Sunday, June 27, 2010

Kim and Ashley's Visit!

We were FINALLY able to get Kim AND Ashely up for a visit, and, as usual, had an AWESOME time!

We started the weekend with a REQUISITE trip to the Minneapolis Farmer's Market, and continued on through pedicures in Edina and a visit to the Midtown Global Market for lunch.  Since the weekend was MOSTLY about eating, we ended Saturday with dinner at my place (chicken with lemon and olives), and dessert at Ring Mountain (for FABULOUS gelato)!

Today we did the "grocery store tour", and hit Trader Joe's and Whole Foods.  COMPLETELY fun, and COMPLETELY COOL to spend "family time" together!!!!!

Here are some photos of the fun!!!!

Here's hoping YOU were able to connect with family, and fun, and FABULOUSNESS!!

Sunday, June 20, 2010

Lunch in Stillwater!

Saturday, I met my friends Rachel and Kris for lunch in Stillwater.  We went to the "pirate bar" (Smitty's), and had a FABULOUS time catching up!  I met both LOVELY ladies through Ashland Productions (Maplewood Community Theater), and we've kept in touch, and continue to "hang out" occasionally (not NEARLY often enough...!). 

FABULOUS people, and EXTREMELY fun to hang out with!!!!  Thanks Keri for getting me involved with Ashland...SUCH fun people!!!!

Group shot on Main Street

Rachel and Kris

Kris and Jeff

Jeff and Rachel

Jeff and "Dirk", who we met at an antique shop on Main Street

Rachel and "Dirk"

Kris getting to "know" "Dirk" better!!!

Here's hoping YOU were able to hang out with fun friends this weekend, too!!!!

Monday, June 14, 2010


Saturday Pat, Joel, Duane, and I went on a tour of local establishments for the SOLE purpose of finding out which independent, creative, unique restaurant had the best bruschetta in the twin cities.  Granted, we only tried FIVE places (over the course of EIGHT HOURS), but these were hand-picked by Joel, who has EXCELLENT taste, and we felt these were a fair, and decent representation of what's out there.

We were HOPING to experience all of these great versions of bruschetta on various decks and patios at each of the venues, but it was cold, and rainy, and REALLY much more like early March or November outside, so had to be content with indoor accomodations.

At our first stop, we determined what our criteria would be.  We decided to base our decisions on the following:

- UNIQUENESS (or best CLASSIC bruschetta) are the results, and commentary on each:

We started our adventure at The Muddy Pig (196 Dale Street North) in St. Paul. 

This was a fun little bar, with great wine, and an excellent selection of regional and specialty beers (which are a MUST to accompany any bruschetta tasting)..

The menu describes their version of bruschetta as "Grilled French bread with tomato and basil, drizzled with a chive parsley oil".  It was a VERY DECENT offering, and LOADED with lots of FABULOUS julienned basil, but the tomatoes were sliced (I have "tomato issues", so prefer diced).  It was very flavorful, but lacked the garlic-y tang I was expecting. 

SCORES (on a scale of 1-10, with 10 being PERFECT):

UNIQUENESS: 0 (it was CLASSIC bruschetta)

After The Muddy Pig, we headed further west, and stopped at Luci (470 Cleveland Avenue South), in St. Paul.

I would have to say that this was NOT my favorite stop of the evening.  It started with the AWFUL mauve decor (also lacking any kind of wall hangings in our section, beside the mammoth cooling vents), and ended with a soggy, mushy bruschetta that reminded me of something my grandmother used to make using stewed tomatoes, cream, and torn pieces of white bread...ish). 

Anyway...the menu describes their version of bruschetta as "grilled bread topped with garlic, fresh tomato, and basil".  The garlic was LOVELY in this version, and the EDGES of the bruschetta (which weren't "sogged up" by the juice from the diced tomatoes, which REALLY should have been drained a bit more) were the right texture and consistency.

SCORES (on a scale of 1-10, with 10 being PERFECT):
TASTE: 3 (would have been higher, if the bread wasn't soggy)
UNIQUENESS: 0 (it was CLASSIC bruschetta)

After Luci, we headed to Minneapolis and tried the bruschetta at Al Vento (5001 34th Avenue South) in Minneapolis.  The place was packed, and they were holding open tables for people with reservations, so we sat at the LOVELY marble bar, and spent time chatting with the bartender, who was AWESOME (especially when he let us take advantage of the "happy hour" 1/2 price bottle of wine deal, even though happy hour had ended 15 minutes before we got there)!  He even gave us each a "gratis" class of his home made version of limoncello...which was FABULOUS!

I really liked the ambiance of this place, and the service was AMAZING!  This was the first place on our tour that I actually thought about coming back to for dinner and drinks some night.

They offered a variety of bruschetta including:
  • Cici beans and balsimic glaze 
  • Burrata cheese and mustard greens
  • Eggplant caponata
  • Tomato and basil 
We ordered the "sampler plate", so that we could try them all.

