Tag Archives: organic

Signature Café & The Craftsman

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I really, wanted to like Signature Café when I went there with the girls last weekend. It’s a small restaurant that focuses on local and sustainable foods and wines. I’m all about supporting that kind of thing!

When I pulled up the menu online, I saw that they have a Chef’s Tasting Menu that changes weekly for just $30! This includes four courses that change weekly. Wine Pairing can be added for $15. When I read this menu for the week, I was stoked:

  • Crostini with Pesto, Tomato, and Fresh Mozzarella
  • Spinach Salad with Dried Cranberries, Candied Pecans, Goat Cheese and Red Onion Balsamic Vinaigrette
  • Cumin Chicken Breast with Smoked Tomato Rice and Chorizo Greens
  • Chocolate Cake with Butterscotch Drizzle

Every piece of that menu intrigued me! However, in talking with the girls on our way to the restaurant, I learned that I had mistaken. This was the 4-course meal for the following week. I totally missed the current menu, which consisted of some barbecue beef, firecracker coleslaw and basically nothing which suits my palate. I was going to have to order off the menu.

Signature Café is located in a beautiful residential neighborhood of the Prospect Park/East River Road area of Minneapolis. It was too cold to sit out in the outdoor patio, but I loved the twinkle lights! And the ambiance inside was cozy, too.

The Wine

There were some unique wines on the menu. I was quite surprised to see a wine from Traverse City, Michigan on it! I haven’t seen those wines outside of Michigan before. It must have made Signature’s menu due to the vineyard’s sustainability.

Since we all decided that we were either having chicken or fish, we selected a Pinot Gris, from the Willamette Valley in Washington:

I have to admit, I cannot describe this wine. We had no problem knocking it back, but I can’t tell you much about it. I think I was lost in the conversation with the girlies!

The Food

To be quite honest, we were all underwhelmed by our food. The flavors weren’t all that enticing and it tasted more like a home-cook made them. When I dine out, I want it to taste better than that.

056The bread in the bucket was a cute touch. The bread is supposed to be homemade, but was kind of mushy and not very satisfying. I’d pass up on the bread bucket next time.

Pan Seared Wild Atlantic Salmon with Roasted Mixed Vegetables and Roasted New Potatoes

Pan Seared Wild Atlantic Salmon with Roasted Mixed Vegetables and Roasted New Potatoes

Kim’s piece of salmon was huge! She orders salmon a lot and was unimpressed by this one. She was bummed when on her first bite, it tasted fishy. Yes, it’s fish, but it shouldn’t taste the way it did.

Pasta with Scallops

Pasta with Scallops

Jen chose the featured pasta, which I believe was dressed with a white wine sauce. She said the scallops were cooked just fine; but that the dish, overall, was bland. It, too, was a lot of food. She took the leftovers home.

Lemon Thyme Broiled Chicken Breast with Risotto and Sauteed Greens

Lemon Thyme Broiled Chicken Breast with Risotto and Sauteed Greens

There is a reason why you don’t see “chicken breast” on many restaurant menus. They aren’t very exciting and anyone can make them. I chose it because the seasoning sounded good and the dish sounded healthier. However, it did taste like something I could just make at home. {If I can ever make chicken!} And it wasn’t trimmed. I got a few of those fatty, grizzly, cartilage-y pieces on the edges. Ewwww!

The risotto was a tomato and spinach one with gorgonzola. It wasn’t bad. And the sauteed greens were seasoned nicely.

One of the things I really did like about Signature Café was that you can pick your own sides.

The other thing I liked? They belong to a program called Eatiply. It’s a meal-for-meal donation program. For each meal that you purchase at an Eatiply-participating restaurant, a meal is donated to local food banks to help fight hunger. It’s the first time I’d heard of such a thing. Kudos to Signature Café for participating!

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Do you ever find that when you aren’t satisfied with a meal, you just want something else? I mean, you might not necessarily be hungry, but your lack of satisfaction leaves you with an empty sort of feeling.

This happens to me when I put all my love and care making something and it turns out okay enough to eat, but not something I’d make again.

Well, we wanted dessert.

I can’t speak for the other girls if this feeling was the case for them that evening. But Kim said that she was in the mood for dessert. I suggested that since this place didn’t satisfy us that we go somewhere else for a sweet treat. We each got out our Smartphones and used various apps to find something close by with dessert.

