Wheeler is in Adidas’ new James Harden commercial…and this isn’t the first time they’ve been on the big screen

When you’re ranked No. 2 in the nation by MaxPrep’s and have a graduate drafted No. 3 overall in the most recent NBA draft, you’re awarded some perks. The latest James Harden Adidas commercial features the Wheeler High School basketball team throughout.

This is a huge shoutout for the Wildcats who are perennially among the top 25 teams in the nation. But it isn’t the first time they’ve found themselves in the public eye. Back in 2011, my senior year, the Cats were featured in Roscoe Dash & Soulja Boi’s mujsic video for All The Way Turnt Up.

If you noticed the only white player on the team in the video, that’s my guy Alex Arnold. Freshest 11th man in Wildcat history.

Wheeler is expected to compete not only for the Georgia state title again, but for a national title as well. But it won’t be as easy as it sounds. With the latest region realignment, Wheeler is now in a region with Westlake and Pebblebrook. In the same MaxPrep’s rankings that listed Wheeler at No. 2, Westlake comes in at No. 8 and Pebblebrook at No. 13.

And that’s not to mention Greenforest in Decatur (No. 4 in the nation) and Norcross ( No. 19 in the nation).

There’s going to be some legendary high school hoops played in Georgia this season.

Colinary Tour of Minnesota – Ecuador

What even is Ecuadorian food?

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That’s what I was asking myself as I decided on my next stop on the Colinary Tour. Most of the cooks at the restaurant I work at are Ecuadorian and they suggested I try Chimborazo in Northeast Minneapolis. Little geography lesson here: Ecuador is located in the northwestish corner of South America and is defined by three very different regions.

The Amazon in the east of the country and the pacific coastline in the west are broken up by the northern parts of the Andes mountain range. These differences in topography create equal differences in cuisine. Common foods in the jungle region are the yuca, or cassava, a a starchy root that is usually fried, as well as many types of fruits. The pacific coast is defined by seafood including shrimp, oysters, tilapia, tuna and many others. Chicken, beef, pork and guinea pig are common in the lowlands near the coast as well as in the mountainous regions. Potatoes are a staple in the mountainous areas too.

Natalie and I arrived to Chimborazo not necessarily knowing what to expect, given it was each of our first times eating Ecuadorian food. The restaurant was a small, square stucco building that stood alone on the street corner. It was quiet and unassuming. I probably would breeze right past it any other day of the week.

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But we walked in and the silence was immediately replaced by the boisterous noise of worker bees on lunch breaks. The one-room dining area was filled to the brim with tables, and the noise bounced off all four walls. To be honest, it smelled like a Chinese restaurant at first notice. I think the fried rice dishes were to blame for that.

We sat down and ordered Muchin de Yuca (fried Yuca or Cassava with cheese), Seco de Carne (beef stewed in peppers, onions, garlic and passionfruit, served with rice and plaintains) and Chaulafan (Ecuadorian fried rice with pork, chicken, shrimp and egg).

The cassava was interesting but delicious. It had the spongy texture of angel food cake on the inside and was a perfect golden brown on the outside. My Chaulafan was honestly like a house fried rice at an Asian restaurant but with a few small but important differences. The eggs were special. They were fried eggs, but they fell apart in your mouth and were so soft. It was almost like cotton candy they were so delicate. And the inclusion of green peppers added a nice change of flavor. Natalie’s beef was served in hearty chunks and were juicy and easy to chew. The steamed rice was standard, and while I didn’t eat any on account of I hate them, she said the red onions were flavored wonderfully.

All in all, it was a delicious lunch. It was my first real step out of my food comfort zone being that I’ve never had Ecuadorian food before. With Italian food and Vietnamese food – you kind of know what’s coming but with Chimborazo, I was surprised and pleased.

 

p.s. They have some pretty nice beer and wine specials, too.

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Colinary Tour of Minnesota – Italy

If you’ve never been there before, you’re going to be overwhelmed when you first walk in – in the best way possible. Confused too, to be honest.

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Cosetta’s Italian is in the prime commercial district of St. Paul, right across the street from Xcel Energy Center where the Wild play their hockey games. It’s got a grandiose exterior with carved pillars, large windows and dramatic doorways; it’s on the corner of the block. I was told it’s a great spot for lunch, but to be honest I was getting scared that it was going to become a candlelit dinner type of scene – all too eager to chew threw my wallet.

But I’ve never been one to back down from a challenge – especially when there’s some form of ricotta cheese on the other side – so I pushed on. I walked in, immediately to be overwhelmed and confused.

Overwhelmed because there was just too much for my eyes to take in to fully understand the type of place I was in; confused because I saw cake displays, stairs, plastic lunch trays and a macaroon kiosk…enough to bewilder anyone. I honestly had to walk around for four or five minutes before I began to understand the process. But when I did, I became much more excited than if I were taken to the corner table with a white tablecloth and a view. They’re a lunch-tray-and-line type of spot. MY FAVORITE. It’s easy AND you know what you’re getting into before you order. Like Picadilly’s, but Italian.

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The reason it’s a tad confusing is because the entrance doesn’t exactly point you in the right direction. You walk in and are looking at the side of a stairwell. You can kind of see some pizza action towards your right, but overall – it’s just not discernible what to do. Basically it’s laid out in a square. In the back wall is the food line. In the middle is an island for the checkout station where the drinks and beer are located. In the front is the entryway and stairwell. See my confusion?

First up is the salad displays. Name a salad ingredient. Literally any salad ingredient and I’d bet my life savings (about the same amount as a salad from Cosetta’s) that they’ve got it. You can choose from one of their signature creations or make your own. We got the Misticanza Salad – radicchio and arugula with lemon citronette dressing and parmesan cheese. It was simple and tasty with fresh crisp lettuce that didn’t wilt as the meal went on.

Next in line is the hot foods. Trays upon trays of classic Italian dishes including lasagna, chicken marsala, chicken cacciatore, sausage calabrese and veal/chicken parm. Their special of the month was Portobello mushroom ravioli. We ordered the lasagna, the mushroom ravioli and chicken fettucini. The ravioli was heartily stuffed and properly cooked, the fettucini was tasty but got lost in the sauce and the lasagna was the winner. All meat and noodles with no frills, it satisfied and filled us up. It was served with a side of mostaciolli con ricotta (more or less baked ziti noodles) which were divine.

Now, if you’re a native Minnesotan, I feel like I must apologize here. I didn’t get any pizza. I had no idea that’s their money maker; but when I talked to people about my experience afterwards they looked at me with almost pure disgust when I said I didn’t get the pizza. You would’ve thought I told them Chipotle was better than Willy’s or something.

It was a very fair price for a hefty and delicious portion – about $14 for lunch and a drink. After you get your food, you’ve got to walk upstairs to get a table, and that’s when you truly grasp just how massive this place is. After our meal we walked back downstairs to the main food area. To your left, the dessert room, to your right, the market.

The dessert room had anything and everything. I’m not even going to try to explain it because I won’t do it a proper service – just look at the pictures below.

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The market is the same thing, too extensive for me to portray properly. Check out some pictures for yourself. I will say this, if you want a legitimate Italian cheese selection: Cosetta’s is your place.

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