Friday, July 24, 2009

Forever in Love with Broders!

Broders' Pasta Bar
5000 Penn Avenue South
Minneapolis, MN 55419-1035

This place is always delicious and special. Usually busy, but worth the wait. Here are some photos from my most recent visit.
Olive AssortmentFettuccine con Meridionale Manzo
Tagliarini di Locanda del Lupo

See my full review on Menuism


Oklahoma Joe's BBQ
3002 W 47th Avenue
(47th & Missions Road)
Kansas City, KS 66103

The outside might not be much to look at. It's attached to a Shamrock gas station and is sort of in the middle of nowhere and after driving 6 hours in the car through construction BBQ is probably the last thing you think you need. I felt a little car sick as we pulled in to Oklahoma Joe's. However, I was determined to try it. Bourdain had it on his list of the 13 places to eat before you die. That was good enough reason for me, even though I thought I'd be barfing it up in the parking lot minutes later. Sorry for that over share, but don't worry it's leading up to the good part.

Inside is half gas station convience store, half BBQ heaven. It smelled awesome even though I was dizzy and tired. The menu was written in chalk on the wall, but there were a surprising amount of options. Did I mention this is not a place for vegetarians? Wait, I take that back. If you are a vegetarian who really enjoys cole slaw then come along. The rest of you can pour red paint on me later...but at least I'll be full. At the window with the tin roof is where you place your order. Pay attention and know what you want...I did not. Silly Yankee.

We managed to get our food and a couple Coronas. Mr. B had a "Hog Heaven" sandwich which featured smoked pork and pork sausage. More like hell for a hog, but heaven for hog eaters. Smokey and delicious. Throw some texas toast in there too. If it's BBQ without butter, it's not BBQ.

Last, but certainly not least, I give you...THE CAROLINA PULLED PORK! This is what I was waiting for. My stomach instantly healed itself once I took a bite of this thing. Pulled pork topped with spicy Carolina slaw served on a warm buttered bun. If you go to Kansas City you must, must, must stop here. You'll never forgive yourself if you don't.


Back From Arkansas and KC!

So what did I learn about food on my travels to KC and Arkansas? Well, I found that Oklahoma Joe's lives up to its reputation and might very well be the best BBQ in the US. Secondly, Indian food in Arkansas is not out of the realm of possibilities, but it might not be what one would expect. You can find "Chicago" style pizza joints nestled among rocky hillsides and what they say about Southern hospitality is true. They do more than fry and BBQ, but maybe sticking to the classics isn't a bad idea.

Not sure if I had any true revelations while I was there, but somewhere in between feeling like I was to be murdered at a roadside berry stand and sensing an indescribable serenity sitting in the woods, I thought maybe I could live in a place like Arkansas. Cities aren't the end all be all, but they're what I know. I think maybe I should finish exploring Minnesota before I venture South again.



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Thursday, July 9, 2009

Cafe Agri


Cafe Agri
4300 Bryant Avenue South
Minneapolis, MN 55409

I have yet to decipher my feelings about Café Agri. What I do know is I like the idea of a local neighborhood café, organic and gluten free which focuses on the locally grown and sustainable food methods. It certainly brings something unique. I also have a personal attachment to the corner location which is across the street from my old elementary school. From what I’ve read the public is not too happy with Agri’s service and maybe not entirely in love with the food either. I’m not sure how I feel yet, but maybe once I start writing I’ll be able to better explain everything to you all.

Located just blocks away from my parent’s house we took an early evening walk down to Agri last Saturday. We timidly entered inside in search of a hostess who could seat us outside. The young woman who came out of the kitchen greeted us kindly and allowed us to pick a table of our choice inside or out. The restaurant itself is very small and probably can house about 25 people max. The décor is a mix of modern, café and shabby chic. You can also sit outside at tables just located on the sidewalk. Things are usually pretty quiet as far as traffic noise.

Our hostess also turned out to be our server and contrary to what most other reviewers said our service was pretty decent. She was pleasant and visited our table just enough to take our drink order, food order, check in and refill our water glasses. The menu is fairly limited, but all organic and gluten free. I like to eat fresh food, but I’m not organic savvy at all so I just sort of pointed and picked a dish that had something familiar in the description. My parents who accompanied us had been to Agri on a couple of occasions both for breakfast and dinner. They seemed to have a few favorites and enjoyed what Agri had to offer for the most part.

Our dishes arrived in a timely manner starting with the yam crisps. Like potato chips, but lighter and sweet, served with guacamole which was creamy, refreshing and a little garlicky. We each order different entrees. I went with the smoked trout sandwich which turned out to be nothing that I expected, but was still good. I opted for salad instead of chips ($2.00 extra) which I regretted soon after tasting the salad. Expecting the freshest most amazing organic salad ever I was disappointed with the meager greens and carrot sticks covered in an overly tart and tangy dressing. I did not finish the salad. The smoke trout sandwich made up for the greens though. Turned out the trout was actually prepared as a spread, like a tuna or chicken salad. It was flavored with orange and red onions, an awesome combination. Although I would have been happy with a big piece of smoked trout so I could admire the texture, the sandwich turned out to be a pleasant surprise.

The other 3 in my party had pasta dishes. Two went for the walnut pesto (a dish my parents had had before and enjoyed) and one with the ravioli. From what I was told everyone enjoyed their dishes. I had a taste of the pesto and it was pretty normal, I guess I didn’t know what I expected, but it was just like any other pesto I’ve tried. The ravioli was a little funny look. Pale in color they looked like little pillows without cases set on a bed of tomato sauce and capers. To me they looked flavorless just due to their lack of pigment, but my dad said the sauce was really robust and with a lot of flavor elements from the capers, portobellos and fennel.

A long review and what do I have to show for it? Still not sure how I feel overall about Café Agri, but I do know that our experience last Saturday was delightful. Personally the food is not something that I would wake in the middle of night yelling for, but for a good healthy meal and for something a little different I would probably go back. And, as always, I’m in full support of the locally owned and those who support the local producers. Green on Agri, Green on.

Yam Crisps

Glutten free raviolli

Penne w/pesto

Smoked trout spread


Smoked Salmon

Testing the new indoor smoker. Salmon filet smoked with thyme and mint. Just a little salt and pepper. If you haven't seen these indoor smokers I suggest you check them out!