Saturday, May 31, 2014

Rabbit Hole (Poutine Crawl) – Minneapolis, MN

D.Rough and I had wanted to try the Rabbit Hole for some time. I had read about this amazing burger that was rated highly in the Twin Cities and she had heard equally good things about some of the other dishes they have there. It’s a bit of a Korean restaurant with some upscale flair, so that would likely flavor all of the meals there. Tonight, however was the next iteration of our little group’s Poutine Crawl. We go all over the Twin Cities eating poutine and comparing it like classy wine (not all in the same night – we space it out over months).
The restaurant is just outside the Midtown Global Market – it’s a sort of indoor world bazaar of international food and shops in Midtown Minneapolis. The inside of the restaurant is pretty dimly lit – that adds to the classiness of a place, as we all know. It’s sort of an Alice In Wonderland theme, so there are all sort of fun tidbits on the walls. Make sure you look around this place. The menu has some pretty unique sounding items on it. You’ll just have to see for yourself. It’s very creative, however, and I think you’re going to find something you’d like to eat, even if it’s out of curiosity. To get the server to come to your table, you have to push this buzzer thing that is sitting on your table. Just be ready for that or no one will show up and you’ll end up thinking the service is slow – it ISN’T slow.

Tonight, many of us got the H&K Poutine (which is Korean inspired) and I somehow managed to talk D.Rough into splitting that top-ranked burger with me – the Appa Burger. But of course we ordered a couple of adult beverages while we waited for the food to come out. They’ve got a great beer selection, both tap and bottles, so they know their way to Minneapolis’ heart.

The dishes came out within a reasonable time of ordering them so don’t expect to sit around forever waiting for food. The poutine looked pretty fantastic to me. Again, it’s Asian inspired, so the poutine purists at our table already had issues with it. But for those of us who enjoy a little creativity, we were in for a treat. It’s got crispy and thick-cut fries mixed with onions, kimchi, parmesan, and cheddar, covered with a pork curry gravy, and then topped with a soft poached egg and a drizzle of kimchi aioli. Ridiculous? Yes. Delicious? Absolutely! The parmesan got lost a little bit in the mix, but every once in a while, you’d get a nice salty bit of parmesan flavor that was awesome. The kimchi wasn’t the scary kind you’ve seen in documentaries; it is the kind that’s like a vinegary slaw, so it was great with the other flavors. The poached egg was a wonderful touch, as well. The pork curry gravy was amazing and I don’t think I ‘ve had anything like that before. I’ll for sure have it again. Even the purists gave it a thumbs up, but they gave it the caveat, “If I was looking for REAL poutine, this isn’t spot on. But if I was looking for an amazing dish of tasty unique food, THIS is what I’d order.” From these guys, that’s high praise, indeed. Well done, Rabbit Hole!

The Appa Burger was next on the chopping block. It’s kind of got a little of everything on it, and if there’s one thing I lie on my burger, it’s lots of stuff. This 6 oz patty has smoked bacon, bleu cheese, gruyere, bourbon onions, arugula, tomato jam, kimchi aioli, and topped with a fried egg. It’s really difficult to see in the picture and it doesn’t do it justice. It’s a monster of a burger. The meat is super flavorful – something I pay attention to wherever I get a burger from – and the cheese worked really well together. I’ll admit this burger was a mess to eat (egg yolk everywhere hahaha), but I didn’t mind it. All the flavors that I wanted were there and it held up most of the meal. This won a Twin Cities Burger Award for a reason. It was fantastic.

Great work on many unique dishes, Rabbit Hole. I’m looking forward to my next visit, without question.

Top 5 things at The Rabbit Hole
1. Appa Burger
2. H&K Poutine
3. Great beer selection
4. Alice in Wonderland theme
5. Really unique things on the menu

Bottom 5 Things
1. The poutine isn’t purely Canadian here – it’s too fancy for a purist’s palate
2. I want to try everything on the menu
3. The buzzer thing for the server was weird at first, but we got the hang of it
4. I’ll admit, I was hoping to see rabbit on the menu
5. N/A (I had to try really hard to find the above “bottom” items. This place rules.)

Friday, May 30, 2014

Kaposia Park Disc Golf Course Signage – South St. Paul, MN

This is one of those posts where I complain about something I’m passionate about. Some people don’t like it when I post negative things here, but this is my outlet and that is why Al Gore invented the internet (yes, I know that isn’t true). Be offended if you want. I’m not hiding behind anything by writing this. If I knew who to talk to, I’d talk directly to them. This is just a heads up to anyone designing future disc golf courses around the world.

