Tilia

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The first time I went to Tilia was one of those weekends this summer when my husband was out of town. My friend Kim recommended that we go because she’s been there a number of times. She said that she always gets the Spinach Salad. I read numerous raves about this infamous salad including one that read, “The best spinach salad I’ve ever had.”

Spinach Saladwith mushrooms, soft-boiled egg, toasted almonds, Parmesan and warm bacon dressing

We each ordered one that beautiful early evening while sipping on Prosecco. I was a little leary about the bacon dressing. I don’t really like bacon in dishes. It tends to overpower. I know. I know. I’m alone on that one.

It was a lovely girlfriend time out, so no photos were taken. The salad was good, but it was a bit too bacon-y for me. It wasn’t that overpowering; however, so it’s not like I hated it or couldn’t eat it. I just wouldn’t order it again. I would, however, recommend it to anyone who loves bacon!

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So I took my husband back. We sat at the bar. Surprise, surprise!

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Rob never really wanted to go to Tilia before. Nothing about their online menu interested him. However, when I went with Kim, I noticed that there were two items on the menu that Rob would have loved! They were not listed online. Rob did not know this. He just tagged along because it was my pick and I was buying dinner.

That burger is not listed online!

That burger was not listed online!

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Nor was the Carbonara!

Rob was happy to see those offerings and was pleased by the tap selection, too!

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We arrived early {4:30ish} and ordered an appetizer off of their In-Between Menu.

French Fries w/Fry Sauce - $6

French Fries w/Fry Sauce – $6

These fries were hot, salty and the perfect marriage of potato-y on the inside and crispy on the outside. Rob said he probably liked them more than McDonald’s fries.

I liked the Fry Sauce; Rob did not. I thought it was mixture of ketchup, mayo, Worcestershire sauce and some sort of spice. Rob swore that there was something sweet like raisins in it. I didn’t get that at all! Our bartender {who may have perhaps been an owner} was too busy; so we never did get to ask.

I was in a wine mood and was trying to select a wine by the glass.

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In the end, I chose the Casa Brina Ruché di Castagnole Monferrato. I like trying wines I’ve never had before! I had to look on my phone though to discover the grape varietal of this wine. Here is what I learned:

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A new varietal to try, yippee!!! I like the fact that Ruché is one of the lowest production varietal wines in Italy. It made me feel like I was drinking something rare. Because this was served by the glass, I’d call it a poor man’s Nebbiolo. That may not do it justice, though, because it was an excellent wine. I will always and forever order that wine by the glass at Tilia as long as they offer it.

So did Rob choose the pasta or the burger?

Okay, no suspense here…

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Paparadelle Pasta Carbonara – leeks, zucchini, black pepper, egg & Parmesan – $18 (large)

It looks fantastic, no?! Only… It wasn’t. Rob was highly disappointed. The pasta was mushy, not al dente. The sauce didn’t have that creaminess Rob is used to in his favorite carbonaras. It was pretty much just bland. I tried a bite and concurred. To be fair, Rob said that sure this might be Tilia’s rendition of a carbonara dish, but it wasn’t carbonara.

I, however, had the opposite experience:

Grilled Norwegian Salmon - Sweet Corn Bread Budding, Swiss Chard & Tomato Jam - $24

Grilled Norwegian Salmon – sweet corn bread pudding, Swiss chard & tomato jam – $24

This was the perfect dish. It’s also not listed on their online menu; so I’m not sure how long it will be offered. I loved the char on the salmon. I don’t believe I’ve ever had salmon that way before. The sweet corn bread pudding was just divine. It tasted so fresh! I loved the colors and textures on this plate. Naturally, I cleaned it. It was one of the best dishes I’ve had in a really long time!

Then, for dessert…

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I had the Petite Guiraud Sauternes. It’s been so long since I’d had a that dessert wine! It was sweet without being cloying and reminded me of mandarin oranges. It was a perfect end to my meal. I also love that they have an espresso machine. I always love when a restaurant offers coffee drinks!

