Tuesday, October 31, 2006

Only 40 days left!

So, if you're shopping for my big 3 - 0, and just completely stumped on a good gift, there's still plenty of time left to get me some of my favorite things.

Thursday, October 26, 2006

Auirga over Azia

(That's funnier if you know that Auriga is also the name of a constellation and Azia is pronounced Asia, although I said AhZah for years. Get it? It's like a Moon over my Hammy.)

I swear, Auriga's happy hour is just the best in town if you want to go highbrow without dropping a ton of cash. After a particularly harrowing day of getting ripped off, just one more time by those pilferers that took my purse, I needed to feel a little pampered. I needed a treat. Or at least to be treated like a human being again.
My darling friend Laura, selflessly agreed to forgo her earlier plans for the evening and accompany me to happy hour. Their drink specials are half off on all well drinks, cheap tap beer and a $3 glass of a red or a white wine. I ordered the red, an interesting blend of Temperanillo and Cabernet. They served it in one of those lovely big, bordeaux glasses. Although, with my first sip, I nearly gulped it down through my eyeball, as my aim was thrown off by their enormity.
During their happy hour (5p.m. - 7 p.m.) all of their gourmet pizzas are half off. Last night we ordered smoked chicken, with purnes that were the texture of fig paste and a smattering of a really mild blue cheese. It was delicious. Laura was eating hers at a very leisurely pace, while it was all I could do not to hork it down.
The bar started to fill up and we decided it was time to go somewhere else. After much discussion and debate, we decided on the Caterpiller bar that's attached to Azia. Laura and I remembered getting really good chicken wings there once. Playing on the two flat screen TV's in the bar was some bizarro PBS special Madame Butterfly DVD. It was really odd to see fat, white people dressed up in kimonos and white face paint. Fortified by my three glasses of red wine at Auriga, I soldiered on. I ordered my usual, a Mt. Gay and diet coke with a lime. There was something off about the Diet Coke. Not so great. As we were pouring over the menu my friend Eric joined us. He had recently escaped from a work sponsored happy hour and quickly ordered a Campari and soda, his latest drink of choice. It's very... pink. And... bubbly. And that's about all I have to say about that.
Laura, fiend that she is, ordered a martini.
For food we decided on the Ping Pang Pow wings, which come in four flavors. We decided on oyster wings. I was tempted to just order a little oyster on the half shell but they offer about a dozen varieties. How are you supposed to know what's fresh? They couldn't all possibly have been flown in that day, so I decided to skip it. We also ordered crispy springrolls filled with avacado. Those came with some kind of bengin dipping sauce. I really couldn't quite taste what that was for, but the texture combination of the silky avacado and crunchy, fried wrappers was wonderful. I grabbed a wing and sunk my teeth in. I had to tilt my head back and frantically suck in air in a vain attempt to cool them down. They were wonderful. Salty, dark and carmel colored with a hint of spice. Delicious. I swallowed and took another bite. That's when it hit me like a rouge wave on a fishing boat in the arctic cirlce. Ahhhh choo!!! OW! ....ow!!! owowowowowow!
I had done the unimaginable. I had sneezed a wedge of crispy, spicy, salty chicken skin up my nose and into my sinues. OW. And WOW is that a weird feeling. I was never one of those kids who either stuck crayons up my nasal cavidy nor laughed so hard that milk squirted out of my nose. No. This was a new sensation. Dare I say, never felt before, this side of the Jim Rose circus. Good freaking GOD! I was able to dislodge the offending food and take another sip of my beverage. But, I have to say, that pretty much killed the rest of the experience. I didn't another wing (although, they were quite tasty, and I'd reccommend them to any one who doesn't have allergies.) It was just that I could taste them when I inhaled. That's weird.

Wednesday, October 11, 2006

The Purse Pilferers

They're claiming that I chose the restaurant, but I really don't recall making any such decision. FireLake, in downtown Minneapolis, located in the Radisson lobby is a terrible place for a happy hour. There aren't really any gathering pockets, the food's not that great and the wine list is abyssmal. This is where I go if I have to go somewhere for a work lunch and Zelo is packed.

I guess the food is okay. The entrees are, anyway. While we ordered the overly smokey and unwieldy wings, stale tasting chips, cold fries, watery/greasy artichoke dip and passable flat bread pizzas, someone was watching us.

Luckily, I'd just finished a dirty martini with blue cheese stuffed olives when Laura asked me, "Where are our purses?"


Yup, they were gone. What ensued was a little chaotic. One coworker actually had the fucking nerve to CHASTISE me for where I lay my purse, next to my foot, on the floor. "Ooooh, no. Purse 101." What the fuck is that? Ladies out there, was there some sort of class that I missed. Some fucking certificate handed out along with the opportunity to be glib in the face of some one's misfortune? Really? Would you prefer that I just lay down right here on the floor so it's that much easier for you to kick me, you smug ugly purse toting floozy? Of COURSE no one stole YOURS it this side of 1974 TACKY! Mine was cute and very hip. Why, I'd just seen in this weeks People Style issue (shut up) that this was one of the cool, hip purses for the season. It was the Kylie Minouge of purses! Just petite enough, supple, sturdy and downright ADORABLE!

