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Following twenty years of farmer's markets selling locally grown vegetables, native fruits, and local honey Linda created Marianne's Kitchen in Shoreview, MN, an oasis of good food, conversation and laughter in a suburban food desert. Operating from 2011-2017 the cafe offered home made soups, fresh bread baked daily, great sandwiches and treats and a complete line of gluten-free soups, pickled products, jams, jellies, salsas and locally sourced soups, honey and grains.

The Marianne's Kitchen of sharing, conversation, and learning continues with ongoing commentary, food reviews and food finds as we grow, cook and eat our food and sample local restaurants.

Thursday, May 17, 2018

Thai Street Market ... No Meat Dinner ... AWESOME!

thai street market marianne's kitchen mspeats mspfoodieThai Street Market

Who needs meat?
Fabulous summer dinner tonight at Thai Street Market on Rice St.
thai street market marianne's kitchen mspeats mspfoodie
Fresh spring rolls

Green papaya salad (refreshing, delish)
Veggie drunken noodles(medium is just hot enough)
So good!!!!
thai street market marianne's kitchen mspeats mspfoodie

SIP Coffeebar...NE Comes Thru!

Sip Coffeebar

Sip Coffeebar Marianne's Kitchen The Coffee Shop NEWeaving our way back through rush hour traffic from Medicine Lake was totally a grind.  Finally crossing the river into NE Minneapolis John whined "I need coffee."  Ignoring him I looked at my watch and counted the hours backwards to our pleasant lunch at 11 AM at The Coffee Shop NE ... six hours...yes it was COFFEE TIME!  Not wishing to hear more whining I suggested SIP Coffeebar behind the old Grain Belt Brewery in NE.

Sip Coffeebar Marianne's Kitchen The Coffee Shop NE art-a-whirlEach visit to NE is a reminder of the unbearably predictable burb-life.  This weekend is the 23rd Annual Art-A-Whirl in NE.  SUPPORT ART!!  Turn off your smart phones & burb-a-whirl for Art-A-Whirl.
Sip Coffeebar Marianne's Kitchen The Coffee Shop NE art-a-whirl
SIP Coffeebar closes at 6 PM and we've stopped several times and missed the experience by minutes.  We're still adjusting from our years at Marianne's Kitchen where our ventures followed the working day and often left us wandering about the Twin Cites at 8 PM and later.

Sip Coffeebar Marianne's Kitchen The Coffee Shop NE art-a-whirlThe interior is a very clean design with about 8 2-person tables, a soft seating area for ten or so and a couple of tables outside.  John opted for the Mocha Smoothie with whipped cream and having loaded enough caffeine today I ordered a decaf iced mocha.
Sip Coffeebar Marianne's Kitchen The Coffee Shop NE art-a-whirl
Bars and cookies and pastries, all wrapped, were enticing on the counter.  Hovering first and then staring at the backlit menu behind the counter John opted for the Pea Pesto Wrap.  I was not certain about the Mocha and wrap combo (he usually gets an Izze) but I long ago gave up attempting to understand 'John Logic.'

After a reasonable time we picked up the drinks and wrap at the counter.  The wrap was delightful on a whole wheat wrap with the slight sweatness of green pea pesto, a small but
Sip Coffeebar Marianne's Kitchen The Coffee Shop NE art-a-whirl
tasty amount of goat cheese and with nice green lettuce (not Romaine).  We split it, more fairly than usual, and concluded the food above average for most coffee-focused coffee venues (although The Coffee Shop Northeast excels at food and coffee).  The sandwiches and wraps are pre-made each day, are very reasonably priced and work just fine for a grab-and-go lunch/snack or for a grab and sit for a while.

Not far from Maeve's and Matchbox we'd put this at the top of the list for these three.

Sip Coffeebar Marianne's Kitchen The Coffee Shop NE art-a-whirl
Sip Coffeebar

We really like The Coffee Shop NE so I'm sharing images of our early lunch there today...even though this is about Sip Coffeebar...because John kept talking about his's tough to keep him on topic!!!

