Archive for October, 2007

This is why I love the Grandview Grill

Back when I owned a house with a fully outfitted kitchen, I created and consumed something like five omelets a week. I was an omelet connoisseur. I had a special pan and spatula, ideal for making perfectly formed, thick, Frisbee-sized omelets.

First I’d make the batter using a combination of Southwestern Egg Beaters and real eggs for just the right consistency, mixed with a little black pepper and Kick Ass brand hot sauce.

Some kind of filleted meat ingredient was imperative. I used a rotation of chicken, shrimp, salmon, ham, bacon and sausage sometimes more than one at a time.

Then I’d yank out the biggest, sharpest knife in my Wusthof-Trident collection, empty the fridge of every vegetable (onions, green peppers, red peppers, celery, shallots, carrots, tomatoes, broccoli, mushrooms, etc), chop up a small pile of each and toss all that in.

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Eating | 30.10.2007 16:20 | Comments Off on This is why I love the Grandview Grill

This is why I love Pineda Tacos

Though I no longer live within an impulse buy vicinity of a Pinedas, I still think about them first whenever someone says ‘authentic Mexican’.

Back in the olden days, I lived just a short drive from the Pinedas near Lake and Hiawatha. Those were the Wonder Years, kicking a ball around the yard, sitting on the swings at the park, setting off firecrackers in the tunnel to scare old folks, just narrowly missing yet another tender puppy love encounter with Winnie. Never mind that I was in my early 30s.

After my chores, dad would give me the keys to the Honda (“you fly, I buy”) and I’d drive 49 MPH down Hiawatha (before Light Rail, that’s exactly how fast you had to go to hit every light on the green – now you’re effed no matter how fast you drive) and practice my Spanish while ordering my family’s dinner from a guy who seemingly just got off the bus from Guadalajara. They always seemed so happy to be here, as we all were, because their presence meant that our painfully northern European dominated town finally served take-away tacos and burritos that didn’t have the name ‘Bell’ or ‘John’ attached to it.

Soon, Pinedas was voted “Best Mexican” in the Twin Cities by City Pages and it seemed life couldn’t get any better and then the Lake and Hiawatha location was gone. Unable to do without my football-sized burrote stuffed with chicken in green sauce, lettuce, tomato, onion, cilantro, cheese, beans, rice and hot sauce (but no guac or sour cream, gotta watch the figure), we drove to the location up on Lake and 35W, only to learn that the Lake and Hiawatha location had been bought out for development and would never re-open. This is why I hate people.

Now I live in downtown and I don’t have a car, so I have to walk across the river to Chipotle when I want a spontaneous tongue inferno. Chipotle is all right. Actually I would have killed for Chipotle back when I was in high school, but I’m irreparably spoiled now. Meanwhile I have to bide my time until someone with a car has a burrito craving in my immediate vicinity (“you fly, I buy”)

Pineda Tacos

311 E Lake St, Minneapolis

(612) 825-7466

UPDATE (Nov. 11th, 2007): OK, I’ve been to the reopened Lake and Hiawatha Pinedas at 2130B East Lake Street (on the west side of the building between the Subway and the Best Wireless). They’ve got a small sign in the window and they’re open seven days a week from 10am-10pm. The food is exactly the same, in fact the burrotes may be even larger than before. A very friendly manager type was working the cash register and patiently answered questions, particularly my concern that they were now making the food behind-the-scenes in the kitchen rather than out front where one can anal-retentively guide the food prep line in precise ingredient arrangement. (The short answer is that the food goes dry when it sits out there for long periods of time during slow parts of the day. During peak time, they may bring to food prep line back to the counter. Stay tuned.)

In any case, despite the salvaged look of the tables and chairs and the otherwise bare decor, they are slinging food in their old form. Run down there and welcome them back!

UPDATE (November 2011): The original location at 311 East Lake Street has been closed for some time. The Lake and Hiawatha location is still going strong. They also have a Plymouth location.

Eating | 28.10.2007 15:03 | 4 Comments

Critical Mass In a word ‘whoa’

criticalmass.jpgI had no idea the monthly Critical Mass bike ride/organized traffic slowdown had become so, erm, critically massive. I fortuitously encountered last night’s ride as it passed in front of the post office while I was on the way home from an early evening brisk walk to cap a long day of ass-numbing writing.

