So much fear and pain and grief and tension had built up in my body over the past year, and I needed to find some way, as best as I could, to let it go. Most people would turn to therapy, or maybe religion. I went to a salt cave.
When I moved to the Twin Cities, a scoop of raspberry chocolate chip ice cream was what convinced me to stick around. Since then, I've become an ice cream connoisseur, scouting out the best frozen treats in Minneapolis, St. Paul, and the suburbs. If I'm going to treat myself, it has to be the good stuff: premium, housemade ice cream with natural ingredients and interesting flavors.
It's impossible to miss—a stately white house on a hill overlooking Highway 169 in Anoka, Minnesota. Built in 1857, the house is now home to The Mad Hatter, a full-service restaurant that offers a brunch menu and tea service. Since Mike and I developed a fondness for afternoon tea during our stay in London, we've treated ourselves tea at the Mad Hatter a few times over the years.
Over the years, Mike and I have made more trips to Stillwater, Minnesota than any other destination. It's the sort of place where you can spend a satisfying few hours or an entire weekend. The hilly terrain, views of the St. Croix River, historic downtown, and Victorian-era homes make it feel a world away from our life in the suburbs—but it's less than a 45 minute drive from our home in the Twin Cities metro.
When I bit into a piece of butter mochi I made for myself at home, it was good in the way that this particular dessert is—sweet, buttery, a hint of coconut, the unique texture that I love. But mostly, my homemade butter mochi was good because it reminded me of warm, humid days, and a giant banyan tree, and piles of technicolor tropical fruit, and ocean views, and the specific sort of joy I only feel when I'm experiencing a someplace new.