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[MSP] Chowdown Report: Midtown Global Market Chowdown Extraordinaire

Seven intrepid ~hounds
One honorary ~hound
Two hours
Eighty dollars
Three continents
Ten (?) restaurants
One Spectacular evening of chow

Thank you to the hardy hounds who met up tonight for a wondrous evening of chow. I really enjoyed meeting each and every one of you. Please jump into this thread and let everyone know what we tasted tonight, what you liked, what you didn't like, what you want to try more of, etc.

Here's a link to the thread announcing the chowdown:



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  1. Props to The Dairy Queen for organizing. And thank GOD she had the wit to bring plates and utensils!
    Me want more of that Tilapia. What a bloody bargain!
    And the little meat pies that followed dessert. Whence came those, again?

    A pleasure to meet all of you.
    I shall birddog Abundant Bistro's status. Wanna see the new library, anyway.

    memo to self, bring roll of paper towels next time...

    1. ajs, those little triangular deep fried meat pies were the sambusi from Starlight Cafe--they were stuffed with beef, onions, garlic, cilantro and I don't know what else, but they were a lucky last minute find when we were searching for dessert. I loved those, too.

      The deep-fried whole tilapia (with all the fixin's) from La Sirina Gorda, I think (is that right?) might have been my favorite, too. I think that's going to become a staple of my diet from now on!

      What were those deep fried chunks of pork underbelly fat (and where did they come from?) again? Those were a trip!

      And, yes, let us know what you scout out about Abundant Bistro!


      2 Replies
      1. re: The Dairy Queen

        Speaking of dessert, it looked like Starlight Cafe was definietly the place to go... not only were the sambusi really good (though definitely not dessert), they had a coconut almond creamcheese pie thing that I sampled while people were doing the Jakeeno cheese run... it was really good. The crust (what tiny amount I had) was intensely flakey.

        1. re: djohnson22

          Good tip!

          I saw the coconut almond cream-cheese pie thing on their menu and it sounded very interesting, but I couldn't figure out which one in the display case was it. I tried to flag someone down to ask, but they were so earnestly working on the sambusi, that I decided not to distract them. Now I wished I'd asked.

          Next time, next time...


      2. I think we could call it 5 continents. The Jakeeno's Cheese we picked up on the way out can count for Europe, and I bet something we had would give us South America as well.

        You could call it 8 hounds, the one "honorary" hound is a lurker - I just do the posting.

        I'd also be glad to keep an eye on Abundant, I'm in that area pretty often anyways getting sandwiches at Saigon.

        Faith and I were the first names drawn, we headed over to Everest Cafe and started everyone off with Lassi - a mango/yogurt drink that they were kind enough to put into 8 2oz cups rather than the standard 16oz cup. It was good, but the concensus was that 2oz were enough. Especially with the momos and Samosas on the way! We all tried both the meat and veggie momos, with the vegetarian ones (stuffed with spinach, onions, and other veggie goodness) being the overall favorites.

        The grand total for 8 momos, 4 samosas, and 1 lassi was $16.05.

        1. Thank you Danny (and houndish lurker), for your mini-report. I look forward to mini reports (I hope) from the other folks, too, and everyone's thoughts on all the dishes we tried. I'll come back with my own comments later, but, I wanted to add to my statistics:

          Twenty-plus dishes (assuming I didn't forget anything!)

          Cubana torta
          Rice pudding

          West Indies Soul:
          Jamaican patty—veggie
          Jamaican patty—chicken

          Everest Café:
          Momos--meat (pork+turkey)
          Mango lassi
          Rice pudding

          La Sirena Gorda:
          Fish Flautas (marlin)
          Whole, deep fried tilapia + fixin’s + tres leches cake

          La Loma Tamales:

          Starlight Cafe:

          Panaderia El Mexicano:
          Tres leches cake

          Fiesta in America:
          Chicken lollipops
          Corn lollipops

          Bymore meats: (?)

