Recently, one of my favorite activities has been stopping at Surdyk’s to get cheese and a bottle of something to enjoy. I’d forgotten how great this place can be to stop in and learn something new and try something new too.
I highly suggest stopping in their cheese shop which is so much more than just a cheese shop. They have some grab and go items, meat from Red Meat Table Company, bread, and everything else you could possibly add to a sophisticated cheese plate.
What’s even better than the selection is the knowledge that every person working there has about the items that fill the shop. Ask and you will learn something new and most likely discover a new favorite. The other week I was looking for a brie that had a creamy flavor without too much funk and they were able to point me to a perfect selection. Not only a perfect selection but the perfect ripeness of the cheese. A combination that made the brie divine.
I’ve come in needing help picking out the right cheeses for a cheese board for people who don’t like blue cheese and also needing help picking out a wine for people who enjoy both Spanish reds and whites. How can you help me find something that people who you are hosting will love but something that they may not have had before? They seem to do it with ease and they make me seem like a thoughtful host with great taste. The great taste I have is that I know a place where they know how to amuse and delight my guests and well, amuse me too. I always get a little something. How can you not?
because if you ask you might just learn something new
What is your go to item when you stop at Surdyk’s?
As you know, I am a huge fan of French Meadow. Their menu incorporating all types of dietary needs was a lifesaver for me when I was a vegan and in a food rut. French Meadow makes amazing food for those who have dietary restrictions but without sacrificing taste.
I didn’t think French Meadow could get any better but it has.
Expanding their location on Lyndale Avenue, French Meadow opened a wine bar called Bluestem Bar and Table. If you are a fan of French Meadow you will love Bluestem.
They have an excellent menu with items that range from salads to burgers to pasta.
I always suggest eating off of the specials menu. When I went to visit it was a very hot day and the tomato gazpacho that was on the specials menu was perfect. Gazpacho is a cold soup and although it is very different from eating warm soup, if done right it is wonderful on a warm day and still has all the flavor that you need.
Other highlights from the menu are the fish tacos, raw kale salad, harissa chicken, and the beet carpaccio salad. If you are eating with a slightly picky eater they still have your basic hamburger or chicken and waffles as well.
I was very impressed by the wine menu. Absolutely get the first flight of Rose. As someone who is not usually a Rose person, this flight caught my eye. This is not your grandmother’s Rose, it is much more flavorful.
They also have a happy hour from Monday- Friday from 3-5 P.M. Also, a late night happy hour 10- close every night of the week. Although the happy hour menu is fairly small, they have mussels and the turkey burger for only 6 dollars each.
Need somewhere to go for your birthday? They have a few private dining options such as their tasting room which is a beautiful spot to host a party. As of right now, they have no minimums to rent the room, get in while you can.
The other little secret that I will share with you is that you can make reservations at Bluestem for breakfast on the weekends. No more waiting in line or waiting for a table if you prepare ahead of time. They have the same breakfast menu as French Meadow but with service and reservations.
I cannot wait to see what the future has to offer for this group of restaurants. They are living up to their values of offering good food that is local and organic.
Because a good thing, is a good thing
What is your favorite item on the Bluestem menu?
This past Saturday I attended the HAMMS event at the old HAMMS Brewery Shipping docks in Saint Paul. It was a really fun time and I was able to buy a few items that I have been pining over including Dessa lipstick from the Elixery.
What made this event fun was that you actually could speak with the business owners and learn more about why they do what they do. Plus, it was dog friendly!
The event lived up to the title Help A Minnesota Maker Succeed. The event planners reached their goal to be able to give one vendor $5,000 to use to expand their business.
I shopped until I dropped on Saturday. The first item I bought was a glass water bottle from Moss Envy in pink. Moss Envy is now going to be my go-to place for gifts. They have many practical and usable items that people would love to get for a special event such as a birthday or wedding.
Moss Envy has a retail store near the Whole Foods in Uptown. If you mention my blog (mlsgossipgirl) and the HAMMS event Ryan the co-owner extended an offer of $5 off your $25 purchase.
The market baskets from Jeanne Beatrice were a hit. I received many compliments when I was walking around the event with my new La Vie Henna.
Jeanne Beatrice bags are the perfect summer market accessory. I cannot wait to bring mine to the Minneapolis Farmers Market once it warms up.
I loved these arm warmers from Float many of them are made with cashmere. They are a great item to keep in your purse for when you get cold. Plus, they come in many vibrant colors.
