Friday, February 26, 2010

ISLAND of WI Cheese

As many of you may know, in anticipation of this year's Twin Cities Food & Wine Experience, I just couldn't shut up about a magical island of Wisconsin cheese that always appears at the convention center much like the legend of Brigadoon. Like Brigadoon, the island only shows up once a year, yet while inhabitants of the mythical Scottish townn are not allowed to leave, the visitors to the Wisconsin Cheese Island won't ever want to leave.

It's that epic.

Now, you're probably thinking, "Why, Ms. Quarter, such an extravagant heavenly place couldn't possibly exist!"

To which I post the following photographic proof in reply:
Folks, the entire expanse of what you see (framed by the black pipe and drape) is the realm of the Cheese Island, ruled by Mayor Asiago and General Gorgonzola in a military dictatorship. Subjects of said autocratic government never complain.

Need a closer look? Liking what you see? Let's get down to brass tacks.

I give you: Brass Tacks.

You're welcome.

Join Ms. Quarter next year at the food and wine show when the mythical island of Wisconsin cheese is scheduled to make it's next appearance.

Saturday, February 20, 2010

12 Days of Fermented Christmas: Day Twelve

Yes, that's right folks. We've arrived at the final entry in A Quarter Century's blog countdown to the Twin Cities food and wine show.

I've pre-dated this sucker because, let's be honest, I'm going to be too busy tomorrow (today) to be writing any blog posts. Though you can be certain there will be a recap on Monday.

Whaddya say? Shall we finish this?

Day Twelve: Chino Latino
Chino Latino has been known for pushing the envelope - in food fusion, mixology, and advertising.

This is why we love them.

Their menu is a fusion of Latin and Asian food. It sounds like it wouldn't go together, but it's surprisingly delicious.

When I was living in Minneapolis, the restaurant caused quite a stir with their racist billboard advertising. This was the point - any publicity is good publicity, I guess - but the nice, conservative folks in Minnesota did not agree.

Slogans like "Our happy hour is cheaper than a Bangkok brothel" got all sorts of negative response from folks who've watched the documentary Born into Brothels. "There are poor, enslaved, child prostitutes in Bangkok brothels and it's insensitive to remind us nice, conservative Minnesotans of that fact," said most of the dissenters.

Yes, the plight of Third World enslaved children is awful, and we should all be not just writing concerned emails to the Executive Chef of Chino Latino, but actually doing something to change the world in which such injustices operate. But the point of the ads was to stir up controversy and have Chino Latino become a household name.

They were successful.

However, their ads of late have become much more user-friendly, drawing little criticism from folks who are labeled "not so much" on the Tongue-In-Cheek scale of humor.


Friday, February 19, 2010

12 Days of Fermented Christmas: Day Eleven

Holy cow, guys. We're at D-Day for the Twin Cities food and wine show! know...D-Day was understood to be the event that lead to the U.S. participation in WWII, with WWII being the actual event, the culmination so to speak.

So then today is the day that will lead us to Minneapolis, with the food and wine show tomorrow being the actual event.

It's a weak metaphor, okay? Moving on.

Day Eleven: Crispin Cider Company
Crispin Cider Company was named "The Hottest Cold Beverage 2009. The wine drinker's beer (and the beer drinker's wine)" by Twin Cities Business.

Crispin lives up to it's name, made with "premium apple juice, not from concentrate with no added malt, grape wine or spirit alcohol. [The] unique flavors are smoothed with pure apple juice or organic honey or organic maple syrup and contain no added colorants, sorbate or benzoate preservatives and are cold filtered for crisp refreshment."


They've got a lot of fun videos on their website. I'd have to say a good one is Mayor Rybak dancing with the Crispin Cider bottle in downtown Minneapolis. One can only hope we'll have the option of dancing with the giant bottle tomorrow.

Thursday, February 18, 2010

My Night at the Roller Derby

Have you ever been to a roller derby?

It's brutal. Intimidating women on wheels, hip-to-hip jostling, the occassional fast-flying skater tumbling into the front row of spectators...brutal.

