Debuting in 1937 as an ultra-cool art deco inspired bus station in downtown Minneapolis, “First Avenue” is the area’s premier small live music venue for break-out national acts and up and coming local bands. It converted to a club and performance place in 1970, as “The Depot,” later “Uncle Sam’s,” and “Sam’s” prior to being retagged at “7th Avenue” in 1981. The locale was were Minnesota artist “Prince” launched his career, and the site was featured heavily in Prince’s feature film “Purple Rain.”
Next door to the club, the Depot Tavern serves up hearty grub to show goers and area denizens, and is open daily from 11A – 2A.
Prior to seeing Celtic punk band “Flogging Molly“, Burgerdogniece dropped into the Depot Tavern for the “Breakfast Burger”, a 1/3 pound Angus burger topped with bacon, fried egg, American cheese on Texas toast. Burgers and sandwiches are served with Kettle Chips, but you can upgrade to a choice of potatoes, slaw or soup for additional coin. Full menu is here.
Report was that the burger patty in itself was ultra nice, though the egg topper was not served as ordered and service in general was incredibly slow, but the house was packed.
Depot Tavern Review
Checking out another Chicago area frozen pizza, Doreen’s started as a small pizzeria on the South side of Chicago; several locations later and a new state of the art plant in Calumet City, the pies are now distributed across Illinois, Indiana, Iowa, Michigan and are also available at the plant store.
Boasting “pizzeria taste” from a home-baked pie, Doreen’s plops a solid half pound of cheese on every pizza; quality Italian sausage is fresh, and not those pre-cooked food service crumbles. Like so many Upper Midwest pizza success stories, Doreen’s frozen biz began with the company selling pies to local bars.
Instructions call for center shelf, 450, 14-17 minutes, with a three minute rest before slicing (good advice for any frozen pie). The crust is a good bakery style, a little thicker than ‘traditional Chicago thin crust’, the sauce is mild, the cheese is ample and has nice pull. I liked the pepperoni because it has a nice little bit of kick. The hand pulled sausage could be a little bigger for my taste, and while it is clearly pure pork, it’s mildness will have some wishing for a touch of fennel and/or garlic.
It’s a little higher priced than comparable products, but the hand-made quality makes it a strong value.
doreens pizza review
Started in 1943 by 17 year old Ingvar Kamprad, IKEA has grown to become the world’s largest furniture retailer. The name is an acronym for the founder’s initials, plus Elmtaryd (the farm where he grew up), and Agunnaryd (his hometown in Southern Sweden). The stores are massive, have nearly everything one would need to furnish a home, and many of its wares need to be assembled by the purchaser.
As of January 1 of this year, the company operates 349 stores in 43 countries around the world, generating over $23 billion in sales annually. Media reports have speculated that IKEA is the world’s largest consumer of wood.
Many of the stores feature one or two cafes, both self-serve style, one with complete meals of a Swedish influence, the other featuring hot to go snacks at bargain prices.
You can drop off your rugrats at the front door at their in-house daycare center, and stop for a bite to eat halfway through your excursion, in case you just can’t make it another step without eating some meatballs and lingonberries.
The foodatorium near the exit is in the midst of a mini-grocery featuring Swedish foods; in addition to frozen meatballs, you’ll find all manner of fish products, and berry spreads, among other choices. The ‘to go’ counter has bulk cinnamon rolls, hot dogs, and pizza slices, featuring “meal deals”. For a little more than a couple bucks, you can get two hot dogs and a soda, for instance. Yogurt cups and cones are also available. Once again, IKEA figures they have to take care of customers, and sells these snacks so you have enough energy to get to your car miles away in the massive parking lot.
I haven’t been in to an IKEA for quite awhile, tho Mrs Burgerdogboy and I used to enjoy an outing on occasion. We purchased kitchenware from time to time, and a couple of those giant repro prints they feature. I especially liked one we picked up that was a shot from Amsterdam, and it reminded me of a past Valentine’s Day excursion we took to the land of tulips.
