Friday, December 20, 2019

Eating Meat in Minneapolis

I was going to give this post a title of just "Minneapolis"... until I looked at my photos and realized it was pretty much a bunch of pics of meat that I ate.  I hadn't been back since 2014, other than the airport for connections, and I had the chance to return for another work trip to our Minneapolis office.  I was joined by coworkers who lean to the carnivorous side of life (as I sometimes do!) and we definitely indulged.

But first, a photo of some art because it was outside our super cool hotel, the Emery.  I wish I'd taken more photos inside, because the lobby was so unique (so many plants!) and the rooms were quirky too.

For dinner the first night we were in town, a group of us headed to Manny's a classic steakhouse and Minneapolis meat institution since the '80s.  It's often in the "top steakhouses" lists nationally, and they bring out this rolling cart of meat to describe the cuts and help you make decisions.  I've been fortunate during my travels to experience a lot of great steakhouse, so I was excited to visit Manny's.  I couldn't resist taking a photo of the artwork in the waiting area of the restaurant, which is pretty, um, ballsy.  LOL.

The side at Manny's are shareable, and we got the giant hash browns with onions and the macaroni and cheese.  I loved the macaroni, but I wished the hash browns were crispier.  It's such a thick patty, the insides don't get crispy, so I think if they did two thinner layers it would be better.  But they're doing fine without my input, so I'll let it be!

For steak, I got the filet though I considered the baseball steak because that sounded good too.  It was a really good steak, as you would expect.  Not the greatest steak I've had in my life, but a great steakhouse experience for sure.

The server was outstanding, and he threw in a crazy dessert for us to try.  It was huge, and it had a steak knife running through it!

The next night, our larger group went to another downtown restaurant known for its meats, Butcher & the Boar.  We ordered a smorgasbord of things (including charcuterie and the sausage sampler), and they were all delicious!  The restaurant has a hipster beer garden vibe in all the right ways, and I thought the food was really great.  I preferred it to the more traditional experience at Manny's the previous night.

For my main, I was going to order the sausage sampler, but they ordered some for the table so I got to try those beforehand!

So I ordered a steak for dinner, again!  And it was another filet... topped with smoked onion rings.  It was really good, even better than the one I had the previous night.

So as you can see, pretty much the only photos I took in Minneapolis were of meat.  :)  It's a really cool city that I'd like to explore more someday, but sadly the weather wasn't the most conducive to that.  Maybe next trip!

Thursday, December 19, 2019

Succulent & Cacti Naked Cake

I've been wanting to learn to do flowers and succulents in buttercream frosting, because I've always found piping to be a bit intimidating.  As I've grown more confident in my ability to make good-tasting cake and frosting, I've spent the past couple of years focused on making my cakes look more well-stacked, level, and decorated.

photo by Allison

My friend was organizing a baby shower for another one of our work friends, and a naked cake with succulents and cacti totally fit the bill.  The mom-to-be is a plant lady, so it was the perfect excuse to try out something new in decorating!  I used Wilton gel food colors (Moss Green and Leaf Green for the plants) and some videos from Wilton to get started, then just went to YouTube and typed in "buttercream succulent" and watched techniques.

photo by Allison

I screwed up quite a few of them, but the ones that didn't find their way into my mouth (emotional eaters, I see you) ended up on little pieces of parchment paper to go into the freezer.  Freezing them really helped firm them up for when I placed them on the cake itself!  It also helped divided up the work so I could get this done on a weeknight.

I'm SO pleased by how this cake turned out.  I'm an amateur baker and decorator with no training, just figuring things out as I go.  But I love to bake as a sort of love language, so I'm game to try new things.  My favorite professional to follow is Minette Rushing, who I met during my time in Savannah.

I'm pleased as Punch with how this cake turned out!

Tuesday, December 10, 2019

Return to Bentonville, Arkansas

I've traveled to Bentonville, Arkansas on and off since 2012 for work, as it's the home base for retail giant Walmart.  I went back for a few days this year for a work trip, and I tried my best to take photos of some of the highlights!

From a food perspective, my favorite meal was at The Preacher's Son, set in a restored church just off the downtown square in Bentonville.  Their menu changes seasonally, and in hindsight I can't remember exactly what we ordered, but everything, from the cocktails to the appetizer to the food was delicious.  I vaguely remember choosing a cocktail with pisco in it, because it reminded me of my honeymoon in Peru.

Preacher's Son

Preacher's Son

Another night, we went as a group to Doe's Eat Place, which makes me chuckle.  Saying "Eat Place" instead of restaurant reminds me of the time on The Office when Kevin decided to speak in "small talk" and not using complete sentences.  "Why waste time say lot word when few word do trick?"  That said, the tamales and steak were yummy, the portions were huge (I shared my steak with my work bestie) and Peyton Manning has eaten there, so...  #winning.

On our last free night, my coworkers and I visited Crystal Bridges Museum of American Art.  It's as beautiful a building as ever, but the collection/organization have changed a ton since my last visit.  It's definitely worth visiting, but it has dropped off my list of favorite museums in place of some others.  But the sculpture trails are worth a visit on a sunny day for sure!

We actually hit up two museums in the same day, visiting The Walmart Museum in downtown Bentonville.  It's another place that I think has expanded/grown since I first visited.  I remember it feeling a lot smaller.  But my favorite bit of the museum is still Sam Walton's preserved office, down to stacks of magazines and things on the floor.

You could pretty much count the 21C hotel as a third museum, if you think about it.  It's full of artwork, including a painting from a French artist that I really loved!  We grabbed beautiful drinks at The Hive (I think mine was the Origami Crane.) and then walked to Tavola for Italian food.  Both The Hive and Tavola were placed I used to visit on trips in the past.

My 2019 trip to Bentonville was a good mix of new and old haunts for me.
Have you ever been to Northwest Arkansas?

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