Greeting Text

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.

Wednesday, December 31, 2014

Linda & John's 2014 Favorite Food Finds

As often mentioned the downside to owning a cafe is that there not much in the fridge at home.  During the day we're busy preparing food.  Obviously we taste the soups and salads and specials but in quite small portions.  At the end of the day the fridge at the cafe never has any 'leftovers' because there isn't anything left.  And so the conversation goes:  "I'm starving.  There was no time to eat and there's nothing left.:"  "OK, so where to you want to eat?"

In consideration of the last day of 2014 we thought we'd share some of our after hours food choices.

  • Pink Flower:  Vietnamese.  Always friendly and inviting, consistently good with the best egg rolls in
    Pink Flower Egg Roll
    the Twin Cites.  We appreciate the food and the non-buffet friendly service.
  • Mama's:  Just down Rice Street Mama's offers great Italian dishes and pizza in a pleasantly crowded and friendly atmosphere.  Be prepared to sing happy birthday when it starts.  We favor the Deluxe Sampler.
  • Romolo's:  A short drive to the Phalen neighborhood should include dinner at Romolo's.  The owner stops by each table and shows sincere appreciation.  The pizza is very good.
  • Ingredients:  White Bear Lake offers several great dining opportunities and we'd put Ingredients near the top.  Favoring local produce and products, we've never had a bad meal and a recent visit was our top dining out experience of the year.
  • Pezzo:  Just across the street from Cup 'N Cone in White Bear Lake this is a newcomer following a Chicago concept restaurant (Chicago is a food Mecca) offering seasonal salads, a good wine selection and good pizza.
  • Olive's:  Their first location was in Marine on the St. Croix (now closed) but we were happy to find their new location very pleasant (also in White Bear Lake).
  • Cafe Biaggio:  This is a very nice upscale Italian dining experience on University and Raymond.  The grilled Romaine appetizer was out of this world.  The service is phenomenal.
  • Cheng Heng:  Everything is a complex and delightful taste experience in this Cambodian restaurant on University Avenue near the Capital.  The owners are very appreciative and often offer to make special dishes.  Their story of success is part of the American dream.
  • Big Marina Deli:  Northeast Minneapolis offers many venues but this is a hidden gem.  Located in a
    Big Marina Deli
    former 7-11 it's not fancy but it's Middle Eastern buffet is incredible with meats, vegetable dishes and salads not found elsewhere.  We both find the eggplant salad irresistible.
  • Twisted Fork:  This is our Grand Avenue favorite for contemporary American food and has never been a disappointment.  We hate to admit it be we found it on a Groupon deal and re-visit often.
  • Los Ocompo:  When asked "what do you want to eat?" John invariably responds with "a good taco." Obviously that's not what he wants but we head to Los Ocompo (several locations) where traditional food that people from Mexico eat can be found.  Don't expect the standard taco, burrito, enchilada platter of more Americanized versions.
  • Blue Collar Barbeque:  Head north up to Lake Drive to find these veterans of the traveling barbeque competition crowd.  After tiring of dragging trailers and equipment everywhere they've settled down in a recently vacated Asian restaurant and server very good take out barbeque.
  • Taco Truck East 7th & Lafayette:  When we actually do seek out a taco there is a taco truck parked just east of Lafayette on East Seventh (across the street from the Holiday Station) that is really good.  On a summer evening sitting on the tailgate of your vehicle with a few tacos and a Jaritos cannot be beat. 
  • Trung Nam:  On University Avenue near the Capital are the very best croissants in the Twin Cities.
  • Holiday Station Old Fashioned Chocolate Donuts:  We talk a great deal about healthy food and you'll rarely find us in the burger and fries line but we will share one weakness.  Holiday has the best old fashioned chocolate iced donuts to be found.  To Holiday's credit you can also get fruit and a nice Asian salad.  If we have to pick one gas station to eat at this is it.

East to White Bear Lake

Other than Marianne's Kitchen we are at a bit of a loss whenever we are looking for a good meal in Shoreview.  The Monday evening before Christmas we headed to Ingredient's Cafe in White Bear Lake.  The lake level may be at an all time low but Ingredient's sets the bar quite high and we've rarely been disappointed.

We started with the Artichoke Dip and a warm baguette followed by Peas 'N Hay and the Farmer Steak Salad.  

The linguine was complimented with home made sausage, carmelized onions, sweet peas and a parmesan sauce.  We really enjoyed the home made sausage which was flavorful, perhaps a bit dry but...

The Farmer Steak Salad was an absolute delight.  The grilled hanger steak, ordered medium, was tender and very flavorful, perhaps the best steak of recent memory.  The arugula was dressed with a champagne walnut vinegrate.  Both the beef an greens component were satisfying on their own but the quinoa, roasted beet and citrus fruit keep me going from component to component and planning my next trip back.