Sip Coffeebar Marianne's Kitchen The Coffee Shop NE art-a-whirl
Earlier Lunch At The Coffee Shop NE

Wednesday, May 16, 2018

Brothers Taqueria

If you're checking out a Mexican restaurant, it's best to take Anne with you.   Today was no different.....time for a visit to Brothers Taqueria (previously Tahini) in New Brighton.

As I was passed by on my way to pick her up just before noon, the place was quiet.   By the time we returned 10 minutes later, there were several cars in the lot and a short line.   Our timing was good, though.  Shortly the lot was filling up and there was a longer line.   This is quickly becoming a busy lunch place.

Large black boards show the proteins, how you can get 'em (burrito, taco, enchilada, torta, quesadilla, bowl) plus a board for extras and for beverages.   There are also pictures along the counter of a number of choices.  But don't forget to pick up the paper menu.....that's where I found the huarache.

Anne went for the nachos with asada; I took the huarache -  al pastor, please.   We both opted for bottles of Mexican Coke (can't beat that real sugar).

The service was pretty quick.....but I messed up the system.   We concluded that all the things on the hanging
menus came out quickly---I was the oddball with my huarache--that took about five minutes more.   Still pretty quick....plenty of time to have lunch and for one of us to get back to work on time ; )

The huarache was great.    Lots of flavorful meat (the pineapple version of the al pastor style) on a wonderful masa oval with lettuce, cheese, Mexican sour cream.   Anne's nachos were big with layers of asada, tomatoes, beans, Mexican sour cream.........   It was more than she could eat....even with me giving her a lot of help.

Our conclusions:   the pastor was much more flavorful than the asada; nothing wrong with the asada--just not nearly as delish as the pastor.   Both were nice sized portions, were fresh and attractively presented.   The meals were brought to our table in green baskets with checkered red and white liners.   This was fine for the nachos.  For the huarache, 2 layers of liner might have helped---it was easy to cut through the paper because of the moist ingredients.

It's hard to find Mexican food close by.  The two items we had were good....the pastor, really good.   We'll be trying it again soon because John will be whining that he was out of town and we went with out him and blah, blah, know, guy whining.    It's a quick, reasonably priced place for some Mexican food.   Polite staff, good health code compliance (trust me, we check out these things), drink choices like horchata, and open until 9 p.m. for your Mexican food fix.   Four star rating on Yelp, 5 stars on Facebook.

Wednesday, May 9, 2018

Ashama Cafe & Market on University AV in St. Paul...Great breakfast!!

Looking for coffee and maybe a breakfast to share.
ashama cafe marianne's kitchen

Heading out University place under construction....wait, there's coffee on the other side of the street.  Amazingly, we didn't have the wait the usual 3-4 minutes to make a left turn over the light rail tracks.  Green arrow means GO for coffee!!!

Pass the front door, yes they're open, turn right....not one but two places to park!!!!

ashama cafe marianne's kitchenAshama Cafe and Market....the market has been there a long time, the cafe has been open about a year.   Beautiful light yellow interior and lots of items to buy behind the counter....none of which I recognized.

A big menu high on the wall, and a pile of menus on the counter......breakfast or lunch???

Breakfast.   Multiple choices of suqaar.  Eggs and bread. or banana or strawberry.  Other choices we can't remember because we focused on suqaar.  (there are lunch choices, too---Philly Steak, Gyros, and more).

We settled on the chicken suqaar, a mango smoothie, and a capuccino.

A few minutes to stroll the aisles of the market.  Some very interesting products---pine honey, an interesting tea mix that included cinnamon sticks and cardamom pods and more, varieties of corn flour and meal, rice flours, several versions of injera, giant bags of rice, lots of dates, and spices, herb mixes (several that I didn't recognize--time for some research).....a good selection for a food browser.

ashama cafe marianne's kitchenBreakfast arrived....and looked fabulous.   I had suspicions about the bread--I was afraid it might be chewy or dry---totally, totally wrong.   A light bread with a bit of sweetness.....and it paired perfectly with the suqaar.   Our dish included tons of diced chicken, green peppers, and onion with some certainly get your attention curry cinnamon spicing.  By itself, the heat just continued to build.  But, when paired with the bread, your palate is suddenly completely happy.   A combo of heat and great flavor with the cooling light sweetness of the bread.   Together--delightful!