But also awesome.

For the low, low price of $15, the Brew City Bruisers give you two matches and a half-time show.

Don't be fooled. They say they're an "amateur" league, but I wonder if that's just meant to lull you into a feeling of safety.

Having lived in Eastern Europe, my favorite team is, of course, The Rushin' Rollettes, but as far as clever names go, The Shevil Knevils are a close second.

Speaking of clever names, the ladies have some pretty good ones themselves. I'd have to say Coco Shrapnel of the Crazy Eights is my favorite lady skater name, and [O]edipus Ref is my favorite name of all the dudes in stripes.

Like everyone seated around us, LB and I took the liberty of coming up with as many roller derby names as we could think of. Seeing as how this illustrious event took place five days ago, you'll forgive me if these are all that I can remember:

Commie Kaze - skating for the Rushin' Rollettes team, of course
Frito Slaya - delicious with chili and cheese poured on top
Conflict Diamond - this would be my name, and I stole it from Joss Whedon
Minx Stoli - this would be LB's name, and she'd keep a mini bottle in her skate at all times, again, no doubt she'd be skating for the Rushin' Rollettes
Schlitzkreig - a good ol' Milwaukee original, sure to skate for the Brew City Bruisers or Milwaukee maidens
Cleoscratchya - a history lesson in Egypt's fascination with felines
Elizabeth the Fist - another history lesson that packs a punch

Debating what your roller derby name would be is all fine and good, especially if you're clever about it (I'm talking to you young ladies seated behind us, "Baywatch Babe"?!?! Really?!?!), but what really made the night entertaining were the breakskaters.

That's right, folks, I said "breakskaters."

You: "What is a breakskater, Ms. Quarter?"
Me: "An illusion of awesomeness, You, an illusion of awesomeness."

Now why an "illusion" you ask?

Go ahead. I'll wait.

Well, because, though breakdancing on skates - which is what breakskating is, after all - is awesome, I'm pretty sure that it takes a lot of practice to be able to do those sweet moves on wheels.

This leads me to two conclusions.

1. At one point in your young life you thought, "Hey, I think breakdancing on rollerskates would be pretty sweet."


2. You then spent the entirety of your childhood practicing your breakskating at the local roller rink.

Illusion of awesomeness, people, illusion.

12 Days of Fermented Christmas: Day Ten


Y'hear that? That's the sound of Day Ten in A Quarter Century's countdown to the Twin Cities food and wine show.

Day Ten: Manny's Steakhouse
In 2008 the Star-Tribune named Manny's Steakhouse the Restaurant of the Year. Why? Well, as their website says, "First and last, there’s the beef: USDA-certified, dry-aged, and center-cut. Hand-trimmed to our specifications, and cooked to yours."


If you love red meat, then this is the place for you. It's upscale decor (not to mention the food) is top rated by Zagat, but you can come as you please - there's no dress code and no formality.

Wednesday, February 17, 2010

12 Days of Fermented Christmas: Day Nine

Today's episode of A Quarter Century's countdown to the Twin Cities Food & Wine Show is a personal favorite.

Day Nine: Wild Blue
Wild Blue is a delicious, blueberry-flavored lager.

Unless, of course, the show organizers meant Wild Blue Yonder, a bluegrass band from Tennessee.

But I think we're on the right track with the lager.

As described on Wild Blue's website: "Wild Blue is a blueberry lager that fuses the juice of nature’s perfect fruit – blueberries – with premium American and German hops, two row and six-row barley malt and cereal grains."

Yes, blueberries are nature's perfect fruit.

The makers of the brew, Blue Dawg Brewing, pair all of the above with bulldogs. One is pictured playing kickball with a blueberry on the beer's label. The website is littered with puppy photos. They even disguise finding Wild Blue near you as "Yappy Hour."

I'm not sure if that's the most appetizing connection, but it's not up to me.

And picture of drooly dog aside, this beer is delish.

40 Days

I used to not give things up for Lent.

I used to think it was an outward sign of a religion and not necessarily my faith - a cheap way for people to feel faithful, or worse, simply a family tradition.

