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?
What is better than a warm pizza on a cold day?
This was my first ever trip to Punch and I was not disappointed. Not only did it hit the spot but it was affordable as well.
On a side note, Punch Pizza set its own minimum wage at $10 an hour to provide staff with a higher wage to help gain loyal employees and keep them around. Kudos to local restaurants that are paying their employees well.
As someone who is a fan of neapolitan pizza I had a feeling that I would love Punch since they cook each of their pizzas in an 800 degree oven. I was right, the perfect chewy dough was just what I love about neapolitan pizza.
I had the basic margarita pizza which was very tasty. It is a simple but elegant pizza and the quality ingredients that are used make it stand out. I would order this again any day. But, it also made me want to try one of the more adventerous combinations.
They also have salads which I would recommend. I had the italian chopped salad which was very fresh and complemented the pizza well. I cannot wait to try the other salads. Sometimes at pizza restaurants salads are an afterthought. I think that the Punch salads could stand on their own. Although, I don’t think I would be able to go in there and not order a pizza too.
As mentioned above it was very affordable. My lunch bill for two people came to only about 20 dollars. I felt like I had a very high quality meal that I would have expected would cost much more than that.
My suggestion is to get a pizza and a salad to share. Don’t forget a local brew or glass of wine. If you are still hungry, order another.
because pizza warms the heart.
What are your favorite pizza places in the Twin Cities? What is your favorite item on the Punch menu?
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.
Last week I Dined Out For Life to support the Aliveness Project that is doing amazing work with the HIV/AIDS community locally.
I am proud to say that I was part of the $15,687 that Pizza Luce donated that night.
Pizza Luce is a favorite staple for me in Minneapolis. It is a great place to go if you are eating with someone who has dietary restrictions like gluten-free or vegan. They are also a great place to order out from; you can do pizzas, sandwiches, or salads. Many of these items can be ordered with specific instructions for those with diet restrictions. It is all listed on the menu.
This particular night I headed out to the Hopkins location. It was my first time at this location and I know I will be back there again. I loved the size of the parking lot and the feel of the bar. They have a great tap beer selection as well.
I really need to try more appetizers on their menu because I havent yet. I always get a side salad. I mean look at it. This is the caesar salad and is exactly what a caesar salad should be. It has crispy lettuce, creamy dressing, real shaved parmesan, and delicious croutons.
I have tried many of the pizzas on the menu and this night I decided to try a sandwich from their new spring menu the “From Italy with Love.” I highly recommend it because is unlike any sandwich I have had before. There are layers and layers of flavorful ingredients.
I went home with The Classic pizza to eat as leftovers. My other favorite pizzas are the Pizza Athena and anything with mock duck.
Pizza Luce is one of those places that I appreciate having as a local brand. They use fresh, natural ingredients, they have options for those who are vegan and gluten-free and they have a great variety of healthy and flavorful items on their menu.
because real food is good food.
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.
Feeling down and out lately? Isn’t everyone. Mother nature has been playing tricks with all of our minds. It is supposed to be spring, right?
One of this ways to solve this mood issue is by snuggling up on the couch and watching movie. Since that is all that I have been doing lately, I needed a change. What else makes people intensely happy?
One of my favorite places to go grab a delicious sweet is Rustica Bakery. It is fairly easy to get to for Uptown standards and there is parking available. ahhh… it makes things so much easier.
I pointed to a chocolate brownie from the case and saw something else on the menu that perked my interest. As a frequest customer of the Tea Garden I consider myself to be somewhat of a tea connoisseur but I have never tried chestnut tea before. What is this mystical chestnut tea that you have?
The staff at Rustica know their products and were able to explain many of the different teas they currently have on their menu as well as how long the tea I selected needed to steep.
The chestnut tea was nutty and bit spicy and the brownie was rich. Both highly recommended for a winter that will never end. So, since you need to take a mental health break anyway, head over to Rustica to warm your soul.
because the ground-hog lied
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.