This girl is funny...not skinny.

This girl is funny...not skinny.

Monday, March 30, 2015

Fluffy girl's food weekend!

Hello everyone!

So Hubby and I are huge fans of Food network.  (Who isn't?  Game shows involving food, cooking shows involving how to make food, commercials for food places....it's all fantastic!) We especially enjoy Diners, Drive ins, and Dives , which, if you are not familiar, is a show where a fluffy guy named Guy Fieri goes around America and finds places that look skanky outside, but serve awesome food inside.  Hubby and I watch the show and always talk about taking a trip to someplace just for the food.

Well, we did just that this past weekend.  We went to the Twin Cities of Minneapolis and St. Paul, Minnesota, for the express purpose of checking out places Guy had been to.  There was no shortage of places to go to.  We set aside two solid days and two partial days for the eating project.  And now, I'm going to share with you the places we went and the food we ate.  You know I'm fluffy, which means I like food of all sorts, but my goal this trip around was to pick foods I probably would never eat in my real life.  (So...no Cheetos.)

Stop #1. Thursday night.

Pizzeria Lola:  This place is smack dab in the middle of a residential street.  The claim to fame is wood fired pizza made in a giant copper oven in the center of the restaurant.  That's their claim to fame and oh yeah, the pizza is GREAT! We had the Korean B-B-Q pizza.  Win!  But this is so much more than a pizza place.  Nothing is deep fried.  

I'll let that settle in a minute.

Nope, nothing deep fried here.  So, what, they don't have a starter menu then?  Nope, they do.  And it's pretty much all vegetables.  I'm not even kidding.  So how is that a win for a fluffy girl?

Well I'll tell you:  Those veggies are THE BOMB!  Hubby and I shared the seasonal veggie dish, with Brussels sprouts and squash and onions.  Three of my least favorite things to eat.  But this was, in a word, yum.  I don't know what voodoo they did on those veggies, but I'd think about going back just for that. 

So roasted veggies, Korean BBQ on the pizza, then what?

How about olive oil on the ice cream?

You read that right.  Hubby had choco/vanilla twist soft serve with olive oil and sea salt. I would have, but they had a home made caramel and sea salt that was so good I wanted to bathe in it.

That was night number 1.  We were barely in the hotel and our eating weekend was off to a great start.  

Stop #2. Friday morning.

Friday I knew was going to be a big eating day, so hubby and I made use of the hotel gym (it was a really nice one) and got a work out in before we did damage to our bodies.  Also, I wore my trusty (and new) step counter on Friday and Saturday.)

Friday was going to be all about Mall of America.  BUT, while eating dinner at Lola, we found a snippet of info about a donut shop and, being fluffy people, we had to check it out!

Glam Doll Donuts might be my favorite place on earth as of this moment.  What they do with bacon and pastry is nothing short of magic.  I had the bacon whiskey apple fritter.  (That picture there is me...happy even BEFORE I ate the most delicious thing I'm going to eat in this lifetime.)

The donuts are huge...I couldn't finish mine in one sitting.  (That should tell you something!)  and the place is cute, fun, and popular!  You'll find this slice of heaven in a place the locals call Eat Street, 17 city blocks of eating adventure.  We didn't go beyond Glam Doll donuts this time around, but one our second trip to Glam Doll  (Yes, we made a return trip on Sunday) we drove up and down Eat Street and oh yeah, we're coming back!

Stop #3. Friday lunch.

The food court at the Mall of America is like everything else at Mall of America:  Huge, and pretty much all chains.  While we swore we weren't going to eat at any chains this weekend, it's hard to do when you're in the chain link capital of the planet.  So we settled for a place we don't have around here the Cadillac Ranch.

Typical American fare, we did very much enjoy the chicken wild rice soup  (I'm a sucker for good soup) and we split the fish tacos, which were really good.  Portions are large, so splitting is not a bad idea.

Stop #4.  Friday night/Saturday morning.

