February 26, 2013

Aruba, Jamaica ooo I wanna take you…

To Cozumel….???? HEY! It’s still off the Florida keys, just a little farther than Kokomo, in fact it’s about 600 miles southwest of the keys, and a place the Beach Boys definitely missed out on! But that’s okay, because my wife and her family found it and lucky for me, I got the opportunity to go for my first time recently with my wife, her sister and brother in-law and man is the food on this island outstanding.

It’s a simple life in Cozumel, a life that plenty of American’s now call home through retirement and a place I would love to call my second home someday. To add to that relaxing simple life comes some amazing food that you simply won’t find here in Minnesota unless you know a Mexican-American that now calls Minnesota home. If you do, please let me know! 

Too many people just want to stay at an all-inclusive and never leave the resort, but in Cozumel, that’s not the way to do things. Instead, find a great hotel that offers all-inclusive packages as an option and make the decision to NOT buy up and head in to town to enjoy the homemade greatness. Trust me when I say, you’ll thank me for it! Whelp… Grab a tropical drink that will probably melt in your hand (or maybe not) and enjoy the mouthwatering descriptions. 

La Mission 
Just a block off the main strip and the main square sits La Mission where you can enjoy the Seafood Plate for just $21 that includes; about a 12 oz. grilled lobster tail, 6 JUMBO (and I mean jumbo) shrimp, fish of the day (usually red snapper or grouper) and rice. Okay, catch your breath… Yes I said you get all of that for just $21! What else is amazing here? Take a stab at their fajitas which were outstanding, their Coconut Shrimp which comes in a half cut coconut with some of the best coconut sauce I’ve ever had and you most definitely have to try their Lime Soup. Wondering what lime soup is? Lime soup is a chicken broth base with tortilla chip strips, onions, chicken and lime juice and it’s easily the best soup I’ve ever had in my life! By the way, we ate here twice while we were in Cozumel… 

La Choza 
Head a few blocks into town from the main square and you’ll find a place called La Choza. Here, you’ll find some amazing Shrimp Veracruz, Garlic Shrimp – both of which are jumbo shrimp as well as their fajitas. We also decided to take a stab at their Garlic Soup and I pretty sure that our party of four decided to push it aside and wait for our main courses. You can’t go wrong with your selection(s) while at La Choza, but make sure that one of them includes what I just mentioned to you. 

La Conchita Del Caribe 
Deep in town is where you will find this gem and what a gem it was. I had to run to the bathroom just as we arrived and upon my return, my wife says, “they have Paella as a Sunday special only”, and I said “I’ll take that!” I didn’t even need to see the rest of the menu, because Paella is easily one of my all-time favorite meals ever. What the heck is Paella? Paella is a mixture of rice and seafood that includes; calamari, shrimp (still shelled) clams and white fish. Follow that up with some meats like; chicken, pork and more pork. Finish with your veggies like; onions, peas, peppers, garlic and a large amount of herbs and spices. Man I want some right now! My wife went with their Coconut Shrimp and that too was very delicious, but I’ll take my Paella, thank you… 

Ernesto’s Fajita Factory 
You’ll find this little ocean front restaurant off the main strip near the cruise line port and in walking distance of 3 or 4 hotels as well. This is the place for some delicious Mexican breakfasts like their Burrito Mananero filled with eggs, peppers, onions, cheese and chorizo and it’s ooh so yummy. You know what… Go ahead and order anything on the menu and I guarantee it’s going to be delicious! In fact, make sure you get the cakes! Cakes you say? In Mexico? YEP! Stopped here for lunch as well and their fajitas are some of the very best you can find. Made with their own house blend that includes their now famous cerveza based marinade and I wish I had access to their fajitas every week! 

Coconuts Bar & Grill 
In the middle of nowhere on the south side of this amazing island and perched atop the highest point in Cozumel sits Coconuts Bar & Grill. Lets just get this out of the way quickly…. First, you’ll need to rent a Jeep, car or scooter and it’s well worth it to do so. Secondly, if you’re brave enough to be “free”, you’ll get a free drink (I think you can figure it out). And finally, make sure you have cash with you, because it’s all they take. I recommend you order the shrimp fajitas during your stop and just sit back, relax and enjoy the scenery (ocean scenery that is, get your mind out of the gutter). 

You might be thinking… “You left out what to drink and what about the chips, guac and salsa?” I didn’t forget, but they pretty much all serve the same excellent quality chips, guac and salsa and if you’re daring enough, take a stab at the HOT stuff. It’s no ghost pepper, but man is it hot and somehow still good… Yep, I tried it alright! As for the cerveza’s, margaritas, etc…. That’s simple, DRINK UP and ENJOY! 

I love Cozumel and I'm ready to go back to paradise fast and then take it slow, because that's where we wanna go.... Way down to Cozumel! 

February 10, 2013

TWISTED The Night Away...

