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.

Monday, June 18, 2018

Quiche Comparison: May Day, Coffeeshop NE, and Ox & Crow

How do we choose the places where we return for a 2nd or 3rd or ???? meal??: 

Quality & Value

Let’s compare 3 recent quiche selections...

First up—Ox & Crow in Mahtomedi - a sliver of veggie quiche with garnish $5

ox and crow quiche mahtomedi
Ox & Crow

Second—sun-dried tomato & cheese quiche accompanied by greens with vinaigrette- The Coffeeshop NE Mpls $6

coffeeshop ne quiche
The Coffee Shop NE

Third—broccoli cheddar quiche with greens & vinaigrette - May Day Cafe Mpls $4.95

May Day Cafe quiche
May Day Cafe
Of course our top choice would be the generous portion of quiche filled with actual visible florets of broccoli (plus the best cold brew ever, a top ranking Vietnamese coffee, & jalapeΓ±o cheddar scones that are out of this world) at May Day in Powderhorn.
But, that’s a long drive & we’re working on our part of climate change.

So, our go-to is The Coffee Shop NE. Always an assortment of great quiche & interesting pasta or other side dish salads, excellent coffee, excellent service, & great desserts (plus they installed solar on their roof!!). Also more spacious than Mayday, so a chance to find a seat : )

Coming in last, the skimpy serving of mostly hashbrown ‘veggie’ quiche at Ox & Crow. Very friendly counter help, but average coffee, skimpy portions, & much ‘audible’ discussion of how to cut costs—the discussion should always be on how to retain customers thru quality (followed by adequate portion size). Too much of a carbon footprint driving that far...then having to search for more food when you’re still hungry.

So those are some of the considerations we use when talking about our food experiences.

p.s. we had to bring home half of our quiche from May Day because the portions are enormous (so I guess that cuts our carbon footprint by getting 2 meals from 1 trip—-plus a jalapeΓ±o cheddar scone that had to come along with us.....)

Saturday, June 16, 2018

Mississippi Market Near Swede Hollow

Mississippi Market On Seventh Street

What color is your food???
The American ‘tan food’ diet is so... ummm..TrumpyFrumpyDumpy
Delish organic local brunch at Mississippi Market on East Seventh Street near Swede Hollow
butternut squah lasagna caponat greens with sprounts shakshuka

-butternut squash lasagne
-huevos rancheros
-grilled veggies
-greens with sprouted beans, sweet corn & a light vinaigrette

We love ‘food with color’
butternut squah lasagna caponat greens with sprounts shakshuka

(p.s. for those who say they can't afford organic food...this was $14 for the two meals (and we had sizable portions)....less than most tan food, unless you're dining on the dollar

Saturday, June 9, 2018

Hai Hai / Best Ever Lunch

Bethany didn't tell me I could get Congee!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

Hai Hai in NE Mpls Fantastic!!

A friend from Marianne's Kitchen, Bethany (we forgave her for taking a great job outside the neighborhood...although I think John is STILL sad [John: "Yes."]...thanks Jamie for helping John over this 'rough spot'!) commented on one of our recent reviews that we should get our veggies at Hai Hai.    We listened, have a history of displaying exceptional palate-ability!

It was raining pretty hard this afternoon, so we thought we could actually get in the door at Hai Hai...great hunch on our part...although our server said he expected a 'slower' day because of the rain...he was soooooo disappointed...we nabbed one of the 3 available tables and were thankful for the immediate seating.

Brunch menu on Saturday, so Bethany might not have seen this if she was here for dinner.   The lunch menu includes Congee (John: "a broth or soup made from rice")...and not just one kind, but 2!!
Now Congee is another of those dishes that I tried valiantly to bring to Shoreview...with the usual result.  It was like making Sopa de Fuba (John: "South American cornmeal thickened soup.")...only 1 guy had the 'you know what' to give it a try.   Why did I persist in these efforts to bring people something other than a turkey sandwich on whole wheat?  Ha, I'm not totally out of it (well, some days [John: "Yes, you are not totally out of it."])....when I didn't sell the Congee or Sopa de Fuba or other tantalizing but obscure lunch item...there was plenty left for me πŸ˜ˆ  

So here we are at Hai Hai and right away it's a problem.   The carmelized pork congee OR the mushroom hoo hoo, what to do?????   Start at the top of the alphabet...C before M, so eat the pork congee.   Foolproof method.

