Over the last week, which peaks on this Fresh Forkin' Friday, I have been asked by no less than SIX people about gifiting knives for Christmas. It seems like it's the thing to give your aspiring foodist this season, and I say good. There's nothing that can quite change a home kitchen like a good knife. Seriously, I have watched (with glass of wine in hand) while friends have slaved and slogged through a pre-dinner chopping/slicing/dicing task that leaves them exhausted and dispirited for the inconsistent, not-quite-like-the-picture mound of ingredients. It's not because they are bad cooks; it is simply because their knives suck. A good knife will help you slide through celery with a rocking rhythm, it will cut straight and true, it will boost confidence. You don't have to go out and buy a ceramic beauty that sets you back a car payment, but you should consider paying a bit more for something that will last and be your soldier through many meals. If there's one knife to have in your drawer, it's the classic chef's knife. I'd say the second would be a paring knife. I've been sending people to the Knife Guy at Eversharp and the kids at Kitchen Window, because they both understand that the knife is the extension of the cook's arm and mind, and that there are things like the size of your hands and the height of your counters to consider. Trust me, a knife is the essential gift that keeps on giving.
Naviya's Thai Kitchen is planning on opening tonight! I drove by the cute little space, bewteen Dunn Bros and Dave's in Linden Hills, and it looks clean and modern and bright. Looks like it'll open for lunch and dinner, but won't have a liquor license until January, so you might want to byob.
Cocina del Barrio is opening on Saturday. This "more restauranty" version of Barrio will open next to Salut in Edina and offer a wider, fuller menu and not so much of the mezcal madness. I see tortas, ensaladas, some rellenos/tamales, and more.
The Ice Chamber opened at Le Meridien Chamber's Hotel last night. The frosty ice bar is made of 12,000 pounds of ice and about 165 pounds of pretty people (they don't weigh that much).
Pollo Campero is now open in St. Paul! If you haven't heard of the crispy, zippy Latin American chicken with a coastal cult following, you soon will.
The Nook, as you have no doubt heard, is closed due to fire. BUT the good news is that the Nookie will ooze again! The good kids at Groveland Tap are throwing a benefit on Saturday for the Nook employees: $1.50 of each Summit purchased will go to the employee fund to help the staff while the resto heals.
Saturday marks the last day of Ringo in the West End. It's a gorgeous space, I wonder who will pop in?
The yummy little Da Afghan appears to be closed, as the sign on the door that once read "temporarily closed" now reads "permanently closed".
THIS JUST IN
JP Samuelson has tendered his resignation at Solera, his last night being NYE. He's not saying where he's headed, but promises to tweet when he can. Well, where does that leave the downtown tapas joint, now that all the high-profile chef names have left?
Is valet parking like kitten-nip to holiday diners? I mean, who wants to slog through the treacherous sidewalk mush in your posh frock and sassy shoes! I say YAY to Grand Cafe for offering valet on the Friday/Saturday nights starting at 6:30 p.m., and to Haute Dish for offering it Wednesday to Saturday from 5 to 10 p.m.
Brasa will not go quietly into the dark night. The Darkest Day of the Year party is on the December 21 winter solstice, and the St. Paul location is celebrating with hot food, hot music, and limited release beers. For $15 admission you get six beer/food tickets and a way to hunker through the night.
Head out to the Golden Fig on Saturday for a little local cookbook author soiree and signing from 8 to 10:30 a.m. Lucia and Beth will be there, along with Shefzilla, Robin Asbell, JML, Eleanor Ostman, and Lee Svitak Dean. Pick up a signed book and some tasty treats, way better than the mall.