I was surprised by these game day lip tattoos from Violent Lips. I know some hardcore Vikings fans that would sport them proudly at each game.
These hilarious cards from Bruno Press had me laughing. They are the perfect cards for someone you know well enough that you can say offensive things in front of them.
These map necklaces from Larissa Loden are a great way to remember a special trip or a place that you lived.
I wish I was decorating something right now. I loved everything that Oh Dier had at this event. They had the cutest chalk boards for your cabin and blocks for a new baby.
Yum! Not only was there great shopping at the HAMMS event there was great food. Gastro truck had a large menu of delicious items to choose from and I couldn’t choose just one.
The first item I tried was a Beef Brisket sandwich. It was flavorful and I loved the aioli on top.
The best part of the lamb burger was the choice of all the homemade condiments that I could choose from. Pickled red onion and ketchup topped my lamb burger along with the feta and olive spread.
Hopefully, the HAMMS event is an event that is continued in the future. I am already looking forward to it and I think all the dogs that were there are too!
because I can’t think of a better way to spend a Saturday.
These last few weeks have been brutal for Twins fans. It is not easy to sit in your seat and watch a game in your Sorel boots and parka when it is 30 degrees or colder. Along with many other fans, I opted to watch from under the heat lamps. The bonus of making this move was that I was closer to all the food and beer stands.
What I love about the new Twins Stadium is that they keep adding more and more local foods and beer. If I am coming to a game I want to be able to eat some really wonderful food. I did just that last night.
Although, I was not able to try every new food at the stadium, I did get to try the new burger from AZ Canteen. A company started by local foodie/chef/TV star Andrew Zimmern, this stand serves a lamb and goat burger that has been deemed by many to be the best new food in the ballpark. I cannot agree more.
AZ Canteen in Section 130 serves a food item with flavor. This burger was made right in front of me and topped with roasted tomatoes and onions. At $13.00 this burger is expensive and in my view is worth it. It comes with seasoned chips, is big enough for a meal and best when paired with an IPA.
Another favorite of mine is Turkey to Go found in multiple sections. At only $7.50 for a sandwich it is a steal. The turkey is always moist (I hate that word, but it is true) and you can top the sandwich with sweet and sassy BBQ sauce.
I had to get a huge hat full of nachos after watching people walking around with one. The hat is filled with taco chips, nacho cheese, beef, tomatoes, onions, jalapenos, and sour cream.They equip you with forks to get the job done. Not in the least bit healthy but tons of fun.
I hope that the Twins keep adding more local food and beer each year because it makes coming to a game also a great place to have a meal.
Because GO TWINS!
* you can also follow AZ Canteen and Turkey to Go on Twitter to see where their food trucks and restaurants are in the Twin Cities. @AZCanteen and @TurkeyToGo
Looking for a secret spot for happy hour on a Thursday night? Try Gather at The Walker.
It is one of the best happy hours in the city that no one knows about.
- 5 dollar small plates
- 5 dollar special drinks and wines (this past week it was a mango martini)
- 3-5 dollar beers
It only happens on Thursday night, when The Walker opens its doors for free Thursday nights. That is right, you do not have to pay to get into The Walker on Thursdays. So, after you eat you can go explore all the wonderful modern art that The Walker has to offer.
Why I call this one of the secrets of the city is because when I was there last Thursday only about half of the tables were full. Normally, I equate this to either bad service or overpriced foods. That is not the case with Gather. My best guess is that people think you have to pay to get into the Walker to eat in the restaurant. Not true. Plus, it is a bit hard to find in the building but if you get lost ask one of the Walker staff.
You need to try this place because the service is excellent. The staff is always trying to make this the best experience for their guests. I even overheard a staff member trying to make a childs nonalcoholic drink fancier and extra special. They go the extra mile. Plus, you can tell the staff enjoys working with each other.
Another reason this place is wonderful is that you can watch the chefs work. When I looked over at them they were smiling and having a great time. Good food comes from happy chefs.
This would be a great place to take a date; the ambiance and low lighting create a romantic atmosphere. This space in the Walker has really nice views. My advice: when making a reservation ask for a spot near the window. It is also a great place for a birthday, they have room for a group of about 8. I suggest sharing a bunch of the small plates.
