Monday, July 30, 2012

Samba: Taste of Brazil – Hopkins, MN

M.GiantM and Febrifuge invited me out for dinner and a movie in Hopkins. M.Giant had been to Samba before (which is where he found me the terrible candy from South America), but Febrifuge and I were going in virginal. I wasn’t quite sure what to expect, but I had high hopes, based on what M.Giant had told me about his first trip there.

The inside was brightly lit and really nicely decorated. Bold, but not garish colors on the wall, a few tasteful photos of Brazil, and some musical/dancing kitsch on the walls. The front part of the restaurant is a little make-shift “store” that has a variety of Brazilian foods, mixes, and snacks. I was very surprised at the variety of items here. Candy, powder mixes, cheeses, canned items, hot sauce, juices I can’t pronounce, sausages, cuts of meat, frozen desserts, and a bunch more. I honestly wish I had brought a cooler so I could have picked up some packages of Calabresa sausages and Carne Seca (dried beef) to bring back home. If you’re waiting for a table or waiting to pay your bill, do yourself a favor and pop into the store.

The menu has a really diverse set of food items. There are appetizers (all of which sounded Brazilian and delicious), salads, Brazilian entrees, grilled items, Paella, Pastas, Fish, and some tasty-looking desserts. I decided just to focus on the Brazilian dishes, since clearly those would be their specialty. We opted for a couple of appetizers to share – a ground beef Pastel (like an empanada) and an order of Pão de Queijo (cheese bread). It took me a while to narrow down the entrée I wanted, but I finally did. (I will also tell you it is near impossible to pronounce any of the items on the menu, but give it a shot nonetheless. Make it a little game if you want.) I got the Escondidinhos with Carne Seca. M.Giant got the Chicken Espetinhos and Febrifuge got the Churrasco with top sirloin and chicken. Don’t worry, I’ll explain all these in a bit.

We of course chatted about all things Brazilian until we grossed ourselves out with a new “hair-free” marketing slogan campaign for the restaurant. We should have stopped after we talked about soccer, thongs, carnival, and nuts… Then we quickly turned the topic to recent films. Febrifuge was ditching out on us because we were going to see Prometheus at the cheap theater two blocks from Samba, immediately after dinner.

The appetizers came out and looked surprisingly good. Better than I expected. The Pastel was amazingly good. Perfectly fried flaky skin wrapped around really delicious, flavorful, and juicy seasoned ground beef. After I had my small portion (since we split one three ways), I honestly wanted to order a dozen of these. It was great. The cheese bread was six small puffballs of baked (not fried) bread. They were light and crusty on the outside and doughy and cheesy on the inside. They were good. After each bite, I kept wanting more. This is another thing I’d love to have a TON or. They’re like mini donuts – you really can’t have just one or two. You need ALL of them. There is a mix for these in the store and I REALLY contemplated buying it. But I also know I would turn one box (which I’m sure makes 50) would be a one-sitting item. I know myself toooooo well.

The entrees came out and I hadn’t anticipated my dish looking like a Brazilian pot pie. It’s set up like so: carne seca (aged, dried, and shredded beef)(I got hooked on carne seca after the last time I went to Tucson AZ – so good), lots of onions, cheese, a covering of manioc puree (almost like a gummy grainy starchy mashed potato, and then covered with more cheese. The beef is really awesome. It is only dried BEFORE cooking, so don’t think it’s going to be dry – it’s very flavorful. The onions were very gratuitous in this dish (I’m not an onion fan, but I powered through to make sure I got the full flavor experience). The manioc puree wasn’t bad, but it didn’t have much flavor and as it cooled it got more starchy and heavy. I couldn’t even finish the small bowl because I was stuffed. The dish was good, but after having tasted other things, I know I’ll try something else for variety next time. Or I’ll just eat faster so it’s still hot as I near the end.

M.Giant’s dish was the Espetinhos – basically chicken kebobs served with veggies, and a side of rice and beans. He said the meat was really tasty and juicy, and was surprised by the beans. There was some sort of meat in them that made them extra good. He kept referring to it as “franks and beans”, but I’m sure it was something classier than franks. Maybe shredded beef or something.

