So while I intended this to be a blog about L.A., I would be remiss if I didn't write about my hometown. Yeah, every year I go home to the Minnesota State Fair, and everyone thinks it's so cute and quaint, but there is so much more to our sister cities than just farm animals and food on a stick.
A lot of people are aware of how groovy Minneapolis/St. Paul is--amazing music, theater, art all within a gorgeous, livable city dotted with beautiful lakes, kick-ass bars and awesome non-chain coffee houses, all with worn vintage couches. These kind of places still thrive here. The people are liberal, well-read and civilized.
If it just wasn't for those damn winters.
But one aspect of the city that remains to be noted (well, I'm sure a few people have noted it) is the preponderance of excellent restaurants. There's amazing food to be had everywhere. Here is a sampling from my last trip: the aforementioned Fair, where in addition to deep-fried
Twinkies and Snickers bars, this year your could find caprese on a stick, honey lemonade, walleye cakes, smoked salmon with lingonberry jelly and the coldest, most satisfying milk ever in the world.
I also managed to make it to one of my favorite Northeast haunts, the Modern Café, and had a wonderful meal with some of my favorite Minneapolis peeps Sara, Shannon & Joseph, and their very cool friend Dean. Simple but delicious fare--a bibb lettuce and avocado salad with creme fraiche and a clam and chorizo bourride, which was like a scaled-down bouillabaisse.
One of the Cities' undiscovered gems is my mother, a woman who can turn a tomato, a sprig of basil, a dash of olive oil and a twist of pepper into a memorable event. On Sunday night, we feasted on one of her specialties, pasta tossed with potatoes, green beans and homemade pesto, plus an eggplant baba ganoush.
On my last day there, I hit all my favorites. A quick stop at Anodyne, one of my favorite words and my favorite coffee shop. Strolled through the Museum of Russian Art, which was really, really cool, and then headed to the Midtown Global Market, where I've had some of the best tacos ever. Taquería Los Ocampo serves really authentic fare like Tinga de Pollo, and Sinchronizada, which is difficult to find even here in L.A., although they do serve it at my beloved Alegria.
My visit ended, as always, with the pilgrimage to Punch, which serves the best pizza in the world outside of Italy, or so said Meryl Streep when she was in town filming A Prairie Home Companion. Nuff said. We don't argue with La Streep. Although I have to say, I'm not that crazy about the NE location, where you order at the counter and they throw the pizzas in the over for 90 sec. I still prefer the old Highland Park place, even though I know it can be a mad house.
OK, I know I'm not much of a food writer, but I am hungry, so I'm doing something right.
Monday, September 14, 2009
As most of you know, every Labor Day I make the pilgrimage back to the great state of Minnesota for the wildly popular State Fair. I think I've done it every single year since I moved out to California. For awhile it was just me and my mom, then when my brother moved back, he started coming along. Last year my cousin came, and this year it was my brother's wife. It's really become about much more than just rides, animal barns and food on sticks. Now it's about my family. And food on sticks. God knows I hate to travel at real holiday times (plus the winter thing in MN can be a real bitch), so this is like our annual holiday. People always ask me, "you didn't just come for the Fair, did you?" and the answer is "no." How great is it when you just have a blast with your family? I love this tradition we have and I plan to keep coming back for it.