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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.

Sunday, February 26, 2017

"If you can's say anything good..."

We hit a new local establishment last week.  The rage is small batch breweries.  Many attempt to put out food.  Some small places realize their strength is beer and put a circle of food trucks in close proximity.  Others try...and fail.

Service is critical to success.  It includes the greeting you receive upon arrival, the knowledge and attentiveness of the wait staff and the overall appreciation of your patronage.  Behind the scenes it includes food preparation and safety.

The casual display of utensils looks friendly.  Unfortunately it's a food service violation. Everyone reaching for a fork touches the others which end up in your mouth.  It gives pause to consider what's going on in the kitchen.

Known for our super-good, hard-to-beat Banh Mi sandwich, we added one to our order of a couple pale ales.  The high point of this serving were the pickles.  The bun was dry.  We think the meat was chicken.  It had a couple of small carrot slices and was over seasoned with mint, a dash of basil, pate and a tasteless green sauce that might have been cilantro; we're not sure.  The pickles were sweet and flavorful. A plate or bowl would have been better than any other part of this serving.

Our favorite location for grilled romaine is Cafe Biaggio on University Avenue in St. Paul.   We should have driven there instead. 

This serving started with already wilted Romaine.  The bacon lardons were hard as rocks and will max our dental plan's 'restorative' allowance. Served with bleu cheese (OK), a house pico (tasteless) and the house hot sauce (tasted like 'out of a jar'), the whole thing was a disappointment.

We like to give every place a couple of visits before commenting but we've decided to put a big "PASS" on this location.  Sorry.  We'll continue our search and recommendations elsewhere.

Sunday, February 19, 2017

Sauce and Impeccable Service - Great Saturday Lunch

Friday night we headed out to one of the new local food & beverage establishments in 'the burbs.'  It was a long week at Marianne's Kitchen and we needed a break.  Plans are good but sometimes the outcome is not.  Our choice for Friday left us disappointed, and as people say "if you don't have anything good to say, don't say anything at all."

Saturday Linda convinced John to head to St. Paul were we regularly find good options.  Stewart's Cafe near St. Thomas was fantastic.

The pannekoeken was thin, nicely textured and garnished with a not-too-sweet fruit topping and home made ice cream.

The grilled cheese is where everything was simply marvelous.  Three cheeses, mantasio, chedder and fontina on substantial grainy bread and a delightful house made aioli defined a wonder treat.  We opted for the 'Korean' fries which were a $1 up charge. The spicy ssamjang sauce was complex and by itself worth the trip and made up for a long week.  We both keep repeating to each other how wonderful the sauce was.  We dipped both the grilled cheese and fries and several times an empty fork.

During the course of our visit we were served by three staff people, all of whom were helpful and attentive.  The facility was immaculate.  Seating is a bit limited and we're sure a wait could occur during busy times.  We're going back to try the dinner menu soon and will make reservations.

Saturday, February 11, 2017

Swede Hollow & Supermercado Y Cafe La Palma

Enchiladas & Cubano

During the warmer months we frequent a Taco truck on the north side of 7th ST just west of downtown St. Paul.  Each time we go there we see a sign for La Palma on the corner of 7th ST and Payne AV and remark "we should try that place."  As we frequently post..."we're always on the search for a decent taco."

Saturday evening we ventured to Supermercado Y Cafe La Palma a supermarket and cafe catering to Salvadoran and Mexican options adjacent to St. Paul's historic Swede Hollow.  The emphasis is on Salvadoran.  We enjoyed browsing the market before and after dinner.  The cafe is located in the back of the supermarket and very much has a local cafe feel.

Sharing the Cubano sandwich and the enchiladas with verde salsa was a good choice.  You order at the counter and you food is delivered to your table in reasonable time.  The staff was pleasant and offered explanations and recommendations.  Overall it was OK, not great, for a casual meal.

John had to resist buying the Tamales from the freezer case despite the great packaging....loved that cow!!

"Pizza by the Slice" Success - Dinkytown

 Mesa Pizza - Dinkytown, USA

Mesa Pizza Dinkytown Putting the 'search for a good taco' on the back burner we headed out Thursday evening on a 'search for good pizza by the slice.'  After accomplishing  the 'find a parking spot' task we walked a block or two in the cold and reminisced a bit about the 'old' Dinkytown.   Turning north on 4th Street, being under dressed for the cold, we eyeballed Mesa Pizza.  Their other location is in Uptown.  The Dinkytown location has been their since 2006 so a decade has passed since we wandered around.  The neighborhood has evolved but Vescio's and Al's Breakfast appear unchanged.

The choices were plentiful and we settled on three slices, a feta cheese and arugula, chicken gyros and a BBQ pork with pickles.  All were picked from the display case, warmed up in about five minutes and ready to eat.  All were good but we found the feta cheese and arugula the 'top' of the three.

No question about it, it's 'campus pizza joint' decor with limited and well-used seating.  Posters and bathroom graffiti reminded us of the importance of fresh thinking, involvement, the arts and's easy to slip away from that.  This was a good reminder and a successful search.  We'll head back there again!!!!