The real winner was Febrifuge. He got the Churrasco –which is basically cuts of meat on a plate. He honored me with a bite of the chicken and I was really surprised at how good it was. It didn’t come adorned with any sauce or garnish, so I assumed it was gigot o be boring. That’s just how they present it in Brazil. Meat on a plate. It was one of the best pieces of chicken I’ve ever had. They apparently have some brilliant seasoning or marinade that is crazy good. I thought it was the best thing on the table until he gave me a bite of his top sirloin. Again, the seasoning blew me away (I’m a salt lover, so I’m guessing it was more salt than other restaurants might do, but it wasn’t all salt – I promise). The steak WAS cooked well all the way through, but it still didn’t ruin it – like I usually assume. The meat was still extremely juicy and the seasoning just enhanced everything. I will probably opt for the Churrasco next time I go here. And I WILL go here again. There are a lot of other items I want o try. Apparently, the Paella is top-notch here. If I wasn’t dead set on Brazilian fare, I totally would have gotten the Paella.

It’s a little out of the way if you’re downtown city-dweller, but Main Street in downtown Hopkins has a number of REALLY surprisingly delicious ethnic restaurants. And a block or two down is the $3 theater – bonus!

Top 5 things about Samba: Taste of Brazil
1. Churrasco top sirloin
2. Churrasco chicken breast
3. Ground Beef Pastel
4. Carne Seca
5. Super awesome market shop inside

Bottom 5 things
1. The manioc in the Escondidinhos (say THAT three times fast) filled me up waaay too fast
2. Surprised by the number of non-Brazilian items (Japanese beer, Chicken Parmegiana, etc)
3. I hope his place does killer business the rest of the week. We were the only ones there.
4. Not enough room for dessert this trip
5. It’s in the “date” range of prices. Not the “fancy date” range, just regular upscale restaurant pricing (I guess that isn’t a bad thing, but still I thought I’d warn you)

Saturday, July 14, 2012

Marie Antoinette Crepes and Taco Cielo Foodtrucks – St. Paul, MN

It was food truck Wednesday for our little lunch group. We met in Mears Park this time for a change of culinary scenery. There are fewer trucks here, but they all had many things I wanted. It was a difficult decision, but thankfully, Fanny convinced me I could have an appetizer Crepe and still get tacos. She’s super smart.

Standing in line at the Marie Antoinette Crepe truck allowed me to change my mind on what to order at least 15 times. Everything on the menu sounded good. I thought about going light with a dessert kind of crepe. They had one with fresh strawberries and a cognac sauce, and another one with bananas and salted caramel, and another one with lemon and butter. But then the savory ones sounded incredible too: Turkey and cheddar with paprika aioli and one with fig preserves and goat cheese and another one called the Croque Monsieur (apparently the most popular seller). I went with what was popular, though it wasn’t an easy decision. The girl whips them up right in front of you. Ladles the batter onto the flat top, spins it with the spinny-flattener-thing (technical French culinary term), flips it, puts the ingredients in it, and folds it up like a pro.

The Croque Monsieur has ham in it, along with swiss cheese, Mornay sauce (which I don’t even know what that is, but I love it), and a small bit of mustard made with Stella Artois. It was incredible. Not light at all, but not too much to fill you up. You can’t eat it with a fork, so you have to pick it up like a small burrito pocket. It gets a little messy towards the end, but you simply can’t stop eating it. It’s really quite tasty. I almost called off the entrée portion of food truck Wednesday after that. ALMOST.

While I was finishing up my crepe, I went to the next food truck – Taco Cielo. I had perused the menu when I walked past the first time, waiting for the rest of the group to get here. Then when I saw Skully had gotten the trio of tacos (one of each kind they make), that made up my mind for me. I ordered them and they arrived at the window very quickly. The tortillas basically have the meat on them and then you add your toppings at the little topping station – keeps people moving and lets you focus on the ingredients you want. There is a chicken (shredded) taco, a carnitas (shredded pork) taco, and an al pastor (BBQ pork) taco. I added some cilantro and pico de gallo to mine. I also grabbed some of the medium/hot salsa to spice them up a bit. The guy also put on a small jalapeno popper on my plate, I was thrilled to see. And it had bacon on it!

