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, August 31, 2019

Karibu - Family Owned - Fantastic

Karibu Grocery & Deli on Payne AV - Fantastic!


Speaking of independent local businesses, we just dined at another one and it's fantastic....another new favorite place.

We were driving down Payne Avenue, thinking about Magnolia's, Tongue in Cheek, Brunson's, Tacqueria Marguez.........couldn't decide, so headed another couple of blocks.   That stunning red building....before you get to Los Palmas or Yarusso's ...or the grocery cart full of booze for cash place....Morelli's.......on the SW corner of Payne and Minnehaha....Karibu Grocery and Deli.

Karibu - It's Family-Run

Run by a family of eight children and their mom from Somalia via Kenya, Karibu's building itself is a stunning beauty.   Since one of the children is an architect, we wondered after we left (we can't get in all the questions in one visit...they have work to do) if he had designed the building.   A bold statement on a prominent's surely an asset to the East Side.

When we arrived, mom and one daughter were working the kitchen.   We stared at the menu....for a very long time...trying to decide.   We focused on the East African portion of the menu for our main course and then started working our way through the appetizers.

Karibu - What We Ordered

The Wild Veggie (really not so wild) was the top of the East African we decided to start at the top.  It's a wonderfully spiced stewed concoction of spinach, peas, and carrot served with delicious, perfectly-cooked Somali rice...topped with a couple of lime slices.   It's accompanied by two sauces---the even-tempered 'red' sauce and it's friend...the more assertive 'green' sauce....which makes its presence known in every bite where you invite it in 😵.

Karibu Appetizer Choice Challenge

We worked out way down the appetizer list, as well.  I opted for a sambusa; John wanted the Viyazi Mayai (the fried mashed potato and boiled egg ball)...but they had a big order before us and were sold out.  So, an immediate reason to plan a return visit.   
The Malawax sounded good to me....and I was not wrong.  Think of a crepe sprinkled with sugar.   I especially liked dipping it into the assertive member of the sauce, then sweet...on a tender thin crepe-like pancake.   I will have one of these on every future visit...I'm hooked!

I loved the sambusa, too.  Home-made pastry surrounds finely chopped ground beef and onions with spices...formed into a tidy triangle and shouldn't eat one every day, but it was firm, packed with filling. with a crispy seam, and also was a good partner for either of the sauces.   I think I liked both of the appetizers more than John did...but he was quite busy with the Wild Veggie, so not sorry!

Karibu - Overall...great food...but it's more than just the food

Overall, we'd describe the experience as excellent! 
We struck up a conversation with a local artist who teaches after-school art classes for local students.   When he arrived, the staff immediately said....back so soon?  Good to see you again!  He told them he couldn't stay away because he was hooked on the burger.    He described it to us as a burger with lettuce and tomato (sounds average so far)...but he continued---describing indescribable spicing and Karibu special sauce.   Yup, it will be next up on our list...even though we're not big burger fans.

The children here have professional degrees, but mom makes sure they each take their 'rotation' at the cafe (ah, mom power--love it!!).  Architect, school counselor, a business management guy and more in the they each bring there own special spin to the business.

The designated family member of the day sat down and chatted for a few minutes...she's just graduating and in the process of taking the LSAT to prepare for law school.  She recommended the Philly cheese steak...thinly sliced beef, grilled pepper and onions and white cheese.....she said it's among the most popular items on the menu.

Karibu - Options For Our Next Visit

The other East African dishes include:   Suqaar (spiced steak with garlic, green peppers and onion and roasted in a clay oven)--we've enjoyed this at Ashama Cafe & Market on University Avenue and elsewhere, so we'll have to do a flavor comparison in the future; Nomad's Ari--fried goat with onion, garlic, peppers, cilantro; or Chooza Chicken...similar ingredients also made in a clay oven.  They are accompanied by fries or rice...we recommend the was perfect.

Also on the menu are a gyro; or a safari roll--containing either a beef or chicken kabob in a tandoori pita.   The other appetizer is a doughnut-like Mandazi, described as having a 'little bit of a sweet taste'.

Karibu - Conclusion

It was a great visit.   Clearly, the family knows the names of many kids in the neighborhood...probably the adults, too.  In that way, it was like being at Marianne's Kitchen.....chatting with 'friends' who stopped by for lunch.  They've been working hard on this venture since last Fall, are very welcoming, and produce excellent food. 

Karibu Grocery & Deli - Hours

On the plus side, too....since we're always searching for food at odd hours...they're open M-Sat from 9-9 and Sunday from 11:30-5. down Payne can't miss the distinctive red building.   Stop, talk, dine, enjoy.

Location:   Google Maps


Friday, August 16, 2019

Chunky Fresh Veggie Sweet Corn Fritters

mariannes kitchen costa farms csa box
Costa Farms CSA Box

Chunky Fresh Veggie Sweet Corn Fritters...Created From Our Costa CSA Box 

All those wonderful veggies came in the Costa Farms CSA box...but no time to make anything yesterday.   So, let's pull something quick together tonight...maybe with a variety of veggies.

