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, August 27, 2018

Pig Ate Someone's Pizza...but not mine..I'm not sharing

Pig Ate My Pizza in Robbinsdale

Pig Ate My Pizza

The taller 'Brit' was pressed into service to move furniture at our house this morning...we figured it was practice...they're moving next month so they have to get into practice for lots of schlepping, even if they're only moving 1 block.  

And now my mother-in-law's classic oak BR set (each piece must have been made out of a whole human can lift these pieces alone) is no longer parked in my living room and has taken its place in the Brit's old room.  He's been out of the nest for a while but he did take the last remnants from his childhood closet---life is good. 👍 It was time to pick up the other 'Brit' and head to lunch.

John's first suggestion was dicey...luckily the kitchen was closed today (the food goddesses were watching over us) [John: "It's a good place.  Schuller's TavernNext time!"]   

So, 'Plan B'...

We headed to Pig Ate My Pizza in Robbinsdale.

Pig Ate My PizzaWhew...last time we stopped here, they were closed for the day.  We were happy to find the door open and seats available at the long wooden group tables that fill the place.

Pig Ate My PizzaChalkboard menus over the counter and along the wall, lots of beer choices...great upbeat staff having a good time at work.

One server gave us the rundown...10 inch thin crust Neapolitan-style pizza or a couple of choices of brioche crust pizza; salads; ribs with slaw; wings...and many, many, many beer selections.

The boys had beer---a citrusy IPA for the Brit and a 'geezer' for the geezer [John:  "Family dining warrants a beer."].   Needed to have one of each style of pizza, so the Madame Piggy (a croque madame pizza) and the Chasing Amy plus a spicy salad to share.

Pig Ate My PizzaMadame Piggy...I am speechless...maybe because I was too busy savoring this to waste time with mere words.   Among the best pizzas ever.   A brioche 'crust' topped with maple gruyere, ham, more cheese, two soft poached eggs and served on a bed of arugula, with a hint of nutmeg.   I would drive to Robbinsdale any day for this masterpiece of creamy rich goodness on the brioche crust that was fluffy and donuty and delish. 

Pig Ate My PizzaThe Chasing Amy was a great pizza...but slightly confusing.  Billed as finocchio, asparagus, heirloom tomatoes, lemon...the flavor profile was not at all what we expected.   There was asparagus and a few tomato slices, but a predominance of tiny pickled veggie...but it was not really identifiable.  Our best guess was pickled asparagus...but that would leave us with no finocchio, and we definitely found no finocchio flavor anywhere.  Instead, there were some nasturtium leaves and a creamy lemon sauce on top.  

The crust edges were a little too crusty...probably explains why some reviews take off points for their 'hard crust'.   The flavors were pleasant and approachable, but not in the flavor family that we thought would arrive.   C'est la vie!

The salad was also a surprise.   Lots of fresh greens with a really spicy, peppery dressing...well and evenly dressed.   Some sliced cucumbers, toasted oats, a bit of strawberry and candied cashew...a delightful, eye-opening salad.
Pig Ate My Pizza

A very fine lunch outing with the 'Brits'...
  • the more persnickety Brit found his beer quite good
  • the 'geezer' was apparently not a taste that the geezer in our party enjoyed.   
  • the salad spun some greens with a variety of textures and flavors to take it out of the ordinary
  • their Neapolitan pizza brought some expected and unexpected flavors to the table
  • the star of the show was the Madame Piggy...creamy, flavorful, the slight sweetness of the brioche intermingled with the poached egg running through every bite.   An absolute palate pleaser.   I would have been happy if I only had 1 slice of this little bit of heaven as my entire lunch..really, it was that good.

The whole Travail Group may be regrouping...moving to larger locations to accommodate their backlogged never-ending crowd at Amusements, so look for some changes in locations in the future. Interesting food is accompanied by success...what a concept!!

Pig Ate My Pizza

Pig Ate My Pizza

Pig Ate My Pizza

Pig Ate My Pizza

Monday, August 20, 2018

Foodie Saturday: D'Amico (Roseville) for Brunch, Mangos (Osceola) for Dinner

Some Saturdays turn out to be great foodie Saturdays.   This was one of them!

