Monday, October 24, 2011

Trying out Pat's Tap

Last night I went with friends to the new-ish Pat's Tap on Nicollet in South Minneapolis. It's been a while since I tried a new hot spot in the Minneapple, so I was almost giddy on the approach.

So giddy I almost forgot how annoying it is to wait for a table at said hot spots. We arrived to find an anticipated wait time of an hour and a half. Eesh. That was my first reaction anyway. We saddled up to the overly crowded bar and waited to place our drink orders. We weren't off to such a great start. But, then we remembered Pat's is both a gastro pub AND skee-club. That's right, kids. Good old-fashioned gaming fun :)

To drink, I wanted to try the Brooklyn Brewery pumpkin ale, being fall and all...but alas, they were all out. So instead I went with the pilsner at the recommendation of the bartender. Pretty darn good. Problem is, I can't remember what kind it was...

Before we knew it, our table was ready, and we were perusing the menu of tempting eats. Our server brought out some fancy-looking homemade cheez-its. So scrumdiddlyumptious. 

There were so many items we wanted to try off the menu, so we ended up ordering a smattering of things. Like the fried pickles served with Ranch dressing. OMG. I could have eaten every last one of these all by myself.

And the buffalo chicken terrine, which comes with bleu cheese and shaved celery. It was served cold. Not sure why that took me by surprise. Regardless it was really interesting and flavorful. A good dish to share as a group.

For my entree, I went with the carbonara: peas, egg and smoked ham hock. With an interesting kind of noodle I'd never had before. Kind of macaroni, kind of not. I loved this. Of course, there isn't much you can't love about rich and creamy pasta, right?

In our spirit of sharing, we all nibbled off each other's plates, and I also got to try the gougeres (small cheesy buns - ah-mazing), fried green beans with ginger orange sauce (pretty good) and steak (braised beef shoulder - also pretty darn good).

All in all, I was kind of in love with Pat's Tap. It has a fun atmosphere and great food. Can't beat that.

Friday, October 21, 2011

My Missoni for Target Heels

I know I'm late with this (anyone who cares about Target's collaborations with big name designers like Missoni - and anyone who's been in a Target store over the last month for that matter - knows about the limited edition Missoni for Target collection), but to be honest, I've been in a bit of a love-hate relationship with my new Missoni heels.

On the love side, I think they're absolutely adorable, and I was so psyched to find them on display at a local Target store the night before the collection officially released. Snatched them right up, I did. And then I wore them to an event in NYC two days later, where they were just as cute on my feet.

Fast forward two weeks and I decide to wear them to a party my friends and I were throwing. Unfortunately, I'm still recovering from the blisters on my two big toes. The even worse part is that I have no one to blame for it except myself. I should have known better than to wear a not-yet-broken-in pair of shoes to an event I was walking to (seven-plus blocks away in fact) and where I would be standing for six-ish hours. Of course, the weather was still so warm that I didn't even consider tights, so just my bare feet in those heels all night.

And now, here I am, trying to gear myself up for the third wearing of these darling shoes. They still lay under the bedside table where I last left them, wishing and hoping that I'll choose them one weekday morning. Maybe next week's the week...

Thursday, October 20, 2011

Dinner at Home: Tuna and Cannellini Bean Gratin

It's been a while since I last wrote about my experiments in the kitchen...And, an experiment this was. I'm not afraid to admit that not everything I make turns out perfectly. In fact, I've made some real doozies. Thankfully, this doesn't fall in that truly terrible category. With the exception of one ingredient, I think it was quite good...

