Wednesday, April 28, 2010

Ruam Mit Thai – St. Paul, MN

D.Rough and I were starving on a Sunday night and decided to head downtown for some Thai food. She had driven past this place and thought she needed to try it – since I’m always game for Thai food, I was a willing participant. Once we got inside the place, we started seeing all kinds of City Pages awards and a write up from MinnesotaLife magazine, so we thought this was going to be a decent meal.

The place had a handful of people in it for a Sunday night, so we got seated almost immediately. We scanned the menu and thought we should just decide on an appetizer and then worry about the main entrees – the menu is pretty significant so we knew we’d be a while. We are both pretty adventurous on the Asian cuisine, so we got something neither of us had ever heard of before: Banh Xeo – a rice flour crepe with coconut milk and yellow curry folded over bean sprouts and pork. Then we decided on some pretty crazy dishes: D.Rough opted for the Roast Duck Curry but she had them replace the sweet peas normally included in the dish with pea pods. She can only eat peas in pod form (it’s not even worth asking the question, believe me) and didn’t feel comfortable asking them to reassemble peas back into the pods on a Sunday night. I went with Tod Gratiam Prig Thai (it said it was for garlic lovers – which I am). Both were ordered with the highest spice level of hot – sometimes you just need to clear your sinuses, right?

We didn’t wait long for our appetizer, probably because we ordered it before ordering our entrées. It wasn’t at all what I thought I was getting, but it was delicious. It is best described as a sort of egg-less omelet with curry and bean spouts in the middle. It came with this amazing dipping sauce that was clear and sweet and light and then there were angry red pepper flakes throughout the sauce that made it an epic battle in your mouth. It was perfect with this curry crepe – well played, Ruam Mit Thai!

Our food came out shortly after that and, as usual, D.Rough’s looked much better than mine. Mine didn’t look bad by any stretch, it just looked… uhhh… simple. I’m used to complex dishes with lots of things mixed together in an unidentifiable sauce, and this wasn’t it. It was very straight forward. It looked like a fancy salad with chicken. It looked pretty, but simple. The cucumbers were cut into fancy garnishes, but it was simply some iceberg lettuce pieces, some cucumbers and tomatoes and strips of chicken in a brown. I WILL say, the brown gravy was really amazing, especially since that was where all the spice was at – though it still could have been a couple notches higher on the spice level and I wouldn’t have complained. It was a delicious meal, but I would probably reserve that item for people who aren’t very adventurous with their Thai food.

D.Rough’s Roast Duck Curry looked fantastic. You could see the spices were pretty significant, but what was really impressive was the amount of duck that was in the bowl. The waitress had told us they were sadly out of basil, but it looked like they managed to find a couple pieces to put in her bowl, so that helped the flavor as well. The whole thing she had was awesome. With a side of white rice to cool down the mouth, it was a perfect dish and I would recommend this one VERY highly. It was very impressive, both the flavor and the heat.

After we both finished our dishes and I conceded that her dinner was leaps and bounds better than mine (even though mine was just fine), we both realized that the longer we sat there, the more on fire our mouths were. Sometimes Thai spices will do that. You don’t know you’re in danger of spontaneously combusting until after the meal. It was a good heat though. Again, no complaints at all about this place. The staff were super helpful and attentive and made sure we were doing alright without pestering us.

We will be back to Ruam Mit Thai, for sure. We took a to-go menu, since D.Rough lives within walking distance of it. This may become a regular Sunday night staple for bringing home and watching movies. At least, that’s MY vote…

Top 5 things about Ruam Mit Thai
1. Roast Duck Curry
2. Bahn Xeo
3. Very diverse menu that made me want to try everything
4. Spice level was probably closer to accurate than I initially thought
5. Super awesome light sauce with angry-ness flakes

Bottom 5 things
1. My dish was good, but still a let down when I was TRYING to be adventurous
2. Sooo many things I want to try on the menu
3. They were out of basil (though they still found us some)
4. I felt like I betrayed the Thai people by not ordering fresh spring rolls, but D.Rough and I made (and ate) about 50 of them just a few nights earlier (yes, about 50… really)
5. I should have read the articles to find out if they have a signature dish – totally my fault

New Tortadas from Taco Bell – Eden Prairie, MN

I like to try all the new things that Taco Bell rolls out. I’m generally a fan of about everything they try out on people, mostly because in the recent past, it has generally involved bacon. This one is no different. I haven’t seen a lot of television commercials touting this new item, but then again, I don’t watch television much at all.

