Where have you been eating lately?
I ask this because I was driving around the other day and spotted some chain restaurants with full parking lots. I thought to myself about the last time I had eaten at one and why I ate there. I believe it was at an Applebee’s when I was meeting a group of people that I hadn’t seen in awhile.
Of course, they are much easier to go to if you have a large group, they will split checks, and you already know what is on the menu because they have burgers, sandwiches, salads, pasta dishes, and any other thing you could imagine under the sun to accommodate even the pickiest eater. And you know you are going to have to eat there when you are going out with coworkers or for meetings. (Yes, I know it’s a run on paragraph)
But, why not when you get to make the decision about picking a restaurant to go somewhere local with really good food? Not just a place where the microwave is the main form of cooking.
It can be hard to make that choice sometimes because what if one person doesn’t like the food choice? Or you don’t really know how to order at a tapas restaurant. Give it a try. Because what do you have to lose? You know you are not going to have the best meal of your life at a Buffalo Wild Wings. Although, maybe some people will disagree with me. I’m fine with that.
It’s okay if you like eating at chain restaurants. All I ask is that with all of the wonderful options there are out there, why would you choose to eat there? Why not go out and try something new? Take a chance. Go on an adventure. I am making a bet that if you try somewhere new, you will really like it.
Because it’s fun to eat new things.
Do you agree/disagree with me? Are there any good chain restaurants? I can think of a few. Best place for someone to go to try something new?
As a supporter of local business, I had to tell you what is going on in Wrenshall, MN. A business called the Locally Laid Egg Company is one of four small businesses in a contest with intuit to win an ad during the big game.
The only thing you need to do to support them is visit VoteLoLa.com and click the vote button everyday until December 1st. Thank goodness, finally a contest where you don’t have to like anything, give any information, or sell your soul to help someone out.
I think you should support LoLa because they are local, sustainable, and they have a really awesome product. You may have had LoLa eggs if you have eaten at Duluth Grill, GastroTruck, or Surdyk’s Flights. You can find a full list HERE. Many of the local Coops sell the eggs too. If you have eaten the eggs at any of these places or in your own home you know how delicious they are. There is a different taste to eggs that are local and come from happy birds.
The Amundsen family wants to win to get people talking about different kinds of agriculture and encourage others to get into farming. Jason Admundsen started Locally Laid after his second layoff from a non-profit grant writing job and has invested everything into this business. You can tell just by looking at the Locally Laid website and blog that they truly care about what they are doing and want to do as much as they can to give back, including planting a tree for every delivery.
So, tell your friends, tell your family, tell your co-workers, and tell the person sitting next to you on the bus to VoteLoLa. It is even mobile optimized.
because happy chickens make yummy eggs
Get your tickets for the Minnesota Cheese Festival that is going on this weekend at the Minnesota State Fairgrounds.
On both Saturday and Sunday there will be two sessions, one from 10-1 and another from 2-5 in order to keep crowds small and give you an opportunity to interact directly with the Cheesemakers.
During the event you will be able to sample the best cheeses from Minnesota, Wisconsin, and Iowa. You can also attend demonstrations, seminars, and buy cheese from local Cheesemakers directly.
Redhead Creamery that I mentioned in my post yesterday about neat Minnesota Kickstarter Projects will be there. A few of my other favorite Cheesemakers such as the Caves of Faribault, Ellsworth Creamery, Shepard’s Way Farm, and Singing Hills Goat Dairy will also be there.
Support the Redhead Creamery project : http://www.kickstarter.com/projects/redhead/redhead-creamerys-cheese-needs-to-come-home?ref=home_location
You can get tickets: HERE
because I am not vegan anymore.
Have I ever told you how much I love Kickstarter?
Kickstarter is a website where you can either go to fund a project that you want to see happen or try to get funding for your own project.
It is a great way to use your cash to fund a project that you care about.
Here are three current Minnesota Kickstarter projects that I think are really neat:
Travail: Democratizing Fine Dining: http://www.kickstarter.com/projects/travail/travail-democratizing-fine-dining-in-robbinsdale-m?ref=home_location
Firstly, I am completely on the Travail bandwagon. The chefs who started Travail get it right, they know how to bring fine dining to a level where it makes people comfortable and they know how to have fun with it. This extra cash is going to help them be successful when they can open their new space. Plus it comes with some extras. One level of funding gives you the perk of being able to get a reservation at their restaurant where they don’t do reservations.
