Spring ’10 Restaurant Review #1

As I’ve stated in the past, I feel that food and memorable experiences go hand in hand.  I love good food and good experiences, so my goal of these reviews is to introduce people to places to help them discover new destinations and create new memories.  After places like Kona Grill and Lo Sole Mio in Omaha, Azia, Seven and Moto-I last year, I am focusing on a new batch of places to eat, drink, and be merry.

The first of 2010 is Birchwood Cafe.  Located in the beautiful Seward neighborhood, Birchwood has been increasing in popularity since opening in 1995.  The once-grocery- store-turned-amazing-eatery has it’s general philosophy printed right above the door.  It reads “Good Real Food” and boy is it good.

Their website says it best:

At the Birchwood, we create fresh, unique food with down-home appeal. We source local, sustainable, organic and fair trade ingredients whenever possible to lovingly handcraft a variety of vegan, vegetarian and non-vegetarian dishes. We take care to know the land, the animals and the people we work with are treated with respect.  Not only does the food taste better, you’ll feel better making the choice for a cleaner, healthier, more humane, and of course, tastier world. And we do it with style! From Vegan Sweet Potato Millet Cakes to Wild Acres Smoked Chicken Spanakopita with Kiwi Orvieto Sauce, we put a spin on food you thought you knew.  We offer breakfast, brunch, lunch, dinner, and desserts – as well as recipes. Click on your wildest culinary desire and see what the Birchwood menus have in store for you. The word is out about the best kept secret in the Twin Cities.”

I had a mind-blowing turkey burger and a beer.  BUT..not just any old beer, because Birchwood also has an excellent selection of tap and bottled beers.  I could have spent all night trying new beers, but alas, I didn’t feel like wandering around Seward trying to find my car keys at three in the morning.  Luckily they aren’t open that late.

I had one of my favorites:  Delerium Tremens.  I’d only had it on tap up to this point and quickly discovered that Delerium also comes in REALLY cool hand painted bottles!  No wonder it’s so damn expensive!

Birchwood also serves Izzy’s ice cream.  Practically all Minnesotans know that Izzy’s has some of the best ice cream ever created, and Birchwood and Izzy’s are a perfect combination.  Over at Izzy’s, they also use Birchwood’s Key Lime pie in their Key Lime ice cream!  If ice cream isn’t your thing, they also have a large selection of pies and other sweet treats.  I was drawn to the delicious looking bread pudding.  I would have had some, but I was actually intent on getting Izzy’s.

More info, and their address and hours can be found here.  Check out Birchwood the next time you’re in Minneapolis.  Then, go for a walk along the river and make a day of it.


Jackson’s letter

Jackson wrote:

I just found out my wife is essentially sterile and can’t have kids.  We’ve only been married for about two years, and I really want to have kids of my own, so this came as quite a blow.  We’ve been fighting quite a bit as a result.  Do you think it’s too late for a divorce or should I stick this out and give up my dream of having kids?



I am sorry to hear that your wife has been told she cannot have kids.  I was told the same thing once and I have a 7 year old.  Did she try fertility drugs?  I assume when you said you wanted kids of “your own” you were meaning kids through birth rather than adoption, so let me ask why you’re against adoption?  It’s a wonderful way to have a child to raise as your own, to develop, love, and guide through life. 

Your focus on having kids “of your own” is destroying your marriage.  Open your eyes and explore your options, including adoption. Divorcing your wife over something like this not only shows that you are a person who can’t be there for a woman he promised his life to, it also makes you a dick.  Flat out dick.  Man up and think about what your wife is going through if you’re fighting about this all of the time.  Think about her needs, have some more conversations with some doctors and talk with an adoption specialist.  There are options before divorce, especially if you love your wife, which you should..you promised to be with her in “sickness and in health” for the rest of your life.


Chris’s letter..

Chris wrote:

I was reading back in one of your posts and you mentioned the climbing AIDS rate with african-americans.  It really struck a chord because I am realizing that I am afraid to date african-american women because of that exact statistic.  It’s not your post, it’s a statistic that’s been out there for awhile.  I have had many chances, and have been approached on several occasions, but I am so afraid that they may have contracted AIDS, that I just find a way to say no.  What do you think of this?  I am smart for being safe right?


