Monday, August 25, 2014

Making memories of us

Grab a carpet square and pipe down, it's story time!  As most of you know, my relationship with my husband began the night of my 25th birthday.  I had been celebrating (read: self medicating my way through a quarter-life crisis like a horse's ass) at Williams with some friends, and Noah managed to convince his buddies to join us after the Wolves game was over.  I don't know if it was the beer or if it was love at first sight (probably the beer), but the moment he sat down it was like nobody else was in the room.  Several cliches later, we decided to hit the bar within stumbling (literally some nights, and this is why we don't wear wood bottomed shoes anymore) distance from my apartment, so Noah went to ask his roommate if they could join us.  Rather than give a yes or no answer, Derek gave the response of a lifetime:

"You know that's my cousin, right?"

Yup.  Derek, one of my eleventy-nine cousins on my mom's side (not to mention she's his GODMOTHER), was sharing an apartment with my future husband.  After Noah called me over to confirm and I figuratively, ahem, pooped a brick, it was all good and we went off to Al's for last call.  So Noah and Derek continued living together for a while until my lease in St. Louis Park was up and we decided to rent our own little place in Golden Valley.  (Yeah, we lived in sin.  Don't judge.  That's God's job.  Don't do God's job for Him.)  We found a delightful two bedroom with underground parking, a balcony, and the crappiest pool in the history of pools.  But it was ours, and that's what mattered.  The first night we ate Godfathers straight out of the box and I tried valiantly not to smear tomato sauce into the brand new carpet.

So you can imagine my disappointment when I found out this morning that "our" original Godfathers had recently closed.  I can't say I'm surprised, given how that area's full of more upscale fast casual restaurants.  True, it was next to Down In the Valley, which should really just call itself "Stoner's Pot Palace" and stop pretending to be a record store, because COME ON.  But anyhow, I'm sad that some places we used to go are no longer with us.  Clearly food is a big part of our relationship if I associate it with certain milestones.  When we picked up my engagement ring we went to Morton's - aaaaand they're closed.  First apartment, first taco pizza from that Godfathers - aaaaand they're closed.  The most heartbreaking one has to be where we went on our first date - a little place called Tiburon.

Picture it: Sicily (or Minneapolis), 1922 (try 2004).  A young blond woman is about to go on her first of many dates with a very handsome young man.  He whisked her away in his chariot (Grand Am) for a night of sparkling (nervous, probably sweaty, at least on my part) conversation and amazing food at Tiburon.  Now, they had both been doing Atkins like a couple of idiots, so the idea of mashed sweet potatoes was too tempting to turn down!  Paired with a scrumptious, tender lamb chop, the couple to be dined like royalty in the company of a fish tank that ran the length of the entire restaurant.  He kept staring at the tank in hopes that one of the bigger fish would eat another, because he was a very demented individual.  After the meal, he accompanied her to the bar so that she might have herself an ill-advised cigarette (again - idiot).  "Look!" he exclaimed.  "The lights behind the bar change color!"  As they did.  And so the couple's first inside joke was born, and they lived happily ever after, except for the week before the wedding when she lost her damn fool mind a few times and almost burned the apartment down.  Good times.  Other than that, solid!

Friday, August 8, 2014

"Cheeeeeese. Yeah, didn't we lock you in a dumpster one time?"

I have fond memories of Godfathers Pizza.  Back when I was in high school and flannel was so popular it almost got a presidential nomination, we'd have half days of school at the end of the year.  How glorious, I thought!  It's like I'm one of the cool kids playing hooky, except I won't get sent to Saturday school!  My friends and I have a perfectly legitimate reason to leave at 10:45 and head down the street to Godfathers' lunch buffet.  So we'd stuff our faces and drink regular soda for an hour or so, because you might not think marching band geeks have big metabolisms but all that flag work really worked the core or something (I don't work out much) (OBVIOUSLY).  That Godfathers also holds the "distinct" honor of being the place where I once slapped a guy.  He was my first love until he started using a word that sounds like flag and instead of telling him why it was inappropriate and he should not use such language I put down my slice of taco pizza (mmm...) and unleashed my righteous palm across his face.  Did I mention this was a double date?  Aca-awkward!

Who wouldn't want to get smacked by this saucy little minx?  Also, none of those things happened.
Flash forward X number of years.  Husband (obviously not the aforementioned fartknocker) and I have found ourselves living down the street from the location of Slapfest 1996.  We don't frequent the buffet as we discovered your metabolism dies the moment you find true love (it's a story deeply buried in the Hans Christian Andersen archives), but we do go out for the occasional pie.  So, given the rich history of this particular pizza place, you can imagine my dismay when we went there one day to find they were closed.  Closed!  The nerve!  So many cherished memories of blowing straw wrappers at my besties before going to somebody's house to watch Monty Python and the Holy Grail...again!  Dust in the wind, man.  (You're my boy, Blue!)
Flash foward again.  Something intriguing happened.  A few weeks ago, Red's Savoy popped up within cat tossing distance of our house.  Noah, having grown wary of the ever changing rotation of meth labs fronting as pizza shacks was overjoyed, whereas I was nonplussed.  I know everyone raves about it like it's one of God's greatest creations (that would actually be the Pocket Hose), but we went there the Sunday after our bachelor and bachelorette parties, and it didn't blow my mind.  It was good, and it got the job done, which was a miracle in and of itself given the magnitude of my hangover.  Actually, I wasn't too bad.  In fact, when I got home from the bar, I was trying to get everyone to rally.  At 3 am.  Where half the people staying in our apartment had been drinking since well before noon, one of which (take a wild guess who) had long since gone to bed with his flip flops still on.  So while Red's will be given another shot (oh God were there ever shots that night) sometime soon, tonight we're doing it right.  Tonight we consume Pizza Luce!
My half has goat cheese on it.  I may have just drooled on myself.  Don't judge.
Luce is, hands down, my favorite.  The sauce is perfect, they use a ton of cheese, and I don't know what they do with their crust but I swear on this carpet sample it's downright good for you (right?  RIGHT???).  It's a pity I have no idea how to run a business (I'm amazed I can keep plants alive) because I would throw a Luce in that old Godfathers spot so fast the citizens of Fridley wouldn't know what hit them.  Unfortunately their locations aren't exactly northern suburban friendly, so occasionally we'll sacrifice a night at home and stay downtown in a hotel where were we can order in from the comfort of a big fluffy bed.  I highly recommend doing it as a date night once in a while.  Typically I'll grab a drink at the bar while Noah runs the suitcase upstairs, and then he'll slide up next to me all, "Clive.  Clive Bixby.  Let me get you a cosmo with one of the drink tickets I got for being a rewards member!  CHA-CHING!"  Gotta make sure to be up to the room before the Vikings game, because preseason or not, Noah will not want to miss the first kickoff of the year!  Skol!