Enter: The Craftsman.

It’s not a dessert-specific place, but it was nearby and after pulling up the menu and finding Izzy’s Ice Cream along with some delectable sounding desserts, we were sold.

We had no idea how busy it would be, if they’d have room for us or if it would be strange there to just pop in for dessert. But everything worked out just fine.

It was too dark in there for photos. No would do these desserts justice anyway. But he’s an account of our experience…

  • We sat at the bar and had the best bartender ever! You’ll read why below.
  • Jen and I have already experienced the wonderfulness that is Izzy’s Ice Cream. Kim was an Izzy’s virgin. She is no longer!
  • When we couldn’t decide on the exact desserts, not only did our bartender tell us her favorites, but she also gave us suggestions on how to add to them!
  • For example, she said that she likes to get the Cinnamon Sugar Beignets with a scoop of Izzy’s Ice Cream on the side.
  • I was conflicted. I considered the Chocolate Torte so that I could pair it with a glass of Port.
  • The Dessert Menu also listed an Orange Muscat {dessert wine} that I thought might work well with the beignets. When I asked the bartender what she thought, she let me sample the port and muscat side-by-side!
  • I chose the beignets, ice cream and orange muscat in the end because how often do you get that combo for dessert?!
  • FIVE beignets arrived on a plate! While they were nothing like I’ve had in New Orleans, they were delectable. I passed one each over to Kim and Jen.
  • They both got the Apple Crisp with Izzy’s Salted Caramel Ice Cream.
  • They could have split one of these huge desserts! They took a bite, finished their ice cream and ended up taking the majority of their crisps home to warm up for breakfast.
  • Jen said the crisp was nothing like her mom’s, but she still loved it!
  • Jen also got a coffee with Bailey’s to warm up and our best-bartender-ever offered splashes of coffee to warm it up whenever it looked like she might need it.

I was the creepy girl at the bar asking the guy next to her anything and everything about his burger. He saw me eyeing it when we arrived, so I took the opportunity to have the discussion. It looked like one Rob would love! It’s another restaurant that supports local farmers who use sustainable and organic practices. And with four local beers on tap, I think I just may be taking a trip back.

Do you ever go out just for dessert?

What’s your favorite place to have dessert where you live?

Cheers~
Carrie

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Seaweed in My Food Boxes

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Subscription Box Saturday: Food Box Edition

My June food boxes had something in common. They both came with seaweed. It turns out, I don’t mind the stuff when it comes to sushi, but I’m not a fan of the snacking kind.

Goodies Box – June 2013

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Pringles Stix Cheese Flavor – Rating: 4/5 | These were good. They are kind of like Cheez-its, a bit better, but in stick form. Would I buy them? Probably not. I just don’t buy that sort of snacky food. Would I eat them if put in front me? Yes!

STAX Que Rico – Adobadas Chips – Rating: 3/5 | These taste like chili powder flavored Pringles. They are fine, but not a favorite.

Duchy Originals – Highland Shortbread – Rating: 3/5 | These taste pretty authentic for shortbread, buttery and not too sweet.

Smooch Snacks Snacks – Apple, Raspberry, Peach, Chia & Acerola – Rating: 3/5 | I’ve sampled a lot of these pre-packaged fruit-sauces over the last few months. I like them because they are a very convenient way to get in your daily servings of fruit. The flavor combo was a little strange, but I didn’t mind it. I liked that the raspberry seeds were in there. (Or was that from the chia seeds?) It gave it a little more texture than the other ones on the market.

Gimme Health – Cheddar Cheese Seaweed Crumbles – Rating: 2/5 | I really wanted to like these. The cheddar was a nice touch, but seaweed snacks are still not for me.

Dream Water NightTEA Night – Rating: 2/5 | This is the opposite of 5-Hour Energy. Or at least that’s the impression I get with the packaging. I hadn’t been sleeping well lately, so I gave it a shot. No such luck.

From this photo, you’d think that this box was packaged really well:

Goodies-2But it wasn’t. The shortbread, half of the STAX chips and some of the Pringles Stix came in pieces. Too bad. 😦

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Love with Food – June 2013

LWF-3(Sorry for the blurry photo.)

Do More Bars Gluten-Free Pineapple Coconut Cereal Bar – Rating: 4/5 | These are very good! I like the coconut pineapple flavor. They are just not something I would normally buy.