I started with the popper. It was surprisingly delicious. The jalapeno was sweet and was filled with cream cheese and covered in bacon bits. Really good, even when the burn of jalapeno kicked in. The al pastor taco was quite good. Really awesomely good and it made mw wish I had gotten three of them. The chicken taco was a bit bland and I almost went back for more hot salsa to give it some flavor. It wasn’t bad, just a bit underwhelming. The same went for the carnitas in my opinion. I liked the flavor, but wish there was more of it and more moisture.

Overall, the lunch was delicious and I got good and full. You can’t go wrong with any of the crepes Marie Antoinette has, so just get a few of them. And my recommendation (take that for what it’s worth) is to either just get the order of three al pastor tacos, or get the trio and load up on the delicious salsa they have to put on them.

We ate over by the wonderful ladies of the Bacon Trolley. They’re really awesome folks and are funny and personable and even came out and threw away our empties when we were done eating. That alone makes me want to go back there and eat everything on the menu (the bacon on there MIGHT have some small part in that, as well).

Friday, July 13, 2012

Stout’s Pub – Falcon Heights, MN

EnyaFace! and I hadn’t done dinner in a while and we needed to get caught up. I had recently been given a recommendation from John Maddening – the announcer for the Minnesota RollerGirls and fellow carnivore of high-caliber – for a place with excellent and unique BBQ meat. I read online that Stout’s Pub was owned by the same people who own Chianti Grill and also Porterhouse. These people know their way around meat, so I thought it was a safe shot.

The inside of the place has an upscale bar sort of feel to it – I would say sort of a Granite City/Poor Richard’s Commonhouse/Oak City feel to it. The place was about half full, which is always good. Full enough people like the food and not full enough we’d have to wait forever to get seated or served. The hostess sat us right away and the waitress we got was really fun and gave us as much crap as we gave her.

The menu is pretty large. It’s got a large selection of appetizers, burgers, salads, entrees, and pizzas. It also has a large selection of Minnesota beers on tap. I honed right in on what John Maddening told me about – the Pig Wings. I wasn’t sure what to expect, but he told me it was a big hunk of meat on a bone. That’s what I needed. I got that with some grilled veggies (I’ve been scaling back my potato intake since they’re sooooo freakin filling lately). EnyaFace! got what I would have gotten had I not been looking for pig wings – the Proud Stout Burger. It’s a burger with smoked bacon, blue cheese, and cheddar on it. Sounded fantastic.

We didn’t wait long at all for our food. EnyaFace! cut me off a piece of her burger so I could sample it and I’m glad she did. Just a little pink on the inside and both cheeses were able to be deciphered in the toppings. And of course, the bacon was delicious. Good burger, cooked perfectly with tasty ingredients.

The Pig Wings were like nothing I’ve ever had before. I’m not a butcher by any means, nor am I a complete moron, but I honestly couldn’t tell you which part of the animal they came from. They were shaped like chicken drumsticks, but on a single straight bone. It wasn’t like a pork chop, just very unique. And the bone fell right out of it, which means they were tender. They were LARGE chunks of meat on these bones, as well. I ended up bringing one of them home (partly so I could show D.Rough, which is what I told EnyaFace! so she wouldn’t mock me when I told her I was full). The meat was a tiny bit fatty, which I feel I need to warn you about since it seemed to bother both EnyaFace! and D.Rough. But I actually liked it. I think it added a ton of flavor to the meat itself. I’m not sure these things are ground breaking butcher territory, but they’re definitely unique and not like any I’ve ever seen before.

The BBQ sauce they served it with was better than most places, which I appreciate. I actually powered through it with three out of the four wings they gave me. When I tried an inferior BBQ sauce from my fridge while eating leftovers, I realized how good Stout’s sauce was. The grilled veggies were just alright. A little inconsistent, if anything. Some were crunchy, some were floppy. But they had a good char on them, so they were all edible. I could have used a big bucket of pump cheese on them, but I guess that defeats the point of ordering veggies, doesn’t it. Sigh…

All in all, a pretty good meal at Stout’s. I’ll report back to Maddening that the Pig Wings were like nothing I’ve ever seen and were also delicious.

