In such a Dada sea of unhelpful poetry, there is no reason to assume that an unpleasant dish labeled "Thailand's answer to grandmother's meatloaf" would have any relationship to meatloaf--after all, does the dish subtitled "Second Noble Truth: Suffering has a cause and effect," arrive on a crispy bed of flash-fried suffering? I don't actually mind the non sequiturs, but this menu made me appreciate as never before the words "with," "beside," "sautéed," and "tossed" that constitute the foundation of menu linguistics.

In other construction news, anyone I invited to Chiang Mai Thai invariably asked some version of the question: "What was there before?" With characteristic forthrightness, Lodge reveals the answer: "Nothing. A brick wall. Now there's a hole in that brick wall." Lodge had the spot carved from underused storage areas. What about the restaurant-ready space on the second floor of Calhoun Square? "That Good Earth space has bad karma," Lodge says. "Nope, I just mortgaged everything I've got for a hole in the wall."

 

Dawn Villella

Location Info

Map

Chiang Mai Thai Restaurant

3001 Hennepin Ave. S.
Minneapolis, MN 55408

Category: Restaurant > Thai

Region: Uptown/ Eat Street

TABLEHOPPING

SCHOOLMARMS IN THE MACHINE: Careful readers of this year's schedule for the fifth annual Twin Cities Food and Wine Experience will have noted that, as the catalog puts it, "State laws governing temporary liquor-license permits require a mandatory 30-minute break during a tasting that exceeds the four-hour limit provision." And thus attendees will notice dry holes in the schedule, from 3 to 5 p.m. on Friday, and between 1:30 and 2 p.m. on Saturday and Sunday. Why? Why should people wending their way between more than 250 vendors showcasing food, wine, and tongue treats of every dimension be so deprived? I put the question to Laura Boyd, a very nice license inspector for the city of Minneapolis, who explained that in 1994 the state Legislature passed a special statute governing wine tastings held in places that don't have liquor licenses: "Prior to that, [tastings] did take place, but no one had any good feel for when they were lawful and when they weren't," said Boyd. I guess I'm turning into a full-blooded Minnesotan, because that answer made some sort of sense to me: After all, we'd hate to have unregulated activities just happening. Willy-nilly. All over the place. I mean, do we want to live in the kind of place where men and women taste wine for five hours and good citizens cower in their beds? No, no, a thousand times no!

So I was perplexed when Boyd volunteered that she and her colleagues all expected Minnesota Monthly--which produces the Food and Wine Experience to benefit Minnesota Public Radio--to lobby for a change in the law. Evidently, Monthly publisher Steve Fox feels as I do: He calls the statute "quirky," but says he has no intention of trying to change it. "We decided that we found some sort of middle-ground compromise," he says--namely, holding breaks so that no one is drinking wine for more than four consecutive hours.

To recap, we've got a law which no one seems to endorse, but which is simultaneously not annoying enough for anyone to fight it. Why?

With nowhere left to turn, I called the people who know everything, the big guns at Wine Spectator. Vice president of event planning Lynn Rittenband, who coordinates the mammoth New York and California Wine Experiences, offered this pearl of wisdom before hanging up on me: "I really don't know why it would be like that, honey. There are a lot of foolish rules on the books for a lot of foolish reasons. That's life." Click. Ah, that's life. Arbitrary, unsupported, yet scrupulously enforced. Of course.

Tickets for the fifth annual Twin Cities Food and Wine Experience can be had for $35 at the doors of this year's venue, the Convention Center; (612) 371-5857. The event runs Friday, February 12 from 3 p.m. to 9 p.m.; Saturday, February 13 from 10 a.m. to 6 p.m.; and Sunday, February 14 from 11 a.m. to 5 p.m.

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