Then, I look at John...struggling...Omelette Banh Mi or Vegetarian Banh Mi or Viet Meatball Banh Mi.  Guess what?  The same method works here...order O...who knew the alphabet could be so helpful in food selection?

Hai Hai: Crowded, Expect a Wait...Worth It

It's clear why the line here is often an hour or more for dinner. This place, like Waldmann 1857 is 'the whole package' (but in a totally different way, of course).  This is Chicago seating as I call it (excellent way to pack sardines) don't expect to have a whispery, personal conversation - ka clang!

Hai Hai Decor

Here, the walls are vivid green in a rag design.   Check out the bathroom...spend some time surrounded by parrots and closed behind a painted doors (a gorgeous color) locked with a wood block, or wash your hands in a handled pan enveloped in walls of shells in a 'strong' blue hue.  

Dine in one of the few booths, but more likely...tables that can be moved to accommodate 2 to X number of diners together.   A couple of great windows, perfectly arched by trees, and plants along the sill stacked on patio blocks.  There is also plenty of seating at the bar or on the pleasant outdoor patio.

Hai Hai Service

A soft spoken server arrived quickly, and trying to communicate over the din, we were able to order our lunch and a Viet iced coffee.

The lunch appeared more quickly than I expected based on the number of people shoe-horned into the space.  I barely had time to share a sip of my Viet iced coffee (which is now my alternative to cold brew when I think it's okay to enjoy a few bazillion more calories) with John and lunch was served.

Ah...the Hai Hai Food Arrives

"Be still my heart"...a most gorgeous pork congee...topped with a Chinese cruller.   Now I'm really trying not to pound any more coffin nails into my immediate future, so a deep-fried cruller is not a first choice item.   But give me a break...who could resist a cruller by someone who clearly knows how to fry one?  Crisp, not greasy, snappy outside with a great chewy interior.   This frying skill was evident in the fried garnet yam that John was handing me as I was staring lovingly into my bowl, trying to figure out where to begin.  The most perfectly fried potatoes I've seen in ages.

Hai Hai Minneapolis Deuce Deuce Asian Fusion
Hai Hai Congee
The congee contained fish-sauce carmelized pork, chinese broccoli, radish (today was watermelon...don't know if that's the standard), fried shallots and garlic (also perfect), and a  soft poached egg gently finishing its cooking in the rice porridge, and topped with cilantro.   So gorgeous...the julienned radish and generous cilantro contrasting with the pale congee, dotted with just enough pork and other ingredients to make each bite its own flavor combo.  A little sweetness, a little saltiness, a bit of radish bite, some crunch, some porridgy smoothness...hard to stop but hard to eat a whole bowl.   I HAD to share! [John: "The boring Norwegian side of my head spoke out saying 'I don't know about this' but I overcame it.  The congee was remarkable, diverse in distinct flavors and textures and clearly a dish I would order on then next visit."]

Hai Hai Minneapolis Deuce Deuce Asian Fusion
Hai Hai Banh Mi
John's Banh Mi was a totally different, but equally excellent experience.   A giant sandwich torpedo filled with a puffy omelette with ground pork, pate (again, Shoreview was not ready for a Banh Mi with pate...we just added more easily recognizable carrots for the 'locals'--daikon was too much of a stretch), jicama and carrot, chili jam (yes, those jars of pepper jam we sold were EXACTLY for purposes like this..or in a grilled cheese sandwich πŸ˜‰πŸ˜‰), aioli, big slices of cucumber, and fresh jalapeno rings (yup, with the seeds and ribs/pith/membrane--the hottest part next to the placenta).   

