Scotland 2017

This will be a living post about plans for our 2017 Scotland, UK trip.

Here is a nearly week long trek we are looking at.

Darbar India Grill

Okay, I think I may have found a new “local” favorite!

We had family up this weekend and wanted to try something different. Pauline had heard some positive reviews about Darbar Indian Grill and we decided to give it a try after a long morning of watching wrestling.

We headed to the restaurant between the lunch buffet and dinner and at first we were a little worried. The parking lot was empty as well as the restaurant. The open sign was on so we continued in and we were told that indeed the grill was open. My first impression was that if this place is empty, it might be because of the food.

Our hostess was new and not very helpful except to seat and fill drinks, but our server was fantastic. He took the time to explain the dishes and let us know we could ask for certain vegetables with the curry dishes. After looking at the menu for several minutes and asking questions, we all decided on our meals. I won’t review them all but I do want to review two dishes (one I was going to get and the one I did get).

American Pale Lager

American Pale Lager brewed in India

After taking our orders the server returned with a tall 24oz Flying Horse Royal Lager. This American Pale Lager was surprisingly good. The lager poured into the glass resting with a golden straw color with very minimal head on it. It had a distinct salty aroma that reminded me of other American lagers that had a splash of olive juice added to it (something my wife and I will do to get that salty kick). The flavor was similar the smell and although this is not something I would run out and buy, it is something I would order again at the grill.

Our server returned after a short time with our meals. I originally was going to order the goat Mughlai, but I was looking for something a little more kick so ended up opting for the lamb Vindaldo, but was fortunate that my wife ordered chicken Mughlai.

Let me start with a quick review of the Mughlai. This dish was the best of the evening. Mughlai is “the king of curries” and it is a well deserved coronation. The dish was flavored with saffron and simmered gently in a blend of yogurt and various spices. Served over basmati rice with some naan or roti and you will think you have begun to be uplifted to heavens. Truly a splendid dish that we will have to enjoy more often.

My second review would be that of the lamb Vindaldo which is a Goan dish that can be very spicy. The tomato based sauce is made with vinegar, chili pepper and then stewed with garlic. Rich bold flavors that are delicious with every bite. I ordered this with a 3-4 on the spicy scale of five being hottest and was happy with the result, but I think I will try a little more spice next time.

garlic naan

garlic naan

We had a few sides to go with the meal and the Garlic Naan was our definite favorite. The Roti was also good and went well with the dish. We had the Plain Dosa which is a light crepe made from rice and lentil served with chutney and sambhar. The plain dosa was good, but the flavors were not nearly as bold as the meal and it was lost (should have definitely left this as an appetizer).

As I was eating this meal I felt like I had found something special that everyone should know about. The problem was that the space was empty of patrons when I arrived and I couldn’t understand why. As the evening progressed though the patrons started to flow in and I then understood. I was just very early for dinner that evening.

So go try this place out and go early in the evening to get the best service and likely the best flavors that Apple Valley, Minnesota can offer you.

Wanting to trying some different beers, I thought reviewing beer would be a great experience to share with friends and family. I scoured the internet for some "best practice" for reviewing a beer and even looked at some reviews of beers I have tried in the past. In time, I learned two important facts about beer review. 1: Most beer reviews have the same 4-5 categories: Appearance, Smell, Taste, Feel/Texture, and Overall experience. 2: There are a lot of haughty beer reviewers online. All reviews are genuine and every effort is made to have a cool beer, a clean glass and cleansed palate.

Mustang Tournament

Kobe has been wrestling at 170# weight class most of the year, but hasn’t been able to actually get to 170#. This was the last tournament before he decided to cut the four pounds to 160# weight class (as there were a few wrestlers there that have moved to 152#).

First Round Match

Second Round Match (Eastview vs Eastview)

Third Round Match

10 Reasons Why I Love My Wife

After more then 20 years of marriage I find myself even more “madly” in love with my exquisite and wonderful wife Pauline. She has been patient, supportive and gracious to me even when I don’t deserve it.

I am constantly amazed how selfless and devoted she has been to our children and for that I am extremely grateful. She has poured that same benevolence upon me and I will be forever thankful for such a blessing.

So, to honor my wife on our 20th anniversary, I am going to share the 10 Reasons Why I Love My Wife.

1. Her Cooking Has Evolved

When we first were married, Pauline used a small set of spices (salt and pepper) for most dishes. She has really spiced things up since and has come up with some amazing ways to make us eat healthier.