While African-American AIDS cases were 40% higher than any other race’s in 2007, and make up about 41% of AIDS cases in the US, I think you should avoid generalizing someone based upon their entore race’s statistics.  There are people who are sex-stupid as I callit, they’ll have sex with anyone and don’t ever get tested because their motto is, “If I get it, then I don’t really care who else does,” but just as with any race, there are people who are sexually responsible and use protection, get to know people they have sex with and test themselves regularly. 

It’s not about race anymore Chris.  It’s about just making good decisions.  When was the last time YOU were tested?  If people are “approaching” you, did you mean for just sex or do you mean to ask you out?  If it’s just sex, you need to rethink your own safety here if you’re having sex with random people, but if you’re dating, that’s your chance to have these conversations before exual activity.

The MN AIDS walk is May 16th.  I encourage everyone to walk and show their support for AIDS Awareness.  It’s a great way to get out and meet people as well as gain some more knowledge on AIDS.  Google it and go.  I hope to see you there.


Cheating: It’s not just for checkers anymore.

Heidi wrote:

Hope all is well.

Two of my roommates are having some sticky relationship problems and have been asking me for advice on what to do about their predicaments. I know you have great relationship advice, and getting a guy’s perspective is also helpful. Feel free to use this in your blog if you choose, by the way.

These two roommates have both (within the last 2 weeks) cheated on their boyfriends. The stories are somewhat similar, so I guess I’m just asking for your advice on cheating in general…

One roommate–who has a tendency to get drunk enough to not remember things happening the night before…–supposedly cheated on her boyfriend (of one year, from college) with another guy in our study abroad program, but denies it ever happening. Other people have seen things happen, and this guy has even told his roommate (and HIS girlfriend) that things happened. So there’s cheating scenario number one from her, even though she denies it. Then when she was in France over spring break, she cheated on her boyfriend with a different guy–one she met in a hostel. He even came to our city to visit, and then she went to his city to visit. She says she only made-out with him in France, but I don’t know if I can believe her. Like I said, she has difficulties remembering things, and she also seems to lie a lot. She even lied straight to my other roommate’s and my face the other day. The next night she admitted to her cheating in France, at least, and said that she felt bad for lying to us, and ultimately to her boyfriend (who doesn’t know).

The other roommate met a guy while studying abroad and they are technically considered “boyfriend and girlfriend.” They have been “dating” for one month (I put those in quotes b/c his friends don’t all know about her, since some of them like her as well). This guy has been amazing to her, and she even lost her virginity to him. Last night she admitted to me that she cheated on him one night when they weren’t together. She had sex with a bartender/friend of hers. She says it happened so fast, she was drunk, and she missed her boyfriend. Now she feels awful–just torn up inside, because her boyfriend has been cheated on twice before (by the same girl), and he is the best thing that has ever happened to her–she doesn’t feel that she deserves him anymore. I also know that she’s had some suicidal thoughts before, so I hope this wouldn’t also infringe on more thoughts… Since we are abroad right now and coming home next month, I don’t know if this relationship would continue on overseas anyway or what…

So both friends/roommates don’t want to tell their boyfriends, and think that keeping the secret and living with the internal pain and guilt would be the better choice. Of course they also don’t want to spill the beans, because they know how upset their boyfriends would be and they don’t want to risk losing them.

I’m more concerned with the second roommate, because she is such a sweet, caring person (while the other roommate tends to be very mean sometimes)–I never thought she would do such a thing.

My advice to them is to eventually tell their boyfriends about what they did. To me, cheating is not only one slap in the face, but keeping it a secret is just another/second slap in the face. Cheating comes with consequences, and either way (if you hold it inside and don’t ever tell, or if you tell and lose your significant other) comes with lots of pain.

These stories have nothing to do with each other–these two roommates don’t really hang out that much. It just so happens that I know about both stories. I want to give my girlfriends the best advice I can…

On a similar note: Studying abroad has opened up my eyes to a lot of things, of course, but in the past week even, it has exposed me to a lot of people who cheat, have cheated, or who know people who do/have cheat/cheated–things I had never been exposed to before.
Is cheating really that prevalent in today’s society? Has it always been, and I’ve just been oblivious/naive toward it? It hurts me to see so many people cheat, and they make it seem so easy to do. It’s not only sad, but scary.

Anywho…thanks for listening. I hope these stories make sense. I can clarify anything if they don’t.

