Monday, November 28, 2016

Multnomah Falls - Portland, OR

D.Rough and I were out in Portland, Oregon, and I convinced her to go to Multnomah falls with me. Neither of us had been, but I was glad we did.

It's a 620-foot waterfall about a half hour outside of Portland. You can see it from the road, but you REALLY need to get out and see it.

The closer you get, the cooler it looks.

It's really difficult to get the entire top-to-bottom shot using your iPhone, but I did pretty well:

But, personally, I prefer the shot of OTHER people posing in front of the falls...

There is a short hike to the top of the falls. It's only about 1.2 miles. Sounds easy, right? Well, it isn't. It's a bunch of switch-backs with increasing slope and your legs are on fire when you get to the top. D.Rough and I had fun playing the game "make it or not" as we superficially and without-any-evidence judgmentally decided who we thought would make it to the top of the falls. When we realized we were being callous jerks, it gave us the fire to finish the climb so we didn't fall into the latter category ourselves. hahaha

The climb to the top has really awesome fuzzy mossy trees. They're both creepy and beautiful at the same time.

D.Rough is a daredevil. I fear for her safety at the best of times. This wasn't the best of times. We were 620 feet up near a raging river that's spraying everything within a mile with cold wet mist, she's got shoes with no traction, and (super-respectfully-of-course) she can pull some Lucille Ball moves that don't always end well - so yeah, I was TERRIFIED when she slid her way down the muddy bank to get closer to the water and grabbed a tree to catch herself.

I mean no, she was fine. Nothing to see here!  ...and I wasn't capturing it all on film while yelling at her to be careful repeatedly...

But seriously, this view at the top is REALLY awesome and heart-stopping.

And we got a fabulous photo of ourselves that we should probably put on a postcard or on the wall or something. Sometimes, we take good photos!

And, sometimes, we take photos that look like D.Rough has a waterfall on her head.

On the way back to our car, we walked along this stream (from the waterfall, obviously), and saw huge trout swimming back upstream. Really amazing and something I hadn't seen before. Obviously, they aren't going to get very far upstream, unless they've got the fish-cohones to jump 620 feet, but I still admire their persistence. Really fascinating to watch.

If you're in Portland, this place is worth a quick drive. Really.

Friday, November 25, 2016

Nighthawks – Minneapolis, MN

D.Rough and I hadn’t been to Nighthawks, even though many of our friends had recommended it to us. We set up a time to meet our lovely friend AllBlack and have some brunch. The place is bright inside, but still has an upscale diner kind of feel. We waited less than five minutes before getting a table, even on a Saturday around lunch.

The menu has all kinds of delicious sounding really inspired and unique food items, especially the pancakes. We decided to split a table poutine and each of us would get our own meal. I went with one of the specials – the Brisket Hash. D.Rough got the chorizo cheddar corn pancakes and AllBlack got the breakfast sandwich. And since we were right next to Five Watt Coffee, both the ladies ordered a Big Watt Circuit Bender Cold Press.
The entrees arrived pretty quickly, and I was impressed with the size of these things, as well as the presentation. The brisket hash was outstanding. Really tender and flavorful pieces of briskets on a bed of three different potatoes, with some salsa, guac, and pickled onions – then, covered with an egg. Every bite had all the components in it and it was a really heavy duty brunch meal.

The chorizo cheddar corn pancakes were surprisingly great. It sounds weird to put al those things together, but it totally works. They had layers of ingredients worked in, not just put on the top section. Nicely done, Nighthawks.

The breakfast sandwich was also great (I heard), and the hashbrowns were perfectly cooked. Not soggy and limp – they were crispy and tasty all the way through.

Sadly, our table poutine came out after we were finishing our meal, so none of us were really in the mood to eat it. I lied – *I* was in the mood to eat it. It was great. It had a ton of cheese curds and a wonderful gravy. It was covered with a LOT of banana peppers (maybe too many) and then another fried egg. The flavors were great, but I embarrassed myself by only being able to eat half of it myself. Hahaha

I liked this place even more than I expected to like it – which was already going to be a lot. I should have listened to people sooner and gone here. Highly recommended!

Tuesday, November 22, 2016

Maya Cuisine – Minneapolis, MN

My friend Margs and I hadn’t hung out properly in a while, so she decided to go grab some Mexican food. We had originally planned to go to Bar Luchador, but she had been hearing good things about Maya in Northeast. The deciding factor would have been drinks, but since Maya has a liquor license, there wasn’t any reason to put up a fuss.

The inside of Maya is split into two sections: in the front is a less-expensive cafeteria-style line (with a salsa bar) with plenty of seating, and in the back is a more polished full-service restaurant and bar. I wasn’t sure what Margs has in mind when she chose this place, but I headed to the bar area and got a table. And promptly ordered two margaritas. …which were LARGE.

The menu has some standard fare items on it and some delicious sounding appetizers, but I kept going back to this really fancy sounding dish called Mixiotes de Res. Margs had her heart set on a bunch of various meat tostadas.

We managed to go through two baskets of chips while waiting – not because we had to wait long, but because we were starving and the salsa was delicious. But when the food arrived, I realized I should have scaled back my chips-and-salsa wolfing. It arrived on two large plates. One plate had rice, a nice cucumber and radish salad, and a crock of black beans, and the other plate had a generous portion of guacamole and a large paper pouch of meat.