          Cosecha imports:
          Jarritos (mandarina?)

          Jakeeno’s Trattoria:
          Hand-pulled mozzarella cheese (to go)

          I believe a few folks stopped by Farm in the Market (and one of the produce stalls?) on the way, out too.

          I felt like, as a part of this delightfully adventurous group,I was able to covered a huge number of dishes, which would have taken me several outings by myself, which is exactly what I hoped to accomplish. Now I'll know what to have more of next time I go back, plus try more from the other restaurants we weren't able to try this time out. Thank you so much, everyone.

          OH! And Republic of Fish is OPEN now. Everything looked fantastic including, as Danny pointed out to me, these itty bitty lobster tails. :)


          6 Replies
          1. re: The Dairy Queen

            I'm just now eating my "Pollito Alvbro" chicken lollipop that Danny picked out for us from Fiesta in America. As far as I can tell, it's only the shape and color of a chicken, and doesn't haven't any actual chicken in it. But, it's kind of a neat taste sweet + spicy at the same time. The ingredients seem to be sugar, corn syrup, citric acid, salt, chili, titanium dioxode (so, as we joked last night, "it doesn't get sunburned") and various artificial colorings. It's pretty interesting as a novelty, I say. I've saved my corn one for later, for when I need a vegetable course. ;-)


            1. re: The Dairy Queen

              Okay, now I'm eating my "Vero Elotes" "corn lollipop" Yikes! Have you guys tried this one? It's like a chile powder-pop. No sweetness whatsoever, just chili powder pressed into a what-should-be-sweet-but-isn't lolli in the shape of an ear of corn. But, the wrapper says it's strawberry flavored! Why isn't it in the shape of a strawberry instead of an ear of corn? And why don't it have a hint of strawberry flavor?

              Holy moly. I think I might have to abandon this one. Who knows how many licks it takes to get to the center of a Vero Elotes pop? Not me! HA!


              1. re: The Dairy Queen

                OMG! I can't believe I wrote above "And why don't it have a hint of strawberry flavor?"

                Oh why oh why did they take away our unlimited ability to edit?

                I must have gotten interrupted while attempting to write that comment and started with one thought and finished with another...


              2. re: The Dairy Queen

                Re: Republic of Fish - I was happy to see that they were open as I was itching to check them out. Not much of a selection, but an interesting one... I was kind of surprised to see the corvina (sea bass) in the case. I think the only other place you would ever see that is Coastal Seafoods.

                I would be a bit leery about their tuna though. RoF carries CO2 treated tuna (at least that was what was in the case last night) that they (like Lunds and Byerlys) marked as sushi grade. CO2 halts the oxidation process so the fish does not turn brown as it gets old - it turns tuna that un-natural candy-apple red, but it does not stop the natural decay that occurs.

                1. re: djohnson22

                  More photos:

                  #1 Cubana torta from Manny's
                  #2 Chips that came with the torta (don't know why I needed to photograph these...)
                  #3 Fish flautas from La Sirena Gorda (I'd forgotten about these--they were wonderful! Look how beautifully presented they were!)
                  #4 Deep fried tilapia +fixin's from La Sirena Gorda


                2. re: The Dairy Queen

                  Okay, taking advantage of the new photo feature of Chowhound, here are some photos from the first MGMkt Chowdown. Sorry they aren't that comprehensive:

                  #1 Mango lassi from Everest Cafe (they poured it into "taste" sized portions for us--the regular portion is full-sized.)
                  #2 Momos from Everest Cafe
                  #3 Samosas from Everest Cafe
                  #4 Flan from Manny's Tortas


                3. My favorites were the fish flautas, the deep-fried tilapia, and the Jamaican patties. But I like deep fried things, and I like fish, so no surprises there.

                  I'm going to go back and have a whole tilapia sometime. It really was very good.

                  Very nice group--good sports.

                  4 Replies
                  1. re: Orange Julius

                    Those were my favorites too... though I don't know that I would rush to get the Jamaica patties (unless I was grabbing something to eat on the run.

