Category Archives: cocktails

Butcher & the Boar


On that beautiful afternoon last August when we took my mom down Nicollet Mall in downtown Minneapolis, we decided to take a little walk further. Rob and I hadn’t yet been to The Butcher and the Boar, but we had heard that it had a fantastic patio. We had to wait a bit in a line outside because it wasn’t quite yet open.

¬†As you may guess, Butcher and the Boar is all about the meat! The outdoor patio is huge and meant for a crowd. It’s a little oasis downtown.

And I’m guessing they are dog friendly. ūüėČ The poster below shows the weekly dog event last summer! I’m not sure if it is going on again this year… But if I lived much closer, I’d probably be there!

Butcher & the Boar is known for their chef-crafted meats. In the Twin Cities, you can find their sausages in some of the local grocery stores! We ran the gamut on our choices that day…

To be quite honest, I don’t remember if that was a sausage or a brat or what, but I’m guessing Rob ordered it! Their menu changes all of the time, so what we ate last August might not be available now anyway.

I’m guessing this is what my mom ordered. She loves a good burger! But I could be wrong, maybe Mom got the sausage and Rob the burger. All I know is that they both loved their meats!

I have no idea why I chose wings. I’m not really a wing person, but they must have sounded good at the time. Though I don’t remember why, I do remember that they were a little disappointing. Carrie, next time get the real meat! I remember also enjoying some local craft beers and ciders and that Bourbon was a big deal here as well.

Looking at these photos has me wanting to get back to the Butcher and the Boar soon. Anyone want to join us?!

What’s your favorite meat of choice?


Family in Town {Last Year!}


I wrote most of this post last August, but never published it! ¬†I changed nothing, but added the end… Enjoy!


Written 8/31/16…

I have been anxiety-ridden for about the past month. I always thought I dealt fairly well with change, but apparently not! Luckily, my mom came to visit me for a week. Having family in town distracted me from thinking (or feeling frozen) too much.

You know your mom loves you when she comes to visit you for a week, without a car, even when you have to work!

Why did she not have a car? Because the first weekend, my brother and Co. dropped her off. We had a lovely time, but unfortunately, I didn’t get any photos of the usual stuff – like playing poker or taking our annual trip to Burger Jones.

However, for some reason we decided to capture the moment my brother introduced all of his home brews! I find the expressions in these photos funny, so I thought I’d share them with you:

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My brother has a decade+ long obsession with duct tape. That’s why labeling his bottles with such is so fitting! I was quite impressed by his brews. We are looking forward to trying more in the future.

While our dogs both have really taken to all four of the kids, for some reason, Sham usually will end up hanging with Max.

The kids had their usual swimming and MOA time, but we had a bit of adult time, too. We didn’t take JR on an afternoon-long brewery tour like we did for his birthday that one time, but we did introduce him to the one not too far from us that had finally arrived south of the the river – Nutmeg. Let me tell you, they have really upped their game since the first time I posted. There are new brewers that craft some exceptional beers in the smallest room possible. The food is exceptional… and there are even cocktails on the menu now.

This photo of her cocktail and a Nutmeg brew is courtesy of my brother’s wife, D. I like how she¬†got the photo of Rob’s and my noses almost touching!


My mom really likes those keg lights hanging from the ceiling^^. And we have to say, dessert there is divine, too. But there is a total disagreement on which dessert is better, the Porter Brownie Sundae or the Amber Toffee Cake.


The reason I never finished that post was that I had more to say. I often try to put too much into one post and then it never gets published! I need to remember to break things up. What I wanted to add was more of what happened that week with my mom!

For example, on a beautiful afternoon, we took her to Nicollet Mall to enjoy some of our favorites: such as a Cheese Toastie on the rooftop of Brit’s Pub while watching Lawn Bowling, a pint of cider or a Big Ginger at The Local and these Brie Curds with Blueberry Ketchup at The News Room:

It was such a lovely day that day (I remember it well!) that we took a little walk to a hip outdoor patio to which Rob and I had not yet been. I’ll leave that one for another post. ūüėČ

Better late then never, right?

