Personality On a Plate

I know a lot of chefs who work for someone else and as much as I think I may “know” them, I am not sure you really get to know a chef until he or she is working for himself in complete control of the menu.

I was caught a bit off guard when I heard that Michael Agan was opening Xavi Restaurant. It never occurred to me that he wanted to own his own restaurant, as he’s worked for pretty “corporate” kitchens since I first met him when he was an executive sous chef at Chambers Kitchen.

Including not knowing how to pronounce “Xavi” (our server kindly told us “zsa-vee”, like Zsa Zsa Gabor, which was very helpful), I had no idea what to expect. Reading through the menu, I was thinking three different things: 1) not a single chicken item on the entire menu 2) the combinations of ingredients made me very curious 3) I don’t know if I would have matched up this menu with this chef.

We started our meal with Spring Carrot and Bibb Salad, Mushroom Broth, La Belle Duck Breast and Shrimp and Grits. I enjoyed all of the dishes, but special note of my favorite elements of the emulsified carrot dressing on the salad and the pork dumplings in the Mushroom Broth.

Xavi Carrot and Bibb Salad
Xavi Mushroom Dumpling Soup

For our main course, we had the Red Wine Braised Short Ribs, as well as the Lemongrass Marinated Pork Loin. In general, I’m a huge fan of short ribs, so expected that to be my favorite, but I have to say the pork loin was very delicious. Aside from pork products bacon or ham, I might have pork loin once every year or two, so Xavi may be my go to place for pork from now on.

Xavi Pork

I like that the restaurant is in a quieter neighborhood, as it resulted in a nice relaxing evening.

However, the best part of dinner was discovering the real Chef Michael Agan on a plate.

Xavi Restaurant
5607 Chicago Avenue South, Minneapolis

A Day of Beauty

Although I don’t do wedding planning anymore, I helped out a friend who was getting very stressed out with her wedding plans. She was at the point of just letting her vendors make the final decisions due to being overwhelmed.

Her day turned out beautifully, but I think the moment I loved the most was seeing how emotional her father was. And my favorite design feature was my suggestion to do a floral chandelier hanging above them as they exchanged vows, rather than ceremony floral arrangements.

The day was captured by Matt Lien Photography.

Bride and mother of the bride were equally stunning.

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The bride had a very specific idea of what the look of her wedding she wanted, but had a hard time designing it, so we were worked with Summer Harsh Botanical Artistry and Ultimate Events to give her the exact look she dreamed of.

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The Power of Prince

I spent most of the day teary-eyed upon hearing news of the passing of Prince. At first, I was absolutely convinced it was an internet hoax. Once it started to sink in, it felt like the world had stopped for a few hours as the mourning rippled across countries and cultures in such a way I can’t recall before with any one else’s recent passing.

I was still a kid in school when “Purple Rain” came out and I recall my first feeling of connection to Prince is that he, like myself, was passionate about basketball. Yes, I liked his music and I didn’t quite understand how he presented himself to the world, but he had to be okay if he loved basketball. That was the thing about Prince…the legend seemed to have something in common with each and every one of us.

As I read tweets and posts about Prince’s musical talent, I couldn’t help but think about his impact on the world outside of music. He transcended gender and race and unwittingly became a role model to all of us who felt a sense of not quite fitting into the world around us. He was different. He was odd. He was normal. He was kind of shy. He was talented to a level of being incomprehensible. Yet, he accepted us and we accepted him. He loved us and we loved him right back.

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I often times hear people talking about leaving the world better than they found it and Prince is one of the few people I can think of to achieve it…perhaps along the lines of Father Judge or Mother Theresa. He did it in the quiet manner we came to know, trust and love.

There will never be another Roger Nelson and we mourn his passing, but we can take some comfort in knowing that Prince will continue to reign.

“Dearly beloved
We are gathered here today
To get through this thing called life.”

  • Prince, The Revolution

 

Smack Shack Chicago!

If you are in Chicago, its worth checking out the new Smack Shack in the Google building!  During the VIP Grand Opening Party the hurricanes were flowing and the lobster rolls were rolling!

Smack Shack Chicago - Entrance

Smack Shack Chicago - Entryway

Smack Shack Chicago - Tattinger Sponsored Raw Bar Ice Sculpture

Smack Shack Chicago - DJ

Smack Shack Chicago - Grand Opening Guests

Smack Shack Chicago - Lobster Guacamole

Smack Shack Chicago - Shrimp Boil

Smack Shack Chicago - Hightop

Smack Shack Chicago - Main Bar Guests