I’ve been playing disc golf for 20-ish years now, so I’ve seen a lot of courses. This also means I’ve seen a lot of basket styles, tee pad styles, course amenities, pay-to-play courses, as well as public and many private courses. I don’t mind pay-to-play courses, especially when you can actually SEE the results of that money going into the course. The Twin City area has a handful of pay-to-play courses and you can really see the results in the upkeep, maintenance, landscaping, and improvements on the courses. I LOVE this area’s disc golf community. Especially since the Twin Cities is hosting the Amateur World Championships this year at some of the area’s best courses.

Kaposia Park is one of the longest running courses in the area and has a history of being a top notch course, in both challenge and appearance. To prepare for a host of upcoming national-level tournaments, Kaposia (with some members of the Minnesota Frisbee Association and the South St. Paul Parks Department) has done a lot of work on the course. Fixed some baskets, cleaned up some tee pads, trimmed some foliage appropriately, and put in some brand new tee signs. Sadly the tee signs are what have brought about my displeasure this particular day.

Here’s what the new tee signs have going for them:
  • Distance from both tee pads – Check – extremely helpful and important on a sign
  • Elevation Change – Check – not necessary, but helpful to top-level pros and impressive in some cases
  • Quirky individual hole “name” – Check – not necessary, but amusing and nostalgic and interesting
  • Flight path of the disc – Check – not necessary, but it can be helpful to know where the majority of people will throw their shots and where obstacle, out-of-bounds, streams, and trees are
  • Pointer to the next tee – Check – again, not necessary, but VERY helpful in walking the course for the first time
  • Compass/North Arrow - Check - really not necessary, except in a zombie apocalypse when I will be lost in the woods with my discs
What’s the one thing that’s an absolute MUST for a tee sign and the reason tee signs were created, especially for a course with parallel fairways and close groupings of tee pads??????


If I had never played this course before, I’d be extremely upset that I couldn’t tell if I was on hole 1 or hole 3. Or if I was on hole 2 or hole 18. Or if I was on hole 11 or hole 14. Or where to go after hole 16.

Yes, these signs look really fabulous and are high quality. I understand someone or some group took a lot of time to design and make them look nice, but tee signs are for people who haven’t played your course before and so people don’t get lost. It’s a really simple thing to do, and probably easy to forget if you’ve played that course a hundred times. The hole number is an absolute requirement on a tee sign.

Having run many tournaments, big and small, and designed many courses, public and private, one thing you always hear people say is “If you can think of that scenario happening, it WILL happen at some point.” If you think people could possibly get lost during your tournament because your holes aren’t numbered and then have to penalize them for playing the course out of order, then it WILL happen. For that matter, during a tournament (filled with non-Twin City players), how will you send people out to Hole #14 if there is no indication as to which hole is #14??? 

Sorry to go off like this, but it’s really frustrating to see high-quality work go into something and then the most important detail (not even a detail really – it’s the overriding reason to even HAVE a tee sign) has been overlooked and not included. I’ll repeat: the new tee signs look fantastic! There’s just a glaring mistake on all of them.

Again, I realize no one cares about my rant, and I’m fine with that. I just needed to get it off my chest.

Rant over.

Now, I’ll be straight up honest with you and tell you that Kaposia Park also has some of the most hilarious and creative graffiti I’ve ever seen. It’s things like this that absolutely crack me up when I see it and make me relax during the round. Despite it being vandalism, it’s (at the very minimum) hilarious. Thankfully, there’s a huge lack of racist comments, pot leaves, mushroom drawings, and proclamations of love. All of those things aren’t welcome anywhere. But hilarious comments? I can get behind that. Here are two examples.

Thursday, May 29, 2014

Sweet Auburn Barbeque – Atlanta, GA

While in Atlanta for some roller derby activities, a group of us went to Sweet Auburn Barbeque, simply because it was in close proximity to our hotel. Despite our large group, they pulled some tables together and seated us really quickly. Once we saw the menu, we knew it was going to be a tough decision to figure out what we wanted to eat.

Some of the people decided to not decide – they got the trio of tacos, each with different ingredients. D.Rough went with the Sweet Auburn BBQ Plate with pulled pork, with cornbread and mac and cheese. My decision was made simple after I saw a monstrosity go past – I wanted the Beef Rib (aka, the Dinosaur Bone). The sides were also difficult to decide on, but I ended up going with the jerk spiced collard greens. They also serve some sweet tea since we’re down south. This always reminds me of my niece and her daughter who sneaks sweet tea like an addict, even though she’s three years old.