Brunch: D'Amico in Roseville

Dinner: Mangos in Osceola, WI

A great foodie Saturday brings at least one interesting recipe on TPT cooking shows.  


Kevin Belton, with a new 26 episode cooking series on TPT,  is one of the fun new faces that brings his special personality to the kitchen, and today he was doing mirlitons!!!!   

mirolitionsYou ask..."Did you ever serve mirlitons at Marianne's?"  Okay, once again, you didn't ask...but...yes, yes we did.  The first offering was mirliton pickles, 4 or 5 years ago and many times over the years. 

Kevin was making mirliton gazpacho...not in my Marianne's repertoire but it will be in the future.   Watching Kevin, I had momentary doubts as the blender created a slurry with a decidedly off-putting green tinge.   But with some tomato juice, the 'mirliton veggie slurry' and a giant bowl of fresh veggies, you want to reach through the screen and steal the bowl.   Time was pressing to meet the 'Brits' so I'll have to catch the interesting mirliton options on a re-run.

Brunch at D'Amico

Now we think D'Amico in Roseville has its ups and downs.   We've had pretty decent dishes there and some that we found nearly inedible.  So, we were rolling the dice today...lucky Saturday.

We chose from a range of items on the brunch menu and one of the salads in the case. The salads are better early in the day before they the case.

Nothing disappointed today.   The bread puddinggy French toast with fresh fruit was superior.  We all took some bites from the generous serving and pronounced it Delish!   

The tall 'Brit' chowed down on a beautiful breakfast sandwich...almost more than he could  finish...but he bravely gave it his all.   

The breakfast pizza was adorned with high quality, non-harsh sausage with spinach, eggs & cheese on a perfectly oven-fired crust.  So large that some of it had to come home and move into our refrig.   

The salad was composed of fresh mozz, chickpeas, tomatoes, onion, green beans, asparagus....delightful...and large enough to come home and spend time hanging out with the extra pizza.

One of the best meals we've had at D'Amico.  Kudos!

John Redeems Himself on Osceola Dining...Mangos

Toward the end of the day, we thought we should grab one more meal.  We contemplated just digging in the refrig and pronouncing it dinner.   But John has nursed some Norwegian guilt since last year when we drove to Osceola on a tip about a place that was supposed to have a great Reuben.   

Right down the block from the DQ, we would have been better off with a DQ Fan Food 'entree' and a blizzard.  Both places had teenagers 'preparing' the food...couldn't really tell the difference between DQ and the place we actually chose [John: "Never take a food recommendation from a teenager."]

So, a little trepidation that we would screw up our perfect food Saturday by trying the new place in Osceola.   But that Norwegian guilt will hang on forever if you don't move we decided to try a little food therapy.

Mangos Osceola WIMangos Mainstreet Eatery opened in 2018 in what appears to be a bar in downtown Osceola.  We fortunately scored a parking space within a block...didn't know there was a brew fest going on...right behind Mangos.

Entering the very busy restaurant where we were
greeted by several large flamingos from various parts
Mangos Osceola WI
of the tinned wall, high tin ceiling space, softened by an overstuffed sofa, lots of art on the walls, paper lanterns on the ceiling lights, and, surprisingly, cloth table black or further soften the space...overall, very inviting.

Mangos Osceola WI

Most of the tables were occupied by people who seemed to have just arrived en masse since very few had food in front of them.   Seat yourself tonight, so we grabbed a nice quiet table near the old bar for a little privacy...the other tables were stuck in the middle of the room which was not appealing.

The two servers were in full service mode, moving non-stop, taking good care of everyone.   We ordered beer...the Bent Paddle was sold we made a second choice.. a 'moose' time to take note...we wanted to get an order in while we had a second of the servers' attention.  

The drinks arrived quickly; good thing we took the same approach with ordering...we were ready when a server could pause in her cruising the room.  Lots of variety on the menu, so we sampled from three parts to get a view of what they're doing.

Philly Egg Roll

Who could pass up a Philly egg roll...a little work of art?  We pondered it for a minute...  The big, fat, crisp egg roll was filled with beef and onion, and presented on a giant artful schmear of cheez whiz...and then adorned with a delightful salsa topped with fresh cilantro and some pickled jalapeno slices.   