I stopped in the store today because I needed a kitchen tool I knew they would have, and grabbed a slice on the way out; like the hot dogs, the pizza combo offers a slice and soda for a little more than $2.00.
It’s a heavy on the cheese and herb affair, not bad, not great. I almost couldn’t choke it down after the guy in line in front of me squirted about a quart of ketchup on his. Ugh.
Hot dogs solo are often just 50 cents. Worth a trip in, if you skip the store, and go right from the entrance to the snack shop by the exit. You can make your Swedish grocery shopping list online before you make the trek.
I’ve written about White Castle several times; I never imagined I’d be reviewing a seafood offering from the purveyors of America’s favorite sliders.
Many restaurants offer seafood specials during the season of Lent; the practice has extended to many fast food outlets as well. The tradition stems from an ancient Christian practice, a variation of fasting, which started as a traditional fast at first, but was modified over time to mean forgoing meat dishes. Fish / seafood became a natural substitute, as they were both plentiful and available easily to all economic groups.
While the tradition is carried on “religiously” in some parts of society, for many it’s not as important as a conviction, but rather a quest for variety.
White Castle’s bow to the tradition is with a triad of offerings, a fish sandwich, fish bite-size nibblers, and shrimp nibblers. All are lightly breaded and fried to order. Both the fish and shrimp are available in small, medium, and sack size portions. Fish nibblers and sliders are made with Alaskan Pollock, a species of the cod family.
If you’re like me, it’s tough to imagine entering a White Castle without scarfing a few sliders, and fortunately, even during Lent, the ‘Castle has made it easier for folks like us, with the combo offering of 3 sliders, a small shrimp nibbler and a soda. That’s what I opted for.
I loved both, and wish I would have ordered a larger size on the shrimp, as I was surprised at their taste and size. I was expecting tiny little salad or bay shrimp, or even little shrimp ‘bits’, like one fast food company used to do o-rings, but these would qualify as “mediums” by any grocer’s label. The breading was light and crispy, and you had a choice of dipping sauces, traditional cocktail, tartar, or a zesty ranch.
I believe the fish sandwich is around all the time, not sure about fish nibblers, and fairly confident the shrimp is a Lent LTO. Which just means I’ll have to stop back a few times before Easter. Sack size, next time, for sure!
Happy Mardi Gras and let the good times roll!
New Orleans is a magical place for many different reasons, whether your fascination lies in the incredible culinary offerings, the historical buildings of the French Quarter or the stately manses of the Garden District. Jazz? Blues? Street performers? Cultural attractions? The mighty Mississippi? The “Crescent City” has something for everyone.
Summoning up a memory of walking in front of the nearly 300 year old St. Louis Cathedral in Jackson Square, as the fog rolls in on a sultry night and the tops of the buildings, trees and lampposts disappear from site, one gets the feeling of being wrapped in a blanket of sensual pleasure.
You made your way to one of the ubiquitous coffee shops and enjoyed the only beverage that seemed appropriate for the location and weather, a cafe au lait on ice.
Months later, having returned from your vacation, you hear Billie Holiday on the radio crooning her version of “Do You Know What It’s Like to Miss New Orleans?” and suddenly you do. You attempt to recapture the feeling of that night by struggling to make a New Orleans style coffee at home. You fail miserably. Your glass contains a bitter brew, not the deep flavorful smooth inky coffee of New Orleans.
Fortunately, now there’s a solution, thanks to the late inventor Philip McCrory, who in 1989 perfected a large quantity method of duplicating the ‘trick’ so many New Orleans coffee shops use in very small batches to get that special taste – cool brewing. Brewing freshly-roasted batches of beans without heat for a smooth and non-acidic coffee, served hot or cold.
The result is CoolBrew, a coffee concentrate that lets you make the perfect cup or pot every time. Arriving in a unique bottle that inhibits air contact with the brew, simply squeeze an ounce of CoolBrew into your cup and top with cold or hot water. Add your favorite sweetener or dairy product if you like.