I’m no good at estimations, but there had to be 400-500 people in the convoy. A stream of bikers three or four deep crawled by for about five minutes and I never even saw the front of the thing, so who knows, could’ve been 1,000. Five MPD vehicles brought up the rear.

I’d heard some ne’er do well jackasses caused a ruckus at a ride this summer. Who started it? Reports vary. It’s tempting to blame the dreadlocked, tattooed guys armed with backpack stereos, but then it’s no secret that the MPD employs its fair share of power-drunk bullies.

Then last month’s more orderly ride was lambasted by perturbed Strib columnist Katherine Kersten, who was incensed about the possibility of being stuck in her car for five extra minutes as Critical Mass riders “infringe on others’ rights by disrupting traffic and running red lights”. Oh the humanity. Lady, I’ve been stuck in line at Lunds longer than that waiting for people that don’t think to fish out their checkbooks until the last item has been rung up, chatting away with the cashier without the slightest inkling that the rest of us would rather get on with our lives. Why aren’t you taking a swipe at those menace to society nogoodniks in your column?

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Biking | 27.10.2007 16:54 | 1 Comment

This is why I love the Midtown Greenway

midtowngreenway.jpgI realize the timing of this post could be better. Most sane people are deflating their tires and hanging their bikes in the basement for winter. I’m also aware that I’m probably the last person to get around to gushing over it, but for the benefit of out-of-town readers, I feel compelled to highlight the Midtown Greenway.

Though it was partially completed before I left for exotic far off lands in 2003, I’ve only recently tooled down the full length of this swath of bike and foot traffic giddiness. Next to Light Rail, the Greenway is my favorite bit of urban renewal to come to fruition during my absence.

For those of you even less enlightened than I currently am, the Greenway forms a conduit across the heart of the city, largely in a disused, paved-over railroad ditch. It connects the Mississippi River Boulevard – and therefore downtown with the western suburban trail system. The path is quiet, attractive and safe with a mirror-finish surface, tasteful ambient lighting and occasional gardens that verily erase the white-knuckle aggravation of cycling through the heart of the city.

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Biking | 26.10.2007 18:19 | Comments Off on This is why I love the Midtown Greenway

This is why I love the Chatterbox Pub

chatterboxmplsstorefrontsm.jpgThe Chatterbox is no secret (though I tried to pass it off as one over at MSN’s City Guides), but it can’t be said enough how lip-smacking awesome this place is.

I used to live within staggering distance of the Chatterbox. I frequented it on those occasions when suckling Strongbow with a three foot, fixed, lip-to-can straw while massacring goons in “GoldenEye” on my Nintendo 64 wasn’t fulfilling enough. But this was in the dreaded days of the Indoor Smoker’s Pox and the Chatterbox had the air circulation of a bank vault. The smoke stench was unbearable, requiring me to burn my clothes and shave my head each time I returned home.

Those days are long gone. Those infernal smokers have been banished to the curbside like the weak-willed dogs that they are (no offense) and I can sip my 20 ounce stein of cider while enjoying more pleasing fragrances, namely me.

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Eating | 26.10.2007 4:35 | 2 Comments

Are we great or what?

And what better way to kick off this blog than a dangerously arbitrary poll of travelers on a variety of subjects that they only have passing knowledge about?

We didn’t exactly come out laden with awards from the CNN and Travel + Leisure “America’s Favorite Cities” poll this month, but we didn’t do too bad for a frigid, remote, frontier-land, still using the barter system, full of people with maladies like Seasonal Affective Disorder and Cabin Fever where streets are shared with tractors, bears and moose.

Some of our rankings look about right, but there’s a lot of fishy stats here to make me wonder when and how this poll was conducted. I look at this and I have two questions:

1. Did these so-called travelers actually visit all the cities that they were allowed to rate?
2. Who slept with whom in Portland for them to get all those fraking number ones?

Yeah, we’re clean and affordable and quiet (like good Norwegians) and gay-friendly and safe and we have public parks/spaces to beat the band and our cityscape rules and we have an ass-load of theatre (see gay-friendly) and the pizza’s all right and we’re smart and we dig our sports. I could have told you that.

Oh and our weather stinks. Gee, where did they get that? Actually, I hear tell that the winters aren’t so bad anymore. And one of my last winters here I seem to remember only shoveling three times. Time to update our entry in the “The Big Book of Tired American Stereotypes”.

We are so great | 26.10.2007 4:11 | Comments Off on Are we great or what?