Girls' Night Out at MMAA

My #1 destination for girls’ night out was once a place where we’d find single, good-looking men. These days, I would rather they go to the trouble of finding me. Besides, some of my friends are now married or otherwise done looking. So now I’ve got my sights set on places that celebrate women.

Women-owned restaurants, fashion shows and jewelry parties, women business-owner gatherings, and, of course, art, music and theater created by women. The latter is my favorite because it indulges two passions at once: the arts and networking.

I cannot begin to describe my satisfaction in watching girlfriends’ faces as they meet a female from another circle and connect. Maybe it’s a laugh they share, or a business contact, or some poor guy they’ve both dated and dumped. Regardless, I relish the morning-after emails thanking me for getting all of us together.  read more »

First Yvette, then Sophia, now Picosa...a "nuevo Latino" bistro joins the roster on the river

Tonight after a meeting of Ladies Who Launch at Aster Café, I was walking to my car, and my stomach growled just as I passed by Picosa, the Latin American restaurant newly opened in the former Sophia space. Naturally, my stomach and I made a U-turn.

Also lining up to nosh were Chef Andrew Zimmern and his accountant. That told me the place would be affordable. Nobody takes their accountant to a pricey place, as there will be no chance of ordering any wine over $10.

Until they caught me scribbling in my notebook, I didn’t feel the need to explain I would be writing about my Picosa experience. I figured the ubiquitous CAZ would get all of the “critic in the house” attention—he’s on national TV. So while the Famous One and Mr. Numbers took a booth inside, I chose a veranda seat where I could watch the glistening bodies of Aquatennial Torchlight runners coming in for the finish.

In Spanish, Picosa means “the spicy one,” so I chose my wine accordingly—a Cape Mentelle Sauvignon/Semillon blend from Australia ($8). Served chilled in the heat of the night, it was just the quaff to match my grilled octopus salad with roasted red peppers, corn salsa and greens ($9).  read more »

Recommended: Jeffrey Hatcher's "Mrs. Mannerly" and Cafe Ena

There are certain events you just don’t want to miss. For some, it is shopping on the day after Thanksgiving. For others, it’s the 4th of July fireworks. For me, it’s the opening night of a Jeffrey Hatcher play.

Last night’s Hatchery was an amusing slice of autobiography showcasing super-funny Phyllis Wright as Jeffrey, age 7, and the wry and witty Barbara June Patterson as the playwright’s real-life etiquette instructor and title character, Mrs. Mannerly. The dialogue drew a steady rhythm of chuckles from the audience as well as from Hatcher himself—evidence that the actors did justice to his work.  read more »

Minneapolis loves Pink Martini

It’s been 24 hours and I am still in a Pink Martini haze. No, not from pink drinks. I listened to—no, felt…absorbed…BECAME—the music of Pink Martini, the 14-piece band who performed Saturday night at Orchestra Hall.

I got the perfect roll of the dice: row 6, seat 6. I could see their faces, hear their inhalations, and watch their legs move to samba, salsa, and bolero beats. On CD, they’re inspiring. Live, they’re an absolute thrill. And what else would you expect from people with names like Thomas Lauderdale (piano), China Forbes (lead vocals), Martín Zarzar (drums), and Pansy Chang (cello)? They were born cool.  read more »

If this isn’t the Biennale end-all!

Y’know that get-to-know-you exercise where you list five people, living or dead, with whom you’d most like to have dinner? The politically correct (or, perhaps, parent-pleasing) answer should include Mother Teresa or Jesus or Gandhi, but with practically all of their books made into movies, I feel I’ve gotten to know them already. My picks, therefore, would be artists and cultural icons. And I’d want to pull up extra chairs.

