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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.

Monday, April 23, 2018

The Times They Are A Changin'

Whirlwind weekend traveling around east central MN on various errands and activities.   

Small town dining used to be hamburgers, hash browns, and hot beef sandwiches..but, we gleefully say...the times they are a changin'!

Friday night in Chisago City  
The Wagon Wheel Cafe and Pizza has a fairly traditional small town cafe menu plus pizza.  So, we went with Friday night Fish Fry (to check out how well they do the fish) and a veggie omelet.   The fish fry gave us an iceberg salad with a few extra veggies, a really really good baked potato and nicely fried fish--not greasy and not overly heavy on the batter.  But the veggie omelet was overflowing with veggies--peppers, mushrooms, tomatoes, etc----unlike the traditional veggie omelet where you search for a veggie, this was over the top filled with veggies.   Nice Job!!! (the times they are a changin').

Saturday brought us to Sandstone.  John wanted to hand cast clover seed in one of the garden plots, and there is always other work to do, but the day was mostly filled with long conversations with neighbors we haven't seen since before the snow.   

We made it to Sprouts on 5th by 1:20 (they close at 2). This stop reminded me of how long I've been growing organic heirloom veggies.   Sprouts is the local organic cafe in Sandstone.  Many years ago we helped found the local farmers' market.  Back then a cafe serving veggies and organic products would have failed (the times they are a changin').

How people think about food is evolving.  One of the cafe owners regularly stopped by the Saturday morning farmers' market with her little daughter regularly. They live off the grid, hand-dug their own well, and grew much of their own organic food.  Well, that little daughter was our server today---16 years old!!!!   They started Sprouts on 5th in 2015 - in the old Kitty's Corner Cafe.   

Sprouts' menu included:  hippie soup (lentil, kale, sausage). Our server said it was named for her grandparents who were 'old hippies'. The quesadilla had the option of meat or avocado--we opted for the veggie version.  Gluten free breads and wraps available for an extra $1 and there are lots of veggies on the menu.   The lunch was tasty, although a little bit under-seasoned.  It's great to see a Sandstone cafe that threw out the deep fryer!

Then we headed to the Image Art Show in Braham.  The East Central Regional Arts Council show included photography, water colors, oil, cast bronze and more, all the work of local artists.   The fun (and free) event runs through April 27th (10 am to 4 pm).
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All that art browsing and voting for your favorite piece works up an appetite.  So, off to The Grumpy Minnow near Stanchfield.

This place was 100% small town friendly.
Unable to see a spot in the lot we parked the car up the hill.  A server on break shouted "hey, down here" at us and pointed to empty spots out of sight.  TaDa--who turned out to be our server?--yup, you guessed it.

Great service and really, really good food.  Specials every night--tonight was black and bleu steak.---yup, in  a bar/restaurant in Stanchfield.  

  • Nearly everything  in the place is made from scratch, from the sauce for the fish (a little bit sweet but just the right amount of trailing heat light creamy sauce) to the ranch dressing to the chipotle sauce.
  • John opted for the black and bleu ribeye--with

    tons a  bleu cheese (actually, a little bit too much).   
  • The accompanying salad was topped with. essentially, a hole-less raised donut, was fresh, perfectly fried, and just a beautiful pillow of donuty
    goodness (it put the 'fried dough' at the HiLo Diner to shame).   
  • Friday fish to Saturday fish comparison: I ordered the walleye sandwich. The batter was more flavorful than the fish at the Wagon Wheel although slightly overdone. The bun was beautifully
    toasted and the tomatoes were artfully (and I mean artfully--way beyond most restaurant versions) sliced into... 
    curved arcs of tomato beauty.  

  • The Grumpy Minnow kitchen is run by Chef Brent, a Stanchfield local guy. 
  • The overall atmosphere was like Marianne's Kitchen---everyone knew everyone.   
  • The food was way beyond typical 'bar food', especially small town bar food.   
  • Interesting sauces, veggie sides (like a big bowl of beautiful broccoli)...if you've missed this place, it's a great time to put it on your radar (and the snow is gone, so you can actually negotiate the roads!!).
The Times They Are A Changin'
Better Food In More Places!

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