The mango smoothie was a thick serving of blended mango....I loved it...John said it was almost too much mango for him---it was THICK!   The capuccino was served very, very hot (temp-wise) - so a few minute wait was required.  It was smooth, with good coffee flavor (I think they use Bootstrap coffee).

While waiting for our food we asked each other "What does Ashama mean?"  With smartphones and the digitized history of the world in our pockets we looked it up.  King Negus Ashama ibn Abjar ruled the Kingdom of Axum (also known as Abyssinia), now part of Ethiopia, in the 7th century.  On the other side of the Red Sea the Muslim faith was evolving from the teachings of Muhammad.  The pagan leaders in Mecca began persecution of Muhammad's followers.  A group left for Abyssinia for sanctuary.  After King Ashama heard the Muslim's speaking of Jesus and his birth by the Virgin Mary he held up a twig and said the differences in their faith was as small as the branch he held.  King Negus Ashama refused to turn over the refugees to the Meccans.  As such King Negus Ashama's actions remain a source of pride today to both Christians and Muslims in Ethiopia.

ashama cafe marianne's kitchen
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The whole experience was delightful.   Great breakfast in a sunny room (windows on the east and north) with partially frosted windows highlighted by an artsy frosted pattern.  The service was super polite (we think one of the cooks may have been 'in training' -- he checked to make sure he had done ok and that we liked the way he made our breakfast--very sweet).

Want to have a quintessential urbane experience?  .....park your car somewhere, hop the light rail and listen to the clanging and rail noise, hop off at'll think you're somewhere else in the world, Ethiopia perhaps.   Like being on vacation just a few miles from home.

Monday, May 7, 2018

Brunson's on Payne Avenue...Yes!!

I'd like to start by saying that today's meal was a completely vindicating experience.

Recently we were served 2 bad fact, very, very bad meal that made me ill...meals lost in time from an era when eating commercial processed food was the norm and such meals were considered 'great'!   That time is long past---at least for a lot of people who are thinking about what they eat, where the food is sourced, and what 'fresh' and 'food' really mean.   We like to eat food.

So, with that intro, let's talk about what made an absolutely delightful lunch at Brunson's Pub.

The old Schwietz's Saloon on Payne Avenue (that place was an institution) became Brunson's a little over a year ago.   The chef is from Mississippi, and that informs many of the choices on the menu.   But this menu is all about food.

We know we're in trouble when we want to order more choices than we could eat this week.  Luckily, there are some small plates and half-size dishes, so we could try more options.

We opted for:   1) the black eye pea hummus with veggies and crostini 2) the Hoppin' John warm salad, and 3) Watermelon Radish Salad (we'll work our way thru the menu in good time).

The black eye pea hummus plate--what a refreshing twist on a traditional hummus plate.  We love hummus.  We love great, warm pita bread.  We love
a drizzle of olive oil.   The black eye pea salad had NONE of how could it be so good? 

The flavor of the black eye pea hummus is rich and complex, and you can couple it with the fresh veggies (for those avoiding gluten, this is the way to go) or nibble it on the very thin and crispy crostini or both.   It's a good size appetizer, so we thought ahead and asked for a box to take half home for later snacking : )

On to our main dishes for lunch.   The Hoppin' John warm salad achieves a new level of 'food'.   Now, you have to remember that we sold organic, vegan, gluten free, no added salt mixes at Marianne's...and
we made sure we had hoppin' John on the shelf for every New Year...the traditional time that hoppin' John is make it easy to put this on your table.   We also served tons and collards and black-eyed peas, prepared using traditional methods, and sometimes with a current 'spin'.   The hoppin' John salad at Brunson's kicks this up another notch or two...or three!!

