Thank you to my folks for sending us to New York City to celebrate my birthday!
There is a place in Times Square where you can forget that you’re in Times Square.
Times Square is out of control.
The buildings are adorned with towering, skyscraper-tall screens flashing advertisements. The sidewalks and plazas are packed shoulder-to-shoulder with people. Know that you can’t get anywhere quickly.
Even though I was a tourist, I could not wait to get away from the tourists. There is no rhyme or reason to the way people walk down the sidewalks. Hugging the right does not exist. Groups of tourists move through Times Square in big, slow blobs that take-up the entire sidewalk width and abruptly stop.
The air smells like a million different things: Trash. Urine. Bodies. Car exhaust. Cigarettes. Cinnamon roasted candied nuts, falafel, and griddled meats and onions.
Pat’s Tap has many lovely qualities.
If you can forgive Pat for preferring the Packers, you’ll appreciate her generous happy hour, Skee-ball machines and a patio welcoming to pets.
Oh yeah, and the food’s good too.
What I’m here to talk about today is cheese curds.
It’s easy to make OK versions and hard to perfect. Deep frying battered cheese so that it has the ideal taste and texture is a complicated and beautiful thing.
I never want to drink another Wondrous Punch but I have no regrets about trying one.
Until this weekend, I had never had a “Wondrous Punch,” but I’ve always known the name. Most Twin Cities residents do. It’s the signature drink at Red Dragon, a dive bar located on Lyndale in South Minneapolis. As far as I know, Red Dragon’s always been there. The exterior looks the same as it did when I used to drive past every day ten years ago.
People tell their Red Dragon stories wistfully. They typically occurred a while ago and end in “I don’t remember much,” a brawl, or puking. “The Wonderous Punch is really strong,” they add.
Many things in Uptown have changed. When everything becomes newer and shinier, I’m drawn to establishments that keep serving what they’ve always been serving in an unapologetic, irony-free manner. They don’t serve kale salad or change their menu font from Comic Sans because they don’t want to.
I swore I’d always remain loyal to Minneapolis. Back when I was a new college grad, I lived in Uptown and rarely crossed the river. Now, I work in Minneapolis and live in St. Paul. I love my Twin Cities. Here are a few places where I recently enjoyed and excellent cocktail (or two) that also serve really good food:
One week at a time, we’re settling into our new life in St. Paul, Minnesota.
New house, new jobs, a job search, and yard work; it’s all a little much. I’m finding myself considering things I’ve never considered before, like grocery delivery and those meal kit things. Just the other day, someone left me a comment indicating that she thought I still lived in Iowa. I wanted to mock her for not knowing where I lived until I remembered that I can’t always remember either.