Soy Joy Bar – Rating: 2/5 | I’m just not a fan of these. I like other bars so much better. I’m not big into processed soy products either, but that’s just my personal preference.

Surf Sweets Organic Gummy Bears – Rating: 4/5 |I haven’t had gummy bears in forever. These taste good, as far as gummy bears go. If you are going to give something like this to your kids, you might as well give them some that are GMO-free and without HFCS.

Seaweed Love Roasted Seaweed Snack – Rating: 1/5 | As I mentioned earlier, I don’t mind nori when it comes to sushi, but these just aren’t my thing.

Turbana Sweet Platain Chips – Rating: 3/5 | I liked these. I think I had the salted ones before, but these are lightly sweet. Although, Kim at Living, Laughing & Losing makes her own all the time.

Flavrz Organic Liquid Drink Mix – Superfruit Flavor – Rating: 3/5 |Just add the liquid mix to a bottle of water. This was okay. I think they are supposed to be a slightly healthier alternative to Crystal Light packets. Not sure it’s something I’d run out and buy, though.

PUR Pomegranate Mint Chewing Gum – Rating: 2/5 | I was really excited to try this flavor of gum. However, the flavor did not last long and the gum quickly became hard. 😦

Smooze All Natural Conconut + Mango Fruit Ice – Rating: 4/5 | These are a nice twist on Push-Ups! It arrived in my box unfrozen of course, but I was instructed to pop it in the freezer. Shamrock wanted some and tried to steal a lick!

LWF-4

Then I realized that there were two more items in the box:

LWF-2

GoOrganic Apple & Blood Orange Hard Candies – 4/5 – It’s hard candy that’s organic. It tastes like hard candy. Not much more to say!

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My lessons learned this week:

1) I’m not a fan of seaweed snacks.

2) Although it’s fun trying these food products, it’s a rare occasion when I’ll actually buy them myself. For now, most of them are just nice little treats.

What treats are nice when someone else gives them to you, but you wouldn’t necessarily buy them yourself?

Cheers~
Carrie

The Homegrown Experience

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As I mentioned, this past weekend, after my cooking and cleaning frenzy, my friend Jen and I attended The Homegrown Experience at the beautiful Nicollet Island Pavilion in Minneapolis.

I would have never known about this if if wasn’t for Goldstar. It’s a another Daily Deal site. And you know how I love those! I would have never known about this event if I hadn’t received the email. And this was its third year in existence! Since I prefer to eat and cook with fresh, quality ingredients and I love supporting the local community, I jumped at the chance to check this it out.

Upon checking in, we received bags and wine glasses along with some coupons and advertisements. This was included in the ticket price as well as the tasting samples we were about to receive!

I really wouldn’t have called it a “Food and Wine Festival” as Goldstar described. There wasn’t much wine being poured. However, despite my affection for wine, that wasn’t my reason for being there. I wanted to learn more about local, organic and sustainable food in the Twin Cities metro area.

And so we did.

There were so many wonderful samples that I’m sure we made a meal out of it. There were all sorts of vendors including co-ops, non-profits and restaurants that use local or sustainable ingredients. Products included wine, beer, spices, bbq sauces, chocolates and candies, oils, coffee, beauty products, cheese, ice cream and more. We made our way through all of the booths, but patience was key. There were so many people! The lines were long and went extremely slowly. Some people popped in and out of booths, which caused even greater delays in the lines. I’m not sure if the lines were meant to be there, or if we, as the crowd, created them though!

My favorite bite was provided by one of the Eastside Co-op – just a simple crostini with colorful tomatoes, basil and a drizzle of olive oil. They had some excellent chocolate we nibbled on as well.

Truth be told, while I recognized some of the restaurants, I was unaware of the majority of the businesses showcasing their products and services! I collected a lot of brochures, pamphlets and business cards. In fact, now that I think about it, I picked up a few magazines/catalogs, too. In my weekend cleaning frenzy, they must have ended up in a pile somewhere. I have to find them! I’m most looking forward to the current issue of Edible Twin Cities!

However, probably the most interesting discovery to us was Twin Cities Local Food. When we approached their both, we saw this:

Camelina Oil

What’s camelina oil?” You ask? I did, too. Camelina is a wild flax chock full of those healthy omega-3 fatty acids. You can learn more about camelina here. The camelina oil was used in a dressing and bread was offered for dipping to sample. But why was Twin Cities Local Food showcasing it?