Help them reach their $75,000 goal! UPDATE: They are fully funded after only 6 hours on Kickstarter! On 9/11/13, they hit $140,000 which is way over their goal. Plus, they posted an awesome video on instagram find them at username travailkitchen.
The Rabbit Hole: A Korean Gastro Pub: http://www.kickstarter.com/projects/783013016/the-rabbit-hole-a-korean-gastropub-in-mpls-yes-ple?ref=home_location
Brought to you by the crazy kids at Left Handed Cook, The Rabbit Hole is exactly where I want to spend a Friday night. What is a Korean Gastro Pub? I have no idea, but I know I am going to like it.
If you haven’t been to the Left Handed Cook in the Midtown Global Market yet, you need to give it a try. It is one of my favorite places to get a quick meal.
They are only looking to raise $10,000 and are almost to their goal. Help them reach it. They hit their goal on 9/11/13. Now let’s get Redhead Creamery Funded!
This farm to table creamery is exactly what I love about Minnesota. Plus, they are making cheddars. Yum! Help them build the space where they can create their food safely and right on their farm. Minnesota can always use more cheese.
They are on their way to their $35,000 goal but there are only 15 days left.
because when you back a Kickstarter you are telling that project we want you here.
In the summer there is nothing like a refreshing soda on a warm day. A local company, Boundary Waters Brands, started a line of all natural sodas called Joia. They have fresh flavors and add a bit of fun to a dinner party.
I decided to have a BBQ with my family and ‘share the Joia’ with them. I cooked chicken, corn, asparagus, and potatoes from the farmers market.
Before dinner I served a caprese type of appetizer. It is very easy to prepare by combining fresh cherry tomatoes, mozzarella pearls, and basil on top of a slice of a baguette then sprinkled with olive oil and balsamic.
These sodas are much different than what was in the market before. With combinations like pineapple-coconut-nutmeg and ginger-apricot-all spice these drinks are a treat for your mouth.
My personal favorite is grapefruit-chamomile-cardamom because of the hint of cardamom that comes out. It is one of the best and most forgotten spices.
Boundary Waters Brands is based out of Uptown in Minneapolis and we are lucky to have a company here who is being innovative and producing a quality product.
You can find Joia in local specialty grocery stores. Also, you can visit their website to ‘share the joia’ and host a tasting for your friends, family, or co-workers.
because fresh is in
*disclosure: I was sent samples of Joia to try. All opinions are 100% my own.
This past Saturday I attended the HAMMS event at the old HAMMS Brewery Shipping docks in Saint Paul. It was a really fun time and I was able to buy a few items that I have been pining over including Dessa lipstick from the Elixery.
What made this event fun was that you actually could speak with the business owners and learn more about why they do what they do. Plus, it was dog friendly!
The event lived up to the title Help A Minnesota Maker Succeed. The event planners reached their goal to be able to give one vendor $5,000 to use to expand their business.
I shopped until I dropped on Saturday. The first item I bought was a glass water bottle from Moss Envy in pink. Moss Envy is now going to be my go-to place for gifts. They have many practical and usable items that people would love to get for a special event such as a birthday or wedding.
Moss Envy has a retail store near the Whole Foods in Uptown. If you mention my blog (mlsgossipgirl) and the HAMMS event Ryan the co-owner extended an offer of $5 off your $25 purchase.
The market baskets from Jeanne Beatrice were a hit. I received many compliments when I was walking around the event with my new La Vie Henna.
Jeanne Beatrice bags are the perfect summer market accessory. I cannot wait to bring mine to the Minneapolis Farmers Market once it warms up.
I loved these arm warmers from Float many of them are made with cashmere. They are a great item to keep in your purse for when you get cold. Plus, they come in many vibrant colors.
I was surprised by these game day lip tattoos from Violent Lips. I know some hardcore Vikings fans that would sport them proudly at each game.
These hilarious cards from Bruno Press had me laughing. They are the perfect cards for someone you know well enough that you can say offensive things in front of them.
