Another video to make you think...

...sure surprised me.

Matt Nathanson - Headphones (Official Video) ft. LOLO: http://youtu.be/wg1zaW7c8_I


Curling at the Saint Paul Curling Club, St. Paul, MN

I will admit it. It turns out while I know more than some, I didn't know much about the sport of curling. I thought for sure some bored, drunk Canadians threw stuff down a lake one winter's day, only to invent this Winter Olympic sport. I was dead wrong. I now know the truth about curling after the department I work in set-up a sweet little afternoon outing to the largest curling club in the United States, the St. Paul Curling Club ("SPCC"). 

We started out the day with some classroom time. We learned that, in fact, curling is a very old sport. The first documented matches were played in northern Scotland in 1548. Wow, from the country that also gave us golf. [Insert jokes about difficult sports with drinking as a backdrop here]. 

Though not quite as old as that, the history of the SPCC dates back (and I think the phrase "dates back is appropriate here) to 1888. People in St. Paul, MN were throwing "rocks" down the waterfront at Raspberry Island. In its more modern history, the building we played in was built in 1912, which is still a damn long time. They now have 2000 members, again, the largest in US and maybe the world.

It's also an impressive club, full of rich oak and mahogany. Okay, in truth, I don't know the species of their woodwork, but it looked damn nice and seemed like a place I would really like to spend some long winter days and evenings.

This is just the upstairs "classroom", which I think is really their party room. And yes, you can see all the sheet-action from up here too
'It's a big deal"
That looks like a comfy set of couches
After some instruction on the basics about how to play curling, which I won't bore you with, but can be read up HERE, we went down to the "sheets" (of ice) for some hands on lessons and to play some matches. Of course, first, we had to put on clean shoes and grab our brooms. Yes, that's right, brooms. Wait, if you don't know what even that is for... you do need to go to THIS LINK to get the gist of the sport. don't worry, it's a video, you don't have to read. 

You didn't even want to watch the video? Fine. In essence, 4-person teams are trying to slide 8, 42lb solid granite rocks down a sheet of ice, while keeping as many as they can within "the House". So, if all both teams did was slide all the rocks into the House, with none going foul or anything, you'd 16 big granite rocks in a 27' x 15' in area. That's a lot of rocks. 

And did I mention, this is all done on ice? You betcha! A big ole solid sheet of ice. It is not quite like a buttery smooth, freshly zamboni'd hockey rink ice, as it has a bit of an orange peel skin on top of the ice, but make no mistake about it, you're on ice. It's slippery. So try not to fall, run, slip, spill, or trip over the rocks. You could really make a bad day worse by not seeing where you're going and trip over a rock. Ouch. I did my best to keep my head on a swivel, but was admonished by the staff at least once about not sweeping in the right direction, which I understand was for my own safety.

This is actually two sheets, for playing two different games, simultaneously. Think of them like lawn bowling or real-bowling lanes. 
That fairly wide red line out in front of the House is called the Hog Line. You have to get your rock to go last this line for it to be in play. If not, it gets moved aside.
If you don't pass this line, you do not pass "Go" and do not collect $200

Here's a look at the implements of war... I mean, the rocks... (seriously, what is up with the Scots?!)
These are thrown down the sheet by one team in one round

So, above, is two teams worth of rocks. That little black mat is covering the spot on the ice you can push-off of during your turn and get some momentum for your "throw"
And here is their literal "broom closet"...

The brooms are used by the designated sweepers on each team to speed up and, I think if you're good at it, direct where and how fast the rock travels down the ice. By "sweeping" the ice in front of the rock, it creates a thin layer of water, which reduces friction and allows the rock to travel faster and farther. I know, it sounds like hog-wash, but I saw it work with my own eyes.

I won't even talk about how our team did or the scoring. I'll save that for my next visit and post. Everyone on the staff at the SPCC was very accommodating, to all of us, and I would go back in a heartbeat to try this sport again.