Of my top five “dream dinner” guests, three are at this very moment enjoying their morning cappuccinos in Venice, Italy, at La Biennale—the most famous multidisciplinary arts exhibition in the world (since 1895) and one of my dream vacation destinations. While I adore the Twin Cities art scene and our lovely summer weather (Venice stinks in hot weather because of the canals), I am kicking myself for not booking a trip.  read more »

Fine art's even finer with a hot dog and a beer

Zen Moderne by Rosalyn Schwartz

I have said it before, and I’ll say it again: GO TO GALLERY OPENINGS! They almost always feed you, and the artists are there to clue you in when a piece makes you say, Huh?

In the case of the Summer Invitational at Thomas Barry Fine Arts on Friday night, had you been there (and maybe you were—the place was packed), you would have had the opportunity to dine as if watching a Twins game, but without spending a dime to get a bellyful and a buzz. Thom served hot dogs and beer to a crowd ranging from late-teens in jeans to octogenarians in suit jackets, all of them licking the ketchup off the ends of their buns while perusing the paintings. Let no one call this gallery elitist!  read more »

"Get Ready" for an entertaining evening

Ah, media night at the theatah! Tonight’s show: Get Ready at the Penumbra. Here is Dominic Papatola of the Pioneer Press, chatting it up with Penumbra founder Lou Bellamy. There is Rohan Preston of the Star Tribune, pointing his camera at choreographer Austene Van. The rival reporters circle the lobby back-to-back as if they haven’t seen each other, like the cop and the detective in a Laurel and Hardy comedy. Rohan will have pictures tomorrow; Dominic has his team’s new podcast; it’s not apples to apples, so we’ll never know who wins.  read more »

Chambers, Solera, Manhattan's and Bank

This Tuesday evening restaurant tour sounds like a law firm but it’s strictly for epicures, not esquires. My friend Deb is new to Minneapolis, by way of New York City and San Fran, so first impressions are important. When she asked where I’d like to have dinner, I pulled out the big guns right away. (With apologies to my #1 fave 112 Eatery and close second La Belle Vie, plus art venue-ensconced Cue and 20.21…we’ll get her to all of you next time around.)

“Meet me at Manhattan’s,” I said into my cell phone as I bolted from work around 5:30. This new resident of the LaSalle Plaza space formerly occupied by Zeno’s will open tomorrow, but I tend to show up early for the sneak peek. (Just ask Karl and Katie at Spill the Wine, or Kam and Kevyan at Crave, or Kevin and Kyle at Café Maude, all of whom entertained me and my friends at their restaurants prior to opening night. Hmm, seems one’s name must start with “K” to get a restaurant permit in this town.)  read more »

The importance of achieving balance

I’ve just had one of those weekends that help to define life balance: time with family (my sister Kate from Kansas City) and friends (including college buddy Curt, who I seem to run into about every 10 years), walking the dog, a few thoughts about work, a few chores around the house, one night of comedy and clubbing, one theater evening, good, healthy food, and strong black coffee with the New York Times.

Balance is when you feel both confident and challenged…both relaxed and alert…both informed and entertained. It’s when you get enough done to feel productive, and have enough fun to feel grateful. Balance is making sure your family and friends know you love them and still taking time for yourself.

And then something happens—something unexpected—and it’s bye-bye to balance for a while. Such was the theme of the play I saw tonight at Illusion Theater: Stacey Dinner-Levin’s Autistic License.  read more »

Seeking culture amidst Vikings fans...and (surprise!) finding it elsewhere

Click the image above to see the WHOLE picture.

This morning, a girlfriend and I attended the Minnesota Vikings draft party at the team’s Winter Park training facility. We actually paid for the tickets. It had started as a joke, and then we had buyer’s remorse and I tried to sell the tickets, but to no avail. In the end, we decided that we might find single men there (never mind they might be single for a reason), so we checked our pride at the door and sauntered in.

Keep in mind, I’m not a sports fan. Most of my friends are not sports fans. In fact, I once had free tickets to the Super Bowl and gave them away. That’s how little I care. But when I started my arts and culture radio program, a listener asserted that I couldn’t pretend to be covering culture if I didn’t talk sports. He also said that sports is an art form, like dance.  read more »

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