Top 5 things about Stout’s Pub
1. Pig Wings
2. Proud Stout Burger
3. Good staff – hostess to the servers
4. Great food selection on the menu
5. Minnesota Beer selection is substantial, if that’s your thing

Bottom 5 things
1. It isn’t cheap. My bill with tip was over $30
2. Grilled Veggies were just ok
3. There is a gluten free section that just lists the names of the items, you still have to flip back to the regular menu to determine what things are. Just a little inconvenient
4. The place is borderline sports bar, so there’s a lot of visual distraction happening
5. They offer a beer float – something I’ve had a bad time with previously in another country. It brought back some bad memories

Wednesday, July 11, 2012

Lochness Park Disc Golf Course – Blaine, MN

For the second 9-hole course of the day, we headed a mile or two down the road to Lochness – yes, just like the lake with the monster. It is funny that there are signs everywhere saying sledding is not allowed (odd, since there aren’t any hills), and the signs look like the lochness monster when you drive past them quickly.

We weren’t sure what to expect, but I had printed out a map online, which ended up helping us in the end. It did however take us a minute or two to find out bearings on the map so we could find the first tee.

The first thing you’ll notice about the course is there are three sets of well-marked tees. There are also tee signs high in the air with good maps on them so you can figure out both the layout of the hole but also where the additional tees are. Really well done on the tee areas – dirt tees and only a little water in some of them, due to the rain we had just gotten.

The course from the blue/pro tees is long. I mean really long. They don’t even bat an eye at 800+ feet. Be ready for that. the map online does show distances and routes for all three tees, which is awesome, but so do the tee signs at each hole. The fairways here are really well taken care of and you should really stick to them. If you get into the crap on either side, you’re going to kick yourself.

I think all of the holes had an identifiable fairway. One was particularly narrow, and a bit of a poke-and-hope, but it was short enough you could throw a bad shot and still be able to find a route/putt to the basket. Some of the fairways were really wide open, but for the most part you really had to control your shot, both distance and direction. I like courses like this one. In fact, everyone liked this course. I was worried some of them wouldn’t due to the distance factor, but everyone seemed to like it. There was also an interesting water hole where you have to hit an opening in the trees. ZERO discs losts (though two were wet)!

Again, the stars were aligning and my distance was pretty rockin this day. Even my aim was pretty good. I didn’t end up under par, but not many people will with a few 800 foot holes. My putting was saving my tail and I only had one spit-out from the basket. The course was really quite charming and fun to play. You might think the distance would ruin it for a lot of people, but the holes weren’t mean or nasty and we all pretty straight forward. Just solid golf. You’ll like this course!

Tuesday, July 10, 2012

Bunker Hills Regional Park Disc Golf Course – Andover, MN

Saturday, the disc golf group I play with took an excursion to play two courses we hadn’t graced with our presence yet. We were going to play two nine-holers so we didn’t infringe upon anyone in the group’s family/social calendar. We headed north of the Metro to Andover. I’ve never even heard of Andover, let alone been there, but it wasn’t too bad a drive. Maybe 20 minutes or so from the city proper.

The park costs $5 per car to enter, so we met up and carpooled to make it cheaper. Once we figured out which entrance to the large park it was, we found the first tee. There was a large sign on the first (and then EVERY) tee warning people about poison ivy. There’s a picture of it and everything. They’re serious about poison ivy here. Or maybe they’re breeding it for military purposes, not quite sure. Just be ready and maybe wear long pants (which I did)

The course layout is decent. Nothing terribly easy, but there were a couple of ridiculous holes. Either no fairway at all (just a wall of trees to hope you avoid), or a U-shaped hole which we all took the short-cut and threw over the trees to save a stroke or two by taking the narrow fairway that bent the wrong way for right handers. It’s a woodsy course with some pretty serious tree maneuvering.

