Tuesday, March 11, 2014

The Grey House - Farm to Table Uptown Minneapolis

The fixed price menu is a great way to sample a chef's skills.  Today, I walked by The Gray House, in Uptown Minneapolis, where Chef Ian Gray, personally greeted me and talked about his technique, good food and sourcing his seasonal menus from as many local farms and food cooperatives as possible throughout the year.  Though, during our harsh winters, he does source with farms out in California.  It was before dinner rush and he looked fresh for battle.  It had been a long cold winter and everyone is ready for spring.  So are the local businesses.

Chef Gray
Drinks are priced well, with an excellent selection of IPA beers that are handcrafted in Minnesota and Wisconsin.  The wine list was a good mix of domestic and international blended, white, red and sparkling wines.  I am sure I could have asked for a pairing recommendation, but I felt in the mood for a nice Italian sparkling white wine.

 Though the space is small, it feels wide open and the interior is kind of designed like an exterior of a Gray house.  It's simple, clean, almost zen-like, but not in an antiseptic kind of way.  You feel like you could come here with a group of friends and just hang out or have a business lunch/dinner here.  It's intimate enough for a date-night and casual enough to wear jeans.  That's hard to pull off.

Tonight I decided to try the three-course for $20, for a couple of reasons, it's economical and I wanted to see what $20 will get you in terms of a high quality chef and I wanted to see what kind of ingredients he would use.  That's tough in this industry when you are trying to keep your doors open and at the same time, attract new clients.
 The first course is the same.  You have your mixed greens in a vinaigrette.  As more people are getting educated about their food and the technique that goes into making a salad, I can tell you this is not a sloppy salad.  The knife cuts that demonstrate technique are as precise as a surgeon with a scalpel.  Paper thin textures of assorted root vegetables that showcases skill, fine julienned red onions danced with the brussel sprout leaves and greens.  This salad was not drenched, but perfectly coated with vinaigrette.
This was the perfect opener.

My palate was clean and ready for the next course.

 The next course was a savory sausage over a bed of cheesy polenta.  The flavors just complemented each other incredibly well, great mouth feel and the portion size was good for a hearty lunch or a light, but substantial enough, dinner.
The final act in this play is a hand crafted gelato. Pictured is the salted caramel, which was sinful enough to want more, but it does satiate the sweet tooth.

For $20, yes, you can have a gourmet experience and have quality service.

Of course, The Gray House does have a full menu, with an incredible assortment that is always changing as the seasons change.

Monday, March 10, 2014

Sex, Love and Craigslist

A single woman posted an ad on Craigslist today that caused a huge response in the Minneapolis/St. Paul area. I know, because I was that poster that happened to browse through the personals.  Blame it on a long winter, or a touch of Spring fever.  Whatever that fever was, I had a Jerry McGuire moment at around 2 am.  The headline was "What This Woman Wants".  Two hours later, my email alerts were coming in like popcorn.  First slowly, than as the Twin Cities woke up, my email account exploded.
"I just checked the posts and there was something rather depressing. Some people are so jaded, only posting about what their needs are and giving a whole list that when you sum it up, they might be better off with a prostitute to service them. To be incredibly honest, no one is looking for anything lasting. Perhaps a bandage for their emotionally mangled lives. If it sounds like I am being judgmental, I am. We all are when we read these posts. The real questions we should be asking is do we really even know how to love? Seriously, if all you are looking for is sex, you might have a great relationship with your hand, but another living, breathing person who is this illusion of who your ideal might be isn't really going to cut it for any of us looking. We grow intolerant as the years go by, perhaps less forgiving, less patient and the honest truth is we are incredibly selfish people who are basically trying to find our own reflection in a stranger's eyes. I have my ideals, you will have yours, but what if we tried to be the kind of person we were searching for? Or are we trying to find a person that compliments our shortcomings? Chances are, if there is a person I don't like, I can't image doing anything with you. If you are a person I want to get to know, I would go through hell and back just to be with you. That's how it works. I wouldn't have to like what you like, or live the way you live, but I would have to feel some incredible force that would draw me to you and THAT is what I am looking for. To be honest, it's rare, but it's real. I don't settle for anything fake in my life. I don't have time for that kind of crap and neither do you. I don't care what you believe. I only care that you are in possession of a heart. Who we are, essentially is what we decide to reveal to the world, and frankly people mostly lie or identify solely with a title of their choosing to create an identity because they have forgotten long ago what has given them life. The type of man that I have been attracted to in the past, well, he's a man. I have had long term relationships, they tend to teach me more than having a high body count (that was when I was young, and I wouldn't qualify those as relationships, more like editing along the way the kind of man I don't want to be with). So, if you are still out there, in this city, and you happen to be reading this, it's your choice. Either we find each other in the most serendipitous way possibly, or you reply and start a conversation. For the young men who are looking to fulfill some "Mrs. Robinson" fantasy, no thanks boys. I have a son who is older than you, and for me, that is NOT a fantasy I am going to enact in this lifetime. AGE: 48 -58. Fellas, I have only one physical requirement. Be in shape (mentally, emotionally and physically). I have one relationship requirement: Be unattached (I am not looking for a Duece Biggalo). Be yourself. I may have to face the reality that a lot of you are married and that I may be single for the rest of my life. That's fine. I am OK with that. However, I thought I would toss this note in a bottle for one last attempt to try to meet you. This imaginary person in my head, the construction of my own imagination or somewhere out there. Don't worry, I am not looking for someone to save me. I most certainly am not going to try to save or change you." That love...that ultimate intangible."

