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Like Father – Lessons in Wine and Sauteed Mushrooms

My dad’s taught me a few things over the years:

  • How to throw a softball
  • How to swing a golf club from the tee box and how to putt from 10′ away
  • How to pronounce “gewurztraminer”
  • How to peel, de-vein, and boil or saute shrimp
  • What the differences are between Champagne, Cava, and Prosecco (location, really)

One of my favorite things he taught me? How to saute the perfect steak mushroom. The best part? It couldn’t be easier.

We start with baby bellas and slice them thick — those little guys shrink up a lot!

While I’m slicing the mushrooms, he’s got a saute pan on the stove heating with red wine, butter, and Worcestershire sauce. That’s the jist of it. The mushrooms go into the pan and simmer and soak up the sauce until they’re a lot smaller than they were when they started and until you’ve eaten about 10 or so out of the pan to test for the perfect texture and flavor.

Quality control is crucial.

Before we did the mushrooms, I chopped up all of the of the red potatoes that were then sprinkled with extra virgin olive oil, salt, pepper (fresh ground peppercorns), and topped with rosemary (fresh, from the potted plant in their kitchen). Really basic, but oh-so-tasty.

Ok, this was kind of a silly little post about mushrooms and potatoes, but spending quality time with my dad is something I enjoy more and more as I get older. Ma’s been telling my sister and I for years how much fun we are as we get older, and well… the same is true of them.

Don’t tell them I said that.

As for wine, we started with a pretty Chardonnay and had a Nebbiolo to go with the steaks. Everything was perfectly seasoned and chopped to perfection (because that’s my job, and I’m really good at it).


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’.