After stomping around Mall of America, Hubby got us theater tickets to see "A Midsummer's Night Dream" at the Guthrie theater.  This was a huge treat for us, since we sort of fell in love over Shakespeare at the Guthrie.  Fun fact: The first woman my husband ever saw...let's say nearly fully disrobed...was Julianne Moore (yes, THAT Julianne Moore) during a performance of "Hamlet" at the Guthrie.  If you're at the Guthrie ever, check out their wall of past performances. She's up there. Nye's Polonaise Room.
 Anyway, after the play it was late and we were hungry!  (Soup  and fish tacos will only carry you so far and then you need to eat!)  So we headed to a place we knew was going to be fun:  

Let me see if I can explain this place:  Ummm, nope I can't.  Not really.  It's basically a city block long, divided into four rooms:  The polka room, the Polonaise room, the Chopin Room and another room I don't remember the name.  The polka room is, and I'm not kidding, a place where a live polka band plays and people polka.  Late into the night, tirelessly, they polka.

The Polonaise room has a piano bar where locals line up ala karaoke, and take turns singing old standards.  The rest of the patrons are encouraged to cheer and to sing along.  Probably the best part I've been to in a while.

But, this is an eating weekend. What did we eat?

I'm so glad you asked!  We ate Polish.

Everything Polish...Polish sausage, polish perogis, Polish cabbage rolls.  And we washed it down with about a pound of sauerkraut.  

I realize that doesn't sound like every one's cup of tea, but let me explain to you that Polish food, along with German food and pretty much anything from Northern Europe, is the ultimate comfort food. Heavy, warm, not too spicy, the platter of food the waitress put in front of us at midnight on Friday was much like a giant hug from our grandmothers, most of whom are up in heaven happy that we've given a try to their cooking once again.  The portions are beyond huge, so don't let the price blow you away.  Split the dinners.  Drinks are a little pricey, but hey, you're drinking at a place Esquire Magazine listed as "The Best Bar In America" in 2006.  

The food is good and plentiful, the drinks are great, the atmosphere is awesome, and the wait staff is fun. The only downside to this little kitschy gem is that it's closing in 2016.  Apparently, in spite of everything it has going for it, the owners want to move on to something else. So, if you're in Minneapolis in the next year and you're looking for something COMPLETELY DIFFERENT, get there before it's too late.

Hey, I was so blown away by the place I ate a beet.  And no, Nye's didn't change my mind about beets. They are still horrible poison.

Total steps taken according to my step counter:  13,030, Somewhere north of 5 miles walked.

Stop #5. Saturday morning.

I saw an episode of "Triple D" a while back and Guy was eating lobster in a dive bar.  According to my list of places he'd been, that place was called The Smack Shack.  Now, when finding the place, there was some confusion.  I thought the Smack Shack was a food truck and a dive bar.  Where we wound up was anything but that.  It was a large, somewhat industrial looking place with very nice table and clean bathrooms.  Have they changed the definition of "Dive bar?"

No!  See, here's what happened:  It is yes, a food truck that serves a dive bar. (The 1029 bar)  Check out this story

However, it is also an 8000 square foot building in a pretty neat and trendy looking part of Minneapolis.  That is where we wound up Saturday morning.  We took the light rail train (Hey, Milwaukee...see, if the plan for light rail had included actually GOING ANYPLACE, like it down in the Twin Cities, it would have passed.  We rode light rail to EVERYTHING on Saturday.  It was a breeze.) and the walked a short half mile to the place.  

The dish that's a claim to fame is their lobster mac and cheese (I know, lobster in Minnesota...) but we were there for brunch, so we tried something else.  Hubby had the SMACK BENEDICT and I had the chicken and waffles.  Hey, I've never HAD chicken and waffles and I always went them when people have them on TV.  Also, since this was a foodie weekend, I had a mimosa...a blood orange mimosa, with brunch, something I've never done.

My chicken and waffles was great.  Really, really good friend chicken.  But hubby actually asked the waitress if he could hug the chef, he liked his Smack Benedict that much.  I've never seen him ask that before.   

