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.
Today is dreary, yesterday I noticed all of the restaurant patios have been taken down, and we are now back to the time of leaving for work when it is dark and coming home when it is dark.
When this transition happens each year I feel my body want to go into hibernation. I force myself to make plans to accomplish something when I get off of work and ultimately they never happen. Currently, I have been organizing my recipes for three weeks.
I know I am not the only one who feels this way.
One thing I actually accomplish when I feel this way is making really good comfort foods. This includes thick soups, chili, and any type of squash I can get my hands on. Slow cooking foods and the smell that comes from them is rewarding. During the fall this is the type of food that inspires me.
I have been to the Cheeky Monkey in Saint Paul twice recently because their soup is exactly what fall tastes like. Don’t worry I will include them in a future post. Those soups have exactly what I need to warm my bones.
What other restaurants around the Twin Cities are making really good comfort foods? What foods inspire you when we lose our daylight time?
because sometimes I need to try something new.
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.
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.
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?
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?