Sunday, July 20, 2014

"Just trying not to get run over."

So there are seven grandkids on the Goin side (in order of age): Amy, Jack, Steve, me, Patrick, my brother Nick, and Jeff.  There's a meme that goes around Facebook about how your cousins are your first friends and big fat cheesy whatever, but I can dig it.   Even though Jack and Patrick lived in Green Bay (Jeff didn't come around until later) (he kinda inspired this entry), they still made it down for cousin week at the cabin every year.  I don't know how Grandma and Grandpa Goin managed to take care of us all, what with the camp songs and air guitar on flyswatters and the Look What the Cat Dragged In it hurts me, but somehow they did.  And for that I am grateful, because not only are the Goin cousins some of my favorite people, but I've also been able to celebrate most of Mötley Crue's collection since I was 8 thanks to them.  I still don't know where Tropicana is or why Vince Neil lost his heart there.

Ten years ago at Jack's wedding.

Jeff is the baby of the family.  Sure, he's 29 and has been a husband for just over 24 hours, but still.  We all (minus Nick, who was too young) went into Packer territory for his baptism.  Naturally, with that fond memory in mind last night, I cried my stupid eyes out during that ceremony.  He wasn't even out of the gate before I was reaching for a tissue.  But I guess that's how my family is.  Sarcastic and sentimental.  Despite all my pathetic blubbering, I had a fantastic time, and you know why?  Mr. and Mrs. Jeffrey Goin know how to rock a wedding.

Noah and I got married well before Pinterest and all that jazz, so clearly there are a few things I wish we'd done differently (no clinking of the glasses, no weird photographer, NO clinking of the frigging GLASSES I will kiss my husband of my own volition thank you very much).  I wish I'd put more thought into our special day, but hindsight is 20/20 and I've had glasses for 30 years.  Jeff and Kelsey had some nice touches that really knocked the ball out of the park (see, I made that joke because Jack works for the Twins!  Geddit?)
Jack, geddin' it from Steve.

1. Open bar.  I totally get why you wouldn't want to have one.  It's spendy, people might get stupid, and in certain counties you might have to keep a cop handy to make sure nobody goes over the next farm over to start mud wrestling with pigs.  I wish we'd had one to thank the folks who drove in from everywhere and bought us nice gifts.  And didn't go up to north Ham Lake to go cow tipping (none of our guests would have done that) (...I might have).
We had a cash bar. 

2.  Appetizers.  Reportedly there was a meat and cheese tray at our reception but I never saw it, likely because our batshit crazy photographer had never been on a golf course and didn't know where to take good pictures.   Last night I ate my weight in cheese empanadas.  Don't judge.  Appetizers are the poo, so take a big whiff.
Copyright some drunkard with a disposable camera.  Remember those?  Of course not. 

3. Sit down dinner.  Now it was really fun taking my plate through the buffet at our wedding...not.  Especially wearing a white dress?  And monkeys might fly out of my butt!  Outdated Wayne's World quotes aside, it was so much nicer to be served my pasta rather than winding up with a chestful of pesto.  Even though green is a tremendous color on me.

All in all, last night was an emotional and amazing night.  It was the first Goin wedding in 10 years where I hadn't been a bride or a maid, and it was so tremendous to be able to celebrate the introduction of another Goin girl into the family in such a swanky but yet chill environment.  To the newest Goin, I say welcome with open arms, and enjoy a lifetime of "Kelsey Groin" jokes. We love you!

Thursday, July 17, 2014

"Why don't you try to solve the mystery of who put mud in the freezer?"

Summer in Minnesota is far too short.  "Well golly gee, what an extremely astute observation that nobody has ever made," responded 75% of year round Minnesotans.  Haters.  That's why Noah and I like to sit on our deck after work on those lovely sunny afternoons.  Living right off a fairly busy thoroughfare is kind of a pain in the ass, but we've learned to deal with the roar of motorcycles and those God forsaken Con-Way trucks that once drove some out of town friends of ours to start a drinking game (see truck, take drink.  Not for rookies).  We've also learned we live in a city full of morons who don't understand the concept of a crosswalk.  Seriously, if you're going to be the dumbass to put your toddler in a SHOPPING CART and WHEEL HIM across FOUR LANES of late afternoon traffic, at least have the common sense to go the extra mile (as it were) and let the timed lights guide you.

Yes.  This is a real thing that actually happened.

But I digress, as per usual.  So last night, as Noah and I were having a nice conversation and watching the idiot parade, I got a wicked craving for a bomber pop.  Not just any old bomber pop, but one from a blue and white ice cream truck.  Back in the '80s, when the old neighborhood was filled with kids, nothing thrilled us more (other than a rousing game of TV Tag) than the faint ringing of that bell.  We'd run sopping wet, nicely chilled from playing in the sprinklers, beg Mom for a few bucks, and tear down the street before he drove off.  There's a sort of innocence involved with the nostalgia...I still get a little giddy when I hear the ding-ding, even though there's no chance I'm going to chase that bugger down the street ever again.  Even I have some dignity (I DO I SWEAR).

Totally rocking the dignified label.

Thanks to my parents having a deep freeze the size of a mini-horse, we always had plenty of frozen snacks to tide us over in the event of a no-show by our trusty truck.  Now, freezie pops are good.  If you ask my niece, they're probably her second favorite thing in the world besides Daddy.  On a spectacularly hot day in West Fargo last summer she had three and her tongue looked like it was ready for its first Grateful Dead concert.  I'm not saying she's wrong, because the cutest little girl in North Dakota can do no wrong (I can hear her daddy laughing from here), but Popsicles are really the way to go, if you ask me, didn't.  Just close your eyes - it's 80 degrees outside, you just got done playing in the neighbor's pool, and your mom opens the freezer and hands you a classic grape Popsicle.  Or cherry!  Or root beer, which is still my favorite.  Sure, they were a little messier than freezie pops, but you didn't have to clean up after yourself!  Watering bans aren't a thing in 1987 so you feel free to go back out and spray yourself in the face with the hose!  Now go dry off because Kids Incorporated is about to start.

However, the ultimate - the pinnacle - the "thank you for staying outside and playing nice instead of straight up murdering each other" - was always Dairy Queen.  Mom would take us to the junior high pool and let us loose while she got a few hours of some much deserved freedom, which I'm assuming she used to grocery shop and what not rather than having a three gimlet lunch at some dive bar (viva Blainbrook!).  Even though we were tired out and positively reeking of chlorine, we'd practically squeal with delight when Mom turned instead of going straight on Central.  We didn't have a lot of money back then, what with the whole single-income-two-kids situation, so getting a Blizzard or a Dilly Bar was a real treat.  Although I never got the appeal of the Mr. Misty.  Just have yourself a nice refreshing glass of Kool-Aid instead!  You know you're not going to sell that whole pitcher anyway.

