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Mary McChugalug's Profile

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Need quick advice for Victoria/Waconia area for this weekend

Don't know if it's too late, and this may be further than you're looking for. But the area is "out west" for you, and you have an extra 10 minutes to drive to Tonka Bay, Joey Nova's has really excellent pizza. The kids might not notice that its that much better than any national chain (adults will) but it's casual and they'll probably enjoy it quite a bit more than Victoria House, Lola's, or any other place in Waconia or Victoria that's not fast food.

Does promising a higher tip get better service?

Really, don't do this. Promising a "high tip" is basically telling your server that you're unreasonably demanding and will leave a small tip. It's such a cliche amongst servers that the result is likely to be the opposite of what you desire. You're not being held to ransom, you chose to go out to eat with advance knowledge of the custom of tipping, and you can tip however much you want.
People do refuse to tip- sometimes because of bad service, sometimes for no reason at all. Most often people have a base rate they tip and lower the % due to bad service and raise the % for great service.
There's really no secret to getting good service, just be nice, curteous, treat servers as you would want to be treated and 99% of the time they'll do everything they can to make sure you have a good meal.
Also maybe go into it expecting that you'll recieve good service. All too often, unfortunately, people go out expecting bad service and quite often find what they are looking for.

TJ mustard... 2 gram protein in a TSP?

I love salt like nobody's business but 40 grams of sodium per serving seems a little excessive.

Mar 31, 2012
Mary McChugalug in Chains

Cavemen Ate Only Bronto Burgers and Other Paleo Diet Myths

nc827 yes, you called it, I am wracked with dietary turmoil, thanks for letting me know! I have to admit I've never had any idea how farms work, don't you just plant an egg and grow chicken plants? What is there to check out? Oh wait *google google google* ahhh, yes... I get you.

So speaking of monoculture, what is it that cattle, pigs, and chickens eat? Where does that come from? What kind of gasses do meat animals emit? what gasses do plants emit? Have you ever driven from San Francisco to Los Angeles? Did you look to your left?

I don't know how you jumped from what I said to "don't eat meat" or "yay! petro-based mono culture" or "rice and beans is the healthiest" or "hakuna matata". I just said, in so many words, that endorsing the paleo diet as the pinnacle of healthy human eating is dumb. Maybe I should have been more explicit but my point was that there is no such thing as the optimal diet for all humans, different people need different things- that is how evolution works- different organisms from the same species have different nutritional requirements and different optimal nutritional inputs, this is what prevents an entire species from dying out when the environment changes, which it does on occasion.
If a certain diet works for you (or PattyP) great! Go for it and enjoy but surely you can see the parallels in any diet that is "the best" or "the most natural" whether it's a vegan diet, a paleo diet, or a spaceship diet (algae and cockroaches). Proponents all say the same thing: "I've never felt so good!" and detractors do too "Bullshit! you do not feel good", whatever works.

We can argue all day about whether conventional animal husbandry or conventional fruit and vegetable farming destroys the earth more, or how long the average human lived 20000 years ago(longer than 75ish years? really? proof?), or how we got them big ol' brains (meat huh?) but ultimately what works best for you personally is up to you to figure out- and when you do figure that out rock it, but it doesn't mean it's THE BEST DIET FOR EVERYONE EVAR BECAUSE "EVOLUTION!"

Hakuna Matata!

Nov 03, 2011
Mary McChugalug in Features

Cavemen Ate Only Bronto Burgers and Other Paleo Diet Myths

Wait, so y'all are really claiming that a diet heavy in meat is bucking conventional wisdom and the government? Animal husbandry is the apex of free market capitalism? Way to stick it to those vegan commies at the USDA!!!