It’s called a Tortada – which appears to be a combination of the words “tostada” and “torta” (which is a Mexican sandwich) (not to be confused with the sexual maneuver featuring a Hispanic three-some). It’s a tortilla folded in such a way that it ends up being like a pita pocket sandwich. It comes with the choice of two innards – Bacon Ranch, or Salsa Roja. Which one do you think I went with????? You’re right, I went with both – it’s for science, I HAD to. Hahaha.

I didn’t think these would be quite as filling as they were. I was really surprised. It could have had something to do with the Caramello Cookie Dough I had for breakfast (thanks for spoiling me, D.Rough), but I like to think it is unrelated. These Tortada things are pretty significant. I’ve heard the Tortada described as a Crunchwrap in a Quesadilla’s clothing. That’s pretty accurate. The Chicken Bacon Ranch one has chicken, lettuce, diced tomatoes, bacon, and avocado ranch sauce, all wrapped up into a square little tortilla packet.

The Salsa Roja one is pretty similar to the bacon ranch one – chicken, lettuce, fiesta salsa, salsa roja, and three cheeses – cheddar, pepper jack, and mozzarella. And NOW I know what the big difference is – the bacon one has no cheese at all. Weird.

The bacon chicken ranch Tortada is much better than the salsa roja one. The chicken bacon and ranch flavors work well together in most things Taco Bell has done. …Like that Bacon Club taco they had a while back – excellent. In the Tortada, I was a little disappointed at the lack of bacon flavor in it, but every once in a while, I’d get a stellar bite. I was about halfway through the second half of the bacon ranch Tortada when I started to question whether I’d be able to finish a second one of these things. Wow, it was really filling!

The second one of these was the Salsa Roja version. I’m not sure if it was the order that I ate them in, but I was really disappointed with the lack of flavor in this Tortada. I even took a few bites before I came to that conclusion, just in case I got an inferior bite or something. Nope, I just think this thing is lacking in flavor and they’ve tried to replace the flavor with cheese. I was very let down on this thing.

In summary, the Chicken Bacon Ranch Tortada is worth a try, but expect to get really full and don’t expect to be blown away. The Chicken Salsa Roja Tortada could be passed on, in my book – I was not impressed. This is a pretty ho-hum product launch from Taco Bell, especially compared to some of the winners they’ve put out in the recent years. Don’t worry, TB, I’ll not stray far …

Tuesday, April 27, 2010

Black Sea – St. Paul, MN

The only other time I ate at a Turkish restaurant was with GBFN in NYC. It was delicious and I knew I would eat it again soon. D.Rough has been talking about the awesome gyros at Black Sea and we finally got around to eating there. She warned me it was a pretty small place, but R2 and her had eaten there and been really happy with the prices and the food.

We showed up and had to wait a couple of minutes for a table. There are only like 8 tables in the place, so it’s a pretty safe bet you’ll wait for a table. Some of the tables have little curtains between them for the illusion of privacy, but it kind of adds to the charm of this place. There are various Turkish items all over the walls of this place and they’re all for sale. Shawls, vests, hats, and coffee/tea sets. And finally there’s a flat screen TV that shows soccer – AWESOME.

