Monday, September 27, 2010

Smooth Roads

We've all got sections of road that we drive regularly that are in dire need of repair. The one that most quickly comes to mind for me is the hellish stretch of Hennepin Avenue heading south from about the Walker Art museum to Franklin Ave., heading from Downtown Minneapolis to Uptown. Fortunately, they fixed that about a year ago (these repairs even won a "Best Use of a Paver" award in MplsStPaul Magazine's "Best Of" issue!). While nobody likes driving on a road that feels like Sarajevo, there's currently some drama brewing about state money spent to repair highways.

This article in the Star Tribune notes that most funding is being allocated to areas inside the 494-694 loop. Many individuals who live in far-flung suburbs are upset, as a result. And for once, the commenters on a Star Tribune article didn't make me want to punch myself in the face--some good points were made. Should we spend more money on roads that are used by less people? I personally think that (safety aside; I don't think a Minnesotan would argue against fixing a bridge that was on the verge of collapse, in light of the 35W debacle of 2007) funding should be allocated based on frequency of travel. Yes, I'm Minneapolis-centric and biased, but I also think that when one chooses to live far out in the exurbs and even rural areas, they should realize that, along with their quieter life and further-between neighbors, goes less-frequently updated roads and infrastructure. Just as retailers (Walmart excluded) thrive in more populous areas, so should state and federal money.

So, what are your thoughts? Am I being to city-centric in my logic?

Bottle of Red... Bottle of White...

I don't shop at Surdyk's much, because I have my own preferred neighborhood wine shop. But I can't deny that Surdyk's is a Minneapolis institution. It's been in the same NE location since 1934, and when I've been there, the staff have always been amazing. When I was meeting my boyfriend's parents for the first time, one wine expert took about 20 minutes to help me find the perfect bottle of wine to bring them. Their wine sale is an anticipated event and is beginning this week--running September 29 - October 16. Although I may not make it to the sale myself, I came across a great blog with recommendations on the best deals not to miss! Looks like another fun local blog, with a wine focus. Bookmarked!

Monday, September 20, 2010

Fall Restaurant Week--it's Official!

Took me long enough--I first hinted at it almost a month ago, but it's official, Minneapolis St. Paul Fall Restaurant Week will run October 3-8 (that's a Sunday through a Friday, friends). Here's a list of participating restaurants, as well as their menus for the week (most are prix fixe) and the price (lunches are $10 or $15; dinner is $20 or $30). Make those reservations now--the restaurants fill up quickly!

Wednesday, September 15, 2010

Plenty of Fish in the Sea

For being known as The Land of 10,000 Lakes (fun fact! There are actually 11842 lakes that are 10 acres or more!), Minnesota is depressingly landlocked. Unless you're hankering for a good ol' Fish Fry Walleye, there's something to be desired in the area as far as seafood goes.

In the spirit of full disclosure, I was never a huge seafood fan. I love scallops--they're probably my favorite protein--but never got too fired up over shrimp cocktail or the oh-so-90's Chilean Sea Bass. My boyfriend, however, might as well be a pelican for all the seafood he eats. This means that over the last few years, I've had a crash course in just about every kind of seafood that's out there to eat. I've eaten eels, oysters, octopus, clams, shrimp, lobster... and that's just the short list. Granted, many of these delicacies have been served over a bed of rice with a dab of wasabi and a generous dip in soy sauce--but sushi isn't enough for his man-sized appetite for creatures of the sea.

For a long time, my favorite restaurant was Oceanaire. Yes, it was a chain, and this was long before I started to be somewhat of a foodie... but I truly enjoyed each meal I had there. I haven't eaten there in years--since I took my parents there for Christmas in December of 2004--but hoped that quality had remained the same. Unfortunately, it sounds like it hasn't. So, where can I go now, to have high-quality seafood?

The first place that comes to mind is Sea Change. This place opened in the summer of 2009, and until Bar La Grassa opened in November, seemed a shoe-in for Best New Restaurant of the year. The restaurant is located in The Guthrie Theatre, in the space formerly occupied by Cue. I ate at Cue once, and while I loved the space, didn't love the menu. I was excited to hear about Sea Change's arrival, and it's one of those places that I always have intended to go to, but never have. Has anyone been there? I'd love to hear reviews from friends.