Served with perfectly fried potatoes and garnet yams accompanied by a creamny lime sauce, the Banh Mi was a 'forkworthy' sandwich, if by sheer size alone.   The omelette was the kind of big fluffy one I learned to make in traditional 'home ec' (people under 50, don't ask what home ec is).  John wondered at its' big oval fluffy beautifulness...   You wanted to pick the whole thing up and get a bite of every single ingredient in one mouthful...but that would have been your only mouthful because the thing would have exploded all over us and the restaurant using that technique.   The knife and fork gave John the desired variety of bites in a controlled environment!

Hai Hai Conclusion & Recommendation

To say we would highly recommend our meal would be a woefully poor statement about just how good it was.

I can't believe that between last night and this afternoon, we've had 2 absolutely wonderful meals...about as far apart of the food spectrum as is possible.

I'm now looking for houses for sale within a block of Hai Hai so I can go there every Saturday.   But cousin's AirBnB is right down the street...maybe I'll just book it every Friday night in perpetuity.  We can take her to lunch at Hai Hai every Saturday ("What do you think BK?").

Hai Hai was a wonderful experience for lunch today.   Very good iced Viet coffee (maybe third on the list...Trung Nam #1, Pho 400 #2), hard to find Congee that just also happens to be wonderful Congee, and a Banh Mi spin that will broaden your Banh Mi horizon.

But don't go to Hai Hai on Saturday for lunch...that's when WE want a table!!!!!

Waldmann 1857

Walman 1857 Brewery Wurstery
Waldmann 1857

Waldmann 1857 Brewery and Wurstery

John was back in town late this evening, so we needed an uncomplicated dinner plan.   Good night to try the Waldmann 1857 off West 7th Street in St. Paul.

Walman 1857 Brewery Wurstery
Waldmann Brewery & Wurstery
What a pleasant historic building, the oldest brewery in the Twin Cities, founded by Anton Waldmann in 1857 and re-opened by Tom Shroeder in 2017.  We were seated in the renovated upstairs. The painted floor, wood stove piped into the chimney in the center of the room, vintage 19th century steamboat chairs and divided light windows and soft colors make you feel a if you've settled in at a neighbor's home.  

Be prepared, the room is a little chattery.  If your neighbors are loud or shrill (we had both) there's a lot of sound echoing off the low angled ceilings.

Waldmann 1857 Menu

The menu includes salads, wurst baskets, wurst plates, and planks to share.   The special of the night was pork shoulder topped with pesto  on spaetzle with fresh asparagus.   With that as our 'main course' to share, we added a curry wurst basket and some bock beer to round out the meal...quite a tasty brew.

Time for my wandering to find the kitchen and see what's going on. The kitchen has an open window onto the hallway, so great visibility.  The staff was working away industriously, and I'm going to ignore the one guy who was taking a big bite out of a snack in the middle of the was late and I'll forgive him his slight indiscretion since everything else looked pretty a-ok to me.

I arrived back upstairs a few moments before dinner arrived.   It's such a pleasant room...I told John I could just move in.  Our beautifully plated entree arrived and a cute green basket with the wurst---reminiscent of our baskets at Marianne's.

Waldmann Food Was Fab!

Waldmann 1857 Pork Shoulder
The spicing on the pork was perfect and the pesto on top added to the flavor dimensions with each bite.   We would have preferred nice warm spaetzle (this was just shy of lukewarm) but it was beautiful and flavorful, accompanied by perfectly prepared asparagus.   The curry brat was accompanied by a house mustard, served on an absolutely delightful roll from
Brake Bread.   

Walman 1857 Brewery Wurstery
Walmann Wurst
The brat was experiential eating----plain with just a bite of bun it was tender and flavorful.   Add a smear of the mustard, full of mustard seeds, and the same brat was transformed into a totally different flavor explosion.   We recommend alternating plain, the next with's like two brats in one.

Walman 1857 Brewery WursteryWooden tables, mismatched chairs (lots of captains' chairs), a small whale oil (parrafin) lamp surrounded by a cylinder hurricane...all fit the place and enhanced the experience.

