Tuesday, January 27, 2009

In search of good Mexican - Life after Morelos Mexican Grill

Several weeks ago, J the BF and I were horrified to discover that our favorite Mexican place, Morelos Mexican Grill had closed. We shouldn't have been surprised. As they changed ownership and somewhere along the way lost their liquor license and started cheapening the dishes, we noticed that the dining room was increasingly empty over the last few months. It's a shame - their Tres Amigos Enchiladas (an enchi-trifecta of ranchera, green chile, and mole-covered heaven) was one of my favorite dishes in the Twin Cities.

Now we are Mexican cuisine refugees. Our over-priced haute-Mexican option, El Indio has apparently been evicted from their space (the place is fully furnished, but the windows are covered in no-trespassing signs). Little Tijuana, a block away from Morelos, is a total barf-fest. I find Pepitos over-rated. I even checked out El Paraiso on my own to see if it was an option as it had good ratings. There was so much cheese in my enchilada, I couldn't taste anything else and became instantly worried about my heart health.

I think I'll agree with the Citypages blog that our best option is Salsa a la Salsa now. We enjoyed their outpost in the Midtown Global Market, so we'll be giving their Eat Street location a visit as it's closer to our neighborhood. When we have an enchilada fix, it needs to be serviced stat! Send us some suggestions for other options if you got 'em - we are desparate.

Monday, January 26, 2009

Brasa – A taste of Atlanta in the Twin Cities

On one of my December stay-cation days, I met up with J the BF for lunch at Brasa, Restaurant Alma’s more casual outpost in “Nordeast” Minneapolis. Immediately upon stepping through the door, I felt transported back 7 years to my time in Atlanta where places like this could be found all over town.

Brasa calls itself a premium rotisserie. Casual, set in a thoughtfully renovated space (it looked like an old gas station or tire shop), the menu focuses on a simple collection of slow braised and rotisserie cooked pork, beef and chicken served as plates or sandwiches accompanied by irresistible sides like collards, fried plantains, and cheese grits. It’s almost a re-imagined concept of the classic “meat & 3” spots I came to know growing up down south, but they claim their inspiration for the menu as being South American and Caribbean. Most of the food comes from local sources and their site lists their suppliers as "friends". To have friends like these indeed . . .

I enjoyed a spicy slow braised beef plate with the afore-mentioned collards, grits plus a bonus of their crazy-good corn bread with honey butter. It was heaven. Since it was a stay-cation day, I enjoyed a nice cold Rush River "Unforgiven" Ale with my lunch which made the whole meal feel that much more luxurious. The prices are very reasonable and they have an incredible list of desserts which will bring me back up to that part of town soon.

Sunday, January 25, 2009

Seafood Sin – Cracked Lobster at Nippers

Continuing my chronicles of eating across The Abacos, I have to share one of my culinary transgressions. Our boat made a required overnight anchorage at Great Guana Cay the home of an illicit watering pit called Nippers. Nippers has been referred to as a place where otherwise mature people re-live their spring break memories (or create new ones). Judging by the number of drunk 60+ year-old people dancing red-faced in any clear and open space, I could see where they get the reputation.

I’ve heard stories of wilder times during concerts by Caribbean megastar, Barefoot Man. His music plus the diesel powered cocktails drove people who were likely someone’s mom or grandma to strip down to nothing and create havoc in the bar-side pool. I was with J the BF’s family, so there was sure to be no nudity on our part (though I've heard rumors that a member of our party relieved himself in a not-to-friendly place later that night), but we were enjoying liberal quantities of the signature cocktail, the Nipper along with the breathtaking view of the Atlantic breaking on the rocky beach below. My only sin was of a gastronomic nature – fried lobster.

My Southern roots compel me to enjoy most every seafood battered and fried. With my expanding waist, I’ve learned to appreciate a simple and well-grilled fresh fish fillet, but my heart desires the standard bar treats of the Islands – fried fish fingers, conch fritters and anything else that can be served crispy and breaded. In the Bahamas, “cracked” generally means shelled, coarsely chopped, battered and fried. In seeing they had “cracked lobster”, I just had to know. Could two forms of decadence be successfully combined?

My cracked lobster came with a mayo based sauce and a fruit chutney-like dipper as well as cole slaw and fries. To my disappointment, the cracked lobster, while good, was terribly less enjoyable than simply well-cooked lobster with a little butter (which we did for dinner the following evening). It was pretty similar in flavor to cracked conch or anything else battered and fried. Lesson learned - if you love your lobster, down deep fry it - it's not worth it.

Saturday, January 24, 2009

Looking for the Lucy that is Juicy?

Gotta love the narrow-targeted ad prowess of Facebook. I was served an ad for a site focused on where you can find a good Jucy Lucy (a cheese-stuffed burger particularly loved up here in it's birthplace of Minneapolis). Do you think Facebook knows I'm a food-obsessed Minnesotan?

JucyLucyRestaurants.com includes a blog, a map and a Wiki where you can post new locations to find Lucy and all her juiciness. I personally get all my Juicy Lucys from Matt's Bar (topped with fried onions, and served with a glass of beer and a basket of fries - always), but clearly I need to expand my horizons.