last time I had dinner with strangers? Well never, until this past Monday.

What you ask? Have you heard of 320 Northeast?

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The “private supper” club you’ve never heard of? Or have only heard whisperings of? Whisperings of a local couple, a local chef and downright local ingredients? From the back door alley entrance, to the grain elevator ride, to the warm greeting by Megan and welcoming cocktail.. to the strangers who are no longer strangers at the end… the food, cider pairings and conversation make this an enchanting, and as they say, “deeply satisfying” experience.

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You feel as if you are privy to the blossoming, creative and hidden world of Minneapolis food.  As though you’ve stumbled in but were also offered a golden ticket. A personal foray into a local couple’s dream.  A dream that mimics aspects of perhaps your own dreams and or creative pinnings. A reminder not to give up on your own stupid stupid dreams.  (please see bathroom sign at 320 Northeast for previous sentence’s relevance.)

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I was so enthralled that I did not study each ingredient nor keep notes, I was too busy holding myself back from licking the plate… so my descriptions below may be a bit off..

The first course of smoked trout, duck egg aioli with pickled beets, carrots and others. ( I may not have licked the plate however I did scrape almost every inch of that aioli into my mouth with the remaining cracker crumbs….)

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Next was the pork belly, greens and the most delicious grits, all topped off with an egg.

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 The third course; lamb perfection on top of carrots and potatoes.

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Dessert was currant jam with granola and whipped cream. (Not pictured)

320 Northeast has brought back the dinner party for me and made it unforgettable. 320 Northeast has also rekindled my creative side. Creative quest perhaps. For both the dinner party and the quest, I am grateful.  Sign up for the emails and get yourself to the private supper club stat. Beware, within minutes, the openings are filled. Don’t hesitate to reserve that spot 🙂

(PS the whole Nirvana thing.. well that was a request from the BF, so whether it worked or not as a segway… you can blame him 🙂

 

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How to Beat the Bus Stop Blues

Well, those of you previously lamenting the warm winter temps… I hope you are happy. Winter is here and my morning bus stop is rough… You can find me cowering from the wind, desperately pushing the heat lamp button for relief.

Your snow, your wind and frost tipped trees appeared.

Winter is here.

Guess what winter does to me. It makes me crave all the carbs. All the carbs piled high in sauce.

Perhaps a creamy sauce, one with roasted tomatoes, slowly simmering away. Or a butternut squash sauce.. hmmm..  Topped of with parm and basil… fresh basil.

Like farmers market basil…. that I cannot access for another 5 months at least.  Instead I settle for the “living basil” at my local grocery store and gamble on its longevity.

So in order to beat my bus stop blues, I slice up a butternut squash, roast it away and pray it becomes the sauce my chilled soul is craving.

Sigh. But oo this pasta dish will do.

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So you winter people, join me in some carbs?

You will need:

  • 3/4 Cup of Veggie Broth
  • 1 Cup Heavy Cream or Milk
  • 1 Butternut Squash, Cubed
  • 1 lb Italian Sausage
  • Arugula
  • Handful of Parmesan Cheese
  • 3 Cloves Garlic
  • 1 Egg
  • Handful of Basil
  • 1 12-15 oz Container of Ricotta
  • Cooked Shell Pasta (1 package)
  • Olive Oil
  • Salt and Pepper, Cayenne Optional
  • One Chopped White Onion

Preheat your oven to 400 Degrees. Throw the chopped squash and onions on a baking pan. Sprinkle with olive oil, salt and pepper.  Roast them in the oven for about 40 minutes. While the veggies are roasting, heat olive oil, onion and one clove of garlic. Once the onion has softened,  then throw in and brown the Italian Sausage. Once the sausage is cooked, add three large handfuls of arugula to the pan. This will cook down a ton.

Once the arugula has wilted, take the pan off the heat and set aside. In a mixing bowl add the ricotta, the egg and a touch of salt and pepper. Next add the sausage arugula mixture. Combine until evenly mixed.

Take your sausage ricotta mixture and stuff each shell with about a spoonful and a half.

Once your veggies have roasted, add them to your food processor. Add in cayenne to taste and two whole cloves of garlic, 3/4 cup of veggie stock and the one cup of milk or heavy cream.

 Blend away to a nice smooth consistency. Pour your now butternut squash sauce into the bottom of a baking pan. Place the stuffed shells on top of the sauce in the baking pan. Bake for 30-40 minutes, until the sauce is bubbling.

Once the sauce bubbles, remove and top with chopped basil and a handful of parmesan cheese.

Dig in, enjoy and forget about those howling winter winds, and tomorrow’s bus stop blues 🙂

 

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Resolving to….?

The gifts are unwrapped…..

The cocktails sipped…

And the many morsels of food consumed. This year we hosted our own little Cajun Christmas Eve feast.

There were crab hush puppies, blackened alligator, red beans, jambalaya and Beignets … Yes mom perfected her Beignets leading up to Christmas and they were as delightful as ever.

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Christmas and the holidays are over. New Years Eve was spent celebrating the wedding of one of my bestests 🙂

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And a week later I was celebrating the nuptials of another!

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Now, I find myself being asked to share my new years resolutions…. and I don’t have any. I’ve never been much for them, as past experience never set a great bar. I have too many things I want to do.  I want to write more, let my creative juices flow… perhaps find myself with an actual camera and take classes?

Like the masses I want to travel.

I have finance goals… I want to be a landlord (competing interests?)… I want a number of things.

I want to rediscover my kitchen and stacks of cookbooks.

Perhaps I take 2016 as my planning year? The year I narrow it down? A year of thinking, of strategy?  A year to save, to question and decide?

What are your strategies for narrowing down your goals? Have you ever taken a “planning” year?

Last but not least, I want more brunch in my life 🙂

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Run, don’t walk to Burch, and order this crab toast! You will thank me 🙂

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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.

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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.

 

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 🙂

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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 🙂

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?