Because local farmers and producers of local food products are offered through the Twin Cities Local Food online marketplace! As a member, you place your order online by Wednesday morning.  By Thursday afternoon, your order is ready for pickup at the location of your choosing. There is a drop off site in Minneapolis, St. Paul and Savage. SAVAGE! We south-of-the-river girls were excited about that!

We were told that the produce is picked up from local farmers the same day, so everything you get is fresh, fresh. It’s the perfect alternative to a CSA. You get the choice of what you’d like and what you know you will use that week. A win-win! We are seriously thinking of giving this a try. {P.S. It’s a year-round service!}

Currently, memberships with Twin Cities Local Food are $10 for one month, $35 for six months and $50 for a year. You can even place two orders without a membership just to give it a try. But really, $50 a year? If you go once a week, that’s less than a $1 to have fresh, local produce of your choosing delivered to one location? Or, look at it this way: It’s less than $4 a month. You’d pay more for shipping on anything you order online!

Why don’t I just give it try and let you know what I think…

Where is your favorite place to shop for fresh, local produce?

Cheers~
Carrie

First CSA Box of the Season – What’s in it?

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I picked up our first CSA Box of the season this week!

When I’ve talked about my CSA box, I’ve had people ask me, “What’s that?”

I don’t really know how I’ve come to learn about CSA – Community Supported Agriculture. Maybe it was when our friend Lisa was chopping yellow summer squash when we visited her and her husband up at their cabin. She gave me a piece and told me to taste it.

RAW? Raw yellow squash? I had never heard of anyone eating such a thing. Besides, it had only been during college that I started eating the stuff. I took the piece from her and gave it a try anyway.

I couldn’t believe the flavor – and it wasn’t even COOKED! That was the best yellow squash (to this day) that I’d ever had. It came from her CSA box, also know as a Farm Box.

Maybe that’s when I looked up CSAs online to learn more about them.

Community Supported Agriculture is catching on more than ever now. It’s about consuming local produce when it’s fresh and at its best. In essence, you are eating food when it is in season and supporting the local community at the same time. Food tastes better not only when it is in season, but when it doesn’t have far to travel to you. The fresher the better, right? And you know that I’m all about flavor, right? Oftentimes, farms that participate grow their crops organically, or as organically as possible without having the expensive certification.

How it Works

You can buy a membership or subscription to a local farm participating in CSA. At regular intervals (generally, each week), a box of produce will be put together for you to either pick up or be dropped off at a pre-determined site. I chose our CSA last year primarily based on the drop-off site location. I wanted to make sure that it would be convenient enough that I wouldn’t have to go out of my way to pick it up or feel like I had to skip retrieving it because I didn’t have time.

Shoot, the drop-off site is less than a 5k away from our home at a little co-op grocery store. {And no, I will not be running there and then back with a box full of heavy veggies!} What’s great is that I can stop and get any last minute groceries there if I need them, too. During this first pick-up, samples of this scrumptious snack made me put them in my cart:

Fun, Minnesota-made snack. Only 3 ingredients. Check them out! Softer than a popcorn kernel, but crunchier than popcorn. WARNING: addictive!

Each CSA does things differently, but ours has different sized boxes for different prices. Last year, my friend Jen and I split the Chica box from Featherstone Farm. It was the smaller of the two boxes offered {the other option was the Grande}, and we knew that if we each got one ourselves, that it was just going to be too much stuff to try to use up during the week. The Chica box is meant for a family of two or three. This year, our CSA has added a Solo box, which is meant for one person. My understanding with the Solo box is that the intent is to offer more common stuff and less of the “extras”. Still, we decided to stick with splitting the Chica this year. We’ll take note of what comes in each box to help make our decision for next year.

At first glance, the cost may sound like a lot. Our Chica box is just under $500 for 20 weeks. {We paid the early bird rate of $480.} But do the math: That’s just $24 per week for fresh, organic produce. I think that’s more than worth it – especially to have it picked for you at its peak. Plus, we split it, so it’s really only $12 for each of us per week. In addition, our CSA provides us information on the crops and how best (or how quickly) we should use them. And just like ours, I’ve found that many CSAs have recipes online, too!

Even though we get an email the week of our pickup about what produce to expect in the box, it still feels like Christmas when I open it up:

Hmm… What do we have here?

