Monday, July 18, 2016

The Appetizer Crawl Continues In Woodbury, MN

9100 Hudson Road
Woodbury, MN


Hotel Note: For anyone visiting the Woodbury area here's a link to the Hampton Inn and many other options if you need accommodations.

A warm summer weeknight and I ended up at Crave Restaurant with my brother and sister for what was supposed to be a quick bite but we ended up ordering a lot of food.

I was forewarned by my brother who lives in Woodbury that Crave was a chain of establishments and being such, it would be satisfying but maybe nothing to write home about. (Translation: blog about.) But au contraire older and sometimes wiser brother! From the outside it did look a bit warehouse-y, but I'm sure that on a cooler day the outdoor seating would have been full of happy eaters, offering a warmer, more hospitable curb appeal.

But who knew all these people were in here?

The place was bubbling with energy. A hostess walked us by a very impressive glass enclosed wine cellar . . .

Hey, I thought this was a quick sit-down at a fast food joint? Nope. With quite an extensive wine list I quickly ordered a Torrontes Colomé, Argentina - fresh, crisp, fruity but dry and with an after note of peach, my sister had the Oysterbay New Zealand chardonnay - hints of apple and full-bodied, it was a great pairing with the food she was about to order. And brother who was driving had an Arnie Palmer (all puns intended.)

With a diverse menu offering classic American and Japanese fare - first up we ordered . . .

. . . the crab artichoke dip served with crunchy herby toasted pita triangles and crispy cornmeal fried calamari with their jalapeno aioli sauce. Both really great. I was very pleasantly surprised. Next up (I warned you, this was no quick bite.) Jambalaya - shrimp, andouille sausage and langostinos (Yes, in Minneapolis!) with a spicy pepper tomato sauce. Really yumpcious! . . .

. . . and a very contrasting order of Hungarian goulash! Braised short ribs with a mushroom cream sauce and a horseradish chive sour cream served over fettuccine and sprinkled with micro greens. Comfort food to the nth degree.

So much for fast food chain establishments. I had never heard of Crave before and then looked up their locations and realized there were none in the New York or North East areas. They should change that . . . come on over!


Tuesday, July 5, 2016

The Salt Cellar - The Appetizer Crawl Continues with Smart Cocktails in Saint Paul, MN

The Salt Cellar

173 Western Ave.
St. Paul, MN
(651) 219-4013

My beautiful niece, Leigh-Anne, and I decided to drop in at the Salt Cellar, and check out their much celebrated happy hour.  The Salt Cellar is diagonally across the street from the A W Frost & Company!

If you're in need of accommodations while in Saint Paul, there's always the terrific Saint Paul Hotel - and many others to choose from.

How's this for Happy Hours hours?? Two sets a night, Tuesday through Saturday!

Happy Hours
Tue - Thu 3pm - 6pm & 9pm - Close
Fri - Sat 3pm - 6pm & 10pm - Close

This very casual but classy bar/restaurant, has an amazing cocktail list with the likes of....Old Blue Eyes, The Longest Winter and a Ritz Old Fashioned. But they also have daily drink specials, which I settled for. 

In the foreground is a Sanrita! A combo of Italian red wine, tequila and a splash of Cointreau, orange liquor. I considered it a risky mash up of alcohol but it sure went down easy, "Tastes just like candy!" (hiccup). And the background drink is a classic sidecar...bourbon, Cointreau and lemon juice with a sugared rim. Another hit at the table.

Wanting another smart cocktail, but not on an empty stomach, we decided upon their prime rib sandwich - shaved prime rib with horseradish Havarti and mushroom conserve with addictive fries. A super sophisticated French dip sandwich that literally melts in your mouth. Add the earthy undertones of the mushrooms with the pungent horseradish Havarti cheese = heaven!

We also had an order of the wild shrimp cakes with lovage (think pungent plant) tartar sauce.

We'll be back for sure, maybe for a proper sit down dinner. Their menu looks amazing. In the meantime, tell Sean, the bartender, that The Dizzy Traveler sent you.


Wednesday, June 8, 2016

An Evening of Tremendous Czech Hospitality and Generosity

I'm a newbie to Travel Massive - the world's largest community of travel industry insiders, leaders, and innovators. And I've just experienced two "massive" events within two weeks. The first was TBEX - the travel bloggers exchange convention - held in Bloomington, MN last week and the second was last night, here in NYC featuring the Czech Republic Bureau of Tourism.

Bohemian Hall

Hotel Note: If you don't live in the NYC area here is a link to the exceptional Sherry-Netherland Hotel and other great stays on the Upper East Side. Held at the beautiful Bohemian Hall at 321 East 73rd Street, which is also the Consulate General for the Czech Republic, it was a classy event!

Entry to the venue.
Upon checking in we were greeted and ushered into a gorgeous entryway and then headed into their screening room where we enjoyed a clever and humorous stop motion film with live actors about the frustrations of dining out. Check out their mini cinema!

Screening room.

Up the spiral staircase one flight . . .

. . . and surprise! Contemporary Czech artist Jan Miko Moravian . . .

. . . is painting in "real time" while a pianist is playing on a baby grand. (Depending on the device you are viewing this blog on, you may or may not be able to view this short vid of Jan painting and the music.)

Jan painting accompanied by piano.

Up one more flight and there is currently an exhibit of the very popular Jaro.


A Prague-born geometric abstractionist, the popular and very successful artist immigrated to the US in 1957 and was one of the first artists to work on non square, unique shaped, canvases. On the same floor is a quaint room honoring the famed Czech composer Antonin Dvorak (1841-1904.) Many would recognize his "New World Symphony", which he wrote here in the US after immigrating.

Up to the fourth floor and we're now in the beer hall. Pilsner, which was first produced in Pilsen,  (Bohemia) is a pale lager. This golden cup of lightness really hit the spot (a couple of times.) And through large paneled doors we enter the wine tasting room.

Exceptionally delightful was their Czech Riesling. It was not too fruity with hints of peach and melon. The Czech wines were courtesy of Noah Lederman of Vino z Czech. And then we were greeted by Lauren Nicholl of Travel Massive and the man of the evening, Jiri Duzar, the director at Czech Tourism.

Lauren and Jiri

After introductions and short speeches we were treated to an extensive buffet catered by Bohemian Spirit Restaurant, which is actually located on the ground floor of the Bohemian Hall. I had never had traditional Czech food before but it was so delectable I can't wait to go back to the restaurant. In particular, the beef stew with mashed potatoes were yumpcious! Then Jiri awarded prizes to certain attendees including a free trip to Prague!!! And of course there was plenty of . . .