Saturday, August 30, 2014

State Fair second visit - 8.27.14

We had to make a second visit to the fair because there are a lot of new foods this year and we only sampled a few things on our first trip. So much to do!
This is the breakfast taco from Lulu's Public House. This was pretty good; not amazing. A freshly made tortilla would have helped put it over the top, but this was definitely pre-made. It contained eggs, chorizo and some onions and peppers.
Lulu's gorilla bread. It was very bready, sweet and gooey, but there was supposed to be cream cheese and I did not detect any in my serving.
Big fat bacon on a stick. It's maple glazed and amazing. 
Random alpaca picture. I have no good explanation. We met up with Tonya and Jimmy for awhile too. We looked at horses with them and their kids for awhile. 
Next, I tried a corn dog. As you may recall I had a pronto pup on Friday, and I wanted to compare the two items. The corm dog has cornmeal in the batter and it gives it a nice added crunch. I thought I preferred the pronto pup to the corm dog, but now I'm not so sure.
Next, we had the Minneapple pie with cinnamon ice cream. Still quite good. They also have pumpkin pie this year too.
We stopped back to the Minnesota Brewers booth for a beer flight. John had the hoppier flight.
John got french fries from the World's Greatest French Fries booth. Actually, we both preferred the fries from the Fresh French Fries booth. These did not taste very fresh at all, nor very hot.
Roasted sweet corn. Still delicious! 

Next, we went over to the West End and discovered they ran out of the Grain Belt Blu beer. I think they had just ran out right before we got there too. Such a bummer! Guess it was more popular than they anticipated. I hope it is back next year though. 
Strawberry rhubarb pop from Johnnypop. 
 Next we had the Indeed Day Tripper Onion Rings at Ballpark Cafe. They were really greasy, but the batter was very light and crisp. The sauce was a spicy mustard and it was certainly hot.
Mini donut beer. Sort of light and sweet, not sure I liked it. 

Korean pork collar from Famous Dave's. The meat was pretty fatty, but it was really tender. The sauce did not have a lot of flavor though.

GB Leighton. Free show, who can resist. He seems to be going more country though. 
Sweet Martha's cookies. Very good when fresh, not so much when cold. 

We also did the Historical Society walking tour and got some state fair postcards. I think we also watched the extreme stunt dogs on tour, which was rather boring except for one dog at the end, that was really good.

According to my fitbit I walked 12 miles in one day at the fair, 27,019 steps. It is taking us several days to recover from this marathon day!

Monday, August 25, 2014

State Fair 2014 - 8.22.14

It is time once again for the Minnesota State Fair. It's almost better than Christmas if you ask me. So much to see and do. So many interesting people to watch. So many new foods! This is a recap of our first visit. We'll be going again later this week for a second all day visit. This was just a quick stop last Friday after work, so not a lot of food has been sampled yet.

 new entrance from transit center
Here is the super awesome, brand new frozen blueberry foam and blueberry Grain Belt (on left) and Schell's Oktoberfest on right. This is my 2014 pick for best new fair item.  Anyway, it is very fresh and light and the foam does help it stay cold longer. Very good if you like a shandy style beer. The foam was not as good with the Oktoberfest beer.
 John's favorite, the Turkey to Go turkey sandwich. Delicious! It was very juicy and flavorful. He says it does not need any additional sauces or toppings, though they are available if you want them. 
My favorite, a Pronto Pup from the Pronto Pups stand. The batter is thin, but crisp, with a touch of sweetness.
 French fries from the Fresh French Fries stand. A bit greasy, but very crisp with good potato flavor.
We made a quick stop at the Minnesota Craft Brewers Guild area and each got a flight of beers. I went with a lighter flight and John tried the hoppy flight.
This has to be one of the most popular venues at the fair the last few years. It is always busy. We really like it because we can try beer from breweries we have not had a chance to visit yet.
The much discussed Flat Earth Cygnus Porter S'mores beer from Giggles Campfire Grill is on the right. John liked it a lot; it was not too sweet, like a porter with hints of chocolate, graham cracker and marshmallow. I had Leinenkugel's lemon berry shandy. Also very good, if you are into shandy beer.
Here are the pretzel cheese curds from O'Gara's. They are gooey cheese curds coated with crushed pretzels. They were very, very, salty, but I enjoyed the crunch from the crisp pretzel crust. I don't think I would order them again though. Regular cheese curds are better.

We also took a ride on the Space Tower at the fair. It was dark out and we could see the lights of both Minneapolis and St Paul, but the photos did not turn out at all. We need to ride at dusk instead maybe. We learned from the operator that it opened at the fair in 1965.