The menu does change here with the seasons, which I always love. That’s why the online menu is not always up-to-date. I just hope that Rob is willing to go back.

What’s the best {or worst!} meal you’ve had lately?

Cheers~
Carrie

Pizza is like…

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“For men, sex is like pizza,” someone once told me.

“Even if it’s not very good pizza, it’s still pizza.”

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But really, who doesn’t like pizza?

If I was told that I could eat only one food for the rest of my life, pizza would be it. That’s kind of cheating though, isn’t it? I mean, a pizza is comprised of many foods. There are also many ways to make a pizza. So, I wouldn’t get bored.

Over the past few weeks, we’ve had both pizza that was great and then not-so-great.

Still, even the not-so-great did not go to waste! That pizza hailed from:

Fat Lorenzo’s

We had been to Fat Lorenzo’s in Minneapolis near Lake Nokomis once before and we both remembered liking it, but not loving it.

The walls and ceilings are painted like murals.

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Big cans of tomatoes line the booth dividers.

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The interior is small. If you go at peak times, you are going to wait. It’s a great place for kids because next to the parmesan and red pepper flakes, you will find crayons.

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You can write on the white paper covering your table. Rob and I like to play Hangman while we are waiting! See below the cheese bread:

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Cheese Bread w/marinara – $4.79

This was your basic cheese bread, but not overly exciting. On our first visit to Fat Lorenzo’s, we ordered a specialty pizza:

Carne Pazza (Meat Crazy) Pepperoni, Canadian bacon, sausage and sliced meatballs

Carne Pazza (Meat Crazy) – Pepperoni, Canadian bacon, sausage and sliced meatballs

I honestly didn’t remember that we ordered it until I found this photo! That size is a medium. Yes, a medium.

However, on our last visit, we built our own pizza with sausage, mushroom, garlic and pepperoni. Toppings are $2.50 each when you build your own; so we spent $10 in toppings alone!

My thoughts on that pizza: This crust is more deep dish style, which I’m finding I enjoy less and less as I age. This crust is nice and doughy, but with very little flavor. Maybe brushing it with a little garlic-infused olive oil would help. The sauce is sweet and too tomato-paste-y for my taste-y. And the cheese-lover in me would have wanted a bit more on pizza #2. I don’t remember that being the case on pizza #1 pictured above. The real stars of the show were the sausage and mushrooms, of which I would have wanted more.

We most likely won’t be back with all of the great pizza joints in the Twin Cities, but Fat Lorenzo’s leftovers made it home with us and did not go to waste!

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I think pizza is also like wine. After tasting many, you start to discover what you truly enjoy. The real pizza winner this month was one that our friend Kim discovered:

Red Wagon

We were intrigued the instant we looked up Red Wagon‘s menu online. The pizzeria is a newly established bricks and mortar restaurant that spawned from a stand at the Linden Hills Farmers Market. After dining there, we understood why!

Upon arrival, there was a bit of a wait. Rob drooled over the tap selection {36 of them to be exact!} while Kim and I ordered a bottle of the highly recommended Grüner Veltliner. It was a little chilly outside, but we elected to wait there and sip our drinks so that we could have a seat. The wait wasn’t long.

Rob ordered us a couple of appetizers…

Bar Chips - Gaufrette-Style seasoned with rosemary, garlic salt and black pepper

Bar Chips – Gaufrette-Style seasoned with rosemary, garlic salt and black pepper

I knew Rob would like these chips after he fell in love with similar ones at the Six15 Room. They were a bit too salty, but we’d still get them again in a heartbeat. That sauce is a nice accompaniment, too!

Pepperoni Roll - house cheese and pepperoni rolled in fresh dough w/fig balsamic vinegar - $7

Pepperoni Roll – house cheese and pepperoni rolled in fresh dough w/fig balsamic vinegar – $7

For some reason, we were expecting something different here. We ordered More Cheese on the pepperoni roll for an extra $1, which was absolutely necessary. However the fig balsamic was so sweet that to me this tasted like we had a little pepperoni and cheese on raisin bread. I found it a little strange.

