Many Hats of Me

Thursday, July 17, 2014

Late Night Bites: World Street Kitchen, Minneapolis

World Street Kitchen

World Street Kitchen (or "WSK") is a fast food restaurant with a contemporary ethnic flair. The food is inspired from all corners of the world: Korea, Vietnam, China, Mexico, New Orleans, and the Middle East.

It is owned by the brothers, Saed and Sameh Wadi, who are also the proud owners of the award-winning Minneapolis restaurant, Saffron.

In addition to the acclaim and success of his restaurants, Sameh Wadi is both the first Minnesotan and the youngest chef invited to compete in Food Network show, Iron Chef America in 2012. Cool!

World Street Market Restaurant, Exterior

After experiencing an incredibly delicious meal at Saffron last winter, we decided to check out the chef's vision of fast food. 

It's located on 2743 Lyndale Avenue South, just north of Uptown Minneapolis, on the main floor of a newly built condo building with a parking lot. 

Like a fast food restaurant, the menu is a printed display located above the cashier, easy for patrons to see:

The menu changes with the season, optimizing price and quality of the food offered. Today, we were offered the following:

Since it was Sunday, we were also offered the Brunch Menu:

World Street Kitchen Brunch Menu

My husband chose the Yum Yum Rice Bowl La Panza BBQ Lamb Belly. It contained a generous helping of caramelized lamb belly, which was similar to thick cut bacon, except that it was lamb instead of pork. The crunchy sprouts, cucumber and peanuts paired well with the crispy lamb and  soft-cooked egg. YUM!

For drinks, I opted for a Blood Orange San Pellegrino instead of a beer, since I drank far too much the night before. :)

La Panz BBQ Lamb Belly Rice Bowl

I chose the from the Brunch Menu, the Chicken Waffle. The chicken was fried in a light crispy batter, similar to Japanese tempura. It was seasoned with a sprinkling of curry spices and accompanied with a perfectly cooked fluffy waffle, maple syrup and butter. I suggest ordering the WSK salad or the Pickle Plate with this dish.

Chicken Waffle

WSK even delivers! A bonus to all who work late hours at work or are too lazy drive, like me!

WSK opens late! 

Sunday-Thursday 11am-11pm
Friday-Saturday 11am-Midnight

Happy Hour: 3PM to 6 PM, 9PM to Close

Half price snacks, $5 cocktails, $3 house wine & $3 local tap beer.

So, instead of ordering a pizza or burger when pressed for time, check out World Street Kitchen. Your taste buds and tummy will thank you!

Thursday, February 20, 2014

DIY Kaldnes Media Aquarium Filter - A Step-By-Step Guide

What is Kaldnes Media?

Background History of Kaldnes Media

Kaldnes media was designed and developed in Norway by the combined efforts of education, government and private sectors: the Norwegian University of Science (NTNU), the Foundation for Scientific and Industrial Research (SINTEF), and Kaldnes, a Norwegian industrial company. 

In the early 1980's, NTNU and SINTEF were developing sewage treatment technologies involving moving media. By the end of the 80's, the partnership had successfully developed a new method of treating wastewater called "the moving bed biofilm process". By this time, Kaldnes was getting involved, and plans to produce and market the technology were begun, with a newly formed company Kaldnes Miljøteknologi AS.

This new sewage treatment was intended only for municipal use, but other industries, such as aquaculture, quickly adopted the media and the process, now called the Kaldnes Moving Bed (KMB).

How Does Kaldnes Work?

Kaldnes media are small pellets made of polyethylene that look like wagon wheels. The media come in different sizes, but aquarists primarily use the K1, the smallest size measuring 1cm in diameter. As you can see, the plastic media have a lot of ridges and surface area for nitrifying bacteria to grow.

K1 Kaldness Media
K1 Kaldnes Media

Kaldnes vs. Traditional Ceramic Media

Ceramic media are the most common bio filter media used by aquarists. It looks similar to porous gravel or small pieces of lava rock. Kaldnes media is superior in a couple of important ways.

Kaldnes Media is:

  • Light with a density slightly lower than water so that it is buoyant. Ceramic media is heavy and dense by comparison.
  • A moving bed filter whereas ceramic media does not move once placed in a filter. 
  • Self-cleaning. Ceramic media needs to be cleaned regularly (although most aquarists don't).

Kaldnes media is used in a reactor which provides aeration and agitation. This mechanical movement of the media is the key to it's superior nitrifying ability (to break down ammonia to nitrite and then finally to nitrate). As the media moves in the reactor, it bumps into the reactor walls and other media, sloughing off excess biofilm, keeping the media clean so that nitrifying bacteria work at it's peak efficiency. Since ceramic does not move, the biofilm that covers the media gets clogged by "sludge" which is dead nitrifying bacteria and fish waste. Also, the tank water does not flow easily throughout ceramic media thus is far less efficient than Kaldnes media.