I used to want to wait until I was stronger in my faith to give up something for Lent, because then it would mean something more.

But then I realized that I'll never be stronger in my faith than I am at this moment, and I'll always be a sinner.

I realized that giving something up for Lent might just strengthen my faith and my commitment to religion - every time I deny myself, "give something up," I'll remember what Christ gave up for me.

And so I realized that I'm going to give up something for Lent this year, and through the act of giving, I'll be placing myself, humbly, before God.

I'm going to use 1 Corinthians 6:19-20 for inspiration:

19Do you not know that your body is a temple of the Holy Spirit, who is in you, whom you have received from God? You are not your own; 20you were bought at a price. Therefore honor God with your body.

The Apostle (Saint if you're Catholic) Paul is talking about sexual sin, sin commited inside the body. The same body in which the Holy Spirit resides.

For the purposes of my Lenten sacrifice I will interpret Paul's meaning a bit differently.

I want to honor my body as a temple to God this Lenten season (and, hopefully, beyond) by the nourishment that I put into it. For Lent, I'm going to give this a try by giving up processed foods.

What does that mean?

That means this will be a tough challenge.

Eliminating processed foods is a daunting task in America - the land of canned, shrinkwrapped foodstuffs. It's always disturbed me how much of the food I eat is wrapped in plastic. Food that is so processed that it's about as far from it's natural, life-sustaining ingredients as you could get.

You know how you always feel great after eating fresh fruit, veggies, and grains? And how you feel sluggish and gross after fast food? I'm shooting for more of the former than the latter.

So I'm hoping to get back to the basics, so to speak. And in doing so, honor the body God has given me - make it as healthy as it can be by the fuel I put into it.

In doing so, not only will I make a healthier me, but also I will remember why I am making the change. Hopefully the result will be a renewed faith and a strengthening of spirit.

Tuesday, February 16, 2010

Hey, hey, hey! It's Faaaaaaat Tuesday!

Oh, Fat Albert, if you only knew how much you really inspired me as a child.

Well, Internets, I hope you've got a helmet to protect you from all of the beads and doubloons flying your way, because Mardi Gras is here.

It's a well-known fact that I faithfully celebrate the holiday each year, but rather than get dressed up in a skimpy, glittery number with a feathered headdress, I opt for beignets.

Not to be confused with paczki, Polish Americans. Pączki are for Tłusty czwarte.

It was many moons ago - one February Thursday 4 years ago - when I found myself alone, in the middle of the night, in a Polish train station in the middle of nowhere. I and two other passengers were waiting for our connection to Cieszyn.

One, an older man, fell asleep on a bench across the station. The other, a young, studious-looking man left the station into the dark of night for places unknown.

Color me surprised when he returned a short 20 minutes later.

Color me another level of surprised (threat level orange, maybe?) when he came over to me, sat down, and pulled out a bakery bag.

He proceeded to pull out two pączki and handed one to me. Nevermind where he managed to purchase pączki in the middle of the night in Poland. Perhaps Tłusty czwarte is reason enough, though, in my experience of European countries, things usually shut down on holidays, not remain open longer.


Regardless of where the sugary abundance came from, I enjoyed a few moments with my new friend.

He didn't speak English and I don't speak Polish, so we weren't friends for long.

Just long enough to enjoy the moment together.

Let this be a lesson to you men - a wordless moment shared with a woman when donuts are also involved means you'll be remembered forever.

PS - If you're looking for a good time, Cafe Imperial in Prague keeps a plate of stale donuts on their counter. For a nominal fee (in the scheme of things) you can purchase the donuts and chuck them at anyone in the cafe with Imperial's full support.

12 Days of Fermented Christmas: Day Eight

Are you ready yet? Because we're officially two-thirds of the way through our countdown to the Twin Cities Food & Wine Show.

Day Eight: Bombay Bistro
Bombay Bistro was voted "Best Indian Restaurant in the Twin Cities in 2007" by City Pages.