I decided to try a recipe I found in the Lunds and Byerly's fall 2011 real food magazine. I was intrigued by the quite tasty looking photo of:

Tuna and Cannellini Bean Gratin with Red Onion, Fennel and Crisp Cheese Crumb Topping
4 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil, divided
1 cup chopped fennel
1 cup chopped red onion
2 cloves garlic, grated and divided
2 15-ounce cans cannellini or white kidney beans, rinsed and drained
2 5-ounce cans of tuna in olive oil, drained
1/4 cup fennel fronds (optional), finely chopped
1/2 teaspoon coarse salt, or to taste
1/4 teaspoon black pepper, freshly ground
1 cup heavy cream, or 3/4 cup sour cream thinned with 1/4 cup milk
2 cups soft coarse bread crumbs
1 cup grated Asiago, Pecorino Romano, or Parmigiano-Reggiano

You start by combining two tablespoons of oil, fennel and red onion in a medium skillet, cooking and stirring for about three minutes, until crisp-tender. Then add one clove garlic and cook over low heat for one minute. Then add the beans, tuna, fennel fronds, salt and pepper and stir over medium-low heat for about two minutes, until blended and heated through. Stir in cream and taste, add more salt if necessary. Preheat oven to 400 degrees.

In a skillet, heat remaining two tablespoons of oil and remaining garlic over medium-low heat until sizzling and softened but not browned. Add breadcrumbs and stir to blend. Cook, stirring, over medium heat, just until crumbs begin to turn golden, about five minutes.

This turned out to be my main misstep in the cooking process. As you can see below, that's a heck of a lot of bread crumbs. I measured out the two cups it called for, but it ended up being way too much (as you'll see in the end).

Spread mixture in shallow baking dish. The beans should be at least one inch deep so they don't dry out while the top is browning. Spread bread crumbs on top of beans and top with grated cheese. Bake until cheese is a light golden brown and beans are heated through, 20 to 25 minutes.

And, voila! Here it is fresh out of the oven, looking quite crumby but delightfully golden.

To accompany the gratin, I roasted brussels sprouts. This isn't the first time I've shared my love of these little green veggies. I like to experiment with ways to make them more and more delicious, but this time I went with the simple route of roasting in olive oil and seasoning with salt and pepper.

And the final product. Here's where you get an especially good glimpse at the abundant bread crumbs. Once I pushed some of the extra crumbs off to the side, I found the dish to be quite good. The flavors mixed together well and the cheese was delicious (I used a blend of Parmesan, Asiago, Fontina and Provolone from Trader Joe's). And, the sprouts were awesome.

I find that I enjoy cooking much more in the fall/winter, so look forward to more frequent tales from the kitchen. :)

Sunday, October 16, 2011

I Want...

Every time the seasons change, I find myself craving an entirely new shoe wardrobe. And while I love my shoedazzle purchases (past and future), those aren't the shoes I daydream about. Nope, I spend my hours longing for high-end footwear that may never fit my budget. 

Let it be known that if money were no object, I'd be making these additions to the shoe collection this fall...all courtesy of

Transitioning back to heels, these sparkly Christian Louboutin pumps would be at the top of my list.
And these darling Tory Burch pumps with the chunky heel.
More sparkle from Miu Miu.
Or a lovely Tory Burch wedge.
Of course, let's not forget the flats. I could totally go for these Jimmy Choo's with the petal and lovely soft color.
Or these fancy silver ones from the Vera Wang Lavender Label.
Lately, I've become obsessed with wanting to own a pair of blue heels. Not sure why. But the color is continuously calling my name. I think these Louboutin's could do the trick.
Or maybe these from Alexandre Birman.
What pretty shoes. Sigh...

Monday, October 10, 2011

NYC Eats

During my last two trips to New York, I eagerly took in some culinary exploration and want to share highlights from two of my excursions.

First, we went in search of a tasty little bakery for cupcakes one afternoon. After not too long, we came across Buttercup Bake Shop, considered one of the best spots for cupcakes in the city.
We were quickly mesmerized by the vast and lovely dessert case...
And quickly overwhelmed by the array of colorful cupcake choices. Pink, yellow, purple, blue, white, brown, swirl, sprinkle...
We placed an order for six: one buttercup golden with chocolate icing, one buttercup golden with vanilla icing, one chocolate with vanilla icing, one chocolate with chocolate icing, one red velvet and one "Devil Dog." Perhaps, not surprisingly, the "Devil Dog" was mine. Devil's food chocolate cake with a light whipped frosting, a swirl of chocolate and topped off with sprinkles. I definitely enjoyed every last bite. And, at $2.25 each, it's a price that's hard to argue with.
In an interesting turn of events, the person who helped us at Buttercup is also from Minnesota. Gotta love those random connections :)