2. Her Smile Still Rouses Me

After 20 plus years, she still has the ability to flash me a smile that lets me know she wants me. Yes, with just a subtle lifting of her brow and that Mona Lisa smile, my heart starts pumping a littler harder.

3. She Laughs at Everything

I have always thought I had an above average sense of humor, but then I have had a wife who will laugh at almost everything I do (sometimes when I don’t think it is funny). Just ask our kids. If you have a silly “not so funny” joke, mom will laugh the hardest every time.

4. She Trusted God’s Plan For Us

Pauline didn’t come into our relationship with a great deal of religious instruction, but she has over the years developed a solid faith in God. I love when she reminds me of a sermon lesson when trying to correct my poor behavior. Her devotion to God only makes my devotion that much greater.

5. She Loves Camping

When we first married, we often found ourselves camping with babies/toddlers. Sometimes it was chaotic, but she always made sure we had everything packed and everyone had what they needed. As the years went by, our tents increased in size, tents evolved into pop up campers and now we enjoy a small apartment on wheels late into the fall. These camping moments have been some of my most treasured memories.

6. She Has Never “Kept Score”

I have been boastful many times throughout our 20 years together, but Pauline has never been one to keep score on what she has accomplished (either around the house or in her career). Her humility make me strive to serve each other going forward rather then keeping score of what I have accomplished around the house (or in my career).

7. She Always Has Believed In Us

Times haven’t always been so hunky dory with our marriage, but no matter what we have went through, she has always believed in our relationship. I know there have been many days/nights where she just wanted to be without me for a few days, but she has always come back to me.

8. We’ve Grown Closer Together

We had our seasons where we drifted apart, but the last few years we have really changed things. We are closer on a deeper spiritual level as well as an emotional and physical level in the last few years.

9. Warmth of Her Hugs

She has a way of knowing when times are stressful and will make a point of stopping whatever we are doing to embrace. Her hug has the ability to melt a lot of stress from a situation and is a subtle reminder of just how blessed I am.

10. Waking Up Each Morning

There was a long season of my life where I took my wife for granted. That season has passed and thankfully I am reminded most every morning of what a blessing God has provided me through my wife. When I wake in the morning and see her, I feel love.

Me loving Pauline as a mother and wife is not limited to 10 reasons, but those are just 10 examples of why she means so much to me.

I shared the following with Pauline a while back. At the time I was looking for a verse to help her get through a hard time at work, but I was also struggling with our relationship. My path led me to finding a piece of scripture that helped me get through a hard time in our relationship and I can’t help but go back to this often.

Love is patient, love is kind. It does not envy, it does not boast, it is not proud. It does not dishonor others, it is not self-seeking, it is not easily angered, it keeps no record of wrongs. Love does not delight in evil but rejoices with the truth. It always protects, always trusts, always hopes, always perseveres.

Love never fails. But where there are prophecies, they will cease; where there are tongues, they will be stilled; where there is knowledge, it will pass away.

1 Corinthians 13:4-8

South Suburban Conference 2016

Saturday was a fine day of wrestling as for the 5th year in a row an Alba was wrestling in the South Suburban Conference in Lakeville, MN.

Last year both Gage, Kobe and Antwoine wrestled in the tournament and it was a busy day going between matches. This year we had only one wrestler in the race, but a lot of Kobe’s teammates to follow.

Kobe was placed in the 145 pound Silver Division and was the first match of the day. He drew a wrestler from Farmington and he took control of the match right away. Kobe was once again aggressive as he took an early lead, but was never able to fall his opponent. After three periods Kobe won by major decision 10-0.

Sections 145 Silver Match One

Kobe earns a major decision (10-0) over his Farmington competitor.

Posted by Andrew Alba on Sunday, February 7, 2016

Kobe’s second match was against a wrestler from Bloomington Kennedy that earned a draw the first round. Kobe took no time in taking him down and won by fall within :16 seconds. This win moved Kobe to the Championship round.

Sections 145 Silver Match Two

Round two match vs Bloomington Kennedy wrestler ends in a win by fall in :16 seconds.

Posted by Andrew Alba on Sunday, February 7, 2016

Kobe last round match was against a young wrestler from Apple Valley. Apple Valley has a nationally recognized program and the Apple Valley wrestler had a win in the first round 12-5 over an Eastview wrestler and a fall in the second round at 1:45 against another Eastview wrestler.