Tuesday, July 8, 2014

Highway 8 Revisited

Noah and I went to the Goin family cabin on Pipe Lake for the 4th once again this year.  My grandparents built it (with their bare hands!) (Grandma was one tough German cookie) in 1956, so I've been going there since I was an infant.  Like, my birthday is May 21st, and I have a feeling my very first Memorial Day was spent up there.  Having traversed Highway 8 eleventy nine times in my life, there are certain landmarks I enjoy seeing along the way.  Thesse are kind of out of order, but it's my Monday and frankly I don't give a rat's ass.

Lindstrom's water tower is a tea kettle!  How Swedishy and quaint!

I don't enjoy seeing this sign unless I'm coming up from Iowa.

Our McMansion.  I can't stop smiling when I see it for the first time every year.

Nothing like driving on gravel for a nice smooth ride!

This is the point where I get giddy to the point Noah threatens to slap me stupid (OMG kidding).

When I was younger this house had mint green trim on the windows so I called it the gingerbread house.  I assume it is not made of gingerbread as it has not been eaten by bears as of yet.

Redneck yacht club!

A couple of jackasses.

Pipe Dream Center...not sure if that was intentional or not...

This house is a trip.  It's so dilapidated I'm surprised it can hold up that satellite dish.

Always thought this was pretty.

It's the turn off of 8!  Eeeeeee!

See, because my husband's name is Noah...get it?  GET IT?!


Almost to Wisconsin!

Yup.  Rocks.

Eichten's, for all your cheese and bison needs.

Raise your hand if you remember when this was an A&W!

This was the Dinerbel - one L - until this year because they hate me and want to whiz all over my childhood memories by changing their name.

Terrible picture of a cute little gift shop called Gustaf's.  Seriously, did Stevie Wonder take that?

And the DQ which will forever be known as "The One Robin Williams Stopped In When He Was in Hazelden."

Sunday, June 22, 2014

Beef! YEAH!

Yesterday we met up with our Fargo girls for brunch at Elsie's Bowling Center.  What's that, you ask?  Why would we insist on a bowling alley for the most important meal of the day?  Because I said so.  Ass.  I wanted to take the girls someplace new, and their original choice of Dan Kelly's wasn't open yet.  Besides, when they come to Minneapolis, they always hit two places: DK'S and Manny's.
Nancy's mountain of beef

Manny's was good when it was in the Hyatt, but something happened when it moved to the Foshay.  It feels swankier somehow, despite being in a skyscraper that's older than Jesus.  I swear the food got better.  I normally order seafood at steakhouses, because I am That Girl, but I'll order the shit out of a slab of beef the size of my face there.  If I were a bigger deal at work (my actual job title is "Peon Lifer"), I'd find a way to have lunch meetings there once a week.  And pay with my corporate card.  Like a boss. 
Keep it classy, homies! 

We were introduced to Mancini's by my sister-in-law Julie and her now husband Matt.  I originally balked at going there, because...St. Paul?  And they don't take reservations?!  Kristin Ann Goin Oberg was not raised to sit and wait for a meal like a commoner!  Except I totally was (because the Perkins in Blaine always had a line out the door...not), and while we waited Julie got tipsy and asked me to be a bridesmaid, so obviously I cried happy tears.  I also cried happy tears when I had my first bite of lobster.  Those tears may have been composed of clarified butter.  We went back for my birthday dinner last year and they made me a whole frigging cake!   I felt special. 
Because that was what I needed after a cup of butter. 

When we got engaged, we happened to have a coworker who got us an in at Gittelsons Jewelers.  That meant not only did we get my engagement ring for a song, but we got two free drinks at the dearly departed Morton's.  Now, people talk about how great Murray's is, with the history and the silver butter knife steak and OVERRATED.  Like Rhonda said yesterday, "It's like a picnic in there!"  Morton's was so much more fun, like when they'd bring around the cart o' beef to aid you in the crucial decision of what cut of meat you most craving.  And the chocolate molten lava cake?  If there was an award equivalent of a Grammy for cake, it would have won Record of the Year every time.

Thursday, June 19, 2014

Feedback funsies

Last weekend, Noah and I made the pilgramage to Sioux Falls, simply because I'd never been, and I have a solid amount of vacation days to burn before my boss goes on maternity leave until the end of time.  I was hoping to come back and regale you all with tales of delectable meals and dazzling cocktails like with the Kansas City trip.  As you may have guessed since I haven't blogged about the trip yet, it was...not a foodie trip in any way shape or form.  Don't get me wrong, the cheeseballs (deep fried cheese) and the new to us chislic (deep fried steak.  That's right!  And yet so wrong...) were great, but not really blog-worthy, you dig?

So here I've been for the past two weeks with a bug up my ass to write, but no good subject matter.  Faithful readers, I am writing to ask for your help.  I want feedback from y'all.  Who are you?  What have you enjoyed about reading this drivel?  Are there any restaurants you want to read about?  Any food related topics I could ramble on about for a few paragraphs?  I'm thinking one about wedding food is in order, but I'll wait until after my little (I guess I can't call him little if he's going to be 29 on Saturday) (JESUS I remember his baptism like it was yesterday...sob) cousin Jeffy's wedding for that.

Help a sister out.  Sharing is caring!

Tuesday, June 3, 2014

“Fish meat is practically a vegetable.”

In the interest of saving some money and hopefully losing some weight, I am having a big leafy salad for lunch.  Because of this, all I can think of is how much better just about anything else in the world sounds right now.  When I was young and new to working downtown and still had a (bleep)ing metabolism, I'd venture out into the skyway and eat anything I wanted.  Hello Jamba Juice, yes I would like a Peanut Butter Moo'd the size of a pony keg!  Ciao bella, Andrea Pizza, two New York style slices are just what the doctor ordered (man, I need to go back to THAT doctor)!  Good God that sounds good right now.  (Bleep)ing salad.  Now that I no longer have one hour paid lunch and am pretty much chained to my desk all day (let's not forget old and lazy), skyway lunching is no longer the best option for me, which is a pity because there are these new contraptions out there called "food trucks" that are all the rage amongst downtowners.  Thankfully, I have a wonderful husband who brings me lunch on occasion, and in the summertime, that lunch is from the Sushi Fix truck.

