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.

Saturday, March 31, 2018

If it isn't one thing it's another..

After three days of being out of my head with a bad cold, the virus in my head decided to extend my pain.  We work really hard to find new and interesting  places to eat, drink coffee and ponder our next food business.  Today I suggested a drive to Hudson, WI.   

Our destination was the Wired Robin.  A recent ownership change had produced good reviews.  The Bird's Nest, an egg and goat cheese offering sounded fine for a Saturday lunch.  Downtown Hudson is very popular and was devoid of parking.  As Linda negotiated into a snow-filled spot I jumped out of the car and in a flash a Volvo pulled into our destination.  Had I not been under the weather this would have prompted a quick reaction and a direct man-to-man conversation (one way).  My head was cloudy and I stood there stupid-like.

We ended up parking a block or two away and walked into the brisk northwest wind.  Entering the Wired Robin it had that old building, sort of funky coffee shop feel.  That would have been fine but there are only four or five tables and each one was occupied with one person nursing their coffee and staring into their computer.  Other internet reviews have mentioned that same problem.  Turning to my chaffeur I offered "I'm out of here."

Now we were hungry and headed into the next food stop immediately across the street to the north.  The Agave Kitchen is branded as Tex Mex.  Our waitron
was very good but it's standard bar food.  Linda had the pulled pork.  The seasoned pork was fine, but like most barbecue outlets they serve it up on the cheapest white-bread bun on the planet.  It was accompanied by coleslaw which was primarily dressing, bad tortilla chips and salsa on a par with stewed tomatoes out of a can.

I had the BLT salad which was featured on their
'winter specials' menu.  The flip side was the 'March specials' which featured a Mexican Cobb Salad; that may have been better.  Beyond being big the $9 BLT salad was unremarkable, overdressed and somewhat salty with far more bacon than one should eat in a day. We like to give a place a couple of visits...perhaps the April Specials will up the ante.

Leaving Hudson we headed up WI 35 to enjoy the rolling hills and farmland.  As we neared Osceola I was reminded of another WI destination that I wish we'd not visited.  The Watershed Cafe is cute and beautifully situated over a deep ravine.  During that visit we ordered at the counter and I took the employee's recommendation of the Reuben sandwich.  I did not finish it.  Actually I stopped eating it after three or four bites.  Had we been sitting outside on the deck mine would have gone into the ravine...actually 'down in the holler' as they say.

My mother used to say "If you can't say anything nice don't say anything at all."  I've said far too was not nice but it was true.  I'll wrap this review up with "the drive through the rolling farmland of Wisconsin was very nice." 

Friday, March 30, 2018

Mayday! Mayday!

Mayday!! Mayday!!

We love May Day.   We've noticed that there are a lot of places around the Twin Cities that turn out the best food with very little equipment and in miniscule spaces.   These folks really know how to cook/bake/create.

Birthday 'brunch' for me at May Day this week.   Before you pick your meal option, you ALWAYS start with a jalapeno cheddar scone if there is one available.   Pieces of jalapeno in a moist, bumpy-textured scone that is baked to perfection with a crunchy 'outside'.   These may be one of the more outstanding scones ever on the face of the Earth.

....and a nice, smoooooooth cold press to wash that down.

marianne's kitchen May Day ShoreivewOh, and we get meals, too?????

I went for the spinach and feta quiche with greens in a light vinaigrette.   Always get quiche at a

place where they know how to make a crust....this is the place.   A huge slice of quiche filled with spinach, great texture...crust like something Jim Felger would have made...sigh.

shoreview  Marianne's Kitchen May DayJohn opted for the breakfast burrito...smothered in a flavorful sauce.   Brimming with fine-cut rectangles of assorted veggies, it's the right balance of a bite of filling with some tortilla all dipped in a bit of tomato-y sauce.    It's hard to stop reaching for the next bite.

We find that having a bite of scone in between bites of breakfast is heavenly perfection.

You can't leave without a bag of baked goodies 'for the road'.   The chocolate croissant was perfectly baked and encased wonderful rich chocolate.  The seven layer bar skipped the usual graham cracker crust for a pastry crust topped with pecans and chocolate and ... sorry, have to stop to take a bite.   The bar is thick and GIGANTIC.

...and you need one more jalapeno cheddar scone.....for later.

We have never been disappointed in anything we've ordered at May Day (May Day baked goods are also available at Matchbox in NE, a little bit shorter drive from Shoreview).

May Day is a neighborhood place, always bustling with activity.....because the quality is consistent...consistently outstanding.  Like at the former Marianne's Kitchen, the clientele were talking and having conversations and laughing.