If you're smart then you know that Indian food is delicious. And if you're smart then you'll buy a ticket to the food and wine show so you can taste Bombay Bistro's food. Or, I suppose, you could just have dinner at the restaurant. It is conveniently located in downtown Minneapolis, just down Marquette Avenue from the convention center where the food and wine show will be held.

I don't have a personal anecdote specific to Bombay Bistro, but the other day I was a burning a scented candle that smelled like curry and it really made me want some peshwari naan bread.

Monday, February 15, 2010

12 Days of Fermented Christmas: Day Seven

We're officially over halfway through our countdown Internets!

Today's episode of A Quarter Century's countdown to the Twin Cities Food & Wine Experience takes a detour from the usual alcohol-fueled post.

This time we're taking a look at our caffeine options available at this year's show. Goodness knows we'll need to stock up on energy in the morning, and refuel after a few hours of hard tasting.

Day Seven: Peace Coffee
Peace Coffee, based in Minneapolis, is self-described as, "a cultural, social, and consumable revolution with grounds firmly fixed in a farmer-friendly, fair trade reality."

For you Cream City citizens, think Alterra but in Minnesota.

By now, if you've been reading my blog and Twitter post, you probably know about my love affair with coffee.

And it's no joke that when your energy is flagging at hour 3 of the 7 hour food and wine show, nothing picks you up quite like a Dixie cup of black gold.

Sunday, February 14, 2010

12 Days of Fermented Christmas: Day Six

Continuing on with A Quarter Century's blog countdown to the Twin Cities Food & Wine Experience is another Wisconsin favorite.

Day Six: BelGioioso Cheese
BelGioioso Cheese has been "specializing in all-natural award-winning Italian cheeses for over 20 years."

The family owner/cheese maker is from Italy and everyone knows that Italians make delicious cheese.

And happy cows come from WI, no matter what those snooty Holsteins on those California commercials say.

Having been to Italy and sampled an amazing array of pecorino, I dig the authentic, all-natural product. Cheese tasting - the best idea we ever had in Cagli.

I don't have a favorite memory, specifically, of BelGioioso other than eating and enjoying their delicious products. I look forward to doing the same this year at the food and wine show.

Annual VD Post

If I had a nickel every time someone asked why I don't have a boyfriend I would have, well, at least a dozen nickels, which isn't that many in the scheme of things.

Still, after reading this story, I now have a new reply to folks asking me that question. It's because I'm looking for a guy like that, though, of course, single and more in my age bracket. Until I find him I'll keep collecting those nickels, thank you very much.

With that said, I bet you're wondering what all this has to do with venereal disease.

The answer, of course, is nothing.

VD is my shorthand for Valentine's Day. It's a little known fact that, for all intents and purposes, venereal disease and Valentine's Day are one in the same.

In my estimation, the best way to spend VD is by watching horror movies. For those of you with a honey, you can snuggle up together when the going gets tough (read: scenes get scary), and for the single folks, you can gleefully watch what was a romance movie go horribly awry.

Thus, I bring to you, the five best horror movies for VD (in no particular order):

1. White Zombie (1932)
The first zombie film ever made, it begins with a classic love triangle. Neil and Madeline are engaged. They take a trip to Haiti. Charles Beaumont wants Madeline for himself. He enlists Bela Lugosi's character (name too ridiculous for publication here), who gives him a vial of a mysterious drug. Madeline dies after inhaling the drug, but we find later that she isn't dead. She's a zombie, and Lugosi and his zombie slaves come to claim her.

2. Amityville Horror (1979, 2005)
Newlyweds move into a house - a grand house on waterfront property that they shouldn't be able to afford. It seems too good to be true. It is. I think the 1979 version is the scariest - there's something about horror movies of the 1960's and 70's that had a great suspense factor where now they usually just have a bloodshed factor. I do, however, think the 2005 version is pretty good, but Ryan Reynold's naked torso has a lot to do with my favorable opinion.

3. Rosemary's Baby (1968)
Rosemary and her husband move into a new apartment. Husband is an actor, and a bad one at that. He makes friends with the neighbors. Suddenly his acting career takes off, and Rosemary gets preggers. What's more romantic than your hubby bartering the use of your womb in trade for career success?