One thing I did love about Red Wagon that has nothing to do with the food, is the addition of purse hooks at the pub tables!

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I love having a place to put my purse when there are hooks when I’m sitting at the bar. This is often the case at most restaurants nowadays.

But when you are sitting at a high-top table on a chair without a back, I’m always perplexed when it comes to stowing my purse. On the floor just feels so far away and out of sight. On my lap is just uncomfortable. On the table is cluttered and takes up space. Right under the table on a hook – perfect! I hope more restaurants begin adding these to their high-top tables.

There were so many different types of pizza to try. Here are the two we selected:

Top: Lucy! - Dijon mustard, Cuban pulled pork, thin slices of ham and provolone, topped with housemade pickles and Cuban sauce - $17 | Bottom: Popeye - garlic-infused olive oil with spinach, house sausage and Robiola cheese, finished with a squeeze of lemon and black pepper - $18

Top: Lucy! – Dijon mustard, Cuban pulled pork, thin slices of ham and provolone, topped with housemade pickles and Cuban sauce – $17 | Bottom: Popeye – garlic-infused olive oil with spinach, house sausage and Robiola cheese, finished with a squeeze of lemon and black pepper – $18

We loved them both! When I read the word Lucy! on the menu, I immediately thought it would somehow be a Juicy Lucy pizza. {How? I don’t know!} However, this Cuban-style pizza is really a nod to Lucy and Ricky Ricardo. Clever! Kim’s eyes got wide after her first bite indicating that this was a pizza not to be missed. I think if I’ve finally found my perfect Cuban!

That housemade sausage on the Popeye was incredible. Even though we would order this pizza again, Rob and I felt like it was missing something that we couldn’t quite put our fingers on. Maybe just a hint more flavor of some sort. Or maybe just more of that perfect sausage. ;-)

While our favorite Twin Cities pizzerias remain Pig Ate My Pizza and Pizzeria Lola {although our last visit to the latter was less than stellar}, Red Wagon is high up on our list of great pizza joints.

What style of pizza is your favorite?

Cheers,
Carrie

Whiskey ~ Beer ~ Burgers

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Pub 819
Whiskey – Beer – Burgers

One of Rob’s former co-workers recommended that we give Pub 819 in Hopkins a try sometime. It’s not a direction we normally go; but it was a perfect stop after our last trip to pick up another wine kit at Midwest Supplies in St. Louis Park.

We had no doubt that Mark knows us well enough to know this is an establishment that we might enjoy. Regardless, I had to check out the menu online. There is an extensive on-tap beer list that includes the following categories:

  • From Our Neighbors (craft beers from throughout the U.S.)
  • From Our Own Backyard (Minnesota craft beers)
  • Macros (the polite way of saying “the mass-produced crap”)

They have a beer list online; but it is not 100% up-to-date. In fact, when we arrived, I saw a particular tap handle that helped me make an immediate decision!

Farking Wheaton W00tStout - Imperial Stout aged in Bourbon Barrels w/Pecans

Farking Wheaton W00tStout – Imperial Stout aged in Bourbon Barrels w/Pecans

I remembered loving this beer back in Temecula a couple of years back! After ordering it, I looked up my blog post on it, only to find that it has 13% alcohol. Whoops! The bartender served it the wrong glass. Imagine being served wine {which is around 13% ABV or so} in a pint glass like this and then only being charged $7.50… Actually, $6.50 because it was Happy Hour!

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As you might expect per their tagline noted above, they have quite the selection of whiskeys, too. Some varieties are even exclusive to Pub 819.

