The good folks at Zagat Survey came out with their "America's Top Restaurants" rankings a few weeks ago. There is no market here in Minnesota for a local guide of our own, so we get lumped into ‘other guides.’ According to those locals who filled out a Zagat form online, the number one rated restaurant in the Twin Cities is . . . drum roll, please . . . La Belle Vie. This is followed by 112 Eatery, Restaurant Alma, Bayport Cookery, Lucia's Restaurant, D'Amico Cucina, Fugaise, Manny's Steak House, and Heartland. Are you in agreement? Any of your faves missing from the list? Well, in an unranked listing of “Other Noteworthy Places," sits Bank, Chambers Kitchen, Cosmos, Cue, Dakota Jazz Club and Restaurant, The Oceanaire Seafood Room, Solera, St. Paul Grill, Town Talk Diner, and 20.21.
OK, I know how goofy these things really are, but off the top of my head, how can Masa, Spoonriver, I Nonni, Campiello, Broder’s Pasta Bar, Morton's, Zander, W. A. Frost, Punch OR ANY ETHNIC RESTAURANT not even make the list? I love Bayport, Lucia’s, and Manny’s, and they deserve the votes they got: People love these restaurants and with good reason. But would they be in your top twenty taking into account the Zagat formula? What about The St. Paul Grill? Fair service, gorgeous room, and terrible food. Cue? C’mon now people . . .
The Institute for Agriculture and Trade Policy (IATP) is co-sponsoring the screening of a film we have touted loudly here on this site: King Corn will be shown at the Oak Street Cinema on December 7 at 7 p.m. The documentary film follows two college friends who explore their agricultural roots by moving to Iowa and growing a bumper crop of corn on one acre. As they follow their pile of corn into the food system, the film raises questions about what we eat and how we farm. King Corn cast members Ian Cheney and Curt Ellis will be at the screening. IATP President Jim Harkness will join Cheney and Ellis for a short discussion following the show.
So here is a good one. In Shiga Prefecture in Japan, the local government is asking the residents to help eliminate a pesky pest by eating it. Apparently, approximately fifty years ago, the Midwestern blue gill was introduced into Lake Biwa and is steadily killing off native species. Shiga’s website has recipes for bluegill that may amuse some of you local fishermen. Hit the button on the top right for the site to reload in English.
In last Monday’s New York Times, there was an excerpt from Andrew Revkin’s blog about whether or not “tourism focused on special places could threaten the spectacular ecosystems and landscapes that it aims to celebrate.” It also points out the recent Explorer tragedy as an example of the dangers involved but that part of the thrill of seeing places like this is that it involves some risk. Many of the posts on the blog came out in favor of banning travel to many of these types of sites. I think that’s crazy. There are dozens of ways to eliminate the human footprint on these natural wonders and still allow us to visit them. Look at the BWCA in our state for example. In fact, I would argue that exposing humankind to the wonders of the world will help us to understand how important conservation really is. Thoughts?
In the same issue of the paper, Katherine Ashenburg had a nice op-ed piece about hand washing, arguing that it is the most important, single act a person can perform to maintain their optimum health. Even the CDCP agrees. She says only 15 percent of people wash hands after using the john despite our obsession with hygienic products. I hung out in a restaurant bathroom the other day in NYC (please, no Larry Craig jokes) and counted the number of men who came in and took a leak. Fourteen guys came and went in the space of ten minutes. It turns out that Balthazar on a busy night compels a lot of dudes to hit the head. Anyway, only two washed up after taking care of business. Now I use Vicks Early Defense Foaming Hand Sanitizer on the road approximately ten times a day, and at home I use it whenever I remember to—I think in my old age I am turning into Howie Mandel. But in a cleanly appointed restaurant bathroom, why would so few people wash up? BTW, the Vicks stuff impedes bacteria for three hours and has a slick cucumber scent.