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Why Groupon needs to go away


Groupon

I am the first one to admit that I was on the Groupon bandwagon. I loved the idea of getting something for a fraction of the cost.

At first, Groupon was that place where you could find out about something you had never heard about before. In fact, my first purchase on Groupon was a wine tasting. I was extremely excited that I would be the type of person that would go to a wine tasting and that I was the first of my friends to do something like this.

The funny part of all of this was that I never ended up using the Groupon.

I think I liked the idea of it more than actually using it.

But, now I have fallen off the bandwagon. After Groupon started sending daily emails with promotions I would never be interested in, learning about how they treat the businesses that use it, and the restrictions, I wish that Groupon would just go away.

Before Groupon would send one deal a day. Today I receive 3 emails and one was for electronic cigarettes. I don’t smoke. There is nothing novel about the deals that they have and they are not very local any longer.

Why aren’t they local? Because the businesses that have used the service usually end up worse off than they were before. I was told by a business owner that they made only about 25%. So, if it was a coupon for a restaurant worth $40 that you buy for $20 the restaurant only makes $10.

This makes places have to put restrictions on the deals. Cannot be used on happy hour, drinks, tips, or they can only be used for specific items.

Then things like this happen…

I was out to dinner on a Friday night when a group of people who were seated by me attempted to use a Groupon. This Groupon was actually for the restaurant that used to be in the place of this restaurant that closed but, this restaurant said it would accept the coupon anyway because they didn’t want the people to be out of their money.

The only problem was that these people ordered off the happy hour menu.

Does anyone really think that you should be able to use a Groupon on top of really great happy hour prices?

What proceeds to happen was the customers throws a fit. It was an epic fit that basically ruined the meals of everyone around them.  This is exactly why restrictions on coupons hurt the businesses that use them.

People don’t read the restrictions and then blame the businesses.

The staff at the restaurant handled it in the best way possible. Apologizing about the mix up but standing firm that they would not accept the coupon because of the restriction. The fit went on for about 20 more minutes where the customers continued to try and argue with the staff member to get them to back down. All the while yelling about how they would never come back here, that they were going to give them horrible reviews, and tell everyone they know never to come here.

I wished so deeply in my heart that the staff member could say, ” yeah, we think it would be best if you never come back here again too.”

I also hope they are reading this and realize how they were completely inappropriate.

All of us who want to eat great food and are willing to pay for it want coupons with restrictions to go away for good. Or I beg of you, if you are going to use a coupon of any kind don’t argue about the restrictions.

because Groupons just need to go away.

@mplsgossipgirl

What do you think? Do you use Groupon’s frequently and want them to stay? If you want them to go, why?

Science and Cooking Class for Free from edX


Edx

I love to learn and take classes. If I was a billionaire I most likely would have been in college forever. Taking edX online classes helps fill that need for lifelong learning and they are free. That is the best part.

Edx is a non-profit started by Harvard and MIT and the goal is to bring the best of higher education all around the world. I think it is accomplishing its goal.

The class that I am currently taking is on Science and Cooking and to me it is unreal that this is offered on the internet for free. The first part that I am working on is heavily chemistry focused which is something that I hated in high school. I had a good teacher in college that did what this class does well, it uses real examples to demonstrate chemistry.

This class will add to my knowledge of food and cooking and make me a more inventive cook by having a better understanding of the science of cooking.

If Science and Cooking isn’t your thing, there are many other classes listed out there for you to try. There are several classes on poetry coming up soon. You could take a class on computer science or linear algebra. There is even a class about China.

Another thing that I like about edX is that it is completely on your schedule. Yes, when the classes offer certificates you have due dates but, this course seems to have a really great timeline to get it done.

If you are not working towards the certificate you can just have fun learning on the site.

You can find the website for edX here: https://www.edx.org/

because learning something new is always fun.

@mplsgossipgirl

Have you taken any classes from edX? What did you think? Are you going to try it out?

Real Meal Deli


Named appropriately, Real Meal Deli has awesome lunch offerings in the Minneapolis Skyway. Walk right by the Subway, Taco John’s, and Starbucks to a non-chain fast food deli.

Real Meal Deli gives people a fresh, affordable, and minimally processed menu. Started by a chef who has been working in the restaurant business since 1986, he wanted people who work in areas where there are many fast food offerings to have a place that is fast but fresh and healthy. A trend he thinks will never go out of style.