Mangos Osceola WI Philly Egg Roll

The egg roll wrapper distinctly reminded us of the State Fair, with a donut-like flavor with crisp texture and loaded with beef.  We thought about the cheez whiz for a second...then pronounced it absolutely correct.  The traditional Philly, the cheese steak sandwich is slathered in cheez whiz.   

We wondered what other compliment could have been on the plate (the salsa was delish and tossing a jalapeno slice in with a bite of egg roll gave a harmonious result)...then we decided that this salsa tied the Philly and an egg roll concept into Mangos' overall  theme.   Yup, we liked it👍

Cuban Chicken Bowl

Mangos Osceola WI Cuban Chicken BowlMain dishes arrived a little too quickly, but better  than too late when it's busy.   John had the Cuban chicken bowl...another twist on something we all know and something new.   Grilled chicken highlighted with a chipotle sauce on a bed of sort of 'dirty rice' with corn and black beans, topped with a chilled mango salsa on top.   Pretty to look at--John was staring at other tables before he ordered---and a successful melding of concepts into a new dish.   He thought that a little more chicken and a little less rice would have perfected the balance and would have preferred a little less chipotle sauce, but he pronounced it good enough to remove his Norwegian guilt from last year's Osceola food adventure.

Mac & Cheese Pulled Pork

My choice doesn't seem to really have the same ties to the overall concept that our other two choices attained, but we were sampling across the menu, so had to throw in a sandwich option.   The  mac & cheese pulled pork sandwich would fit on a lot of menus these days.  

Mangos Osceola WI Mac and cheese pulled pork

A great rustic bread excellently grilled filled with pulled pork with just a bit too much BBQ sauce and a nice portion of mac & cheese.   A really good sandwich...too big to eat!   I decided to work on 1/2 and see if between 2 people we could polish off the was a valiant effort...we only fell a little short.   

The side of fries were herbed and mostly crispy but disappointing.  Next time I'd opt for the see if it, too, tied the main theme on the plate into something 'mangoey'.  This might be a good place for a side option like the salsa on the appetizer...the freshness would contrast with the heavy nature of the sandwich.   But the sandwich was well-executed.

Foodie Day Redemption

  • So, a great food day.  
  • John was able to shake off his Norwegian guilt over his previous Osceola dining choice
  • Mirliton reminders of Marianne's
  • D'Amico scored an A
  • Mangos put an interesting spin on some more standard food ideas---and pulled them off successfully overall
  • There are a few things in our refrig for tomorrow to remind us of the good day we had today.  

Thanks Mangos, for a great ending to a great day.   We'll be back.

Saturday, August 18, 2018

The Coffee Shop NE ... Consistently a Pleasure

I just have to post these photos....
The Coffee Shop NE 
We made sandwiches for 7 years at Marianne's Kitchen, so we appreciate a gorgeous sandwich.

This masterpiece is hummus & veggie on toasted multi-grain at The Coffeeshop NE. Pickle & veggie chips included.

The Coffee Shop NEFor 7 years I tried hard every week to innovate in salad creations. Coffee shop NE always pushes that same salad envelope, today with apricot chicken salad (& I only put apricots in the pepper jelly & house-made sauces for pork sandwiches —-I gotta up my game!!!!)

The Coffee Shop NEAnd just ignore that little piece of ‘appetizer’ —- we often start our meal there with a thick chunk of quick bread—always many choices — each with a great combo of ingredients. it’s a perfect partner for their awesome cold brew.

The Coffeeshop NE continues to model what it means to be a great neighborhood small business!!

Friday, August 17, 2018

Rojo Mexican Grill - St. Louis Park

Rojo Mexican Grill St. Louis Park MN

Dinner with the 'Brits' tonight at Rojo Mexican Grill in the Shops at West End in St. Louis Park.  

The Shops at West End are a retail developers dream...lots of stores and restaurants and parking ramps...but like all developments, some space that still isn't 'developed'.   What are real estate developers developing now as retail declines in favor of on-line shopping and as retailers continue to close their doors?  Oh, I forgot - senior buildings.  Maybe they can turn parts of this development into senior housing, too.

But there's a bustling scene at the Rojo Mexican Grill tonight.  Lots of people sitting outside soaking up late summer on a night when the humidity has finally dropped out of the oppressive range.   Lots of people inside, too, but the 'Brits' arrived on time (sorry, car crash on one route and Twins Game on way from Shoreview to St. Louis Park tonight) and snared a table near the kitchen.