The jaunt from here to Powderhorn takes a little while.....but always worth the drive.  Outstanding.

Monday, March 26, 2018

Oasis Cafe / Stillwater

Driving in Stillwater is a breeze now that the new bridge has eliminated downtown traffic.  Of course one of our favorite stops is the Oasis Cafe which is on the southern fringe of Stillwater.

We really like their breakfast salads but tonight opted elsewise.  Linda had the Mexican Haystack of two eggs over hashbrowns with a nice complement of green peppers, tomatoes, onions, pepperjack cheese, pico de gallo, chili con carne and sour cream.  She was kind and shared.  John went with the pork belly street tacos and a side of mixed fruit.  Two tacos were presented, very amptly
filled with most and flavorful pork belly, pico de gallo, pineapple, Mexican cheese and onions.  Tortillas often make the taco and that 'make' was missing tonight.

Recently undergoing a major rennovation, more of a tear-down and build,
The Oasis now has a new full-service bar with a opening overhead garage door which will enhance outside dining as winter winds down.

Tuesday, March 20, 2018

Steams & Treats #2 ...WOW!!

Linda has been in pursuit of great food finds in one of the 'world cities.'  No doubt nary a drive-thru window, microwaved 'entre' or 'fast food' establishment experienced her visit.  Certainly details will appear in the next couple of days.

After two days of toiling away on a rather ofscure IT challenge I needed a break.  As I walked into Steams & Treats, the owner,  Angie, greeted me.  "Aren't you Linda's husband?  Tell her to come in!"  During our first visit we more or less ordered one of everything.  Not everyone does that.

Today I ordered the potsticker combo of three potstickers and a choice of salad.  From visit #1 I knew
the potstickers were large with wonderful pork filling and the dough was very nice.  This is a potsticker that sets a real standard, not the crusty (or disintigrating) version found in the steam tables of oh so many buffets.

Becca's Sweet Ginger Salad was the choice in Visit #1 and it was tempting to go for a repeat but consideration had to be given to the other two options. Ida's Garden Salad would have been fine but Angie's Cold Noodle Salad spoke out..."pick me pick me pick me!"  The wonderful egg noodles, head lettuce, spinach, pickled carrot and daikon, cilantro, scallion onion, shiitake mushroom and sesame really made the day.  Angie asked me how I liked it and said she makes this for her friends who come to visit.  In the theme of "pick me, pick me, picke" I responded "this is excellent this is excellent this is excellent."

A few minutes later a woman walked in for a donut kick and asked me if I'd have the food.  Without a moment's hesitation I stood and did my Vanna White best pointing out my favorites on the menu on the wall.  The customer looked at my plate and said "that is beautiful that is beautiful that is beautiful."

Not that I needed it but the apple fritters also called out to me.  Over the years I've been disappointed in
a lot of fritters but this was outstanding.  My plan was to carry it home in a bag and eat it later but really...if 'later' never happens this fritter is what you missed, that would be bad.  Nicely done and full of apples and huge.

Visit #3 might be tomorrow for lunch (or until 7:00 PM).

Friday, March 9, 2018

"Steams & Treats"... a great lunch!!

Hats off to Angie!!!  

Angie, owner of Donuts Deluxe  (East of Cafe Cravings and Highway 61 on CR E) has  added food  and renamed it as Steams and Treats  (not that donuts aren't food---I can make a meal out of a fritter or chocolate iced fried cinnamon roll--and those are the calories of a WHOLE meal each!!).

Two major food categories...savory and location...awesome. 

Steams and Treats Potstickers Marianne's Kitchen
Everyone who walked in today for their regular apple fritter immediately developed a dual-personality disorder.   One guy came in specifically for the pot stickers.  The next 2 guys were there for their donut for his grandkids.  After showing them our food (we had quite the variety on the table) they ordered food to-go (hey, we're here to serve, market, pitch...).

Seating is might have to take it to go when they're busy.  This is a recent change in offerings.  They're just getting the hang of this, so be prepared to wait a few minutes for your order.

Steams and treats bao Marianne's Kitchen
Kale Mushroom Tofu Bao
Angie makes the potsticker and bao doughs--the bao dough is a little thicker than the potsticker dough.  Choosing what to put inside...well...all options were tempting...teriyaki pork, curry chicken, ground pork and scallion, kale mushroom tofu (our selection), and Chinese chive and egg.  Potstickers are pork (classic) or kale (vegetarian).   