The collards are crisp tender.  There are gorgeous, flavorful pieces of house-specialty 'pulled bacon' plus black-eyed peas, rice (just enough), corn, grape tomatoes...all in a perfectly paired vinaigrette and served with corn bread (this was the overall weakest element of our meal--it needed either a kick or more sweetness on top).   The collards here are beyond wonderful---not tough, warm and perfectly dressed so that the true collard flavor shines through.   Everything in the salad is balanced....a fabulously updated spin on collards and black-eyed peas.

Now, let's talk about that watermelon radish salad.  Recently, we had lunch at Blackbird in Minneapolis---great food.   There, we enjoyed the butternut squash salad---a layering of wonderful ingredients--art for the eye and flavor for the palate.  The only drawback on that salad was that some of the roasted squash turned out not to be roasted--a distracting element from the overall nicely composed salad.

Brunson's watermelon radish salad achieved that final step to greatness!!!  Constructed, in much the same way that Blackbird's presentation was constructed, the fresh arugula created the main theme while each and every other element joined into a perfect harmony.  Fresh raspberries, edible-size pieces of fresh orange, the most beautifully thinly sliced quarters of watermelon radish---sliced to show off the beauty of this vegetable and to make them very approachable.  Add some goat cheese, toasted pecan pieces, red onion (these slices were just a bit too thick in comparison to their companions)...and add a citrus vinaigrette that ties the dish together in a way that you don't really taste the 'dressing'--you have a marvelous composition with each singer completely on key.

(this is where we took issue with our $50 dinner at the other place---there, wilted brown lettuce and aged cucumbers and a sprinkling of carrots were supposed to be doused with bottled dressing to make a 'salad'---sorry, but that's so 1950s; substitute iceberg and it WAS the salad at Hafner's Bowling Alley on White Bear Avenue or the long-gone rib joint near E Minnehaha and McKnight Road (in the 1950s-- I was there)--or even more recently, at Meister's in Shoreview (if you add croutons)).   These places have been left behind as 'food' becomes important and interesting.  If your favorite 'dressing' is ranch out of a bottle, you might as well not read any of our reviews--it won't turn out well.

We would rate the watermelon radish salad that we were served today at Brunson's among the best salads we've ever eaten.  We were sharing, so we each grudgingly passed that salad plate back across the table, in fair turn.  Luckily the other dish we were sharing at the time was the warm black eye pea salad--also an exceptionally good dish--so it was fairly easy to be 'fair' 😓

I am always looking for food.  It is still very scarce in many parts of the Twin Cities.   But without driving very far, excellent food is served at Brunson' Pub on Payne Avenue in St. Paul.     

p.s.   There are reports of 'slowness' in getting your meals at Brunson's.   We checked out the kitchen (there's a second prep kitchen--on another floor--so everything has to be carried up and down the steps)--they are turning out great food in yet another postage stamp sized kitchen which means you can't really fit a 'team' in there, and servers are running it long distances.   So, at busy times, expect a wait.   Today the wait was reasonable because it was Monday lunch (no rush)---we can understand how this may be a lot more challenging with a full house. Plan accordingly.

Everyday Cafe in Cambridge, MN

everyday cafe cambridge, mn marianne's kitchenIt's called the Everyday Cafe....and we missed it on our visits to Cambridge.

everyday cafe cambridge, mn marianne's kitchenNorth of Hwy 95 on Main Street, the Everyday Cafe is housed in a former A&W.   Knotty pine interior, with colorful red and turquoise chairs, and smooth booths, the current owners have run the place for about the last 2 years.   The walls are dotted with plaques of everyone's favorite slogans...