We also stopped at the Minnesota State Lottery booth and got fabulous complimentary gifts with purchase of a t-shirt and a tote bag. We did not have any big wins; I had two $1 wins and John won $5 on a $5 ticket. Sadly, that is better than I usually do on most scratch off lottery tickets!
Here's a photo from the best new place to sit and enjoy your blueberry beer at the fair; the rooftop patio at Lulu's Public House. It has a nice view, cooling fans and TVs to watch any sporting events you just can't miss. Also a grab spot to watch the daily fireworks.
So far, this seems like the year of the beer. Who knew the State Fair would be the destination of choice to sample so many special edition beers from local breweries? I mean, just a few years ago, only 3.2% beer was available and nothing else! 

We are looking forward to one more visit to the fair later this week! I'll try to get the post done by the end of this week. We have a lot of new foods on the list to try.

Thursday, August 21, 2014

Cajun to Geaux truck

The Cajun to Geaux truck has been coming to Minneapolis pretty regularly this summer, but I kept forgetting to try it, or wasn't really interested, until I noticed they have a shrimp po’boy on the menu. Suddenly this became an urgent issue!

The shrimp po’boy has lightly breaded shrimp on French bread and topped with roumallade sauce, lettuce, tomatoes, pickles and onions. There were a lot of shrimp in this sandwich and it was certainly very filling. I should have added some extra hot sauce to it as well to give it some extra spice as the sauce on it was only a tiny bit spicy. The bread was soft on the inside and a bit crunchy on the outside and strong enough to hold everything inside and not get soggy. The sandwich was so well wrapped I did not want to open it up on the street though. The sandwich costs $10.  It was a great sandwich and I need to go back and try a few more items on the menu.

Cajun to Geaux 
Twitter: Cajun2Geaux

Thursday, August 14, 2014


We visited 6Smith for a happy hour on the patio recently. Oddly, there are not that many places with patio seating on the lake in Wayzata. 6Smith certainly has a great patio right on the marina. I should have taken a photo of the view. The patio is on the second floor with a separate bar and small kitchen. There is also another patio on the first floor off the bar.

The calamari with Thai dipping sauce was good, though the dipping sauce was very salty and soy sauce based. The calamari was cooked perfectly though.

The sticky balsamic glazed ribs were very flavorful, but they were cold when they arrived. I’m not sure if they were supposed to be warm or not. I think they would have tasted better hot. The meat was tender and the sauce was very sweet with a little bit of spice.

The smoked chicken wings were quite good. The tamari glaze added just a bit of spice, however they tasted awfully salty. Probably because tamari is a soy sauce.

The drinks were quite good; I had a margarita and a Moscow mule. John had a couple of Pacificos, which was available on tap.

The rooftop menu has several lobster options, a variety of appetizers, salads and sandwiches as well as fresh oysters daily. The menu for the main restaurant is more steak and meant centric in addition to the items mentioned above.

One note: while there is a large parking lot, it seems to fill up quickly and we found valet parking was really the only option. Maybe if you arrive really early you will get a parking place though.

Deals & Discounts: There is a happy hour in the bar on the first floor, but no deals on the rooftop. The happy hour might be new as I did not see anything about it on the website before we went. Might have to go back and check it out.

294 East Grove Lane
Wayzata, MN 55391
Wayzata Bay, Lake Minnetonka

Friday, August 8, 2014

Chicago trip report 7.3.14 to 7.6.14

I think I've procrastinated doing this trip report long enough! We went to Chicago over the Fourth of July weekend for a concert with friends. We had a few fun dining adventures along the way, too.

First, we had breakfast at Barrio at Terminal 2 (Humphrey terminal) at the MSP airport. The restaurant is always solid and this outpost was pretty good as well.

I had the huevos rancheros.
John had the breakfast burrito.
We flew Southwest airlines for the first time and the flight was fine, especially for a short hop to Chicago. I'm not sure I'm crazy about the boarding process and lack of assigned seats though. You'd think people would bring less stuff on the plane since checked bags are free, but that was not the case. So boarding and unboarding seemed to take the same amount of time as any airline.
On arrival at ORD we were picked up by our friends Megan and Jason who had driven down from Madison. We were all hungry so we decided to go to Portillo's for a late lunch.
Chicago beef sandwich, dipped
The hot beef was really good and a huge sandwich. The fries were pretty average. They have a wide variety of food available including pizza and hot dogs. It is kind of like a big Chicago food court.
Next, we headed over to the Hilton on Michigan Avenue to check in to the hotel. I had paid for an upgrade to a King room as the regular rooms are not yet remodeled and all had queen beds only. The King room was quite nice, if a bit small, but that is pretty typical for Chicago hotel rooms.  