If you enjoy flavored coffees, CoolBrew has a something for you, as well, including Mocha, Vanilla, Hazelnut, and, to celebrate their 25th anniversary, new Chocolate Almond. And yes, there’s a Decaf too.
Invite me over and I’ll say “I bet I can tell you where you got dat coffee!”
Here’s a few idea starters for other ways to use CoolBrew.
(CoolBrew furnished samples for this taste test).
Cool Brew reviews
One of my mother’s hobbies was grocery shopping I think. Started around the Cuban missile crisis and built from there – eventually there was enough canned, boxed and frozen goods in our basement to last through a zombie apocalypse. I guess I picked at least part of the habit up, but I’m more fascinated by “looking” rather than shopping. I read a lot of labels. Not sure why.
I am prone to picking up things I haven’t seen before if they are of mild interest. Impulse grocery shopping, I guess. Particularly at WalMart, which I have to do on my own, because Mrs. Burgerdogboy refuses to cross their doorstep. Not sure why. Don’t think it’s a political protest. She may feel it’s “beneath her”, which would be hilarious as she has no problem stocking her wardrobe at Goodwill. Now that creeps ME out for sure.
Today’s score was a pepperoni melt in a pretzel roll. $2.48. According to the USDA label, it was made in Valencia, CA, by a company called “Better Bakery” and apparently ‘pretzel sandwiches” are their specialty.
The packaging describes the “sandwich” as “sliced pepperoni, mozzarella cheese, and pizza sauce, hand rolled into a soft pretzel bread sandwich.”
Nuke or conventional oven at 350 for 20 minutes. If you’re a regular reader, you know I always opt for a conventional oven heat, it’s just my thing.
It’s a nice roll, tho I wish it somehow could have a crispier exterior. As for the innards? Really don’t taste like anything. I can’t say if it’s comparable or better than say, a hot pocket, cause I’ve never been brave enough to try one of those.
It’s 10 oz of sandwich, so it’s a better value than most pre-prepared store sandwiches. Would I buy it again? I was drunk, and there wasn’t a nearby White Castle.
Pepperoni Pizza Melt Review
200 years before Starbucks was a twinkle in the founder’s eyes, New Orleans had its own coffee culture.
The port of choice for Latin American coffee bean growers for most of the 18th and 19th centuries, the Crescent City has been home to coffee brands, roasters, and distributors for decades. The beginning of the ubiquitous New Orleans coffee shop can be traced to the early 19th century, when Rose Nicaud set up the first portable coffee stand near New Orleans’s iconic French Market.
One of the secrets to the great coffee served in NOLA has always been a cold-dripped process; the method uses no heat to extract the most flavorful brews from freshly-roasted coffee beans, and produces a very rich concentrated coffee.
The methodology had always been completed in very small batches, until 1989, when the late pharmacist and innovator Phillip McCrory invented an innovative cold filtration process that could be implemented on a much larger scale than previous attempts. Freshly roasted coffee beans are brewed very slowly using only cold water, and acids generally found in hot-brewed coffee are removed organically in the process.
The process perfected, McCrory began a quest for unique packaging, that would be both a brand identifier and the most efficient way to store and serve his unique brew.
Finalizing the design of a unique, double-necked bottled, to preserve freshness by limited air contact with the coffee, the New Orleans Coffee Company launched CoolBrew in 1989 with local gourmet grocery Dorignac’s as the first retail outlet. Shortly after the launch, the original Whole Foods Market, which was also located in New Orleans, took on the brew, along with other local markets.
Now celebrating its 25th anniversary, and still family owned and operated in New Orleans, CoolBrew not only prides itself on being an iconic Louisiana brand, but also is a huge promoter of sustainability in its business operation.
Their plastic bottles are recyclable, and coffee grounds are donated to local landscaping companies to make rich compost.
Available in a variety of flavors, to celebrate the company’s 25th anniversary, they have launched a special, limited time flavor of Chocolate Almond, with a deep essence of rich chocolate combined with the full-flavored nuttiness of almonds.