The server told me not to eat the leaves that were in the meat – apparently just for flavor, so I picked out 3 or 4 bay-leaf-type greens and began to build my tacos on one of the six shells they provided. The meat was fantastic. It fell apart with a fork and had a deep smoky flavor. The guac was fresh and the other ingredients complemented the meat very nicely. Also, they brought out some green salsa which was too spicy for Margs, but I thought was fantastic. I didn’t think I could put back six of these, but I totally did. I’d highly recommend getting this entrĂ©e when you go here. It’s one of the more pricy items, but you’re going to get a ton of food. It’s probably not frowned upon to share with someone, either.

Margs really liked all three of her tostadas. She regretted saving the carnitas tostada for last, since she liked that one the most, but she was really pleased with both the flavor and the amount of toppings on her tostada. They looked delicious and I even used serious will power by not finishing whatever she left on the plate. You’re welcome.
I look forward to going back to this restaurant. I used to say that Minnesota doesn’t have good Mexican food, but a few places like this are changing my mind. You just have to find the right places. This is one of those places.

Monday, October 24, 2016

East Side Club Tiki Bar - Madison, WI

We were in town for a roller derby tournament and you know what that means ...... TIKI BARS!!! We always try to find the town's tiki bar when we're on the road for roller derby. Madison had one fairly close to the hotel we were at, so a couple of the guys and I drove over there.

When we arrived, we discovered the East Side Club was hosting a wedding inside. So we skirted the main building and followed the signs to the tiki bar, which was behind the main building. It isn't much of a tiki bar, to be honest, but it does have some of the prerequisites: super awesome bartender and rum. She whipped us up a couple of mai tais and we headed out to the patio area to view the beautiful giant lake in the middle of Madison.

Fortunately, we got our painfully uncomfortable stupid adirondack chairs just in time as some of the wedding folks began to spill out into the tiki bar area and down by the water. No big deal. In fact, we lasted at least oen more round before the torrential downpour happened:)

Overall, not impressive, but it did the job. If that's all Madison has in the way of tiki bars, then it'll have to do. It definitely treated us right.

Thursday, October 20, 2016

Fred Garvin's Cottage - Hancock, WI

This isn't a review, at all. Just a couple of photos from an awesome guy's weekend we had at Fred Garvin's family's cottage in central Wisconsin. Basically, we played disc golf the whole drive there, fished/drank/slept, and then played disc golf on the way home. Fantastic relaxing weekend with great friends and great golf.

Sunday, October 9, 2016

Spicy Cheesy Core Burrito from Taco Bell

I like to try out all the new stuff that Taco Bell launches. I'm a huge fan of their test kitchen and think they are actually pretty innovative in the fast food world. Their new Cheesy Core Burrito had me intrigued, so I checked it out.

It's a standard burrito, but it's folded/rolled in such a way that there's a little tube on the inside that you can fill with cheese (and in this case, jalapenos). It's not fancy, and it isn't going to look perfect every time, but it IS a way to get more pump cheese into my facehole. I like where they were going with this.

It's on the list of "just ok" and "perfectly edible", which isn't a bad thing. It just isn't going to change my regular order to include one of these. Sure, every once in a while, I'll get one, but I'm not planning to stand at the drive through and convince people this is the holy grail. I liked it just fine and surprisingly, it wasn't terribly messy, like I suspected it would be. Maybe because I ate it so fast. I do like the flavor and ratios of this thing, so I was still pretty pleased with the burrito I got.

You did, as always, really well, Taco Bell. Thank you.

Thursday, October 6, 2016

Off-menu Monstrosity from Chipotle - The Quesarito

If you're bored sometime, google "menu hacks" and you'll find multiple lists of things you can order at restaurants that aren't on the menu, but that can either be assembled by the line workers or by you. It's great fun to be horrified at some of the things that people have come up with. What's even more fun is going to a restaurant with a like-minded friend and eating those monstrosities.

I've done a few of these culinary adventures with various people, but I know that my co-worker #1Fan is always up for abusing his stomach. We've eaten the Land-Air-Sea Burger and the McGangbang at MacDonald's a while back and we were due for another one of these. This time... Chipotle!

The Quesarito was our target. Picture this: a burrito from Chipotle is delicious, right? What if you took the tortilla and made it into a quesadilla filled with cheese and then wrapped that burrito with it? Brilliant! Sometimes, if the integrity of the thing isn't secure, they'll wrap it with another tortilla to hold in the guts.

The best way to order this is to do it online before you go. I found this out when I called the store and asked how I pre-order this thing. The guy at the counter told me to go ahead and put in the order online and in the comment section, just say, "Make this a quesarito". They'll have it ready for you when you arrive and it doesn't slow down the line too much during a lunch or dinner rush. I worked splendidly! They were ready just after we arrived and paid for our burritos. Magic.

The thing is pretty fat. It's the size of a Yorkie, we decided. It's difficult to get your hands around it, but surprisingly, it held together the entire way through. Very impressive. The first bite or two is mostly tortilla. The folds at the end add up, so you have to power through the first two bites before you hit the innards. Then you're in heaven. The amount of cheese is monumental and worth the first two tortilla-full bites.

We actually thought these weren't going to be that filling, but we forgot about the double or triple amount of cheese. While we were both pleasantly full, it truly wasn't a challenge to get this thing finished. In fact, we discussed how we could bump up the challenge for next time. We've got some horrific ideas, if you were wondering. Thankfully, this thing was really tasty (like all Chipotle burritos are), and I'd definitely order this again. Totally worth it. (sometimes place upcharge you for the additional tortillas, and sometimes they don't. Just shut up and pay whatever they tell you. It's going to range from the price of a regular burrito up to the price of a full burrito AND a full quesadilla - there's no set price, so be ready to pay whatever they ask. You're totally inconveniencing them, so be thankful you got one at all.