More than anything, though, is the reaction that our discovery that we'd been burgled didn't flap anyone at the restaurant. I know, that I'm downtown and there's plenty of crime around here, but aren't you at all worried that this crime happened in the middle of your restaurant at your peak time of business? First of all, the manager looks just like one of the cast members from Saturday Night Live. He had no chin. I cannot respect a man who lacks a chin. It's undignified.

We had to give our report to two transit cops, chubby soulless creatures. They said that they would check the dumpsters in the area, but I could see it in their eyes that they were lying to me. Pacify the bitch. Yeah, sure. You wanna pacify me, I want a replacement purse, I want that exact same wallet, the $100 crocodile skin beauty that I bought at Marshall Fields last Christmas. I want all of my damn lipsticks back!

More than anything, though, really, I wish that the manager of Firelake had at least pretended to care that a crime took place in his restaurant on his watch. And if only I could have been comforted by some decent food. Their appetizers really do suck.

Monday, October 09, 2006

Cabin Bisque

I have just returned from the wilds of Merifield! Well, the wilds near Merifield. Honestly, it wasn't very wild. More rustic now that I think about it. But still! I have returned triumphant! My fantastic and frequently roadtripping friend Andy invited me up to her cabin this weekend. There were a few of us (and several bottles of wine.) The first night was way too much of everything, and I ended up sleeping more soundly than I'd care to admit.
Okay, okay, fine. Sleeping/passing out... really. Who's taking notes. I did utter the words, "Ahms gawnna go ta bed naaw." And others agreed. Therefore it counts as sleeping.
Since we didn't go anywhere, but there was much good food, I thought I'd try to put up a quick post about what we had. I know that I promised all half dozen of you that I'd try to post more often, so don't say that I never did anything for ya.
On the way up to the cabin, Andy and I took sort of a miniature meat tour of Hwy 25. The first place we stopped was McDonald's meats. We would have been insane not to. We were on a tiny country road stuck behind a semi and three SUVs. Also, there was a sign for FREE SAMPLES. Being a complete and unabashed free sample whore, I yanked the wheel to the side and we slid into a parking spot. FREE SAMPLES! Of beef jerky no less! We walked in and immediately I was enveloped my the warm, smokey meat smells. We reasoned that we could probably get the beef roast that Andy planned to make for dinner cheaper and better there.
Andy, independent, Women's Studies major marked right up to that counter and said, "I've never done this before I need a beef roast is it good for braising or is a beef roast just a roast?" The lady behind the blinked.
"I dunno. Same ta me."
Helpful lil' minx, aint cha?
I peered over, well, under Andy's arm (she's really much taller than me.) The meat looked good. There was a lot of marbling. We agreed on a cut and bought it. I'd be surprised later to find the two misshapen bones in the meat that we'd purchased. They were kind of jagged and on the side. I really did expect more from them. We were going to get bacon, but all the had was side fat. Which looked like bacon, but how were we supposed to know if it was smoked? So, we skipped it. And, uh, the free samples? There were none. Well, actually, there were two. The Maple raisin flavored summer sausage tin was full of free samples, but EEWW! And there was one little sliver of regular summer sausage that I ate. And I didn't tell Andy because I didn't want to share. It was really garlicky and if she didn't notice in the car that I reeked, she must have had a cold. Lady that she is, she said nothing.
I also grabbed a little sack of frozen Italian sausage. There wasn't a price, and it took three of the meat market employees to figure it out. It was only $2.63! Now they were talkin' my language!
Andy bought some teriyaki beef jerky, taste unseen (or whatever) that we ripped into in the car. Now I know why they didn't have any free samples. It was naaasty. Dissatisfied, we agreed to attempt to pawn the meat wads off on a friend of ours foolish enough to be sucked into one of those no carb diets. Heh, heh. That's what you get, you no bread eatin' nut.
Our next meat stop was in Pierz at Thelen. The parking lot smelled divine. There was a smoldering oil bin out back that said "inedible," but it smelled reaallly edible. I took this to be a good sign. Inside, we got two pounds of some wonderful smelling smokey bacon. We couldn't really think of anymore meat that we needed to buy so we only left with the bacon.
That night Andy cooked up the roast, but between the cabin clock being an hour late and the prodigious amount of wine consumed, I have no idea how the roast really was. I thought the bones were weird. We should have deboned it. Anyway, the next morning I went to go for a little extra nibble off the leftovers.
"Oh, yeah I saved it," said Andy, face buried in her coffee cup, "but there was mostly sauce left." I pulled out of the fridge what I would have sworn was coffee cake date filling, if I hadn't known better. There were a couple of teeny bits of brown sticking out the middle.
"Sauce! You fiend! That's FAT!" So, of course the roast was really good.
That morning I made hash with onion, garlic, new potatoes and a pastilla pepper and cracked a fried egg over top of it, for each of the cabin guests. Then I fried up the bacon. I practically needed a stool and a whip to keep them out of the kitchen! I could have done the whole two pounds and it would have been gone. It was smokey and undeniably porky bacon. When I cooked it up, it didn't render out too much fat, but was perfectly thick cut and meaty. Jeffery Steingarten is right. Everything is better with bacon. But a cabin breakfast with good bacon is next to heaven.
After the morning meal, I went to sit out on the deck. They have these Adirondack, plastic chairs and the ledge of the deck is just high enough to lean back and rest your feet on. I watched two loons dive out in the middle of the lake. The clouds feathered and streaked across the fall sky while the brown and deep red maple and oak leaves cushioned the horizon.
We lost most of our guests and not wanting to make another trip into town, I realized that we didn't have most of the ingredients need for my Tuscan Soup, the BIG DEAL MEAL. That I'd been promising. I would have to improvise. I did have the Italian sausage from McDonald's, but after all the rest of our disappointments from there, I didn't hold out much hope.
I broke it up and tossed it into a large pot. The familiar spicy aroma began to waft through the cabin. Pork, basil, garlic, fennel... All my favorite sausage friends had come out to play! It was wonderful. I toasted up the end of a Baguette that we'd gotten at Nelson's bread, also on the way up (baguette, was only eh, but their whole-wheat bread was wonderful.) And rubbed it with butter and a garlic clove. All was delicious. So, I'd have to say that A) I'm one creative SOB or DOB, as the case may be and 2) Vegetarians don't know what they're missing.
So, below is my recipe for what we dubbed Cabin Bisque. But really, remember, it's mostly about using whatever you have on hand.

