Hour(s) of Happiness

•April 16, 2012 • Leave a Comment

It’s the beginning of a new week, which means it’s time to mention a hidden or not so hidden good happy hour special!

This week I bring to you…<drumroll>….French Meadow Cafe!

Their Hours of Happiness are Monday through Thursday 3-5 p.m.

My favorite pick:  Happy Hour fish tacos ($5), glass of Happy Hour white wine ($3).  Okay, let’s be real…make that Happy Hour white wine x2 ($6), and one of The Chocolate Chip cookies on your way out the door ($2).  If you don’t mind being a slight pain in the ass, ask them to heat it up a little bit.  Warm cookies are so much better.

Anyway, once you try those perfectly crunchy, slightly spicy little fish tacos you will want to write to me, so feel free to save postage and just post all thank yous below.  Seriously.

The cha-ching:  For $13 plus a generous tip for your fine server, you just bought yourself this week’s happiness.  Salud!

P.S.  Did you know that French Meadow Bakery was the first certified organic bakery in the U.S.!?  Neither did I, but their website here told me so.

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Saturday Brew Review

•April 15, 2012 • Leave a Comment

As luck would have it, as I was walking out the door yesterday to head over and check out Harriet Brewing, I saw a Facebook notice from South Lyndale Liquors that said anyone interested in beer should swing through after 4 p.m. for a taste of something.  Hmm…it piqued my interest and I had the time so off I went.

Turns out yesterday was the release of Leech Lake Brewing in liquor stores and my friends at SLL had the goods.  I got to taste the Imperial Pale Ale they’ve dubbed 3 Sheets, as well as their Scottish Ale, Loch Leech Monster.

3 Sheets is an easy to drink double IPA, smoothed out by a maltiness that was surprising for the type of beer, which made it even more surprising when I heard that it packs a 10.5% A.B.V. punch, and 100 IBUs!  I would have never guessed it and I now know where they got the title.  This could be a dangerous beer to have stocked in my beer fridge.  Thumbs up.

Loch Leech Monster is more of a traditional Scottish Ale.  I never considered myself a fan of Scottish Ales until I first tasted Scotty Karate by Dark Horse.  I still don’t lean toward Scottish Ales as my regular go-to beer of choice, but once in a while they sure do hit the spot, and Loch Leech is a good one.  Definitely worth trying and after sampling (and purchasing) both, as well as Leech Lake’s Blindside Pale Ale, it makes me damn happy that I’ve got regular access to a cabin not too far from good old Walker, MN.  Rumor has it, Leech Lake Brewing is looking to open a brewery-slash-bar right downtown soon and I’ll be there!

Next up, Harriet Brewing.  Now, I’ve been hearing about Harriet Brewing for a long time now, like this year old mention from Heavy Table.  I’ve had the opportunity to try a few of their beers around town, which I thought were good.  Not fantastic, but good.  Yesterday was the first time, however, that I got a chance to see for myself what all the hoopla is about.   Jason Walker, who wrote that Heavy Table piece last year said that being in the back of the brewery is “like being a guest in (owner) Jason Soward’s house”, and he was dead on.  In fact, my co-drinker and I were discussing how it brought back memories of many different house parties we’d each attended over the years.   With some funky art on the walls, a turntable spinning, some peeps playing some game that involved a hammer and nails and a big tree stump, and the bonus of Home Street Home food truck, you would never notice that you are actually standing in an alley off the corner of Minnehaha Ave and Lake Street.  And the mix of people and opportunity for people watching?  One of the best.  No contest.  In fact, we had fun making up various beginnings of jokes for the rest of the evening that included “A hippie and a pregnant lady walk in to a bar” and “An Amish dude and a Packer fan walk in to a bar…with a baby”.  Both true sightings.  Okay, maybe the guy wasn’t really Amish, but the beard and suspenders said he was.  Anyway…oh yeah….the beer.  We had the West Side IPA and the Divine Oculust Belgian-style Golden Strong.  My Saturday night partner in crime really liked them both.  I wouldn’t say I didn’t like them, but neither one really moved me to want another.  Then again, if a friend called me up tomorrow and asked if I wanted to head over to the brewery, I wouldnt’ say no.  We also didn’t agree on which one we liked best, though truly we’re not comparing apples to apples because they are two different styles of beer.  Overall what do we “like” though?  He picked the Divine and I picked the West Side.

