- #Recommend – If my description sounds like something you would like then you need to try this place.
- #Eh- This place is just okay. It would never be my first choice but it will work in a pinch.
- #Avoid- This place is somewhere that I would have a really hard time going even in a pinch. If you go there I might judge you a little bit.
- #4AM – It’s open late the day of the All Star Game
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?
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.
As you all know, I love the Minnesota State Fair. I wanted to share some pictures I took this year at the fair with all of you.
In other good news, I didn’t win a ribbon but I know my scones made it in the top 25 which makes me proud. Next year I might need to get some advice from a winning State Fair baker. I want to be in it to win it.
Check one item off the LIST.
I am going to go with the Heavy Table on this one. The gyro was my favorite food that I had at the fair this year. I did not get to eat all of the new fair foods and missed out on the fried olives but, I enjoyed the freshness of this gyro.
because summer is almost over
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.
The fair can be expensive but you can still do and see some really wonderful things for free or cheap.
Here are a few of my FREE picks:
I love the DNR building. I can spend a good bit of time watching all the fish in the pond and in the new indoor fish exhibit. I hear there is a huge sturgeon in there this year.
You can also get a free lake map from the DNR. In the past, they have had someone outside at a little store selling fishing licenses but they will also give you a copy of a lake map if you know the name of the lake and the county it is in. Yes, there are 30 Long Lakes in Minnesota.
Head over to the Eco Experience building, they have many free demonstrations each day. I am interested in many of the topics such as vertical gardening, rain barrels, eco fashion, straw bale gardening, healthy local foods cooking demonstrations, and chickens in the city. I mean where else can you learn how to become an urban chicken farmer?
You can look at the full schedule at the Eco Experience HERE.
Minnesota Public Radio broadcasts from the fair and many times they have performances from musical artists that are performing later that night. P.O.S. will be at the MPR booth on August 29th at 4PM and the pre-show music-on-a-stick is from 3-5PM on August 30th.
See the full schedule at the MPR booth HERE.
There is free entertainment on many different stages at all times of the day. I think this is one of the best benefits of coming to the Fair.
Here are my picks:
Hanson- Known for their hit from the 90’s MMMBop, they are making a come back. August 26-27 at 8:30PM.
Jared Sherlock- Great for families, Jared is a magician who will surprise and amaze you. September 1-2 at 10:30AM , 11:30AM , and 3:00PM.
The Okee Dokee Brothers- Great for families, these Grammy award winners are fun and know how to get your children dancing. August 24-25 at 10:30AM , 11:30AM , and 3:00PM.
The full schedule is available HERE.
Always do the free park and ride or bike to the fair. It is way less hassle then trying to park at the fair.
If you volunteer at the fair usually you get in for free. If you have some extra time and know of a place where you want to volunteer, it is a great way to do something good and get in free.
You can listen to people sing “Call Me Maybe” at The Giant Sing Along for free or even sing along yourself. If you are into that kind of thing.
Not sure where this is at the fair, but the Boy Scouts have a climbing area for kids and it is free.
It is free to walk through the Fine Arts building. You will get to see art from local artists and the building is air conditioned.
If you are looking for free swag, don’t miss the Education Building where most of the colleges give away something such as the purple St. Thomas bag. All of the news stations and construction type companies give away stuff at certain times during the day. Stop by early on to see when you get in line for free stuff. KARE 11 is giving away blue sun glasses, Home Depot usually does make it and take it crafts, and Menards has nail aprons.
I also suspect the health fair will be giving away pretty neat stuff this year since MNSure is launching and Healthcare Reform is underway.
Gopher State One Call is giving away free bright colored yardsticks if you promise that you will call before you dig. They are located across from the Giant Slide. Give it to your favorite teacher as a beginning of the school year gift.
You can see a list of all the free items on this deal list HERE.
Here is a list of cheap items at the Fair:
Get an Apple Cider Freeze in the Ag/Hort building, they are only $1 and made from cider from the Pine Tree Apple Orchard in White Bear Lake.
Also in the Ag/Hort building you can get a Honey Stick from Mademoiselle Miel for only 50 cents. They have a smoked scotch version that I have to try. Plus, the money goes to benefit the University of Minnesota Bee Lab.
All you can drink milk for $1 is always a favorite of mine. I can taste the freshness of the milk and it actually is quite refreshing.
Because many of the best things in life are free
What is your favorite free thing to do at the fair?
1. People Watching.
Where do all these people reside when the Fair is not going on?
2. Trying all of the new foods.
Okay, maybe not all of them. The one that caught my eye was the new candied bacon cannoli from Ole’s Cannoli.
3. Free Hanson concert (or any of the free concerts).
My middle school self is thrilled. Mmmm Bop. You can watch Hanson for free at the Bandshell on August 26th and 27th at 8:20PM. I heard their new single is pretty good. I am sensing a come-back.
4. Visit the new attractions.
You can ice skate in August at the D1 Backyard Rink near the Fine Arts Building. Go to the Luminarium Exxopolis, whatever the heck that is…
5. Seed Art.
Art made from seeds, it can not be missed in the AG & HORT building.
6. The Fine Arts Building.
This building houses great work from local artists. I always love to walk around and see amazing work that people have created.
Meow. Wednesday, August 28 at 7:00PM. Tickets are $10. I went last year to the one at the Walker Art Center and it was purrfect.
8. All you can drink milk & Martha’s cookies.
If you haven’t figured out how to do this yet it is pretty easy. First, buy a bucket of Martha’s to share. Next, walk over to the all you can drink milk booth and buy a cup. Then, eat cookies with ice cold milk. Enjoy!
When will they put the booths next to each other?
I want to see the rabbits in the poultry barn. Why? because they are cute and fluffy.
10. Eat all of your favorite foods.
Get the staples: Corn Dog, Pronto Pup, Cheese On a Stick, Deep Fried Candy Bar, Luigi Fries, Cheese Curds, and Mini Doughnuts.
Have any questions about the fair? I am somewhat of an expert, so ask away.
My post from the 2012 Minnesota State Fair: HERE
because “Our state fair is a great state fair, don’t miss it don’t even be late. It’s dollars to donuts that our state fair is the best state fair in our state.”
What do you look forward to at the MN State Fair?
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.
The Fringe Fest is going on right now and it would be a disservice to my readers to not mention Fringe for its final weekend. This is your chance to see some performances of some great artists.
Each performance was chosen by random selection, sort of like at a bingo hall, that way everyone gets a chance to participate. The core of the mission is that they believe everyone has the ability to create great art and more importantly they are given the chance to try.
All shows are 45-60 minutes long and every evening they have shows at different venues at 5:50, 7:00, 8:30, and 10:00. On Saturday and Sunday there are some afternoon performances as well.
On Sunday, the Audience Pick Awards preform at 8:30PM at each venue these are the performances that did the best during their run. It is your chance to catch the best of the best.
Otherwise, go online and read the audience reviews. They will give you a look into what the performance is like and if you would be interested in it.
If you want my suggestion: If You Give the Devil a Cookie is playing tonight at 10:00PM at the Cowels Center and involves a large baby suit. Seriously, you cannot go wrong with that.
Tickets are 12 dollars but you also need to buy a fringe button for 4 if this is your first show. So, 16 in total for adults. 5 Dollars for kids 12 and under.
because it’s time to try something new tonight.