Let me tell you 'bout a place, somewhere up - a Minnesota way… Oh Sam Cooke, you inspirational body movin’ song creator that’s being used to describe food instead of how to twist your pants off! That said place is Wyatt’s Twisted Americana located in Hastings, MN and taking over the space once occupied by Celts Pub.

My wife and I have been looking to stop by Wyatt’s since its opening and we finally had that chance. Based on the menu, there’s plenty of things to consider trying and during our first visit, I was talked into taking down their take on a Philly while my wife went with their Fish n’ Chips. Lets start with my wife’s Fish n’ Chips… 

Our server Peach was describing their Fish n’ Chips as a battered and deep fried filet that was full of flavor and they even use an amber brew instead of just a light brew. So far it sounds delicious, right? One thing I do think about is, when a place uses batter it tends to be way too heavy and comes out greasy, disgusting and mostly batter with a small amount of fish. At Wyatt’s, it’s the complete opposite! A nice thin batter, great flavor, a thick fish filet and not greasy at all. If you’re a Friday Fish person during lent, this is one of those places you can head to for sure. By the way, make sure you’re eating the homemade tarter as well, mmm mmm Good! 

Lets dance our way over to my Philly… First, you’ll be able to see where Wyatt’s Philly ranks amongst some of the other Philly’s my wife and I have had by visiting > On The Streets Of Philasota!. I wouldn’t say it’s my favorite Philly, but’s it’s certainly not disgusting either. The problem was, you can’t make a Philly with marinated beef tidbits served as an appetizer and in their chunk form. While it’s not a typical Philly, man was the meat tender, juicy and really delicious, but just not what I think of when someone says Philly! I did get a chance to make some suggestions to make it into more of your typical Philly and still have the Twisted Wyatt’s take on it and maybe my suggestions will be introduced when they launch their new menu which you can expect to see around the end of February. 

After talking to our server and one of the owners, my wife and I are looking forward to heading back to try some additional items on the menu that caught our eye… Definitely want to test the wings after the owner had my mouth watering with his description of how they’re prepared and then seeing where they rank on the wing challenge > Flying Buffalo’s?. How about a Grilled Cheese Burger? Two grilled cheese sandwiches with a burger in between! Hitting the gym after this one! Also made some suggestions about improving their Mac n’ Cheese by doing a custom mac with their current five cheese recipe and allowing patrons to select a certain number of add-ons. 

It all sounds good and just some of the items that we want to go back to try. Watusi, fly or twist your way into Wyatt’s Twisted Americana, you’re not going to be let down by the flavors and there’s something for everyone. 

880 Bahls Drive
Hastings, MN 55033

February 1, 2013

Wild Bill’s… I Think I love You…

BUT I WANNA KNOW FOR SURE! Come on chant it with me, WILD BILL’S… Maybe if we do keep chanting, the owner will just appear from out of nowhere with some awesome black spectacles on – yeah probably not though!

My wife and I finally had a chance to get to Wild Bill’s to see what they had to offer after I was hearing that they had some pretty good food. After looking at the menu, It seemed like just another sports bar with the same old menu items that any other sports bar has to offer. I was intrigued by all the sauce options and decided that I must get some wings to see how they fared against the competition and you can see what I had to say by visiting my wings challenge, Flying Buffalo’s?, lets just say that some improvement is needed! 

We like to share our meals and this visit was no different as we decided on a couple things following what our server had to recommend. She suggested that we try the chicken tenders and after she described how they were made to us, we went ahead and ordered them up. Prepared with panko flakes instead of the traditional flower or batter mixture and man were these things awesome! These things were like full chicken breasts, not just little tenders you see elsewhere and they had great flavor and moist instead of boring and dry – probably the best chicken tenders I’ve had.

My wife also wanted to try the Grilled Chicken Ranch Wrap. While it wasn’t terrible, I wish more places would start setting themselves apart from the rest of the field. Try using a homemade ranch dressing, a different flower tortilla instead of the basic, try a different cheese blend or season your chicken differently. Again, I wouldn’t say it was terrible, but it’s just another chicken wrap! We also substituted the fries for the Poker Chips which are whole sliced potatoes that are deep fried (you may have seen this same concept at Buffalo Wild Wings). I like them, but if you like crinkle cut fries, which I do, feel free to just keep the fries! 

I mentioned earlier that they had a wide selection of sauces to choose from, in fact they have 16 sauces to choose from and I would recommend sampling the following; Carolina BBQ and Wild Bill’s Orange Sauce… Delicious! We also tried the Bourbon Teriyaki and Wild Bill’s Buffalo Sauce, but the B.T. was a little lack luster and the Buffalo needed less Red Hot flavoring and more of a unique seasoning added to it as well.

While Wild Bill’s might not be making everything on their menu groovy, I’m sure if The Troggs were in town, they would stop by and I would go back to try some more food on the menu as well. I definitely will be back for some more chicken tenders, man those were good… Don’t forget to check out my take on their wings by visiting my Flying Buffalo’s? wing challenge as well. 

546 Commons Drive 
Woodbury, MN 55125