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food for thought: foods you are scared to make

18 Nov

Today’s food for thought question: Are there dishes or recipes that you are scared to make? Why?

Jen says:

I have a few….cooking a lobster being first on the list. It’s one of my food goals for this year and I still haven’t tried it. From everything I’ve heard, it’s not that hard, but it still freaks me out. I will complete my goal by the end of this year and you will for sure hear about it.  Number two is a souffle. I think it freaks me out because it freaks so many other people out.  Apparently is has to do with them “falling”. It can’t be an accident that so many people are scared of souffles, right? Have you made one? Was it as stressful as I’ve made it up to be?

The last one is hollandaise. I actually didn’t know I was scared of it until I decided to make it. So much can go wrong! I actually told myself to cowboy up and fake like I knew exactly how to prepare it. Going in confident (even if it’s fake confidence) will give you a leg up.

I’ll be posting soon on how it went, but until then here is a glimpse of what was involved….

Anne says:

Jen, up until you wrote this post, I had never pondered if there’s anything I’m scared to make. There are many, many things I don’t WANT to make, because I consider them too involved or they have too many ingredients or they simply don’t sound good to me. For example, I’ll rarely cook up a meal with seafood in it because I don’t particularly care for seafood, but if I was invited somewhere for dinner and a seafood dish was served, I’d probably eat it (if it wasn’t too scary. READ, if it wasn’t OYSTERS or squid tentacles or something.) Otherwise, I don’t think I’m particularly scared to make anything. I’d like to try a bunch of recipes from The New Spanish Table (like croquetas!) but I’ve never gotten around to it.

So, what about you? What freaks you out in the kitchen?


One year ago: a random rant on turkey day stress

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dual restaurant review: Red Stag Supperclub

10 Nov

She said. She said. was out on the town this past weekend. After months of finding a date that worked, we were finally able to take Anne and Pat out for their 10 year wedding anniversary. 10 years! That is definitely worth celebrating.

Brette and I had been to the Red Stag Supperclub recently and loved it and thought it was perfect for such an occasion. As usual, we’ll break it down for you in terms of atmosphere, service, and of course, the food.

Atmosphere:

Anne says: There was flannel! I would describe the atmosphere as “urban hipster supper-clubby kitschy-casual.” It was darkish, kinda noisy, with lots of activity.

Jen says: I agree with Anne’s description. I loved the supper club feeling, the variety of people and clothing, and the overall vibe.

Service:

Anne says: Our waitress was attentive, friendly, and informative. Gave her opinion on her favorite dish on the menu, which is always appreciated. Let us take our time ordering; we weren’t rushed at all.

Jen says: One thing I really appreciated is that before she gave her opinion on her favorite dishes, she didn’t say, “well, everything is good here”. That bugs me. They did a great job keeping our water glasses full and checking in regularly. On a side note, I loved that you could get still or sparkling water (at no charge) and you indicated your preference by which side of your coaster was flipped up. Bubbly water flowing free? Yes please.

Food:

Anne says: So much on the menu sounded really good. I had a hard time deciding what to order because I wanted to try lots of it. For starters we had the smelt fries (so not my thing, but the rest of the table liked them) and the truffled kettle corn, which was good. I was debating between ordering the squash ravioli, the roasted chicken, and the limousin burger. After much discussion at our table about the pros and cons of ordering ravioli in a restaurant (namely, the portions are typically quite small), I decided to go with the roasted chicken. I was not disappointed. It was served with polenta and kale and was very tasty and satisfying. The men both ordered the beef stroganoff, and I think they were both quite pleased with it. Jen will tell you about her meal. Oh! And Red Stag has an extensive drink/wine/beer menu. I had a cool, refreshing glass of sangria. I had it downed before my meal arrived, so yeah, I liked it.

Smelt Fries

Jen says: Smelt fries! I was so happy there was someone else there that was excited to order them (thanks Pat!). I mean, don’t you just have to order something like that? They were super tasty – little fried fish that I preferred dipped in ketchup. I loved the truffled kettle corn too. It is so different and distinct. I don’t know if they use a truffle butter or oil, but whatever it is, it works. I don’t think I’ll ever be able to go there without ordering a bowl. I too struggled with the main dish trying to decide between the burger and the swordfish that was on special. I ended up going with the swordfish since I would likely never make it at home. It came with an olive relish and red pepper sauce and it was super tasty. All of our meals were so good, that I completely forgot to take a photo of the entrees!

