Also, thank you Mads for letting me use this snap!
Our city is beautiful. Admittedly it is easier to show off without snow because our outdoor life is second to none. It’s hard to argue with the Land of 10,000 Lakes or the fact that we have more coastline than the state of California. But we made do with the wintery hand we were dealt. While I think that our restaurant/activity choices were absolutely ideal for the amount of time we had (and the amount of time we wanted to spend driving!), I know that we could have planned our time together a thousand different ways. I think that is the hardest part about showing off a city that you love: there is never enough time.
I picked Beka up from MSP and we started making our way toward dinner at the Blue Door Pub. Because we had some time to kill before we needed to meet up with Mads and Priscilla, I drove her down Shepard Road (and along the Mississippi River), through downtown Saint Paul so we could view the Capital building and St. Paul Cathedral, up past the beautiful homes along Summit Avenue and then again down Grand Avenue. St. Paul: Our Splendid Capital City.
We chose the Blue Door Pub for several reasons. As Minnesota is the birthplace of the Jucy Lucy we felt very strongly that Beka needed to sample one. While it would have been more authentic to visit Matt’s Bar or the 5-8 Club, both of which both lay claim to the creation of The First Jucy Lucy, we were also seeking a venue that would allow Beka to sample cheese curds. Non-Minnesotan/Wisconsinite/Texans live largely ignorant of this fact but true cheese curds as we know them (not those nonsense mozzarella stick bits that pass for “cheese curds” in the rest of the country) do not exist outside of these states. So it was very important to us that Beka try these. We feasted on jucy lucys, cheese curds, totchos and it was good.
To start our day, Mads brought an assortment of donuts from YoYo Donuts in Minnetonka. They were absolutely delightful. I know there are many arguments to be made for other bakeries in the area (I’m 100% sure I have tried all of them), but this was what was closest to us, end of story.
For lunch/brunch, we visited World Street Kitchen. I have been very vocal about my love of their caramelized lamb belly since our very first visit. It is absolutely delightful, there is no other food on earth like it, and once we were done feasting Mads and Beka understood why as well. I had my first experience with the WSK brunch menu (Southside with Eggs for the win) and my heart was filled with joy.
After lunch, we drove over to the Minneapolis Institute of Arts to look at their large Asian collection (it covers over half of the second floor) and…everything else.
The permanent exhibits are free and they are just top-notch. If you live here and you have not been you must go. I’ve already made notes in my calendar about two exhibitions I want to visit in 2015 (the DaVinci Codex and another about Ferran Adria).
We played around with a few (translation: 10) ideas for dinner. The sad reality? We could only eat dinner once. What we finally ended up settling on was a trip to Pig Ate My Pizza in Robbinsdale. We ordered a few tasting menus ($50 per couple for three small plates, a pizza of your choice and dessert) and got to work.
After dinner, we headed over to The Rookery for another drink. Since they work with molecular gastronomy and run an open kitchen, it was a pretty great show to watch.
We planned for this day to be a lazy one since we spent Friday and Saturday out and about. However, we did have one action item on the agenda. While mildly authentic, the cheese curds at the Blue Door Pub had Italian Seasoning in the batter and we felt betrayed because Cheese Curds Are Not Mozzarella Stick Bites. So we ran over to The Sunshine Factory in Plymouth. This is not fancy sports bar, but their cheese curds are an excellent rival to those served up at The Mouse Trap during State Fair season. If you are a cheese curd fan, you must get here immediately. During happy hour, it’s $6 for a dinner plate full. These people mean business.
Minnesotans, how would you fill a weekend for out-of-town visitors?