Cabin Bisque

1/2 lb good Italian Sausage

1 small onion diced

1 large garlic clove diced

2 cans of chicken broth

1 can of diced tomatoes

A couple of glugs of Bloody Mary mix ( I used Zing-Zang, which might sound stupid, but is seriously the best Bloody mix EVER. Really.)

1 small container of V8

Generous amount of black pepper

Dash of cayenne pepper

Little bit of salt. Taste, though, 'cause all that canned stuff gets salty.

1/2 pint of half and half

Brown meat. Add onion and saute until onion is translucent. Add garlic clove and saute until fragrant. Add the rest of the ingredients up to the half and half. Stir. Eat bite of sausage, 'cause it's good. And don't spit it back out again, just because it also now tastes like cold, canned chicken broth. You're the dummy that ate it. Simmer about 20 minutes until reduced. Fix one cocktail in the meantime and admire sunset. Once it's reduced down a bit and the flavors are blended slowly stir in the half and half. This works best if the cream is at room temperature so it won't curdle. But, even if it does, eat it anyway. Remember that time you drank the curdled White Russian? That was good... or at least as far as you can remember. You were pretty drunk that night. Eat it anyway. Dunk the garlic bread the in the bisque and enjoy!

Wednesday, October 04, 2006

Shiny New Happy Yumi Puff Puff WOOOO!

My God in Heaven. I never thought that would be such an ordeal. While trying to figure out how to deal with this adorable new look on my blog, I nearly lost my mind! Half of the frusteration was just trying to post a goddamn picture of myself on here. I've mutilated what was my favorite picture of my wedding day. Now, there's an adorable, happy Matt and a headless me. It's creepy and sad all at the same time. This is in addition to not figuring out WTF I'm doing. So, I hope you enjoy the new, nicer version of Eating the Minneapple, and those of you that read this, feel free to post comments! It's be nice to know that you're out there. Thanks! More food stuff to follow.

Lost on You

GAH! I spent at least a solid hour writing up a HIGHLARIOUS new post and the effer just takes off on me! What's up with that.? Oh, well. It wasn't really a very good meal anyway.
Instead, I'll just tell you about the last meal I ate, because really, it's been way too long between posts here. The four of you that read this occassionally have probably given up on me.
Last night I had a lovely dinner at the Muddy Pig with my wonderful husband. I feel like we always have the best conversations there. The music is always great, and I think that puts me in a good mood. We heard Mason Jennings (which I sang a little bit. I live for public humiliation.) There was the Beatles, "Two of Us," GREAT song, Modest Mouse, Ella Fitgerald. It was great. We feasted on the same damn thing we get almost every time. It's called Pastalaya, which I agree, is a really stupid name for a neighborhood restaurant to be employing. Really, that's something Applebees would serve. (Whaddup Laura! Woot!) But it's damn tasty and the perfect thing to cause a little spike in the blood pressure. Seriously, one serving and you've got your sodium intake for the week taken care of. It's sauteed kilbesa, ham, green peppers (which I usually hate, and are easy to avoid) onion that creates this greasy "sauce," if you can call it that. Really, it's more like "fat drippings" and it's all tossed together with penne pasta. It's so good and only $11! Since we are still, to use that ugly little euphamism "poor" (almost types poop. Oops.) This is an ideal dinner. Also, I was able to get myself a cheap $6 glass of totally drinkable red table wine. Woo hoo! Now, that's a date night.
Then we had to leave and go to the bar he works at for an after dinner drink. $6 wine is only allowed in small doses on this budget. Poop indeed.