Kobe got off to a fast start scoring first with a take down, but his opponent was able to escape and then score a take down of his own. Kobe struggled on the bottom the rest of the first period, but didn’t allow any points. Kobe started in neutral position the second round and came up short on an attempt of a double leg shot. His opponent was able to scramble around and convert this to a take down. Once again Kobe had difficulty getting to a neutral position as his opponent was very active on top. Kobe was able to thwart his offense, but was not able to get neutral. The last period is where filming picked up.

Sections 145 Silver Match Three

Kobe loses decision (2-7) to Apple Valley opponent and earns second place in Silver Division.

Posted by Andrew Alba on Sunday, February 7, 2016

Unfortunately Kobe lost the match 2-7, but he did earn second place in the Silver Division. Was a great time. Here are a few pictures from the awards.

Silver 145 pound Champions

Silver 145 pound Champions

Silver 145 pound Champions

Silver 145 pound Champions

Eastview Silver 145 pound Champions

Eastview Silver 145 pound Champions

Armstrong Tournament 2016

Traveled to the Armstrong Wrestling Tournament yesterday to enjoy a few hours of wrestling. As always the Tournament was fast paced with both the Varsity Duals and Junior Varsity individual tournament starting shortly after 9:30 am on the eight mats.

Kobe was put into bracket Q with wrestlers from Fridley, Mahtomedi and Woodbury. His first match was against the eventual champion of the bracket.

Match one at Armstrong Tournament, Kobe took on a wrestler from Fridley.

Posted by Andrew Alba on Sunday, January 31, 2016

The second match was against a tough opponent from Mahtomedi that went late into the third period.

Match two at Armstrong Tournament, Kobe vs a wrestler from Mahtomedi High School.

Posted by Andrew Alba on Sunday, January 31, 2016

The final match was absolutely crazy. Kobe last match pitted him against a wrestler from Woodbury and it was six minutes of wild scrambling, reversals and some controversy over points awarded. After the first period the score was adjusted from Kobe being ahead 10-7 to 8-10 in favor of the Woodbury wrestler.

Final match at Armstrong Tournament, Kobe had a wild match with wrestler from Woodbury. Was crazy!

Posted by Andrew Alba on Sunday, January 31, 2016

The final two periods were just as crazy, but the scoring was a bit more accurate all the way up to the last few minutes, but Kobe was able to win the match 22-14.

Northfield Tournament

After a long delay to get the wresting started (about a three hour delay), action commenced and Kobe had to suffer through a bye the first round.

After waiting a long period of time to start the matches, Kobe was caught off guard and had to wrestle near the start of the second round. With the combination of confusion and chaos, Kobe went out without the proper mental attitude and faced a solid opponent and lost.

He was upset with the start of the tournament, but decided the experience wasn’t going to spoil his day. He went into the second match with a resolve and after grappling with the second opponent for sometime, he was able to get a takedown and quick pin.

The third match pitted him against a fellow Eastview wrestler and friend. The two were determined to give each other his best. It was a quick match that ended with Kobe falling his teammate quickly, but with some controversy as both claim Kobe did not have the pin when it was called.

Northfield 2015

First three matches of 2015 Northfield Tournament

Posted by Andrew Alba on Saturday, December 19, 2015

The last match for 5th place was a great match. Kobe faced off with a decent opponent and although he controlled almost all of the match, there were times when he put himself in a bad spot and almost lost the match. The match went to a decision which Kobe won.

Northfield Tounament II

5th place match for 2015 145# Gold B Consolation.

Posted by Andrew Alba on Sunday, December 20, 2015

Giuseppes Pasta Alforno – Rosemount

Living in Apple Valley, MN is amazing. Although a lot of people don’t care for the “burbs” it fits me just fine. That said, Apple Valley is the city whore house for chain restaurants. There are a few good local restaurants, but for the most part the city is filled with about every major chain restaurant you can list.

For this reason, Pauline and I like to find “mom and pop” restaurants that are local. We went out last night for my birthday in search of a Sri Lankan restaurant called House of Curry that we had heard about in Rosemount. We arrived rather late only to find the restaurant wasn’t open on Monday’s. Oh Snap!

