Drive In, Eat Out

I also located lots of cheap peanuts in shells, ideal for crackernutting under the stars, to say nothing of the half-dozen sorts of shrimp chips--including low-fat baked, cheese, and barbecue. I purchased a selection of Speed brand flavored wafer cookies (69 cents) made by Malaysia's Munchy Food Industries, because they too lend themselves to scintillating conversation: "Who brought the Speed--did you bring the Speed?" "Don't mind her, she's a Speed fiend."

I stayed away from the expansive, expansive rice-cracker selection, mainly because I can't be trusted around the salty, sometimes spicy, sometimes seaweedy snacks--mmm, glutinous rice!--but did stock up on Kasugai Roasted Hot Green Peas ($2.29), the utterly addictive, crispy-fiery little things that sell for $4 a bowl at Chino Latino. And I love them even more now because I noticed, for the first time, the slogan on the bag: "A happy present from the Earth."

To my great joy I also found that United Noodles' soft-drink selection has increased dramatically since my last visit. They now stock at least 50 canned beverages, including that L.A. Lucky Orange Drink With Sacs (59 cents) that flies off the shelf at Quang Restaurant, as well as mango, guava, peach, pennywort, sugarcane, and tamarind juices and sodas. And I sampled the two most kick-ass drinks I've had this year, both from Japan's Suntory company: Bikkle ($2.39), which contains "glucose, sugar, milk, citric acid, pectin, oligo sugar, ascorbic acid, [and] lecithin" and tastes absolutely weird and yummy like some kind of sweet grapefruit-buttermilk soup; and Coffee Boss ($2.09), which resembles cold coffee with a dollop of condensed milk, but comes in a can with this great graphic--sort of Comrade Lenin meets Papa Hemingway, it just really makes you want to go out and take the mailroom to task. Oh yeah, and if you're not much of a fish griller, United Noodles sells a selection of Vietnamese hoagies from Saigon Bakery: A mere $1.95 will get you a crusty loaf filled with that sliced meat that tastes like a cross between mortadella and liverwurst, as well as ham, pickled carrots, onions, cilantro, jalapeños, and spicy mayo.

Craig Lassig

Location Info

Map

Vali-Hi Drive-In

11260 Hudson Blvd.
Lake Elmo, MN 55042

Category: Movie Theaters

Region: Lake Elmo

United Noodles

2015 E. 24th St.
Minneapolis, MN 55404

Category: Restaurant > Noodle Shop

Region: Uptown/ Eat Street

Coastal Seafoods

2330 Minnehaha Ave.
Minneapolis, MN 55404

Category: Restaurant > Seafood

Region: Uptown/ Eat Street

Of course, drive-in managers Braverman and Murr would far rather you invested in burgers, hot dogs, pizzas, popcorn, and soda on-site, and if we want these theaters to survive we should all buy as many of their snacks as we can afford. Still--popcorn is great, but crackernuts are the spice of life.

The metro's prettiest drive-in--which, alas, forbids tailgating and drinking--should also open in the next month: It's the Cottage View Drive In, 9338 S. East Point Douglas Rd., Cottage Grove; (651) 458-5965.

 

TABLEHOPPING

BACK IN THE BARN, EWE: It's spring, and every spry-hearted lad's and lass's thoughts turn to sheep's-milk yogurt. Don't they? Huh. Well, maybe I've been misinformed, but consider, if you will, my new favorite thing--Butler Farms' sheep's-milk yogurt. This thick, rich, creamy, delicious stuff is made by Bill and Janet Butler on their organic farm and dairy located in Whitehall, Wisconsin, just past Eau Claire. There are three flavors: berry, which is sweet, dessertlike, and made with raspberries, blueberries, blackberries, and strawberries; maple, which is pretty good; and plain, which is the one that kills me--it's so fresh, tart, and bright that it's like a good crème fraîche, and on the top of every cup rests a dollop of indescribably delightful, pure separated cream. Mmmm.

I called the Butlers to ask where they had been all my life. They didn't know, but Bill Butler (who hails from Astoria, Queens!) did tell me that they're milking 150 ewes right now and plan to have 200 by the end of the year. "They have access to come in and out of the barns as they please," he explained. "They really like it outside even if it's cold, as long as it's not really windy. They like the snow a lot, it keeps them cool--you know, they have those big sweaters on."

I asked Butler whether the sheep spend the summer roaming the rolling Wisconsin pastures; he said they do, but that I might wish they didn't. "When they go out to pasture the amount of cream on the yogurt really diminishes," he noted. "We had someone call last year and ask if we changed the recipe. I told her, 'No, they're just out on pasture instead of eating and hanging out in the barn.' So she yells: 'Put them back in the barn!'" The Butlers' yogurt is distributed by Roots & Fruits Produce, and is widely available at local co-ops for $1.20 to $1.40 a cup.

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