                    The fish flautas had really good flavor - and one can never really go wrong with a whole fried fish!

                    1. re: Orange Julius

                      I agree, OJ, everyone who showed up was a great sport. Here's a group of people who had never met before, many of whom who had never been to MGMkt (a cavernous maze) before. They immediately stepped up to the challenge of grabbing a handful of money from the "kitty" (into which we each threw $10 at the beginning of the evening), then charging off to explore and bring back something delightful for us all to taste. Our table was littered with cafeteria trays and take-out out containers, so it wasn't the most elegant dining experience. Plus, we sawed everything into eight pieces with plastic knives, which, sadly, was a blow to presentation. But people embraced the spirit of it.

                      I devised the scheme of having everyone write throwing a slip of paper with their name on it into a red mixing bowl I'd brought, but, it was a device we hardly needed because people seemed to want to go explore. True chowhounds, bless them all.

                      There's one individual we haven't heard back from in this thread (because, perhaps s/he is too busy, shy, or wishes to fly under the radar), but I think that person brought back the following dishes for us to share:

                      Cubana torta (Manny's), flan (Manny's), chicharrones (Bymore meats?), Whole, deep fried tilapia + fixin’s + tres leches cake
                      (La Sirena Gorda)

                      As Danny mentioned, he and Faith brought back the meat momos, veggie momos, samosas, and mango lassi from Everest.

                      I think Faith also brought back the rice puddings from Manny's and Everest.

                      Chowish lurker (I hope this is an okay moniker--this person was a wonderful sport and delight have join us) and djohnson22 brought back the flautas (La Sirena Gorda), and the jamaican patties (West Indies Soul)

                      Orange Julius and Chowish lurker brought back the tres leches cake from panaderia mexicana

                      ajs and I brought back the tamales from La Loma ($1 each per the special tasting menu) and ajs brought back the Jarritos.

                      Danny and I brought back the sambusi ($1.25 each at Starlight Cafe--I don't know if that was a special or not; the price was from a hand-printed sign) and Danny brought back the chicken and corn lollipops.

                      I'm not sure who all tried the cheese from Jakeeno's, but I hope to hear how you all liked it.


                      1. re: The Dairy Queen

                        The regular price for the Sambusi was $2. The $1.25 was the tasting menu price.

                        1. re: The Dairy Queen

                          Interestingly, I've never been accused of being shy :)! Nope, I've just been super busy supporting my wife at the 3-day...starting Thursday night when I got home. I'll have time to post thoughts on food eaten this evening...

                      2. TDQ-
                        I thought that the Chicharrones from Bymore Meats were the deep fried pork belly things. I am talking about the stuff that Dragon came skipping back to the table with a grin that went around his head two times.

                        I also adored the fish flautas. The Tilapia remains high in my mind. The Samosas and Momos make me want to visit the very-conveniently-located-to-me Everest. Especially on goat day. Didn't someone (Faith, maybe?) say that was Thursdays?

                        The Sambusi will draw me back to Starlight. I have to get over the name, as Starlight sounds like a skating rink or drive-in theatre. If that is its biggest drawback, we are in good shape.

                        And the Patties are going to get me back into West Indies Soul.
                        In point of fact, I exercised considerable restraint when I cycled past, half an hour or so ago, from my Abundant Bistro recon mission.

                        Here is what I learned. It ain't promising. The sign that Danny reported is still on the door at AB. It implies a rebirth of AB.
                        The Library, kittykornered from AB, isn't open yet. Nothing on the exterior suggests that AB will be there. I asked 3 people working inside the building (I didn't ask, but I think that they were with the liberry) for the Scoop.
                        They told me that AB will be operating a little coffee stand in the new building, but nothing more elaborate than that. They also knew about Jackie's intent to concentrate on her catering. The library opens on the 28th, Grand Opening (balloons? prizes? hotdogs or Jamaican patties for the kids? I dunno) on the 9th, so it can't hurt to check back. But I wouldn't bet the rent that we will see AB rise Phoenix-like.