Rojo Mexican Grill St. Louis Park MNChips and salsa already on the table...the salsa bit back a little more than expected and the chips were warm and flowing as the waiter brought more baskets and tubs of salsa for us.

Amid the menu of tacos, enchiladas, and chimi's, I scoured the choices for something less heavy and more veggie-centric.   

Tomatillo salad - sounds like the choice (boy, I remember selling tomatillos at local farmers markets 15 years ago to an audience staring blankly at them and asking what that papery brown stuff was on the green tomatoes---times are changing).  John and the 'Brits' selected tacos, enchiladas, and a chimi----so as a group we covered the bases.

The service from Nash, our server, was prompt and hysterically entertaining.   Put John together with someone who will play along, and the conversation veers into never before seen territory.   Just note that if a candidate for governor offers free sweet corn and a free pony for all MN residents that this is where that fabulous campaign platform was launched.

We were chatting, thinking the meals might be a little slow to arrive based on crowd size, but within minutes a team of servers arrived with plates of our goodies. 

Rojo Mexican Grill St. Louis Park MNMy tomatillo salad with fresh roasted sweet corn (yup, pieces of 4-6 kernels as big tasty and sweet chunks),  red onion, mixed greens and romaine lettuce, asadero and manchego cheese, tomatoes, and cotija cheese with a tomatillo dressing.   Wonderful flavor....maybe not so great on the texture....a little mushy quality to the whole thing.  I passed it to John without comment and he said the same thing.   So if they could have kept the crispness in the greens, paired with the great sweet corn, rich cheese, and great dressing, it would have been a 10.

Rojo Mexican Grill St. Louis Park MNJohn's chicken enchiladas at first looked skimpy, but the wonderful serving bowl was full of tasty goodness.  The asadero and manchego cheeses used here, too with shredded chicken.  What made this dish was the roasted poblano cream sauce...way beyond luxurious.  Refried beans on the side (these were pretty average) and sweet rice.  John found the rice off-putting in sweetness.   I found it a summery contrast to the delish, but rich, sauce on the enchiladas.   I found that adding a dollop of the great spicy salsa to the beans upped the flavor and texture components.

The 'Brits' enjoyed their choices, too.   The tacos were topped with pico de gallo, cotija cheese, and chipotle sour cream.   The chicken chimi included green chili sauce, the asadero and manchego cheeses, and Mexican sour cream, accompanied by the sweet rice and beans.   Interestingly, we chatted with a woman in the parking elevator carrying half of her chicken John asked her about the rice.   She declared it 'surprising' but delicious.   I think I'd concur.

Great service (yes, Nash, you can ride on the horse at our farm), reasonable pricing, generous portions with some interesting twists on traditional Mexican American food.   We vote to keep it on the list of places for a future visit.

[John:  "Rojo Mexican Grill is built right on top of the old Lincoln Del, where Linda and I went on one of first dates...way back when.  Good memories.] 

[John:  The 'Brits' are our son and daughter-in-law who live in London where you find wonderful food from across the globe...except Mexican food.  I predicted that would be the 'Brits' first dining suggestion for this visit.]

Friday, August 10, 2018

Max Mart in Roseville ... Good food and GREAT conversation

max mart roseville

What a great chat with Tarek tonight at the Max Mart Deli on Rice Street (in the gas station).   

It's so much fun to chat with people who have lived and traveled in parts of the world near and far and bring perspectives about life in a whole range of countries, communities.

Sometimes we get tired of driving and driving to find food.  So, on this evening's outing, we started to head out...thought of many good places pretty far away...and said, nope, staying close to home and checking out that sign that says 'best lamb gyros.'    

We had a couple of great sandwiches here in the past...but that was under the previous owner.   Then they closed for a few months and it's hard to get back into the groove sometimes.

So tonight our fatigue brought us a close to home adventure that  turned out to have a lot of international flavor.

Tarek is from Egypt, and he's the guy 10 - 8 Mon thru Fri at the Max Mart on Rice Street.   He works a second job on Lake Street on Sat and Sun.  He's lived in Germany and traveled extensively, gaining a lot of insights into life in various places around the world.