Couch for Sale, includes husband and remote

If you want to have breakfast in bed, sleep in the kitchen.  

everyday cafe cambridge, mn marianne's kitchenWhen you try a place for the first time, you have to try a house special.  Today it was the BIG OINK.  You have your choice of doing a bunch of items as an omelette or as a 'stack'---piled on top of a plate of hash browns.  Yup...we were going up north to work so we opted for the stack.   Bacon, sausage, peppers, mushrooms, onions, cheese topped with 2 eggs---over medium, just as requested.   We also had to try the biscuit and gravy....well, because.

everyday cafe cambridge, mn marianne's kitchenThe portion of the Big Oink was, well, BIG.  Nice layers of meat, veggies, cheese on crispy hash filled the plate.   In each bite, your fork had a slightly different combination of
everyday cafe cambridge, mn marianne's kitchen
ingredients.  Fun to eat!   The biscuit was light and fluffy with tons of nice, peppery gravy--enough gravy to dip a few bites of Oink in it, for yet one more flavor combo.

everyday cafe cambridge, mn marianne's kitchenThen there was the toast!   We're kinda used to bland toast at a lot of breakfast places.   Not at the Everyday Cafe.   The toast was seeded wheat toast--with seeds throughout and a crust studded with oatmeal and seeds.   It made FANTASTIC you actually noticed that it was good toast.  It was so good, we asked where it came from.   Turns out it's a proprietary product delivered thru Sysco, & the manager said it was pretty spendy per loaf---but the flavor was certainly worth it.

everyday cafe cambridge, mn marianne's kitchenIt was so good, that we bought a loaf before we left.  It made a great snack on its own while standing out in a field surveying the fruit trees to see which ones survived this snowy long winter and which needed a replacement...and it will be delightful tomorrow morning with some Bear Food jam.

Friendly small town service, a hearty meal made in an interesting way, and a place that serves really good bread with your breakfast.  We vote, Yes!   Give the place a try next time you're heading up Highway 65....and for sure ask for the wheat bread.

everyday cafe cambridge, mn marianne's kitchen

everyday cafe cambridge, mn marianne's kitchen

Sunday, May 6, 2018

The Secret Greenhouse (Sandstone, MN)


This is our secret.

sandstone quarry greenhouse marianne's kitchenThe cutest little greenhouse on earth, tucked away at the end of a little dirt driveway through some trees and over a creek.  Architectural relics of Sandstone's limestone quarry adds to the uniqueness.
sandstone quarry greenhouse marianne's kitchen

Quarry Greenhouse is now 10 years old and it gets better every year.   Today, the nasturtiums are huge (for $4.25), the glory of the hanging baskets is endless, the selection of plum, apricot, pear, cherry and apple trees at reasonable prices is the biggest temptation on earth. 
sandstone quarry greenhouse marianne's kitchen

We've already brought home the first apple tree (and we chose a slightly smaller one because the average size trees wouldn't fit in our full sized pick-up).    
sandstone quarry greenhouse marianne's kitchen

Checking the trees in our mini-orchard is on the top of the list did Old Man Winter treat our future fruit-bearers????    We know we lost a pear tree and one of our beautiful cherries......we'll have a good idea in a couple of
sandstone quarry greenhouse marianne's kitchen
hours.  Then we can head over to Quarry Greenhouse and choose a few new friends from their selection.

Housed in an old stone building, this place is magical.  The owners started out small a decade ago, but their dedication and hard work have grown the place from a seedling to a sturdy-tree as a fixture in the community of Sandstone.   Every year they add
sandstone quarry greenhouse marianne's kitchen
more variety to keep up with the growing interests of their customers.

The vegetable plants are beginning to get to the size they need to survive outside....remember, this is in Zone 3, so tomatoes don't go in the ground unprotected for a few more weeks.   Seed packets, lots of seed potatoes, onion sets, trees, vegetable plants and room
sandstone quarry greenhouse marianne's kitchen
after room of gorgeous flowers to make you forget about that season that we just endured.

It's a great place to start the outdoor season or just take a nice drive with your mom for Mother's Day.

Quarry Greenhouse in Sandstone MN (we'd give you exact directions, but their sign is small and unobtrusive, and we want to have a good selection when we get there---they sold out all the trees last year---go figure).   So, you're on your own!!!!

sandstone quarry greenhouse marianne's kitchen