Take care,
Heidi from Heidelberg

To answer your last question first, cheating has been around since before the Bible was written.  Lust is a part of human nature and it’s been society that has put the boundaries on what is and isn’t acceptable.  Modern society isn’t to blame for cheating, but it IS to blame for making it easier to do and easier to be discovered doing it.

Cheating is a big deal, but everyone screws up.  Statistically, habitual cheaters are either having self esteem issues, family troubles, have suffered some sort of abuse in the past, or (yes, this is a factor) have not had a positive male role model in their lives while growing up.

Now on to your roomies:

Roomie A:

She lies, cheats and steals.  And drinks.  And sleeps with random guys.  SIDENOTE: Did you know that there are more cases of HPV in Europe than anywhere else in the world?  The UK, Germany, Italy, France, and Sweden have all adopted HPV vaccine programs as a result.  Sleeping around there could also net you more than just HPV as well, as it would anywhere, bbut when we’re are young, we don’t always think about those things.  We see a guy with a six-pack and an accent and go ga-ga.  Well..not me.  I’d be flirting with his girlfriend.  AWKWARD….

Anyway, this friend has a drinking problem and whether or not that is family related, she needs someone to talk to and needs some help.  Blacking out with the wrong guy may lead to sexual molestation, rape, and a variety of complications that she doesn’t need in her life.  She also needs to tell her boyfriend about what happened.  If these two incidents were isolated and nothing has happened since, then she needs to have a talk and figure out if she wants him in her life.  If she does, then she should remain honest and faithful.  If she doesn’t, then leave him and head to the nearest pharmazie/apotheke (those are German for pharmacy), grab some condoms and do her thing.  Cut back on the booze though.

Roomie B

Roomie B has typical college drama.  First, she isn’t in a relationship with this guy unless they’ve agreed that they’re in a relationship.  Assumptions don’t count.  There is no “commonlaw relationship” rule.  If she feels bad it’s because she cares, but she should know that once she heads back to the US, there is a 90% chance her relationship won’t work overseas.  This isn’t some WWII love story, or a tale of a decade long romance torn apart by someone being deported, this is two kids in college being giddy and excited because of the situation.  The suicidal tendencies are what I’m worried about.  Why did she have these?  Since I don’t have you here to answer, the suicidal thoughts also further my belief that she’s just caught up in the moment.  She should still tell this guy, but let him go and move on.  Focusing on making sure she can handle a normal faithful relationship should be her first fix.

If your friends didn’t want to lost their boyfriends, they wouldn’t cheat.  They found something else in these guys, however, and made decisions that they are now regretting.  You’re wrong in thinking cheating comes with pain.  It can be very easy for some people to cheat, and even easier for others to write off and forget about.  The pain comes from the realization that you’ve essentially hurt a person you care about…that you’ve betrayed them.  Cheating is wrong.  It’s dishonest, disrespectful, and unfortunately, easy for some people to do.  The best thing you can do is try to teach your friends this lesson (quote) from Scott Alexander: “All good is hard. All evil is easy. Dying, losing, cheating, and mediocrity is easy. Stay away from easy“.



Is there a such thing as a “civil” war?  When you think about it, there isn’t a single thing civil about war.  People die, people they get maimed, and they lose their houses is monumentally horrifying ways.  Lives are ended, relationships are broken, and love is..lost.  When it comes to relationships, is a “civil” war ever a good idea?

In relationships, the couple will often make friends with other couples or bring their significant other into an existing circle of friends.  Often times, when that relationship ends, the recommendation is to “be friends”, but it rarely works.  Why?  Because wars aren’t civil and the ending of a relationship shouldn’t be either.  I am not saying we should be at each others’ throats when things go down, but as much as we hope we can fart unicorns and burp daisies at the end of a relationship, it usually breaks down due to the pressure of being friends in order to be a part of the friendships that were formed during the “together times”.

I was talking to a friend the other day that is facing this exact issue after breaking up with her boyfriend of 5 years.  Here is a rough outline of our conversation:

Her: It’s SO hard, you know?  I want to see everyone and don’t want to be “the one that disappears” (she throws up finger quotes), but it’s rough to try to be happy and pretend that we don’t have all of this history.

Me: What’s the biggest issue you are experiencing?

Her: It’s that “elephant in the room” (she throws up finger quotes again) thing-

Me: (Cutting her off)  Are you sure he just wasn’t sick of finger quotes?

She laughed and continued

Her: I just hate being in the room with him because I am not over him.  I can talk with him, but even if he just hits me on the arm playfully, I want to jump him and kiss him and tell him I think we should still try to work things out, but I know that’ll never happen.