I honestly don't understand BeerWeezil's point, are "yupsters" paleo eaters or those calling BS on "paleo" or is "paleo" a common working class term in reference to diet? Is "conventional wisdom" referring to the conventions of biology, genetics, and paleontology or to the conventions of what everybody knows about what the cavemen ate? Is it "disparaging technology" to question the assertions of three books that lack any semblance of scientific credulity or is it "disparaging technology" to turn your back on twelve to twenty millenia of developments in eating that correspond to a tripling of the human life span? Speaking of technology, if you are paleo, do you really think you're going to bring those cows on the spaceships when we fuck up the planet so badly (partly through animal husbandry) that we have to leave? Do you really believe that seven billion people can eat a paleo diet or do you want to go all social darwin on this shit? If so how are your hunting skills? How is "free market" capitalism going for you these days, if the answer is "good" how do you feel about firing all government employed police and military personnel and really "freeing" that market? Is "romanticizing a past that, frankly, sucked" romanticizing a past lacking electricity and choc full of cholera or romanticizing a past where wood-fired neapolitan pizza was prevalent and considered "tasty"? Are people ' "surrendering all of their logic and critical reasoning skills to anyone that flashes the smallest bit of governmental, scientific, or academic "credentials." ' surrendering those skills to two guys who wrote a book or two about how they thought people should eat or are they surrendering them to a collection of peer-reviewed evidence about how genes work and how humans lived prior to writing compiled and by thousands of people who devoted their lives to studying these topics?

Honestly, I'm not trying to one up strangers on the internet, these are real questions.

Nov 03, 2011
Mary McChugalug in Features

Cavemen Ate Only Bronto Burgers and Other Paleo Diet Myths

Sorry Houndgirl but that rebuttal is hardly convincing, it's essentially a really long "f-you commies!". Look, if you want to eat steak for breakfast go for it, enjoy yourself. The wackness of the paleo diet is twofold: one is the obvious ridiculousness of the claim that humans (all humans? even humans from parts of the world that had never seen bovini prior to the 15th century?) "evolved" to eat the flesh of modern cattle- a cooked piece of beef is no more "paleo" than a bowl of grapenuts; two, the idea that humans evolved to eat anything in particular is completely backwards genetically speaking, the magic of DNA is that DNA exists in a flux state in regards to environmrnt- successful organisms (including humans) adapt to evolving environments while unsuccessful organisms cling to static dietary habituation.

Nov 03, 2011
Mary McChugalug in Features

The Worst Paragraph in All of 2011's Food Writing

Yes Guilty, generation Y is a horrible, illiterate bastard generation and a waste of space and resources. Boomers, X-ers, and millenials on the other hand have always been known for their fine taste and selection of only the highest quality entertainments.

Oct 12, 2011
Mary McChugalug in Features

How do you feel about people eating food in the supermarket before they pay for it?

From a cashier perspective it's just kinda gross. When one is eating a bag of chips one's hand is repeatedly in and out of their mouth, and since the other hand is holding a bag of chips that's the hand that touches everything- cart, merchandise, credit card reader, etc. It's not as extreme or as blatant but from a sanitation perspective this is essentially the same as walking through the store licking things. And that soda that's drunk while shopping? When one hands that sticky, half consumed bottle or can to the cashier it's essentially the same as spitting in the cashier's hand.
Does anyone really want to be in line behind the soda drinker and have the cashier touch everything you're buying with their now sticky hands? Congratulations Mr./Ms I Just Can't Wait! Now you've spit on everything the person behind you is buying as well, job well done!
I know this probably sounds extreme and a lil' bit paranoid but stuff like this really is how germs are spread, for real.

My heart goes out to parents of toddlers in the midst of a meltdown but for anyone old enough to actually be buying something themselves, it's just tacky.

What's with cupcake mania?

