Recently, during a hideous Minnesota snow storm when the google maps was colored all red, I decided to just hang out on Grand Avenue for awhile. I say decided like it was a choice. Rather, I was stuck there for awhile until traffic cleared up.
Instead of wallowing because I was not able to get home. I decided to frolic on Grand Avenue. Usually, when I stop by Grand it is for a specific purpose. I stop at the store that I need to get something from and I get out of there. Parking can be a mess and I get stressed out about leaving my car. Was that really a parking spot?
While I was over there freaking out about parking I completely forgot to explore. I had no idea that I was missing a bunch of other stores that I never knew were there. This storm made me make my own fun. After stopping into a few stores by Grand and Victoria. I stopped into Salut.
I have been to Salut a few times and already knew I was a fan of their Pomme Frites and french food in general. I took a seat in the bar and had red wine and ordered some food off the happy hour menu.
I cannot tell you how relaxing it was to sit down and just eat some really good food, alone.
Everything I tried was delicious and the staff was more than accommodating by allowing me to hang out in the bar until I could get home safely.
Overall, the happy hour menu isn’t dirt cheap prices. But, would you really want to eat food that was that cheap to make anyway? I thought the prices were fair for what you got and I really enjoyed the glass of wine that I had.
Because stop in and explore Grand sometime.
What is your favorite store on Grand Avenue?
Tria is a great place to get a meal during the winter in Minnesota, with the real fireplace and the warm staff it was just what I needed to escape the weather for a few hours.
I had been to Tria a few times before this visit and was not impressed. This place has had its ups and its downs, many different chefs have contributed to this. But, they must have gotten it under control. The food I had there was fantastic.
It was the first time in awhile that I ordered mussels and each one was opened. I cannot tell you how many times I have gone to restaurants, even “fancy” restaurants and have received unopened mussels in my bowl, even up to 1/3 of a bowl. Not only is it frustrating because you cannot eat them but, it is a health risk for someone who doesn’t know that they shouldn’t eat the unopened mussels. Frankly, I find it unacceptable to serve unopened mussels. It should be checked before the dish leaves the kitchen. #EndRant
I am glad to say that not only was I served opened mussels but they were tasty as well. The white wine, garlic, butter, and shallots were perfectly balanced. Plus the crispy bread that came with it was seasoned well with garlic. It was simple, but done well. In my view that is what makes a great dish. I would suggest though that they get rid of the variations of this dish. They offer a few variations of the mussel dish on the menu, just keep the one that is the best. No need to make it confusing.
I also had a bruschetta special that was good as well. The highlight of the dish for me was a tomato chow-chow. Obviously, tomatoes are not in season in Minnesota right now but the tomatoes were bright and sweet. It pared well with the garlic bread and had a lot of color.
Overall, the menu was very varied and offered a lot of options. Most of it was comfort food which fits perfectly for the vibe of this restaurant. I do suggest just like the mussel dish that you condense the menu a little bit because it is fairly overwhelming. Plus, I have no idea how your chefs turn out this many dishes in a night.
Another great thing that this restaurant does is offer a free bottle of wine for your birthday. It is equivalent to your age and good within 3 days of your birthday. Plus, a free dessert. It is a fun reason to go out and enjoy a meal for your big day. They have a wedding anniversary special too.
I wonder if this place will keep up the quality of the food that I had on my recent visit or if it will fall again. I guess we will see.
Because comfort food in the winter is the best.
Where do you go for comfort food in the winter?
Okay. Okay. I get it the Minnesota Twins are not doing the best this season. You do have to admit that catching a game at Target Field is fun regardless if the Twins win or lose.
I am impressed each time I go with the different food and drink offerings. Plus, I am a total sucker for helmet nachos.
I guess for me going to a game is about the experience rather than about how anyone plays the game.
So, if you are the opposite of me. Give my approach a try sometime. Maybe, just maybe, you’ll enjoy the experience more than you thought you could.
Give some of the items on my list a try:
1. Try some food you haven’t tried before. AZ Canteen or Turkey to Go are always on my list of places to stop.
2. Grab a drink in one of the many bars at Target Field.
3. Meet a member of the staff. There are some really neat people who work at Target Field. Get to know one or a few of them.
4. Try a new beer!
5. Walk around–There are always promotions and fun things to do around the ball park so stop and try one of them.
6. Start a conga line. Why not???
7. Play some TWINGO because it is fun!
8. Talk to the person next to you about the song that you would have during your at bat.
9. Bet on the character race. I bet my cracker jacks on Spot every time.
10. Enjoy the people that you came with!
Because if you are not having fun. Make your own fun.
What’s your favorite thing to do at Target Field?
- #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?