What am I going to make?!

Depending on the growing conditions each season, boxes can vary in size. While most boxes are smaller the first week of the season, ours was filled quite nicely this week:

Week 1: garlic scapes, spinach, leaf lettuce, mixed greens, garlic chives, oregano, radishes, rhubarb and asparagus

It looks like we are going to be enjoying some salads! My husband isn’t a huge salad fan. However, when I made him one with greens from our CSA box last year, he said that they were ” the best greens I’ve ever had!”

I’m always looking for ways to use rhubarb, though. I’m not a baker and the whole rhubarb crisp or dessert can get old.

A few things I love about the CSA Box:

  • It’s pre-paid, so I’m getting healthy veggies whether I try to or not!
  • I get to try new produce that I haven’t before and learn how to make it or use.
  • It’s an inexpensive way to support the local community while getting quality, healthy produce.
  • If we are on vacation, we can have a friend pick up the box and they can use the contents; or we can let the CSA know in advance and they will donate it on our behalf.

You can find a CSA in your area if you live in the U.S. by clicking here.

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Questions for you:

Are you a member of a CSA farm? If so, what do you like about it?

How do you use rhubarb?

Oh! And remember, I’ll be running the Dog Day 5k tomorrow. You can still come out and register that morning! There is a half marathon going on around Lake Waconia, too. Come back next week for an update!

Cheers~

Carrie

Peoples Organic Coffee & Wine Café – Edina

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I’d been to Peoples Organic Coffee & Wine Café with a friend once before.

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Now it was time to try it out on Rob. Although Rob loves restaurants that offer quality, fresh ingredients as much as I do, I knew that he already had his mind made up about this place – that he wasn’t going to like it. He didn’t need to say out loud that there were only a handful of items on the menu that suited him {and our Groupon only offered a choice from the Farm-to-Table menu, limiting his options further} or that many of the options were vegetarian, vegan or gluten-free.

So I asked him to keep an open mind.

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We sat at the bar. It’s what we do best. 🙂

I love the bar design and the sunflower seeds instead of popcorn or peanuts!

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Our groupon included one “Light Side” item. We chose the Salami Plate:

nitrate-free salami, smoked prosciutto, taleggio cheese, pepperoncini with house-made crackers & crostini

Our Verdict: We probably wouldn’t have ordered this “Light Side” normally at $15. However, the meats were top quality and the crostini… Oh my! Rob said that this bread has now beat out the bread at La Chaya Bistro! {However, he does note that they are very different from each other: crostini vs. soft bread, so a comparison may not be fair.} Whatever kind of oil they brushed it with had incredible flavor. And the crunch was perfect!

Rob's new favorite bread!

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I ordered the Salmon in Parchment because I loved it so much when I previously dined there with Lisa:

Salmon marinated in ginger & tamari with organic sautéed seasonal vegetables & organic salad with house-made blue cheese dressing

Carrie’s Verdict: I was disappointed with the salmon this time around. It was a little fishy, which masked the ginger and other flavors that I knew were supposed to be there. The greens were still great and the house-made blue cheese dressing was creamy and exceptional. So much so that this may make you cringe: I dipped some of my salmon in the leftover dressing. {Sounds just wrong, doesn’t it?} The vegetables were nicely seared so that the brussels sprouts had a tasty brown, caramelized crust on the cut side. Who knew I would like this vegetable?

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Rob ordered the Grass-fed Cheeseburger:

Thousand Hills beef, swiss cheese, organic bibb lettuce, carmelized onions, tomatoes, aioli and pickles on an organic 100% sprouted wheat bun served with a side of cole slaw

Rob’s Verdict: “This is the best cole slaw I’ve ever had! But I kind of had a feeling it would be the moment I saw it.”

I’ve never heard Rob ever comment on cole slaw before. As for the burger, he gave it a “very good” thumbs up. He said that there was a lot going on with the toppings flavor-wise. I took a bite and particularly liked the caramelized onions. Although, I don’t remember this, Rob said that the tomatoes were actually sun-dried tomatoes, something of which he is normally not a huge fan. And while the high quality beefwas cooked perfectly, the bun left a bit to be desired. It didn’t bother me any, but Rob’s not exactly a whole-grain kinda guy.