It was a mixture of the Sex And The City episode focused on Magnolia, the actual Magnolia, childhood nostalgia, and the need for something cute and fun in the face of the national ugliness that has been the 2000's so far.
BUT, cupcakes are over, not cupcakes in general- cupcakes can't be "over" anymore than say... lunch, but "cupcakes" as a trend has been over for a year or so now. Don't believe me? Open a cupcake shop, I dare you.
It's all about pie now, and it's on.
Next up? Who knows... I would guess pound, fruit, or bundt cake, but jello and pudding are due for s revival too. (seriously can you imagine a shop dedicated to any of these? but could you imagine a cupcake shop in 1998?)

Oh, and I don't want to be mean but I feel like I should say something. The 'year of chipotle' was 1999, it's been all about bacon for quite a while now.

Sigh, dumbest decade ever; books (thanks Harry Potter!), bacon, and cupcakes, were the hot new things. Maybe this decade we'll "discover" dance, painting, and vegetables.

Dumb Diners -- Maybe even YOU?

Cute joke for a 10 year old but while waiting tables I encountered so many adults seriously saying "super salad?! wow! whats in that?" that I learned to say 'salad or soup'. It's just so hard to see the disappointment in their eyes when you tell them that there is, in fact, no super salad

How Does the Food and Drug Administration Define the Word "Natural"

As Ediblover seaid they don't, the paragraph mentions "synthetic" but where does one draw the line when it comes to food. Everyone could probably agree that red 40 is synthetic, but how about TVP, soy sauce powder, or pryidoxine? But if I had to guess at the real-world definition I'd say 'overpriced processed food products that contain "whole grains", soy, or at least one organic ingredient.'
Either way as a long time vegetarian who's put some serious time into co-ops I've spent a bit of time goofing on things like "nature's burger", or "all natural" vegan chicken nuggets. Yup, just like mother nature intended.

Have you ever asked to be moved to the bar partway through lunch?

In most restaurants/pubs/bars it's totally fine to move, people unapologetically do it all the time for various reasons and as a server it's not usually a problem. But if you're concerned,keep in mind the following 'moving etiquette':
It's easier if you move either before your food arrives/between courses or after you're done eating- moving a diners with half eaten plates is always an awkward dance, so unless it's something pressing (i.e. you can't take another second of the neighboring tables smell/screaming baby/ making out, or you simply must join your friends now) leisurely enjoy whatever food is in front of you, then move.
Be upfront about what you had/finished prior to moving to your new spot- it's usually not too hard to move an order but sometimes things get lost in the shuffle, if you see something missing from your bill speak up and don't make your original server chase you down as you're leaving to make you pay for that appetizer.
If you're making multiple moves (say in a bar) pay as you go.
If you're worried about the tip, either leave cash for the original server, pay for what you had before the move, or if paying one bill by card ask the second server/bartender to split it with the first.

But really, if you find yourself in this position again don't worry about it, go ahead and move if it makes you more comfortable, but otherwise take out your book and take your time. One person at a two top is completely acceptable, Sunday afternoon at a restaurant shouldn't be something you rush through, and from the tone of your post (and your double tip) any server would be more than happy to have you in their section as a lone diner.

Restaurant Alba, who is the idiot

meh...this seems like a pretty innocuous way to make the transition from BYOB to bar service. If you like the place then you want it to stay open right? And even with alcohol most restaurants are barely staying afloat. And since alcohol is the only thing that restaurants can sell that has a decent profit margin the owners probably want you to just buy alcohol from them. Not because they're mean greedy people, but because they're trying to stay in business because they like what they do, and you like what they do, and you want a drink with your food, and so hey, why not just buy it from them?
But it can be awkward going from BYOB to full bar without being all "now you have to buy it from us"
Sooooo....was your food or service in any other way "second class"?
No? Then you're not being "f----ed on", you're being subtly, very subtly, hinted to. So take the hint or continue to perform a second class act (bringing your own booze to a place that sells booze) and expect to be second class treatment (at least as far as glasses are concerned, which isn't that big of a deal)
Good luck!