  • Bourbon (traditional, high rye and wheated varieties) – distilled from corn
  • Irish Whiskey (blended, single malt, single grain and single pot still) – malted and unmalted barley, single pot still unique to Ireland
  • Rye Whiskey – use of fermented rye and aged in charred oak barrels.
  • Scotch Whisky (single malt and blended) – aged in oak barrels for at least three years in Scotland
  • Canadian Whisky – usually a combination of a lighter whisky and a more highly flavored whisky
  • Novelty and International Whiskeys – the rest

Pub 819 offers several whiskey flights, so you can decide which you like best. They even carried our favorite from Ireland – Tyrconnel Single Malt.

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One thing you won’t find on the website, is a list of their cocktails. So I took some photos for your perusing pleasure:

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We each ordered our own dinner, with the thought of splitting them.

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Drunkin’ Lucy – bleu cheese stuffed patty, Guinness cheese sauce, crispy onions and Jameson glaze – $13

I love me a good blue cheese burger and the melty stuff inside this Lucy {aka cheese-stuffed burger} would make any other blue cheese lover swoon. You just aren’t going to get that blue cheese in every bite. The Jameson glaze was a little sweet for me. Rob actually thought it was one of the specialty ketchups they had brought us for the fries.

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I think the favorite of our two sandwiches, though, was mine:

Brisket Grilled Cheese - slow roasted Texas-style brisket, sauteed onions, sharp cheddar and provolone cheese - $12

Brisket Grilled Cheese – slow roasted Texas-style brisket, sauteed onions, sharp cheddar and provolone cheese – $12

I loved the genius addition of brisket to this grilled cheese sandwich! What’s not to love? My only complaint about this sandwich is that they could have buttered the bread a little more and seared it to the edges. Only a small portion of that sammie is actually grilled.

Pub 819 was worth parking a few blocks away and walking through the construction. {We know of better parking spots now!} It just might be where we go back the next time we need to make a wine supply run!

What interesting or unique ingredients do you like to add to your grilled cheese sandwiches?

Cheers~
Carrie

 

Cooking, Running & Things I’m Lovin’

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What is this blog coming to?!

Most of my posts lately have been about the imbibing I’ve done this summer. Well, that’s not all I’ve been doing! This blog has kind of evolved into a record of where we eat, drink and travel. It really helps us remember what we loved {or hated} and what we’d like to try or do next time when we return.

Yet, I’ve been doing a lot of cooking of beef or pork dishes from our Recipe Arsenal during the week.

In addition, if you’ve been reading my blog long enough, you may remember that when my husband goes out of town, I start to cook up a storm! And most often, I’m making all of the dishes that Rob cannot have!

I had two long weekends back-to-back when Rob was gone and had a lot of dishes I wanted to action!

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What I’m Loving Right Now!

First off, I need to give a shout out to my new favorite brew. No, it’s not beer. It’s cold press coffee! I’m a little late to the cold press game. A few years ago I tried an Iced Americano. Despite my love of the original, I learned that I did not like cold coffee at all, which is what I thought cold press was!

It is not the same.

To make cold press coffee, grounds are steeped in cold water for at least twelve hours. After filtering the result is something much smoother than regular coffee!

I discovered Chameleon Cold-Brew on my ibotta app: 

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The ibotta app offers rebates on specific items {including items you already buy like milk, bread, eggs and produce}! The rebate was $2 for the Chameleon Cold-Brew and the item was on sale at Target. Not only was that a win; but I also fell in love with it. It did wonders on the those humid weekend mornings we had a few weeks back!

Something else I fell in love with over those weekends? This Roasted Garlic Parmesan Shrimp {now in my recipe arsenal!} aka Death Row Shrimp. After making these shrimp, I decided that there must be a bag of shrimp in my freezer at all times.

My life has been changed.

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Running!

On those Saturday mornings while the cat was away, I got some long runs in. I haven’t talked a lot about running lately on my blog. That’s because I haven’t been doing races or working toward any particular running goals. I’d like to think I’m practicing Intuitive Running. I think I just made that up.

