I love meeting other bloggers in person (though sometimes it does smack a little of blind dates… It’s weird meeting people you *think* you know from reading their blogs. Remember when I met all those fabulous bloggers at the Foodbuzz First Annual Blogger Festival last year, or when I met Evelyne in Montreal or Véronique and Kate in Paris?
Well when I found out that I was going to Minneapolis for a conference, I immediately thought of meeting up with the elusive Tracey from Tangled Noodle. (I say “elusive” because try as I might, I couldn’t find out what she looked like through her site and actually had to ask her to email me a picture of herself so I might recognise her!). Since much of my time in the city was taken up with the conference (with the odd trip to Target!), brunch before I flew out on Sunday seemed like the best option. Tracey was excited to suggest Hell’s Kitchen, a Minneapolis landmark restaurant with an extremely interesting and lengthy menu that I pored over for ages online yet was still unable to make a quick choice come ordering time!!! Everything sounded so tempting.
(logo courtesy HK website)
We met in the lobby of my hotel (gee, this really does sound like a dating story!!!) and thankfully, she looks exactly like her picture. She immediately recognised me – I don’t know if that is a good or bad thing Conversation flowed easily as we walked to the restaurant and I am sure we were both sighing with relief that we would not be stuck for something to say! (ahem – THREE hours later, we only parted because I had a room to check out of and a flight to catch!).
Hell’s Kitchen is quirky to say the least. Servers were dressed in their pajamas (apparently it’s a Sunday thing) and there was live music in one part of the cavernous underground restaurant. There seemed to be endless rooms and we were seated in a room full of people yet it wasn’t noisy and you could easily have a conversation without raising your voice or straining to hear (yes, Dad, those observations are for you. We would be able to go there with you!).
It must have taken us a good half hour to decide on what we were ordering. Actually it took ME a good half hour – Tracey had already decided on the Lemon Ricotta Hotcakes “made with freshly grated lemon zest and whole milk ricotta cheese, served with fresh berries and pure maple syrup” ($9.25).
Me, I hesitated between a number of dishes but ended up settling for two that our server heartily approved of as being representative of the restaurant. First up, Toasted Sausage Bread. Yes, you read it right – sausage bread. Described as “a deliciously dense bread made with [their] own bison sausage, toasted walnuts, black currants, black coffee and spices.” ($3.25). This was out of this world. Dense and moist and sweet and salty all at the same time.
I savoured it by itself, then with some whipped butter and figured things couldn’t get better until I tried Hell’s Kitchen’s Homemade Peanut Butter. Oh. My. Gourmet Magazine raved about it on National Public Radio, according to the menu, and I can see why. This was quite possibly the best peanut butter I have ever had.
Look at it up close…
Tracey encouraged me to try the Mahnomin Porridge, described as “native, harvested wild rice from the Leech Lake Band of Ojibway. Served warm with roasted hazelnuts, dried blueberries, sweetened cranberries, heavy cream and pure maple syrup.” I had the cup (about an actual cup’s worth) for $3.75. I really enjoyed this – definitely an unusual choice for me since I am not really into big dairy at breakfast (much less heated dairy products) but I found it very refreshing and loved the crunch of the rice combined with the soft sweetness of the berries. Not sure I could have managed a whle bowl of this but I loved the cup’s worth!
And so over coffee after coffee, we sat and chatted. And chatted some more. We could have gone on chatting for a lot longer too, I suspect! it’s great to meet people who not only share your interests (food and writing) but who can also understand the things all food bloggers think about. Stats, readership, the tech side of blogging, posting, commenting etc.. All that good stuff bloggers love to chat about when they get together!
Thanks Tracey for a fun brunch – what a nice way to end my visit! Readers – if you are ever in Minneapolis, you should definitely get in touch with her – she is as sweet and smart as she sounds on her blog and then some!