nice lake view
After checking in and freshening up a bit we met in the hotel bar/restaurant Kitty O'Shea's. We ended up here a few times throughout the course of the weekend. The service was rather slow each time.
We decided to walk down Michigan Avenue and have drinks someplace else. Our first stop was The Gage, a gastropub. There was an extensive beer list and they had some interesting cocktails as well.
The What What and a beer. Rampart IPA maybe.
PBR battered fried pickles with smoked serrano aoli
We needed to get a bit more exercise, so we crossed the river and went to Howells and Hood next. The patio was packed, but the inside seating had plenty of space.
artichoke dip
Chicago dog

The Chicago dog was an interesting deconstructed take on the standard Chicago dog, but the artichoke dip was watery and not good. The calamari was ok.

We had a nice brisk walk back to the hotel, sat on the patio at Kitty O'Shea's for awhile and then called it a night. In the morning we went up to the continental breakfast, which was OK. The muffins and cereal were good anyway and they had bottled water and soda available all the time, which was very nice to have. No trip to CVS needed!

Since breakfast was not that substantial, we were all ready for an early lunch. We decided to try Lou Malnati's for deep dish pizza. I think we started with a Caesar salad, which I forgot to photograph, but it was huge and quite good, with a garlicy dressing. The pizza was great, with a flavorful fresh tomato sauce on top.

Chicago deep dish pizza
Next on the agenda was an architecture river cruise with the Architecture Foundation. The tour guide was very interesting and the boat went a lot farther down the river than other similar tours I've done in the past.

Wrigley building
We walked back to the hotel to relax for awhile before heading out for the rest of the night, since it was getting close to showtime for Dave Matthews Band.

We went to Bar Louie near the hotel for dinner before the show. It was OK, service was not that great as I recall. We did get a table on the patio though.

sesame tuna sandwich
Philly burger

We used the Uber app to get a car to take us over to the show, which was very easy to use. It was a bit far to walk, but we ended up in traffic and we ended up walking a fair amount anyway. Gotta get to 10,000 steps a day I guess!

We were all very excited to see a show at the new venue in downtown Chicago, the First Merit Bank Pavilion. It has potential, but the rows of seats were so close together that you could hardly squeeze past someone sitting in a seat. If you stood up there was no room for your legs even. Crazy. Needs way more space between the rows. I've never loved Alpine Valley as a venue that much, but this made me miss it!
We moved up closer near the general admission area toward the end of the show. That would have been better than our so-called seats maybe. It was a great show with the first half acoustic, a break and the second half full band electric. No opening band. It was nice to be able to walk back to the hotel after the show, though it was a pretty long walk.

The next day, we had a quick breakfast at the hotel and said goodbye to Megan and Jason as they had to head home.

We wanted to go to Xoco, a rick Bayless restaurant for lunch, so we got L tickets and headed over that way. Unfortunately, we forgot that Rick Bayless takes his staff on a trip to Mexico every year over the Fourth of July weekend, so everything was closed. Rats. have to remember that next time.

We ended up going to GT Fish and Oyster for brunch as it was nearby. The food and service at GT Fish and Oyster was excellent. I'd like to go back for dinner sometime.
chicken and waffles

shrimp and grits

We spent the afternoon at Adler Planetarium. Seemed like all of the better shows were sold out by the time we got to the front of the line. Guess it pays to arrive early.

We watched some soccer in the hotel bar for awhile and then went to Hackney's, which was pretty close to the hotel, over by the Bar Louie actually.
Hackney burger
Hackney sliders
We went to Sheffield's in Wrigleyville for drinks after dinner. Ended up staying out way too late, but it was lots of fun.

We were tired of the free continental breakfast, so went to the Bongo Room for breakfast our last morning. There was a long wait, but the food was really good.
breakfast burrito
croissant sandwich
Hilton Michigan Avenue
We had some time to waste after we checked out of the hotel, so we walked down to Buckingham fountain. We took a taxi to the airport and arrived quickly. We got some popcorn at Nuts on Clark at the airport before our flight. I really liked the Chicago mix popcorn with regular, carmel and cheese popcorn together. It was worth waiting in the long line. The flight home was uneventful, though we ended up in the back of the plane as we had forgotten to check in until a bit later the day before for our boarding assignments.