What would a birthday trip be without a special birthday dinner? Granted this one was a lot more low key than the first one. It was equally as memorable–this time for the food–nor did I get drenched!
First stop: dinner! at a swanky seafood and steak house in St. Paul called Kincaid’s.
We started with Country Fried Calamari, which were (as one would imagine) battered and fried. What made them unique was the addition of artichoke hearts. I’m not a big fan of artichoke hearts, but when they’re deep fat fried and served with a garlic aioli, I am aaaaaallllllllllllll over that!
Of course, we were nearly done before I even thought to take a picture (I’m so embarrassing to take out to eat these days!), so I tried for an artsy shot with my Chateau St. Jean cabernet sauvignon!
When the main course arrived, I grabbed a few quick shots of my surf & turf and April’s shellfish fettuccine. Of course, I was way more focused on the food than on actually focusing the shot (as you can see)–but trust me, if you would have been smelling dinner, you would have been eager to get to it as well!
Everything was so delicious that stopping with enough room for dessert did not seem like an option. Besides, who am I to waste delicious steak, shrimp, and au gratin potatoes?
After dinner we took a stroll through downtown St. Paul, headed for our second stop: The Ordway Centre for the Performing Arts, where we had tickets to see Nice Work If You Can Get It. It was a fun show, with lots of great singing-a-long-songs (don’t worry, I refrained from singing–much to everyone’s delight!).
While a much more low key event than FNFBD#1, Birthday Dinner #2 was a great evening spent enjoying delicious food & wine, lots of laughs, and hanging with one of the coolest people I know–it doesn’t get much happier than that.
Just kidding…no such thing!
After an afternoon of wandering around downtown Minneapolis, April & I met up with a friend at the Smack Shack.
We started the feast with a lobster guacamole appetizer. I will admit it took a couple of bites to wrap my head around eating guacamole and lobster together. Once I did, it was really good. And by that, I mean, the lobster was amazing. The guacamole was okay. Don’t get me wrong, it was good–just a little less flavorful than I like it. But I didn’t make it, nor do I consider the Midwest a place where spicy foods prevail. Plus it did allow for the lobster to shine, thus: really good.
I also ordered another appetizer which the table refrained from enjoying: raw oysters. Their loss (although they don’t think so). I let our lovely waitress pick out a selection of both East and West Coast varieties. Going in, I thought I would prefer the West Coast, as they are from the same ocean as my favorite oysters (from Sydney and the southeast Australian coast). But no, I preferred (ever-so-slightly, mind you) the East Coast oysters, which have a more crisp, clean, and salty flavor. The West Coast oysters were a bit more creamy and mild. Both paired nicely with the local beer from (literally) down the street: Fulton Lonely Blonde.
All of that was forgotten when the main course arrived. Well, not the beer–it also paired deliciously with….The Lobster Mac & Cheese. It was everything amazing in the culinary world. Creamy, cheesy, buttery, big chunks of lobster. It melted in your mouth. I was truly torn between shoveling it in as quickly as possible and drawing out every.single.savory.bite to make it last as long as possible. I may have even used my finger to scoop out the last bit of cheese from the bottom of the bowl (the waitress assured me everyone did!).
While I’m always in love with a good meal, this was one of the very few meals I was truly sad to see end. Lobster, cheese, pasta, beer, oysters, guacamole: how could you go wrong with any of those combinations? 😉
I know I shared this margarita before on a certain [ahem, birth-] day a few months ago, but I thought it was fitting to share again, since this delicious margarita was a tasty part of Birthday Trip #2! Salute!
I wasn’t actually planning on Margarita Monday to be a regular thing, but I figured what the heck–who doesn’t like margaritas?!?!? Also, if you’d like a picture of your tasty margarita to appear here for Margarita Mondays, please tweet it to me @epicurioustexan!
In honor of today’s Big Birthday: Not 40, Just Fabulous, I thought it appropriate to honor this Margarita Monday with my cranberry margarita from Chevy’s during my Birthday Trip #2 (because when you’re turning Not 40, Just Fabulous, you get multiple birthday trips!).
Deep in the middle of Itasca State Park is Lake Itasca, the source of a small, unassuming stream that opens up to span over 2,300* miles to the Gulf of Mexico, creating the 4th largest river in the world.
April & I drove through the huge 32,000-acre state park, heading for the closest parking lot to Lake Itasca. I’d like to interject that this is a beautiful time of year to visit the park, the foliage is gorgeous, the weather is nearly perfect for hiking, and there are very few, if any, mosquitos!
We finally found the parking lot and hiked down a winding trail to the lake, with a dam of rocks that is the start of the the Mississippi river.
After negotiating our way across the rocks, we walked downstream to the next crossing and crossed back. We ambled along side the stream for a bit, marveling at the size–or rather lack thereof. It seemed a mere trickle to what I had seen at various points downstream, including its delta in New Orleans.
After a few more pics–and the obligatory selfie (us-ie?)–we got back in the car and continued heading south, Twin City-bound!
PS–You can read a plethora of facts about the Mississippi River from the National Park Service, but one of the most interesting facts (in my humble opinion) is that the elevation of the river at Lake Itasca is 1475 feet above sea level and drops nearly half of that elevation before it leaves the state of Minnesota.
*Also there is some discrepancy exactly how long the river is, with some sources, like the US Geological Society, stating it is 2,300 miles and others, like Itasca State Park, stating it is 2,552 miles and still many more than fall in between these two lengths.
I’d just like to add an update: April reminded me that we only visited a large floating loon in this post; the largest floating loon lives in Virginia. I mean, it’s so hard keeping large floating loons straight these days. Much like Grandma having to run down all the grandchildren’s names before she gets to the right kid.
April also reminded me that we visited the world’s largest FREESTANDING hockey stick. This, of course, piqued my curiosity and almost immediately I googled “world’s largest hockey stick.”
According to the Guinness Book of World Records, the world’s largest hockey stick is 205 feet long, weighing in at 62,000 pounds! It was commissioned by the Canadian Federal Government for the 1986 Expo in Vancouver. It now resides at the Cowichan Community Centre in Duncan, Vancouver Island, Canada. April suggested that the freestanding label is “perhaps how we avoid size fights with the Canadians???”
I think perhaps she’s right 😉
A few posts ago, I mentioned that April and I had penchant for searching for “World’s Biggest [insert random object here]”–well, this trip was filled with them! I mean, how else are you going to break up a long road trip?
sidenote: now that I’m thinking about it, Minnesota and Australia seem to have a large number of “World’s Biggest” objects. And I would also like to express my personal belief that if you’ve never seen the World’s Biggest Prawn in Ballina, NSW Australia, your life really is never going to be completely whole. Of course, you could disagree with me, but well….you’d be wrong.
Anyway, back to Minnesota and this trip. April had already marked out several stops to see big things, such as the World’s Biggest Walleye.
However, this turned out to be a BIG FAT LIE. It’s not the biggest. We have actually seen one bigger (ha! that’s what she said!!)…
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