I opted for a glass of red wine (the Syrah), and Brette wanted me to mention that he thoroughly enjoyed his Old Fashioned. I think ordering an Old Fashioned at a supper club is completely appropriate and almost mandatory.

All in all, we all really liked the Red Stag. I would absolutely recommend it to others and would welcome an excuse to go again. I would advise making reservations as both times we’ve been there, it’s been very busy.

And then there was ice cream….

It pretty much goes without saying that when the four of us go out for dinner, we will end the evening with a trip to a local ice cream shop. I mean really, is there anything better than good ice cream?

We headed to Izzy’s and were not disappointed.

Anne says: I *heart* ice cream. I had the cinnamon ice cream with a chocolate izzy scoop in a waffle cone. (With a sample of the bubble gum for dessert). Izzy’s makes a most excellent cinnamon ice cream. And their chocolate is TDF.

Jen says: My heart rate just increased thinking about a trip to Izzy’s! I opted for the pumpkin ice cream with a cinnamon izzy scoop in a waffle cone. Side note: for Christmas one year, Brette gave me a pint of pumpkin ice cream from Izzy’s in my stocking. Hands down the best stocking stuffer I’ve ever received.  The pumpkin is my favorite flavor. If you live in the area and have a chance, head over there ASAP.

Have you been to Red Stag? What did you think?

One year ago: food for thought on coffee shops

it’s a boy!

7 Apr

So, my better half of She said. She said. will be be on hiatus for a bit because, well….

she had a baby!

Check out the good news over at her other blog for pictures of cute little Sam. :)

Congrats Anne! He’s beautiful!

Now…what should I cook to take over there? Any suggestions?

restaurant review: butcher block

29 Mar

A few weeks back, Jen and I and our significant others had a dinner date out. It’s always a bit of a conundrum for us to decide upon a dining establishment when we eat out together, as there are just! so! many! restaurants! to choose from. Do we try a NEW place? A tried and true FAVE place? An old standby that never disappoints? It’s always a bit of a process. This time we went with a restaurant that none of us had been to previously- Butcher Block in northeast Minneapolis. None of us had heard much of anything about this restaurant either, other than a few reviews that Jen had read.

The fact that it’s taken us weeks (perhaps even approaching a month now?) to write this review should key our readers in to our thoughts on the restaurant. While it wasn’t a bad experience, it is quite telling that if it took us so long to write a review, we really weren’t that in love with it.

Ambiance:

Anne: Hard to put a finger on a good description of the ambiance. Someone used the word “hotel restaurant.” I didn’t really agree because it had some character such as exposed brick and beams, but the decor was a bit blah. Also odd was the small bar area right when you walk in.

Jen: I also felt that it had a bit of an identity crisis going on. In the entrance was the odd bar Anne is referring to with a tattooed cool looking bartender. As you go further into the restaurant, you think it is a little more rustic; a homey Italian place where some older regulars are hanging out and then your waitress shows up who is very nice, but looks like she had just been waitressing at Champps.

Service:

Jen: As I mentioned, she was a bit on the ‘bar and grill’ side of waitress, but very pleasant. She gave some recommendations on the menu and was always very attentive.

Food:

Jen: I think we all agreed the food was good. Not necessarily fantastic, but enjoyable. I had the grilled pork tenderloin which was served with a white bean and wilted greens salad. The white beans still had a bit of a bite (which I like) and were obviously cooked from scratch and not out of can. I believe both Brette and Pat had the short ribs and enjoyed them.

Anne: Is it also telling that I don’t remember exactly what I had?? Quickly perusing their menu, I’m able to recall that Pat and I shared a salad, which I believe was the beet and arugula salad. Liked it! For my main course I ordered a pasta dish- the Bucatini all’ Amatriciana. It was good, but definitely not the best pasta dish I’ve ever eaten.

Jen: We did opt to skip dessert and head to Sebastian Joe’s instead. This isn’t really a reflection on the food though, it’s just something we always do when we dine out together – go out for ice cream.

In sum: Will we be heading back to Butcher Block anytime soon?

Anne: Probably wouldn’t choose it if I was looking for somewhere to dine out for an evening, but if friends were meeting there or someone else organized a dinner event there, I would go back.

