So many have dedicated love songs to New York. But Minneapolis? Nobody's really written an epic of gushing praise like you'll find in "New York, New York," but then, MSP isn't half the peacock as old NYC, and maybe those winters make her a bit harder to embrace.
A more appropriate anthem probably lies somewhere between Lucinda Williams' dark terror piece, That Dog's anthem of adolecent longing, and The Replacements' earnestly sad and beautiful "Skyway," with a bit of Prince's "Uptown" funk, just for levity.
I'm a bit homesick, if you hadn't noticed, after spending last weekend in the city of lakes, where the grass was lush, the trees were in full, belting bloom and an herbaceous mixture of lilacs and fresh-cut grass scented the air.
When I decided to move to NYC nearly five years ago, Minneapolis had a sleepy culinary scene (not to mention how difficult it was to find a decent meal past 10 PM back in the day). And now... pow! They've got James Beard award-winning food journalists all over the place, and exiting new restaurants and specialty shops popping up like mushrooms.
Some notes from my weekend forays:
Hell's Kitchen... damn fine brunch! Hella good Mahnomin Porridge chock-a-block with wild rice, nuts and fruits; tasty bison sausage; undeniable bread basket; all served up by waitstaff in PJs amid killer-cool decor. Lovelovelove.
Loring Pasta Bar... fresh, simple foods in an enchanting shabby-chic la belle epoque fantasyland, but no quantity of mints could quell my noxious garlic breath.
Herkimer Pub & Brewery... A brilliant hefeweisen with gorgeous banana notes. Good salads and a plate ringed with the most adorable quintuplet of tiny hamburgers (damn my busted digital camera!)
CC Club... hello, smoking ban! The CC sans-smoke is an entirely different experience, but my companions were on a crazed quest for a pitcher of Grainbelt.
Galaxy Pizza... great reviews from the locals, but the place was stuffed to the gills, so we'll have to test their slices another day.
Patel's Grocery... a vast playland of Indian foods. The produce looked sad, but the freezer section was a robust circus of samosas, parathas, rotis and naan. Even everyone's favorite doughball, Poppin' Fresh (the Pillsbury Doughboy) joined in the chilly fun, thanks to that company's line of Indian freezer treats.
Tea Source of St. Paul... best chai ever. It's a two part system with a masala mix that steeps in sweetened, condensed milk and is later doled out into cups of floral, earthy black tea. Heaven.
Penzey's How I love a stop at Penzey's spice shop. So clean, so organized, so informative. Unfortunately, they broke my heart this weekend when they told me that Szechwan peppercorn is now banned in the U.S. due to "citrus canker", a disease associate with Szechwan peppercorn that attacks citrus trees. No wonder I'm having such an awful time finding the stuff...