Onward we march.  Now maybe not as straight, but there was more beer to be had on this fine Saturday evening.

Being in the neighborhood, we couldn’t pass up an opportunity to check out what was on tap over at The Blue Nile, and yet another opportunity to make up our own joke.  This one went “An athiest and a drunk homeless dude walk in to a bar…”  and so did we.  Order up!  Ommegang’s Art of Darkness, a sample of New Belgium’s Cocoa Mole’ Ale, and a Surly Furious because I love it.

Art of Darkness is a unique, deliciously drinkable ale.   It’s got some unexpected carbonation to it, paired with a smooth maltiness.  At 8.7% A.B.V., it’s no weakling, but it goes down easy.

You don’t get much more unique than New Belgium’s Cocoa Mole’.  I’m not sure I could drink an entire 12oz pour, which is how they come at The Blue Nile, but the sample was divine.  Unbelievably chocolatey, with a little cinnamon, and some spice that packs a little punch.  I’d share one with a friend, but in my opinion 12oz. of it would take it from divine to my usual description of “that’s too much”.  It’s like loving tiramisu as much as I do, but then eating an entire damn thing instead of one serving.  Wait.  Maybe a bad reference.  I think I could do that….but drink a 12 ouncer of Cocoa Mole?  Nah.

I don’t need to say anything about my Furious, do I?  It’s a love that many of us already share.

This brought me to the end of my Saturday night opportunities for bad jokes and good beer.   With that, I bid a mostly fond adieu with a Cheers to you…be you athiest, Amish, drunk, pregnant or all of the above.

Sun Street Breads

•April 13, 2012 • 2 Comments

Sun Street Breads and I have a long and storied history, unbeknownst to SSB, though, so that sort of makes me a stalker?

Anyway, Sun Street Breads and I first met a couple of years ago over at the Kingfield Farmers Market.  The Kingfield Sourdough caught my eye, winked at me, and I took it home.  It truly is a delightful sourdough.  I continued to pursue it on the weekends and was never disappointed.

Next, my lovely moved even closer to me with the opening of Sun Street Breads on the corner of 46th & Nicollet.  Of course I had to pay a visit, but feeling like I needed a change, I passed up my sweetheart sourdough and instead purchased a savory scone.  I wasn’t impressed.   Just goes to show you that cheaters never win.  I was a little put off since I had schlepped a 1 year old with me for numerous, screaming and unhappy blocks (her, not me), so when neither of us dug the scone, I gotta admit, I was pissed.  This time I schlepped numerous screaming, unappy blocks (me and her) and in a fantastically  Minnesotan, true Norwegian fashion, I declared that I was sitting shiva.  In fact, I’m pretty sure I shook my fist in the air and yelled “You’re dead to me, Sun Street!  Dead, I say!”

Later that week a good friend went for breakfast and called me from the cafe to tell me that I’d lost my mind and I must give them another chance because the biscuits were “to die!”  I hung up on her.  She repeated this attempt to sway me on 2 more occasions but I was bound and determined not to cave.

I lasted until 2 weeks ago when, in a hurry and starving I drove past Sun Street and realized I had a choice of either trying one of their lunch sammys or going to Subway.  I caved.

Since I was responsible for feeding others, our entire order consisted of a grilled cheese ($7), and 2 Kingfield Gobblers ($9/ea.).  The grilled cheese was exactly as it should be.  Buttery, a little bit crisp, and just the right amount of cheese for a lunch.  The Kingfield Gobblers are a sort of basic turkey sammy.  Nothing special and honestly, I think $9 is a little steep.   However, both sandwiches were good enough that last night I decided I would try them again for dinner.  So much for shiva.  Then again, I am a Minnesota Norwegian, so what do I know about shiva rules?