                        There you have it.

                        Thank you again for organizing!


                        5 Replies
                        1. re: ajs

                          ajs, thanks for the confirmation on the chicharrones. I clicked around MGMkt's website a bit, then had to a little googling, to remind myself what those pork rinds were called and where they might have come from.

                          It was either Danny or Faith (maybe one with confirmation from the other) that mentioned that Everest Cafe offers goat on Thursdays. I also see, according to their website, they offer yak momos! http://www.hotmomo.com/Business.html Finally, they do say they make everything from scratch. As Faith learned, this even includes the wrappers for the momos!

                          Thanks for the latest update re: Abundant Bistro (where we hope to meet up for another chowdown--anyone who is interested may e-mail me in the meantime at the address in my profile and I'll try to keep a running list of interested parties.) I'm sure between you and Danny we will be the first to know when it's back up! It will be disappointing if it's just a small counter or something, but I guess we'll have to see what they end up doing.

                          Your Starlight Cafe comment cracks me up. Now that you mention it, it reminds me of a ballroom dance studio.


                          1. re: The Dairy Queen

                            The goat on Thursdays isn't at Everest Cafe. It is on the lunch buffet at Everest on Grand. Faith and I were chatting about the buffet at the restaurant, and one of the workers told us that the best day to go was on Thursday, because there is goat on the Buffet. (I wonder if there's something about Thursdays and goat. West Indies Soul usually only has curried goat on Thursdays and Fridays.)

                            If the news about Abundant being pretty much gone is true (and I'm inclined to think it is - they have plenty of space to do their catering cooking elsewhere) we'll need to find a new spot for the next Chowdown.

                            1. re: Danny

                              Thank you Danny! I didn't realize that "Everest Cafe" was only the name of the booth at MGMkt and that the other Everest, on Grand, was cleverly called "Everest on Grand." These are the kinds of details that could really disappoint someone in search of goat on a Thursday. Just to clarify, the link in my comment above was for "Everest on Grand."

                              Any ideas on where we will have a next chowdown, then? I was kind of thinking about organizing a University Avenue crawl on a Saturday or something like that... Where maybe we pick 3-4 places to descend upon. I think a Lake Street Crawl could be interesting, but maybe when the construction settles down (by which the construction probably will have started on University!) We could pick one dish or one cuisine and test/compare it from restaurant to restaurant...


                              1. re: The Dairy Queen

                                I was sorry to miss the MGMkt Chowdown as I had a previously scheduled engagement on Thursday night, but I was happy to read how good La Sirena Gorda's whole tilapia was. As it turns out, some friends called Friday and suggested we go to MGMkt and LSG's special that night was the tilapia for $11.95. Oh, that was good! I Can't Believe I Ate The Whole Fish (TM)! The fins were like potato chips.

                                As for a future chowdown, how about a dim sum brunch at Jun Bo? They have some big round tables that will fit at least 12 people. Dim sum seems ideal for the trying-many-things concept.


                                1. re: The Dairy Queen

                                  Reply to Neitz, since we've maxed on on the nesting limit apparently and I can't find the "reply" button on his post: We missed you,too. Not to worry, I'm pretty sure we'll re-assemble ourselves into another chowdown and, hopefully, pick a date you could attend.

                                  I missed the fins on the tilapia we shared. I guess that means I have to go back for more!


                          2. Arf Arf Hounds! I totally enjoyed the evening, and feel it was
                            divinely approved, evidence of which was that we spent all but
                            a couple of the 80 dollars we pooled. I was amazed at how well
                            we all worked together, with various people being given x amount of cash and being sent off to 'get something good', and
                            it was all good! My favorites were: The Everest rice pudding,
                            with lovely cardamom pods in it and golden raisins, the momos
                            at Everest, really liked the green momo dipping sauce too, the
                            lassi there as well; loved the Sirena Gorda deep fried mermaid,
                            I mean tilapia..:) ; the marlin flautas from Sirena Gorda also. And the chicken tamale from La Loma. Let's do more of these!