The response wasn't that I was necessarily looking for attention, but I was expressing what I was seeing.  Had we really just come to a point where we stop seeking relationships and just use message boards to hit up each other for sex, because no one is willing to risk their hearts?  I considered my own life. Seriously, I hadn't WANTED  to open up myself.  I hadn't wanted to be vulnerable.  By being anonymous, I found that I was feeling the freedom to simply express the observations of what I was seeing.  From 2 am - 10:21 am today, I received 50 responses before my ad was flagged for being 'inappropriate'.

I only received three replies that unleashed a world of hate towards me, waiting to bait me with the ever popular C--- and unleashing assorted personal attacks.  Sadly, they personalized my observations and didn't realize that they were about the general quality of Craigslist posts.

47 messages were incredibly encouraging.

"im 25 years old and I AM NOT LOOKING TO HOOK UP WITH YOU !!!! i just wanted to wish you the best in finding someone to love and spend the rest of your life with, i was in a relationship for 6 years, and ive been single for a little over a year now and i have pretty much givin up on even trying to find anyone..."

That means the MAJORITY are also tired of the meaningless kinds of 'relationships' that are advertised on Craigslist.  

"I sincerely hope you connect with someone worthy of the mind and heart you so obviously have. 
I don't do online dating at all and have only recently perused the CL lists out of lonely curiosity, originally only looking for a cheap bed (the furniture kind, that is), but from the few days I've peeked in on these personals I can heartily agree with how sad so much of the people's atittudes are towards approaching a relationship. 
We've both made it through a very hard winter that is perhaps a good metaphor for the state of our hearts, and I wish you luck and hope the Spring finds you some joy."

"What you said in your post so eloquently describes what's wrong with many of us, men and women, in today's society. I'm 25, and I hate how my generation defines Love and Relationships. I can't find anyone compatible because I get labeled "Old-Fashioned" and "Desperate" because I'm paying attention to what emotions a person invokes in me and vice versa. Your words stated that perfectly and it's refreshing to read. "

"(Begins slow clapping)
Good morning,
I'm glad that someone has FINALLY had the guts and nerve to address the issues with a lot of these posts and the impossible matches they're looking for.
I agree that almost all men on here are looking for sex and that's it, there's nothing wrong with wanting to have sex but it doesn't compare to making love with that special person who you connect with on multiple levels. I've had two partners in my life and it's by choice, I'm a gentleman who takes the time to know someone before just jumping into bed with them.
I wish you the best of luck on your search and wish you happiness."

But mainly  this response was what I was seeking, a confirmation that I wasn't the ONLY one who was seeing this.

"Enjoyed Reading your posting!
I am a bit too old for you at 59, But yust wanted to let you know
there are guys out there looking for the same things.
   Again Well Said! and Best wishes in your search."

No, I really am not seeking anyone through the virtual world and I am NOT criticizing people who do find love that way.  If it happens for me, I want it to be in the real world through an imperfect situation in the course of everyday life.  That's how I would love for it to happen.  

However bleak it may look, there are others out there wanting to believe again, but this time, I think we are all realizing that a list doesn't really work.  What does work is being that person that is loving and kind in order to attract the good in the world.  Or something like that.  We are NOT alone.  

Here's to love and not giving up.  Love still exists, with or without someone to share it with.