Turns out I showed up just in time to enjoy the newly released Spring Menu, which you can find out more about here.   Our table shared an order of the Tostones & Mojo ($5).  Now, I’ve had bad tostones, and I’ve had mediocre tostones, but these were delish.  Perfectly crisp, just a little bit salty and the mojo?  I could drink that shizzit.  Now we’re gettin’ somewhere!  Perhaps I was wrong, Sun Street.  Can you ever forgive me?  I’d like to resume our little love affair, especially since I also found that you have Fulton’s Sweet Child O’ Vine on tap.

I also got a chance to try the Shorewich ($12).  Mmm…a lightly crunchy cornmeal outside, and melt-in-your mouth cod on the inside.  Perfectly cooked, slightly peppery from the spiced coating and really, quite good.  Also up, the Phoenix ($10), which is a good vegetarian option.  I didn’t really “get” the charred celery, but it was interesting.  I’ve never seen it anywhere else, so I’m gonna say “nicely done” just for originality.  The toasted baguette was crunchy and chewy and good, though the inside of your mouth will curse you for the evening, which is always the case with those good baguette sandwiches, right?  The walnut spread mixed in with the goat cheese made it hearty and filling and comforting.

I also know a secret which is only a secret if you, like me, refuse to go there and find out the deets, but here ya go anyway….they have fun little buckets of kid’s toys to keep the little ones occupied, they have a decent little kid’s menu, and the servers are fabulous.

I’m happy to say that I’m prepared to resume my relationship with Sun Street.  I’m glad to have you back, my pretty.

The Cha-Ching:

Dinners from around $10-$16

Appetizers around $6

Lunch Sandwiches around $9

My opinion is that lunch options are decent to a little steep, dinner prices are good.

Di Noko’s

•April 13, 2012 • 1 Comment

Located in the heart of South Minneapolis is a deep dish pizza place that is so fantastic that I find myself daydreaming about it mid-week and waiting, sort of impatiently for Friday night to come around so I can enjoy a cold one and wait for someone to bring a box of this heaven-sent goodness right to my front door for me.  Who knew, right!?

I first read about Di Noko’s here.  With a significant other who hails from just outside of the Chicago area, a review about good deep dish pizza certainly piqued my interest.  It took approximately 2 days before we ordered one for ourselves.

I called them up, and being lucky enough to have a Minneapolis address we were within delivery range.  Our first order:  1 deep dish green olive and onion ‘za.

The pizza arrived at precisely the 45 minute mark, just as they had advised.  We were off to a good start.  It also arrived approximately 7 minutes before the above mentioned significant other and once I opened the box and took a look at the beauty of a pizza pie in front of me, there was not going to be any waiting around.

At first bite I thought the sauce tasted a little sweet, but nanoseconds after that first delicious swallow the spice hit and what a gorgeous combo it is.  Sweet, spicy, robust and in a league of it’s own as far as local pizza sauces go.  Then there’s the cheese.  Oh man, the cheese.    Word has it the cheese is fresh out of a Wisconsin dairy and you can tell.  On the deep dish there’s  a lot of it, too.  In fact, upon delivery I marveled at how heavy the pizza box was and the response from the delivery driver was “you should try one with meat on it.”  Indeed.

Di Noko’s offers other crusts and other sauces in addition to the Chicago Deep Dish with Di Noko’s sauce, but seriously…get the deep dish.

The Cha-Ching:  12-inch Deep Dish Pizza = $13.99.  Additional toppings = $2.00 per topping.

I’m telling you, for right around $20 plus a good tip for the driver, you can feed yourself, someone else, and a kid and still maybe have a slice leftover for lunch.  Not only that, it’ll be $20.00 worth of the most drool-worthy, dream about it later, deep dish pizza around, which basically means it’s worth it.  Trust me.

I mean seriously…check this out:

It’s a beautiful thing, this pizza.

You want one for yourself, check ’em out here.  When you find that you’ve gained a few L.B.s because you can’t stop ordering it, don’t blame it on me.  At least you’ll be fat and happy.  Di Noko’s is Di Bomb Diggity.