On the way to our table, I checked out some of the food on other people’s tables. The lentil soup they have looked awesome and also the baklava (which I’m not usually a fan of) looked great. After scouring the menu pretty seriously, we both decided on some good stuff. We thought we’d start with a plate of hummus. Then, I got the Black Sea Combination Entrée with rice – beef and lamb gyro meat, chicken kebob, and 2 Turkish meatballs. I finished my order with a homemade lemonade. D. Rough ordered a lemonade first and the guy asked if she’d be eating any food with her drink or if she was done ordering – hilarious. She laughed it off and went with the Black Sea Döner Combination with rice – chicken, lamb, and beef gyro meat in a pita.

The server brought out the hummus pretty quickly with some triangles of fresh pita bread for us to eat it with. It was pretty awesome stuff. I know there’s not much you can do with hummus, but it was really flavorful and light. It also had a couple pieces (like two) of Feta and two olives as well. As usual, we finished up the pita pieces long before we finished the hummus, so we were left with a significant amount of hummus left. I’ve decided next time I order hummus, I’m going to scoop ungodly portions of hummus onto each pita piece and throw rationing to the wind.

While we were eating the hummus, D.Rough pointed out how crazy fast the people behind the counter making the food were going. It was pretty impressive how fast they moved and threw things around and still managed to get everything on the plate looking awesome. Then we saw the giant platters they were putting food on and thought maybe we should have gotten a plate of meat for two or three people. But even that amount of food looked to be serious while assembled on the huge platters.

Our food came out and it looked great. The best part was it tasted as awesome as it looked. The lamb and beef gyro meat was very flavorful and juicy. I’m personally a big fan of when they throw the meat from the pole onto the flat top grill and char the edges a bit, but even without that little touch, the meat was great. The chicken kebob was really good as well. But the best part of the meal were the Turkish Meatballs – they had some sort of awesome seasoning/spice in them and were flat, rather than round like most meatballs you see (I wonder if that still means they are technically balls…). I used some of the tzaziki sauce they brought out to us and it was made with homemade yogurt sauce – which in this case had some serious tang to it. It wasn’t bad, but both D.Rough and I both commented on it. We just had to scale back our usual usage of it, that’s all. The tomatoes weren’t the best tomatoes ever, but they’re not even close to in season, so it’s forgivable.

D.Rough’s was more or less the assembled version of what I got and a slightly smaller portion, but she was super happy with hers and I’d highly recommend getting it in pita form. We used some of the lemon pepper oil that was on the table as well, and it was alright, but I didn’t use a ton of it.

The homemade lemonade isn’t like the homemade lemonade at Asian restaurants where it’s super sweet. This is VERY subdued on the flavor, but it actually works well with the spices of the meat. I wasn’t sure about it when I was drinking it by itself, but after the food came out, it went with the meal very well.

After dinner, D.Rough needed some closure on the meal – it was between baklava and Turkish coffee. She’s had baklava before, but not Turkish coffee, so she decided on that. They brought out the coffee in a tiny cup and it looked BLACK and evil. Apparently, it was since she was a little surprised at how bitter it was and also how freakin hot it was. She added a little sugar to the cup and decided that about the middle third of the cup was the perfect temperature and sweetness level. But the top and bottom thirds of the cup were either too hot and bitter or too cold and sweet. The only problem with the cup of coffee was that at the end of the cup, there was a serious layer of black sludge at the bottom, so be careful if you decide to stir your cup of Turkish coffee. You might regret it. Let the stuff settle and cool off, and you’ll likely be happier. I don’t drink coffee, so I’m completely making that up.

I made a quick trip to the restroom while I was there and was surprised at how large the bathroom was. It also has a large barrel vaulted ceiling. Sure it was just a bathroom, but it was a pretty big bathroom. For some reason, I like to review bathrooms at the restaurants I go to. Deal with it.

Overall, this place is fantastic. I’d be happy to come back here very soon and try a couple of other things. I kept seeing cabbage rolls on the menu and I’d like to give one of those a shot. They sound delicious. The food here is fantastic, the service is great, the clientele is mixed enough to do some people watching without being scared, and the prices are really reasonable. I’m looking forward to my next trip back here!

