Last night I enjoyed the perks of the job. I was invited to be on a panel of cocktail judges for the impending Indian restaurant OM. Hey, I work hard for the money, so hard honey honey. It was our task to sip and ponder ten cocktails whose recipes were submitted by Om Enthusiasts, the winning drink to be featured on the menu. The idea was to create a drink that was pretty, easy to make, and used some essence of Indian flavor: we saw mango puree, saffron infused vodka, and lots of ginger. Chef Raghavan Iyer commented on the importance of balance in Indian cooking and a few of the drinks actually hit the mark. So I feel inspired, this Fresh Forkin' Friday, to come up with my own late afternoon Bollywood sipper: vodka with orange bitters and gulab jal (rosewater)? bourbon with tamarind? Pimm's and garam masala? Canton ginger liqueur with mint? It's a tough job, but I'm up to the task.
Wolfgang's Waterfront Bistro in White Bear Lake has become Acqua, just in time for patio season. Jumping onto the Italian invasion, the menu is chocked full of easy-eating rustic favorites.
IN THE HOT POT
The Anchor Fish & Chips is slated to open soon in what is becoming the Nordeast Restaurant Row (13th Ave.). Looks like a bunch of Irish-lovin'-music-playin'-chips-snackin' folks are putting their money where their mouths are. I don't know why there aren't more chip shops around. Can't wait.
Freeziac yogurt will open a self-serve yogurt shop in Eden Prairie this summer. Mirroring other concepts (like Mojo Yogurt which I snarffed last month in PHX), the idea is to grab a carton, fill it with as much froyo as you want from self-serve pumps, throw on the toppings of your choice, and weigh the mess to pay by the ounce. I say YAY for summer, and let's hope they can make it through the winter.
HAPPY HOUR OF THE WEEK
Be'Wiched Deli has a surprisingly awesome happy hour! Weekdays from 3:30 - 6:30, you get $2 taps and $4 glasses of wine. But nevermind the glasses, it's the plates that rule. For $5 a head you can get a "chef's choice" assortment of small plates and snacks. They've been know to feature generous portions of fresh meats and cheese, artisinal sandwiches and pasta samples, and new dishes that are off-menu.
Starting Sunday, Jay's Cafe is open for family supper. Featuring family friendly food, half-price bottles of wine, and beer specials, they're hoping the whole clan will pop in after a day in the sun. If you're over that way Saturday the 13th, check out their Bad Luck BBQ, always a good time.
Kick off the the Taste of the St. Croix next week with Thursday's food and wine cruise. Board the Grand Duchess at 6 p.m. and live the idyllic river life while sampling from area restaurants like Afton House Inn, San Pedro Cafe, Pier 500, and Marx Fusion Bistro among others. A percentage of the $65 ticket will go to benefit Kids Cafe.