We relaxed as we finished our beverages and scanned the crowd. “Wow!” Rob said, “If I were younger and single, this would be the place to meet women!” I laughed and reminded him of a sports bar near our home that is seems to be frequented by single men.

How could we merge the two? We could be matchmakers! Or not. Would the beer-drinking, sports-watching men have anything in common with the organic-loving, health-conscious women? Maybe. After all, Peoples Organic does have three varieties of Surly on tap! {For those of you who are outside of Minnesota, it’s an excellent local craft brew.} There are many more beers by the bottle as well as some unique wines on the menu. A little something for everyone, perhaps…

Would I return?

Probably. The portions seem to be just the right size. It’s a great place to go if you are looking for healthy options. There are several items on the rest of the menu that intrigue me, too. This includes the breakfast menu that is served all day.

Do you like places that serve organic and health-conscious foods?

Have you been to any restaurants lately that have surprised you?

If so, where and why?

Cheers~
Carrie

BLVD Kitchen & Bar – Minnetonka

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A couple of friends and I decided to have dinner together and we needed to find a good meeting point.

My friend chose BLVD Kitchen & Bar in Minnetonka.

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What? Another Twin Cities restaurant unbeknownst to me?

Granted, I don’t get over to the Minnetonka area that often. It’s not far, really. Now that I think about it, we don’t always hear about suburban restaurants. We discover them when we see them. Because they are talked about more often, we tend to be more aware of restaurants located in Minneapolis or St. Paul proper. {That is unless I receive an invitation to buy a Groupon to a suburban restaurant in my inbox.}

As usual, I checked the menu out online and was delighted with what I saw. The burger options looked enticing and although I don’t think I’d order a big burger at this stage in my weight loss, I almost felt bad that I wasn’t bringing Rob along with me. {Almost, but not completely.} 🙂

With all of the good-looking options on the menu, I knew it would make for a difficult decision upon arrival.

We walked in and HOLY HAPPY HOUR! The bar, centered in the middle of the restaurant, was in a nice square shape with folks seated all around it while sipping cocktails, house wine, and $4 beers. If you wanted a seat at the bar, you’d surely be waiting! It was quite lively, too. We were led to a booth and found that the tables situated around the perimeter of the bar were virtually empty. {We did find that they filled quickly after Happy Hour ended.}

Jen and I each ordered a glass of wine while waiting for another friend to arrive. This blog has me realizing that I’ve been ordering a lot of bubbly lately. You see, my husband isn’t a big fan of sparkling wine, so we never order a bottle of it when we are dining out. In addition, it used to be rare that you could find it served by the glass, so I’d order it whenever it presented itself. However, I’ve been noticing that sparkling wine by the glass or the split (187 ml) is being offered more and more lately. Yay me!

Jen asked me if I was familiar with one of the Zinfandels on the list: Lake Sonoma, Dry Creek Valley Zinfandel. While I hadn’t had it before, I told her that Dry Creek Valley is known for high quality zins. It did not disappoint! I was quite impressed for a little wine by the glass. {I generally don’t order wine by the glass, sparkling wine being the exception, but I’ll post why on that subject another day.}

Prosecco & Zinfandel (well, not in the same glass)

So many tempting choices!

I eventually settled on the Grilled Organic Salmon:

grilled salmon, risotto milanese, grilled asparagus with a saffron cream sauce

I knew I wanted seafood and was intrigued by the saffron cream sauce. And I’ve just recently learned the wonders of risotto. I used to think, “What’s the big deal? It’s just rice!” {I know some of you are gasping right now.}

I do know now that risotto done correctly can be a thing of pure heaven. And it came pretty darn close here. What really surprised me was that I didn’t really care for the saffron cream sauce. It was just too much. I’m not sure if the sauce was off, if the flavor just didn’t suit me, or if my palate is just leaning more and more toward the healthier side. In any case, I finished nearly everything else. There was no practicing of the 50% solution here. I had intended to be more mindful, but I just got caught up in the conversation.

My friends ordered the Shrimp Risotto (photo did not turn out, sorry!) and the BLVD Royale with Cheese:

BLVD Royale Burger with American cheese, caramelized onion, "frizzled" onion on a pretzel bun served with Truffle Fries

I had a burger on pretzel bun once before – in Milwaukee! It was actually my favorite part of the burger at that restaurant. And while I don’t think Jen ate the bun here, she said that the burger was oh-so-cheesy! It hit the spot for her that night. The fries were fine, but both Jen and I thought Rob might appreciate them a little bit more than we did. The gorgonzola dipping sauce was a nice touch; however, with the truffle fries it just seemed like the powerful flavors were competing with each other.