What photos have brought back wonderful memories to you lately?



5 for Friday: St. Patrick’s Day Edition!


Taking a break from the books this week since it’s St. Paddy’s Day! I’m not Irish, but sometimes I celebrate like I am. ūüôā

Here are 5 of my St. Paddy’s Day Faves:

  1. Food:

    • Creamy Reuben Soup – I made this for the first time on Wednesday. My husband devoured nearly 3 bowls of it! (For the record, I loved it, too.) Okay, so Reubens are not technically Irish, but the corned beef and sauerkraut (cabbage), makes me feel like Reubens kind of are… ¬†Besides, a local bar always makes a version that Rob always dreams of this time of year. I wanted to see if I could do it justice. The verdict? This one might be better. Make it no!¬†Side Note: I never really had a Reuben sandwich until I met Rob. He and his parents always ordered them when we ate out!
    • Corned Beef and Cabbage – Truth be told, this is not a traditional Irish dish either! It’s more Irish-American. This was our go-to recipe every year, a few years back. I don’t think I’ll be making it again, though. The Soup has won out for eternity.
    • Irish Bread – I think Irish Soda Bread might be Irish-American, too. I don’t remember ever having that when I was in Ireland.I do miss their brown bread, though! Maybe I’ll have to try whip up a batch of that next year. Anyone have a fave recipe?
  2. Drinks:

    • Guinness – People think that Guinness is such a heavy beer because it is dark and maybe also because of the foamy head.¬†While it may be heavier than the lager you are drinking, Guinness really isn’t as think or full-bodied as you¬†may¬†think it is. There are several stouts that have much more flavor and richness than Guinness. So give it a try! Sometimes, I’ll drink a Guinness when I want something lighter – it has so¬†fewer¬†calories than many other beers! Plus, there are so many concoctions you can make, including the Black Velvet in this post.
    • Whiskey – I’m not much of a whiskey drinker, but my husband and friend Jen tend to like Johnny Jump Ups (a shot of whiskey in cider). But we did do a tasting while in Ireland. So much fun!
    • Irish Sangria – Want something a little nontraditional and fit for the beautiful weather we are supposed to have this weekend? Try the Irish Sangria in my Sangria post!
  3. Entertainment:

    • Irish Music – You can’t easily¬†find trad¬†in the U.S. but when you do, especially on this special day, it’s wonderful. We love the music at St. Paul’s FREE Irish Fair every August. And we go to see¬†the¬†non-traditional, but always fun Gaelic Storm whenever they are in town!
  4. Memories:

    • My friend Jen and I started a tradition when we backpacked Europe after college to find an Irish Pub in every country. My husband and I carry on this tradition to this day whenever we travel like we did here, here, here,¬†here, here and here.
    • Almost two¬†of those 10 weeks¬†backpacking in¬†Europe backpacking were spent in Ireland. I was most at peace in Dingle. I still remember that day and the calm I felt on the boat while in search of a the view of Fungie¬†the dolphin. Although, hanging with my friend Colm in¬†Dublin and Dundalk¬†was wicked fun!
    • Then we took a family trip to Ireland with Rob’s parents in 2012. Here’s a link to my last post¬†about that wonderful¬†trip. If you scroll down to the bottom of that post, you’ve got a link to all of my posts about that trip on the bottom. We were chauffeured around The Isle by Ray with Walk with Me¬†and made some friends with locals in Dublin. {Hi Ross!} We do need to plan a trip back. {Sigh.}| I haven’t seen the south yet!
  5. Lastly:

    • Our very own Shamrock:


Happy St. Paddy’s Day!

What is your favorite thing about this holiday?


Ch√Ęteau Frontenac


The Ch√Ęteau Frontenac is probably the most recognized building in all of Quebec. It’s certainly recognized as the most photographed hotel in the world!


I think this is because of it’s monstrosity and how it sits elevated above the St. Lawrence River. But you can capture photos of it from so many different vantage points!