Never fear, however, we did try the lobster.  We had something they called the Lobster Corn Dog.  I called it a reason to move to Minnesota.  It was that good.

I could easily have split my meal with anyone.  Three huge pieces of chicken and a very large waffle, cut into quarters.  Hubby's portion was just right for him.

Stop #6, Saturday night.

Two years ago many family members gathered at Mission American Kitchen and Bar for my sister in law's birthday. I wasn't at that gathering, but for the last two years Hubby has been singing the praises of the Tempura tofu.  I know, sounds gross, but tofu done right is really good.  So, even though Guy Fieri hadn't been there, (it's too fancy) we put that on the schedule just so we could get the tempura tofu.


Hey, guess what?

They don't have it anymore!


Compared to every other place we went this weekend, Mission American was by far the fanciest, and the most expensive.  However, the portions, once again, were huge, so we were able to split everything and not get too crazy with the debit card.

The winner for me was the starter:  Truffle cream cheese won tons with a balsamic dipping sauce.  Think Crab Rangoon without the crab.  Soooooooo good and light!  We had the Guinness Braised Beef and the peas and pancetta risotto. I'm a sucker for anything that's risotto.  Everything was top notch and delicious.  None of it was tofu.  This is definitely a good place for a date, and hey, if you get there when wine bottles are half price (we did) that's a win!  And it's close to the light rail station so if you decided half price bottles of wine actually means two for one, you're still good to get back to your hotel room, pretty much no matter where it is.

The restaurant is a block away from the statue of Mary Tyler Moore. I would have taken a picture next to it, but there was some sort of quasi religious/political protest and I didn't want to disrupt any one's freedom of yelling into a microphone with so much distortion no one could understand them.

During the day Saturday, you know, between meals, we spent quality time at the massive train station in St. Paul  (which is the end of the line for the light rail.) and we walked around the Minneapolis Sculpture garden at Walker Art Gallery 

Total number of steps:  14,868.  Well north of 6 miles.

Stop #6 Sunday Morning.

We weren't going to cram anything else into the weekend.  We were going to go to church at my cousin's church, Bloomington Living Hope Church, hit Glam Doll Donuts one  more time to get some donuts to take home to the kids and we were going to eat the giant bag of grapes we bought at Target.

Somewhere during the sermon at church I realized I needed eggs.  I needed eggs BAD.  Now, we could have gone to the restaurant in our hotel. They had a nice looking breakfast buffet.  That would have been okay. But I didn't.  Nope. 

Instead we found one more Guy Fieri favorite. Not his last, to be sure, but one that would fit on our schedule.  The Colossal Cafe.  My understanding that there are two.  We went to the one in Minneapolis....and it's huge.  The restaurant seats...14. Not 14 tables, no.  14 people.  
You place your order at the counter and you wait for a table to open up.  When your food is ready they call your name.  You don't go get it, you can't.  There isn't that kind of room. They bring it to you.  And the food is GREAT.  I had a spinach mushroom omelet with grilled bread.  Awesome. hubby went to the wilder side and had one of their "flappers" a yeast made pancake with apples, walnuts and brie covered in a honey syrup.  The lady at the counter warned us off having a tall stack of flappers because they are huge.  The people at the tables on either side of us wished they'd been warned because they wound up not eating about 70% of their food. Those flappers are HUGE!  (Compensating for the size of the place maybe?)

Take out business there is brisk...mostly because there just isn't any seating.  But the food is awesome and the pricing is spot on.  Breakfast sandwiches really looked good and everything is made from scratch.

So there you have it.  My foodie weekend. We barely touched the surface of the Twin City food scene, so oh yeah, we'll be back.  But hey, you don't have to travel five hours like we did to find fun and funky places to eat.  Try being a tourist in your own home town.  Check out Guy Fieri's list inspire you and try something new!

Oh, and with all this eating did I gain weight?  I don't know, what, you thought I'd weigh myself after all that? Nope. That happens tomorrow!





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