Wednesday, October 24, 2012

Food!


Who knew that the best peanut butter (seriously) ever made can only be found in a restaurant in downtown Minneapolis or that there is bread pudding to be found that is worth trudging all of the way across the city in the middle of winter? I certainly didn’t when I arrived here, but luckily I have now had 4 years of committed exploration under my belt. While I in no way pretend to be an expert and fully realize my limited college student budget has restricted my culinary exploration, I believe I can give any committed eater a worthwhile starting point

I love anything involving food and eating especially when it means an opportunity to discover something completely new and potentially mind-blowing. Coming from a city in Illinois that is nowhere near Chicago, I had no idea what food diversity was. Lucky for me, and particularly for my stomach, both the Twin Cities overall and the area surrounding Macalester offer a diverse culinary adventure once you know where to look. For example, it is very easy to miss Fasika, one of the most unique restaurants in the area, as you ride by on the bus to the State Fair or Rosedale Mall. This small Ethiopian restaurant is a treat and I have yet to have anything from there I did not like (and yes for those of you who know me this even includes their vegetable only dishes).  I even forced my very un-adventurous family to try it. It was great to see the look of nervous apprehension on their face when I first informed them of where we were going. As soon as the food arrived though, there was nothing but smiles and short sentences mumbled between bites. There is something great about a culture and restaurant where it is not only acceptable but also encouraged that you eat with your hands.

Grand Avenue itself, the lovely, historic street on which Macalester sits, harbors some of my favorite restaurants in all of the Twin Cities. If you like smaller places where the first thing you see upon walking in is the chef greeting you from the kitchen, then the Barbary Fig is the place for you. Its small, ever-changing Mediterranean/North African menu has never failed to impress me. If you like a larger restaurant with a more bar-like feel, then there is Salut Bar Americain. The expansive menu of American and French fusion cuisine is well worth the price (so get your parents to take you when they come to visit). Still not your speed? Then there is always Brasa, a more Southwestern barbecue restaurant that’s best enjoyed Tapas style with a larger group of people. Or India House with food and decor that will impress a date, but won’t destroy your wallet. There are of course more but you get the idea.

One final place on Grand deserves special mention. The Grandview Grill is hands down the best place to have brunch in the area and possibly in the entire Twin Cities, though I invite anyone who disagrees to take me out to their brunch place of choice. Their menu has every brunch favorite one could ask for from omelets to juevos rancheros to eggs benedict to biscuits and gravy and beyond. While the flavor of the food is most important in making this a phenomenal breakfast joint, portion size comes in a close second. Each entree comes with enough food to keep the hungriest of athletes full until dinner (no small feat) or a more average appetite satisfied for the rest of the weekend. This is a must whether you are just visiting for the weekend or have committed to spending four years at Mac.

But back to the question I opened this post with. The absolute most delicious peanut butter in the world can indeed be found in Minneapolis. Hell’s Kitchen makes their own peanut butter that, by itself, justifies the trip downtown on public transit. I know this sounds insane because that’s exactly what I first thought, but again just trust me and try it. Then you will understand why there are people overseas who pay to have it delivered to their house. 

As for the second question, the bread pudding at Kieran’s Irish Pub is so good that following a sushi dinner (at Origami in Minneapolis which I also recommend), my friend and I passed on the green tea ice cream and hiked across the urban tundra of Minneapolis in winter just to have their fresh bread pudding for dessert.

This is only a small sampling of what the Twin Cities has to offer, but don’t take my word for it. Check it out for yourself and let me know where I need to eat next.