Even though my front yard landscape was a sullied wasteland of dead leaves, muck, and, strangely, a discarded milk gallon container (If I keep waiting, someone else will pick it up): I have loved this winter warm up. There’s plenty of not painful air on my cheeks for long walks and discovering new eats as I get out and enjoy the brief moments of… well, sort of daylight and the beauty around us. This week, and for several weeks afterwards, I’m using every excuse I can get to get out and share a cocktail with a few friends, light my mouth on fire with new Szechuan food and crush a perfect burger.
Get Belly Up!
I’d first heard about this program as I hear about all things I like and agree with, over Facebook. A couple of friends of mine launched this cool club where you can get free drinks and drinking swag. It’s genius. Go to Get Belly Up and pick what you love to drink—Beer, Booze, or the Best of all things. Memberships start at $25 and go from there. Every time you head into any number of local watering holes (such as Heyday, Black Sheep Pizza, or Ngon) you get a free drink when you whip out your phone and show them your Belly Up membership. I’ve seen plenty of these things, but usually it’s all big, corporate owned restaurants, not these independently owned, local spots. Makes sense, as the guys behind this are a couple of local restaurant enthusiasts. So, not only am I now a member, I’m trying to spread the word, just because FREE DRINKS. Also, there are these really cool pint glasses made by local artists and other benefits. I can’t wait to open my cupboard and find Scott Seekins and Britney Spears staring back at me. You can sign up here, and they’re offering a 10% discount if you enter MNMO at checkout.
Jun’s Szechuan Wontons
There’s a brand new restaurant in Minneapolis’ North Loop restaurant dishing up Szechuan cuisine. Last week I was invited for a little media preview inside the spot and spent some time with owner Jessie (Jun) Wong gushing over the perfection of the Szechuan wontons. Tender dough with a little scoop of filling inside is nestled into a just-spicy-enough-to-share-with-everyone sauce. The space is gorgeous and I know if I lived or worked in this neighborhood, I’d be stopping by often.
Victory 44’s Perfect Burger
Before chef Erick Harcey was nabbing all kinds of headlines with his new Minnesota Nordic Linden Hills restaurant Upton 43, he was laboring away in Minneapolis’ Victory neighborhood at his first restaurant. The cozy spot continues to serve all kinds of comforting cuisine, but that perfect burger, served with French fries topped with bacon powder—a gimmick that totally works, remains a signature dish. That’s why I’m teaching a class with him at Kitchen in the Market on Monday where everyone can learn just how to make that meaty masterpiece. While those tickets are sold out (although, there’s a waiting list), you can still eat the burger right at home in the north metro.
We’re working on our next class in the series, if you’ve got a chef dish that you’d love to learn to cook at home, Tweet me @JoyEstelle!