Munching thru Minneapolis

Chris and I went on a little vacay over the Fourth of July week, first a few days in the Minneapolis then heading up to his family’s lake place in Wisconsin.

We arrived late on Tuesday night after a lovely delay in Chicago- can’t leave without the pilots!  During out layover in Chicago, we ate airport food which can sometimes be good food but was not, in this case.  Wolfgang Puck may be a world-renowned chef to the stars but his Pizza Express shop in O’Hare is nothing to get excited about.

We stayed with Chris’s friends, Adam and Kat, who live near Lake Calhoun, one of the Chain of Lakes in Minneapolis.  You can canoe on the lakes as well as enjoy bike/walking trails, marvel at the gorgeous houses surrounding the lakes (we did that) and visit a rose garden and bird sanctuary among other activities.

Due to our late arrival on Tuesday/Wednesday, we just crashed the first night.  On the drive to Adam and Kat’s house though, I did come to realize that this trip was more than just a little vacation- it was Chris’s sales pitch for moving to Minneapolis after law school.

Wednesday, we got up, showered and scrounged up some breakfast then watched a Soaring video until Adam got home from his half-day at work.  We decided to go out for lunch then pick up groceries for a grilled dinner on the deck. 

First, we drove along the Minnehaha Parkway looking at many beautiful homes while the abundance of trails and eco-friendly people were pointed out to me.  Also, Adam took us through Uptown which is apparently where Chris used to hang out a lot as he pointed out his favorite bar, sushi joint, live music source, etc.

We arrived at Minnehaha Park home of a beautiful waterfall and Sea Salt, a seasonal cafe with fresh fish and seafood plus a beer & wine license.  They were quite busy; we were joined in line by customers who had ridden up on their bikes.  I haven’t quite figured this place out yet- it appears to be an independent restaurant inside a city or state owned park.  Strange.

 

The original plan was to get fish tacos which is kind of what happened.  I ordered scallop tacos, Chris went for shrimp tacos and Adam chose the crawfish po’boy.  We also shared an appetizer of shrimp cocktail.  Adam and I each went for a pint of local brew Summit Beer.  Being that the weather was just gorgeous, we looked for seats outside.  Tables were found but no chairs.  A few feet away, a man and woman were sitting at a picnic table with attached benches. The man, whose name I don’t recall but might be Tom, offered us the extra seats if we didn’t mind listening to a foreign language. As it turns out, his sister-in-law is Danish and Adam spent several years in that part of the world for work! Although I’m pretty sure it wasn’t part of the sales pitch for Minneapolis, the whole experience was pretty cool. 

 

After stuffing ourselves, we headed to the grocery store Kowalski’s, one of Chris’s two favorites.  It was a nice grocery store, for a smaller gourmet upscale type of place.   It was definitely expensive but I found a few unusual items including marcona almonds, an almond variety from Spain that is particularly tasty.  I bought some of those, along with dried Montmorency cherries and we mixed them in with our Minnesota Wild Rice.  Kowalski’s Market should not be confused, by Michiganders, with Kowalski Meats.  You know, Kowalski Kowality. If you’ve ever eaten a polish dog or a hot dog at a sporting event in this state, you’ve probably eaten a Kowalski dog, unless it was Koegel’s, of course.

After finishing up at Kowalski’s Market, we headed over to France 44, a cheese and wine shop.  A huge liquor store with a cheese shop attached, I was a bit overwhelmed at first.  I was given charge of picking out the wines for later that night.  There were a lot to choose from but not many comments or reviews posted.  After much browsing, I settled in the domestic wines section as they were all 10% off for the Fourth of July Holiday.  We bought a bottle of Cline 2005 Big Break Zinfandel, one of many in the Cline repertoire. The first time I’d had this variety but Chris and I really like their Ancient Vines Zinfandel.  We bought something else but I can’t remember the name and since we didn’t get to drink it, I can’t comment on it anyhow.  The Zin was tasty and strong- definitely a bolder taste than the Ancient Vines.  Although I didn’t have my aerator-pourer, we found a cheap substitute at the shop so we can demonstrate the magic of air to Adam.

The boys left me in the wine racks and headed over to the cheese side where Chris found the sheep’s milk cheese that he now wants more of.  The stuff I can’t find as I don’t know the name.  I’ve sent an email off to the blog writer for the shoppe and will hopefully know more soon. 

Later that evening, we enjoyed some grilled meats, corn on the cob (best of the season so far) and Minnesota wild rice along with our bottle of Cline.  The following day, we headed up to the family lake place for 3 days of typical mid-western food: is that a marshmallow dessert I see?  To be fair we also had more great corn on the cob, a delicious wild rice-cream of mushroom side dish and “mom’s” homemade chocolate chip cookies.

While in the area, we did a driving tour of Crex Meadows and spotted a few deer and acres of wild rice: 

Ethnic Experimentation

Growing up, my mom was always introducing us to different ethnic food and educating us on the places and cultures that it came from.  While in Girl Scouts she did a whole meeting about Chinese New Year and we all had egg rolls.  She even convinced the local grocery store to give her this giant dragon’s head from a previous display.  We had that thing in our house for years.

My first experience with Mexican food, while not so pleasant, is a much more vivid memory.  Mom was making something called burritos and she asked if I wanted beans or cheese variety.  At the time, cheese meant either on a pizza or the yellow slices on grilled cheese.  Some time before I had developed an aversion to those slices and to yellow cheese in general.  I still liked pizza cheese though.  So, I said beans.  I figured beans were green beans and I really did like green beans.

A little while later, we are called to the table and there is this burrito thing placed in front of me. Honestly, I don’t recall what it looks like but I could see the beans and they were not green beans but rather this mush of brown.  I’m sure I tried a bite but I had zero interest in continuing.  And my mom was upset because I asked for beans!  Usually in this case, we were expected to try at least one bit and if we didn’t like it, that was okay.  However, I recall that in this situation, I was expected to eat more because it was my choice for beans.  Did I eat the whole thing?  Who knows but I still can’t stand refried beans or any plain brown beans.  Its only been in the last 5 years or so that I’ve been able to enjoy black beans and they must be whole for me to eat them.

As an aside, I still don’t like those yellow cheese slices but I will eat other yellow cheeses now- the solid kind.  No melty nacho cheese or anything in a can.  Not that the canned stuff is cheese anyway, more like cheese product.