So, I am not sure what you are doing on Halloween but this sounds like a lot of fun. Acqua in Forest Lake is having a ‘night of the living fed’ dinner party.
Acqua just opened its second location in Forest Lake. You may remember the original location that is on White Bear Lake near Tally’s. I haven’t been to Forest Lake yet, but the food in White Bear Lake is amazing. I had a honeydew gazpacho there once that made me look at gazpacho in a new light.
This Halloween party is limited to 200 guests and costs $100. This includes a five course dinner, drinks, a costume contest and raffle prizes.The dinner includes a cocktail hour with passed hors d’oeuvres, salad with fried pork belly, roasted butternut squash soup, scallops, beef tenderloin and pumpkin tiramisu. Drinks include, wine, beer, and select cocktails.
It sounds really great but I hope they know how to serve 200 people at one time. I think that will be quite the challenge. This is their first time trying an event like this, so it will be interesting to find out how it goes. If it goes well, this would be a great event to have each year.
They are giving out some big prizes. The prizes for the costume contest are $1,000 gift card, $250 dollar gift card, and a $100 gift card. It would be a great way to treat your family to a wonderful meal. Also, they are not stopping there, they are also giving out two raffle prizes, one is a dinner for ten including wine pairings prepared at your home. The other is a limo, wine tasting, and dinner for eight at one of the restaurants. Plus, chances are good since they limited the dinner to 200 people.
You can sign up to receive weekly emails from Acqua that tells you about the specials and events like this one on their website.
If you want to attend you can call Acqua Forest Lake at: 651-464-6130.
because it is better than eating all of that candy.
Don’t worry, I am not affiliated with Acqua in any way. I got an email from them and I thought I would share this fun event with people who love food.
I have been to the Cheeky Monkey twice in the last two weeks. I cannot stop myself.
There are two reason why I keep coming back:
1. fresh food
2. relaxed atmosphere
The Cheeky Monkey has a daily dinner special and two daily soups. These Fall soups are exactly what I was looking for on a chilly day. On my first visit I had a potato and leek soup that was creamy and earthy enough.
I paired the soup with a fresh perfectly dressed salad. One of my normal complaints is that restaurants over dress their salads. This one was flavorful but not dripping in the dressing which made the nuts and cheese hold up.
On my next visit I ordered a chorizo and white bean soup which was equally as good. They know how to build the flavors with these soups by adding in ingredients like kale and green onions.
With this soup I had a watermelon salad which was a summer dish and did not really go with the soup but still very good and exactly what I felt like eating. They also had the Surly Fest on tap which is the Octoberfest style of beer from surly.
because it is time to fall in love with Fall.
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.
Recently named one of the Top 50 New Restaurants by Bon Appetit, World Street Kitchen is truly worthy of this title. Minnesota has not seen a restaurant like this before. Yes, they do sell 40 ounce bottles of Miller High Life.
There are many things that I appreciate about this restaurant such as ample parking on the side of the building, vegetarian options, and spice. It is really nice to have a place that doesn’t serve the same stuff as everyone else.
That being said, most everything on the menu is pretty spicy for those of us with Mid-Western taste buds. This is not a bad thing, I really like it. But, I feel as though people should be warned that most of the food is more spicy than what you can find at other restaurants.
Here are some of the highlights:
The Bangkok Burrito: I have tried the Red Curry Burrito. It is spicy, creamy, and flavorful. If you ever need to get your sinuses cleared out this will do it. Watch out Chipotle, this is going to be the new burrito roaming the streets.
Plate O’ Dips: As a fan of Saffron, I knew that the dips were going to live up to my expectations and they did. I would come here just to get this dish with pita. The hummus is so creamy.
YumYum Rice Bowl: The short rib beef bowl was exactly why you come back to this restaurant over and over. That secret sauce and soft cooked egg make this dish one of the highlights of the menu. Just look at it.
Jerk Beef Tacos: Meh, these were just okay compared to everything else that I tried. One of my tacos had a huge chunk of fat in it that was cubed. After having that surprise when I chomped down on it I didn’t care to eat anymore.
Next time I want to try the MFC Biscuit Sandwich and a dessert. I have heard from multiple people that both are amazing.
I should also note that this is a get up and order yourself place. There are no servers and it has more of a laid back vibe. I was a bit disappointed in the service that I got from the person I ordered from. I said specifically that it was my first time here and that I was not sure what was good. She looked at me annoyed that I was taking too much time to order. Remember you are a new restaurant which means that you might need to explain some of the menu to your new guests.
Because any place that serves forties is cool in my book.
Sometimes, I feel like all I need is a burger. Burger Jones in Uptown is a great way to fill that need.
This place is very family friendly and has a nice outdoor patio that looks out on lake Calhoun. It also has an extensive menu with all different kinds of burgers, starters, salads, and shakes.
I would definitely come here again with a burger loving group. This place can cater to a larger group which makes it a good choice for group gatherings.
