Saturday, August 23, 2008

Fried Okra

I am an upwardly mobile guy. That isn't to say that I am getting promoted rapidly (or at all) or planning on moving into a corner office any time soon. What I mean to write is that geographically I am an upwardly mobile guy. At first it was to find the right school for me, so I moved to the cornfields of Ohio. Then the next step was to find the right (or any) job for me, so it was time to move to the frozen tundra of Minnesota. They were all the right steps to take and I am happy for my experiences in the new states, but sometimes it is tough being away from home. I won't get into the obvious reasons of family (especially now that we have a relatively new addition) or even friends. This blog isn't supposed to be that serious, so right now all I want to discuss is food.

Specifically, I want to talk about fried okra, sweet tea, cheese grits, and a slab of meat that takes me back to my Mom's cooking or the hole-in-the-wale places of the South. In that vein I would like to talk about my new quest of finding the right comfort food here in Minneapolis. It might have started when I read my brother-in-law's post about sharing some BBQ with his son (my nephew).

Anyway, I have searched online and then hunted down the supposed best of the best in BBQ in the Twin Cities. I have tried Ted Cook's 19th Hole (voted best BBQ by City Pages in 2004), Scott Ja-Mamas (or as I like to say Scotty's), Lee's and Dee's (voted best BBQ by the City Pages in 2005 and 2008), and Chelly's Cafe. I still need to try a few more places (Rooster's BBQ and others I haven't found yet in my research), but I think I have at least an initial understanding of what is out there. Here would be my awards (definitely subject to change after more visits):
  • Best twice baked pototoes - Scott Ja-Mamas on Diamond Lake in South Minneapolis. While the chicken was above-average, I wouldn't make a point of it to go back there for it. However, the twice baked potatoes were cheap, delicious and definitely something that I would like to try with some ribs.
  • Best chicken wings - M and I went to Lee's and Dee's for the catfish (for her) and the ribs (for me), but ended up falling in love with the chicken wings. Most chicken wings are fried with too much breading, but these chicken wings didn't have any breading and were the most deliciously seasoned wings I have ever had. Seriously, I am thinking about driving to St. Paul just writing about the wings right now.
  • Best sauce/beef tips - Ted Cook's 19th Hole. Incredible. I need to try more from Ted Cook's since it is pretty close to my home and also offers exceptional sweet potato pie. The only disappointment of the dining experience were the black-eyed peas.
  • Best overall dining experience/sweet tea - I loved Chelly's Cafe and the fact that is is only 10 blocks from my house, might make me a regular. The wings were very good and I also enjoyed the okra and cheese grits as sides. Also, the meal comes with a southern style biscuit, which is never a bad thing. The real treat was the fact that I could read the paper and drink a sweet tea while waiting for my food. I am going to have to try more of what Chelly's has to offer since I think it is probably the most versatile of the restaurants I have mentioned.
  • Best okra - Randomly the best okra I have had in the Twin Cities comes from the gas station on 48th and Nicollet. It is better than Lee's and Dee's and Chelly's. I have always had my theory that the best chicken comes from those hot counters at gas stations in the South, but the quality of the fried okra from a gas station in South Minneapolis really caught me by surprise. The best thing is that I can walk to the gas station order the fried okra and two cokes (50 cents each for the cokes) and be completely prepped for cocktail hour.
That is it for right now on the search for the best comfort food in the Twin Cities. I am off to go see the Vikings-Steelers preseason game tonight. If you are at the game look for a black #7 Roethlisberger jersey with a red Miami hat sitting behind the visitor's bench.

Oh yeah, I haven't written many Twins posts this year. Lets just say I don't really believe what is going on right now and don't want to jinx anything. I have been watching the games on tv and have made it to 15 games at the Dome so far this year, so rest assured I am keeping up with them. I just don't have anything to write right now because I am still in shock that as of right now they are in 1st place in the division.


BC said...

I think you're confused about what upward mobility means. It doesn't mean making choices that are right for you.

hedleylamarr said...

mississippi is taking fried foods to a whole new level. i recently saw fried mac & cheese on a menu and thought "well, i have to try this." seriously, who saw mac & cheese and said "this needs to be fried." i'll never get over the fried candy bars at the state fair though.