They even think about curling from the men's room. This window is right above the sink...



If you ever need a gift idea for me...

... and though I think some people call me "hard to shop for", I'd suggest pun-centric or witty t-shirts. I wear them all the time after buying them myself. You know, like this:


A Chef's Life / Chef & The Farmer

I love this show. 

But let me explain why. I grew up watching little TV after school and on weekends. Mom didn't allow it, so that was the way it was. We would get maybe one after-school show each day (like GI Joe or He-Man... our sister often got out-voted on the choice) and then towards the middle-end of my childhood we were allowed to watch Saturday morning cartoons as well.

But one this I will always remember is watching the cooking shows on PBS. It seemed like our mom would give us carte blanche to watch anything on PBS. They could do no wrong and it was all educational. We were fine with her views in this matter, as long as we got to watch TV (I mean, we were kids after all). In many ways, I think the cooking shows on PBS were the precursor or forerunner of the Food Network, but I don't think I've ever heard anyone say that before, or have read about it. 

But you can't tell me personalities like Martin Yan ("If Yan can cook, so can you!"), Julia Childs, that crazy cajun guy ("I gare-uhn-tee!"), Charlie Trotter, James... crud, what was his name? With the white bearsd... it's going to drive me nuts. This group of chefs has to be the start of Americas love of watching and learning how to prepare new and interesting foods from new and interesting cultures. Even now their list of chefs is still quite impressive, located HERE.
So, what do I still often do on Saturdays around lunchtime? I watch the chefs on PBS. One that I've grown quite fond of is called "A Chef's Life". It follows the trials and tribulations of a wife, Vivian Howard, and husband, Tim. This duo moved from NYC back to her hometown in eastern North Carolina. Her parents enticed them to move back by helping to fund a new restaurat and the show now chronicles the daily goings-on in their two culinary business ventures, on the surface. What it does below the surface is so much more interesting, giving you a look into the creative process of a chef, restaurateur, edibles procurement, forager, pit-master, mother, father, daughter, son-in-law, wife, husband, hostess, host, nervous-public-speaker. It's been very fun to watch food, family, and traditions come together in such a unique and wonderful way.

You can see the last show I saw HERE. It's all about ramps. You know what ramps are, right? No? Well, you better watch just for that. In fact, if you live anywhere near their restaurants in Kinston, NC you can probably start looking for these edible greens come spring, but only for a short time. Check them out HERE.


Congrats to the MNRG Dagger Dolls

The first win in a (long) while must be extra sweet. 
Go, Millie! Go, Millie! Go, go, go Millie!!


Just past the office windows on a cold January day...

... looks very pretty, but don't linger outside too long in this weather.

6Smith, Wayzata, MN

Though there was a slight hesitation on this place based on some Google reviews I saw while making the Open Table reservation, I went in to this re-done space in Wayzata with nothing but the best of hopes. I had wrangled in two couples to go with me, and we were all looking forward to a fun night.

In short, 6Smith did not disappoint. We enjoyed every dish that came out to us. We were very pleased with their service. The space is well-appointed and comfortable (but perhaps a bit cold, in both temperature and chosen materials). The prices seem commensurate with other restaurants like it, but it's not a cheap night. Then again, I would suggest saving this place for something special or when you deserve a treat.

I liked their unique light fixtures
I really liked the hanger steak that I ordered though... they had grilled grapes and onions on top. Both were a bit excessive, but easy to push to the side in order to get into the meat of the matter, so to speak. Oh, those oven-roasted Brussels sprouts in the skillet behind the plate were also very good, with a great Fresno chili sliced on top.
Dessert was a diminutive ice cream-eclair sundae, made with Izzy's ice creams. It was delicious and I could have eaten a normal-sized eclair version, for the same $9 
Their menu had so many great, unique and tasty items on it (that we all tried) that I will have to come back to 6Smith to try more. They also serve lunch and brunch, so there's almost no reason not to try this lakeside spot.


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