I’m sure the views are breathtaking from the highest stories, too. Even if you are not staying in this hotel, it’s worth a look inside. It’s quite grand! And while we’re at it, we were told to stop for a cocktail in the bar or lunch in the cafe.


I was not aware that this was a wine and cheese bar! If I had known that I would have made cheese my dinner. ūüėČ {Instead, this was a night-cap.} The bar itself is a beautiful site. We tried to get a seat near the window facing the St. Lawrence, but all were taken. ¬†To the bar it was!

There were a few different drink menus, but I liked this one which included the recipes:


That ^^ is exactly the drink I ordered. Beautiful!


As expected, the drinks were a bit spendy. But this was a special treat for us. Rob ordered a Stinger, which has 989+ different versions. But together with the ambiance, our cocktails and experience at the Ch√Ęteau Frontenac¬†were magical.


What do you like to splurge on when you travel?

If you want to catch up on my previous posts covering our trip to Quebec:



Quebec City – Outside the Walls


We loved exploring the city of Quebec! And although we loved staying in Vieux-Quebec, the vieille ville, some of the best little spots we found were located outside the walls of the fortified Old Town.

First up is Rob’s best hot dog of his life… {I can’t argue; it was pretty damn good!}

If you exit the Porte Saint Louis of the old town along Rue Saint Louis, the street becomes the Grande All√©e. It’s along here that you’ll find L’Inox Brasserie {brewery},¬†which we visited on our first day¬†after¬†we had lunch. Still, we perused their menu, on¬†which the Deluxe European Hot-Dog was highly recommended.


After Rob saw one of those hot dogs served to another patron, he declared that we were coming back. It was almost as intense as Michael Scott declaring bankruptcy:

And so we did. And we were blown away. You see, this Deluxe European Hot-Dog {I love how they hyphenate it!} is not only made with specialty meats, but it is also served in a baguette. Yes, I said in, not on, like on a bun.


This is because a hole is poked through each baguette with a warm pointy device {technical term}. The result is that warm doughy interior and the crunchy baguette exterior surrounding the entire hot dog. Genius.

We both tried to capture the guy prepping the baguettes on video; but it was challenging trying to keep all of the employees’ faces out of the shot. We didn’t get a good enough video;¬†but here is a teaser… It’s quick! So look carefully at the top of the screen and replay if you need to! Tee hee. I wish I knew how to make a GIF.

Inox has a few guest taps in addition to their own. That day, I went with the¬†Mystique Sparkling Cider. I love that they don’t ever put ice in the glass when serving cider, which is becoming more and more common in The States and was always assumed when we were in Ireland.


Oh! There was also the beef jerky. Rob loved the fact he could find that on a menu!

After Rob’s epic hot-dog experience, we continued to walk along the Grande All√©e further away from the Old Town. We had intended to go far enough to take another street that intersects Rue Saint Jean. We had a list of little recommended hot spots we wanted to check out on that street. It was time for some hopping!

But along the Grande All√©e,¬†I spotted this cute little church with the doors swung open. It had a sign that read in French, “For Lease. For all types of business.”


But the doors where open and from across the street I could tell that there some lights strung about. Was it a bar or restaurant? I had been to a church-turned-bar in Belfast back in 2000. I was curious…

But it was even better. Here is what we found:


This was a secondhand book sale! I was in heaven. I could have spent hours in here just looking… There were hundreds and hundreds of books in this run-down church. It was really in need of repair. It would be so beautiful! Just look at the stained glass and tiles on the walls…


There was a small section with books in English. However, most of all of the books and albums were in French.


And when I found these, I just had to take a photo for my mom:


Her favorite author’s books all translated in French. ūüôā Finding surprising things like these is why I love exploring new cities!

As we came up on Rue Saint-Jean and were about to take a right to make our trek down it back toward the old town, I¬†saw a sign to the left that read, Le Projet¬†–¬†Sp√©cialit√© Microbrasseries”.¬†I knew what each of the words meant, but I couldn’t determine what the building was.¬†My first thought was that it was a home-brew supply store called Le Projet¬†{The Project – great name} that specialized in microbrews.