                            1 Reply
                            1. re: faith

                              Arf Arf! And, we even had enough money left in the kitty to run around at the end of the evening and drop nice tips into the jars of the places we patronized throughout the evening.


                            2. well aieee back! that's terrible that you missed us! I had a moment of panic myself when I arrived even though I had the
                              correct instructions, because no one was at the appointed place
                              at 6, but I decided I was just earlier than everyone and they did show up after a bit. Good that you went ahead and had your
                              own chowdown though.

                              2 Replies
                              1. re: faith

                                We were early too (dang this Scandinavian compulsiveness!) and that didn't help. It was so sweet of my DH to go around asking - he's pretty shy. Can't wait for the next one...

                                1. re: teamkitty

                                  Teamkitty--sorry we missed you and the other kitties on your team, but I'm glad you had fun. I think it's hard to go wrong at MGMkt--there's so much to try, and it's all at such affordable prices, even without the tasting menu (which is in effect through the end of August--I did notice that the "tasting menu" specials appeared unchanged from the week before, even though the promotional materials say it will change weekly.)

                                  I was there at 2 minutes to six with my red balloon, so if you were earlier than that, you would have missed me. I haven't adapted yet to Minnesota's Scandinavian ways. :) Plus, I got a bit ensnared in the Lake Street construction. I hope they finish that soon. It must be a bear for the local merchants.


                              2. I'm finally sitting down to collect my thoughts on the food.

                                First: I, too, thought the whole, deep fried tilapia --criss-crossed and adorned with red chilis--was fantastic, beautifully presented, and a great bargain. It was $13.95 and included guacamole, homemade salsa cruda, tortillas and rice. Dara mentioned beans in her review--I don't remember them. It also came with a slice of tres leches cake. There is so much food included with this single order that it has to come on three plates! Definitely a dish you could share with your sweetheart if you want to be cozy.

                                Also from La Sirena, the marlin flautas (which came on a bed of shredded lettuce) were nice and light and not at all greasy. On a tip from Neitz (thank you!) we made sure to sample the tangy lime-dressing with which they dressed the lettuce. No detail overlooked by the team at La Sirena Gorda!

                                I loved the veggie momos in their tender, translucent wrappers and the sauce that accompanied them (Everest), the Jamaican patties (West Indies Soul), the sambusi (Starlight). There was a hint of something spicy in the sambusi that I can't put my finger on, but it was just right. Also, I just can't say enough about how delightful the folks at Starlight Cafe are in their enthusiasm--they seem genuine in their desire to introduce all of Minnesota to the cuisine of Somalia, so we can fall in love with it, too. The folks at Everest seem equally as determined to please, but in an understated way. I always love the tortas at Manny's--these came with a bag of chips (from Perham, MN), too.

                                Part of what's great about all of the above items, except the Jamaican patties (which I'm not sure about), is that they are all made to order. This means you will have to wait, but it's worth it.

                                I found the rice puddings from Manny's and Everest to be distinct: Manny's was cinnamon focused (very Mexican!) and Everest's had a combination spices, I think, or perhaps only the cardamom Faith mentioned. If I had to choose, I think I'd pick Everest's, but it would be a tough call, I think.

                                Of the two tres leches cakes we tried, I thought La Sirena Gorda's had the slight edge. Perhaps it was just the warm afterglow of that feeling you get when you can't believe your incredible luck at finding such an amazing bargain, but I think the cream frosting had a hint of coffee, which was nice.

                                I’m not sure what to make of the flan—I haven’t tasted a lot of it. I was expecting it to be creamier and this was very porous, I thought, almost spongy. It was nice, but, I didn’t fall out of my chair from swooning with delight.