As you can see above, this place offers a meal with color. Red, green, purple, and yellow make for a beautiful lunch. My favorite item on their menu is their small sack which includes a small salad, cup of soup, and bread for under 7 dollars. When you order this lunch you have the choice of over 12 salads and 3 different kinds of soup. If you can, try the curried butternut squash soup. It has a hint of curry and is perfect for a fall day.

The sandwiches are also very popular and next time I am going to try the Cranberry Goat Turkey Sandwich. Is Thanksgiving here yet?

Real Meal Deli can be found in Minneapolis at the Baker Center and the TriTech Center and in Saint Paul at the 1st National Building. They each have different hours and some of the locations serve breakfast for under 5 dollars and a lunch special.

Have an event coming up? They also cater. Under 10 dollars a person you can get an awesome lunch or breakfast.

because fresh and local never go out of style.

@mplsgossipgirl

What is your favorite place to eat in the skyway?

Real Meal Deli  on Urbanspoon

yumPower – Free Cooking Classes


Who actually offers cooking classes for free? Well, yumPower does.

Want to learn healthy recipes? Are you in a food rut and sick  of making the same meals over and over?

There are free cooking classes with Cooks of Crocus Hill that are being offered in connection with yumPower!  Go to the yumPower website and sign up. They are being held at both the Shoreview Community Center and the Saint Louis Park Rec Center from 6:30-8:30PM on a few dates in September-November. You can choose from the topics of Ditch the Diet or Family Meals in Minutes.

Along with walking away with new recipes and skills you will also get a swag bag for attending the class.

Remember those hilarious commercials with Andrew Zimmern from Bizzare Foods eating spiders with children during lunch? That commercial is part of the yumPower campaign to help people eat healthier. A topic that Andrew is passionate about. He decided to partner with Health Partners a health insurance provider in Minnesota who started the yumPower campaign and recently teamed up with Park Nicollet. But, you do not have to be a Health Partners member to go to the cooking classes or to use the website.

This is only one part of what the health insurance companies in Minnesota are starting to try and combat obesity. The yumPower website offers a restaurant locator which shows you healthier items on the menu and a My Kitchen section that offers healthy recipes.

because what is better than something fun that is free!

@mplsgossipgirl

Caffrey’s Deli


I can’t believe I lived in Uptown for a year and never discovered this place! On my way out of town on a recent trip a friend suggested we stop here to get a quick bite to eat. I had never been there before but I remember seeing their menus all around town. I thought it was actually called Laffrey’s because of the font of the first letter. On Lake and Lyndale, this place is now one of my favorites in Uptown.

Although, I have only had one sandwich so far, I would go back. It was a great turkey sandwich. I think if I still lived over there that I would have them on speed dial when I get to lazy to make dinner. They deliver!

Caffrey’s Deli  is old school and does not really have a website. They do have their menu online because a fan decided to put it online. Stop in sometime and have a sandwich. You won’t regret it.

Because there is something good about the old school way of doing things.

@mplsgossipgirl

Caffrey's Deli & Subs on Urbanspoon

Duluth, MN


Looking for a weekend trip in Minnesota? Try Duluth and the North Shore. It is a beautiful place to visit all four seasons during the year. I have been there during the Summer and Winter and I am hoping to make it up to the shore for Fall this year.

The best part of going to the North Shore is that you can find so many different things for free. For my recent trip, the most costly expense was gas and then food. Not that the food was expensive, I just kept eating. 🙂

One of the first stops we made when we got into town on Friday was Lake Avenue (called Lake Ave by the locals).  A cozy restaurant located by the famous smoked salmon shop in Canal Park.  It is a great place to get a drink with friends, with a really great late night menu. Below is the Mixed Olive Bruschetta ($5 on late night). It was good and I wished I would have eaten a meal here and had a few cocktails. They have a great beer list as well. Next time I am going to try a concotion that was suggested by a server there, Crispin Cider with a shot of Ginger Liqueur. You know it is a good restaurant when the servers stay after their shift to eat a meal and suggest different items because they have eaten it before. Lake Ave has music as well. Check the schedule on their website.

Going camping? I did!  It is a great cheap way to travel the North Shore. The best way to do it is to have friend that have camping equipment. Thanks to everyone in Duluth that so graciously borrowed your equipment to me. Our Saturday started off with a trip to the local Co-op which had lots of choices for camp food and a great breakfast selection (Vegan Mocha Chip Muffins). We made a stop at a beach, the picture at the beginning of this post is from that spot and spent the afternoon waiting for the sun to go down a bit. We chose a site that was at the turn off for Wolf Ridge and had to hike about a mile or so in with water.  Pack light and bring bug spray. We ran into some Boy Scouts who were preparing for a hiking excursion in New Mexico and took in the beautiful views (see picture below).