Before I go on, I want to know what's so damn scary about sushi.  Every time I'm presented with a mouth watering array of fish, at least one of my fellow cubicle dwellers (hi Scott!) freaks out like this is Fear Factor hosted by Joe Rogan (his last name is not Garrelli) and I've just been served a plate of slugs.  It is an acquired taste, I'll admit that.  We took my wonderful in-laws to Masu in Northeast last year, because a good sushi and robata restaurant is fairly hard to come by in Williams, MN (they're basically in Canada.  If you stood in their backyard and threw your passport you'd hit a Mountie) (which I don't recommend).  We have a picture of Maripat taking her first bite of sushi, and bless her heart she ate it like a champ, but I'm fairly certain that wasn't her favorite part of the meal.  Hence why we took them to a place with robata as well, because after she had the eggplant all was forgiven and I was accepted back into the family.  Which is good, because then I was able to enjoy some amazing short ribs.  Mmm, short ribs.  (Bleep)ing salad.

Don't get me wrong, I love Masu dearly, even if it seems to always be packed and the majority of the clientele is so pretentious you'll feel like you're at one of those damn hippie music festivals (Hullabalooza '96!).  There's just something a little extra special about Sushi Fix.  When the truck is out, they Tweet a picture with their location and the daily special, which is usually something spicy and we've established that's something I generally cannot handle.  (The last roll I got there was spicy and I loved it.  It was also wrapped in soy paper so you better think twice before calling me a pansy, you horse's ass.)  Instead, I stick with what I know, and what I know is that their sashimi is phenomenal and I insist that you sushi fanatics must try it.  On a hot summer day, when the sun is causing me to melt in my blast furnace of a cubicle, it's the best lunch ever.  If you're a nigiri person, I can dig that too, for it is delectable (no hate on this blog.  Food is love).  I've had sushi where they don't use enough vinegar in the rice, resulting in a maximum amount of blandness.  No me gusta.  Grab some chopsticks, dip the fish into the soy sauce, and kampai!  And if you need me, I'll be here eating jellybeans and hoping I remembered to put on deodorant this morning.

Wednesday, May 28, 2014

"I'd eat that off a flip flop!"

Imagine that, I went on vacation for a few days, came home, and suddenly my damn pants don't fit!  I'm sure it had nothing to do with the fact that I ate like a champion for four days.  Not that I don't eat well in Minnesota - I wouldn't have a food blog or a potbelly if I didn't - but something about being out of my element just made everything taste better.  I tend to get stuck in a food rut on occasion, so  taking a road trip to Kansas City was a great way to experience something new with the same old guy.  I already told you about our amazing experience at Alba in Des Moines, so let's pick up where we left off.

The hotel didn't provide a free continental breakfast (cheap bastards), so we set off on our journey, hoping to find a sweet little dive bar, because dive bars have the best greasy food, and that's what we wanted.  Well folks, our dumb asses should have consulted Google Maps, because after an hour of driving we'd found nothing except Casey's General Store and roadkill, and I'm not a fan of either.  Thankfully Casey's did sell Snickers, which was a relief because I have no idea how to cook a skunk carcass on the hood of a car, nor do I want to find out.  We did happen upon a family restaurant whimsically dubbed "The Toot Toot" (no, seriously) (Iowa, am I right?), but family restaurants in general kind of give me the heebs.  Also, as funny as I think farts are (on a scale of one to ten they are HILARIOUS), I just couldn't deal with that;

We pressed on and eventually stopped in Kearney, MO, birthplace of Jesse James (please be aware this will be the only time you learn something in this blog).  Kearney is a lovely town with twee shops and you can park your car in a spot right on the street.  We stopped in at Fatboyz, because anyplace with a Z instead of S has to be good, right?  Hell yeah that's right!  It was everything a good dive should be - strong drinks, a hint of secondhand smoke in the air, and deep fried goodness.  This is how I was introduced to the corn nugget.  I mean, hello, cornbread made with whole kernels of corn, fried to a crisp?  Don't get me wrong, I love cheese curds and all their melty fabulousness, but these were just stupid good.

Speaking of stupid, three hours in the car and three cocktails later left me wiped out.  I'm not much of a nightlife gal as it is, so I was perfectly happy to park my kiester on the bed and watch TV while Noah picked up dinner.  And what was for dinner, you ask?  Jack Stack Barbecue.  My brother-in-law John wanted me to blog about how the barbecue was down there compared to Spitfire in Fargo, and for the love of God I hope they don't ban me for life for saying this, but there's just no comparison.  My baby back ribs were perfect, and I've enjoyed myself some good ribs in my day courtesy of Noah (Famous Dave's is ass) (RIP Famous Dave).  It's been a while since I had ribs at Spitfire, but it wouldn't change my opinion because Jack Stack was AMAZING.  The meat was incredibly tender, the sauce was sweet without being cloying, and WHOA NELLIE I can't believe I haven't mentioned the beans yet!  Bush's can come up with all the new varieties they want and try to use that ridiculous talking dog to sell them, but no.  I honestly can't tell you what made them so good.  All I know is if I exclaimed, "Oh my God!  The BEANS!" one more time I likely would have been smothered with a downy hotel pillow.

Part of me feels like I should have a sign off line a la Guy Fieri.  Part of me also thinks nobody should imitate someone who looks like they have an albino porcupine on their head.  Winner winner chicken dinner!

Thursday, May 22, 2014

"You might want to explain your side job in Ankeny so they don't think you're working the pole."

Greetings from the Sheraton in Des Moines (French for "beats Iowa City")!  Hope the evening finds you well.  If you're like 75% of my readers, you're probably thinking, "I'm doing a lot better than you because I'm not in Iowa!"  Honestly, I'm really digging Des Moines.  Well, other than the fact that there's no Food Network in this room, which is why I'm blogging rather than trying to force conversation with Noah (10 years together.  Four hours in the car.  Don't judge).  Not only is it a sweet little town with a metric crap-ton of bars, but it's also home to a fantastic foodie restaurant called Alba (French for "stretchy pants encouraged").

Our friends Shannon (also known as "Cute Shannon" to some) and Ellie picked out this place to take us specifically so I'd have a great new spot to write about.  To say they chose wisely would be a staggering understatement.  I can't remember the last time I ate that well, and that's not entirely due to meth induced memory loss.  The shining star for all of us was the plate of morels we shared as an appetizer. Apparently they're kind of a big deal.  Even bigger than Ron Burgundy (but not Baxter.  That dog went through some real shit).  Shannon told us a story about being a young boy in North Pitlicker (may not be a real city) Iowa, how they would go out and pick morels for funsies, because there was no mall in which to loiter aimlessly and shoplift.  Now, that sounds like a lot of work to me, for I am astonishingly lazy, but even my fat ass might put forth that kind of effort for another plate of those.

After some hemming and hawing about the beef cheeks (are they really cheeks?  Do they have dimples?) (I had no interest, prawns FTW), we placed our orders, enjoyed cocktails and conversation, and then proceeded to stuff ourselves silly.  My gnocchi was so rich I can still hardly move for I am stupid full.  So when Ellie told the waitress it was my birthday and hence I should receive a piece of chocolate lava cake, I almost punched her (I waited until she started singing Happy Birthday.  Broke the poor girl's nose) (OMG totes joking). It was velvety exquisiteness.  I would have licked the plate clean but I had already done that with the mushrooms so I didn't want to make a total ass of myself.