                                I really, really want to like La Loma tamales, but I don't find them as extraordinary as I hoped. I had another peak at Dara's review in City Pages of three weeks ago (I provided a link to her review in my Chowdown announcement thread) and she recommends their Oaxacan tamale, which isn't on the tasting menu. So, maybe that's where I've gone wrong--maybe I need to order their "special" banana-leaf-wrapped tamale, made with smoked chilies. It does sound intriguing. (The others are wrapped in corn husk.) La Loma does look like it does a great breakfast--that might be my next mission.

                                I regret that I didn’t make it to Los Ocampos (as Anne recommended) and a couple of the other merchants, but I guess I just need another chowdown or two. :) Also, I didn't have time to cruise Farmers Market they have outside on Thursdays late afternoon/early evenings.

                                One disappointment I have is that Hmong cuisine is not represented. Did anyone notice that?

                                We ended up having to pay a couple of bucks for parking—again. I thought there was supposed to be free parking in one of the lots on weekday evenings. I seem to keep missing it.

                                I think that’s it. Thank you, everyone, for your enthusiasm and your ever-adventurous and curious spirits.


                                3 Replies
                                1. re: The Dairy Queen

                                  The jamaica patties would not really be a made to order kind of item. From my experience with making cornish pasties (which are essentially the same thing as the jamaica patties), once you put it all together it still needs to bake for about 30 minutes or so to "cook" the pastry shell.

                                  I think I agree with you on the flan. I thought it was good, but perhaps a bit over-cooked. But then it had been a long time since I last had flan.

                                  And I also kind of agree with your thoughts on the tamales. They were good but didn't really knock my socks off. Though of the ones we had I think the corn tamale was my favorite. In contrast to Faith, I really liked the sweetness (and "corn-ness") of it)

                                  1. re: djohnson22

                                    Wow! Does everyone see that djohnson22 knows how to make cornish pasties? We may have to do a "Chowing with the Hounds" potluck picnic like the folks from the SF Boards do to tease those out of him...


                                    1. re: The Dairy Queen

                                      TDQ, you are such a riot! and what a memory! you remember who brought what over to the table, what everyone said at
                                      every moment, etc! I don't care if you have an occasional typeo! :) I'd love a chowhound potluck, would definitely contribute some good homemade stuff- I did go to the Starlight Cafe and got a dessert to go (never enough!) and
                                      in spite of the friendliness of the owner I think we did the best by getting those sambusi, because I find the desserts way too sweet. I thought the homemade mozz from Jakeeno's was ok, but I prefer the buffalo type that is more
                                      creamy, this was dryer and a bit salty, not much milky flavor. Thanks everyone for posting all the great comments!

                                2. Hi all.. taking a cue from TDQ I am adopting a name bequthed to me by the chows, The Chowish Lurker.

                                  I would have to disagree about the best tres leches cake. I prefered the one at Panaderia El Mexicano to La Sirina Gorda. I thought the one at La Sirina Gorda was a bit too rich for me. Although I did not have any of the frosting so maybe that made a difference. 112 Eatery is still the tres leches champion of the TC.

                                  I really liked the veggie tamales with the jalepeno bits. The rice at La Sirina Gorda was yummy stuff too. I wasn't crazy about the fish, but I don't really care for any fish. If I were a fish fan, that would be the kind of fish I would want to eat!

                                  Going in, my favorites were the momo's and sambusa at Everst and I still think they are my overall winners. I love the dipping sauces for each of them and the veggie mix of stuff is perfection. I don't think a dish could get much better for a veggie friendly girl than those - with the possible exception of lentils with berbere sauce at Fasika. By the way, why aren't there any Ethiopian spots at the Global Market?

                                  I had a great time, and it was fantastic meeting a crew of other Minnesotans that enjoy interesting eats.

                                  thanks TDQ for organizing a fun outing!

                                  Renae - or The Chowish Lurker!