Offering a limited menu and a changing 'specials' menu Ingredients is great for a fine dining date night but welcoming, too, of more casual visitors.  We showed up without a reservation about 8 PM on a Monday evening and were promptly seated and attended to.

Monday, December 15, 2014

Raw Honey

So what's the big deal about "raw honey?"

It all starts with honeybees collecting nectar from blossoming plants and trees.  The worker bee (a hardworking and focused female) enters the blossom and ingests the nectar via a straw shaped tongue, a proboscis.  Mixed with enzymes in the honeybee's stomach it is regurgitated (sorry, but that's how it works) and placed into the beeswax cells or honeycomb in the hive.

During their life honeybees migrate through a series of jobs and duties.  Before beginning the "field bee" or nectar and pollen collecting phase they spend time fanning their wings throughout the hive.  When the nectar is first placed in the comb it has a very high moisture content.  The movement of air through the hive causes the  moisture content to drop and at the correct percentage the bees "cap over" or cover the cell opening with beeswax.

Beekeepers take the comb from the hive, remove the cappings on the cells and
extract or remove the honey.  For the most part honey will last forever.  Honey with an excess moisture content may ferment or crystalize.  Beekeepers historically heat the honey to lower the moisture content and remove any crystals of honey.  Heating also removes some of the flavor,  removes some of the aromas and starts to break down suspended pollen particles.

Raw honey has been not been heated or heated only slightly to facilitate the bottling process.  You may see suspended crystals and pollen and it may already be of a creamy consistency when purchased or may become creamy over a few months.

Honey that contains pollen particles from your local area and may be helpful in providing you with small doses of pollen providing some allergy relief.

As a cautionary note, children younger than twelve months of age should not eat honey.


Saturday, December 6, 2014

The Confusion Over Tomatillo Salsa

National franchise restaurants are all about "systems."  Franchise restaurants are focused on individual investors or groups of investors who want to be in the food business without really having to know much about food.

When you buy a franchise you don't have to know a great deal (other than how to write check).  The national franchise organization will train you and your staff, provide schedules and procedures for everything involved in operating your new franchise.  If you follow the procedures and you have done your homework to ensure that the local demographics will provide enough "food dollars" you might make a reasonable return on your investment (emphasis on 'might').

In the small business world you work out all the details yourself and you start the day working on your business and end the day working on your business.  That's fine.  If you can deliver a quality product, cover your expenses, meet nice people and give back to your community it is satisfying.

Saturday evening one of us was doing overdue paperwork while another was keeping the ovens going preparing products for another of our outlets (The Chickadee Boutique).  About 8:30 we headed to a nearby fast food vendor (a successful national franchise).  As John ordered his fajita bowl he asked for tomatillo salsa. The guy behind the counter reached for the pico de gallo (fresh uncooked salad with tomatoes, onions, lime, coriander, serranno).  "No, the tomatilla!" Then the person reached for some other red cooked salsa at which point John said "the green salsa."  "Oh, the hot salsa?"  "No, the green salsa.  Green is the tomatillo!"  

Somewhere in the franchisee training program with it's comprehensive set of how to do everything they've missed a chapter on explaining what each of the twelve or so options on the line are.  When you have lunch at  Marianne's Kitchen we know what we are serving, we know who made it, we know who produced it and often where it was grown (we're using up the last of our Leeski Farms  potatoes this month).  That's just part of the difference.  You are part of that difference, too.  That's why we ask your name, where you work or what you are up to?  We try to put together a community, one bowl of soup at a time, one sandwich at a time and one name at a time.

So for the benefit of those who have missed the franchise instructions, the tomatillo is a husk tomato or also know as a Mexican husk tomato.  They are green or purple/green and make a nice 'green' salsa when cooked.  I'm going to drop the franchisee a note with a link to Wikipedia so they can train their employees.  We also sell a tomatillo salsa which is great with chips or on cheese enchiladas.

Thursday, December 4, 2014

Tobie's of Hinckley

Traveler's headed 'up north' from the Twin Cities head NW towards Alexandria, up 169 past Lake Mille Lacs or up 35W toward Duluth.  Tobie's is an iconic stop along the 35W route halfway between the Twin Cities and Duluth.

First located on historic HW61 which passed through downtown Hinckley they've been located on the east side of town (or a bit west of Grand Casino) since the freeway opened.

Famous for their bakery items, especially the famed caramel rolls it's a nice break on the road trip north.

We're happy to note that Tobie's offers a nice selection of our pickled products and gluten-free dry soup mixes.  Our honey is not available there but you can pick up honey from our beekeeper friend, Wayne, from Honey Hill Farms during your stop.