Since we were in Rosemount, we were going to head to our “usual” mexican restaurant Las Tortillas, but Pauline mentioned that there was an Italian restaurant we were near. It wasn’t a chain and it was my birthday, so wanting something different we decided to try Giuseppes Pasta Alforno

Capellini Pomodoro

Capellini Pomodoro

As we entered the the small dark restaurant, you are sent down a narrow half walled aisle. At the end was a large party that was leaving, so it was awkward getting through the space. What I found interesting was how happy everyone was. As we worked our way through the maze of people, a man with cooking jacket comes out and hands the party a bag of fresh baked bread. The conversation between the staff and the leader of the large party seems maladroit as there is an obvious language barrier.

It takes a little while for the staff to realize we are not part of the large party, but we are seated in the corner and given menus. At this point, it is 30 minutes before the restaurant is suppose to close and the staff are not smiling, but seem to be going through the motions. We are started with some water and fresh bread and an infused herb and olive oil mixture that is obviously home made. The bread is amazing with a salty tangy top and when dipped in the oil, it is packed with great flavors.

Sausage di Sicilia

Sausage di Sicilia

We don’t take long to decide on our order, but we were not given a wine list so I ask the waiter for it before we place our food orders. He still doesn’t seem pleased and almost rushes us to get in our wine order. Both of us order red wines and place our order. Pauline orders the Capellini Pomodoro while I go with Sausage Di Sicilia.

We are brought the wine and start a conversation about our day. Pauline was enjoying a Black Opal Shiraz I believe and I was enjoying the Cellar No 8 Zinfandel. My wine was the perfect temperature to show off this inexpensive Zin that had some pretty complex flavors. It wasn’t dry and had just enough of a sweetness to make it a perfect fit for me.

A short while later our food arrived. Mine was steaming hot which was torture as it smelled so marvelous. The baked dish had Ziti pasta smothered with a meaty merlot sauce. Included in the sauce was an amazing hot Italian sausage with five cheeses and a few meatballs to top the dish. Pauline didn’t choose a meat dish, but instead had a dish of Angel hair pasta tossed with sun-dried and fresh tomatoes, mushroom, artichoke hearts, and parsley in garlic olive oil, topped with feta cheese.

Both dishes proved to be way to large for us to finish even though both of us were very hungry. We were given a lot of time to eat our dish before the waiter arrived with two containers to take our left overs back home with. As he brought the bill, I told him we really enjoyed the meal and we would be back. He seemed surprised we had never eaten there before and when Pauline told him we had just found it while out hunting for a birthday meal for me, he told us in his broken english that he was going to give us dessert for my birthday.

A few seconds later he arrives with a small dish of cannoli with pistachio dipped ends and sitting in what I can only guess is a lavender or rose syrup. It was fantastic. We took care of the bill and headed out as they were cleaning up the place for the end of the day. The staff must have wished me a happy birthday a half a dozen times on my way out which really made the end of the day even that more special.

I would highly recommend this restaurant to others and give it high marks.

rating onrating onrating onrating onrating onrating onrating onrating onrating onrating off 9 of 10 stars

Happy Birthday Ghost

Today is a special day! No, we don’t have an agenda to try to legalize marijuana. Four-twenty is not a mantra we use, but instead we are celebrating April 20th as it is Ghost’s birthday!

Our ninety-seven pound puppy is moving into adulthood. We celebrated the day by taking him shopping. Unfortunately we weren’t able to get him a cake for the special day. We did pick up a fresh “pup” cake and some fresh treats. Then we headed to a second pet shop for a new nyla-bone, water buffalo horn and more treats.

I have been teasing the poor boy by yelling that there is a SQUIRREL just outside the house. That drives him just about insane trying to figure out just where it is, but it sure is funny to me.

Love ya Ghost!

Twins Opening Day 2015

Target Field Opener 2014

Target Filed Opening day April 2014

Getting excited about the Minnesota Twins this season might be difficult, but getting charged up about opening day at Target Field is as easy as enjoying a Surly draft out of the Twins pub.

Hitting opening day at Target Field is a tradition I have kept since the ball park opened in 2010. It has been an experience over the years. The first year I had to be talked into spending the money to secure seats for the game. Our group ran into some issues on the way back from Milwaukee and we almost missed getting to the game on time. Since then I have endured some cold temperatures in the shade of the first base line and bathed in the glorious spring rays in left field (while others froze there butts off on the first base side).

Opening day at Target Field is a splendid day that marks the beginning of baseball in Minnesota. It brings to mind thoughts of warm summers on the deck, sitting in lawn chairs, eating sunflower seeds while watching softball, and pulling a cold beverage out of a frigid bath of ice water in the cooler. Here is to the Twins 2015 opener and the end of 2014 winter in Minnesota.

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