Jen: I’m in no hurry to go back and wouldn’t pick it if it were up to me, but like Anne, would go along if that’s what the group decided.

I’m interested if anyone has been there and what their experience was….anyone?

fork the fire

8 Mar

Do you need an excuse to go out for dinner this coming weekend?

In search of a place to take a hot date?

I have the answer for you.

As many of our readers know, a recent tragic fire took out two fabulous Minneapolis restaurants: Heidi’s and Blackbird.

The awesome Minneapolis/St. Paul restaurant industry is coming together to help put the pieces back together with an event called Fork the Fire.

It all happens on Sunday, March 14th. You can help by eating at one of the participating restuarants. I love that when I eat, I help. Not a bad gig.

The hardest part will be deciding where to go.

dual restaurant review: bar la grassa

3 Feb

In the past few weeks both Anne and I have had the pleasure of dining at Bar La Grassa. This Minneapolis hot spot has received rave reviews- the Star Tribune named it restaurant of the year.  It’s a She Said, She Said unanimous write-up; we both agree that La Grassa’s accolades are well deserved.  Here are our takes on the latest hot spot.

Atmosphere:

JEN SAYS: It’s hard to believe that this space was once Babalu. In fact, Brette did not believe me when I said something like, “I can’t believe this used to be Babalu”. They have done a complete makeover. I found it modern yet cozy, and and although they have quite a few tables in the room and the place was packed, I could still have a conversation with my fellow diners without having to shout.

ANNE SAYS: I love what they did with the space. The fresh, modern decor looked great- also loved the paint colors. The atmosphere- I’d describe it as ‘busy’ and ‘energetic’ and ‘lively’. There was lots going on, but I was also able to hear just fine and carry on conversations with the other diners at our table of eight. [Additionally, I quite enjoyed watching the photographer and her big impressive camera and tripod shoot up the place. I wonder where they’re being featured?? I’d love to see her shots from that night.]

Service:

JEN SAYS: I thought the service was top notch all the way through. We arrived about 5 minutes prior to our 8 o’clock reservation and our table was ready and waiting. Our server was very friendly and extremely helpful in explaining the menu, suggesting a few items and checking in on us just the right amount; Enough to take care of our needs but not to the point of being a part of our dinner conversation.  Because it is such a popular pace and a hard reservation to get, I was anticipating being “moved along”, but no such thing – a great surprise.

ANNE SAYS: I’d describe our server as not the most patient person I’ve encountered. She was nice, and did a fine job of serving us, but was visibly annoyed when she returned to take our orders and we still requested a few more minutes to decide. With a table of eight chatty women, she probably should have been able to predict that we’d not be super on the ball with ordering. Then, she TOOK AWAY my friend’s plate of food as she was in the middle of TAKING A BITE of something. That was a pretty big server faux pas, if you ask me. She apologized, but still TOOK THE PLATE OF FOOD AWAY. In that sense, I did feel like we were being a bit rushed along. [Additionally, I was not bothered at all when a server dropped a little rameken of butter that went rolling across the floor and landed at my feet. He was calm, cool, collected… added some extra excitement to my experience!]

Food:

JEN SAYS: The best part! The menu is broken out into 6 sections; antipasti, bruschetta, dry pasta, fresh pasta, secondi (table mains) and contorni (table sides). As a table we shared the seared scallops and the soft eggs and lobster bruschetta.  The scallops were served on top of some sort of braised pork number that was fought over and was a great complement to the perfectly cooked scallops. Although they were wonderful, they didn’t compare (in my eyes) to the soft egg and lobster bruschetta. I was tempted to order 2 more for my main dish. It is exactly what it sounds like – a soft scrambled egg with lobster mixed in served over a toasted baguette. It was heaven.

For the main course, each of us ordered a different type of fresh pasta. They were all delicious. My sister Joan ordered the Crab Ravioli – 4 crab filled raviolis that she was nice enough to share.  Her husband ordered the Fettucini Alfredo (which apparently he orders anywhere it’s on the menu, making him an alfredo expert). He said it was the best he has had so that should tell you something.  I ordered the Gnocchi with Cauliflower and Orange. This dish had been recommended by quite a few people and now I know why. It was fabulous. The gnocchi were small, soft and flavorful, the cauliflower was just al dente and the orange was just the essence, no big chunks. It was very well balanced. I would order it again and probably again and again.

