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I’ve been living in Minnesota for 3 months now, so it’s about time I added on to the FL vs MN: 5 initial differences post I penned back in August. Without further adieu, here are 5 additional differences noted between SoFla and Minnesooooota:

(1) The Radio: The radio in MN is infinitely superior to that in FL. For starters, you can’t scan through the channels in MN without landing on a least seven different classic rock channels. Then there’s The Current, a Minnesota public radio station whose slogan is “Great music lives here.” They aren’t kidding. I have discovered more new, cutting edge music than I ever have by perusing iTunes or other music outlets. And, they post a list of the artists/songs they play so I can then go to iTunes and download the songs that I like.

In addition to Minnesota’s national news stations and The Current, there is Classical Minnesota Public Radio which happens to be playing Tchaikovsky’s “Lullaby” as I write this. Beautiful.

South Florida’s radio is so terrible I can’t bring myself to devote much time to describing it other than to say that the only shinning light between the recycled electronic music, Spanish pop and recycled electronic Spanish pop that pollutes the airways is WLRN, Public Radio for South Florida. Needless to say, my radio dial never veered from 91.3 FM when I lived in the sunshine state (*Shout out to the brilliant Sammy Mack*).

(2) Gas Stations, or more specifically, Kwik Trip: Wow, Minnesotans love their Kwik Trip Gas Station. Basic fueling needs aside, they turn to the chain for everything from potatoes and onions to bananas, eggs and milk. I have heard so many people wax philosophical on the virtues of the mighty Kwik Trip (bananas are $0.29/pound ya’ll!). It takes the concept of convenience store to a whole ‘nother level. Even their bakery pumps out popular items. In fact, I once arrived at a Sunday brunch with gourmet donuts in tow and was met with several disappointed looks when I explained that, “No, they were not Kwik Trip donuts.” I’ve never known a gas station to put forth worthwhile pastries before, but it might be time to revisit the possibility.

(3) Sweet wine: What is it with Minnesotans/Wisconsins and their sweet wine? As noted in my previous post about our trip up to Danzinger Winery in Alma, Wisconsin, people like their wine sweet here. The nice lady behind the winery’s tasting counter used adjectives like fruity, jammy and honeyed. I would choose to use a few different adjectives (or nouns – kool aid and cough syrup come to mind). I prefer complex wines that have a light touch on your palette. Not too sweet, potential hints of vanilla and coffee. Sweet wines are reserved for a rare after-dinner drink if I am forgoing dessert. I just cannot imagine drinking a thick, sweet wine with a nice piece of salmon. Anyway, moving on…

(4) Regional Food Favorites – Hot Dishes and Bars

(a) Hot Dish, e.g. Tater tot hot dish: a classic Minnesota dish generally consisting of a meat, starch and veggie, all mixed with mushroom soup and topped by a generous layer of tater tots. To the non-Minnesooootans out there, this dish is known as a casserole.

(b) Bars: a sweet item that is served in a pan. E.g., Zucchini bars, pumpkin bars, cereal bars with chocolate on top. Even brownies are called bars because they are served in a pan. A common exclamation as someone walks into a room with a rectangular baking dish in hand covered with aluminum foil, “Yay! You brought the bars!” I learned this first hand when I mistakenly pointed out that I loved the zucchini bread someone had brought into the school’s staff lounge and was quickly told, uh, those are zucchini bars.

*Needless to say, I had never heard of a hot dish before arriving in MN and the term “bar” was generally reserved for a drinking establishment.

(5) Local beer: I LOVE the local Minnesota breweries – Summit, Surley and the originator of my new favorite brew – Auroch’s Horn; Olvalde Farm and Brewery.

Their description:

Distinctly honey with complementing yeast, fruit, and alcohol notes. Well balanced. Golden with a brown hue from the honey and caramelization in the kettle. Thick frothy white foam.

My description of Auroch’s Horn:

“Damn good beer!

Don’t get me wrong, Florida has some great breweries as well, but what sets these breweries apart is the sense of pride associated with them. Everyone around here knows the names of the aforementioned breweries by heart and has sampled their cold ones. And, I feel good when I drink a local brew, as if I am supporting the state’s economy (at least that’s what I tell myself, hehe).