I got radish seed pods at the Mississippi Market yesterday. Surprised? I was. Never seen them before, these little pea-pod like things that hold future radishes, but it turns out there are special varieties of radish grown just for their seed pod. The guy in the produce section encouraged me to try them, so I did and found them good. Crunchy, radish-spicy—a sort of half-way point between radishes, scallions, and snap peas. I plan to use them on top of sesame noodles, if I don’t eat them all out of hand first.
Here’s another surprise: Surprise! It’s almost August. Which means that the Walker’s free summer-defining Movies and Music series in the park is about to debut. The Current is co-presenting this year, so the music is better than ever, and the Walker seems to have programmed the cinema with a theme of the world’s creepiest big-brain art cinema about voyeurism, so, a little something for everyone I guess. The four-week schedule: August 1, Haley Bonar and the Hitchcock movie Rear Window; August 8, No Bird Sing and Fritz Lang’s creepy 1,000 Eyes of Dr. Mabuse; August 16, Buffalo Moon and Antonioni’s Blow Up; and August 22 sees Dark Dark Dark headline followed by the Fritz Lang film Spies.
Why am I telling you about this music series? Because I have another surprise! And it all goes together.
The Smack Shack will be setting up in front of Nick and Eddie every Monday for the rest of the summer to sell their lobster rolls. I know this because Nick and Eddie general manager Doug Anderson called me up to tell me how thrilled he was. Why would an established brick-and-mortar restaurant paying brick-and-mortar rents, salaries, utilities, and taxes invite a food truck to park out front? Doesn’t that contradict what everyone knows to be the natural antagonism between trucks and architecture? No, says Anderson: Nick and Eddie is typically closed on Mondays, and this arrangement is a win-win, allowing the chef and cooks to keep getting a night off every week, while allowing Nick and Eddie to make money on alcohol and dessert sales. (If you go, don’t skip dessert. Pastry chef Jessica Anderson is a local legend. If they have anything with peaches in it, get it, and miss the butterscotch pudding at your peril!)
So, this food truck/restaurant pair is allowing Nick and Eddie to be a better employer to its employees, and it also gives Doug Anderson a new night to program music into, which he is now doing in partnership with First Avenue’s legendary former booker Steve McClellan. To wit: Do you recall the seminal punk band Television, and Television’s guitar hero Richard Lloyd? He’ll be playing at Nick and Eddie on August 1. (And also on July 27.) So, on August 1 you could potentially eat the best lobster roll this side of the Mississippi River, watch Haley Bonar, have some butterscotch pudding and a bourbon, and then watch Richard Lloyd from Television! That ain’t a bad Monday night.
Anderson tells me they’re working out details for another amazing Monday, with McLellan’s deep contacts, and it’s a weird one. Remember the 1980’s new-wave band Men Without Hats? Of course you remember their song “Safety Dance.” (Ah ha! Now, how much will you pay me to get that song out of your head? Sorry, it can’t be done. Well, it can be done, but at great cost. So, don’t read this if you’re not prepared for that great cost, but: We will, we will, rock you! Rock you! We will, we will rock you! Rock you! Buddy you’re a big man.. ) Silly. But yes, I’m told Men Without Hats will be coming to Nick and Eddie sometime before the snow flies, likely on a Monday lobster roll night.
Now, what to do on Tuesdays? Try the Pizza Farm in Stockholm, Wisconsin, reviewed in the Minnesota Monthly now on the stands. Wednesdays I guess you’re free, and Thursdays, Gather! I’ve only been once to the Walker Art Center’s only-on-Thursday dinner, but so far I am dazzled: The view, the modestly ambitious but elegantly executed menu. Some highlights: A tuna crudo with a light papaya salad and jewel-like sections of a vif orange, and one of the nicest chicken dishes I’ve had all years, a breast quarter marinated in buttermilk, covered with fresh herbs, and pan-sauteed until it was crisp and tender. It was served with a fresh poached artichoke heart, sweet peas, chard, and a fresh and tender tangle of burrata—that utterly fresh cheese that every other chef in town utterly bungles.
I’ll admit I was wary of D’Amico’s announced intentions with Gather, to have a new prominent guest chef every month—was this going to be a new Ringo, with the kitchen madly shifting cuisines every few weeks? But when I visited guest chef Alex Roberts of Alma and Brasa fame, he merely had two appetizers on chef Josh Brown’s menu, and they seemed more in Brown’s vernacular (a little Asian, a little spare) than in Roberts’ own (a lot local). All in all, I’m very excited for my next visit. Hats off to chef Josh Brown. If the Gather I saw on my first visit is the Gather that continues, he’s made a restaurant worth visiting.
I told you it was a surprising summer.