But then I took a peak around the corner. The room was filled with people sitting at tables! It was a little bar, gastropub actually, that specialized in microbrews!


I ordered the Boréale Concombre & Basilic (cucumber and basil) beer Рtap handle on the far right.


It was a saison-style beer. Rob hates saisons and he hates cucumbers. So I guess it was kind of mean of me to offer him to try it without him knowing what it was. He hated it instantly! I just wanted him to have an open mind before he knew what the beer was!

I’ll tell you this, though, I do like cucumbers. In fact, I LOVE them. I eat them all summer long. But I’ve slowly learned that I don’t like cucumbers in my drinks. I made a mental note. Then I noticed any gin cocktails I saw on menus throughout the trip always had cucumber in them.

Have you ever discovered something surprising in an old building?


Other posts on our trip to Quebec City:

Salsa a la {Closed}… Bob


This month’s Girls’ Dinner Night Out took us out for some Salsa a la Salsa.¬†Rob laughed and said he was so glad he wasn’t included in this. He’s not a huge fan of salsa, nor would he want salsa on top of his salsa. HA!

I had been to Salsa a la Salsa once, probably over 10 years ago near the Convention Center. I didn’t remember much about it. However, we were venturing to their new location – in Uptown.

This was one restaurant where I did not look at the menu before dining. Can you believe it? My friend Jen was certainly surprised. But really, how can you go wrong with Mexican food?


We ordered some cocktails {obvi, not pictured}:

  • El Camino Margarita¬†made with reposado tequila, pomegranate pur√©e, lime juice and grand marnier. <– Kim loved this!
  • House Margarita made with tequila, lemon, lime, orange and agave nectar. Jen realized how spoiled¬†we’ve become about good tequila. Plus, there’s just¬†too much sour mix in¬†most margaritas these days, imho.
  • Paloma made with blanco tequila, grapefruit soda, fresh lime. It just so happens that I had my first Paloma in this very building¬†a couple of years ago when the establishment was Boneyard Kitchen and Bar. {I never did write about that one.}¬†And I fell in love with Palomas!. This one was horrible – completely sour and unbalanced. Oh well.

As I know how much I tend to fill up on chips and guac at Mexican restaurants and then tend to overdue it on the entree, I decided to order some soup instead. Both the Cilantro Chicken Soup and the Pozole de Pollo sounded great. I was really in the mood for chicken, specifically shredded chicken. Is that weird? I made my choice based on the recommendation of our server:

Pozole de Pollo traditional pre-columbian soup; shredded chicken, hominy, guajillo, oregano, served with tostada 5.75 / 7.95

Pozole de Pollo –¬†traditional pre-columbian soup; shredded¬†chicken, hominy, guajillo, oregano,¬†served with tostada $7.95

The juicy shredded chicken was just what I wanted! The tostada on the side was a nice, refreshing accompaniment, too. However, the flavor of the soup was a bit boring. That was, until I realized under those limes was some onion and cilantro to dump in it… DOH!

Kim’s tamales looked out of this world. That sauce and all that cheesy goodness!

Tamales de Pollo two chicken tamales with green sauce, melted cheese, served with Spanish rice and refried beans. Ala carte 12.95

Tamales de Pollo  two chicken tamales with green sauce, melted cheese, served with Spanish rice and refried beans $12.95

But I think Jen, probably ordered the healthiest and most desirable dish {to me anyway!}

Plato de Barbacoa slowly braised beef with avocado leaf, onion, tomato, pickled jalape√Īos 16.95

Plato de Barbacoa –¬†slowly braised beef with avocado leaf, onion,¬†tomato, pickled jalape√Īos $16.95

The juicy, flavorful barbacoa couldn’t have been better. Those green beans were well-seasoned such that I wanted to eat them like fries. Jen barely made a dent in that plate. I think she took home what could have been two or three more servings. I’d definitely get this dish next time!

Oh, and BTW, the Traditional Guacamole rocked.