By the menu pictures, you can see that this place, like La Chaya Bistro offers many organic and locally farmed items on its menu. That’s something I always like. To me, it means that the staff cares what it is sending out to the diners.

Are there any places that you’ve been to that offer quality ingredients like BLVD or La Chaya?

Are there any restaurants you’ve been meaning to try lately?

La Chaya Bistro – Minneapolis {Closed}

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Remember when I showed you this picture?

It was from a night when my husband I went out and I practiced The 50% Solution.

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My husband likes to surprise me. He knows that the Twin Cities area has a lot to offer in terms of culinary delights. He loves it when he finds a restaurant that I haven’t ever heard of before. In fact, we found one of our favorite “south of the river” restaurants that way.

But this night, my husband drove just 15 minutes to south Minneapolis. {I love where we live!} Before we left, however, I asked him what type of restaurant it was.

“Mexican and Mediterranean,” he said.

I laughed. Who would possibly put Mexican and Mediterranean food together to make a restaurant? He must have been mistaken. He probably meant Mediterranean with a heavier influence on Spanish cuisine.

But I was wrong.

La Chaya Bistro is definitelya combination of Mexican and Mediterranean Cuisine – and the combination actually works very well. {What’s funny is that later that week, we saw Bobby Flay on the Food Network create a sauce that he said was both Mexican and Mediterranean inspired.}

So why Mexican and Mediterranean? The highly skilled chef is from Mexico, but also lived in Southern Italy. You can read more about him here.

One of the things I love about this place is the focus on quality ingredients:

  • Seafood that’s wild-caught and fresh {never frozen}
  • Meat that’s hormone-free and often from grass-fed animals
  • Fruit, vegetables and dairy products that are organic whenever possible
  • House-made pasta, sauces, and chorizo
  • Made-to-order tortillas

What’s more is that the restaurant supports local farmers as much as possible.

And as stated on their website, this is why the restaurant is named La Chaya:

“Chaya is a plant that is native to the Yucatan. It grows in the form of a bush; the leaves are edible and can be used much like spinach. Using this plant as our company name is to represent the freshness of food that grows wild without the use of chemicals. Along with the fact that it grows in Chef Garcia’s native Mexico!”

Because this destination was a surprise, I had no opportunity to check out the menu online beforehand. So I ordered a bit of bubbly and drooled over the options.


The bread you see above looks pretty basic, but is no joke. I have no doubt in my mind that it was one of Rob’s favorite bread baskets ever. I can’t tell you what makes this bread different than others. You’ll just have to try it for yourself!

We started with the Oyster Mushrooms Sautéed with Garlic and Guajillo Chili served with Grilled Bread:

Sometimes I have trouble remembering to take a picture before we dig in!

I wanted to order this because the description reminded me of tapas I’d had in Barcelona, Spain. However, the guajillo chilies gave this dish a unique flavor with just the right amount of heat. I don’t know that I’ve ever had guajillo chilies before, but I can tell you that I’ll have them again! The spice was perfect. I don’t know if that is thanks to the chili itself or to the chef’s ability to work with these ingredients so well, creating that perfect balance. Whatever it may be, I can tell you that this chef knows flavor. This is one place you’ll never find me screaming, “Season It Already!”

Rob ordered :

Housemade Fettuccini in a Light Cream Sauce

This dish is usually prepared with chicken. However, due to his allergies, he asked if he could substitute the housemade chorizo. Talk about flavor!

And while there were several things on the menu I wanted to try, I decided to go with the seafood special: the Mahi Mahi Tacos shown at the top of this post. I just had to have the made-to-order tortillas! While I could only finish one {after a piece of bread and the sautéed mushrooms on grilled bread appetizer}, I was a little nervous about boxing it up to go:

How would this taste the next day? Turns out, it didn’t need any reheating. The fish, salsa, cilantro and tortilla were perfectly fine cold and the guacamole had not browned as much as I had expected. It was a perfect lunch!

I can’t say enough about this restaurant.

The quality ingredients, the talented chef, and even the history behind the decor make it something special. Thank you, Rob! We will most certainly be back.

Cheers~
Carrie