The course is well taken care of and the concrete tees and fairways are nicely maintained. There was a missing tee sign or two, but for the most part, the distance and directions on the tee sign were pretty spot-on. And it was easy to find your way around the course thanks to fantastic signage from hole to hole.

I might also add that I may be a little biased about this course. All the stars aligned and I was on FIRE today. I didn’t miss a single putt and ended up (amazingly) under par. I was glad the guys were disgruntled and didn’t want to play the course a second time because I know that would have put me back over par. It’s got a good mix of short and long holes, so you’ll need to birdy when you can. And for the longer holes, keep it in the fairway, even if you need to lay up.

Interesting course that I wouldn’t hate to play again. It just isn’t really near anything I ever go to. Maybe on the way back from Blue Ribbon Pines, we’ll have a revenge round here…

Saturday, July 7, 2012

Bun Mi – Minneapolis, MN

I got to go have lunch with D.Rough the other day and we went to one of the places close to her work that she likes. I’m glad we did. It was pretty darn good. Bun Mi is on Washington Avenue right where they’re putting in a light rail station, so the construction is brutal right now. It’s alright though – they have walkways to get across the streets and to your favorite restaurants.

The inside is small, but filled with 15 or so two-person tables. D.Rough told me they do a really fast business here and while, I realized what she meant. When the line gets too long, someone goes from behind the counter with an iPad taking people’s orders and cranking through them VERY quickly. No one waited very long at all. I was really impressed. Waiting for D.Rough also gave me a chance to look at the menu and figure out what I wanted (besides everything).

They have Bun Mi sandwiches (Vietnamese style sandwiches), wraps, salads, and sides. They also have all kinds of different proteins and veggies you can add to the items. Very comprehensive menu here. I figured I’d better go with their money maker. The Classic Vietnamese Bun Mi – it’s got BBQ pork, pork roll, and pate inside. I’m not sure what pork roll is, but I know what the traditional pate is made from. You may not want to know and it doesn’t matter – I ordered it. All of the sandwiches come with pickled carrots, daikon (an Asian radish thing), cucumber, green onion, cilantro, jalapeno, and mayo. That’s plenty for one sandwich; you don’t need to order extras here.

D.Rough ordered a nice salad with grilled pork on it. We also ordered some fresh spring rolls, since D.Rough said they’re pretty good.

We grabbed a seat inside under a fan – the a/c might have been out, or just couldn’t keep up with the multiple days of 95+ degree temperatures. It was just as hot outside, so we just parked it where there was room. The food came out really quickly and we dug in.

The spring rolls were good. D.Rough said they’re usually larger than the ones we got, but these were still pretty large. The wrapping was a thicker rice paper skin and a little wet, compared to many I’ve had, but it was filled with BBQ pork, so I shut up immediate and just ate. It was really quite good.

The bun mi sandwich was also really good. The veggies are very fresh-tasting, and neither the cilantro nor jalapenos were overpowering. Both provided a really nice flavor without the burn. The bbq pork was delicious on the sandwich and I’m still not sure what the pork roll is, so I can’t comment on it. The pate was a very thin later, so it was difficult to differentiate it from the mayo and other juices from the meat. It was really good though. The French roll it was on was a bit tough for me, but I’m a soft bread fan, so it’s all personal preference.

I had made mine a combo and I’m glad I did. The fries were seasoned EXTREMELY well, like they took a note from Popeyes Chicken or something. And they serve the fries with a sri racha mayo dipping sauce that just makes the whole thing better. And of course, I washed the whole thing down with a pineapple papaya Jumex nectar. Awesome.
The whole meal was awesome and I was really glad I got to share it with my lady. I don’t get to do that often enough and I need to make more of a point to do that. Especially if she keeps taking me to really awesome food places. She’s a keeper.