4. Shaun of the Dead (2004)
Who doesn't love a horror movie that's also a comedy? And for this one, the romance factor is pretty high seeing as how Shaun braves the zombie-filled London streets just to ensure that his ex-girlfriend, Liz, is safe. Ladies, this is probably the only way you'll get your man to willingly see a romantic comedy.

5. The Shining (1980)
Wife with bug eyes and writer husband move the family to a remote, isolated hotel to be caretakers in the off-season. Hotel is haunted. Husband becomes possessed and tries to kill his family. Now THAT'S romance for the ages.

Saturday, February 13, 2010

12 Days of Fermented Christmas: Day Five

The trouble with a blog countdown is when the blog author doesn't have Internet access at home. As a result, Saturday and Sunday become wastelands for blog posts.

Never fret, however, for the countdown to the Twin Cities Food & Wine Experience continues today with backdated posts for day five and six.

Day Five: Pabst Brewing
Pabst Brewing is the maker of Old Style, Schlitz, Stroh's, Old Milwaukee, Rainier, Schaefer, Lone Star, Pearl, Colt 45, and Olympia brands. That's right, Internets, every stereotypical blue-collar, workin' man brew is thanks to the folks at Pabst. Milwaukee's own.

For you Cream City folks, you can get a PBR at AJ Bombers for $2.00. If you enjoy a Monday night happy hour, you can get a can for 50 cents at Colonel Hart's with a $1 taco. Now THAT'S a great way to start your week, is it not?

My favorite memory of Pabst at the food and wine show is two years ago when a delightful gentleman in tails was manning the PBR booth (aka: keg) all by his lonesome. Being the Milwaukeeans we are, my friends and I made a habit of bellying up to his kegerator and exclaiming, "PBR me ASAP!" to help alleviate his loneliness.

Thanks to the wonders of YouTube, I came across this commercial for Pabst from the 1950's. I hope you enjoy. My favorite part is the golfer enjoying his brew in a pilsner glass. Because goodness knows, the only way ensure a long drive is while palming a glass full of beer.

Friday, February 12, 2010

Games I Wish Were in the Winter Olympics

I came across this list of wacky, discontinued Olympic sports the other day. My favorite is Dueling Pistols, which always makes for a dramatic event. Apparently, though, athletes shot at mannequins "dressed in fancy clothes" rather than each other.

Safety - and fashion - first, afterall.

This got me thinking. What games should be in the Winter Olympics? What fun, winter sports (term used loosely) would directly increase the entertainment value of this noble tradition?

In honor of the 2010 Winter Olympics, I bring you this: Games I Wish Were in the Winter Olympics

1. Snow Angels
Taking a page from the Dueling Pistols book (the part about the fashionable mannequins), the point of this "sport" would be to produce the most perfect and elegant snow angel. The competition would begin with "athletes" collapsing into the snow, and end only when they successfully stand and leave their masterpieces. Everyone knows making a snow angel is easy, but it's keeping it intact once you've stood and walked away that's tricky.

2. Lunch Tray Sledding
The highlight of every college student's winter is Lunch Tray Sledding. Athletes would be equipped with your standard-issue, red plastic lunch tray and be tasked with gaining the longest glide. A snowplow-made hill in the middle of a parking lot would be the best "field of play," but in a pinch the bunny hill at the ski slopes will do. Extra points for maintaining perfect balance when perched on the butt-sized, plastic rectangle.

3. Snowball Warfare
This needs little explaining. Points will be given for cleverness of strategy, strength of throwing arm (as determined by speed of snowball), radius of impact, and, if applicable, sturdiness of snow fort.

4. Hot Chocolate Drinking Contest
Possibly the most dangerous of these suggestions, the Hot Chocolate Drinking Contest will be winter's answer to the ever-popular hot dog eating contests.

Winner is determined by amount of hot chocolate, in pints, consumed. However, points will be deducted in the case of vomit - the number of points deducted in direct proportion to distance of spewage achieved.