Top 5 things about Black Sea
1. Turkish Meatballs
2. Beef and Lamb Gyro meat
3. Hummus
4. Chicken Kebob
5. Super service

Bottom 5 things
1. Really small space
2. Turkish Coffee sounded a little off-putting – maybe if you get used to it, it’s not so bad
3. Only two pieces of feta and two olives on the hummus plate
4. Tzaziki sauce just had a weird tang to it – probably shouldn’t be on the list, but it was odd
5. My Turkish is a little rusty, so it was difficult to understand what they were saying on the soccer channel

Wednesday, April 21, 2010

Greek Grill & Fry Co. – Eden Prairie, MN

I had never heard of this place before this afternoon. In fact, I was driving to a different restaurant when I saw the name on the awning across the parking lot – hidden behind the building I intended to eat at. Gyros sounded way better than Chinese food, so I thought I’d drop in. When I pulled up, I realized there were gas pumps outside and it’s a gas station and mini-mart as well. I’m coming to the realization that this is not EVER a bad sign.

Once inside, it was pretty obvious where to go for the food. There’s a small seating area (like 6 or 7 tables) and a counter with a large menu board above it. I scanned the menu for a brief minute or two and placed my order with the guy that does all the cooking too – he’s a little difficult to understand as he’s actually Greek, but we got our various messages communicated eventually. I went with a Spicy Gyro, without onions. A bunch of gyro meat, lettuce, tomatoes, and spicy tzaziki sauce. I also got some fries for some reason – it just felt right. I got a little mixed up on where you pay, but you actually go get your drink and then pay at the gas station counter. Figured I’d better tell you so you didn’t get lost and confused like I did.

The cool thing about the place being in a mini-mart is you have your choice of whatever beverage you could imagine. So I scored a Cherry Crush and say down to read some articles for school. Three minutes later, the guy called me up to get my food.

It looked pretty good, actually. The fries were covered in some sort of cayenne or magic spicy dust and the gyro was slathered in spicy tzaziki sauce. It looked like there was plenty of meat as well, so I was all set. I started with the fries – they were about half crispy and half floppy, but the spicy dust on them made them so much better. With some consistency, they would have been great. The gyro itself was great as well. I had to eat some of the toppings off with a fork before I could pick the thing up and eat the pita like a sandwich, which is never a problem for me. The meat was done, and even though I usually like my edges a little crispy and burnt, it was still great. No complaints at all. The spicy sauce was really good, even though I suspect it is regular tzaziki sauce with that magic dust from the fries sprinkled in.

The gas station concept was novel, except for the fact that whenever a customer opened the door (which is all the time, because it’s a gas station), a buzzer would go off to let the counter people know someone was coming in. So the whole time you’re eating, you’ve got a loud buzz in your head – though you can tune it out after a little bit, I guess.

I sat next to this table of 30-something d-bag salesmen. And they were typical slimy salesmen, too. It was ALMOST endearing the way they were having a heart-to-heart with each other about their girlfriends, but only in the way that only d-bags can do. They simply complained about their women and whether they should LET their women move in with them and mess up their ideal situation. “It’s not like banging a bunch of chicks like we used to do – that’s work, but that’s fun, right Braah?” “Well marriage is work – well actually, just the kids and the in-laws and the house part – the other part is easy. High Five.” The best part about it is they brought up Tiger woods and then all three adamantly did NOT condone what he did – that was wrong. His wife should leave him and get half since he messed up so bad. Really? Who are you people? Once a d-bag, always a d-bag, I guess.

Anyway, the restaurant part seemed to do a pretty good business during lunch. I was happy to see that. I’ll be back to this place. It’s super close to my work and the food was excellent and filling. Thanks, Greek Grill.