Brette’s dish was the table favorite. Orecchiette with Braised Rabbit. The pasta was as delicious as the others, but the melt in your mouth rabbit stole the show. I don’t think Brette was happy about having to share.

We did not order anything off the secondi menu which was wise for the reason that we had room for dessert. Brette went with the Izzy’s Salted Caramel Ice Cream (if you live in the metro and have not yet been to Izzy’s, please go now. You’ll thank me). I had the carrot cake, which was delightful. It was light yet it had a little something to it that gave it a bite – I haven’t figured out what that was – I guess I’ll have to go back.  Joan had the table favorite dessert.  Crispelle with Salted Butter and Caramel. It was essentially a caramel filled crepe with more caramel sauce on top and a little scoop of ice cream. I think one more glass of wine and Joan would’ve been licking the plate.

ANNE SAYS: I was extremely pleased with my meal, and from what I could tell, everyone at the table agreed that the food was superb. We didn’t do much round-the-table sharing because we were a table of eight people and not all of us knew one another, so we mainly ordered our own starters and main courses. From the antipasti section of the menu, I ordered the Apple and Prosciutto with Gorgonzola Parmesan Dressing. I would describe this dish as a cold apple slaw (with I think radicchio mixed in) tossed in the gorgonzola parmesan dressing, and wrapped in a lovely piece of prosciutto. I loved it as a salad/appetizer, would definitely order it again, and could eat it every single day. For my main course I ordered the Bucatini with Bolognese, and I thought it was rich, flavorful, and delicious. I was so pleased to have leftovers of my dish so I could eat it again for lunch the next day. Finally, there was no way I was getting out of there without having dessert. One of my favorite ways to cleanse my palate is with ice cream, so I selected the Izzy’s chocolate hazelnut which did not disappoint.

Oh, and a word on the amuse-bouche**  and post-dinner tidbit. I really enjoyed the cold white bean palate-whetter before the meal began. The jalapeno/pine nut toffee at the end though?? That kind of scared me, so I didn’t try it. The ladies at my table who did try it weren’t too excited about it. But, I do give the restaurant credit for coming up with a new and creative “parting gift” instead of the usual mint.

Recap:

JEN SAYS: For me, Bar La Grassa was as great as everyone had claimed it was. I wasn’t dissapointed and am already excited about a return trip.  If you’ve been, please let me know of your favorite dish so I can start planning my next experience. If you haven’t been, put it on your list. High on your list.

ANNE SAYS: Ditto that. Quite possibly the best dining experience I’ve had in a long time. I am very, very eager to go back to try out a few different menu items.

——————————————–

**Amuse-bouche = French for ‘mouth amuser’. Small piece of food selected by the chef and served before the meal begins. Read more here. Why am I bothering writing about this? Husband was so pleased that he knew this term before I did. He’s such the foodie!

an evening at brasa

22 Jan

She Said. She Said. went on a field trip this week to Brasa. Simple, Good and Tasty was holding a local food dinner there and we were very willing participants. Not only was 85% of the food served local (not an easy task in MN…in January), but many of the food producers were there to talk to.  Plus, Chef Alex Roberts, with his multiple James Beard nominations was there to talk about the importance of local food and Brasa’s commitment to it. How cool is that?

We took our darling husbands with us and were also joined by 2 other couples who were loads of fun.

Doesn’t she look fun?

This is her husband. He’s fun too. And he’s a smart ass who likes to get people riled up. I like that about him. (<<—-that was Jen’s comment!)

Aren’t they cute?

Then there was the food.  Both of us are fans of Brasa so it’s not surprising that we thought the food was tasty.

Here was the menu (click to view larger):

Some of the items on the menu are things you can always get at Brasa (a good thing) and some were just for this event (also a good thing).
Below is a bit more detail on the food and our thoughts on it.

Yucca and Black Bean Fritter

This was a bonus item to the menu – score!

Jen: I love black beans and I love yucca so I guess you could say I liked this a lot.

Anne: LOVED these!! Wish we’d had more at the table!!

Potato Rolls and Cornbread

Jen: Loved the cornbread, but thought the potato rolls were just okay. Our second round of cornbread was served with honey butter – which I could have eaten with a spoon.