Next stop is Kansas City.  We might be crazy and stop in both Missouri and Kansas!  Stay tuned!

Monday, May 19, 2014

More "and such" this time around

I can't claim I fell in love at first sight, because such a sentiment might be bullshit, but the first time I set my eyes on Noah Oberg, I definitely felt something I'd never felt before.  I know, total cliche.  Shut up.  All I know is, as he was walking away from my desk  after learning I was going to be the processor on his new project (I promise this will get interesting), we locked eyes, and I was hooked.

Unfortunately, I never caught a glimpse of his left hand.  One of the triggers of my quarter life crisis (John Mayer nailed it shut with that lyric) was knowing I'd have to check if a cute guy was married before I pathetically threw myself at him, and yet I forgot.  So instead of just being all cool and casual, hoping he'd stop over and I could subtly check out the wife situation...I work stalked him.  Not only that, I made my cubicle mate Melanie do the same.  I mean, why bother asking around if he was single when I could parade by him in a skirt on one of a dozen trips to the bathroom in a day?  Cher Horowitz and her pen dropping style of flirting got nothing on me!

Eventually I worked up the nerve to kind of ask Noah out (over work email, sadly), and a night at Williams in Uptown on my birthday lead to not only our first kiss, but (finally getting to the food part here) our first date at the now closed Tiburon.  I've been sad about the demise of a few restaurants in my day, but I'll always be a little upset that I can't ever go back to the place of the best first date ever.

It's not so much that we miss the food.  We both got lamb chops and sweet potatoes, and they were certainly delightful, but obviously anyone who has been reading this blog (mad props to all four of you) knows Noah can pretty much do anything, especially make a lamb chop.  It's more the memory of the place.  It was remembering me having a smoke at the bar(!) (best habit I ever kicked) and Noah pointing out that the neon lights changed color, which became our first inside joke.  It was going there for our first anniversary.  It was watching the sharks in the fish tank, wondering if this was It (capitalization intentional).

It was It.  I love you, darling, and I always have.

Wednesday, May 14, 2014

Seafood - a love story

Like most Minnesotan kids with access to a lake cabin (so - most Minnesotan kids), my first exposure to fresh fish was the sunnies my dad would catch off the dock.  In the 1980s, when I was a wee bespectacled lass who spent many a weekend at (in) the lake with my brother and cousins, scenic Pipe Lake in Wisconsin was rife with the little buggers!  Dad would catch a bunch, gut them, and take them home to Mom who lovingly dredged them in seasoned flour and pan fried the shit out of them.  Lip smacking good!  She'd serve the tasty filets up with homemade American fries, which I cannot stand to this day.  The only thing about them that reflects America is that we like to eat greasy crap.  But I digress.

When I was older and living on my own, my mom taught me the easiest "grown up" dish ever - broiled salmon with butter and dill.  It's so simple that even I've never screwed it up, and I'm the girl who once smoked out her apartment when an unattended nacho platter decided to burst into flames.  The only improvements I've made on it over the years are grilling it (duuuuuuuh) and more recently, adding some fresh lemon.  It's so good that the only time I've ever ordered it in a restaurant was at Three Fish, because I just can't replicate the portobello salsa on top.  Blast!

Something ridiculous I also won't get at a restaurant is shrimp cocktail.  For years at family gatherings, Mom has provided, amongst other things (EVERYthing), a big bag of shrimp from Cub and generic cocktail sauce, which I deem inedible until I doctor it up with a searing dollop of fresh horseradish.  I'm not generally a fan of spicy food (ha ha oh you wimpy Minnesotans and your ketchup LOLZ CRAM IT), but cocktail sauce needs a good zing.  My father claimed I made it so hot one time it singed his nostril hair, and that man can take the heat.  He eats jalapenos for fun.  He once had some chili that was so hot he went on a spiritual journey with a coyote that sounded like Johnny Cash.  Or was that Homer Simpson?

One fun thing we have been doing when eating out is ordering food we never thought we'd want to try.  We went to Meritage recently with my brother and sister-in-law and demolished a plate of oysters.  I'd never wanted to sample them before because I didn't understand the point of ordering something you just swallow.  How do you taste it, unless you have taste buds in the back of your throat and are a freak of nature?  Once Cara informed us that it was now acceptable to chew them?  Gamechanger.  They were briny and delicious and I just now realized I sat down to a platter of supposed aphrodisiacs with my little brother and I feel like that's wrong somehow.

Apparently my bivalve craving has stuck with me, as recently Noah treated me to a night at our favorite Northeast restaurant, Erte, so that I could have the bouillabaisse.  Normally when we go there after work, it's because I had a bad day and am craving comfort food, by which I mean a nice French martini.  Lately, more due to the rainy weather leaving us unable to grill, we've been having dinner there as well.  The bouillabaisse is a cavernous bowl of mussels, clams, giant shrimp (oxymoron alert!), and fish.  I didn't think I liked clams, but it turns out the clams in the chowder at Red Lobster are not so much a high of quality as the little beauties still in their shells, soaking up a delectable saffron and tomato broth.  Word to the wise, this is not a dish if you're a messy eater who still has their dignity intact.  Being that mine is long gone, I counted no fewer than four broth stains on my person after that meal and wore them like badges of honor all the way home.

Sunday, April 27, 2014

My first guest post

I love grilling. The smell of the charcoal, the searing meat, caramelizing barbecue sauce…you really can’t beat it.  Some people think it’s just a social activity, and talk, talk, talk, without paying attention while their food turns into a platter of hockey pucks.  Not cool.

I still remember the first time in my cognizant years when my dad grilled a steak.  The smell was something I’d never experienced (Dad was a preacher and we were very poor), but I knew immediately I wanted to taste that!  Of course he used charcoal, because as a (literally) former rocket scientist, this guy is a smart dude.  When Kay and I bought our first house, we bought a $400 gas grill and I think we have used it twice in the past 24 months.  We use our Weber religiously.

I love grilling (did I mention that?). It takes me back to some of my favorite points of my life.  1) Dad grilling said steak 2) Outside our college house grilling burgers, brats and dogs 3) Outside Kay’s apartment in St. Louis Park having a couple of cold beers and making kabobs, 4) Weekend outings on Satellite Lane grilling up all sorts of good stuff (prime rib, brisket, etc.) with the good neighbors from 231 and 233.  Miss those guys.