These map necklaces from Larissa Loden are a great way to remember a special trip or a place that you lived.
I wish I was decorating something right now. I loved everything that Oh Dier had at this event. They had the cutest chalk boards for your cabin and blocks for a new baby.
Yum! Not only was there great shopping at the HAMMS event there was great food. Gastro truck had a large menu of delicious items to choose from and I couldn’t choose just one.
The first item I tried was a Beef Brisket sandwich. It was flavorful and I loved the aioli on top.
The best part of the lamb burger was the choice of all the homemade condiments that I could choose from. Pickled red onion and ketchup topped my lamb burger along with the feta and olive spread.
Hopefully, the HAMMS event is an event that is continued in the future. I am already looking forward to it and I think all the dogs that were there are too!
because I can’t think of a better way to spend a Saturday.
It is very important to me to shop local and to shop small whenever possible. That is why I enjoy events such as the HAMMS event where many local small businesses are in one space. HAMMS stands for Help a Minnesota Maker Succeed and aims to give up to $5,000 to one of the vendors. I am also excited to attend Saturday because there will be food trucks there!
Here are a few particular items that I am excited to see at the event:
- Glass water bottles from Moss Envy
I chose this water bottle because of the ease of use, both of the bottle and the sleeve can be put in the dishwasher. I also find that I do not enjoy the metal or plastic taste of other water bottles.
Moss Envy sells eco items for your home and life. They choose eco-friendly items to fill their store that you would use every day.
You can find more products on the Moss Envy website: HERE
- Turban from Kedrin
Kedrin sells beautiful handmade crochet goods. I love any fashionable item that I can wear during the winter months to accessorize my parka.
At the HAMMS event Kedrin is giving shoppers at least 20% off of items from her collection posted on her website HERE, and 10% off of pre-orders of new looks from her fall 2013 look book. VIP shoppers save even more!
- Market Bags from Jeanne Beatrice
Please read my post from Tuesday about Jeanne Beatrice: HERE. These market bags from Jeanne Beatrice would be a great Mother’s Day gift.
There will be many other vendors at the event that I am excited to see and learn more about their products such as: Worker b, Irley Intimates, Larissa Loden, Scrappy Products, and many more all featured on the vendors page.
The HAMMS event is this Saturday, April 20th at the old HAMMS shipping docks in Saint Paul from 10AM-7PM. You can even bring your dog to this pup friendly event! Tickets can be purchased online HERE until 10PM on April 19th for $10 or tickets can be purchased for $15 at the door.
because you should be there
On Saturday, April 20th I will be attending the HAMMS- Help a Minnesota Maker Succeed event at the old Hamm’s Brewery Shipping Docks. This event is for men, women, their dogs and those who like to shop local and small. A portion of the ticket proceeds will be awarded to one of the small businesses at the end of the event.
As a fan of fashion, I connected with the image on the website of a really cute Market Basket from Jeanne Beatrice; the perfect summer bag (pictured above). Everyone in Minnesota is ready for summer but it feels like it may never come with all the unseasonably cold weather lately. One of my favorite summer activities is going to the farmers market on a Sunday. There is something uplifting about spending the morning at the market in the sun and picking up fresh food from local farmers. Why not do it fashionably with a market bag from Jeanne Beatrice?
Jeanne Beatrice was started by Laura J. Benson a former Lawyer who created a business doing what she loved. The baskets are made in Morocco by local artisans. Each bag takes 6-8 hours to complete and each is a unique work of art.
I chose to feature Jeanne Beatrice because the Market Bags are affordable, fun, and a great way to help someone across the world. Also, they would be a great gift for a mother for Mother’s Day or a bridal party gift for your bridesmaids. The La Vie Shadow II is on sale for only $27.00 and with its steel grey or pink details, would be perfect for the beach.
My other favorite bags are the one featured on the HAMMS site called the La Vie Henna because of the stitching around the handles and the La Vie en Colour because they are traditional with a pop of color.
You can find all products from Jeanne Beatrice on the website, https://www.jeannebeatrice.com/, or in over 150 boutiques around the world. You can even come to the HAMMS event and pick one up there.