My other dining highlight comes from dinner with a friend who'd just moved to the city. I requested that we venture outside of my typical Midtown boundaries, so we hopped in a cab and headed to the East Village. There's a great little eatery called S'MAC, which is short for Sarita's Macaroni & Cheese.
It was tiny but overflowing. Eclectic but homey. S'MAC's specialty is macaroni and more than 10 different varieties.
I decided to give the Cheeseburger Mac a try: cheddar and American cheeses combined with seasoned ground beef. There are four different sizes: nosh, major munch, mongo and partay!. This is the major munch ($9.75).

And it was majorly delicious. Cheesey, burgery, noodley comfort food. And boy was it filling. I think I could have gone with the nosh portion size and still left satisfied. I was mighty impressed with S'MAC and imagine that if I lived in the city, it would quickly become one of my favorite regular spots.
And, finally, I'll leave you with a photo of my favorite building in all the city - the Chrysler Building (with a little bit of a fancy Instagram touch-up). Isn't it lovely? :)

Sunday, October 9, 2011

Shoe Crazy

A while back, I joined at the recommendation of a friend. shoedazzle is an online shoe (and accessories) club created by Kim Kardashian. Each month, members get a showroom of select shoes and accessories chosen by celebrity stylists. The idea behind shoedazzle is making fashion trends accessible and affordable - everything is priced at $39.95 and shipping is free (members also have the flexibility to skip months if they can't afford new items one month or don't find anything that strikes their fancy).

Over the last several months, I've built up a little collection of shoedazzle purchases - all of which I think are incredibly adorable. Some I haven't even worn yet (I've been on a bit of a heels hiatus of late), and others I've worn out far too quickly. Here's a quick look at the new(ish) additions to my shoe family.
This first pair is called "Serene." They're tied with the next pair as my favorite. I love them because they're super comfortable and professional, while also being unique. The pop of purple on each side of the gray suede pumps is awesome, and these tend to draw quite a few compliments. I have some small quality gripes (they've worn out far faster than I would have liked), but overall, I still love them.
This is my other favorite pair - the "Lacie." This pair is bright, neony yellow and ridiculously adorable. I've probably worn them about 50 times and still get compliments every time. This pair also gets my vote for best quality.
Then we have "Amaryllis." I've been on a major flats kick, and these cutesy gold ones are a perfect option. They're super comfortable and have just the right amount of flair to suit me. Only major disappointment is that the gold scuffs easily.
Ah, "Saffron." These were a late summer addition, when I felt like I couldn't let the wedge trend pass me by. They're quite a lovely mustard-y color. Hopefully I can get more use out of these next summer as I only wore them twice this year.
These last two pairs are the ones I have yet to wear. Though I'm a bit in love with both. This pair is "Bonbon."   Neutral nude with a sassy black studded bow.
And finally, "Lauren." I think this pair is just gorgeous. I need to start shifting my attention back to heels :)

Wednesday, October 5, 2011

Summer Bucket List Items No. 4 and 5: Baseball and Yoga

It may have been a gray and dreary day, but it still ended up being a good day for baseball. That's right. My sisters and I brought our grandma to her first Twins game at Target Field. Even on a gloomy day, the views are nothing short of amazing.

Best of all, I think my grams had a wonderful time. We enjoyed each other's company, (she) watched some baseball and dined on some fine concessions stand food. My five-year-old nephew also got to come along for his first baseball game. Like me, he got his fill of baseball after the first couple of innings. Unlike me, he didn't seem all that content to just sit around and chat. I think I got him back on track though with a large hot fudge sundae in a mini-sized Twins baseball helmet. :)

Also, notably, I've marked another thing off the to-do list by renewing my CorePower yoga membership. After a nearly four-month respite, it's challenging trying to get back into the swing of things. But, it's definitely good to be back!