Top 5 things about Bun Mi
1. Classic Vietnamese Bun Mi
2. Really fast turnaround on orders
3. Great fries and dip
4. Lots of food choices, including sides and bubble teas
5. Really reasonable prices

Bottom 5 things
1. The construction can be daunting, but it’s worth it
2. It fills up quickly with lunch time diners
3. Odd mix of plastic baskets and ceramic plates
4. Air conditioning couldn’t keep up – I’m assuming many restaurants had this problem this week, so disregard this
5. It makes me want to have lunch with D.Rough every day… sigh…

Wednesday, July 4, 2012

Kenwood Trails Disc Golf Course – Lakeville, MN

Another Saturday rolled around and the disc golf crew was headed to a new course for us. Kenwood Trails in Lakeville. It’s on a Junior High School property, so we were expecting the course to be pretty easy and straight forward. Some of the descriptions online said otherwise, but we were skeptical.

From the parking lot, you can see maybe 6 or 7 baskets and not a lot of trees. Don’t be fooled by this. There’s a map online that you can print out that gives you a better idea what this course is about. There’s also a large course map sign near the first tee that really explains this. There are silver baskets for the short basket placements and blue baskets for the long placements. Sometimes these baskets are near each other and sometimes they are not. Pair this dual basket concept with the dual tee concept and you’ve got the potential to play this course four different ways. We opted for Blue/Pro tees to Blue/Long baskets.

The dirt tees are indicated with wooden 4x4’s in the ground just below hand height (unless you’re short or trying to keep it low). Be ready for that. Probably more visually distracting than putting you in any physical danger (most of the time). Just be careful. The tees were in decent shape – out in the open, they were dry and not too badly burned out; in the woods, they were filled with wood chips and level, making for excellent footing, thankfully.
The course starts with a couple of must-have birdies. All reachable and nothing in the way (although, I did bounce my drive off the short basket on the second hole). Then you head into the woods for the real fun.

The shots in the woods are what makes this course. Not a lot of wide open shots in here. A lot of finesse is needed and – kudos to the designer – clearly defined fairways on every hole. Even if you have to thread a needle, you still have a fairway. The best part about this course is the thinking you have to do on the tee. You can’t just gun one down the fairway and make your putt. There are multiple shots where I actually laid up so I could make a dogleg (also a few I overshot my landing area and had to throw backwards to get out of the dense forest).

Some really fun elevation makes this course one of the best courses outside of the Twin Cities Metro. But so does some of the distance challenge on the wooded holes. The designer (again kudos to you) did not subscribe to the “narrow = short” theory of course design. I’m a big fan of keeping the distance and still making you hit a line to get to a landing zone. This course has it in spades and did a fantastic job with clearing fairways and leaving the rough REALLY rough.

The signage has close estimates of the distance on each hole, but you need to walk up and take a look at the basket because they must have moved things around since the signs were made. A few tee signs were a few hundred feet off. It also helps when you identify which basket you’re throwing at (blue or silver).

The course starts in the open, heads into the woods and then finishes in the open with some longer holes. You need to capitalize on birdies every chance you get because there are holes you simply won’t get par on. I ended up in single digits over and still was very happy. I could have played better, but the rough didn’t treat me well (I HATE throwing back out the way I came in). But at the end of the 90+ degree round, I still had a smile. This course was challenging, tricky, thought-inducing, fair, and mostly just FUN. I’m looking forward to playing here again.

Tuesday, July 3, 2012

Ngon Bistro Food Truck – St. Paul, MN

Food truck Wednesday! Time to meet some friends downtown and see what the food trucks have to offer. Today was a special treat – Ngon Bistro’s food truck was here and I didn’t even know they HAD a food truck. Ngon is pronounced “non”, for the record. I really enjoyed the food at Ngon’s restaurant when I went there with D.Rough and Rita, so I was looking forward to this!

I knew other people were coming to meet us, but they werne’t here yet, so that meant it was time for an appetizer!

…And since I was standing right next to Romocky Cheddar Brats and Dogs, I thought I’d better grab a snack. And by snack, I mean a bacon-wrapped cheese brat covered in BBW sauce. Hahahahaha. Yup, I was about halfway through it when Garrison arrived. This actually confused the lady in line behind me when we got to Ngon because I was already eating something. I told her I needed a snack if I was going to stand in line and what’s better than a brat appetizer. I think she was horrified. Whatever, lady. I’m in front of you and I’m not letting you past.