SCORES (on a scale of 1-10, with 10 being PERFECT):

  • cici beans/balsamic 9
  • cheese/mustard greens 3 (I don't like mustard greens)
  • eggpant 9
  • tomato/basil 2 (not much flavor)

Our next stop was Perrons Sul Lago (16154 Main Ave SE) in Prior Lake.  Although there was a distinctive "fishy smell" when we walked in (which must have been the special that night), I really liked this place as well.  Our server was FABULOUS (who DOESN'T enjoy a server who doesn't want to see a man drink a limoncello by himself, so gets one from the bar to drink with him!!??).

This was another restaurant in which the menu looked DELIGHTFUL, and we decided we needed to revisit for dinner.

Perrons offered two different types of bruschetta:
  • Roasted tomatoes, fresh mozzarella, sautéed sweet onions, fresh basil, parmigiano and balsamic reduction.
  • Sauteed wild mushrooms, white truffle oil, parmigiano and balsamic reduction.
Our sever was kind enough to accomodate our request for "half of each" in one appetizer, but I can only comment on the tomato version (I ALSO have "mushroom issues"!).

SCORES (on a scale of 1-10, with 10 being PERFECT):

  • mushroom/truffle oil: 7
  • tomato/mozzarella: 0 (CLASSIC)
Our FINAL stop on the GREAT TWIN CITIES BRUSCHETTA TOUR was Chateau Lamothe (14351 Nicollet Court) in Burnsville.  We actually DIDN'T want to eat any more bruschetta, but, since Joel had called ahead, and the chef had assured us that she'd make/save some just for us...had to...especially when we found out that bruschetta isn't even on the menu!

We tried to "down size", and only get a small serving, but it was already made, and plated (gorgeously!), so instead we each tried it, then passed it around the dining room for others to try...which was a HOOT!

We liked this place so much, that we decided this would be the FIRST of the places we'd visited to which we would return.  From the cozy atmosphere, to the uber-friendly staff (mostly members of the owners family), to the singer/keyboardist NOT playing jazz (on this night it was mostly Elton John and Billy Joel songs), this place was DELIGHTFUL.

There is no listing on the menu for their bruschetta, but it was the CLASSIC version.

SCORES (on a scale of 1-10, with 10 being PERFECT):


Even though I think my favorite bruschetta, for taste and uniqueness, was the cici beans/balsamic mix at Al Vento, I have to say the OVERALL WINNER (factoring in ambiance, presentation, and flavor, not uniqueness...since CLASSIC bruschetta is rated as a "0") was...Chateau Lamothe!  The fact that the chef made some for a special event, and saved some JUST FOR US (when it wasn't even on the menu) CERTAINLY pushed the odds in her favor.

Even though I will probably NEVER eat bruschetta again, it was a DELIGHTFUL evening with good friends, good food, and (mostly!) good restaurants/bars!  We've already started discussing our NEXT food tour, but, after "burning out" on bruschetta, think we might just have dinner and dessert on our next adventure!!!

Tuesday, June 8, 2010


I hate change...

As we begin the last week of the 2009-2010 school year, I think about how much has changed, and how much is going to change as we head into the summer, then back into the next school year.

Patty, our superintendent, is leaving the district to join "the private sector". It's a great loss for the district, as she's been an AWESOME administrator, and has also been a great proponent of the media program (which went from THREE full-time media specialists in the district, to me being the last, and only at .5, but, nonetheless, the position is still there...).

John, our principal, is retiring after 33 years in the district.  He's been principal at Kaposia for 13 years, and is the only school principal I've ever worked under.  He hired me...he LISTENED to me when I talked about getting media out of the "prep lineup" (and...eight years later it happened!), and he's been a great proponent of the media program.  He's been an AWESOME principal, and I'm REALLY going to miss him!

I'm not good with change...especially at the "upper administrative level"...who will we get as our new principal?  Who will our new superintendent be?  Will they be supportive of my media program at the Primary Years Program (the elementary part of International Baccalaureate, of which I'm the coordinator)?  Will they try to make their mark by CHANGING stuff that works?  Will they know enough ABOUT the media center and the PYP to be useful...or just get "in the way" when I'm trying to get stuff done?

For the last few months, since finding out they were leaving, I've been in a weird "loop".  I have all of these ideas and plans that I'd like to get integrated/launched for next year, but I don't have anyone to get "approval" from, or to even "bounce ideas off", because it's all a BIG question mark...

Here are a couple of photos from John's retirement party last week.  Janet and I did a Jimbo and Tina Fae Bonker parody of "Feelings" (we changed it to "Leaving")...  It was a HOOT, and we were very good...!!!

Apparently, I'm really ANGRY that he's leaving!

That's a LITTLE better...

Here's hoping YOU don't have a lot of change taking place in YOUR life (unless you LIKE it...)!!!

Saturday, June 5, 2010

Growing Up!

So...I've had the beige "papasan" chair in my apartment since I moved to Minnesota (TEN years ago!), and had it in Fairfield for about five years before that.  I bought it at a garage sale here in the cities, when I was visiting Robin and Dave one summer, and crammed it in my car to take down, only to move it back up here when I moved to the twin cities.  It's been fun, but lately, has seemed a little too "dorm room".

Today at "TJ Maxx and More", I found THE chair to replace it. It's stylish, and sleek, and matches the bedroom it is:

Anyone want a "very used", but still perfectly functional papasan??!!!