Merlins Rest

19 Jul

I stopped by Merlins Rest the other night, to see how the dinner fare was. Merlins Rest is the owned by Lee Tomlin and in addition Bill Watkins, of the former Molly Quinns is often there as well. Bill’s official title is Minister of Culture, which he embodies whole heartedly.

He is the author of three books A Celtic Childhood“, “Scotland is Not for the Squeamish” and “The Once and Future Celt.

I first met Bill at Molly Quinns for  none other than St Patrick’s day 2003 (or maybe it was 2002.) He immediately welcomed us in and asked us to call him Uncle Bill. Once MQ closed I thought I had lost Uncle Bill forever, that is until I had the good fortune to be invited out for New Years 2010 to Merlin’s Rest . Along with the festivities I was treated to my first Scotch Egg, and quite a bit of fun, but I hadn’t been back until recently for dinner. I had heard about the legendary Fish and Chips. (Best in the Cities, probably in the state). Of course I had to try them. I was quite impressed. Not that I can say that I’m a fish and chip connoisseur, but these were amazing.

They have exactly the right amount of malt vinegar and crunch to them. The batter is delicious and well, the white fish is white fish, but it was cooked well and flakey and delicious. With not even a hint of rubber to them which is often what I find when I’ve ordered fish and chips elsewhere.

They also offer a Yankee version, no newsprint, no malt, and no fun, if you ask me.

On another visit recently I tried the Ploughman’s with English Stilton which was completely unexpected and fantastic. They vary a bit away from a traditional Ploughman’s Lunch in favor of a much greener, healthier, lighter dish. Additionally there was a HUGE chunk of stilton, so they were already on my good list. As much as I pretend that the bread is part of it, I would happily eat the stilton by the handfuls without any bread or crackers. Oh and I haven’t even mentioned the basil butter, divine!!

After a healthy dose of Strongbow (and a Black & Tan for Noah) we enjoyed the splendid English Toffee Cake. My mother tells me this is almost exactly what her grandmother used to make so for her it’s completely nostalgic. For me it was just fantastic.

In addition to the food is the weekly live entertainment and trivia. While we were dining there was live music which both my daughters enjoyed dancing to and added to the welcoming ambiance.  I wholeheartedly enjoyed my dinner, and maybe if I get brave I may go back to try my hand at some trivia.


Eat Ramen, Help Japan Event

12 Jul

If you are looking for something to do July 21st, look no further.

The Eat Ramen/Help Japan event is a gathering of top local chefs and eaters as they celebrate the craft of ramen while helping to feed the survivors of the Japan earthquake and tsunami.

My husband will be also throwing his hat in the ring and making his special recipe that he makes for us at home. I can’t wait to try all the different variations of interpretations of ramen made by all the talented chefs.

Volunteers still needed as well!

Favorite Foodie Blogs – Part 2

29 Jun

There are so very many talented, inspiring food bloggers that I have come to know recently that I’m not even sure I cam sum it up in two posts. I fully expect there to be a part three forthcoming or possibly just having a regular update of blogs I’ve discovered and love.

  • Shaina of Food For My Family. Shaina is amazing. I know she hates it  when I pour on the platitudes, so in lieu of that, just go to her blog and be amazed. Never again will you wonder what to make for dinner, read and be inspired!

  • Relishing It Laurie is so fantastic. She makes cooking look both simple and easy and has almost convinced me I want to give it a try on a regular basis, almost!

  •  Jenny and Will at Hao Chi who have divided their site in to restaurants, cooking, and favorites and since I’m interested in both their restaurant reviews and what they are cooking at home I often spend a great deal of time catching up on this blog.

  • Amy Peterson at Green Your Plate, I don’t need to say much more. The name tells you what you need to know. Veggies are our friends, Amy just helps you to see it that way. Most of the folks who read my blog are already converted, but I love this blog I learn something every time I read it. Also, Amy is a fantastic photographer, and has done a great job documenting our #MNFoodBloggers events

  • Crystal of Cafe Cyan is also amazing and like Amy, she posts the most delicious veggie based recipes, and let’s face it, she’s a total hoot in person!  Read her blog and fall in love.

  • Thyme in our Kitchen‘s Matt just celebrated his one year anniversary of Blogging! Congrats Matt!  He is a thoughtful writer who ties family and life into his posts and he is also a skilled photographer. His posts are beautiful and they make me want to taste everything he makes.
Next post of  amazing food bloggers up soon!


27 Jun

I’m embarrassed to say that up until a few years ago I’d never really eaten a fig. Aside from an occasional fig newton, I didn’t give them much thought, until I went over to a friend’s house and she was serving them with goat cheese and prosciutto. They were spectacular, and I promptly stuffed my face. Then I went to my local grocery store and was disappointed to find out that not only do most stores not carry them, but secondly if you do find them they are only in season for a short time, at least in MN.