Becca's sweet ginger salad Marianne's Kitchen
Sweet Ginger Salad
Platters are accompanied by fried rice or one of three salad choices (Ida's Garden with romaine, cranberries, parmesan and more; Becca's sweet ginger salad (our choice) with granny smith apples, romaine, avocado, red onion and more with a mild ginger dressing; or Angie's cold noodle salad (that's our first choice next time) with egg noodles, pickled carrots and daikon, shiitake mushrooms, scallions....... 

Steams and Treats Banh Mi Marianne's Kitchen
Banh Mi
We also opted for a pork Banh Mi (choice of chicken, pork or tofu)...generous portion of pork and cucumber...the jalapeno was not overpowering and the daikon carrot slaw was delish.   We'd say quite close to the Banh Mi at Pho 400 in generous ingredients--this one doesn't have the great smoky flavor of the Pho 400 sandwich, but it more generous than the Trung Nam Banh Mi...we had quite the conversation with other customers discussing the virtues of each of the great Banh Mi's available to us folks on the east side of the Mississippi.  Steams and Treats holds their own in this category.

John devoured the slaw---absolutely great.  We loved the sweet ginger salad, the kale mushroom bao was incredibly good as were the HUGE potstickers, and we already noted that the Banh Mi is solid.

The only room left for a fritter or chocolate frosted fried cinnamon roll.  Life is just so darn hard.

Steams and Treats Marianne's Kitchen

Sunday, March 4, 2018

un magnifique dejeuner...lunch at L'Etoile du Nord

Vous rappelez-vous le gout de la nourriture? 

Do you remember the taste of food?   We rediscovered it today at L'Etoile du Nord.

Endive & pear gratin with stoemp (root veggie mash) and beets with caraway for me, a French-style omelet with beets and onions for John.

Perfect, wonderful, exquisite.......

As a teenager, my friend and I would take the train to Minneapolis on Tuesdays (our day off from work) and dine at a wonderful restaurant for lunch.  Charlie's Cafe Exceptionale, Murray's (home of the silver butter knife steak), various white tablecloth hotel restaurants---where they served your boeuf bourguignon tableside, ladling it onto your plate with a bit of a flourish.

Yeah, those days are long gone...except maybe right here in Bayport at this moment in time.

Perhaps one of the most exquisite meals I've enjoyed in a long, long time.   One bite of the pear...with its wine-kissed  get-your-attention flavor....slightly cooked but still crisp...paired with beautiful endive, a bit of ham and wonderful cheese that had its edges slightly crisped under the broiler...incroyable.

The sophisticated texture of John's omelet...filled with beets and onions....was a trip to Europe on a substantial white 'plate' paired with perfectly prepared heirloom fingerlings.  Not the greasy American rolled up sheet of 'scrambled' eggs...instead, in the French tradition---puffy, no trace of the intersection of the egg white and yolk----a singular-hued, enticing pillow of egg and veggie...tender and light.  Julia Child & Jacques Pepin would approve.

So, yes, apparently there is still a bit of food in Minnesota.   This ephemeral memory will stay with me as I travel to Europe this search of food, as I remember it, and as it can be.

Saturday, March 3, 2018

Five Watt Coffee...6 Stars on the Wascally Wabbit!!!!

John couldn't find the place he wanted to go, so Plan B kicked in.
Five Watt Coffee Marianne's Kitchen Shoreview

Five Watt Coffee in converted industrial buildings on E. Hennepin has pretty tight parking.  Either there's already been parking disputes or the landlord is proactive---there are assigned/signed spaces for each of the tenants.   Don't try to find parking at a busy time.

This is industrial decor top to bottom.  Partially exposed walls, uneven concrete floor, exposed everything.  But big southern exposure windows bring a nice glow (but might be killers in the summer).  Lots of counter seats, a few small tables and one very large table that can be shared by many.  The
typical computer zombies that inhabit all coffeehouses were present in abundance.   Luckily, we caught a table as 2 guys were packing up to leave.

Order at the counter from stained paper menus.....a very short selection of food, a big selection of beverage options.

Hunger gnawing at us since we couldn't find the other place John was looking for, we quickly picked two menu items in hopes of getting food before turning into old people slumped on the floor.  We added two beverages and grabbed the only table that was going to be available in this decade.

Cold press came up immediately in a tall Libby classic faceted glass; John's mocha took a little longer....served in a giant rounded white cup.....a little too much for the old guy to carry without spilling : (    But the staff was quick with a mop and a wet floor sign...problem solved.

The cook prepared the food and then brought it to our table.   We were thinking 'average experience' as we awaited the bites that were going to keep us upright.   We were very pleasantly surprised!   

