Since we are amidst the holiday season, it only seems appropriate to talk about food. And why not? Food is a basic necessity, it makes us happy, and it [should] bring us immense pleasure (san the guilt).
In the months we have been back, Alex and I have been growing our kitchen skills and refining our palates. Spawned by our experience abroad, we have been seeking out and test driving many local ethnic restaurants. We have been hoping to match (not recreate) our meals at Al Medina (Seville, Spain), Ejder (Selcuk, Turkey) and Hoffy’s (Antwerp, Belgium). Here’s what we’ve been up to…
Washington Square (White Bear Lake): Our favorite local go-to. Great beer and wine selection with a fail-proof menu to boot (a phrase derived from Old English’s “bat” meaning good).
Zen Asia (White Bear Township): If we’re going to order in, there is no other choice. Best pho, egg rolls, spring rolls, and noodle dishes around.
Aristos (Stillwater): Overrated. We went there in search of a Ejder-like experience and left with mediocre left-overs that may or may not have gotten eaten.
Prima (South Minneapolis): After dining in Rome, Prima seemed to be trying way too hard, although their goat cheese stuffed peppers were phenomenal (an appetizer I later attempted to recreate). My sea perch served over pureed artichokes and chick peas was moist and perfectly battered, but flavorless. Al loved his meal. I think he was just really hungry.
Fasika (St. Paul): A seemingly sketchy Ethiopian restaurant with truly authentic food–approved by both my East African students and me. The injera makes all meat and veggie plates perfect for sharing. However, I recommend turning down both the traditional wine and beer choices.
Taste of Thailand (St. Paul): Always a safe bet. I prefer it to both True Thai and Pad Thai.
Wilde Roast Cafe (Minneapolis): We only went there for drinks, but the freshly made hummus served with warm pita bread entices me to return for further exploration.
Aster Cafe: The Spanish-style tapas menu is full of cured meats, cheeses, and other snacking treats such as chili-lime popcorn 🙂
Pracna: Owned by a Czech (hence the name), Pracna provides the perfect cold night retreat complete with a fireplace and tasty winter drinks. I especially recommend their special chai. And the best part? There are Legos on the table for you to play with!
On a separate, but related, note, does anyone know where in the Twin Cities one might find Moroccan wine? The one I am looking for is called “Halana.” The climate and land of Morocco naturally support vineyards, and the French have graced it with their expertise. Quite controversial in a Muslim country!