To make a fresh cup of hot coffee, or a tall glass of iced coffee, open the bottle, squeeze an ounce into 9 ounces of hot or cold water, add milk and or sugar if you like, and enjoy.
I’m loving the Chocolate Almond, and I’ve always been a fan of CoolBrew’s French Roast, especially as an iced Cafe au Lait style beverage.
CoolBrew is so rich and flavorful, you can enjoy it as an ingredient in your favorite recipes as well as a beverage. Some idea recipes for specialty beverages, desserts and sauces can be found on the CoolBrew website.
To find a CoolBrew retailer near you, use the company’s online locator tool; to get it sent to your home, directly, order online. If you’re heading to Mardi Gras this weekend, of course you can tote home a suitcase full!
(Editors note: CoolBrew furnished samples for this taste test).
Defined by their exotic-themed cocktails made from rum, Cantonese inspired food, and adorned with South Seas island decor, the first tiki bar in the U.S. sprouted in Los Angeles in 1933. Ernest Gantt created “Don the Beachcombers” as an homage to life in the tropical Pacific Islands. A few years later, at the Fairmont Hotel in San Francisco, the other iconic bar of the genre, “Trader Vics”, was opened by Victor Bergeron.
The format spawned other outlets and imitators, and was largely in favor in the US until the late 1960s, when the concept fell out of popularity for several decades. Independent operators, looking for new concepts, revitalized the idea in the 1990s, and both of the original bars started reinvigorating their own brands. Today, there are innovative tiki bars across America, and in Northeast Minneapolis, Psycho Suzis Motor Lodge sprouted in 2003. With three differently themed bars on the premises, and a raft of signature cocktails, PSML offers you and your pals an afternoon or evening away from Minnesota’s tundra landscape.
Veering away from the traditional Cantonese inspired food menu, Psycho Suzi’s food offerings lean more towards the traditional bar cuisine Minnesotans are used to – appetizers, wings, pizza, sandwiches and burgers. Saturday and Sunday middays sees brunch entrees added to the choices, like biscuits and gravy, or chorizo benedict.
Pizzas come in two crust varieties, a deep dish, or a hand-stretched thin crust, about the thickness of your standard Pizza Hut pie (for comparison purposes only). Toppings are plentiful and high quality. The fennel sausage is a delight.
Psycho Suzis is open until 2AM daily.
Psycho Suzis Review
I had never been to a Mardi Gras celebration until I moved to New Orleans. What I learned living there, is for the locals, it’s a great opportunity for family activities, far away from the tourism debauchery in the Quarter. I was ’inspired’ one year to write this Mardi Gras poem, which will resonate with locals more than tourists. You still have nearly 10 days to Carnival season left for this year. If you can’t make it, put it on your bucket list! In the meantime, many of the biggest parades will be streamed on NOLA’s WDSU TV.
The Night Before
Twas the night before Mardi Gras, and all through the burb,
Denizens were in place to see the parades, even lining the curb;
The beads were hung from the floats with care,
In anticipation of the throngs that would soon be there;
The children were nestled all snug in the car,
Dreaming of doubloons tossed from afar;
Mamma in her toga, and me in my mask,
I was all tuckered out from my bead buying task.
When out in the street there arose such a clatter,
I sprang from my perch to see what was the matter.
Away to the neutral ground I flew like flash,
Tripped over the Landreau sign and fell face down in the trash.
The sun was just rising on the St. Charles line
Giving the impression parade day would be fine.
When, what to my wondering eyes should appear,
But the homeowner in his robe, his shouting so crass,
Saying, ”Hey, you buddy, get the hell off my grass!
A curmudgeonly old man, so lively and quick,
I knew in a moment he was a tourist, he acted like such a dick,
And he whistled, and shouted, and called me some name;
It was obvious to me, he didn’t understand the game.
I looked around before leaving, to see what was the matter
But no I hadn’t forgotten anything, Not even my ladder.
I gathered my things, and got ready to view
The amazing display that would be put on by the Krewe.
I was ready as ready, me, Mr. Jimmy Crackcorn
I even had fresh double A’s, to use in my bullhorn.
