A Tale of the Twin Cities: The Sequel. My visit to Minnesota

Minnesota Target Field Exterior

Well just how do you top a day of wandering, Hell’s Kitchen and Baseball? You start by going to Hell’s Kitchen again-for breakfast as reviewed in the first post. And then time for more wandering. We went down to the mighty Mississippi River. Since the river starts in upper Minnesota, it really isn’t too mighty through the Twin Cities, but big nonetheless. Bigger than most rivers in the Salt Lake City area anyway.

Minnesota Skyline with River

Hell's Kitchen Corned Beef Hash

Hell’s Kitchen Corned Beef Hash

It is so beautiful down by the river. So green and serene. We crossed the old arch stone bridge into an older area of town. What once was factories and warehouses is now being converted into high end condos and office space. It’s the old adage of “how do we keep the old but move on to the new?”

After a nap at the hotel it was time to find some lunch. I had read from another Minneapolis based Food Writer about a Tapas restaurant on Nicollet Mall. It was called Barrio and seemed like a fantastic way to spend a Friday afternoon. As we walked up, the place was nearly full. They also have patio seating and that was also full. Nearly full restaurant at 2:30pm on a weekday? Now these are my kind of people.

Barrio

Barrio

I wasn’t sure if it was Fiesta or Siesta time at Barrio. It seemed to be a little of both and that was just fine as we had no where to be. We sat inside by the open windows. That way we could straddle the outside, loud music, party atmosphere with the quiet diners on the inside.

The first thing we got was Barrio’s Made to order Guacamole with fresh corn tortilla chips. It was chunky and had a distinct citrus taste which made it delicious. The chips were thick with that perfect ‘snap’ to them. Be careful of their salsa. It is good but incredibly spicy. Keep your ice water nearby.

Barrio Adobo Grilled Chicken Taco

Barrio Adobo Grilled Chicken Taco

I then ordered an Adobo Grilled Chicken Taco: guajillo, ancho and chipotle marinated chicken with roasted pineapple-serrano salsa. This was like a boxing match where you first get lulled to sleep by the flat, gritty taste of the marinated chicken; then the sweetness of the pineapple wakes you up and gets you excited; and then TKO-you are knocked out by combined powers of the guajillo, ancho, chipotle and serrano. It reminded me of my charming personality-changing directions (or moods) 3 times in one minute.

They had many more delicious looking tacos but I was craving something smooth and lite to finish out the meal. For this I went with their Fresh Corn Chowder. It’s served with roasted corn, poblano peppers and garnished with queso fresco and cilantro, drizzled with some finishing oil. Wow-this was farmer’s market fresh corn cooked perfectly with delicious peppers giving it a slight kick. The queso fresco and cream gave it that smooth component.

What a great meal. Minneapolis was proving itself to be a food Mecca. I love that there is so much good food here but you don’t feel like you have to dress up and eat at white table cloth restaurants. You can get so much in a casual atmosphere-so much high-end, fresh food cooked by culinary magicians. Barrio for all!

Would you pay $55 for seats on the 6th Row? I would do it again tomorrow

Would you pay $55 for seats on the 6th Row? I would do it again tomorrow

After that delicious meal, it was time for wandering and a nap prior to baseball. I was excited for tonight’s game as we had 6th row tickets, just past third base. It was a little surreal being that close to the field. We sat down, got comfortable, then got up to search for food after the 2nd inning. My dad went straight for Kramaczuk’s. It sounded great but I was looking for the intangibles-I didn’t know what food I was looking for but I would know it when I found it.

Minnesota Wild Rice Soup

Minnesota Wild Rice Soup

During the game the night before, I had noticed Wild Rice Soup on the menu at some of the concessions. While visiting Minnesota, a few times I heard about Northern Wild Rice. It’s popular and grown in the swamps and bogs in the land of lakes, despite the 3 month growing season of the upper midwest.

The soup was thick, creamy, reminded me of this Cream of Mushroom Soup recipe and served in a large portion. I joke that there is nothing like going to a baseball game to get your $8 hotdog and $6 soda. Consider it a novelty. The Wild Rice Soup wasn’t much cheaper but it was nice to not have a hotdog. It was missing a little pizzazz-some Thyme would have made it all the more succulent.

The soup, a bag of peanuts, bottle of water, 6th row at Target Field; now this is how to relax. One thing to add here is that this is beer country. I don’t drink myself but if you do, this is the place to go. I saw a lot of money changing hands when the beer salesman would walk up & down the aisles. During the 7th inning, when the beer vendors yell “last call,” it’s a license to print money. Here is your summer job that can pay for college.

Wandering brought us to the original Kramarczuk's Deli

Wandering brought us to the original Kramarczuk’s Deli

On Saturday morning, it was time to wander. Whether on vacation or at home, wandering seems like a daily activity. It is done with a purpose however. We wandered down across the Mississippi River into old Minneapolis. We found ourselves in a quiet residential neighborhood with a lot of historic homes & churches. It was the quintessential Americana. No breakfast places were on our path so we continued our walk.

Eventually we found Wilde Roast Cafe on St. Anthony Main just in front of the mighty Mississippi. The place looked like a high-end wine bar but the smell was captivating and the environment relaxing. I went with the Classic Benedict almost entirely for one reason: roasted breakfast potatoes or smoked Gouda hash browns. Okay, I have never eaten smoked Gouda, but sometimes the name tells you all that you need to know. In this case, it was telling me to try them and try them fast.

Benedict with Smoked Gouda Hash Browns

Benedict with Smoked Gouda Hash Browns

After “The Best Shisha in Town”-I’m not really sure what this is but it seemed to fit right into a neighborhood located next to a large college campus, we wandered back, got some rest and it was time for 3 games in 3 nights.

Strong customer base with the University nearby

Strong customer base with the University nearby

Tonight at Target Field it was Loon Chili and Garlic Fries on the menu. I’m not sure if I wanted the fries more because the aroma drew me in or because they are served in a souvenir baseball helmet. Either way, it was worth it. I’m not sure the person sitting next to me on the plane the next morning appreciated my culinary indulgence, but I sure did.

The Twins lost that night – a pretty common occurrence for them. Despite the loss, the chili packed a spicy yet delicious punch, the fries were addicting -aromatically and to the taste, the people wonderful, the wandering superb and the best of all: quality time spent with my Dad. That wasn’t just for the game Saturday but a great wrap up to the trip. My Real Estate calls were being taken care of and blog posts prepared beforehand.

Garlic Fries at Target Field

Garlic Fries at Target Field

People close to me had asked before I left on this trip: “What are you going to do” or “what is there to do in Minnesota?” What they are really saying is “how can I go on a trip when every moment is not planned out?” It is human nature to plan a head. Yet the best experiences in life are those raw moments when you let the day unfold as it was meant to be. Allow yourself to take that breath – a time where you find out who you really are and what you really like. Let the feelings of “busyness” subside and enjoy the blessings of Wandering.

This is to remind my siblings that they will have to fight over 2nd place

This is to remind my siblings that they will have to fight over 2nd place

This is my Tale of the Twin Cities. Now what is your Tale and where?

Happy Travels

 

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