Constructing A Kaldnes Reactor

Step One: Materials and Tools 


  • Power drill or a very sharp awl
  • Pencil or chopstick

Materials and tools to make Kaldness Media Filter
Materials and tools to make Kaldnes Media Filter

Check valve prevents floods during power failures
Check valve prevents floods during power failures

Side-drilled suction cup
Side-drilled suction cup

Making openings in the water bottle

Use the drill to make starter holes in the water bottle lid and on the top and bottom of the bottle. Please refer to the video at the end of this blog. Use the pencil or chopstick to gently increase the size of the holes, careful not to damage the bottle.

Make a hole in the water bottle lid
Make a hole in the water bottle lid

Insert airline tubing into bottle lid hole
Insert airline tubing into bottle lid hole

Airstone attached to airline tubing
Airstone attached to airline tubing

Air stone inserted into bottle
Air stone inserted into bottle

Finished Kaldness Media Filter
Finished Kaldnes Media Filter,
just after installation.

Finished Kaldness Media Filter - 3 hours later
Finished Kaldnes Media Filter - 3 hours later

Kaldnes Media Filter in Action, 24 hours later

Full Video Instructions

The video below is a tutorial that provides real-time instructions on building the Kaldnes media filter. 

More Reading:

Wednesday, February 19, 2014

Exploring Downtown Victoria BC: Empress Hotel and the Soda Shoppe

A Family Trip to Victoria

Last summer during my visit to Vancouver, my family took a trip to Victoria, British Columbia by ferry boat. Our ship left Vancouver at 9 AM and we arrived at the Swartz Bay Ferry Terminal at 10:30 AM. From there, the drive to Victoria is about 1/2 an hour.  

Parking Options Downtown Victoria

There are two options to park in downtown Victoria: metered parking and indoor parkades. Metered parking allows you to park from 1/2 an hour to 90 minutes during the week. Weekends and statutory holidays are free.

We parked at the Victoria Central Public Library parking lot located next to the library at 735 Broughton Street. The map below is the address of the central library. Parkade parking allows you to park for a longer period of time at a central location.

This particular parking lot is FREE on the weekend too. Just make sure you press the button for a ticket to release the parking gate. When we tried parking on a Sunday, it took 10 minutes to figure out how to open the parking gate without paying with our credit card. More information about Victoria parking is located at the cities' parking website.

View Larger Map

Empress Hotel, Victoria, BC

Downtown Victoria inner harbor with the Empress Hotel in the background
Downtown Victoria inner harbor with the Empress Hotel in the background

It's hard to imagine that before the Empress Hotel was built, this entire inner harbor was a mudflat filled with garbage. Since the land was soggy mud, no buildings or proper streets could be built in the area. Over time, the locals began to dump their garbage in the harbor. It was stinky and ugly and by the late 1800's, a health hazard. The city decided to fill in the mud flats and asked the Canadian Pacific Railroad Company to built their hotel there instead of another location in Victoria. In 1908, the Empress Hotel was opened to the public and has been a Victoria landmark ever since. 

Boats are moored in the inner harbor, downtown Victoria, BC
Boats are moored in the inner harbor, downtown Victoria, BC
BC Legislative building is in the background

Wide stone boardwalk hugs the inner harbor, Victoria, BC
Wide stone boardwalk hugs the inner harbor, Victoria, BC

Walkway to the Empress Hotel
Walkway to the Empress Hotel 

hydrangeas at the empress hotel
Pink, purple and blue hydrangea bushes decorate the Empress Hotel's grounds.

Afternoon Tea at the Empress Hotel

The Tea Lobby at the Empress Hotel has been serving it's famous afternoon tea since the hotel's doors opened. In fact, the hotel serves and average of 130,000 guests afternoon tea every year! 

Empress Hotel Afternoon Tea Menu
Empress Hotel Afternoon Tea Menu

The Tea Room serves a variety of pastries and sandwiches that are prepared in-house. The restaurant also serves a variety of loose leaf teas, including its own blend, the Empress Tea.

Empress Hotel Tea Lobby interior
Empress Hotel Tea Lobby interior

Empress Hotel Tea Lobby rich furnishings
Empress Hotel Tea Lobby rich furnishings
Sadly, the Tea Lobby was already closed for the day, so we were unable to experience the Afternoon Tea at the Empress.

The Empress Afternoon Tea starts at 12 PM and ends at 2:45 PM. It costs $50/adult and $25/child. Seniors receive a $20 discount during the year except Spring and Summer. 

The Soda Shoppe

Since we missed tea, we walked across the street to the 1950's styled diner, the Soda Shoppe, located at  801 Government Street. One half of the restaurant serves hotdogs, sundaes, floats, and coffees; the other half is an ice cream parlor. Although the flavors offered were a bit mundane, the locally sourced ice cream pleased both grandma and children alike.

Soda Shoppe, Victoria BC street view
Soda Shoppe, Victoria BC

Soda Shoppe, Victoria BC, interior
Soda Shoppe, Victoria BC, interior

Soda Shoppe, Victoria BC menu board
Soda Shoppe, Victoria BC menu board

Soda Shoppe, Victoria BC chili cheese dog
Soda Shoppe chili cheese dog
Soda Shoppe ice cream parlor
Soda Shoppe Ice Cream Parlor

Soda Shoppe Victoria BC waffle cones
Grandma and grandson enjoying enjoying a waffle cone

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