We ordered a lamb gyros and a falafel sandwich, but really we got down to a wide-ranging conversation with a guy with a great sense of humor, a work ethic like ours, and lots of thoughts about how people engage in life.

I think the food was good...frankly, the conversation was so engaging that we ate and talked and ate and talked as we sat at the stainless steel counter with a couple of Coke's from the convenience store cooler selection (actually, we don't remember seeing 16 oz cans of Coke before--we'll call 'em 'talls').   Tarek talked about why life is hard in Egypt now due to the country's current leadership, the difficulty in making your paycheck stretch to support you there, and how much better life is in other places.   He was in Germany for quite awhile--life there was better for him, but he described some of the people as 'hard'...I think he'd say 'rigid' if I can do a little extra translation for him based on his elaboration on his impressions.

He said living in the U.S. was better than living in Germany...he was impressed with just the sheer size of our country and that he could support himself through his work (he seemed undaunted by working 7 days a week every week).  His manner is engaging, and I loved it that when I said I didn't need an order of fries because I'd just share some of John's, that a nice sized pile of fries appeared in my basket.   John claimed I would still steal some of his.  I later dutifully showed Tarek that I saved that last fry he gave me and put it in John's basket....he laughed!

max mart rosevilleThis should be a food review...really good falafel sandwich...and Tarek smiled when I said I appreciated that he put it together to be attractive, too...oh, and I think John's gyros was good, too....I don't know for sure because he didn't share 😠   
Tarek makes a lot of the sauces and some of the other menu items from scratch...I'll report back on those some other day.  But this turned out to be a life experience review and a small world review.   Tarek also enjoys dining at the Marina Grill and Deli on Lowry and University where Adel knows his way around the spices in the kitchen (Tarek also explained that the Big Marina Deli on Central is not the same flavors because the guys there are actually Moroccan--quite a different flavor profile).  When people from almost anywhere can connect and talk about our common humanity...and common quest for a great's always a great experience.   

We'll return there to try some other items on the menu, particularly those that are scratch-made...the experience will be like meeting an old friend for lunch.

Sam Thai - White Bear Lake - Great!

sam thai white bear lakeOkay Becky H...this is for you!!!   Thanks for the reminder!!

Sam Thai in White Bear Lake behind the Kowalski's, facing Hwy 61.

What are my faves at a restaurant?   .....fresh, fresh, fresh food, locally owned...and the owner has a great personality.

That sums up Sam Thai. 

sam thai white bear lakeFor our first lunch foray we said 'appetizer and some kind of noodles' (and it's good to go for lunch...go for dinner late in the week and we're told the wait is long...we understand it's a VERY popular place!!).

sam thai white bear lakeJohn started with iced tea...tea from Thailand with fruity and flowery notes...tasty!
Veggie spring rolls...fresh, fresh, fresh and full of ingredients.  Gorgeous, tasty, for the two of us the 3 spring rolls could have made an entire lunch.
But, still we persisted 😳

Pad See Yew with those big fat noodles is a favorite.  We ordered 5 (of  10 ) level heat...John wanted 6 but since we were sharing Sam said...'do what your wife says'.  I love this guy!!! 

sam thai white bear lake

John later admitted that 5 was perfect for this dish for lunch.   Veggie was our choice on this one.....and we were rewarded.   Tons of beans, broccoli, sugar peapods...honestly the biggest supply of veggies ever in a plate of Pad See Yew...and we smiled our way through the whole plate of them...merrily chomping away on the fresh goodness.

Becky is absolutely right about Sam Thai in White Bear Lake...

We've been missing this place (we tried to get in once...but that must have been one of those end of the week dinner times cuz the place was packed, so we put off our return visit).  As people entered, it was clear they were regulars.   Sam already knew what one person wanted...she ordered and let her husband sit there deciding...and she was rewarded with a plate on the table quick as a wink...which she did NOT share while he awaited his dish...the price of hesitation!

Another woman told us that we need to pay attention...she was there at the wrong time...3 times!   She said she can't live without the fried rice and she now knows that they close at 8 and will never miss HER fried rice again.

Great visit, great personality, great fresh food.

Generous portions, great conversation with Sam

Sam Thai in White Bear Lake...please go there for dinner late in the week (we'll be there all the other times!)