I’ve landed! Despite City Pages’ efforts to bury the news, I did not in fact leave there for some literary paradise in the sky, I’m just right here at Minnesota Monthly. I’ll be doing their food coverage from here out, and also editing Real Food, the beautiful recipe magazine that’s distributed here in town at Lunds and Byerly’s. It’s all very exciting. And all very different. For one thing, I’m working in an office downtown, something I haven’t done since my stint temping right after college.
So, here are my thoughts after my first days:
1) Sometimes in the skyways you get to eavesdrop on fascinating conversations, like the one I heard between three tech-guys debating the ethical implications of playing video games in which one may obliterate hookers.
2) The meatballs at the skyway Café Di Napoli are not what they were at the old location. I’m not going to condemn the place on a single visit but… I’m not going back there to work up a full review either, if you catch my drift.
3) The logo is up on the Hotel Ivy building, and all the windows look to have been replaced in the Foshay Tower, though the new-window stickers are still on them and the billboard outside says our new W won’t open till next summer. I didn’t think I could be more excited about the coming downtown superstar restaurants, but then I entered a world where I could see them out my window – or, more accurately, out the lunchroom window. I am more excited than ever. Gossip with chefs puts the opening date for Porter and Frye, the Steven Brown restaurant at the Ivy, in late February. Will this gossip be any more accurate than all the preceding gossip. I’d wouldn’t wager much more than a new Café Di Napoli meatball either way.
4) The Dakota is the best restaurant on the skyway. I had a Star Prairie trout pate ($10) there last week that was nothing short of charming and lovely. Chef Jack Riebel presented the trout cooked, pulled off the bone, and pressed into the shape of an inverted, truncated cone with the help of a bit of butter, and served with horseradish cream sauce, chopped hard boiled eggs, minced red onions, and playing-card-thin buttered toasts. It was an exquisite example of using a wonderful local ingredient in a laid-back, unshow-offy way. Riebel is top of my list right now for under-sung heroes. (The Dakota: 1010 Nicollet Mall, 612-332-1010)
5) Speaking of which, did you know that Star Prairie rainbow trout is sustainable, mercury free, non-polluting, local, and about as green and perfect as fish can be? I didn’t, but I’m working on a big fish and seafood feature for the magazine for April, and I’m learning tons. Lots of people, even some you’d-know-them-by-their-first-name chefs, have written to me over the years asking for a story on, for lack of a better phrase, “good” fish, but I was always reluctant to take on the project because I knew it would take a million hours of phone calls and research. But that’s the beauty of magazines, and Minnesota Monthly in particular. I’m now going to have the time to pursue some of these big-picture stories in this, our little slice of arctic heaven.
6) That is, if I can keep out of the skyways trolling for chocolate…. Today’s passion: Salted dark chocolate pistachio bark from the new Groveland Confections store in Gaviidae Common. They didn’t have a working credit card machine yet, so bring cash. (http://www.grovelandconfections.com/)
7) More soon! And thanks for stopping by. The bigger and better has only begun to begin.