I had an interesting week. After spending 12 years in the DC area and never going out or doing anything (at least very rarely), I now have a blooming social life. The DC area is spread across Maryland, Washington DC, and Virginia. You often have to travel an hour or more to see people and with the horrid traffic, it can take you much longer. It was easier to make the long drive home after work and just stay there. The Twin Cities are much smaller in area and I would call the traffic “light.” I would guess I could be anywhere I want to go in 30 minutes or less.
My week started on Sunday back at the Walker Art Museum. A friend of a friend was visiting from out of town. She happened to be staying with people who live a block from my new place and also moved here recently. I am living in an up and coming trendy area where old buildings and warehouses are being converted into lofts and upscale apartments. My building is an old dry goods store but their building is brand new. We went over and saw their place after a quick tour of the Walker. The apartment is spacious and very modern. They have a view of a parking ramp. But I suppose the price was right. And the location is perfect.
From there we went to eat at the “best” Indian restaurant in the city, India House. Our new friends were vegetarian and this place had many vegetarian options with “homemade sauces and secret spices.” I had the Tikka Masala with chunks of chicken, green peppers and onions in a tomato sauce. My brother, who went to boarding school in India, said he thought Tikka Masala was a dish they made up for the British and not really Indian but, when served in India, it usually had chunks of vegetables in it. I had never had it with vegetables before. The best part of the meal was the onion pakora appetizers. I have no idea how they made them but they were clusters of onion fried in a batter. They are also called Kanda Bhaji or onion fritters. They were delicious. And of course we washed it all down with a Taj Mahal beer.
Monday was the Martin Luther King holiday. A prohibition-era law prohibited breweries in Minnesota from selling pints to individuals at their brewery. In 2011 the “Surly Bill” passed the Minnesota Legislature. This allowed breweries to serve beer by the pint, bottle or jug right on site. They could also serve food but they didn’t have to. Since the bill passed in 2011, breweries in Minnesota have doubled to over 75. The Surly brewery was the one to push for this bill to pass and finally in December it opened its new brewery to the public. We went on Monday to have a look. It was packed with people, presumably because of the holiday, so we had to wait for a table.
The restaurant/bar area is one very large room with wall-to-wall picnic type tables — long tables with benches. There were ten of us and we had to split up with five at one table and five at another. The menu consisted of brats, brisket, pulled pork, and fried chicken. They also had some interesting things like Duck Rillette, Pheasant Terrine, and Braunschweiger. One of the best things we ate were the Brussels Sprouts with toasted sesame seeds, ginger, fish sauce and cilantro. I hate Brussels Sprouts but those were wonderful.
There were thirteen beers on tap. They had names like “abrasive,” “furious,” “fiery hell,” “todd the axe man” and “misantrhrope”. We tried several and each of us found one we liked.
The second floor wasn’t open to the public yet but we could wander around. There was a large porch area on the back side that will be great in summer. They have event rooms and, I guess, are going to open a more formal restaurant. They also had a fairly large gift shop with mainly tee shirts.
On Wednesday my Internet wasn’t working. Since I am currently working from home, this was a problem. The cable guy came out and had a look and said there was some problem with the line into my apartment and another person would have to come out the next day and re-wire it. I went over to my parent’s place to download some files. That evening I met up with an old friend I hadn’t seen in ten years. It was great catching up with all the gossip.
We ate at Muffuletta which has been there for as long as I can remember. We used to go there when I lived here 25 years ago. My friend had the squash risotto and I had the gnocchi. Mine had chunks of chicken, parsnips, and arugula in a blue cheese sauce. It was amazing. The sauce was very mild so just a hint of blue cheese.
Thursday morning I went into my living room to open my blinds and the whole thing came down on top of me. I have very big windows and the blinds are no small thing. I was just happy nothing broke on the shelf below. Not long after that the new cable guy showed up. He checked everything and wandered in and out and finally he came back and told me it was a security issue. Somebody had tapped into my line and was stealing my Internet. He said he left a note on their door but I should keep an eye on it. Wow.
Later that day one of the maintenance men from the building came and climbed up a 15-foot ladder to re-install the blinds. Another maintenance man held the ladder for him and we were both looking at each other like the guy on the ladder had lost his mind. He was balancing precariously and leaning into the window to drill holes and hang the blinds. In the end he got it done and nobody got hurt.
Another friend of mine works at the Schubert Club Museum in downtown St Paul. Admission is free and it is all about music. It has instruments of all kinds, music boxes, phonographs, and correspondence between musicians including letters from Mozart, Gershwin, Tchaikovsky, and Sousa.
I met her for lunch and had a quick tour. They have a pump organ, harpsichords, fortepianos, and modern pianos. Some owned by famous musicians. Copies of all the documents and correspondence are translated and in binders with a selection on view. In a separate gallery they have string instruments, drums, music boxes, and other musical instrument on show. The organization puts on competitions, recitals, and performance series at several different locations.
The museum is located in the Landmark Center, which was the old Federal Building and one of the gallery rooms was the old FBI regional office from 1932 to 1933. They investigated many gangster activities during the time including the kidnapping of millionaire William Hamm, Jr., President of the Hamm Brewery. In 1933, as he was walking home for lunch, he was picked up by the Barker-Karpis gang. He was then forced to sign his own ransom note and held in a windowless room in Illinois until the ransom was paid, which it was two days later. The following day he was back at home safe and sound. But the interesting thing is the FBI were able to pull fingerprints off of the ransom note and managed to identify all of his kidnappers.
The Hamm Building sits a block away from Landmark Center. It became the new office building for the Hamm Brewery in 1919. Today Landmark Center is a visitor information center, and also houses the Schubert Museum and several galleries. The Hamm Building is a multi-use building with restaurants, boutiques, a theater, and offices.
Kathleen Gamble was born and raised overseas and has traveled extensively. She has a BA in Spanish and has worked in publishing, printing, desktop publishing, translating, and purchasing. She also designs and creates her own needlepoint. She started journaling at a young age and her memoir, Expat Alien, came out of those early journals. Over the years she has edited and produced an American Women’s Organization cookbook in Moscow, Russia, and several newsletters. Her first book, Expat Alien, was published in 2012 and she recently published a cookbook, 52 Food Fridays, both available on Amazon.com. You can also follow her blog at ExpatAlien.com.