Conclusion:  Waldmann 1857

Charming, efficient service; reasonable fault to be found with any part of the experience (well, maybe the screechy neighbors)

Wednesday, June 6, 2018

El Pariente Food Truck on White Bear Avenue

El Pariente Food Truck is Awesome!!

Linda'a late night 'duck in the oven' was going to be tonight's duck tacos. Wholesale soup and cookie orders changed that plan. 

The El Pariente food truck on White Bear Avenue near Hillcrest Shopping Center beckoned.

El Pariente Food Truck

Cheese Queadilla & Barbacoa Burrito

The cheese quesadilla and barbacoa burrito, enough for four, fed the two of us-leftovers plenty for tomorrow.  The cheese in their quesadilla is like eating stretchy pairs wonderfully with what Linda calls  "my buddy old smokey orange" followed by some bright, lively tomatillo salsa--where the citrusy tomatillo flavor shines through.
El Pariente Food Truck Quesadilla

Tuesday, June 5, 2018

LoLo in Stillwater: Great Reviews Led Us To Expect More

LoLo in Stillwater, MN Disappoints

LoLo American Stillwater MNI was so excited that we had time to go to Lolo in Stillwater tonight.  I've heard so many great things about the food [John: I suggested Victoriano's Pizza in Stillwater.  Linda must have just heard 'Stillwater.'].

Here's the short and sweet. Expectations may have been too high...I came home pretty disappointed [John: I was so disappointed I convinced Linda to stop for a cone on the sad drive home.].

Here's the scoring for LoLo:

Look in the kitchen (not too's right there):   
  • Immediately deduct one point for every obvious food code violation.   4 are obvious, 2 committed by the 'main' cook.    
  • The guy who repeatedly wiped his nose with his hand was not counted.  
  • I did count the cook who was repeatedly eating off the line while prepping food--but I only took off 1 point for the numerous times he committed the same violation. 

LoLo American Stillwater MNFood:  The 'special' fried asparagus was tasty enough...some onion notes, some citrus notes, some herbs, not overcooked.   If only they had brought it out warm.  The little droplets of 'sauce' had hardened onto the plate.

Then we waited for 40 minutes to get 2 tacos with a side of greens and a separate berry salad.    
  • I watched for 30 minutes while essentially no food came out of the kitchen.   
  • The guys in the kitchen were joking, shoving each other a little bit (you know, the thing guys do)...but there was  essentially 30 minutes of standing around.  
  • The very pleasant server, clearly aware of the long, long wait, twice stopped by and said "The asparagus was good, right!"  

I could have lived with that if what was delivered was outstanding...but it just wasn't. 
    LoLo American Stillwater MN
  • The berries on the berry salad were ready to eat on the they should have been blessed and tossed in the compost pile.  
  • The cheese on the salad was excellent and added a nice salty note to the vinaigrette that absolutely needed at least the passing of a salt shaker somewhere close to it.  
  • The side of greens accompanying the tacos (oh, stuck under the stainless taco holder) was not as good as the side of greens from The Coffee Shop NE when you order a piece a quiche for a few dollars.

LoLo American Stillwater MNThe Korean BBQ tacos were perhaps the biggest disappointment (remember, we used to serve K-BBQ tacos as a lunch special at Marianne's Kitchen).   The flour tortillas were cold, the 3 kinds of meat were placed in the taco shell then drowned in a totally salty harsh K-BBQ sauce which was streaming out of the tacos and all over the plate, with some bland white cabbage and some pickled cukes.   There was just not a darn thing that was exceptional about them [John: Linda is being kind.  The salty pork, pork belly and bacon was doused with a heavy, salty Korean sauce.  Bland describes the cabbage and cukes perfectly.  Ever in search of another taco these also lost points for exceptionally blah grocery store tortillas].   I really wanted to like them because I love K-BBQ...but I honestly couldn't.

The 'rosetta' beer was tasty...but they didn't make that.

So, sorry folks, tonight was apparently not the night to eat at Lolo.   