Laura thinks you should come to the event because it, “will be an absolute blast.” It will be a shopping event like no other because the vendors are interacting with customers in different ways and are encouraged to bring wine and appetizers. A fellow foodie, Laura is looking forward to the food trucks that will be there.
If you are someone who likes to shop local and support small business this is the perfect event for you. Tickets to the HAMMS Event on Saturday, April 20th from 10AM-7PM are available online at http://www.hammsevent.com/ until 10 pm on April 19 or for 15 dollars at the door.
because you can look good and do good at the same time.
I love the North Shore in the wintertime. Yes, it can be bitter cold. But, it is simply beautiful as well.
On the way up to the North Shore I always stop in Duluth to get a bite to eat. I can never wait long enough to make it to Two Harbors, so Duluth it always is.
My stop in Duluth included a trip to Duluth Grill. I have been talking up this place with many friends and on here after my summer trip. You can read about it HERE.
Duluth Grill serves really good food. The portions are huge and there are so many options I think it would take me a year to eat all of the combinations. I stopped here for dinner this time and because it was a Friday they had fish specials. I tried both the meat loaf and salmon. Both were delicious. I cannot remember anything that I have ever had there that I did not like though. The salmon came with smashed sweet potatoes that were cooked just right with a bit of brown sugar on top. The service was great and made me sad that we don’t have a Grill in Minneapolis. Hint, Hint.
Another stop I have to make is in Grand Marais at the Fish Market. I always pick up fish to make during the trip. It is always fresh and cooks up quickly. I also like the salmon dip from here as well. It is a wonderful appetizer for a wintertime party (see below). I have never eaten at the Fish Market because it does close after New Years for a bit and by the time I get there they are done serving food. I am going to make it a stop on the next summer trip I take.
Also in Grand Marais I like to stop in all the local stores especially the Sivertson Art Gallery with work from artists like Dave Gilsvik and Jim Brandenburg. It is fun to look at all the different artwork and sip tea. Many of the artists live in the North Shore and their art reflects many of the sites of the North Shore. It would be like taking a piece of the shore home with you.
In Grand Marias I also enjoy the trading post because of all the great brands that they have there. I can always find something to use. This year I bought a pair of gloves with fur that are missing the fingers. I like them when it is not too cold outside because it is easy to grab my bus pass.
We always stay in a VRBO rental (Vacation Rentals By Owner). It is a great way to do a vacation with a larger group or if you like to cook. This year we stayed in Tofte, MN. I liked Tofte because there are a few shops and gas stations not too far away for supplies. I haven’t stayed in any of the hotels in the area but, I am curious as to what they are like as well. I am a sucker for a pool. Also, stay on the lake because the views are breathtaking.
If it is not too cold out, take a hike. There are so many places to hike in the area. If you have snow shoes there are cleaned paths that you can take as well. Many of the local gas stations and stores have maps. My best suggestion is to ask a local.
On the way home I stopped at Sir Ben’s. Deli by day, bar by night. I love the relaxed atmosphere and the beer selection. It is a really fun place to be. Try whatever their special is that day or whatever on the menu speaks to you. I have yet to be disappointed.
because you gotta get, get, get away.
On December 29th a large fire demolished a condo building in Uptown Minneapolis leaving the approximately 20 residents displaced. Many of them lost everything that they own. It is great to see a local restaurant doing everything that they can to help their neighbors get back on their feet.
Amore Victoria, a restaurant in Uptown is having a benefit and silent auction for the residents on January 9th at 6PM. They will be donating proceeds from everyone dining out that evening. They will also be offering $3 beers from Schell’s who will be there to promote their beer. Those who attend also have an opportunity to bid on silent auction items from local businesses.
You can go to the Amore Victoria event facebook page HERE, where you can find updated information on the event.
They are continuing to take donations from anyone who can offer a gift cards and are looking for donations from businesses for the silent auction at the restaurant. You can contact Amore Victoria on their website HERE.
You can also make a cash donation directly to the Uptown Condo Fire Fund at any Wells Fargo location.
Amore Victoria is known for their Italian food and has an old world feel. I hope you can get there early and support other fellow Minneapolis residents. You can make reservations for Amore Victoria on Open Table HERE.
because wouldn’t you want someone to help you if this happened to you.
Thank you @WShaneSchmidt for requesting this gossip.