Thursday, March 20, 2008

Mexican in Uptown update

Got the scoop from Jesse, one of my trainers, on the new Mexican place going in the old Pizza Nea space. It is called El Indio and is run by the same folks that own El Meson and Cafe Ena.

Supposed to be in the tradition of what your Mexican grandma would cook for you, if she happened to be Mexican. They were hoping to open tonight, but they are still waiting for some permits (and they looked like they were trying to make some repairs to the door). Maybe this weekend, but I usually like to wait for a new place to sort itself out before becoming a test case for new staff.

The ticket to voter turnout - cute French guys with Cookies

I was checking out Dorie Greenspan's "In the Kitchen and on the Road with Dorie" blog looking for baking tips and instead found a picture of a hottie with a tin of cookies. Turns out he was providing cookies to kids at a municipal polling location in Paris to keep them happy as their parents waited to vote. I'm willing to learn a few things from the French . . .

BTW, Dorie's blog is actually very good if you are into baking. Her post on Gingerbread Baby Cakes looks divine!

Tuesday, March 18, 2008

Mexican coming to Uptown?!

As if watching Food Network during my cardio workouts wasn't enough to undue my body's war against gravity, it looks like a new Mexican restaurant is going in next door to the Fitness Together training studio where I pay overly pumped dudes to hurt me 2 - 3 times/week. The space was formally occupied by the tasty, but unremarkable Pizza Nea, who closed that location earlier this year. Though renovations are not yet complete, they were training staff tonight so an opening must be imminent.

While my neighborhood (Uptown Minneapolis) is not hurting from loosing yet another pizza joint (we are also over represented with Thai restaurants, sushi places, hair salons and "glass shops"), Mexican Cuisine (and I'm not talking Burritos) has been a painful gap in our walking-distance choices for chow. My brain was too wiped post work-out to remember the name of the new establishment, but I'm intrigued and have high hopes. I'm curious about what they'll do with that Neapolitan wood-fired pizza oven left there by the pizza folks though.

More details to come (Update as of 3/20/08 available here).

Tuesday, March 11, 2008

Wanna greener salad? Love the Organic Girl.

Needing a quick mess-free dinner before heading out to Roller Derby, I cruised the produce section at my local Rainbow Grocery and discovered these new Organic Girl organic salad greens and kits packed in hard sided clear containers.

At $4 for a salad kit, they are a bit upscale, but worth it. Not only are the greens organic and triple washed, they come in containers not made with plastic, but with corn. These packs are renewable, sustainable and compostable. The Baby Ceasar with field greens, mini garlic toasts, Parmesan cheese and a light ceasar vinaigrette was very good to boot. More info on their packaging is at

Monday, March 10, 2008

Noshing with foodies and drunks - Finds from the Twin Cities Food and Wine Experience

A few weeks back, we dropped a load of cash to spend a Saturday afternoon roaming a crowded exhibition hall begging for free sips of wine and bits of food. It wasn't a fit of insanity, but rather, the 14th Annual Twin Cities Food and Wine Experience. I've always wanted to go, but am usually out of town on vacation that time of year. As we pushed our vacay back a week this year, we were able to find out what we've been missing.

While the tickets at a face value of $60 are a bit over-priced, you do get the opportunity to taste hundreds of wines, foods and other thrills at your leisure while getting to people-watch to see what tragic fool is going to drop his canapè on himself, or what poor Edina housewife will have to get escorted out by her embarrassed husband. Good times! Furthermore, I actually found some good stuff. Here's my top 10 in no particular order:

1) 4 Vines "Old Vine Cuvee" 2005 Zinfandel - this wine won the "Best Value" award in the Zinfandel category for good reason. Arrestingly delicious. I've already bought (and drunk) 2 bottles of the stuff for about $10 a pop.

2) Il Cuore Cabernet Sauvignon - Found this at the Surdyk's booth - currants, soft tannins with a mild sweet finish - very tasty which says something as I generally don't enjoy Cabs.

3) Pinot Evil Pinot Noir - Another "Best Value" award winner for the show. Really good with forward mineral/stone textures with a cherry & red plum feel to it. Billed as a French table wine.

4) Di Majo Norante Sangiovese 2006 - Another "Best Value" award winner from the imported red category, this wine explodes with pleasurable overtones - smoky rich aroma with bitter chocolate and sour cherry. I love smoky wines so I can't wait to break into this at home.

5) Italian Sodas made with Torani syrups - Okay, this is not a new thing, but I haven't had an Italian soda since I was in college. The Torani folks were sampling deliciously simple and refreshing strawberry sodas that beat the pants off anything you get out of a bottle at the local convenience store. These will be a great refresher for summer afternoons on the balcony. They even gave me a $.50-off coupon.

6) Cedar Planked Brie with Roasted Berries - Kitchen Window had a massive booth and this was one of several finds we discovered here. They were demonstrating and sampling a round of Brie that had been grilled on a cedar plank, covered with grill roasted berries and drizzled with Orange Blossom Honey. If that wasn't enough, they finished it with smoked black pepper. Incredible and delicious.

7) CurrySimple Curry Sauces - Another Kitchen Window find, these fully prepared Thai curry sauces are made fresh in Thailand from local ingredients, vacuum sealed in giant "Capri-Sun" like silver packs and shipped over here for our hedonistic enjoyment. At $6 a pouch, it's not a bargain, but the flavors are so fresh and delicious, it beats out any Thai take-out I've had in the Twin Cities. The Thai Chicken Curry they made with these sauces was intoxicating.

8) Prosciutto, Blue Cheese and Date Wraps - Whole Foods had a poorly staffed booth with fabulous food including these gems - dates stuffed with blue cheese and grilled (how you grill dates without them falling through the grates, I have no idea!).

9) Osso Bucco Bread Pudding with Horseradish Foam and Red Onion Marmalade - B.A.N.K. at the Minneapolis Westin did not impress us with their food on our first visit there, but the sharp-suited dude at the B.A.N.K. booth at the show passionately explained to us that they have a new chef and a new menu that we should come back to try. If this tidbit they had on offer at the show was any indication of what this new chef has done with their rather understated cuisine, I'll be back for sure.

10) Chateau Lamothe White Bordeaux - I am finding myself quite smitten with Bordeaux Blanc and this one was no exception - nice floral peach nose, with a clean pale fruit flavor that made me smile. I have not found this wine yet in my normal wine shops, but I'm going to keep looking.