I won't rate it because once you deduct the food code violations, there's not much left to work with.  They would have had to dig themselves out of negative territory, and, in this round, they couldn't pull it off. πŸ˜žπŸ˜žπŸ˜žπŸ˜žπŸ˜ž

Epilogue:  John:  By the time we arrived home  Linda was not really talking.  Following her into the house after a few minutes I heard her quoting Becca from 'The Bachorette' and talking to the stove saying "Let's do the damn thing."
  Apparently a really lame dinner at LoLo was a good reason to put a duck in the oven at 10 PM.  The next time I suggest 'Stillwater' I'll say "Victoriano's Pizza" much louder.

Saturday, June 2, 2018

Tillie's Farmhouse...or how to meet a New Yorker (sort of)

Wanting something fresh to eat away from the burbs and into St. Paul...

Drove around and decided on

This is the old Trotter's on Cleveland at Marshall in St. Paul.   Now, last time we were at Trotter's, we sat down at a table and there was another couple a few tables away.  The woman sobbed through our whole dinner.   We were hoping for a less stressful evening tonight.

There's been some remodeling, although there are still some rough edges.   The building is old and kinda musty...that hasn't changed since the Trotter's days.
Tillie's Farmhouse in St. Paul

A rack of paper menus when you enter...then order at the counter and they hand you a bucket of silverware & napkins with a number painted on a wooden spoon.

Tillie's Farmhouse in St. PaulI really wanted to try the curry bowl...but the menu stated that it might contain 'shellfish' (my allergy), so no go.  The spinach handpie in the cream cheese pastry topped with an egg and accompanied by a salad was my choice.  John, always trying to do something different, clearly wasn't listening [John: "I was"] and said "I'll have the handpie".   Ha...after shaming him over his typical husband-like ability to listen [John: "Rerun"], he decided to go for the parmesan pasta with salad.   Good move!

Food Safety Passes the Test 

at Tillie's Farmhouse

The food came out so quickly that I barely had time to check out the kitchen (and that's my duty, I think).  I was pleased that prep staff were wearing gloves, using tongs, and being very careful not to touch the prepared food with their digits.   Good job....very reassuring.

Service & Food is Great 

at Tillie's Farmhouse

The server, who had a quick sense of humor (John tests these things...on purpose???  Who knows?[John: "Yes"]) brought the food out so fast that I wasn't sure it was really our order.  But it was!

Tillie's Farmhouse in St. Paul
Tillie's Farmhouse Handpie
My handpie (almost more of an open square tart) was well baked to a nice crispy finish.  The spinach on top was a little crispy, with the spinach and potatoes in the middle roasted and tender.   It was plated on a pool of cauliflower puree and was accompanied on an oval plate by a nicely dressed fresh salad of baby greens, some shaved carrot, and what turned out to be rye crumbs (not big croutons).  These added a really nice contrast to the salad.    Everything on my plate was delish...and after sharing a measly bite with John...I made it all disappear.

Tillie's Farmhouse in St. Paul
Tillie's Farmhouse Past With Spring Vegetables
Same for John (although I think I stole a slightly larger bite).  He had campanielle with parmesan 'fondue' and topped with a tomato conserve...really more of a rich topping of sundried tomato (traditional conserve contains nuts...not the case here) and spinach and some scallions.   The pasta was accompanied by a slightly larger salad in a separate bowl, composed of the same ingredients.

We both pronounced our dinners 'excellent'.

New Yorker Friendliness at Tillie's Farmhouse

Now, about that 'sort of' New Yorker.   As we left, a woman was sitting at an outside table enjoying a big, creamy iced coffee and a beautiful piece of bread/cake.  It was so beautiful that we asked her what it was...she cut off a piece and offered it to us to share.   I love this woman already πŸ˜‹

So, we ended up having a 20 minute conversation 
with an English professor from SUNY, by way of Florida, Georgia, and North Carolina (not necessarily in that order).   She did 'Beowulf' and, of course, I did Chaucer...while we munched blueberry bread/cake and enjoyed a beautiful evening in St. Paul.

This Visit:  Tillie's Farmhouse = 4.8 Stars ... Throw in this friendly New Yorker it's a solid 5 Stars!

