Before attending a concert at Orchestra Hall, we made reservations at Monello, a trendy restaurant in Minneapolis' Ivy Hotel. We choked at the valet parking ($18 for three hours), but recovered at the thought of the special pre-concert dinner that was offered. A three-course dinner for only $39 each! Cheaper than Manny's down the street and close to Orchestra Hall.
First the waiter brought me an "amuse bouche," which was one radish baked en croute. The first course, vitello di tonnato, was delicious, a thin slice of roasted veal the size of a half-dollar, glazed with half a teaspoon of tuna sauce. Then came a half cup of micro greens which I think the chef forgot to dress. Finally, the Pièce de Résistance, the main course. Two medium rare half-ounce "coins" of ribeye steak and a tiny baton of delicious deep-fried polenta.
And that was it. But wait! There was more. Turns out the parking was complimentary if you ordered the "full meal," which we had just devoured (and then sat at the concert, my stomach wailing with hunger and probably drowning out the chords of Sibelius's "Tapiola," as interpreted by Maestro Vanska.)
So that's what fine dining has come to in Mill City. All of this locavore dining, which emphasizes cooking with local foodstuffs has shoved me off the edge. In fact, I'm ready to declare independence and start a new trend. Call it "Oldievore" or Canvore or Boxvor, in which food-sensitive people of limited means eat only from their memories, or from cans or boxes. It's much cheaper and also will prevent grocery chains from downsizing to suit the taste of our post yuppie generation's appetite for fresh food. Here's a week's worth of menus that I long for:
SUNDAY SUPPER: Hormel's corned beef hash. Cut tops and bottoms off can and carefully shove out hash in one piece. Cut in half, fry until crisp, top with two poached eggs. Dress with tablespoon of Silver Springs horseradish.
MONDAY: Feeling queasy after a weekend of over indulgence? Try one can of Campbell's original chicken noodle soup diluted with two tablespoons of water accompanied by half a sleeve of lightly buttered Premium Saltines.
TUESDAY: Thick slice of cold Spam on toasted Master's English Muffin Bread spread with Hellmann's mayo (no Kraft's please) and garnished with head lettuce (no romaine, please).
WEDNESDAY: Can of Hormel's No Bean Chili with shot of Louisiana Hot Sauce, chopped onion and grated cheddar.
THURSDAY: Tray of Stauffer's macaroni and cheese with extra buttered breadcrumbs. Banquet version not acceptable.
FRIDAY: SOS! Hormel's dried beef in white sauce served on buttered white toast points. Hormel's is a must. Most deli dried beef is a fake, moist, soft, blah. Hormel's is dry, very salty and probably packed in those cute little jars during George Washington's second term and suitable for drinking Mogen David wine out of after emptying.
SATURDAY: Grilled cheese sandwich, using Hellman's mayo instead of butter. Bowl of Campbell's original tomato soup made with whole milk. Milwaukee Kosher Dill Pickle.
Also: All the above dishes should be cooked in an oven or on stovetop, as the Lord intended. NO MICROWAVING!