What about you? What event do you think should be added to the winter Olympics?

12 Days of Fermented Christmas: Day Four

Welcome to Day Four of A Quarter Century's countdown to the Twin Cities Food & Wine Experience.

Today we are zagging back to food after yesterday's zig to Door Peninsula's adult beverages.


Day Four: Sawatdee
It's a well-known fact that I love me some Thai food. In Minneapolis, the muse for my craving is Sawatdee.

Sawatdee boasts 8 locations in the Twin Cities area. In 1983 they were the first Thai food restaurant in the five-state area. Their website says it best: it does not matter who you are or when you come in to eat; you are treated with love, respect, and peace.


Sawatdee is great for its food, but made awesome by its cooking classes, because who doesn't want to learn how to make a mean spring roll?

My favorite memory of Sawatdee is from freshman year in college. My friends and I (6 floor MBH, woot!) headed out for an evening of fun, starting with dinner at Sawatdee and ending with entertainment at Comedy Sportz Twin Cities.

As anyone who's been to Uptown knows, parking can be a real problem. In a moment of true cleverness, we parked in the lot at Sawatdee and walked to Comedy Sportz, leaving our vehicle to the whims of towing companies.

The moment truly was inspired, because, sure enough, when we returned hours later our car was still there and we received no citation.

Thursday, February 11, 2010

12 Days of Fermented Christmas: Day Three

If you've been living under a rock for the past three days, you may not know about the wonderment of the Twin Cities Food & Wine Experience.

You've certainly come to the right place, because this blog is prepared to teach you all you need to know. We're doing a countdown here at Quarter Century, and each day one vendor at this year's show will be highlighted for your anticipatory pleasure.

Day Three: Door Peninsula Winery

Door Peninsula Winery is Wisconsin's own, and therefore, rather appropriate for this blog. They are well known for their fruit wines, but are becoming famous for their new grape offerings as well. Their wine is self-described as "food friendly and palate friendly with a soft, light tanin finish."

My favorites are the Door County (Red) Christmas, Cherry Nouveau Blush, and the Cranberry wine.

While I've never had the pleasure of taking a tour at the Door Peninsula Winery (though I've taken tours of plenty other wineries in Door County), a little known fact is that they are partners with Shipwrecked Brewery in Egg Harbor, WI - Door County's only microbrewer.

Last year I took a rather memorable tour of Door County wineries (note the plural), and Shipwrecked was our third stop. By that time most of the group except for the drivers were rather inebriated.

I can't say we were sorry.

Wednesday, February 10, 2010

RIP Phil Harris

It is with great sadness that I opened up my Yahoo! mail to read this notice.

Phil Harris, of Discovery Channel's Deadliest Catch has passed away.

You may remember my love affair with this popular, blue collar reality TV porn from previous posts. And you may remember last year that, in anticipation of the return of this great small screen gem, I asked the question, "Will Phil return to captain the Cornelia Marie?" knowing that he suffered a health problem the previous year.

Well, he did indeed return last year to the delight of all viewers, and he will be greatly missed now and in the future. It was just the other day that I checked Discovery Channel's site for information on the upcoming season, before I remembered that it usually starts in the Spring.

If you, like me, enjoy this show and wish to offer condolences, you can go to Discovery Channel's site and do so.

You can also view Captain Phil and Cornelia Marie highlights here.

12 Days of Fermented Christmas: Day Two

Get ready, Internets because we are just 10 short days away from the Twin Cities Food & Wine Experience.

Yesterday we began our trek of the 12 Days of Fermented Christmas, a Ms. Quarter blog countdown to the big event. Today I bring you the next in the series, The Good Earth, which is far better than any two turtledoves you may have.

Day Two: Good Earth
The Good Earth provides delicious food made from sustainable, organic, humanely raised and harvested ingredients. They believe that, "the more direct our connection to the planet, the better off we are."

For those in the Cream City area, Cafe Manna is a great counterpart.