The food was pretty quick. The tacos came out and everyone that got them raved about them. There was a BBQ taco-pulled pork taco with pear slaw in it. There was a Mexican Street Taco with smoked brisket, charred corn pico, and avocado crema. And, there was a Korean short rib taco with Asian slaw, sriracha aioli, and scallions. They all sound good, don’t they? From the sound of things, they were all pretty incredible.

D.Rough was pretty happy with her pulled pork plate (and toast slices). The meat was fantastic, especially with the added BBQ sauce. The corn bread was amazing and just the way I like it. The mac and cheese fell a little short and there were a few complaints of too much flour in the rue. Flavor-wise, it was good, but texture-wise, it wasn’t the best.

The Dinosaur Bone came out and was really impressive. I didn’t even use my knife on this slab of meat. I just forked the tender meat right off the bone. Not a lot of seasonings – just salt and pepper and smoke flavor (the god kind, not the liquid kind). I also didn’t even use the BBQ sauce on it until the very end since it tasted so good already. It truly didn’t need the sauce. Perfectly cooked meat. The jerk seasoned collard greens were great too. Not spicy at all, but had a great flavor to the seasoning. I really enjoyed this side and I’m glad I got it.

Accidentally great BBQ in the south. It was lucky, but it worked out well in our favor. I’m happy to recommend that place to anyone in the mood for good BBQ when in Atlanta. They’ve got a curbside location and a food truck, so you should be able to find this place when you need to.

Top 5 things about Sweet auburn Barbeque
1. Dinosaur Bone
2. Trio of Tacos
3. Corn Bread
4. Sweet Tea
5. Full Bar

Bottom 5 things
1. Mac and cheese texture
2. The place gets REALLY busy on the weekends
3. I wanted to order ALL of sides and ALL of the meats. They make it difficult to decide
4. Not a huge beer selection, but you’re there for BBQ aren’t you?
5. N/A

Wednesday, May 28, 2014

B&B Grocery, Meat, and Deli – Des Moines, IA

D.Rough and I tried to go to this highly-acclaimed deli in Des Moines the last time we were in town, but showed up right after they closed. When I was in town this past weekend, I decided to check it out. I’m glad I did. Totally worth the trip!

The inside of this place is part grocery store with all kinds of things, part deli/meat counter, and part restaurant. B&B has a lot of people going through it, but every one of the workers is happy and friendly and you don’t really wait in line at all. It’s pretty awesome. If you look confused enough, someone behind the meat counter will ask if it’s your first time and then start making recommendations. Not pushy or anything, they just want you to know about their specials and what’s good (besides everything). Be prepared to read a lot of signage, since they have a lot of things behind that counter. I'd suggest going past the longer deli case past the bulk meats and go to the skinnier deli case where there are more sandwich signs. Just a hint.

I had a tough time deciding between the breaded pork tenderloin and the Zach’s Killer sandwich. I LOVE tenderloins, but Italian meats were calling me this day and the Zach’s Killer has ALL of them. Mortadella, Salami, Italian beef, others I can’t even pronounce, provolone, banana peppers, giardiniera, and a bunch of other things. I had waited about one minute to get helped and then another three or four minutes to get my sandwich. I was in and out of there in five minutes on a Saturday at noon. That’s pretty impressive. And the prices are even more impressive. Ridiculously inexpensive sandwiches.

I’m also impressed with Iowa’s passion for creating sandwiches that will kill you. In this case, it’s the Killossal Sandwich. It’s basically four sandwiches piled into one. If you had a family of 6, this might be the route to go.

Also, they have corn dogs.

And now that I’m looking at their menu, they have everything you can think of. Sausages, corned beef, pastrami, catfish, roast beef, cheesesteak, cod filet, meatballs, liver cheese, chicken/ham salad, shrimp, chorizo, tacos, poppers, deviled eggs, chicken strips, and probably a whole bunch more you wouldn't even know about unless you ask.

The sandwich was pretty exquisite, in all honesty. I know it’s been voted Iowa’s best sandwich and now I know why. They don’t’ skimp on anything. The meat is absolutely delicious, the seasoning they sprinkle on is wonderful, and despite some vinegar and oil, the bread doesn’t get soggy. It’s an awesome sandwich and I’m looking forward to the next time I can go. I’ll make sure to bring D.Rough with me next time, however. She’s a sandwich connoisseur.