Friday, February 28, 2014

In which I promise this is the last time I will title a blog post in this manner

I don't understand why I have such trepidation when it comes to trying new food. Four score and seven years ago, when I didn't have teeth and soiled myself on a regular basis, all food was new, and I had to eat it whether I liked it or not. As an adult, I went from eating the imitation crab stuffed California roll at Byerlys to thinly sliced kampachi lightly dipped in ponzu sauce at Origami (heaven on a plate, kids). If I don't try, I'll never know if I'm about to eat my new favorite food, just like my mom used to say. Of course, Mom also let me eat a lot of paint chips as a kid, so what did she know?

Anyhow, this is why I love going out to eat with my sister-in-law Cara. We have an annual tradition where Noah and I go out to dinner with her and my brother in lieu of buying each other Christmas gifts. Back in the day, we'd go to a steakhouse, stuff ourselves with an insane amount of beef, and do a little barhopping downtown. Then we'd go to the hotel bar for last call, which was supposed to be 2 but is now apparently 1, and dare question the bartender who responded with a jovial "Sorry, last call is at 1. Sucks to be you!" After that we'd bring a few more drinks up to the room and not leave a tip on our $100 bill because, WOW, that guy was an asshat! Well, I guess that last part only happened once, and that is why we no longer drink or sleep at the Hilton on Marquette.

Now that we're older and have more refined palates (read: food snobs), we've upped the ante with where we go out. And so here's the great thing (one of many) (taste in men is questionable though) (please don't hit me Nick) about Cara. She'll bust into any restaurant with her No Fear t-shirt on (metaphorically) and order anything, and somehow convince you that whatever delicacy she has her eye on is going to be the most magnificent consumable ever to pass your lips. Case in point, our dinner at Butcher and the Boar last year. I'm perusing the menu all, "Oooh, fried green tomatoes! Like the movie!" Meanwhile, she's drooling over the sweetbreads terrine. I know you're thinking Barf City - as was I - but it was actually really tasty! My only regret is that we didn't order another plate of that instead of the pig's foot. If anyone out there is wondering what that was like, make summer sausage with no flavor and throw in some sawdust for good measure. It'll taste pretty much the same.

But we tried it, and took pictures to prove it, and the remainder of the meal was delicious and filling. Like, I'd give my right arm for a link of their pork and cheddar sausage right now, and I'm still digesting lunch! It makes me think of a quote from How I Met Your Mother (no, seriously): "Experience your food!" Think about it. I'm not suggesting you go to fancy restaurants and do their biggest tasting menus, but it's good to go outside one's comfort zone once in a while. We're going to Meritage (St. Paul, now open on Saturdays!) in April, and if I accidentally order brains, I'll try not to pull a Donna Martin and spit them out on my plate.

Wednesday, February 26, 2014

In which I will probably come off as a complete asshole

I remember the first time I went to Oceanaire. I was 20 and had just started working at Piper Jaffray. The London office had sent over a gift certificate (this was 2001 and let me tell you working in a brokerage firm back then kept me well fed). Fine dining to me up until that point was whatever country club an aunt or uncle had their wedding reception at so believe me when I tell you I was completely blown away. The opulence! The white linen tablecloths! The waiter who stupidly opted not to card me when I ordered a Sex on the Beach (despite the fact that at 20 I still looked 16)! A seemingly endless seafood smorgasbord loomed before me and I devoured every delectable morsel of it.

Flash forward a few years. I'd gone there a few more times and, again, thoroughly enjoyed it, with the exception of one birthday where I was served a booze-soaked baked Alaska after I'd had several cosmopolitans and wound up with a bitch of a stomachache later. But then, something weird happened. Noah and I had gone to Florida with some friends and discovered a little dive on the beach called Sandbar, which to this day has the most amazing coconut shrimp I ever had. I think I had it at least four times during our week vacation. Needless to say, when Noah and I went there for some random reason shortly thereafter, I wanted me some coconut shrimp! So color me surprised when I got the coconut shrimp and...well, to say they were inferior to the $8 shrimp I so loved in Cocoa Beach is a staggering understatement.