The 'wascally wabbit' was 'weally dewicious'.  At Marianne's, Anne made the most consistent, tidy sandwiches on the planet.   The 'wascally wabbit' would be good competition for Anne.   It had finely shredded carrot (like 'weally' finely shredded), pickles, cream cheese spread,
arugula.....everything was layered into a sandwich artform---layers of veggies and cream cheese spread--both beautiful and, amazingly, perfectly held together so that not even a little shred of veggie fell out of the sandwich when you ate it.   Much of the credit also goes to the perfectly toasted rye---finally, another place on earth where the bread has flavor.   That darn 'wascal' scored a 6 on a five point scale. [ John complimented the cook, admitting that he was smiling at the was so delicious]

The gochujang dog followed along after the speedy 'wascal' making a complete contrast in our lunch.   The dog was piled high with sriracha slaw (I didn't really get the gochujang essence here---more of a creamy, sriracha-spiced slaw--very tasty with some
kick, but not gochujang).   The dog barked---'use a fork!'  (which we did).   Good slaw, a decent dog (although it was a little salty)....but the best part--the throwback bun.    

I'm going to date myself now - and I don't know how I remember these details of things from the 1960's when I was surely only 1 or 2 years old.   But for St. Paulites, maybe some of you remember WT Grant department store in downtown St. Paul.   In the back corner was the little grill that served big beautiful hot dogs on a New England style bun (the kind you use for lobster rolls--if I could eat a lobster roll).   The 'bun' is essentially like folded white bread with a square bottom that can be grilled (like the tastiest of grilled cheese sandwiches) but also stands up dutifully holding, in the case, a pile of ingredients.  The WT Grant throwback to my childhood was a nice memory---a grilled bun surrounding a decent dog that you uncovered with your fork.  Delightful.

Overall, we'd give Five Watt 4 out of 5 stars.   The 'wascal' was a 6, the dog was a 3.5, the mocha was good but lukewarm, so dock some points there.  The cold brew, different from most & in a lighter style, probably a 3.5.   

Certainly worth a visit (with a small car in an off-peak time--but they're open from sun-up to sun-down, so this should be possible).

Friday, March 2, 2018

South St. Paul's Solid Choice....wishFull

aw...our favorite food guy was going home when we walked into wishFULL tonight...that guy really knows how to cook!

Many tables full of diners tonight...the kitchen seems to be rolling out dishes on a good schedule.

Breakfast for dinner-lots of omelet plus an item from column 1 and one from column 2 - John's going with this one--or 1 item from each of the four columns....or, ooh, gluten free breakfast sammies served on a cake of cheese grits----that's for me!

A veggie omelet with a biscuit and gravy and spinach hashbrowns fill out John's order; I'm going with the pulled pork 'sammie' served on a grits cake with sour cream, salsa, egg, & cilantro.

John didn't even color the paper tablecloth with the crayons far, so good 😁 [I forgot my color Sharpies]

Our meals arrived after a bit and, of course, it was too much food.   But we did our best.

John's veggie omelet was full of mushrooms, onion, red and green peppers.   The side of spinach hashbrowns was gorgeous---with lots of spinach tonight.   Yummy.

My pulled pork 'sammie' was not quite what I expected.  The pulled pork had apparently been deep fried--so it had the taste of fryer oil.  That was a little disappointing.   And I couldn't figure out what was missing, but no egg appeared anywhere on my plate.  But there was more than enough options on my plate...not to worry.   

The grits cake was totally fabulous.   Creamy in the center, with a nicely browned external and just enough fried crunch to keep you coming back for another bite.   I opted for a side of fresh fruit--yup, the grapes had actually been washed!    The big pieces of fresh pineapple were delish, as were the abundant blueberries--too many to count.   Salsa and sour cream rounded out the players---each adding it's flavor and texture to the experience.

Overall, this meal rated 3 out of 5 stars.   The high points were the wonderful spinach hashbrowns, the really fresh fruit, an attractive veggie omelet and wishFULLY great grits cake.   The downsides were the missing egg, the deep fried pork (didn't really need to be fried) and a rather ordinary biscuit and gravy.  The meal would have scored 4 if not for the pork and if an egg in any style had arrived with its friends on the plates.

But wishFULL offers many selections not found in most of the other reasonably priced dining places around town.  We continue to be huge fans of the butternut squash voodles with gorgonzola cream and the many ways you can put a meal together - columns of choices to mix and match.   We're going to keep working our way through the menu--this was actually the first time I noticed the gluten free 'sammies' served on grits cakes...there were a couple of other 'sammie' options---we'll invite one of them into our mouths next time.

wishFULL--still a solid choice.