I had borrowed a kid from some neighbor named Jim
So I could point to the toddler and say, “Hey the throws are for him!”
We worked all night on the “We’re from…” signs
Many places listed, the more exotic the better
After seeing all those, will they guess we’re from Kenner?
Continuing my mental tick list of things, forgetting the old coot,
Yep, I had my umbrella and shrimp nets, to help catch the loot.
I was stuffed with King cake, the tasty treats screamed “eat us”
I’d eat a lot more, if the toy didn’t look like a fetus.
The middles are not plain, but now stuffed with a filling
Since McKensies went bankrupt, small bakers make a killing.
I heard the music, the parade was near
When what to my wondering eyes should appear
Floats so lovely, adorned in things so bold
And trimmed of course in green, purple, and gold.
“I can’t get enough!” I thought, so I recounted them all
“Now, Zulu! now, Rex! Now, Endymion and Proteus!
To the end of St. Charles! to the top of Canal!
Then fade away! fade away! fade away all!”
“Damn I’m thirsty,” I thought, as I took a swig of my booze
“I hope I don’t have to pee before I see all of the Krewes!”
And then he appeared, the King of the Day,
He laughed and he chortled, and got ready to play.
He spoke not a word, but went straight to his work,
Reached in his sack, then turned with a jerk,
And laying his finger aside of his nose,
And giving a nod, skyward went the throws!
The beads, candy and toys all flew like rain,
Me and ma were so drunk, we was feelin’ no pain.
The kids were getting trampled, ordinarily a horror
But not today cause someone nearby was surely a lawyer!
The crowds were noisy, their hearts were a thumpin’,
As they cried in unison, “Hey Mister, throw me sumpin!”
It’s always difficult to find the true origin of a local favorite; I don’t think anybody has ever established where the first Coney Island style hot dog was created….or the first pizza place in the U.S……who created the Jucy Lucy in Minneapolis, the Italian Beef in Chicago, or the muffaletta in New Orleans. Lots of places claim to be first in each of these categories.
The same goes for “Montreal Smoked Meat,” a favorite in the Quebec city, similar to pastrami, but slightly different. Montreal Smoked Beef is prepared by salting and curing beef brisket with spices for a week, then hot smoking it before steaming it just before serving. The brisket is thin-sliced and usually served on rye bread with yellow mustard. There are many different claims as to who originated the dish which was first offered up North around 1910.
Less than three hours from the Canadian border, the Twin Ports of Duluth-Superior (MN/WI) have been a hot destination for the neighbors from the north for decades and decades, who visit for vacations, shopping, and healthcare. Yet there has never been a local restaurant that serves Canadian specialties; it’s kinda hard to even find Canadian beer. Until now.
Located in Superior, WI, Shorty’s Pizza and Smoked Meat recently opened to offer the Twin Ports Montreal specialties and other U.S. and Canadian favorites, including poutine, nearly the national snack dish of Canada. Poutine is a bowl of fries, dotted with quality cheese curds, and smothered with brown gravy.
With all new construction and equipment, including 16 drink stations, the owners have made a big investment in the North end of Tower, and a commitment to “doing it right.”
“Montreal style” pizza is a slightly thicker crust and New York cut, something Northern Minnesotans aren’t used to. Big hunks of fennel sausage decorated the pie, which was also ordered with pepperoni and onions.
The Montreal smoked meat sandwich was moist and full of flavor, as was the caraway rye it rested on. Sandwiches are served with a pickle spear and slaw.
No complaints on the poutine, either,with ample-sized curds and house-made gravy.
On the beverage side, Shorty’s offers craft, domestic, and imported beers. Including a Canadian one or two. Cocktails are available, and Jaeger mixes are featured.
Shorty’s is located on Tower Avenue in downtown Superior, and is open at 11 AM daily, with menu specials and a soup of the day Monday through Friday.
Photos copyright 2014 Kawikamedia.com. Used with permission.
Shortys Pizza and Smoked Meat Review