Tillie's Farmhouse in St. Paul

Tillie's Farmhouse in St. Paul

Himalayan Restaurant on Lake ST - Meh At Best

Veggies..."Where I can find some veggies for dinner?"

Himalayan Restaurant on Lake Street Disappointed

Himalayan Restaurant on Lake Street

Veggie-pursuit...not breaded, not deep-fried, maybe an interesting sauce.......

Let's give the Himalayan Restaurant a try...Nepalese food should satisfy my need for veggies.

Not too crowded, and a few places in the parking lot...we headed inside and were seated at a nice quiet corner table with windows above.   The deep ledge held plants in great pots and an assortment of other items.   We also had a great view of the hanging baskets that brightened the patio.

Himalayan Restaurant on Lake StreetHimalayan Restaurant on Lake StreetLots of veggie-based choices, so I quizzed the server about the difference between the asparagus with potato vs the eggplant with potato.  Glad I asked...even though the descriptions were almost identical, the asparagus apparently came with no sauce (not really sure how this would be).   So I chose the eggplant in mild-medium sauce (it's been a tough day....that was as much spice as I thought I could handle).   John chose the veggies in curry sauce with medium to hot spicing...and smartly, he added dumplings as an appetizer.  This turned out to be the best decision of the evening.

Himalayan Restaurant Disappoints

Himalayan Restaurant on Lake Street
Himalayan Restaurant Dumplings
We waited for awhile...then awhile longer.   Honestly, the wait was too long for an appetizer in a place that was only 1/3 full...nearly 15 minutes.  We had veggie dumplings filled primarily with broccoli and finely diced onion.   They came with a slightly too salty sauce that didn't really pair well with might have been better dancing with some meat dumplings.  So, we enjoyed the dumplings on their own.

Himalayan Restaurant on Lake Street
Himalayan Restaurant on Lake Street
Then another wait...maybe another 5-10 minutes after we finished the appetizer...and the two ramekins arrived plus a ramekin of rice.   John immediately thought the portions were too stingy for the price...about $13.95 per entree.  But we dug in, each starting with a little of both dishes.   

First things was pretty hard to tell that John's dish was 2 steps up in 'heat' from mine.   Overall mine had a nice level of spicing, while his was mostly mild then you'd hit a bite of hot pepper.   That was pretty inconsistent.

Himalayan Restaurant on Lake StreetJohn's dish had a more pleasant flavor...nice amount of curry in a smooth creamy sauce.   But, the dish was 75% sauce.   By contrast, my dish had both a 'bottom of the pot' sense which made it too intense,  plus the bitterness that happens with eggplant and coriander when you don't have enough of something sweet (or at least bland) as an offset.  My dish, like John's, had a really stingy veggie to sauce ratio.   I had exactly one diced square of potato...John said he found 3 in his part of my dish.   More potato would have offset some of the bitter notes on my plate.  Johns' dish had some cauliflower and tomato, a bit of spinach, and some onion.   Both dishes really ended up being two ramekins of sauce with a small portion of veggies in each.

My dish suffered from the additional problem that it was inconsistent across the ramekin.  When I reached the opposite end from where I began, then I was 'rewarded' with 2 bites of fennel seed.   There was one bite of herb at the end, too.   The first 4/5 of the dish lacked any of these elements.

We'd say we were disappointed.  We went out seeking veggies and ended up with 2 ramekins of sauce with a smattering of mostly overcooked veggies in each.   My sauce was too aggressive (probably been in the pot awhile) and in both, the veggies had spent too much time in the hot tubs from which they were plucked.

The dumplings were solid...the accompanying sauce was a mismatch.

Himalayan Restaurant on Lake StreetWe found it spendy at $34 for the 2 skimpy entrees and an appetizer dumpling plate, especially since our dinner was mostly sauce.  The environment was pleasant, especially in the evening with the setting sun through the windows, but the service, while friendly, mostly consisted of bringing the plates and then never returning.

This Visit: Himalayan Restaurant Overall Rating:  2.5 stars