What I mean is that after my back surgery, it took me a lot longer than expected to run comfortably again. So instead of trying to achieve a goal or new PR, I just run the way it feels right on that particular day. I generally stick to shorter, faster {for me!} runs during the week and do a 5k on Saturdays. If something is feeling off, I walk instead. I don’t want anything to set me back like that back pain and back surgery. I am grateful I can run now and know that I’m still benefiting if I stop to walk!

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Cooking!

After my Saturday morning 5k during those weekends Rob was out of town, I’d walk down to the local Farmers Market and get a haul of goodies:

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I just might start munching on those cucumbers right away…

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And my pooches just might beg for those cucumbers right away while I’m munching!

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All that zucchini had me desperate to try to make this Silky Gingered Zucchini Soup. After some chopping, into the pot it went.IMG_3918 (1)

It came out a little less silky then I’d hoped; but maybe I can just use less water next time.

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There is a really nice hint of spice here. But it still had me questioning how Melissa can possibly eat it for breakfast. I decided to give it a shot one morning with my other array of beverages!

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Magic Green Smoothie, Ice Water, Hot Lemon Water, Chameleon Cold Press Coffee, Silky Gingered Zucchini Soup

It really did work! And it’s very filling, despite the little calories a small bowl contains.

Another morning, I attempted to make Cloud Bread for the first time. This is a “bread” made of eggs, cream cheese and cream of tartar. I was warned that it’s not exactly like real bread.

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I also read that it could be crumbly if you eat them the same day, even after cooling. The trick is to put them in a ziplock bag and they will stiffen up overnight. It did look like nice toasted bread, though. {Note: I added chives!}

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However, it did taste pretty egg-y. This might matter if you are using cloud bread as hamburger buns. This didn’t matter so much with my morning eggs!

The next morning, I made one of my favorite 90 Second Egg Sandwiches with the Cloud Bread. Still tasted Just Fine.

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I did freeze one piece of Cloud Bread and tried to toast it the following weekend; but I wasn’t paying attention and it sort of burned. For the effort, I’m not sure I’d make Cloud Bread again.

In other breakfast news…

I also learned that this Gluten-Free Breakfast Casserole freezes really, really well. I made it a few weeks ago when I was having the girls over for brunch. I had so much leftover that I attempted to freeze it. It worked! It was an easy go-to breakfast during the work week. I would totally bring this dish for a work lunch, too!

Speaking of lunches…

My farmers market hauls aided me in using up other items in my freezer and pantry to make some scrumptious salads, like my fave Big Mac Salad and this random chicken salad:

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Another day, for lunch, I made a double batch of a favorite of mine – Mini Salsa Turkey Meatloaves –  so that I could freeze a few for future lunches!

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That side of green beans was made with this seasoning that I once received from a Foodie Penpal:

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Yum! is the verdict on that one. I made a few other random things, too, like these Hot Fudge Brownie Larabars.

Yes, the mix looked like fertilizer:

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And I’ll spare you the photo of what they looked like after I formed them into bars {or, with my talent, oblong shapes}. I’m sure you can picture that one for yourself.

I also made a few of my own spice blends. I was out of Italian Seasoning, which was needed to make my Homemade Italian Breadcrumbs, which were needed in my Mini Salsa Turkey Meatloaves, so I made an easy version.

Which got me to thinking, I really needed to somehow replace the Pampered Chef Rosemary Herb Seasoning I like to put on my popcorn, now that it is discontinued. I found a few recipes online and tried this version. Verdict? Not exactly the same, but still very good. It’ll do!

Rosemary Herb Seasoning

  • 2 tbsp. dried rosemary
  • 1/4 tsp. dried grated lemon peel
  • 1 tsp. dried leaf oregano crushed
  • 1 tsp. celery salt
  • 2 tbsp. onion powder
  • 2 tbsp. garlic powder
  • 1/8 tsp. black pepper
  • 1/4 tsp. salt

I omitted the dried grated lemon peel because I didn’t have it.