Me: ..because he’s moved on?

Her: Yeah, he was over it long before we broke up.  God forbid if he ever brings another woman around our friends.  I’d stab the bitch.

(She chuckled so I just assume she was joking).

Me: So what now?

Her: I guess I have to do the split custody thing.  You know, where I see the friends one day and he sees them another.  It’s probably best that way.  I think- I THINK it’s better that way.

Me: This kind of thing isn’t easy.  Those who use the line “let’s be friends” are either lying, sadistic bastards or they’ve never broken up with someone they want to be friends with.  It’s okay to not like each other for awhile.  It’s damn healthy in fact.  It’s a part of letting go.  I think you’re doing the right thing.

The word civil should be tossed our of the phrase civil war, break ups should include a period of not talking to and not seeing the person you ideally hope to maintain some sort of friendship with.  It doesn’t always work that way, but here’s to hoping.


23 in 93

Stacy wrote:

I read your song posts about the 90’s and I have to say, it was an amazing decade for music.  I was 23 in 93.  The early 90’s had horrible fashion in the hip-hop world, so I didn’t really get into that music strictly because the artists looked ridiculous.  I feel in love with Sarah McLachlan as well in 1994, however (just like you), and it changed the landscape of my music forever.  I still remember laying up in my room in summer, windows open, my headphones on, and just zoning out to the simple, elegant beauty of  “Fumbling Towards Ecstasy”.  It was magnificent.  It opened my eyes to the world of female fronted alternative music and it opened my eyes to First Avenue.

Growing up in Minneapolis in the 90’s was a blast.  We had great radio, great concerts, and some really good bars.  Not to say that there aren’t good bars now, but MAN there were good bars back in the 90’s, especially in downtown Minneapolis (which I now consider Clubville).  True, the seedy nature of porn and prostitutes that downtown Minneapolis was known for throughout the 80’s is gone, but it’s only been replaced by the seedy wanna-be prostitution of a few hundred slutty women prancing around from club to club.  I’d bet many people don’t even remember what was sitting where Block E is now.  I hated going down there..except for First Ave.  THAT was my Mecca for live music.  I was young and had a crappy job and apartment, so I escaped through concerts.  I saw Cyndi Lauper in 1993 along with the Jayhawks the same year, Tool in 1994, Veruca Salt in 1994, Milla Jojovich in 1994 (yes, she can sing too!), Minnesota legends Soul Coughing and Semisonic in 1995 (I think), and I even saw Modest Mouse there…in 1997.  I never saw Sarah McLachlan there.  I saw her at three other venues, but was always out of town when she was coming to the Cities.

You’re right in saying Minneapolis’s night life has declined over the years (with the exception of the Nicollet Mall area and NE Mpls).  It’s become a sea of lame dance clubs and “urban bars”, and lost it’s edge.  Then again, most of the people I grew up with now have families and live in the burbs, so it’s understandable.  Our radio has changed from edgy and fun alternative to overplayed lame-rock, and Cities 97 never quite got the right idea about alternative. First Avenue remains though, and despite it’s hardships, has proven itself as a beacon for music lovers everywhere.

Thank you for posting your 90’s post Sean.  It brought back some amazing memories, and a fire for my love of music.


Thank YOU Stacy for providing us with that really cool recap of what it was like in Minneapolis in the 90’s.  I am sure more of you have stories too.  Feel free to share.


Greta’s letter

Greta wrote:

I love your blog Sean, and I love that you are selling merchandise for a good cause.  I checked out the charitys’ site too and THAT’s a great idea too!

I am writing also for some advice.  I am relatively new to the US and my English is improving, but it is not where I feel comfortable in dating and having a conversation.  I can type things, because I can use spell check and things, but in speaking, I am not so good.  If you are going to ask if I am in school, I am.  I am working hard for a degree and to improve my language skills.  How does someone that is not so good at speaking English go about meeting someone?


Well Greta, it seems like you’re taking the right steps to ensure that there will be fewer communication issues with people you talk with, and that’s a great thing.  As far as how to meet someone, I’d recommend the online dating world.  It’s a great way to first get to know someone by emailing, and it will give you time to explain that your written vocabulary is better than spoken.  Hopefully you can find someone that is understanding of the situation and is willing to work on communicating.  After all, communication is the foundation of any good relationship.