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Town Talk Diner – Lake Street, Minneapolis

I’ve read about it, heard about it, and have even seen it on TV.  Guy Fieri of Food Network’s “Drivers, Dine-ins and Dives” featured it on that show.  The Town Talk Diner seems to have been the talk of the Twin Cities for as long as I’ve been paying attention to the metro dining scene (which, granted hasn’t been all that long, but whatever).

So when finally presented with the chance to try it, I was ecstatic.

I met my friend Melissa there right around 6pm. With all the buzz I’d heard, I expected it to be packed – especially seeing as I read online somewhere that they don’t ever take reservations. I walked in to find 2-3 people at the bar, and maybe 6 or so tables sat in the main dining area (leaving over half the restaurant empty).

The server was friendly, though a little slow. No worries though, we weren’t in any hurry. We didn’t do anything fancy for drinks – just a couple of beers.

Food: I avoided the overwhelming temptation to order the Pulled Pork Sandwich. Anytime this is a menu item at a restaurant, there’s a magnetic pull, drawing this Memphis-raised girl in. I could almost taste the coleslaw (ON the sandwich, thank you very much) and tender pork.

But I didn’t. I decided that if I was going to try something new, I needed to order something I hadn’t seen before, something I didn’t grow up on.

I picked the Bacon-Wrapped Pear Salad, and absolutely loved it. Four pear halves, each wrapped in perfectly cooked bacon, surrounded a mound of endive and mixed greens and was topped with bleu cheese dressing and sunflower seeds. Salty bacon, sweet pear and tangy Bleu cheese dressing were perfectly complementary flavors. There was enough of the bacon and pear goodness to last the whole salad, so it’s not like I got to the last bit of lettuce wishing for some more fruit and pork. Nope, it was perfectly portioned.

Melissa got the Grilled Cheese (cheddar, gruyere, avocados and tomatoes – yum!), but the key part of her dish was the Garlic Rosemary french fries. Oh. My. God. Those were perfect.

So, while I’m not a food writer or critic of any kind, I can tell you that I was happy with my meal, though still not quite sure what all of the hype is about for the place as a whole. Maybe I’m missing something or need to go for breakfast or brunch?

PS, Emily?  The website mentions a bacon-infused bourbon on their drink list.  I’m just sayin’.

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Broadening My Horizons

It’s become apparent to me that rather than making a list of New Year’s resolutions, my approach to 2009 could’ve much better been summed up in a list of just two items:

  1. Try new things.
  2. Learn new things.

Seriously, with the Get-Healthy resolution, I knew it had to be more than a diet. I love food, all kinds of food, so I knew that denying myself favorites just wouldn’t happen or I’d give up in about four days.  I do have personal goals, but I wanted this to be a lifestyle overhaul; I wanted the way I cooked to change.

I get a lot of inspiration from friend and food blogger, Kate. I’m also doing a lot of digging and reading a lot of food blogs, recipe sites, and magazines to learn how to make favorite dishes healthier, adding vegetables to every dish and looking for lighter, leaner meats.

The biggest thing I’ve been learning is how to overhaul my kitchen and cook differently. It’s also been incredibly fun. Since I already love to turn my kitchen into a Test Kitchen, I’ve been spending more and more time in the kitchen perfecting things, tweaking things, and eating a lot of healthier meals.

Two things I’ve never made before that I’m going attempt before spring: lasagna and soup. I know, they’re both simple because you get to just through everything in a pan and call it a day, but I’ve just never buckled down and done either of them from scratch, and it’s damn near time I did.

My second resolution is to learn new things, pick up new hobbies. For starters, I’ve grown up with an intense aversion to all things crafty and always got really overwhelmed and annoyed walking through Michael’s or Jo-Ann’s.  All those little pieces and strings and fabrics… WTF was I supposed to do with all that stuff?! Cue: anxiety.

Well, not any more. I started card-making (bizarre for someone who’s always hated the idea of scrap-booking) at the turn of the new year and almost have enough to start giving a couple of sets as gifts. That’s definitely a new thing.

Knitting. Last night, Kate came over and introduced me to two new things – lentils and knitting. The lentil dish included bacon and sausage which is pretty much an automatic ‘W’ in my book. It was awesome. As for knitting, I never, ever in my whole life thought I’d have the patience for it; it’s detailed, it’s time-consuming, and the probability of me making mistakes, finding a gaping hole in my fabric, and having to start over was high.

Yet, I found it’s something I can actually do, and not only that? I wanted to keep going. I knitted a row this morning before I went to work, just to make sure I remembered what I was doing. (I did!) [Spoiler alert from the future: this did NOT stick]

I’m going to find a way to track my progress, but here are the preliminary items, off the top of my head that I want to learn/try in 2009:

  • beading
  • sewing
  • cook this lentil dish (which is what I tried last night)
  • knit a scarf
  • take better photos of food (since I write about it all the time)

I’m open to new ideas! Tell me what new things you’re doing this year and maybe I’ll try it too. And since life is about balance and bacon should be it’s own food group, maybe I’ll even try a bacon mat.

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