If you don’t camp or like to glam-p. There are several places you can find a room and lots of vacation rentals on VRBO. I would suggest staying in either the North Shore or Duluth. That way you can have enough time to experience each place. If you have more than a weekend I would travel to Duluth and then to the North Shore or the other way around.  You could also try what we did where we started our trip with a day in Duluth and went up to the North Shore for a night and then back to Duluth. It made the drive much shorter. Below is the view from our campsite.

On Sunday, we headed back to Duluth and on the way we did a few scenic stops. It is really easy to do, when you are driving up from Duluth or down from the North Shore you can just turn off where the signs say. The picture below is from Palisade Head one of the most popular places on the route. Really, all you should do is make sure you have enough time to make this relaxing drive and stop along the way for things that look interesting.  I am not one for gift shops, but next time I make the trip up the shore I want to stop in Castle Danger at the new brewery that they have going there.

When we got back into Duluth we headed to Park Point to swim in Lake Superior. I cannot express on here how much I love to go swimming there. I feels like you are in the ocean in Minnesota. This year the water is pretty warm and it felt good to get in and cool off. There is quite a bit of debris on the beach left over from the flooding but it didn’t bother anyone and helped with creating some shade. I unsuccessfully tried my hand at paddle boarding, lets just say my middle name is not grace.

The next day we went to my new favorite spot to get a meal in Duluth. Thank goodness I was in Duluth with some friends who had lived there before and knew all the really great places to eat. Duluth Grill is a must. If you haven’t stopped there yet, you need to stop there because the meals are simply amazing. So good in fact that I had more than one meal here during my short trip. This is one place where if you are Vegan or Gluten Free you are not sacrificing any taste. It also does not compare to any place in the cities. Sort of like a Perkins (decor) with REALLY GOOD food.  It was recently featured in Diners Drive-Ins and Dives and even though I think Guy Fieri is a total tool box, he made a good decision when he decided to come here, I cannot say the same about his haircut. Duluth Grill strives to use quality ingredients and the food shows that. Plus, there is something on the menu for everyone. For dinner you can order a burger, buffalo tofu melt, or a smoked salmon wrap.

Their breakfast is also great! Take a look at that cinnamon roll it is one of the ten choices of a side that you get with many of the breakfasts (the flannel hash is good too). Duluth Grill serves cage free organic eggs and has some unique options for breakfast. I really liked the curried polenta skillet, kinda spicy and very filling.
Duluth Grill on Urbanspoon

I got the french toast with apples on it. YUM! I got about 1/4th of the way into it and was full. I shared it with the rest of the table who loved it as much as I did. Even though Duluth Grill is not located in Canal Park it is worth it to drive there. Way better then the chain restaurants in Canal Park, what a waste of beautiful space.

We spent more time at the beach in Park Point and ate some smoked salmon spread from Lou’s and headed over to Northern Waters Smokehaus for some more salmon sandwiches. You must go there as well. One of the best sandwiches I have ever had and even bought some more salmon spread to bring home.  As we loaded back into the car for the ride home to 100 degree plus weather in the cities, I was sad this adventure was ending, but excited to do this again. New Ulm Oktoberfest anyone?

I have links on most of the places that I went and you can click on them for more information.

because traveling with friends is the best way to travel.

@mplsgossipgirl

Osaka


Yes, it is off the freeway. Yes, the decor outside is tacky. But, Yes, they do have happy hour, a pretty good one at that. Although, they have Osaka restaurants all over the suburbs in Minnesota each one is very different. Chain, not a chain? I am not completely sure. They each seem to have different happy hours.  So, do not take what I am saying as going for each of the Osaka’s across the suburbs.

The particular restaurant that I have visited is in St. Louis Park and has happy hour from 4-6PM and some kind of lunch special that I am not exactly sure of. They do not advertise their happy hours but they should.

Osaka is both a hibachi (I have not been) and a sushi restaurant. Although, on their website is called a seafood and steakhouse. Maybe, they have some kind of identity disorder.