And in GDNO tradition, we headed to a new-to-us coffee shop:


We generally choose our coffee shops based on proximity to the restaurant. Kim is usually in charge of searching for one once we get into the car. ūüôā

What I really liked about Bob’s was that dogs are allowed!¬†There was one beautiful dog there while we were and treats on the counter for those who bring them in. ¬†Also, this…

I don’t quite understand the significance of the number 33 everywhere; but Bob’s Java Hut¬†was great for handcrafted cuppa and conversation regardless.


What are your favorite Mexican style foods?

Name a place you are happy {or unhappy} that dogs are allowed!


Monello – Italian Coastal Cuisine


MotorettaCarpano Bianco, Genepy, Gin, Orange Bitters -$8


RED PRAWN – Charmoula & Ramps -$15


GRILLED OCTOPUS – with Pine Nuts, Paprika & Grilled Cucumber -$18

She loved it! The octopus, understandably, reminded her of calamari. Then came our pasta courses. All the pasta is made fresh and in-house here! You have the option of ordering a small or large portion. Sally and I both went with smalls because we had our starters.

FAZZOLETTI with Poached Lobster, Hazelnuts & Saffron 12/19

FAZZOLETTI –¬†with Poached Lobster, Hazelnuts & Saffron $12/$19

Sally said she wanted something with a rich sauce, but the fazzoletti dish¬†wasn’t rich at all. I think he may have recommended it because it was a brown butter sauce and perhaps one of the “richest” on the menu.


RICOTTA TORTELLI – with Preserved Lemon, Ramps & Asparagus $11/$18

Ryan and I both ordered the Tortelli. The difference between the small and the large was four versus eight tortelli, respectively. You can’t see the beautiful tortelli in this photo, but it was phenomenal – fresh-made and delicate with pillowy ricotta inside. The sauce was like a pesto. This was my favorite dish of the night… and pretty much everyone else’s, too!

Rob had a large serving of pasta for his main course. There wasn’t much on the menu he could have, being that the focus at Monelli is on seafood.¬†Have you noticed how beautifully plated everything is? I felt like we were on Top Chef.


AGNOLOTTI with Roasted Beets, Goat Cheese & Sweet Sausage $12/$19

I was surprised that Rob ordered this dish because of the goat cheese, of which he is not a fan. He expected a few little clumps of it. However, the dish tasted very much of goat cheese because the agnolotti were filled with it. He said he could still appreciate the perfectly cooked pasta. Unfortunately, he only had three little pieces of sausage. Although he did like this dish, he much preferred my pasta to his.

When you are at a restaurant that prides itself on offering Italian Coastal Cuisine, get the seafood, right?! I really wanted the scallops, even though the description sounded a bit boring.


SAUTEED SEA SCALLOPS with Zucchini, Tomato, Eggplant & Red Wine Vinegar $29

And it really was. The scallops were cooked nicely, but the rest was just… boring. Sally ordered the same. I still liked the crispy basil on the top. And I’m very glad I got a few different courses so that I discovered something I really liked. {The pasta!}

Plus, I asked for a wine pairing recommendation to go with my scallops and got to try a new-to-me varietal!¬†Timorasso, Colli Tortonesi-Derthona La Colombera 2011¬†($15) – described as a “rare varietal from the Piedmont that delivers an umami hit like a secret handshake.” Yes, it was a unique white wine!

While the tortelli seemed to be the star of the entire night for all of us, Ryan said his steak was right on par.

GRILLED BEEF TENDERLOIN with Morel Mushrooms, Romanesco & Red Wine 35

GRILLED BEEF TENDERLOIN with Morel Mushrooms, Romanesco & Red Wine $35

So when in doubt, I’ll go with the steak and pasta here. Monello has received many, many rave reviews. I can see why! While I didn’t love everything I ordered, it’s probably just because of my not-completely-refined tastes. Everything was delicately plated and¬†there was so much attention to detail. The service was top notch, too. Recommendations were always offered and each dish was described as it was delivered.