Black Sea: A Random Spot that was Worth Visiting

It was Friday night at the Flanagan house.

Me: "Wanna catch some dinner before we head to Big V's?"
Gerg: "Yessir! What are you thinking?"
Me: "I'm thinking gyros. Something close to Big V's. Wanna find something while I get ready?"
Gerg: "I'm on it!"
Me: "You da best!"

After 3 outfit changes due to suspiciously cold August weather in Minneapolis, I was finally ready. We hopped in the car. A starving Gerg informed me that he had selected a Turkish joint called Black Sea, near Snelling and Minnehaha. "Do they have good gyros?" I wondered, as we headed out. He knew little to nothing about Black Sea, and neither did I.

Parking was a breeze once we arrived. We hopped out of the car and wandered into a hole-in-the-wall restaurant dripping with Turkish decor, such as Kil carpets and copper pots and plates, on the walls. Beaded curtains separated the tables.

At 9:15 on a Friday, there were only a few other guests. I knew I wanted to try the staples: gyro, hummus, and falafel, so I didn't spend too much time going over the menu.

Our server recommended the hummus appetizer and the "Black Sea Combination" for an entree, to which she would add some falafel for us. We both agreed to the suggestion, and sat back to enjoy our drinks: Oralet(Turkish orange tea) and Turkish Iced Tea. Turkish tea, called ├žay, is a form of black tea.

Our hummus appetizer came shortly after our drinks. The hummus was freshly made, thick, drizzled with olive oil, dotted with paprika, and served with pita, feta, fresh tomato slices, and olives.

We hadn't quite finished our hummus when our entree arrived. The combination platter was served, and I gasped. It was a HUGE portion. Enough for 4 adults. That's a standard-sized butter knife in the photo. That plate was roughly 16" in diameter.

Served on top of about 3 cups of basmati rice was chicken gyro meat, beef and lamb gyro meat, marinated chicken kebob, beef shish kebob, 2 meatball kebob, and 2 balls of falafel (we asked for the falafel). Pita bread, fresh greens, onion, green pepper, and fresh tomatoes were served on the side. The meat was juicy, tender, and spiced generously. We smiled. Gerg's favorite was the chicken kebob. If I had to pick, I'd pick the meatball kebob.

There is no indication as to where they source their food. Although, based on the freshness of the tomato, I'd say they were from around the block.

I'm not dying to return, but I would like to stop back to try their cabbage rolls and lentil soup someday.

Looking for a random spot worth visiting?
Black Sea Restaurant
737 N Snelling Ave.
Saint Paul, 55104 Minnesota
(651) 917 8832

[where: Minnesota, Food, Minneapolis, Twin Cities, 55418]

2nd Annual Flanagan Double Dash Pinewood Derby Party

To celebrate gerg's birthday and welcome people to our new house, we held the 2nd Annual Flanagan Double Dash pinewood derby party last weekend.

We invite friends and family to come on over. We purchase car making kits, decals, paint, and give them access to gerg's workshop. They have 2-3 hours to design and build their cars. As they build their cars, gerg assists in the shop, I prepare nosh, and food is consumed during and after the races. The double-elimination style race is fun for everyone.

It's a pretty big party project, but it's worth it to see a bunch of 20 and 30-year-olds acting like they're 12 again.

Oh, and the kids like it too.

Check out more photos from the party here.

[where: Minnesota, Food, Minneapolis, Twin Cities, 55418]

Wearing Seal Pelts

Now you can wear a seal pelt for just $400.

It's not what you think.

It might be better.
It might be worse.

[where: Minnesota, Food, Minneapolis, Twin Cities, 55418]

Made In Minnesota Database

Now that we've moved, decorating is totally underway.

We're reducing and reusing where we can, and we're trying to spend locally, as possible.

We've found some gems on craigslist, including this sweet mid century credenza from a great craigslist seller. We also found some nifty napkins on Etsy made by an architecture student here in MPLS.

We're fans of the ReUse Center and the Habitat for Humanity ReStore. Both offer stuff yanked out of other people's houses at rock-bottom prices - great for counter tops, doors, and even used appliances.

If we have to buy new, we're trying to buy local, and Midwest Home has made that somewhat easier for us by creating their Made in Minnesota database.

So sayeth they: "From aspen saunas in Cokato and air-jet bathtubs in Minneapolis to white cedar shingles in Duluth and reclaimed wood flooring in Hugo, the Land of 10,000 Lakes makes it all. Why build local? It’s good for our collective bottomline—and we’re talking more than eco-friendliness. Buying from locally owned stores returns at least 68 cents of every dollar back to the Minnesota economy—even more if products are manufactured here."

[where: Minnesota, Minneapolis, Twin Cities, 55418]