I also think of places like Stella's Fish Cafe in Uptown. I've eaten there, but the atmosphere seems more "bar first, food second", and they wouldn't be high on my list of places to go for something fresh from the deep. Am I wrong here? Is there more to this place than drunken antics on a late Saturday night?

The last place I think about is Sea Salt Eatery. Sea Salt Eatery--the place just makes me happy. It's one of the more unique restaurants in Minneapolis. It's seasonal--only open from April to October--and located in Minnehaha Park, right near the falls. It's the most serendipitous little place, and most of the seating is located outside, so you're enjoying the beautiful scenery and weather along with your delicious meal. I can't tear myself away from the Crabcake Sandwich, while my geographically confused boyfriend (he's from Canada, but you'd swear he was southern with his love of creole, cajun, and seafood) can't get enough of the Crawfish Po'Boy. Better yet, all their seafood comes from Coastal Seafoods. It's like a double-dip of local goodness!

So, am I missing out on anywhere that I can take my lobster for his seafood fix? I'm looking forward to hearing about any new, out-of-the-way places!

Monday, September 13, 2010

The Beer's a-Brewin' in the North Loop!

When I was interning in New York, my stop on the subway was Fulton Street. Therefore, I've taken a liking to Fulton Brewery, despite the fact that I've never (to my knowledge) had any of their brews.

There are many things I like about this particular brewery. First, they're local, started by four guys in Minneapolis. Yay, Minneapolis! They have a program called Ful10, where essentially they take 10% of their profits, and provide small loans to local entepreneurs who would be otherwise unable to secure the funding to start their business. Also, their beers have fun names like "Sweet Child of Vine" and "Worthy Adversary". I like creativity.

So, this being said about Fulton Brewery, I am very excited to welcome them to my neighborhood! They're going into the old Home Beautiful location at 414 N 6th Avenue. So close, I will drive right past them every day on my one-mile commute home from work. I am hoping that all of my great neighborhood restaurants and wine shops will be friendly neighbors and sell their beer!

Friday, September 10, 2010

Gettin' Dressed Up All Fancy-Like

I want to go to this. I was just cleaning out some things I don't need anymore, and came across some of my old formal gowns. And while I was planning on donating them to The Cinderella Project, this looks so much more fun. Plus, it's at the Foshay. Fo SHO!!!

Friday, September 3, 2010

Nice Ride

My dad rides a bike. Not like a motorcycle, tattoo'ed up, handlebar moustache bike, he rides a road bike, Lance Armstrong style. It's pretty awesome, he's really serious about it and even takes long, 50-mile rides on the weekends. Of course, this could all be part of a plot to get more gadgets into his life (he loves gadgets, too), but more likely he is part of the huge number of Minnesotans who love bicycling. In fact, this year, Minneapolis was named the most Bike-Friendly city in the nation, even though we have snow on the ground for half the year!

On June 10, 2010, Minneapolis got even more bike-friendly (and more colorful!) when Nice Ride MN launched. Nice Ride has about 500 bikes and 60 stations where you can pick up a bike, ride it around, and then return it when you're done (of course you have to pay for it, but memberships are as low-priced as $60/year). I've noticed several (solar-powered!) "stations" in my neighborhood, and if you've been downtown at all, you can't miss the bright neon-yellow bikes being pedaled around.

Even though I personally haven't tried this new, fun feature in our community, I was really excited to see that in less than 100 days since they've become available, there's been over 50,000 rides taken on these funky day-glo bikes! That's really exciting news, in terms of getting cars off the road and pollution out of the air.

My last bike was sold in a garage sale while I was living in New York; I'm not upset because I might be embarassed to ride it anyways: it was black with red speckles as though someone had flicked a paintbrush at it (yes, I bought it that way). Since my main squeeze already has his own bike, and we would love to be able to ride around downtown, maybe I will buy a subscription to Nice Ride instead of investing in a whole new bicycle.

And, for those of you who love biking and want to see more of our fair city, I would encourage you to check out the Minneapolis Bike Tour, taking place this year on September 19. It's a go-at-your-own-pace ride (not a race!) that takes you through some of Minneapolis's most beautiful park systems, and in fact the registration fees go toward maintaining the very bike trails you will be riding on!

This post is dedicated to the coolest rider around, so cool that he wears a do-rag under his helmet--my Dad!