Like many, I can be oppositional at times. My editors rarely complain, but sometimes — actually, most of the time — I am unable to stick with the monthly theme of Mankato Magazine. They surely understand as, for example, with the February issue, the one with the eye-catching cover of Courtney at the NaKato, a teaser for the theme of body art. Since I have no tatts and am generally put off by needles, I was unable to contribute a piece about body art, unless they had asked for (they didn’t) some really arcane meditation about contemporary parallels with Queequeg in Moby Dick. So I wrote about my radio colleague Don Rivet’s retirement (he did not get a tattoo to celebrate.)
This month, however, I am trying to get on board with the “best of...” theme (and maybe some of the worst-of, too.) I had fun doing this last year, but this year, I’m augmenting my effort by presenting category winners an AWARD! Well, actually, the award is VIRTUAL. Still, winners can cite it for bragging rights. I am christening it: the STEINIE award.
So away we go with the inaugural STEINIES:
BEST MALTED MILK: I am so thankful for Mom & Pop’s, and Culver’s is a regular stop for me. But recently I visited Toody’s in Henderson again. They still give you a lot of extra in a “sidecar.” That earns them a STEIN.
BEST VALUE MEAL (Not Fast Food): Don’t know how they do it for the price, and I probably shouldn’t share the secret, because it’s already hard to find an open table at times. But the first STEINIE in this category goes to the Red Eye weekend breakfast special at Big Dog.
BEST HAPPY HOUR: Consider, I’m well into the over-50 crowd, but Mike at The Wine Cafe deserves credit for figuring out, we non-millenials like to hear live music, but we like to be home at a decent hour (in my case, 7 pm.) So Fridays, he starts the music at 5 p.m. But arrive by 4:15 if you want a seat. Those who crowd the place testify to why it earns an inaugural STEINIE.
BEST VALUE IN WINE: Offerings of decent wine selections are increasing at a number of area restaurants, some of which you don’t even expect. But this is a snooty category, so Kendall Jackson chardonnay at $8 a glass at Olives comes up short. I am treading on my friend and fellow columnist Leigh Pomeroy’s territory here, but it’s partly his efforts that lead to this year’s STEINIE going to Stephen Ross wines at PappaGeorge. To get the value, you should take a foursome and order chardonnay, pinot noir or zinfandel at $40 a bottle. That’s a little less than $10 a glass for premium wine produced in California by Mankato native Steve Dooley. And because SHE made the effort to bring these wines in and didn’t mark them up by the typical 100-200% ...
Layla at PappaGeorge wins the inaugural STEINIE for LEADING SOMMELIER!
CRUELEST MONTH: (Yes, I realize we're really shifting gears here.) T.S. Eliot said it was April, but he never had to live through February in Minnesota. Granted, the demoralizing “Bomb Cyclone” of April 10-12 would lend support to Eliot. Nevertheless, I am the decider, so this year’s STEINIE goes to FEBRUARY! Short month, yet very cold, with RECORD snowfall, relentless. Need more evidence?
FAVORITE TOOL: A novel category this year, but as I finally dared to put it away on May Day, I decided to give this year’s STEINIE to my ROOF RAKE. Prevented ice dams from causing me thousands in repairs. (Runnerup? my snowblower.)
BEST COLUMNIST: Here’s a chance to upset some of my friends and editors! (By the way, the committee (of ONE) ruled Yours Truly was not eligible in this category.)
Droll Tim Krohn certainly deserves consideration. But I am told that the most-read regular feature each week in the Free Press is the “Ask Us” column, usually put together by reporter Mark Fischenich. Since he did not even garner a nomination for
Best Reporter in this year’s magazine awards, I’m throwing him a bone for deeply researched, often clever answers, served up with snarky humor to sometimes goofy questions. Mark nabs a STEINIE.
There you go! The first annual STEINIES! Disagreements or suggestions for weirder categories for next year to firstname.lastname@example.org