I have been here several times and although the service is horrible. They left us outside for 15-20 minutes after they seated us without taking a drink order. I still keep going back because I like the sushi and the happy hour. If you can handle not having great service but getting fairly good sushi this might be a place for you to try.

They have a fairly nice patio outside, other than the fact that your view is a highway. The decor inside is typical of an Asian restaurant with water features and has a modernish twist.

Although, I don’t think I would ever take anyone here for a meal, I like it for when I don’t want to cook dinner and craving sushi. Although, I have heard about Sushi Tango in uptown having a great happy hour. So I might try that next time. Let me know what you think of the other Osaka locations or places that you like to get sushi.

because sometimes I don’t want to cook. When that happens, it is best to call in reinforcements.

@mplsgossipgirl

Osaka Sushi & Hibachi on Urbanspoon

Restaurant Week – Acqua


With beautiful views of White Bear Lake, Acqua was my choice for MSPMAG’s Summer Restaurant Week in Minnesota.

I was blessed with the perfect day yesterday to spend time by the lake. I have been to White Bear Lake many times and have never dined at this restaurant.  It is truly a hidden gem, that people are now discovering. White Bear Lake is about 25 Minutes outside of the cites and is worth the drive.

Acqua in my opinion is an Italian Seafood place. Meaning, when you come here you need to try something that has come from the sea and also has pasta with it. It has charm because it is located in a small house on a one way road and has a wonderful patio. Although, you cannot make reservations for the patio which is often full on sunny days like yesterday, dining in the house is equally as nice.

The Restaurant Week menu had at least 3 choices for each course allowing diners many options to choose from. My suggestion would be to try the item on the menu that seems the most unique to you and that you would not normally try. Those are always the menu items that I enjoy the most. I started with the Cantaloupe and Honeydew Puree with Strawberry and Mint.

This was definitely one of those items that I was not sure if I would like or if I would normally pick at a restaurant. But, it was great and look at that design. With hints of Cayenne Pepper this cold sweet soup was just what was needed to start off a great meal. I also had a few bites of the field greens with the tomato vinaigrette, also good, but more on the safe side of things.

You also get bread with honey butter while dining here…. I literally could not stop eating it. The wait staff who were friendly and professional kept bringing me more. Thank goodness for them.

Then on to the main event. You cannot go wrong with any of the choices on the restaurant week menu and from what I was hearing from other diners you can’t go wrong with virtually anything on the menu. I was told I need to come back and try the braised shank.

I had the main picture of this post, a Spaghetti with Grilled Shrimp, Roasted Tomato and Lemon Butter Sauce. It was delicious and I finished every bite. I regretted afterwards not saving some for leftovers.

I also tried the Eggplant Parmesan which had a delightful sauce on it.

Last but certainly not least was the desserts. Choose which ever item sounds good to you and go for it. You cannot make a wrong choice here. I had both the Creme Brulee and the Chocolate Souffle with the amazing graham cracker ice cream. I also saw the Pistachio Semifreddo come out and regretted not trying it.

Overall, try this place out for Summer Restaurant Week today or tomorrow and hope that next Restaurant Week they will be back again. Make sure to get your reservations in here early, you will not be disappointed. Heck, come here anytime you can because their regular menu looks fabulous also.

because sitting by a lake eating good food is what I want to be doing in heaven

@mplsgossipgirl

Acqua Restaurant and Wine Bar on Urbanspoon

Art in Bloom


Tonight! The Minneapolis Institute of Arts is hosting “flowers after hours” from 6-9PM.

I went last year and had a blast. If I were you, I would park  at the Wells Fargo parking garage located at 28th Street and Fourth Avenue South. There is a shuttle that will then bring you to the MIA or Valet Parking is $10.

There is a cash bar and live music.

Because its free!

@mplsgossipgirl

Angel Food- New Bakery from Hells Kitchen


If you haven’t heard yet…. Hell’s Kitchen is opening a new bakery called Angel Food. That will be located above the current restaurant site.

Although, Hell’s Kitchen is a successful restaurant, Angel Food will be a completely separate venture started by the same people.  So, to off set costs they are promoting some deals on the KickStarter website: http://www.kickstarter.com/projects/angelfoodmn/angel-foodbakers-from-hell

Everything looks delicious. And not only will you get some good deals like for $1,000 a cup of coffee a day for life or for $500 be a baker for a day, you will be helping kick-start a company. How cool is that?

As for me, I am going to get some cupcakes for 10$.

 

because who can resist a cupcake.

 

@mplsgossipgirl

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