The Ngon Bistro food truck is one of the most unique food trucks I have ever seen. It really isn’t a truck, it’s a VAN - it’s a Ngon-truck (get it? Non-truck. Nevermind.). It’s a Volkswagen van from the 70’s, but it’s been super retrofitted to serve food. The top of the van pops up into the air and has a menu written in chalk, but this also serves as a sun-shade for the cook inside. There is an order taking standing outside talking to people about the food, taking orders, and making cash and card transactions. Super efficient, really. It’s a beautiful operation.

I wanted a few things on the menu, but I always like to try new things when I see them. Today, they were offering Pig Tail Sandwiches. Yes, the part of the pig you don’t ever see, nor ask about. Today, I see it in sandwich form. Garrison was going to bite the bullet and get the same, so I figured I might as well. I also saw they had fresh squeezed ginger lemonade and that’s just the thing to beat a 93-degree day. Frankly, I wasn’t sure what to expect with this sandwich. Would the tails be curly and pink? Would they be like bacon? Would they be covered in bbq sauce?

I was wrong on all counts. The sandwich was a baguette with what looked like pulled pork on the inside. If someone hadn’t told me this was pig tails, I wouldn’t have known. The tails were covered with a layer of gruyere cheese and fresh arugula. The meat was actually quite tasty and falling apart, like good pork should be. The cheese was flavorful, as well as the lettuce on it. However, the pork was so juicy it got the bread completely sogged and it turned into a mess. I think the downside to this sandwich was the bread, sadly. The ingredients were vibrant and fresh tasting and I’d eat them again, but maybe if it had a toasted baguette or some sort of more substantial roll, it would have been a top notch sandwich. Don’t get me wrong, the sandwich was delicious and I’d recommend it, but be eat it fast or split it between two people.

Sadly, the Cupcake Social truck wasn’t downtown for dessert, so I had to go home and eat ice cream while I listened to a conference call on mute. That’s how I roll.

Monday, July 2, 2012

Morty’s Snack Shop again for the second time – Bloomington, MN

Can you tell I’m trying to get you to go to Morty’s!!!??? Every week, three new creative and upscale approaches to lunch. Today was the Pastrami Burger!

Hyland Golf Practice Center (Morty's Snack Shop)
8800 Chalet Road
Bloomington, MN 55438

Sunday, July 1, 2012

Gastrotruck again – St. Paul, MN

Another food truck Wednesday for me and my friends! Today we had a huge group! Skully, Shotty, Fanny and her two kids, Garrison, Myrna, Killa, and myself. I’m sooo glad this Wednesday thing is working out for us. It’s totally worth me saying I’m working from home every Wednesday so I can meet these folks.

I’ve been to Gastrotruck before, but today, I actually read the menu PAST where it said “pork belly”. Normally I stop right there and order. But I noticed they had a Peruvian burger on the menu. What the heck is a Peruvian burger, you ask? Are you sure you want to know? It’s an alpaca burger (raised locally for Gastrotruck) with goat cheese and olive tapenade. Sounds delicious doesn’t it?!?!? That’s why I got it. I also got a salad with local greens, cucumber, feta, beets, and a lime cilantro vinaigrette.

I didn’t tell any of the vegetarians I was dining with what I was eating, since I respect them and don’t wish to weird anyone out. However, there is something to be said for eating cute furry animals. That thing that should be said is they are tasty. If you just think of it as a gourmet burger, you’ll be fantastically pleased with this burger. It’s very tender, perfectly cooked, had a light crisp on the outside of the meat, paired well with goat cheese and salty tapenade, and not too large. I really enjoyed this. I also enjoyed the heck out of the salad I got. They really know how to make a salad more than just a salad.

I will say I’m still a beef burger fan, but I do enjoy the exotic tastes that fancy chefs are working into burger form. Elk, Bison, Camel, Goat, Sausage, Bacon, Turkey, Black Bean, and now Alpaca. I was worried it would taste like a camel burger, which I am NOT a fan of, but Alpaca is soooo much more tasty than camel, in case you were wondering.

Vicugna pacos is latin for delicious!