Now, here's the part where I will probably come off as a complete asshole - I am about to complain about a four star restaurant.

We hadn't been back to Oceanaire until recently, when we gave in to all the hearts and flowers crap and booked a romantic dinner on Valentine's Day. Don't get me wrong, the service is still outstanding, the restaurant itself is super glamorous and elegant, but the food? Good but not great. We discovered a place called Porterhouse a while back, which is a great place to get steak and seafood (and there will be a separate post about that place because YUM). The lobster at Porterhouse was sweet and just the right texture. It didn't even need to be dipped in butter, but I did it anyway because this is America and melted butter is what this country was founded on. I should expect the same from a place like Oceanaire, but again, it didn't quite get there. Again, it wasn't bad, it just wasn't knock you off your chair and send you crashing to the floor causing a minor concussion outstanding, which I firmly believe it should have been. Noah thoroughly enjoyed his meal, but I don't know if I can trust the opinion of a man that frequents Taco John's (J/K, love ya).

We went again last night to get their $30 Restaurant Week deal, and same thing. I got a shrimp pasta dish, and it was good, but the end of the meal didn't find me with my face in the bowl licking the bottom clean (reason number one why Noah will never take me to La Belle Vie ever again). The polenta Noah got with his beef tenderloin tips was outstanding, but one doesn't go to a seafood restaurant for the sides, unless they are ridiculous. At a place like Oceanaire, I want to feel like the food is as extravagant as the atmosphere I'm eating it in.

With all that said, i don't know if I'd go back to Oceanaire. In my opinion, there are better places downtown to spend ridiculous amounts of money. Although I should mention, the crab cakes are pretty damn tasty. Oh, and they do make a mean chocolate cake. I guess I'm on the fence. Damn you, frosting!

Tuesday, February 25, 2014

In which I bare my soul (or something)

Well then. Welcome! Make yourself at home.

I was going to use this space primarily as a food blog. Noah and I like to eat out (more than we should) (for more than one reason), and sharing what the Minneapolis food scene has to offer is kind of important to me. But when I got to thinking, I realized that I bore easily and really don't have a filter so maybe it'll be a little bit personal too. So if you've come here to read about how the Sushi Fix truck is the best thing ever and oh I miss it terribly, stay tuned. In the meantime...

I don't know why I stopped writing. I suppose, when LiveJournal was still a thing, I had the early twenties aaaaaaangst, and then I met Noah, got married, bought a house and, suddenly, it's like I had nothing to share anymore. Which is ridiculous, because some of the crap I posted up for all the world to read makes me want to scream and throw chairs into the pool like Marissa Cooper on "The O.C." (Like, he dumped you six weeks ago, girl. Stop listening to sad bastard music, back away from the gelato, and STFU.)

It's not like I ever felt like I had some grand story to tell either. We work all week, change into sweatpants at the first opportunity, and watch a lot of TV. Nothing really ever really happens that's worth more than a status update. But truth be told, I've missed writing. Not to sound like an egotistical jackass (Egotistical Jackasses would be a great band name), but I love it when people tell me I'm hilarious. Being a firstborn child, that kind of validation is like food to me. I thrive on it. I think about it on those days when I'm in my cubicle staring blankly at my 10 year anniversary plaque wondering where the hell my life went. If you would have asked me twenty years ago if I'd be living in a cube farm, I'd have punched you square in the jaw. I spent way too much time in high potential to let this part of my brain go to waste.

But as my little brother likes to say, it is what it is. And so here we are. Glad I got all that off my chest as an introductory post of sorts. Let's see how this goes, shall we? Some days you're going to get a page of nothingess (see: what you just wasted your life reading), and some days it's going to be a post about how the lobster at Porterhouse was so good I poured clarified butter on my head and did Balki's Dance of Joy right there in the dining room. Enjoy!