I was a bit disappointed with my burger choice. Only because it was clearly on a sandwich thin and it was horrible. It tasted exactly like a sandwich thin that you can get out of a package at Target. I think a better choice of bread for the gyro burger would be advisable.
Otherwise, the burger was good. I liked the lamb burger and the sauce. But, I would never order it again because of the bread.
I also tried the bison burger which I liked much more than the gyro burger. The bison burger is topped with gruyere cheese and red onion marmalade.
It was flavorful and the red onion really made the burger pop.
Order a side of the sweet potato fries and chipotle aioli because they are fantastic. I think I would go back just to eat the fries again with a shake.
because sometimes you just need a burger
What other burgers have you tried from Burger Jones? What do I need to try next time?
Spill The Wine Bar and Table may have changed locations but it is still just as great as before. Now located on Lake and Bryant in a new bigger location with lots of light, Spill The Wine is still one of those places that I love to go.
Okay, they could do without the hokey mason jar glasses but beyond that I recently had a great experience there.
One huge positive is the wonderful service. It isn’t uppity or pompous even though the food is upscale. They treat you with respect and are attentive.
The servers know their stuff and can speak to every item on both the food menu and the drink menu. They can suggest and I would highly recommend going with one of their suggestions. Our server, Carli, recommended a wine flight and a certain dish that was a huge hit. The people dining with me that night will definitely be back because of the suggestions.
They also help you order the correct amount of food. They have a mostly small plates menu which is meant to be shared, Minnesotans don’t really like to share. However, they do a good enough job of explaining how to eat this way that even the most unlikely people buy into the sharing.
These dishes were some of the highlights from my meal:
The lamb sausage and polenta. Holy moly, this is a must order. The sausage is made in-house and the polenta is nice and creamy. I could eat this every day and will be coming back to have this again. They should start selling the lamb sausage in local food markets.
I enjoyed the Lap Cheong Fried Rice, it was a larger dish that everyone at the table got enough of to eat. My only wish was that the egg was a tiny bit more runny.
A simple thing like bruschetta can taste very good. I really liked the two varieties served especially the olive tapenade. It was a great dish to break up some of the other ones.
The beet and goat cheese salad. This is fairly good but was very small. I am not sure if I would order it again since it was not enough to share with four people. I want more!
The fried blue cheese stuffed olives. A must order. These are fairly unique and I haven’t had anything quite like this before. They come out quickly and are a great little bite before the meal.
The Simi Estate wine flight. I highly suggest that when you go here, get a wine flight. They are a great way to try new wines and get a fairly good deal. They say you only get about 1.5 glasses but I would say it is more around 2. Great wines at a great value.
Finish the night with dessert, the tres leches cake is delightful. The fresh lime zest really added a nice touch and it was the perfect amount to share with four people.
I had no idea they did brunch until I was perusing their website. Huckleberry mason jar mimosas and some patatas sounds amazing. I would, however, suggest to Spill The Wine that they have so many of these items on their regular dinner menu that they need to expand the brunch menu. I want to see some new and fun stuff that is a bit different from your regular dinner menu items that you are experimenting with, please.
because sharing is caring
What are your favorite items from the Spill The Wine menu?
*This is part of a series of posts about my Turks and Caicos Vacation from April 2013.
Today was a very relaxing day. This was exactly the type of vacation I needed to get back to the slow pace of life. It was cloudy which was nice because the sun can be a bit intense sometimes. It was still warm enough to go swimming and spend time lounging outside reading a book.
One of the best parts of staying at Ocean Club East was that it was at the end of Grace Bay. This provided a more secluded feeling since there was an open part of the beach right next to the resort. It feels as if you are the only people there.
I went on many walks down that beach. If you walk around the end of the beach you will come to Leeward Beach. Also, a very nice place to spend some time. When I was visiting Leeward beach was empty which made it a nice place for adults to spend time swimming or soaking in the sun.
One thing I appreciated about Ocean Club East is that I never had to fight over chairs, tables, or umbrellas. There was always enough for everyone. Other guests were respectful and not too loud. Since some of them live there for a few months out of the year they are willing to share some of their favorite places. Suggestions from “the belongers” were always spot on. I would suggest that you spark a conversation with people who seem like they have a set tan and are used to the slow pace of life.
That night I went to eat at Coco Bistro. If you read any of the travel sites this is the one restaurant that according to reviews that you must go to when visiting Provo. I took their advice.
It was raining the night I went but they still kept my reservation. They have a large outdoor dining space and only a small space inside. It was a bit cramped but the restaurant was doing the best that it could trying to keep everyones reservations. They looked completely shocked that it was raining because the weather is usually perfect.
I would highly reccomend coming here. The food was very good, local and fresh. Plus, the service was top notch. It has a feeling of an oaisis with the palm trees that line the restaurant.