Top 5 things about the Greek Grill & Fry Co.
1. Spicy Gyro
2. Any drink you could ever want
3. Menu is expansive and well explained
4. Magic spicy dust on the fries
5. You can have skittles with your meal if you want (mini-marts rule)

Bottom 5 things
1. Buzzer thing in your ear when people come in
2. You might have to sit next to d-bags
3. A little confusing on how to pay, unless you’ve been there before
4. I now reek of gyro meat – I’m guessing wolves will be tracking me out to my car
5. Now that I know this place is here, I’ll be putting on my 2010 Sumer weight. hahahaha

Tuesday, April 20, 2010

Brasa – St. Paul, MN

I have wanted to go to Brasa since moving to the Twin Cities a few years back. I’ve looked at the menu a number of times online and just have never found a time to go there. So when D.Rough’s sister, Hermana, and brother-in-law (BIL) were in town from Chicago, we decided to go there. They are much healthier eaters than I am and we thought they’d be able to find some non-disgusting food there pretty easily. For those that don’t know, Brasa is kind of a rotisserie place that serves various meats with sides and some sandwiches. It’s set up like a giant open air restaurant with huge garage doors that they keep open as much as possible.

The menu has a lot of options on it. You can get sandwiches, or meat plates with some sides, or you can order meat by the weight and sides individually. D.Rough and I were going to buy meat by the pound and then get a bunch of sides and we talked Hermana and BIL into doing the same. There are a lot of options to choose from and we needed a really long time to finally decide on what it was we were going with.

D.Rough and I decided on a half-pound of Braised Beef (with a sweet-spicy glaze), some cornbread, Rustic Style Cheese Grits, Red Beans and Rice, and Crispy Yucca with Mojo sauce. I also decided at the very last minute to order a bowl of the Biscuit in Chicken Soup – special of the day. And yes, for a moment, I thought it was some miracle and I had seen Chicken In-A-Biskit on a restaurant menu somewhere, but alas, it was not cracker infused. Hermana and BIL got a half pound of Pulled Chicken (in a creamy gravy), some cornbread, Collards with Smoked Turkey (kind of a long shot and living on the edge, apparently), Black Beans and Rice, and Homemade Chips and Guacamole. Yes, it sounds like a lot of food, but that’s because it IS!!!! D.Rough got a homemade guava-lime soda and I got a ginger-pineapple soda.

The food really didn’t take that long to come out to us, which we were thankful for, since we were all pretty hungry (if you couldn’t tell by the amount of food we ordered). Our table was completely covered with dishes when it all came out. That’s how I like to eat a meal. I don’t even know if I can go through everything without this turning into a multi-chapter tome. I’ll hit the highlights.

The biscuit in Chicken soup was awesome. Kind of a creamy chicken soup with a couple of tiny biscuits floating around in it. Really good flavor with the chicken and also really fresh veggies throughout. This was a definite win and a great way to start out the meal. The Braised Beef was really really good. It wasn’t spicy at all, but the flavor of the sauce it was in was delicious. Very tender pieces of meat and enough to make sure we were full. This only makes me curious if the other meats are equally awesome, or if we just ordered the best thing they had.

The Cheese Grits were kind of meh, in both of our opinions. Not bad, just boring. The red beans and rice were good, but not stellar. I mean, it’s hard to do something flashy with red/black beans and rice (unless you are Popeyes). The fried yucca was really good. I’m still not even sure what yucca is exactly (although, I’m sure RPM from Arizona is going to write me a nasty e-mail explaining it), but it’s good stuff, especially with the mojo sauce. Again, not even sure what’s in it, but it’s got some zing to it. Warning, the yucca comes on a plate and some sort of malt vinegar has been splashed on it, so at least be ready for it. It wasn’t bad though, even though I’m not usually a fan – it didn’t take away from the flavor of the yucca or mojo.

I warned D.Rough’s sister and BIL that I would only take a photo of their food if I could eat most of it – yes, I was kidding… or maybe wishful thinking or using the power of suggestion… I didn’t eat much off of their plate, but the collard greens with turkey were really good. They were really spicy, but also really good. They’re like a lot of traditional southern greens, but they were cooked with pieces of turkey so the flavor soaks into the greens. Then none of us are sure why the juice at the bottom was so spicy, but it definitely had some zip to it. They were really good. The rest of the food items got good comments from the actual eaters of that food, but I didn’t want to interview them about everything – we were having a blast, so I didn’t want to nerd out on them too much.