                                  3 Replies
                                  1. re: The Chowish Lurker

                                    I agree with Renae here on the Tres Leches (except for the 112 Eatery bit, as I have yet to make it over there). I preferred the lighter one from Panaderia El Mexicano. Though I liked the richness of the one from La Sirina Gorda, I think it would be better suited for a cold winter day/evening.

                                    And I have to say, when presented with a vegetarian item and a meat item, I tend to go for, and prefer, the meat item - but I actually really liked the veggie momo more than the meat one.

                                    1. re: djohnson22

                                      It's good to start planning ahead for winter now... :) I wonder if there's a nice, warm Mexican hot chocolate we can find at MGMkt in winter to go with the tres leches cake.

                                      (By the way, Chowish Lurker, if you scraped off the frosting, would that make it a dos leches cake?)


                                      1. re: The Dairy Queen

                                        Funny - I was thinking mexican hot chocolate with the tres leches cake when I wrote that response... and, if you dip the cake in the hot chocolate does is it then a cuatro leches cake?

                                  2. Did anyone notice that the Jamaican patties had a name across the crust? I can't remember what it said, but it was embossed on the pastry. I liked La Loma's chicken tamales, although they were admittedly bland. The Oaxacan ones - in the banana leaves - are definitely the way to go if you like heat. BTW, they are available frozen at Everett's Market at 38th and Cedar (which is my favorite meat market in the TC), and the freezing does not impair their taste. The main office is right next door.

                                    3 Replies
                                    1. re: teamkitty

                                      teamkitty, uh, was that stamp on the Jamaican patties before we carved it into eight different bite-sized pieces? I'm afraid I didn't notice it before we turned it into our own chowish little humpty dumpty. Do you think they handstamp it? How interesting!

                                      Good tip on the frozen tamales!


                                      1. re: The Dairy Queen

                                        I did the carving, but I don't remember seeing a name on them. At their restaurant on University, they sell boxes of frozen patties. I'm pretty sure their patties aren't homemade, but rather ones they import, heat, and sell. The imprint was probably the brand.

                                        Dim Sum would work for the next chowdown - or maybe we can pick a restaurant, explain what we want, and let them prepare a menu for us. Especially if some chows have cultivated a relationship with the owners.

                                        I might be able to get Royal Orchid Thai in Roseville to do it - read the reviews here, and you'll read that their food is inconsistant, and the lunch specials are horrid. Those are true statements. TCL and I have gotten to know the woman who owns the place. She's told us to visit when they're slow, and promised to cook our meals herself. Ever since, we've had nothing but great meals there. (One time, she even shared a few bites of the Thai eggplant she'd made herself for lunch - the eggplant isn't on the menu, but she told us that she'd be glad to make it for us if they have some around.)

                                        That said, if someone said, "Let's do another MGMkt chowdown, with the rule that we don't get anything we've already tried" I'd sign up in a heartbeat, and I bet it would be just as good as the first one was.

                                        1. re: Danny

                                          Oh! Disappointing that those Jamaican patties probably weren't made from scratch. They were still good, though!


                                    2. So, finally I have a bit of time to steal to write up at least some of my thoughts on last Thursday's chowdown at the MGMkt.

                                      First, kudos to the group. It can be a daunting prospect to put human faces to the names that float through cyberspace...and an even more daunting prospect to eat with them. Eating is such a primal act, so neccesary, so compelling, so...well, real. Posting on these boards, participating in blogs, frantically typing away with only the solitary glow of the computer screen and the sound of crickets to keep you company is so...well, unreal. It takes a leap of faith to connect the two activities and actual meet the people who produce the opinions that drive these boards. To eat with them was divine. Thanks TDQ for setting it up.

