Saturday, September 29, 2007

A trip to Meisters before the move

Since I am moving this coming week, I thought that today I would go to a favorite place that will soon be a pretty long haul from my new place. I drove to the Swedish village of Scandia to have lunch at Meisters Bar & Grill.

I love this little bar. It has so much character and small town charm. And, as I learned from a previous visit, Meisters has dang good burgers, too.

The "Mushroom & Swiss Meisterburger" at Meisters Bar & Grill

Today I has the "Mushroom and Swiss Meisterburger." It was a 1/3 lb. patty sitting atop a mound of sautéed mushrooms and creamy swiss cheese, and served on an incredibly soft, bakery fresh roll. I ordered it "California style" as well, so I got some lettuce and tomato to throw on top. The burger was delightfully juicy with a ton of flavor. Absolutely excellent!

Also, the fries were superb. These are honest-to-goodness, hand-cut, never frozen fries here, and they are awesome. A real french fry is in a league of its own as far as deep-fried potatoes are concerned, and they are fantastic at Meisters.

My new place will be quite a distance from Meisters, so I don't imagine I will get over here as often as I might like. However, it will make a great excuse to go on a little road trip!

Well done, Meisters Bar & Grill! I will be back.

Monday, September 24, 2007

Pheasant cacciatora

My brother had given me a pheasant recently, so I decided to put it to good use. I made a batch of pheasant cacciatora.

As we know, cacciatora in Italian means it was prepared in the style of the hunter's wife. So I figured this is probably slightly more authentic than using chicken! The recipe I followed closely matched this one with a few alterations:

Obviously, I used cubed pheasant meat in place of the chicken. I would guess there was about a pound and a half of meat on the bird. Red wine was substituted for white. I added a chopped red bell pepper. There was no fresh thyme on hand, so I opted for perhaps a teaspoon of an Italian seasoning blend. And, I forgot to add the bay leaves! :) Otherwise, everything else is as the recipe stated.

What a luxurious dish! The pheasant was tender and flavorful, and the sauce quite thick and rich. Served over some pasta, it made for a lovely fall meal.

Sunday, September 23, 2007

Tacos with Salsa Fresca

Last night I made some simple tacos for dinner with a fresh, homemade salsa.

The salsa was improvised and nothing was measured. But I had three home grown tomatoes that my Mom gave me, along with an assorted batch of hit peppers. Along with some red onion and garlic, I pan roasted everything in a hot skillet until browned and charred. Chopped up the ingredients (removed the seeds from the peppers first!), mixed in some cilantro, salt and pepper, and a little bit of toasted Mexican oregano...that was it!

For the tacos, I browned a pound of ground beef that I seasoned liberally with a mixture of ancho chile powder, cumin, coriander, Mexican oregano, paprika, and black pepper. Flour tortillas were then topped with the meat, refried beans, sharp cheddar, fresh cilantro, and the homemade salsa.

A perfect meal for watching some football games! :)

Tuesday, September 18, 2007

Road Food Pursuits - CurtiSinn Headwaters Restaurant

Driving home from my weekend in Walker, MN,, I decided to take a bit of a detour to enjoy some new scenery. I found myself in the neighboring town of Akeley where I stopped for breakfast.

CurtiSinn Headwaters Restaurant
Junction of Hwy. 34 & 64
Akeley, MN

The CurtiSinn Headwaters Restaurant sits right in downtown Akeley, which is known as the "Birthplace of Paul Bunyan." It is your quintessential small town restaurant. The parking lot was filled with trucks, and the dining area with hungry locals. I was the only person there that the server did not know by name.

Their breakfast menu was filled with many egg and omelet options. I chose the combination of two eggs, hash browns, and choice of bacon, sausage, or…kielbasa? Excellent! Without hesitation, I selected the kielbasa.

Breakfast at the CurtiSinn Headwaters Restaurant in Akeley

A very satisfying breakfast. My eggs were nicely scrambled, and the hash browns had a crispy and brown exterior. And the kielbasa was smokey, garlicky, and flavorful; a really excellent breakfast meat. The entire breakfast was delicious.

The whole meal, including a glass of orange juice, cost all of $7.60, so it was very reasonable as well.

How can you not love these small town restaurants? If you are in the Akeley area looking for a tasty, inexpensive, and filling breakfast, be sure to stop in and mix with the friendly locals at the CurtiSinn Headwaters Restaurant.

A "Kitchen Sink" pizza in Walker

Last Friday I was up in Walker, MN,, and I ate dinner at the Village Square Cafe.

Village Square Café
Corner of Minnesota Ave. & 5th Street
Walker, MN


Established in 1979, the Village Square was a neat building complex comprised of several different sections where your could have a family dinner, pizza, coffee, or ice cream. Hungry for some carbs, I gravitated towards the pizza area.

The restaurant was cute with lots of brick and wood, giving it a definite pizzaria feel. The menu had lots of choices for combinations, as well as options to select you own toppings, in a multitude of sizes. Unable to resist a pizza with a lot going on, I chose the 9-inch "Kitchen Sink Combo."

The "Kitchen Sink Combo" pizza at the Village Square Café


As the name implied, the pizza contained everything but the kitchen sink! Italian sausage, Canadian bacon, and pepperoni, along with a multitude of vegetables including green peppers, mushrooms, onions, with both green and black olives.

The pizza had a thin, crispy crust, a light layer of zesty tomato sauce, and the toppings were very flavorful. I enjoy pizzas that give me some variety and contrast, and this defintely had it. Distinctive meats, briny olives, fresh peppers, onions, and mushrooms; yum! The cheese at the edge was nicely browned, too. The meal was fantastic, and I absolutely inhaled it.

If you are in the Leech Lake area looking for a good pizza, the Village Square Café is a great place to start.

Wednesday, September 12, 2007

Road Food Pursuits - Happy's Drive-In

This past weekend I found myself driving through east-central Minnesota. For lunch, I dined at a place that is a rarity in today's world; a small, independent fast food-style restaurant.

Happy's Drive-In
11373 Stevens Rd
Onamia, MN

Happy's Drive-In seemingly sits all by itself in the middle of nowhere. It is located just about a mile north of Onamia on US Hwy 169. It is family owned and operated and has been open since 1990, serving an assortment of fast food items and ice cream to hungry locals and tourists heading to the prime Mille Lacs Lake fishing destinations.

Their menu contains a number of different burgers and sandwiches (and even a homemade chicken wild rice soup!). I chose one of their burger baskets; the "Big Happy Burger," which included fries, a pickle spear, and a soda.

The "Big Happy Burger" basket at Happy's Drive-In

The 1/3 pound burger came topped with American cheese, tomato, onion, lettuce, their own "special sauce," and was served on a large, fluffy Kaiser roll. Essentially, it was a California-style cheeseburger with a zippy sauce. The beef tasted fresh and juicy, and the creamy, melted cheese, along with the crisp vegetable toppings dressed lightly in a tangy sauce, provided a wonderful contrast. A good and tasty burger.

Shoestring French fries accompanied the meal. Delightfully crispy and hot, they had a great crunch when you bit into them. A very nice fast food-style fry.

The entire meal with tax cost a mere $7.35, and it was a decent amount of quality food. I left very satisfied.

If you find yourself heading up to the Mille Lacs area, Happy's Drive-In is a worthy pit stop. Before you put the boat in the lake, swing in for a quick bite. The staff is friendly, the service is prompt, and you will enjoy some delicious food served fast.