Ranking my favorite things to grill, at the behest of my beautiful bride, I bring you the following:
10. Bbq quarter chicken – this has been my go-to grilling option for over a decade.  People who think chicken is a dried out disaster have never had the pleasure of a juicy slow-roasted thigh and leg, coated in caramelized Sweet Baby Ray’s barbecue sauce. Mmmmm!
9. Prime rib – covered in a blanket of salt and herbs, so easy and so magnificent.  Would rank higher on this list if it weren’t nearly as easy to perfect in the oven.
8. Beer can chicken – another easy achievement on the grill, but so worth it. Cover the bird in herbs and stuff a head of garlic in its neck and a can of pilsner up its tailpipe, and you have an amazingly delectable dinner!
7. Herbs de provence burgers – thank you, Steven Raichlen, for this one.  Make a burger with a chunk of butter and a generous amount of herbs de provence smuggled in the interior, and you won’t believe you’re not in a fancy-schmancy restaurant.
6. Wings – thank you Peter/Kristen Hall for this one.  I cut my culinary teeth at a Buffalo Wild Wings restaurant (after a quick summer at Duane’s House of Pizza in Moorhead), but as soon as I discovered how much was added to wings by grilling them, I was in love.  Has now become one of my favorite parts of summer.
5. Fajitas – Kay came up with an amazing recipe, and I was lucky enough to be there to make it a reality.  Take a package of McCormick’s taco seasoning, put half of it on a nice sliced New York strip and the other on a sliced up green pepper, and the rest is easy and delicious. 
4. Tuna tataki – went to Lunds looking for Ponzu and they were out.  Talked to the kitchen manager and he basically gave me the house recipe.  I could tell you, but, it’s too easy and awesome so don’t want to.  Hopefully I can make it for you sometime.  If you’re lucky.
3. Jucy Lucys – Matt’s are better, I don’t dare to try to improve on perfection.  But I guarantee mine are better than those at the 5-8 Club, which are crap.  I make them with 80-20 beef, and Carr Valley cheddar in the middle, and it melts perfectly every time.  They make Phyllis smile, which is enough for me.
2. Lemon chicken – feels like summer from March until November, when you marinate chicken thighs in lemon juice and cram nearly half a lemon under the skin of each one…the smoke of the grill melds wonderfully with the lemon, and you wish you had two more hands so you could eat more quickly.  It’s still only April, right?
1. Ribeye – the best thing anyone could hope for in life.  I once hoped I’d play football for the Gophers.  Then I figured out how to grill a ribeye, with smoking chips of hickory, mesquite and cherry wood, and realized I’d found my true calling.  Throw on some grilled potatoes and I am a happy man.  Should you ever choose to come visit, I would be happy to make you my favorite grilled dish.

Monday, April 7, 2014

"I'd eat that aioli with a spoon if it was socially acceptable!"

Last Friday, Noah and I checked out of work early and made the trek up to West Fargo. We hadn't been up there since the fantasy football draft over Labor Day weekend, so to say we were anxious to get up there would be a staggering understatement. Thankfully, we've seen John and Kasey quite frequently since then, thanks to Julie's awesome wedding, the last Vikings game in the Dome, and of course our fabulous week in Cozumel. Now that I think about it, I'm amazed we're not all sick of each other. Perhaps I'm speaking for myself here. Maybe they're all sick of ME and my sarcasm and stupid half-assed jokes! Aw crap, there goes my paranoia again. Time for another shock treatment.

There are certain things that happen when we're in Fargo for a weekend. The first thing that inevitably happens is Noah's voice changes to sound exactly like his brother's. I kid you not, it is the weirdest thing ever known to man, and that includes the popularity of David Hasselhoff in Germany. The first time Jaybird experienced the phenomenon, he said "One of you two assholes needs to shut the (fudge) (but he didn't say fudge) up, I CAN'T TELL WHO'S TALKING!" Hilarious. The second thing is, we go hang out in the garage and the gang from the hood and the Murphy clan and their ilk show up, and it's super awesome. We have drinks, listen to music and have a million different loud conversations. I'd be amazed the cops haven't been called on them but John runs West Fargo and is best friends with one (hi Rhonda). Inevitably, somebody finally realizes, hey, it's like 10 and while Doritos are snacktastic and packed with real cheese flavor, most nutritionists would probably not consider them a "meal" per se. (Although I bet they've been used as an ingredient for dessert on Chopped. God I hate that show. Ted Allen talks like he's storing a large stick in a very uncomfortable place, like the back of a Volkswagen.) That's when Pizza Patrol comes to the rescue.

Pizza Patrol has good pizza. It gets the job done, ya know? It's not Pizza Luce caliber, but then again what is? However, not even Pizza Luce can top Pizza Patrol's cheesebread. It is a feat of engineering (okay it's not, I just dig that phrase). It is a riddle wrapped in an enigma stuffed with an entire log of mozzarella. A good slice of sausage and one of those and you will be good to go for round two, my friend! And you never want to miss round two in Johnny Twopickups' (long story behind that nickname) (not really - John has two pickup trucks and hence is a certified badass) garage. If you do, you risk not being there when a friend of a friend decides, at midnight, that it's an appropriate time to start playing his bagpipes in the driveway. My mother-in-law is still kicking herself for not bearing witness to that, as she should be.

Unfortunately, Sunday happened, as it tends to do on occasion, and it was time to head home. However, a trip to Fargo just isn't complete without having at least one meal at Spitfire. If you've been to Fargo recently and haven't eaten at Spitfire, please do me a favor and slap yourself as hard as you can across the face. Congratulations, you jackass, you have just deprived yourself of the best slow-cooked meat on the planet. Everything is cooked on a rotisserie over a...spitfire...and it is amazing. I got the walleye yesterday because it's Lent and I'm a non-practicing Catholic who got married in a Lutheran church. Or maybe fish just sounded good. And it was, thank you and you're welcome. Normally, I'm all about the prime rib sandwich. I always get it without cheese and I don't eat the bread, because the real appeal is the perfectly seasoned beef inside. And the skinless mashed potatoes? Changed my life. The first taste I had of the cheesy, bacony, creamy delight brought me to my knees in tears of joy (I'm assuming the rest of the patrons thought I was just drunk) (they were wrong) (that time). I can't wait to go back!

Monday, March 31, 2014

Talkin' baseball

Two things: one, happy baseball opener my fellow Twins fans! Two, somewhat related...the Metrodome, she is no more. And I for one could not be happier! I mean, don't get me wrong, I have a lot of memories there. Remember the Blaine vs. Eden Prarie Prep Bowl in 1996? Since I was in flagline (yeah I was and still am a nerd, cram it) I got to march during halftime! I learned very quickly that marching on squishy Astroturf is incredibly awkward. Later on I learned the hard way what a two point conversion was! Eden Prairie won, all thanks to Johnny Moxon. Or was that Varsity Blues?