Anne: Lost count, but I’m pretty sure I ate 5 corn muffins total. Could eat those all day everyday. Didn’t try the rolls…didn’t want to waste any carbs on something that wasn’t cornbread.

  • Smoked beef and pork sausage, house-cured ham and smoked aged cheddar

Jen: I thought both of the meats were very tasty. The cheese tasted like cheddar, but I didn’t think it was anything special. However, I’m not a huge cheese person so I might be the wrong one to judge.

Anne: Loved the smoky cheddar and the ham. I’m not so into sausage, but it was good as well.

Homemade Sauerkraut

Jen: Brette loved this. I liked it, but wasn’t wowed – although I think making your own sauerkraut is pretty cool.  It was better than the sauerkraut I tried to make awhile back.

Anne: I liked it. Would never need to eat more than a bite though.

Roasted Red Beets with Hot Pepper Vinegar and Potato Salad with Mustard and Egg

Jen: Loved the beets, but not the potato salad. However, I don’t like potato salad in general. Brette thought it was awesome and he’s a potato salad connoisseur. So, take his word for it, not mine.

Anne: I thought the potato salad was excellent! I loved the interesting whipped potato consistency, in addition to the chunks of potato and egg. Didn’t try the beets.

Smoked Berkshire Pork Shoulder

Jen: This is staple on the Brasa menu and always a crowd pleaser. With that said, I liked the other meats more.

Anne: Liked it; it’s a great Brasa staple that I would continue coming back to.

Delicata Squash with Brown Sugar Glaze

Jen: I could have eaten this all night. It was pretty sweet, but that is probably why I couldn’t stop eating it.

Anne: Very yummy. Squash is not always my fave, but how could you go wrong with all that brown sugar?

Marinated and Whole Fried Chicken

Jen: This was a table favorite. The chicken was super juicy and the skin was perfectly crispy. I didn’t even know it was fried until I read the menu.

Anne: Ditto! It was really good. I ate two pieces!

Stewed Black Beans and Collard Greens with Smoked Mushrooms

Jen: Two more standards at Brasa. I thought both were good, but not great.

Anne: The beans were good. I didn’t try the greens (I find them ishy) and I hate mushrooms.

Cabbage and Apple Coleslaw

Jen: I do like a good slaw and this one did not disappoint. It would be great on top of a pulled pork sandwich.

Anne: I thought this was really good. Light and cool and flavorful- would make a great summer side dish.

Slow Roasted Goat and Rustic Corn Grits with Cheddar

A close-up of the goat.

Jen: My first time eating goat and it will not be my last. I loved it! The pieces I had were very tender and the seasoning was super good.  There was a lot of discussion on the spices used. We came up with coconut, all-spice, chinese 5-spice, cinnamon and coriander – who knows what was actually used, but it was very tasty. The grits were grits – they are always on the menu.

Anne: Have I ever mentioned I’m not a real adventurous eater? That said, more unusual things like goat tend to give me the heeby jeebies. (I just picture the hairy little goat head going “meeeeeehhhhh” and it does me in.) BUT, I will try anything once, and so I took one piece of goat and it was really chewy and crunchy and there is nothing I find more gaggy than chewy meat ANDSO I didn’t really like the goat. Perhaps I should have taken another taste, but I did not. The grits- fine.

Dessert!

Jen: This was another non-menu item. I had the ginger scone with some sort of pear on top and it was delicious. I think Anne was eating the chocolate brownie missing from the plate as this picture was taken. Pregnant women cannot wait for photos.

Anne: The chocolate brownie was good (not as good as the corn muffins though!!), as were those caramel cookie things.

Anne’s thoughts in sum: I thought it was a very enjoyable evening. The food was great and I definitely left full. Things got a bit loud in the restaurant so it was difficult to have a conversation with anyone who wasn’t sitting right next to me (perhaps I’m more deaf than the next guy?). Pat and I did talk a bit about how we probably could have dined at Brasa on a regular night with the same group of people, ordered a hearty portion of the same foods, and gotten by a little less expensively. (Does that take into account the two spendy Surlys though dear?) All in all a fine night of dining; I’m glad we went.

Jen’s thoughts in sum: I agree with Anne that although it was very enjoyable, it was a bit loud. I still love Brasa and look forward to dining there again. I liked actually hearing from the chef himself and that there were things I couldn’t get off their regular menu. The company was delightful and overall very enjoyable evening.