After the meal, certain people decided they wanted dessert. I even suggested heading to Café Latte for a finishing piece of cheesecake, but it was much easier to just finish up the meal in style at Brasa. The ladies got a Chocolate Bourbon Tart to split and BIL got a White Birthday Cupcake with vanilla buttercream frosting – he stated up front that he would not be eating a tart (hilarious!)(and yes, he was joking). The cupcake seemed a little plain in my eyes, but I think the frosting helped it out. The report from BIL was that the cake itself was a little dry, but the frosting was top notch. The tart went over much better than anticipated. It was sort of short and cheesecake-like, or maybe flourless cake-like. So it was a low-rider on a oatmeal-raisin crust. Then it was drizzled with caramel sauce to make it all fancified. I had a bite of it and it was really quite good, if you’re a dessert person. I could pass on it, but I think both the ladies liked it a lot.

I will definitely eat here again. We got good and full here and it wasn’t nearly as expensive as you’d think, given the amount of food we ordered. The service was good, and the atmosphere is fun (even when they shut the garage doors because it got too cold). I’m bummed I didn’t get to see the rotisseries in action, but maybe next time, I’ll ask to see them. I also refrained from making dirty jokes while discussing the rotisseries which, for those that know me, know how difficult that must have been. Hey, people, I can class up when I need to.

Top 5 things about Brasa
1. Braised Beef
2. Collard green with Turkey
3. Biscuit in Chicken Soup
4. Homemade sodas
5. Yucca with Mojo Sauce

Bottom 5 things
1. It has a tiny and dangerous parking lot. We saw a couple people almost get taken out – be CAREFUL.
2. Cheese Grits
3. Red/Black Beans
4. It got super cold while we were sitting outside – totally NOT the fault of Brasa
5. Dry-ish birthday cupcake (also no candle on the cupcake – how is it a birthday without a candle!?!?)

Thursday, April 15, 2010

Coffee News Café – St. Paul, MN

D.Rough suggested we go for sandwiches for lunch, so I kindly obliged her since I was in a sandwich mood (sometimes I am, sometimes I’m not). She’s a big fan of this place in St. Paul, and since she’s got an impeccable track record for recommending great places to eat, so this place had to be good, right? It was.

They’ve got some outside seating and we timed it just right to find a spot outside in the open air. D.Rough knew what she wanted already but it took me some time to decide. Lots of choices of both hot and cold sandwiches on the hand-drawn (or chalked) menu board behind the counter. Even though I really wanted to get what she was having, I decided against it and went with a sandwich called the Club of Death. Since this place is pretty health-conscious, it was a safe bet they weren’t trying to kill anyone with it, it just had a lot of meat on it. If they wanted a real club of death, they would have deep-fried the whole thing of battered it or something. The sandwiches usually come with chips, but D.Rough got a side salad and I got the garlic fries, which came highly recommended.

The food came out pretty quickly for the mini lunch rush and I was pretty happy with what I saw on both of our plates.
My sandwich was pretty generous. It had a bunch of turkey, ham, cheese, and bacon on it and some lettuce and tomato (and some red onions that I picked off). It was cut into quarters and held together with toothpicks. Really, it was two layers, since there was a piece of sourdough toasted Panini inside the whole thing splitting things up. A delicious sandwich with a large pile of fries thrown in the middle. I honestly expected a LOT more garlic than appeared on these, so I was a little disappointed. Currently, Seattle holds the record for best garlic fries (at the Mariners stadium, of course), so these things didn’t really stand a chance. They were fine, but not garlicky enough for me.