This was the most expensive meal that I had while I was on vacation. But, it was worth it. I would suggest ordering an appetizer, main, and dessert. You can always bring some of it back to your place to eat as a late night snack.
For an appetizer I tired both the lobster spring rolls and the conch two ways; both delicious. You cannot make a bad choice with the selection that they have on the menu. Conch when prepared well is something that I could eat almost every day.
I tried the special drink that they had which added to the fun of the special dinner. The drinks here are fun, tropical, and mixed well. I might stop by next time I visit Turks and Caicos just for a drink at the bar.
For mains I tried the lobster and grilled wahoo which was on special for the night. They put whatever fresh fish they may have on the special. So, it is a safe bet when you order. The lobster, since it was lobster season in Turks and Caicos, was fresh and locally caught as well.
I cannot tell you how fun it is to order these items off a menu and have them be fresh and local. When you are on vacation, learn about local foods before you go. That way, you know what to order off the menu. In the case of Turks and Caicos, go for the local fish, conch and lobster (when in season). Do not order beef. Do you see any cows on the island?
For dessert I had the coconut sorbet. It is made in house and was a refreshing way to end the night.
I cannot wait to go back and sit outside at Coco Bistro. Although, Coco Bistro is not on the water the food makes it a can’t miss on a Turks and Caicos vacation.
because fresh and local is best.
As you know, I am a huge fan of French Meadow. Their menu incorporating all types of dietary needs was a lifesaver for me when I was a vegan and in a food rut. French Meadow makes amazing food for those who have dietary restrictions but without sacrificing taste.
I didn’t think French Meadow could get any better but it has.
Expanding their location on Lyndale Avenue, French Meadow opened a wine bar called Bluestem Bar and Table. If you are a fan of French Meadow you will love Bluestem.
They have an excellent menu with items that range from salads to burgers to pasta.
I always suggest eating off of the specials menu. When I went to visit it was a very hot day and the tomato gazpacho that was on the specials menu was perfect. Gazpacho is a cold soup and although it is very different from eating warm soup, if done right it is wonderful on a warm day and still has all the flavor that you need.
Other highlights from the menu are the fish tacos, raw kale salad, harissa chicken, and the beet carpaccio salad. If you are eating with a slightly picky eater they still have your basic hamburger or chicken and waffles as well.
I was very impressed by the wine menu. Absolutely get the first flight of Rose. As someone who is not usually a Rose person, this flight caught my eye. This is not your grandmother’s Rose, it is much more flavorful.
They also have a happy hour from Monday- Friday from 3-5 P.M. Also, a late night happy hour 10- close every night of the week. Although the happy hour menu is fairly small, they have mussels and the turkey burger for only 6 dollars each.
Need somewhere to go for your birthday? They have a few private dining options such as their tasting room which is a beautiful spot to host a party. As of right now, they have no minimums to rent the room, get in while you can.
The other little secret that I will share with you is that you can make reservations at Bluestem for breakfast on the weekends. No more waiting in line or waiting for a table if you prepare ahead of time. They have the same breakfast menu as French Meadow but with service and reservations.
I cannot wait to see what the future has to offer for this group of restaurants. They are living up to their values of offering good food that is local and organic.
Because a good thing, is a good thing
What is your favorite item on the Bluestem menu?
I could not believe it when I read it on the Solera website. All night happy hour on Thursdays and even on their rooftop. What? Is this real?
I had to go investigate. They sort of have a happy hour on the rooftop because it includes only drinks, none of the food was happy hour priced and it should have been clearly stated on the website.
But, it is worth it to see the view from their rooftop and sip 3 dollar sangria.
The sangria comes in both white and red and is refreshing on a hot summer day. It pairs well with most of the food and when it is 3 dollars you don’t have to stop at just one.
Solera is a tapas restaurant which means that they have small plates that are meant to be shared. I have had most of the menu and I would suggest this restaurant for an adventurous diner.
People who are used to the normal burger or steak joint will be thrown off by both the portions and the ingredients. Not that it is bad, it is different. They have rabbit, quail, escargot, and a few other items that you do not see on most menus. While this excites me, it scares some people who are not used to these ingredients.
If I am with a person like this, I order for them and then lie to them saying it is steak or something. Well, once they say they really like it, I tell them it is actually lamb. It is sort of like dining with children. I do not advocate doing this to someone who would actually be upset or someone who could inflict pain upon you. But, it is a fun way to surprise and delight a picky diner.
This night I had the cheese plate which had an Iberico cheese on it. It is sort of like a Manchego and made with sheep, cow, and goat’s milk and pairs well with a tempranillo. I had forgotten how much I like Iberico.
I was very impressed by my server who knew the menu very well. She explained dishes and offered suggestions. This is very helpful when the menu has some items that people don’t make in their home kitchens often. What is a croquette again?
If it is the perfect summer night the rooftop at Solera is a great pick.
because enjoying sangria with friends in the summer is on the top of my list