And lastly, after another Farmers Market haul the following weekend…

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I made my first ever Homemade Vegetable Broth based on this and this recipe.

I now have several cups of low-sodium frozen vegetable broth in my freezer! In fact, this past weekend, I’ve filled up our entire freezer with lots of meats and crockpot-ready meals for this fall.

What I didn’t have time for, but wish I did was to make a batch of this flavorful homemade chorizo {it has been a while!}. I also want to take a shot at making this homemade merguez.

What are your favorite things to cook when you have extra time?

What things do you like to cook for yourself when you don’t have to worry about anyone else’s likes or dietary constraints?

What do you stock in your freezer?

Cheers~
Carrie

 

 

 

Block Pawty

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Sophie & Shamrock Saturday

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I am so incredibly sad.

This little girl…

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… will no longer play with this little guy…

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This has been the case ever since we got her wart removed. One of the reasons we got it removed was so that they could play happily without scratching it and making it bleed.

Now they don’t play at all.

I am not sure what happened. Did they get into a fight while we were out one day? Sometimes, if there is food involved, these two will get into a vicious-sounding, but virtually harmless battle in which we have to tear them apart. I wonder if that could have happened when we were not home?

Shamrock has tried to paw at Sophie to play, but she either walks away or snaps at him. I’ve tried to “make” them play {silly me}, but that only resulted in one of the viscous-sounding attack fights noted above.

I thought this meant Sophie might be in pain or ill. You know, a change in behavior can be a sign. However, she is back to playing with toys. She really hasn’t played with toys since we adopted Sham and she started using him as her play thang. They played All. The. Time.

It’s disheartening.

But they are both still loving their BarkBox. If they had known that it was about to arrive, they could have invited some friends to a Block Pawty! {Ha, ha! This month’s theme.}

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But would they really share this month’s contents?

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Their friend Finnegan just happened to visiting when it arrived. Finn was more than happy to take advantage of run off with the ice cream toy and take advantage of its wondrous squeaker!

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It was his favorite toy for the rest of his stay. {Well, maybe it remained second to Wooly Bully!} 

Of course, the treats have been tested and are S & S approved! So if your pup wants a monthly BarkBox, join here. You’ll get a free box added to your plan and will add an extra to Sophie & Sham’s, too!

Happy Saturday!

Cheers~
Carrie

 

6Smith

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It was a Monday night. We had just returned from our annual trip to Michigan. But friends were in town visiting family and were leaving the next day! We couldn’t miss them. When would we see them next?

We had to meet up!

6Smith is a restaurant I had been hearing about for a while now. It looked good. However, I never put it on our list of must-tries because it was up in Wayzata. As southern suburbanites of the Twin Cities, we rarely get up in that direction unless there is an event of some sort. We just don’t make trips up that way just for dinner. {Okay, so here’s an exception!}

But that was the area where our friends were visiting family! It was a beautiful day. And rumor had it that 6Smith was supposed to have one of the best patios in the Twin Cities metro. It doesn’t hurt that it is situated on a lakefront!

YES. This is where we would meet.

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We arrived early. While waiting for our friends, I ordered a Sazerac. It had been a while since I’d had one. I wish I would have taken a photo because we couldn’t believe the size of it! I would have thought it was a double pour.

Meeting up with old friends meant that this rendezvous was more about reconnecting. So I only got a few pictures of the food. I got nothing of the patio nor waterfront.

But sitting outside on this perfect summer evening was sublime. The food was an added bonus.

Another bonus? It was Monday, which meant it was half-priced wine night! This was fitting since Katie is a Wineaux friend back from my in-home wine tasting days! The selection of wines is pretty decent, too. There were a lot of interesting ones, not just your usual suspects.