D.Rough’s sandwich had nice brown pear slices, turkey, bacon, and this amazing honey marscapone cheese on it and was really quite tasty. But I think my sandwich edged out a little ahead of hers. Not by much though, and I would probably get her sandwich next time. Toasted (but not too toasted) Panini sourdough bread and fresh sandwich toppings. Her salad looked pretty good too – she mentioned it’s not always like this and it depends on who’s making them, but she was happy with this one, for sure. Lots of olives and pretty greenery.

I did get called on not sharing my sandwich with her until I had like 2 bites left. Normally I point out when she doesn’t share her food, but I totally got busted when I realized I hadn’t offered to share even a bite of mine. You caught me, I’m a doosh. We also had a hilarious conversation about what the heck pimentos were. I have only seen them in olives, but she had pimentos on her salad. I can’t believe there is a guy in the kitchen whose only job is to pick pimentos out of olives to put on other things, but what do I know? Maybe there’s a niche market for that skill. What are they anyway? Peppers? Squash? Heck, I don’t know.

I really like this place and it’s pretty laid back. Lots of students from Macalister College (Across the street more or less) working on laptops and doing group projects and listening to music on headphones while drinking coffee and eating snacks. Fun place for a laid back afternoon. I like it.

Top 5 things about Coffee Times Café
1. Club of Death
2. Hot Turkey Panini
3. They have Dew
4. Outside seating is super nice
5. Cool vibe from this place – very laid back

Bottom 5 things
1. Apparently, consistency is an issue here
2. Garlic fries were a let down, though still decent
3. Hand drawn menu is difficult to read at first only because there are sooo many items on it
4. I’ve heard bad things about snooty Macalaster students and this place is full of them (broad generalization, I know – I’m not buying into the hype)
5. Girls next to us kept using the word paradox in their story trying to sound smart

Monday, April 5, 2010

Chicken Brittle (yeah, you read that right) – St. Paul, MN

As I’ve stated before, D.Rough is a bit of a foodie. She both appreciates and creates top-quality food. Sure, she can slum with the common folk and eat a $2 frozen pizza from time to time, but when it comes to nice food, she can re-create just about anything you’ll find in a restaurant or will whip something together like it’s not a major deal (which to me, it always is). I’m just setting the stage so you you’ve got some background on how this next adventure happened.

Some of you know that I’m a pretty serious fan of Chicken In-A-Biskit crackers. Those are the crackers that taste like there’s a salty can of chicken noodle soup in every cracker – brilliant concept. M.Giant is also a huge fan of these crackers. When he and I get together, we dream about near-impossible combinations of food and Chicken In-A-Biskit, much to the chagrin of our friends and family.

I’m putting together a poultry-themed bad movie night (yes, really, I am) for around Thanksgiving. People will be expected to bring dishes which utilize Chicken In-A-Biskit crackers, so this plays right into M.Giant and I’s hands. I casually mentioned this to D.Rough and she casually mentioned she’d be willing to make a dessert that incorporated Chicken In-A-Biskit crackers. I thought I had misunderstood her. I asked her to repeat it and she said the exact same thing. I mentioned this to M.Giant and he also thought it was too good to be true. Then D.Rough told me she’d whip up a batch so I could sample it before the public debut. Done and DONE!

I showed up to witness this creation and D.Rough kept assuring me it was super easy. I still wasn’t even sure what “it” was yet. She described it as a sort of candied cracker. …still not registering. She gave up on me and told me to line the bottom of the cookie sheet with Chicken In-A-Biskit crackers. I did so, and thankfully, didn’t eat too many that there were gaps in the brickwork I was laying out. Step one – check!