I could wax nostalgic about all the Twins, Gophers, and Vikings games I attended over the years in that big inflatable bounce house. The highs (Blair Walsh kicks a field goal to beat the Packers and move on to the playoffs)! The lows (remember when the Hawkeyes beat the Gophers 55-0? Yeah, we drank a LOT that afternoon)! The middles (a work outing when I was at Piper wherein I tried to keep up drinking with my male colleagues, failed, and wound up drunkenly slapping a co-worker on the ass right in front of our boss) (might be more of a low) (sorry Mom and Dad)! And while I will fondly remember having cocktails and smokes in the Maroon Saloon, I will remember the food with a small amount of disgust.

Maybe it's because Target Field's food is so magnificent, it makes a Dome dog seem like a redheaded stepchild. Let me go on a bit of a sidebar here - Target Field in and of itself is simply magnificent. The first time I brought my mom there I thought she'd died and gone to heaven. And that was before she learned she could eat her way around the park! We went to Hrbek's first for some good old fashioned fried food. (Fun fact - Herbie and I share a birthday! He was celebrating at Tiger Sushi of all places when the fam and I went there for my 30th. Did not picture him to be a sashimi kind of fella.) We got the walleye bites, and honest to blog they were the best I've ever had! I have dreams about them sometimes (not really). They use an aioli instead of a traditional dipping sauce and I would drink it if they gave me a straw (again, not really).

The other massive improvement is the nachos. First of all, you can get them in a helmet! Isn't that so much cooler than a sad little bag of tortilla chips and that radioactive looking cheese sauce? Not to mention, there are actual toppings! I don't expect to get authentic Mexican cuisine with my $8 beer or anything, but jalapenos and chips are not nachos in my opinion. Gimme beans and cheese and beef and an ice cream scoop sized dollop of good old sour cream on top. Then when you're done, you can be a dork like my friend Rick who once washed out the helmet and wore it over his hat on the way out of the game (sorry ladies, he's taken and she can beat you up). Whimsy!

One more win for Target Field - the Vincent Burger. I'd write more about that but I risk drooling into my keyboard so much it shorts out and I don't feel like being electrocuted today.

Wednesday, March 26, 2014

"Hey Ma! Get off the dang roof!"

A few months ago, Noah and I went over to my parents' house to help them with their new computer. They're getting up there in age (read: REAL friggin' senile) (...and now I'm out of the will), so understandably, electronics are kind of a new thing for them. So the menfolk set off to do manly computer things in Dad's man cave, and Mom and I sat in the kitchen like the good little wifeys we are. Mom, still the mom even though her little girl is almost 35 and her baby boy has a mountain man beard and can bend a nine iron in half with the best of them, insisted on making me lunch. Rather than setting her to work making waffles and Neuske's bacon, I asked for PB&J on an English muffin, and I kid you not, it was the best I've ever had. I don't know what kind of magic that woman learned helping raise her 10 siblings in that tiny kitchen, but it's good stuff.

When we have a big group up at the cabin, Mom always makes sure there's a spread at cocktail time. Cocktail time at the Goin cabin is when we set up the rickety old table, make some drinks, and ruin our dinners. It's amazing I ever belonged to the Clean Plate Club, We're talking the Last Supper, but with more vodka. Cheese, summer sausage, like three kinds of crackers (Triscuits for the win), veggies, dip, and Phyllis Goin's famous hamburger dip. I have personally witnessed my aunt Barb consume an entire Crockette of the cheesy deliciousness in one sitting (I may have dreamt that). It's so simple, just spicy Velveeta and taco meat, but Barb swears Mom's is the best.

If any of you are still friends (pleeeeeeeeease don't unfriend me) with me come the holidays, hit me up for some of Mom's fudge. If you're a big fan of fudge in general and tell me it's NOT the best you've ever had, I will stick a big red and green bow on my hand and give you the gift of a black eye. Because you are not only wrong but insulting my darling mother in saying that. Again, it's a simple recipe (which I will not divulge, mainly because I don't remember it, but there is condensed milk involved which is kind of gross in my opinion). However, unlike the hamburger dip, the fudge is a pain in the ass to make. You literally have to stir it for seven days straight or the granulated sugar absolutely refuses to dissolve. I don't know how she has the upper body strength for it; I tried making it one year and I'm not gonna lie, calling it "subpar" would be complementary.

Let me be cheesy for a moment here about Phyllis. In May 2010, she was diagnosed with stage 3 cancer. After months of treatment, she beat the crap out of it, and as of this writing is still cancer free! And do you know what she did in December 2010? You bet your ass she made fudge. Every time I have a piece, I thank God my tiny moms is still around, because I'd be a wreck without her.

Ahem. Anyhow. The one other thing my mom makes over the holidays, her true signature dish, her bon appetit (go with it), is her egg rolls. I kid you not. I don't remember when it started, but the woman picked up a Leeann Chin's cookbook and decided, yes, a white woman from Northfield, MN should make egg rolls for the Benjamin Christmas Eve Extravaganza (too many people to just call it a party). I have to say, other than giving birth to the two most amazing people to ever walk the earth (Nick and me), it was the best idea she's ever had. They are legendary. Fisticuffs have broken out over who got the last one (may have dreamt that as well). And they are a labor of love. She spends an entire week browning pork and sauteeing vegetables and stuffing the delicate wrappers with the five spice scented mixture. I'm fairly certain she does this out of love because I'm not sure I've ever seen her eat one. She considered bailing and just buying some Target brand ones last year, and when my cousin Pete caught wind of that he put his fist through the wall (now that might have actually happened, I can't confirm). So maybe that's why Mom's food always tastes the best. Love.

Friday, March 21, 2014

And yet nobody ordered steak

Last night, Noah and I made the trip out to Little Canada to dine at Porterhouse with our besties Chad and Sarah. The boys are on their way to Milwaukee (Algonquin for "the good land") for the annual fantasy baseball draft, and being the gentlemen that they are (chortle), they decided to take us out to a nice meal before abandoning us for a weekend of debauchery. The four of us hadn't hung out in some time, which royally sucks because when we lived next door to each other we were practically attached at the hip. We spent many hours grilling, Wii bowling, or playing pull tabs at our local watering hole. Alas, Northeast was calling them, so they moved to Chad's old house, and we get together as often as we can now, which still isn't enough, but I digress.

But as we all know, absence makes the heart grow fonder. We had a lovely time talkin' baseball and kittens over a few drinks and an absolutely insane amount of food. You see, if you have not been to Porterhouse, here's the deal: it's not like other steakhouses. You don't have to pay $17.95 for a side of asparagus large enough to build a small log cabin with (I don't care if it "serves two," MANNY'S, that's highway robbery for something that makes you have stinky pee). It's all included - and it's cheaper than any place downtown by far! So you get the bread, your choice of Caesar or spinach salad, and then, right when you think another piece of bread sounds like a good idea, your meal comes out. And your side dish should serve two, but it's all yours. Sarah got a baked potato with her scallops, and the thing was the size of a regulation football. She could have kicked it to Cordarrelle Patterson for a 109 yard return, but then she would have got sour cream all over her shoes. (Waooooo!)

