As mentioned, I traveled to the land of Fitzgerald (and Freedom, and A Serious Man and all of my collegiate memories) last weekend. I was honored to be included in a conference about art, welcomed by shockingly orange maples and the heavenly scent of chocolate Malt-O-Meal hanging thick in the air. Oh, sometimes I miss Northfield more than I care to admit.
It was a big weekend indeed, topped by a last minute dinner with The Great Mach1. We drove Saturday night from Northfield to Minneapolis in search of a new restaurant and long overdue banter. We found both at Victory 44 in North Minneapolis, where we quickly settled into cafe seating and generous laughter, playing the parts of the old friends that we are not.
Victory 44 specializes in small plates which happens to be my favorite way to dine. I like the idea of a group of people tasting food together and in small quantities. It's less overwhelming and more fun and just talking about it makes me miss Barcelona, though I've never actually been. Anyone up for a quick trip to Catalonia? I'm DYING to go. Anyway. We ate apple toothpicks and pork belly and salted peanut butter cookies the size of quarters. We split a serious bottle of Côtes du Rhône (no funny wines for us), although (you don't know this, Will) my throat was too sore to taste it. Seriously-- felt like someone had scraped out my pharynx with a spoon.
We talked about life and relationships and art. About food and families, and Rome and about our own worst qualities. I delighted in the strong cheese pairings while Will secured a gorgeous dessert platter. I won a bet over the flavoring of a salad dressing (I said mustard seed, he said cumin) and I don't think they charged me for my last glass of wine.
Was it perfect? No. The lighting could have been a bit dimmer, the art less cliche, and the noise more subdued. I wished my throat didn't hurt like it did and I wished there was a dark little wine bar nearby where we could have finished off the night with something bitter. And midway through a sentence about, I don't know, Why Amsterdam Isn't All That, William witnessed a street fight from his view out the front window. I turned to see four people throwing punches, I kid you not!
We did shut the place down, though. We left inspired and satisfied and eager for more meals spent exactly in this spirit. Next stop for small plates, Mach1? SPAIN. (Or at the very least, Brooklyn.)
PHOTO: Not from Victory 44, as I left my camera in the car. But I did take this one, at Char No. 4 in Brooklyn, which has a similar name. So there ya go.