Now, because all those ethical ingredients don't come cheap, menu prices at Good Earth can seem a little steep. However, they do boast a selection of menu choices that have "Tender Prices for Tough Times."

Sadly, I don't have a personal story to go with today's pick, but I can say I'm excited to enjoy a personal experience with The Good Earth at the food and wine show.

Tuesday, February 9, 2010

12 Days of Fermented Christmas: Day One

Hopefully you remember yesterday's post about the Twin Cities Food & Wine Experience.

Christmas doesn't come once a year on Minneapolis. No, Minnesotans enjoy a second Christmas every February when this event rolls around.

As such, I present to you the first post in a blog countdown entitled "The 12 Days of Fermented Christmas." Each day I will highlight one of the hundreds of vendors exhibiting at the 2010 food and wine show in an effort to build your excitement past any peak you originally thought you met in anticipation of the event.

First up is Bell's Brewery.

Day One: Bell's Brewery
Bell's Beer is a delightful brand of brews crafted in the great state of Michigan.

As stated on their website, Bell's boasts being the oldest craft brewer east of Boulder, CO.

My favorite brands for casual drinking are the Amber Ale, Winter White Ale, and the Third Coast Beer, though I do enjoy a Java Stout for that extra special treat.

My favorite memory of Bell's is from last year's food and wine show.

Every year exhibitors must take a pouring break, I believe, for liquor license reasons. After the pouring break, the PA usually provides a countdown to when exhibitors can begin serving.

The veteran attendees eye up their opportunities and choose the booth most likely to give them the best bang for their proverbial buck after these 30 minutes are complete.

This is what we did last year.

I was very proud of myself for not being too drunk once the break hit.

Pacing oneself is important when you have 7 hours, after all.

We anxiously awaited the countdown in front of the Bell's Brewery booth, thinking that we could get several samples from any one of several servers behind the bar. True enough, once the countdown was finished and the pouring commenced, the gentleman nearest us asked what we would like to taste.

I said I couldn't make up my mind and asked that he give me what he thought I might like.

He proceeded to pour a glass of every beer Bell's had available.

My soberness didn't last long.

Monday, February 8, 2010

Twin Cities Food & Wine Show

Ever since I turned 21 I've been attending the Twin Cities Food & Wine Show with my friends.

We've traveled from near and far to explore the gourmet delicacies and the innumerable wine and beer tastings, not to mention the cooking demonstrations and trade show trash.

We enjoy this. We enjoy it a lot.

So much so that when said friends told me they were unable to attend this year due to an ill-timed pregancy (haha, just kidding guys, 2.0 is adorable), I invited more friends to join me for the weekend.

Seeing that the show is in 12 days, I thought I'd create a blog countdown to commemorate the awesomeness of the Twin Cities Food & Wine Experience. A sort of "12 Days of Fermented Christmas" if you will.

Accept No Imitations
There are a lot of food and wine tastings in the area - we're in Milwaukee, afterall. But the Twin Cities' event, in my estimation, blows everyone else out the water. Why, you ask?

(go ahead, I'll wait)

Well, let's take a look at some answers to frequently asked questions to see if we can't figure it out...

1. Isn't $65 a high price to pay?
The low price of $65 gets you 7 HOURS of all you can eat and drink. The ticket price is all-inclusive - once you're into the show, you need not pay for anything extra unless you desire to. Most area shows have a $50 ticket price for, at the most, 3 hours of tasting. Not as expensive as you thought, now is it?

2. Yeah, but I have to pay for a hotel room. That adds to the cost.
Minnesota Monthly, sponsor of the event, also reserve a block of rooms at the nearby Hilton for event-goers, so hotel costs are low for shared rooms. Additionally, the Hilton is a short skywalk away from the Minneapolis Convention Center, ergo, it's unnecessary to step foot outside in the frigid Minnesota winter during the entire weekend.

3. Sure, those other shows may be more expensive on a per-hour basis, but the proceeds go to charity.
While I'm sure Minnesota Monthly likes to make a profit from the food and wine show, a portion of the proceeds also go to support Minnesota Public Radio. A noble endeavor, no?