Convention Center recs

Just walk up Nicollet away from downtown, as you get to the higher # cross streets, up to about 28th, the food becomes less expensive and IMO much better than anything you'll find downtown. Don't bother with Little Tiajuana (which is just a punk atmosphere- fun but not good and expensive for what it is) but anything else is at least worth a visit and you'll find just about any ethnicity you're in the mood for.

The Four Most Annoying Restaurant Website Design Flaws

Yesss! Restaurant owners, please stop it with all of these! why do you make it so hard to get basic information about your restaurant? I voted for the music but it was hard to choose. I would also add PDF menus, no matter how much I love your restaurant I really, truly, seriously, do not want to download your menu.
When I go to a restaurant's website all I want is the hours, address, and a menu- with prices, and the actual, current menu- if you can make a flashy intro page with a video of grass growing, and sounds of acid jazz/background murmur/glasses clinking/that lady laughing (you know the one) you can figure out how to update your website to reflect your current menu..
Really, I looove restaurants, I work in them, it's my life and I'll have our back in every other argument, but guys- the websites suuuuck, what's the deal? So much of my time is spent in restaurants and on the web that restaurant websites would logically be something I enjoy, but 99% of the time they're a freakin' flash/PDF nightmare that doesn't have any current or useful info but does have a ton about "the philosophy"- this says "bullshit" in huge shining letters to me.
When a website is a flash based pain in the ass to visit with no substance, I'm inclined to believe that the restaurant will be the same.

May 17, 2010
Mary McChugalug in Features

Signature Cafe falafel from way back when

Anyone know what became of the Egyptian family that used to run the Signature Cafe? After a few years away (OK almost ten) I returned to MN to find that the Signature had changed quite a bit. While the menu looks great and I wish the (not so) new owners the best, the old SC's falafel was so good that every other falafel I've had has been a major disappointment in comparison, I try to like it, but it all just sucks and I feel like the ghost of falafel past.
Are the old owners still around MN in a different restaurant? Does any place place in MN have falafel that even comes close to the old Signature Cafe? Does anyone know what I'm talking about, or was it all just a crazy dream?

Lye for lutefisk?

I'd like to try some experimenting with lutefisk, hominy, and beyond, but I'm not feeling too good about using Red Devil for food, is there such a thing as food grade lye? And is there someplace to buy it in the twin cities? If not, what kind of lye is usually used for lutefisk?

Mn beer and wine

As far as beer goes most would say that Surly is the best and I think that's pretty hard to argue with, heck, it's one of the best breweries in the country. I can't stand the packaging aesthetics but it's great that someone here is making such high quality adventurous beer- even if it does look like malt liquor.
I think that Lake Superior Brewing is almost criminally underrated, love their Special Ale.
Schell's Bock is great this season, and Summit has really been stepping it up with their limited editions.
All that said I have to admit that I just returned to MN after spending years in the pacific northwest and the only MN beer I truly pined for was Grain Belt.

Upscale Vegan?

I've been out of Seattle since it opened so I haven't been to it yet (can't wait!) but I'm guessing that Plum Bistro is you're friend's best bet, the owner's other restaurant, Hillside Quickies- a vegan sandwich shop, makes the best sandwiches I've ever had and I would bet dollars to vegan donuts that the food at Plum is wonderful.
Cafe Flore and Carmelita are Seattle's two longstanding upscale vegetarian restaurants (with plenty of vegan items but not a full vegan menu). Neither one is amazing foodwise- I've never had an 'I can't believe that food can be this good!' type of experience at either one, but I've had great meals at both.
Also, Teapot Vegan House is a more casual but excellent pan-asian vegan restaurant that's definitely worth checking out.

Best Scones in the Twin Cities Metro

The Birchwood Cafe makes great scones.

MSP: Fajitas

It might be a bit of a drive depending on where you are but Rey Azteca in Chanhassen has great fajitas. The tortillas are mediocre but the fajitas taste so good you don't even care and the serving size is so big it's it's like a challenge.