My favorite small plates are the grilled cheese, fish tacos, bahn mi, and the fries with the aioli. Also, each week they usually feature two dishes from a local chef. Those usually are wonderful as well. They are a great way to try something that you might never try otherwise, such as frog legs. Plus, if you go on the first Thursday of the month the dishes from the local chef are free to try.
The trio of grilled cheeses differ with what cheeses are served. The ones that I had this week were a cheddar, brie with fig jam, and another one with herbs and mushrooms. All of them were different and fun.
I also had the fish tacos, a little bit spicy but very fresh. I liked the lime flavor of the slaw that tops the fish.
All of the food at Gather is locally sourced with much from family farms. Which makes the menu smaller but it only contains dishes that are necessary. Two items on the menu that I want to try next time are the Buttermilk marinated chicken and the beet dish with asparagus, pistachio, and orange.
Gather came out with a new menu, so the menu on their website may not be reflective of what is really on the menu now. I am very excited about some of the drinks on the new menu. They are flavors of fall and winter. The Harvest Grog with red wine, cider, whiskey, and maple syrup will warm the heart. Yum! Who comes up with these drinks?
I heard a rumor that in December, Gather will be open Thursday, Friday, and Saturday and will be serving British fare to celebrate the British Ad Awards. I also heard a rumor that the next guest chef has a restaurant near The Walker.
Take a look at Gather’s website HERE.
because I like secrets.
I love this place. Bo Diddley’s is a sandwich shop in Saint Joseph, Minnesota. Most likely you have never been to St. Joe unless you went to St. Ben’s or St. John’s or visited a friend. This small town is a wonderful place to go to college in. I should know.
Bo Did’s, as I call it, has fantastic sandwiches that you cannot find anywhere else. Based out of Saint Cloud, MN this very small chain of restaurants is one of a kind. It has families who work there and even remember your favorites when you stop by.
My personal favorite sandwich is their turkey pita sandwich, it comes with thinly sliced turkey, their guacamole, and onions that are sliced just right. I am also a fan of the guac and chips. Really though, I have not had an item on their menu that I haven’t liked. They use good ingredients and the bread is de-lish.
As you can see this place is old school. They host a weekly cribbage group, make their own soup, and still make these delicious cookies with a recipe that has not changed. It has a great atmosphere where you bridge the line between your living room and a restaurant.
So if you are looking for a quick meal when you are in the central Minnesota area, stop by Bo Diddley’s.
because a good sandwich is hard to beat.
I can’t remember the last time I had something with currants in it. So, naturally when I saw this currant scone on the menu at Rustica I had to get it. If you don’t know, currants are a small berry fruit that is dark purple in color and very tasty.
In the strip mall across from the Whole Foods in Uptown, Rustica is not what it looks like from the outside. Honestly, it looks shabby from the outside but once you get inside you are transported to a whole new world of coffee and bread. This bakery and coffee shop looks like it should be housed in an old brick building with ivy growing on the outside and a local bookseller next door who sells leather-bound books. Although, its outside is blah, it is in a great location and is fairly easy to get to if you live in Uptown, Minneapolis.
Despite it’s less than glamorous outside, Rustica is always busy because it has fantastic food. I have had several bakery items there and each has been delicious. including this scone. Once you have had one it will be hard to go back to any other scones especially the ones from Caribou. They get baked goods at Rustica. This scone was perfectly cooked with the right amount of browning and had this sugar-coating on the outside which makes a huge difference.
The breads are great and most of the time the coffee is exceptionable. This last time I had a very bitter cup, which must have been made incorrectly. But, I could have cared less since I was busy snacking on this scone.
The staff always is able to point out their favorite items that have been freshly made. So, take their advice. They know what is good and can point you to items that you might not normally try.
It looks like they also make sandwiches there and I am looking forward to having a day off where I can sit in Rustica and drink coffee, eat a sandwich, and write about my adventures in the Minne-apple.
because sometimes you need an escape to the old world.
Pine Tree Apple Orchard is one of my favorite places to go in the Fall. It is a beautiful place to go and enjoy some of the last warm days and eat a treat. Located in White Bear Lake this apple orchard is calming and inviting. Plus, it has a great shop where you can buy anything apple you could imagine. My personal favorites are apple doughnuts and cider. They have a unique blend of cider here which I would recommend. Nothing really compares to it.
Pine Tree Apple Orchard is just one of those places that I went as a child and still cannot go a year without visiting. Maybe, it is because I need to get an apple doughnut.
This place is family friendly and a perfect photo spot for your upcoming holiday photo card. I couldn’t believe the professional cameras that I saw and the kids in the cutest trendy clothes.