Then she threw some butter and sugar into a sauce pan and turned on the heat. She stirred this mixture together for what seemed like forever. She said it would turn all liquidy and then we’d pour it on the crackers. This seemed brilliant, even though I still coudlnt’ visualize the end product. She kept asking me if it was liquidy enough (my term, not hers) and I was convinced it wasn’t ready yet, so I told her to keep stirring. I didn’t mention I had ZERO idea of what I was actually expecting to see when you stir butter and sugar together on a stove. She told me that once it turns liquidy, you have to move fast or you’ll burn it up or wreck something. Again, I pretended like I knew what that even meant. She said something about “Oh no, now it’s going to be toffee” which didn’t sound all that bad. Then she took the now-liquidy mixture and dumped it on the crackers. It looked delicious. Then we quickly threw on some almond slivers to top it off and make it pretty – you have to do it before the toffee hardens or it just ruins everything (apparently). Doesn’t it look pretty?

The whole thing hardened into a titanium-strength coating on the crackers and you could pick up the entire sheet. It looked awesome.

She let me do the honors of breaking it up by slamming the cookie sheet down on her counter top repeatedly. I’ve never done that before, but there was something strangely satisfying about it. We both tried a piece of the crackery toffee thing and I commented it tasted like peanut brittle… with a chicken aftertaste. Hahaha. We coined the term Chicken Brittle right there.

I’ll remind you, this recipe did NOT turn out as intended, but was still magical. Even her cooking-fails turn out better than normal people’s best dishes – suck on THAT food network! Apparently, I let her cook the sugar and butter too long to where it turned into toffee, but it should have been more clear like a candy coating. Apparently, even when D.Rough overcooks things, they turn out amazing. PLUS, she said we get to give it another shot to see if we can get it to turn out properly - cha-ching!!! I’m convinced the whole thing will not be as good as Chicken Brittle, but I’m willing to give it another shot, just so I can eat another handful of Chicken In-A-Biskit crackers while making it.

Seriously, this dessert is awesome. I know M.Giant loved the bag I brought him (and it disappeared quickly), and he said he couldn’t wait until the holidays when he’ll be expecting a pallet full of chicken brittle. I know it sounds really bizarre, but it’s really tasty. It’s hard to go wrong with this. I wonder if we could melt some chocolate over the top of it and maybe have some sort of Chicken-Skor treat. Sounds like some sort of redneck adult film, now that I say it out loud… ewwwwww.

Friday, April 2, 2010

Bryant Lake Bowl – Minneapolis, MN

I’ve been a fan of Bryant Lake Bowl since I moved here, but strangely, I’ve never done a post about it. Since we’ve been shooting down HotGirlsBrother’s idea to go to the Country Bar every week after eyeopeners, we’ve been jumping at the chance to try fun places after morning drinking on Sundays. This week, he suggested Bryant Lake Bowl, and I GLADLY obliged. We called a couple of the eyeopener no-shows and told them we were walking over to Bryant Lake Bowl and they could meet us there.

I know Smallz ranks the Bryant Lake Bowl in his top 5 places with BBQ pulled pork, so I knew right away what I was going to get: The BBQ Bowler. It’s a biscuit topped with pulled pork and cheddar scramble and served with greens. You HAVE to get the BLB fries when you’re there, so it’s best to replace the greens with BLB fries and save yourself the trouble of regret. This is exactly what I did.

The service here is almost always good, so no complaints there. The guy made sure we were well taken care. He brought out our food pretty quickly, especially considering how busy there were during lunch on a Sunday.

As usual, this meal was perfect. I agree the pulled pork is one of the best in the area and this time was no different. Flaky biscuit and lots of pork and eggs. I threw some sri racha on the potatoes (they’re cut in slices, like potato chips), and that kicked them up to the appropriate level. I REALLY like this dish and I’d recommend it at any time of day. However, I know there are people who simply can’t eat eggs at non-breakfast times – I don’t get it, but I have to accept it.

Sorry there wasn’t a lot of detail in this post, but it’s pretty short and simple. I’m biased since I eat here every once in a while and I don’t want to share too many of those biases. They do also have some great girly drinks if that’s your thing. Normally, it’s my thing, but I had plenty at the VFW, so I was already set. Just go here. You won’t regret anything about BLB. Heck, bowl a couple of games afterwards. It only adds to the charm of this place.