                                      So, the food. My biggest discovery of the evening was Bymore Meats, the Mexican butcher shop. Featuring full cases of delicious meats in an amazing array of unfamilar cuts, it also had a great deli section where it was hard to miss the cracklin's. Home made cracklin's. I want to stop for a second and consider that, because it's truly a wonderous, thing. I'm sure other Mexican meat marts have deep fried skin of the pig...but how many of them make them themselves? In Minnesota? Hello? These are huge, unfolding sheets of teeth cracklin' beauty. And next to them, nestled in their own deep fried glory was their counterpart, Chicharrones. Which is kind of like cracklin's except with some of the meat attached. The meat in this case, turns into that tender/hard, chewy consistency that makes a perfect foil for the harder, almost crunchy skin bits. Delicious, but not for the faint of heart. As someone around the table suggested, best taken with a side of Lipitor. Also for the adventurous is the home made Chorizo, laid out in thick ropes in the meat case. A sure fire hangover recipe, eggs, Chorizo and a Bloody Mary...heck, I don't even need the drinking the night before to induce me to make that soul satisfying dish.

                                      The most fun to be had was the whole, deep fried Tilapia from La Sirena Gorda, commented extensively on above. The amazing thing about any whole, deep fried fish done correctly, is that the fish not only survives its plunge into the bubbling oil, but that it thrives...it blossoms...it turns into something entirely new and delicious. Laced with deep cut pockets and stuffed with red, Thai chile peppers it was a sight to behold. It was so impressive walking through the market with this thing of beauty...I'm not sure I would have turned more heads if I was Heidi Klum, hugely pregnant and out for a post-prandial stroll. The secret to fish prepared this way is that you can eat the whole thing. Every bit of the fish turns into delicious goodness...the bones, the fins (Faith feasted on those back fins) the head...the brains! The whole thing! Perhaps a bit more delicacy might be required if, as suggested by TDQ above, you are sharing it cozily with a date...but when your date needs to go to the bathroom...dig right into that fish head...it's good!

                                      One other thing that really struck me was the ubiquity of the filled dough treats that we found. From the Momos at Everest (I loved the vegetarian ones...did we ever figure what was in them? Cilantro, cabbage, onions?) to the Jamaican Patties to the Cornish Pasties that djohnson22 is going to make for us (didya like how I slipped that in?:), the technique of shaping dough into a round, flat crust and stuffing it with something delicious is everywhere. Almost half of what we ate took this form...and if you add other stuff like Ravioli, Perogis, and Kolaches...it seems like the whole world eats this way. Interesting, huh?

                                      Thanks to all who ventured out, and again, thanks to TDQ for organizing...I had a blast! looking forward to the next one...


                                      1 Reply
                                      1. re: Dragon

                                        Dragon, thank you for your lively report. :) And, yes, the "stuffed" dumpling concept seems to be global. Interesting, indeed.

                                        I think someone mentioned in the initial MGMkt chowdown thread that they had become regulars at Bymore meats. What a find!


                                      2. I'd love to join you for anything - dim sum, Thai Orchid or a chowdown at the Hmong market. On your collective advice, we went to Jun Bo this weekend. The seafood dimsum was particularly fresh and "clean" tasting, although I thought the prices were quite high for the items on the Chinese menu. That said, I wouldn't mind meeting there and they do groups pretty well.


                                        2 Replies
                                        1. re: teamkitty

                                          Oh, I am SOOOO sorry to have missed this event. A week in Maine isn't all lobster and blueberry pie -- oh, wait, yes it is. (Thank heavens!)

                                          Please do count me in for the next chowdown, whenever and wherever it might be.

                                          1. re: KTFoley

                                            KTFoley and TeamKitty and anyone else interested in attending future Twin Cities chowdowns: the group that met at MGMkt last week did express an interest in doing more chowdowns in the future. Feel free to send an e-mail to me at the address in my profile and I will endeavor to loop you when if/when I have any specifics on chowdowns I'm involved in organizing. I'll try to announce them on the Board, too, but the announcements are easy to miss. Just a logistical note: Chowhound hasn't minded in the past if we announce the chowdowns on the Board, but they request that we keep the discussion about the particulars off the Board, which is why I suggest you e-mail me.

                                            Thank you!