It's a classic travel conundrum: you have a late afternoon or evening flight, but you need to check out of your hotel several hours beforehand. You'd love to squeeze in some extra vacation time instead of heading to the airport, but how are you going to do that with a suitcase in tow?
Mike and I spend our weekends running in opposite directions (literally in my case: seven miles on Saturday and three miles on Sunday). After one too many weekends when the only significant chunk of time we spent together was grocery shopping, we realized that we needed to prioritize time with each other. So we instituted a standing coffee date on Sunday mornings.
Suburbs have a reputation for soulless dining, home to nothing but mediocre chain restaurants and fast food outlets. In some cases, that's true—but increasingly, you can find unique local establishments and upscale options in the suburbs. My favorite Twin Cities suburb for dining is Anoka, which is located northwest of Minneapolis.
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.
Patio season has arrived in the Twin Cities—in part thanks to the warmest spring weather I've ever experienced in Minnesota, and in part due to necessity. Although COVID-19 vaccines are gradually becoming available to the general public, the pandemic rages on. For many diners (myself included) indoor dining seems too risky, and outdoor dining feels like a safer option.
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.
For me and Mike, Easter is all about the candy. I love Peeps (the chicks, preferably yellow, never the bunnies). I used to try all of the different novelty Peeps flavors and review them, but in recent...
Last November, I posted a list of my escapist pop culture recommendations—between the election and an upswing in COVID cases I was desperately in need of some lighthearted escapism, and I wanted to share some of my favorite finds. Over the past months, I've discovered some new shows and podcasts, and I think most of us are still in need of some escapism.
The Twin Cities restaurant community has given me so much over the past several years, professionally and personally. At this unprecedentedly difficult time, I want to use my small platform to support this creative, generous, and hardworking group of people as much as I can.
Happy CSA Week! There might still be snow on the ground, but I've already started planning for warmer days ahead by subscribing to a CSA from Untiedt's Vegetable Farm. CSA stands for Community Supported Agriculture: you purchase a share from a local farmer, and in return you get a portion of the harvest every week for the duration of the growing season.
When Mike and I started planning our winter getaway to Bluefin Bay, I knew that it would have to include a cocktail kit. Since our route from our home in the Twin Cities metro to the North Shore took us through Duluth, we placed a curbside pickup order with Vikre Distillery.
Obviously, far-flung travel was off the table this year. So instead of flying south, we drove north for a mid-week getaway to Bluefin Bay, a resort on Minnesota's North Shore of Lake Superior. Bluefin Bay is in Tofte, a small community that's a 1.5 hour drive north from Duluth and a 3.75 hour drive north from Minneapolis (or in the other direction, a 1.25 hour drive south from the Canadian border).
Several years ago, there was a story on NPR that really resonated with me about how tuna noodle casserole is the ultimate lazy comfort food. I'm not a fan of cream of mushroom soup, so my version skips the casserole part—yes, that means I just call it tuna noodle.
A couple of years ago, I wrote about how one of my favorite things to do when I travel is visiting grocery stores. Obviously, the past ten months haven't involved much travel (thanks, COVID) but I have been able to assuage my grocery store wanderlust with regular trips to United Noodles.