So tonight, I’m wandering though Whole Foods trying to decide what to eat, and whamo! There are the figs. I think I actually danced in the aisle. But they are so yummy. Even my 14 month old thought they were pretty good stuff, my seven-year old told me they were too sweet. ( this from the kid that will eat an entire bowl of ice cream if left to her own devices.)

This is what we made with them tonight.

Sliced mozzarella

Sliced Figs

Toasted Baguette

and a generous helping of prosciutto.

I miss you, sweet readers

26 Jun

I am so sorry, I’ve been absent of late, but don’t think for a moment I’ve forgotten about you. I haven’t. I have many posts planned, only problem is they are all still in my head. Sorry about that!

There have been a multitude of #MnFoodBlogger events, so numerous I doubt I could do them justice, plus I know my peers have done an excellent job of keeping the food blogger community updated.

During my period of inactivity on this blog, I have started a nonprofit management blog (which as many start-up do) is sucking up all my time.  I apologize, but if you’re interested in seeing what I’ve been up to check out The Good Counsel Blog.

Next up more about food and my fabulous peers!! xoxo

Favorite Foodie Blogs – Part 1

3 Jun

In Minnesota we are blessed with an abundance of great places to eat, wonderful seasonal farmers markets, and many, many food bloggers. I haven’t done my research, so I don’t know if Minnesota has an unusually high number of food bloggers or if it just seems that way since we have formed this posse of awesomeness called the #MNFoodBloggers group.

Below is my list of others that I read often and  am inspired by. They are in order of how I came across them or what I noted specifically about the person or the blog.

L>R Steph, Virginia, Lisa, Kate

  • Stephanie Meyers blog Fresh Tart was the first food blog I’d ever heard about. I’ve known Stephanie since I was nine years old and I remember when she started this “Food Blog” and I remember my father telling me about it with some uncertainty in his voice, like he wasn’t sure he was pronouncing the word ‘blog’ correctly. (Remember, it was like 1997 or something). Over the years I have periodically checked in on her blog, and as I have mentioned in earlier posts, she was my main motivation and inspiration to start my blog.

Keane of Food Stoned

  • The second blog I started to frequent was FoodStoned, after meeting Keane for the first time in February, shortly after beginning my blog, I was blown away by how many folks in the Twin Cities had  food blogs much less awesome people like Keane. I started reading Keane’s blog because his opinions of most foods/restaurants mirrored my own and we have similar personalities and humor. I found his blog was a great place to check if I wanted to try a new place, but wasn’t sure I’d like it. I’d check in with Keane to see if he’d been there and written about it. If he had, I would usually glean some inside info about what to order, or not order, etc. (if you like the first two I would suggest following @stephstoned on twitter, a parody account of these two bloggers not done by either, and hilarious!)

L>R Matt (Featured in part 2) Me and Kate

  • I’ve subsequently started reading many other food blogs focused more on recipes and eating healthy, and another favorite of mine is Kate in the Kitchen. Kate is very knowledgeable about food, an engaging writer and I always learn something when reading her posts. She also has a killer sense of humor and I think she’s another of my long-lost sisters. She is passionate and kind and her posts are thoughtful and engaging.

  • Speaking of healthy food, which is one of my passions, another great blogger is Jen & Co. I like Jen’s blog because she don’t make food seem presumptuous. She takes the time to explain why she uses the ingredients she does and gives a background of the foods she’s using in her recipes and why. She has inspired me to try to make some of the recipes on her site, and again, since I’m not the most ambitions in the kitchen, this is saying something.
  • Next up is Lisa and her blog Making Electricity. She’s a baker, something which I frequently attempt with very mixed success. She inspires me to want to bake better!

  • Eating for England is well, brilliant. Well written and funny. Angharad is very dedicated to her craft. I admire her care and attention to detail in her posts which in turn makes me want to read her updates and check her blog often. Plus when I read her posts in my head, I do so with a British accent. Sorry dear, it just happens!!
  • Roots and Zest. Virginia, what can I say? I love this woman! She’s a clever writer, hilarious person and one of the coolest moms I know.  Also, if there ever is a zombie apocalypse, I want her on my team.

These will be weekly for a while, until I exhaust my list of awesome food bloggers.

Nutrition Labels

1 Jun

This has to be hands down the funniest “nutrition statement” I have ever read.

But they have a point. I for one like my ice cream to taste like ice cream. Not watered down, low-fat ice slush. Bottom line, ice cream isn’t low-calorie or full of vitamins. Remember ice cream is amazing, but it’s all about the portion sizes. At least that’s my personal mantra. Enjoy!