Katie elected to order a salad and a side for dinner:

Roasted Beet & Watermelon Salad - red and baby golden beets, watermelon, arugula, goat cheese pecans, raspberry vinaigrette, balsamic gel | Loaded Mac & Cheese - Fini cheddar, Nueske's bacon, scallions

Roasted Beet & Watermelon Salad – red and baby golden beets, watermelon, arugula, goat cheese, pecans, raspberry vinaigrette, balsamic gel – $13 | Loaded Mac & Cheese – Fini cheddar, Nueske’s bacon, scallions – $8

The salad was just beautiful! But that Mac and Cheese was a side?! Rob ordered some, too, luckily, because it didn’t last long. It’s some of the best we’ve had!

Katie’s husband had to try a Juicy Lucy! This one was a bit more elevated than the traditional ones you’ll find.

Venison & Kobe Juicy Lucy - smoked gouda, jalapeno, oyster mushrooms, bacon and carmelized onion toasted pretzel roll - $18

Venison & Kobe Juicy Lucy – smoked gouda, jalapeno, oyster mushrooms, bacon and carmelized onion toasted pretzel roll – $18

I think we’d stick to a traditional one for the purpose of introducing out-of-towners to the famed Juicy Lucy! Though, 6Smith almost had me at Pretzel Bun.

I ordered something I don’t order too often:

Chili Rubbed Chicken Sandwich - Mahon cheese, avocado, Sriracha aioli, brioche bun - $15

Chili Rubbed Chicken Sandwich – Mahon cheese, avocado, Sriracha aioli, brioche bun – $15

Not the best chicken sammie I’ve had, but tasty enough.

Rob chose something off the Appetizers & Small Plates menu to pair with his Mac & Cheese:

Bacon & Bourbon - $13

Bacon & Bourbon – $13

After reading the menu, I was not picturing bacon with a shot of bourbon! I envisioned a plate of bacon with bourbon-infused cherries. Just check out that menu again below! Sure it is labeled, “Bacon and Bourbon”, but do you understand why I was a bit surprised?

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The Bourbon was a bonus. {For me, since Rob is not a huge fan and pushed it my way.}

The service might have seemed slow if we hadn’t been with our friends catching up. It always takes a long time to order and decide when that happens! For our situation, the timing was right.

The weather was perfect out on the patio and by the water. We enjoyed wine at half-price. Even with that, it’s the company that made this dinner extra special. Our visit to 6Smith? I wouldn’t have had it any other way.

What is your favorite restaurant with a patio or on the water?

Cheers~
Carrie

4 Daughters

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Happy Wine Wednesday!

Wait, what?!

I haven’t done a Wine Wednesday post in ages; but I thought I’d throw one in there since I visited a new winery this summer!

When it comes to Minnesota wine, I’m not usually a fan. One of the exceptions is wine from this winery. However, when my fellow Wineaux friend Stacy suggested we dine at a nearby winery the next time I visited, I was all in.

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Four Daughters Vineyard is located in Spring Valley, Minnesota, just about a half hour outside of Rochester. As you near the winery, you kind of feel like you are suddenly in the middle of nowhere. But that’s the point. You are at a vineyard.

Upon arrival we noticed they were setting up for a wedding, right amidst the vines, which were as far as the eye could see…

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We entered the building to find a nicely set up  wine bar. You can’t see the tables to the left, but this place was roomy!

IMG_3645It was a beautiful day, a little humid; but we decided to chance it and dine outside. I am so glad we did! We were seated at a table underneath the awning. There were other picnic tables right out in the open sun, which are ideal for socializing.

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A slight breeze counteracted the humidity perfectly, creating a splendid ambiance for such a setting. I was relaxed. Content. Sure, that pole above didn’t make for good photos, but it did not ruin my 180-degree view one bit.

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We were there to taste wine and to eat! But we had to start with the tasting…

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The Wine

They offered a flight of white wines and a flight of red wines. We elected to do both and split them.

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The red flight didn’t include all reds. It truly was a mixed flight – two reds, two whites and a rosé. The whites in the red flight overlapped with a couple of them in the white flight, too.

