Pajarito brings the heat to an already-sizzling West 7th

Pajarito brings the heat to an already-sizzling West 7th

The neighborhood Pajarito joins one of St. Paul’s oldest, now one of St. Paul’s hottest, avenues. West 7th was already cool, of course, peppered with great, if overlooked, places to eat and drink. There is no need to change West 7th or the West End neighborhood. But there was certainly room to add to it. The avenue is red-hot right now, from the Xcel Energy Center to Schmidt Artists Lofts. The success of new ventures, like Bad Weather Brewing Company, joins established hot spots like Mancinis and Cossetta’s, while looking to the future with Keg and Case Market, Stone Brewery, and New Bohemia coming this year. And Pajarito, which opened its doors during the final days of a tumultuous 2016, is making a name for itself in the midst of it all.   Pajarito, the restaurant We may have spent a few months lamenting the loss of the Glockenspiel (the space in which Pajarito is now housed), but the past is the past and the future is now. St. Paul is no longer lagging behind in creating neighborhood restaurants of note; in creating quality, awesome spots suitable for both a quick bite and cocktail or a nice sit-down-and-stay dinner. Pajarito embraces the fact that, on some level, it’s just a taco joint. The minds (and hands and hearts and souls) behind Pajarito don’t try and take on more than they can handle. This is evidenced by the beautiful simplicity of the menu. The tacos ($9) are great. The Carnitas is the best so far, and perhaps one of the best in the cities. You can truly taste the grill on the...
Don’t kill Hitler: How the past becomes the present becomes the future

Don’t kill Hitler: How the past becomes the present becomes the future

If you could go back in history to kill Hitler, would you? The popular answer is, Yes. Of course. This makes you a hero, does it not? Humans love to speculate. We spend time in our own heads imagining scenarios where we do something important that changes the course of history. We ask the question, if you could go back in history and kill one person, who would it be? Hitler. But perhaps the better (bigger, more important) question is, Would that actually change anything? Does a single individual make the difference? Do individuals matter? Or would it have happened anyway? The romantic view is that of course individuals matter. The Third Reich would never have happened without Hitler. The atrocities of the Holocaust could never have happened without the singular Adolf Hitler. But that’s not a realistic point of view. And it simply isn’t true. The man is only a symbol. He represents something. A sentiment. A feeling. An idea. Killing the man does not kill the idea; the sentiment remains; the feelings only grow. Today, there are comparisons between U.S. President-Elect Donald Trump and Adolf Hitler. Beyond the increasingly-present Godwin’s Law (the longer an argument goes on, the more likely it is that comparisons to Hitler will be made), there has been serious speculation into the similarities between the two. Is the point then to kill the situation that allowed Hitler to arise? And if history is repeating itself, what does that mean for today? We then also cannot blame Donald Trump for creating the sentiments that got him elected. Why people are comparing Hitler to Trump Are the...
Conversations with a brothel doorman (NSFW)

Conversations with a brothel doorman (NSFW)

A doorman sees everything. It’s part of the job. And when you work the door of a popular brothel on Große Freiheit Straße (“Great Freedom Street”) along the Reeperbahn (Europe’s largest Red Light District) in Hamburg, Germany, you see more than your fair share. But it’s not just about nightclubs, 6AM shots of brandy, or pay-to-play prostitution. There is a lot of history in St. Pauli. A million stories running through the cracks and spilling out onto the street. A million people with a million different views, scents, and sounds for the world to absorb. A doorman, then, becomes more than just a doorman. A doorman becomes a gatekeeper of experience, a holder of secrets, a monolith at the mouth of pleasures, memories, emotions. This is one doorman’s story. The doorman POV “I start when the sun goes down. The Reeperbahn is busy most nights, but especially so on weekends when the suit and tie people don’t have to wake up early in the morning. Mostly I give directions, tell people where to go. I tell them not to come inside unless they want a woman, and if they want a woman that they have to pay. I am like a stoplight. You know? I say when to stop, when to wait, when to go. People listen to me. They must. We get the kids drunk asking how much, how much. Some of them serious, most of them not. I don’t want to be mean, but I must be firm. If they can’t pay, or they are too drunk, then I tell them to leave. They listen. I’m not supposed to...
Winespiring: Bottles of memories

Winespiring: Bottles of memories

As a wine professional, I sample several wines each week.  Sometimes dozens in a single day.  When I taste a wine for work it is rarely with the thought of whether or not I like the wine.  I taste with the future consumer in mind.  I ask, will it go with the menu or is this price point going to deliver what the guest is looking for?  I look, sniff, swirl… all with the mindset of someone else. When you get into wine as a profession it is common to lose your passion for why you came to this inspiring beverage to begin with.  But sometimes, a wine will remind you of a memory, a snapshot of something ethereal and important.  Something forgotten that you find like a single earring under the rug.  A note of petrol that triggers a quick moment of sitting in the backseat of your parent’s car while they pumped gas with the windows open on a warm day.  Or graphite that takes you back to sharp pencils and algebra tests.  A Cabernet that brought back the taste of red currants growing near the front door of my grandmother’s house. I could not tell you what that Cabernet was.  But I can remember details of picking the sour currants and staining my lips with them.  I appreciate when a wine pulls the past out of my distracted brain.  It is like a microscope of smell and taste that connects me with a former time when I collected all the environmental clues that hold consistency in my glass. It is these olfactory moments that inspire me...