Clearly, my readership, we were all stuffed after the meal. I had every intent of bringing my mashed potatoes home for Mom and I to have on Saturday, but the clarified butter I had dunked every ounce of my lobster tails into went straight to my brain (certainly wasn't the cosmopolitans) and I forgot them. The waiter asked if we wanted dessert, and creme brulee did sound tempting, but I feared that one more bite of food would leave me unable to walk, requiring Noah to roll me out of the building, much like they had to do with Violet Beauregarde in the book version of Charlie and the Chocolate Factory. (I refuse to see either movie version. I have my reasons.) I realized I'd be so much comfortable in my track pants.

Track pants should be appropriate attire to wear to nice restaurants. I am not a crackpot.

Hear me out. Remember that last big meal you had, where you stood up to leave and you were so full you worried that the button was going to shoot off your pants and shatter the wine glass of an innocent patron? The only two ways to wash away those concerns are eschewing pants altogether (not recommended) or track pants! Better yet, wouldn't it be fun to get a big group together and all show up in Zubaz? Maybe it's because I come from Anoka County, where just last month a woman found it acceptable to walk into the Northown Best Buy, drop trou, and take a tinkle, but I think Zubaz are kind of fun in a white trashy way! They're not flattering, and they're practically synonymous with the mullet, but gosh darn it they're comfortable! Just think about it.

Tuesday, March 18, 2014

"Eat at Shenaniganz, enjoy your food. Eat at Shenaniganz, Calvin works here!"

Okay, time to sound like a capital A Asshole again...I don't like chain restaurants. Fridays, Applebees, Chilis, the lot of you. I've wined with you, I've dined with you, but I think I'm done spending my hard earned money on you. Now, I don't think I'm above eating at these places, because Lord knows I love me some fast food. It's just...we can do better at home, you know? If you have a ridiculously specific Whopper craving, only Burger King is going to do, and I am going to order the onion rings even though they are conspicuously absent of onion. But if I want a grilled burger or steak or something, we have the tools and skills (MAD skilz, even) and a Cub right down the street.

I'm too clumsy and forgetful to ever have worked in a restaurant, but having to deal with all that gimmicky crap day after day seems like it would be unbearable. Fridays (with whom I have multiple bones to pick) has an entire page of menu items celebrating everyone's favorite hooch, Jack Daniels. This puzzles me. Most people I know have an aversion to whiskey due to some house party back in '99 and haven't been able to look at it without projectile vomiting ever since. Speaking of booze, my friend and former bartender extraordinare Sarah taught me the phrase "corporate pour" last year, and most chains have to abide by the person tending bar to pour using a chigger rather than letting them trust their own pour. Some places even have a "deal" where for a little extra, you can get another shot in your drink. I don't feel like shilling out $9 for a fishbowl-sized margarita with a half ounce of Cuervo in it. Mainly because margaritas give me a bitchin' case of heartburn.

I think this goes without saying - we've all seen Office Space and Waiting (and if you haven't, stop reading and go see them both now, especially if you've worked in an office or a restaurant and like laughter and happiness). But anyhow, who was like, "Hey! Let's hang old records and waterskis and other miscellaneous crap on the walls! It'll look quirky and entertaining!" Do you really need all that 3D distraction on the walls when there 54 TVs for my husband and I to gape at rather having adult conversation? I can see why a place like Buffalo Wild Wings would want to put up some sports memorabilia, but the average person is likely going to look up, note that there's an enormous blue French horn above the bar, and go back to getting girl-drink drunk (Extreme Strawberry Fizzle with a sugar rim, $8 with an extra shot of Pucker!).

Thursday, March 13, 2014

Just set it, and forget it!

When we got married eleventy nine years ago, we got a Ronco rotisserie from the Goin aunties and uncles. I was confused, mainly because it was 9 am and I was running on six hours sleep (note to future brides: have an after party or a gift opening. Not both). Why, I wondered, would my dad's siblings decide to buy something from As Seen On TV? Did Auntie Verena order it out of insomnia-induced insanity and decide to regift it? As it turns out, I come from a family of geniuses. The rotiz, as we call it, is amazing! Other than the whole set it and forget it thing (which is true), it really does keep the meat super juicy and tender, plus the sight of rotating pork chops is nothing if not mesmerizing to a tiny kitten. Sadly, it just can't compare to cooking on the open flame of a charcoal grill.

The thing we most looked forward to when looking for a house was finally being able to grill. That, and I was excited to live in a place I owned where no "city ordinance" could tell me I couldn't smoke on my deck. Damn the man! Anyhow, I'm pretty sure we went straight from the closing to Home Depot, where we bought a shiny shiny gas grill. It looked so pretty on our deck, all gussied up with a U of M grill cover, which quickly became pointless when the city of Fridley said grilling on the deck was a fire hazard. Because meth labs aren't flammable. Gotta shut those down, City of Fridley. Damn the man!

So we happily grilled with propane for a while, until Noah got a bug (likely a mosquito) up his ass about getting a charcoal Weber. "I am real man," he said. "Real man grill with FIRE!" He then roared mightily, changed into his best loincloth, and went back to Home Depot for his precious Weber. I'm sorry, you can have a smoker box of hickory chips on a gas grill all you want, but nothing compares to a nice steak that's been coddled over Royal Oak charcoal. You can't top that smell. The wafting scent of grilling meat is, for me, every beautiful night in the summer, riding bikes with the neighborhood kids, soaking up every bit of wonderful until Labor Day. It's hanging out on the deck at the cabin, watching the party barges and the loons float by. It's sitting in the driveway with the neighbors, having some laughs, having some flaming assholes (don't ask), happy that we finally met each other. Will Smith was right, the smell of a grill does, in fact, spark up nostalgia.

After a while, it was decided that our smaller Weber wasn't big enough to grill for the neighborhood. So after both sets of neighbors moved away, we got the biggun! The grill big enough to handle a Benjamin party (cousins only) (no significant others) (I have a big family)! And it has served us well. Being able to control the level of direct and indrect heat has been a gamechanger, and everything Noah makes turns out perfectly! Obviously we don't bust it out when we're having hot dogs, but it's great for when the family's over, or when we're trying out something ridiculous we saw on Primal Grill.

Oh, speaking of Primal Grill? Watch it when it's back on PBS. Steven Raichlen is a pretentious douchenozzle who loves grilling almost as much as he loves overpronouncing words. Team Oberg may be the only couple in the world for whom "herbs de Provence" is a running joke. But it's entertaining and informative, and you can feel good about watching public television instead of another Teen Mom 2 marathon.