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I loved that the descriptions were lined up with each of the wines.

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Another thing I loved was that we were not meant to taste out of these tasting glasses. It was encouraged to dump the sample into a real wine glass, swirl and taste from that glass.

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And then there was this advice:

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This is advice that I’ve always given at my wine tastings when I used to teach about wine! They really do care about the tasting experience. From the literature, it doesn’t sound like the production is such that you’ll always be tasting the same wines either. Get your favorites before they are gone!

That day, our favorite was the American Zinfandel. Zinfandel grapes aren’t known to grow in Minnesota; so I suspect that these were imported from California. This Zinfandel was also a tad sweeter than those either of us tend to drink, but we enjoyed it nonetheless. We also noticed that Four Daughters served it slightly chilled. At the time of this writing, this wine is no longer listed on their website. It must be out of stock!

We also tried wines made from grapes grown in Minnesota, including these varieties:

  • La Crescent
  • Frontenac Gris
  • Marquette

One fun thing about the white flight is that they put the Frontenac Gris up against their Nude Etude II, which is a wine also made with Frontenac Gris, but showcasing a truer expression of the grape. The two wines taste completely different, illustrating how a winemaker’s techniques can really influence a wine!

Truth be told, I liked all of the wines! My least favorite was the rosé. As for the whites, we had such a hard time deciding which was the favorite. So we each went with another round of a white flights!

As a side note, Four Daughters also makes a hard cider which they call Loon Juice. {I just love that name!} I’ve had it on tap before here. In my opinion, it doesn’t have a ton of apple flavor; so we skipped it in favor of the wine. However, I loved the idea of hard cider cocktails! One of them was called Looney Tunes!

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The Food

Four Daughters offers a seasonally changing menu, a concept which I always love. The prices are also very reasonable.

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Stacy is one of the few friends who will order a cheese board with me. In fact, it’s kind of a tradition. {Except when we get sushi! ;-) }

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Artisan Cheese Board – $14

We weren’t too keen on the grape jelly; but I applaud the effort for using their own grapes! Then, after we polished off the remaining white flights and had our fill of cheese, we elected to order some small plates.

Stacy’s selection:

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Prosciutto Flatbread w/grilled garlic scapes, preserved lemon oil, sherry-caper goat cheese – $12

The description of that flatbread had “Stacy” written all over it. It was exceptional. That arugula piled on top doesn’t do photographic justice to this flatbread.

As for me, I’m always a sucker for scallops when they are on the menu! This particular offering also had me intrigued by the “chickpea fries”.

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Seared Scallops w/chickpea fries, bell pepper, coriander yogurt, chorizo oil – $16

Swooooonnnn!! The dish was a bit small, but the price was on par for the size. What beautiful plating, too. The scallops were perfectly seared and I was in love with the chickpea fries. {I think a better name would be chickpea fritters… maybe?} We were impressed by them so much, that when Stacy and I were picking out which wines to buy to take home, we met the owner and told him that those need to go on the menu permanently!

He sipped a glass of wine and chatted with us. He was proud while swirling the wine in his glass, but not in a pompous kind of way. He had a very cheerful, relaxed disposition.

As we commented on the food, he told us that the chef came from Chester’s, a higher end restaurant in Rochester. Stacy and I had been there on a recent visit of mine, but I neglected to share anything about it on the blog. I’m not even sure I took photos! Let’s suffice to say that we liked it so much that we’ve talked of returning.

We felt the same way about Four Daughters Vineyard and Winery. We might have to make it an annual outing! I know if I lived in the area, I’d go there for the food, the wine and the relaxed setting.

I wouldn’t start comparing the wine with California; but for Minnesota I highly recommend it. The bottles to take home are a little pricey {around $20/bottle}; but I like to spend my money locally. They’ve got a good thing going at Four Daughters and I want to support that.

What’s your favorite winery in your state?

A bit of trivia: Every state in the U.S. has a winery!

Cheers~
Carrie