4. What else is there besides wine and food tasting? Won't that be boring after awhile?
First of all, no. Seven hours of food and wine tasting will NEVER get boring. Fool.

But in case you're attention span is that weak, the show organizers plan several activities for your entertainment.

For example, last year they began a Local Chef Challenge featuring local, Minneapolis chefs in a Top Chef competition. This year I'm rooting for:

Michael Decamp - La Belle Vie
Scott Pampuch - The Corner Table
John Occhiato - D'Amico's
Sameh Wadi - Saffron Restaurant & Lounge

Also, this year there will be a Czar of Cakes Challenge, which I assume will be like Food Network Cakes Challenge.

Even if you are amused by 7 hours of food and wine tasting, no doubt taking a break to watch one of these live shows will be a treat. Not just for you, but for your liver as well, which will no doubt need a break during the day.

So there you have it. The Twin Cities Food & Wine Experience is an event not to be missed. Need more convincing? For a limited time only, photos from my 2009 food and wine show experience will be available for viewing at my Flickr page.

As a bonus, here's a video from last year of me doing my first oyster shot. Note: the gagging is not me not enjoying the oyster, it's the oyster being too big for me to swallow without chewing.

Friday, February 5, 2010

I don't watch Lost

Below is a video from Newsweek where staff who have never watched Lost watch some clips and see if they can make sense of the show.

I started watching the show when it first started, and halfway through the third episode I got bored. My friends tell me it's gotten real badass lately, but I just don't have the will to watch seasons of episodes in order to get to the good part.

As a consolation prize, I enjoy the video below.

Such Hate, Internets

As you may have noticed I've been busy here at Quarter Century. I've changed the colors and design a bit. I've started posting again and whatnot. Tonight I went through and labeled all of my previous posts for your perusing pleasure.

That's how I found this.

It's a ridiculous movie review I wrote on a ridiculous movie a long time ago.

It's also the reasoning behind me requiring registration for comments.

Not because I mind the criticism; I have to take it on a daily basis, in fact, No, it's because if someone is going to try to slay me in such a public manner, then I require that person to name him or herself.

I find that one detriment to the vast anonymity of the Internets is that people can get away with anything. Usually, as I've seen on many news sites, for example, what should be spirited, intelligent discussion devolves into name calling and hate speech.

So that explains my requirement for names behind the comments.

And I stand by my response to that poster. Yes, I believe it's the work of One person, or, at the very least, a couple of posters driven to this site for that very purpose by aforementioned One person.

Maybe someday I'll write a post explaining why this came to be, but for now you'll just have to trust me.

Single in the City: Up in the Air

Today I went to see Up in the Air. By myself. Remember, Internets, I like to do such things.

The theater was filled with approximately 115 empty seats, 9 people over the age of retirement, and yours truly.

I breezed in at a tight 5 minutes early - the only slightly awkward part about seeing a movie by yourself is sitting in the theater 20 minutes before showtime and blocking the center section of the row because of the weird, American, every-other-seat rule.

You know what I'm talking about.

Every person/couple/group MUST sit with one seat separating them.

Makes it damn tricky for a couple arriving late at a sold out midnight show of Lord of the Rings to find seats together is all I'm saying.

Anyway, back to the matter at hand. Yes, the audience was filled with the elderly, and yes it made me wonder if my generation undervalues the sex appeal of George Clooney.

For shame, Ladies, for shame.

The movie itself was very well done with only a few weaknesses, not that I'm the expert. But I can see why it's nominated for Best Picture, why Clooney, Farmiga, and Kendrick are nominated for acting, and why the film is NOT nominated for editing. Learn more about that here, but even I noticed a few odd choices in cuts...again, I'm not the expert.

I have to say though, my very favorite part of the movie was Sam Elliott. Because who better to be the metaphor for the culmintation of all that Clooney's character hoped and dreamed than the very man who gave The Dude his Zen back?

"Sometimes the bar, well, he eats you."

Exactly, Stranger, exactly.

But will the granny in row four please stop sighing so loudly and take her geritol already?