Every weekend in the fall there is usually entertainment for the young ones, a hayride, and a corn maze. Oh yeah, and they have apples too. Those are also really good.
Check out the pumpkin patch for Halloween and during the summer they have a strawberry patch. When I used to nanny it was one of my favorite activities to do with the kids. They could pick their own strawberries and then we went home to make jam. It kept the kids busy for an entire day and made the parents happy to come home to homemade jam. If you don’t feel like jam, you can dip them in chocolate.
One of my goals for the future is to do the 5 Mile Run For the Apples, run at Pine Tree and get to eat delicious apple treats at the end of the run.
Pine Tree also offers holiday gift baskets. They are very resonably priced and it would be a great idea for a local company that wants to share some local food with their clients.
because an apple doughnut a day doesn’t keep the doctor away but….. boy are they good.
Named appropriately, Real Meal Deli has awesome lunch offerings in the Minneapolis Skyway. Walk right by the Subway, Taco John’s, and Starbucks to a non-chain fast food deli.
Real Meal Deli gives people a fresh, affordable, and minimally processed menu. Started by a chef who has been working in the restaurant business since 1986, he wanted people who work in areas where there are many fast food offerings to have a place that is fast but fresh and healthy. A trend he thinks will never go out of style.
As you can see above, this place offers a meal with color. Red, green, purple, and yellow make for a beautiful lunch. My favorite item on their menu is their small sack which includes a small salad, cup of soup, and bread for under 7 dollars. When you order this lunch you have the choice of over 12 salads and 3 different kinds of soup. If you can, try the curried butternut squash soup. It has a hint of curry and is perfect for a fall day.
The sandwiches are also very popular and next time I am going to try the Cranberry Goat Turkey Sandwich. Is Thanksgiving here yet?
Real Meal Deli can be found in Minneapolis at the Baker Center and the TriTech Center and in Saint Paul at the 1st National Building. They each have different hours and some of the locations serve breakfast for under 5 dollars and a lunch special.
Have an event coming up? They also cater. Under 10 dollars a person you can get an awesome lunch or breakfast.
because fresh and local never go out of style.
What is your favorite place to eat in the skyway?
If I can explain the heat in Minnesota, it is hot, it is sticky, and it can be unbearable at times. I have found the remedy to our sticky heat woes and it’s 10,000 Licks, an ice pop company started by two Minnesotans Andi McDaniel and Sarah Newberry. They created unique flavors with local fruits, herbs, and more surprisingly vegetables. And who said that you can’t get your children to eat their veggies?
What makes this company unique is the flavors they create, the ingredients that they use, and the fact that they are still small. Plus, each pop is created from scratch! You will not find Vanilla Beet, Sweet Corn, and Almond Butter and Jelly in your local grocery store. They also have fruit based pops like Strawberry Basil, Raspberry Rhubarb, Lavender Lemon, Blueberry Lemongrass, and Watermelon Mint. They are always inventing new flavors and will have a different selection at every event that they go to. You can even suggest to them a flavor you would like to see.
They certainly have a following in the land of 10,000 lakes and were able to raise over $10,000 in 2011 on Kickstarter to expand and purchase some much needed equipment for their growing business. During this campaign they even named a pop for someone who lost their daughter Chelsea to cancer in 2009 now named Chelsea’s Cherry Cheesecake in her honor and even had a donor from Egypt.
Now in 2012, their business is flourishing at events all around the twin cities and they are on to a new venture with Chowgirls Catering. Chowgirls has be an event space called The Parlor in Northeast Minneapolis that you can rent for your next special event and they offer great catering. They are the perfect partner for 10,000 licks. Together they have started to sell and create boozy pops for special events. I am more than excited to try one of these. So far, they created Mojito, Sangria, and Champagne Strawberry Mint flavors.
Here is the deal, since they are small they only sell at certain events during the summer so get yourself out there and spend sometime outside this summer while enjoying an ice pop from 10,000 licks. Support local businesses!
Here are some places you will find the ice pops this summer:
Midtown Minneapolis Farmer’s Market – June 23, July 28, August 25
Northeast Minneapolis Farmer’s Market – July 14, August 11, September 8
Music in Mears Park – June 28, July 26, August 23, August 30
Red House Records Barn Fest – August 4
North Coast Nosh – August 17
because there is nothing like a sweet treat on a hot summer day