Sweet corn
Green beans
Banana peppers
Little tomatoes
Lacinato kale
New potatoes

...and remember that carton of fresh eggs from the hens at my friend's house.....

Time for dinner.

Chunky fresh sweet corn and veggie fritters sound great tonight.

Making the fritters...

I chopped the veggies into pieces that weren't too small, and did a little pre-cooking on each (except the tomatoes which I just cut in half) so they'd be crisp tender in the fritters.

mariannes kitchen corn fritters batter
Corn Fritter Batter
Some local brown eggs--beat them in a big bowl, add the veggies (I cooled them before adding to the eggs).  4 tablespoons of bulka tarta (my favorite bread crumbs from Sikora's Market in NE; if you don't have them, use flour or fine bread crumbs you have in the cupboard), some herbs---marjoram, dill, some powdered garlic since I didn't have a head of garlic in the house.    A few grinds of black pepper and the 'batter' is ready for the pan.

mariannes kitchen corn fritters
One flipped after a few minutes...
A giant dollop of the 'batter'...I could get about 4 in the pan without them touching.....I flattened and rounded each a bit with the spatula...and let them cook for a few minutes on each side...a little more than medium heat, so they wouldn't brown too quickly and would be cooked in the middle.

Nicely browned on both sides and they mostly held big tomato half popped out---but I just stuck it back in the middle!
mariannes kitchen corn fritters
Corn Fritters!!!   Time to Eat!!!

mariannes kitchen chunky fresh veggie sweet corn fritters I love these because you can taste each of the veggies--the beans, the kale, the peppers...each bite was unique.  The potatoes added just enough starchiness to help hold things together and the sweetness of the corn was offset by the sharp black pepper.

Sweet Refrigerator Pickles With Celery Seed

mariannes kitchen pickles
Sweet Refrigerator Pickles 
mariannes kitchen pickles This was a good time to break out the last of those pickles I made from the giant cucumber in a previous Costa Farms CSA box.  These were the sweet refrigerator pickles with the celery seed...the sweetness was a light contrast to the fritters...but for the sweet flavor fans, the sweet corn and the sweetness of the pickles could make you think you just had dinner and dessert.

Monday, August 12, 2019

Cafe Astoria in St. Paul .. Finally Made It There

Finally! Cafe Astoria in St. Paul

I've tried numerous times over the past year to get into Cafe Astoria....always the parking anywhere in sight and a line out the door.

I made the right turn off W 7th Street this afternoon....and there was a parking spot on the
opposite side of the front of the dumpster!  I'll take it (with a controlled U turn in the middle of the street).

Still a line and almost no tables - but someone just left the table right outside the front door...YES!    Gonna rain?  Can't tell....but we'll risk it.

After all this time, I hope it's not disappointing.......

Cafe Astoria Menu

The menu is crepes, oatmeal bowls, salads, smoothie bowls, granola, pastries...and tons of drink options.  The,  croissants in the case looked fabulous...not the ones out of the box from the food distributor...real baked croissants with that flaky, buttery 'eat me' look.

Coffee at Cafe Astoria: Exotic

We grabbed a Leah's Happy Place.....a signature latte with matcha, lavender, and pistachio.   We would have opted for an oatmeal bowl, but they were out of oatmeal.   No worries....they have both savory and sweet crepes, so the first crepe on the savory menu was the
roasted tomato and cheddar....might as well start at the top (and work our way through on future visits).   Having something fresh and green seemed like a good next choice, so we opted for the spinach salad.

Parking ourselves outside at the little table, we had no idea how long the wait would be.   The 'Happy Place' was delivered to our table within just a couple of minutes.   It was a work of, beautifully completed pattern on top....offset by a giant black serving cup.    Flavor----fantastic!  A little sweet, a little 'healthy', smooth, creamy, delicious.

Cafe Astoria: busy staff and great customer vibe

We thought the food might take a while so we sat back and sipped on our drink.   The staff was working like mad---making drinks, making food, running items out to tables - outside and in 2 rooms inside.   It was kind of a happy hectic vibe.....I appreciated that so many people were coming and going that even being outside was like being inside...with a little less crowding.

The Food Arrives...Cafe Astoria Produces

The food arrived in about ten minutes.....and it was beautiful.   

The salad had fresh spinach (none of that wilted,
stuck-together stuff), the creamiest chevre, salted pistachios, and fresh strawberries that actually had great strawberry flavor--a fairly rare occurrence.   The dressing was balsamic with little bits of onion.   An excellent balance of ingredients (we had a watermelon salad at Delicata last night and it was too heavy on arugula while being short on red onion and cheese) was both attractive and tasty.

The crepe was served with a small side of greens (they looked good....someone ate he'll have to report).   The crepe was thin and beautiful with great texture.  There was more than adequate filling...each bite was rich and satisfying...and it was accompanied by some herb sour cream for extra richness if you could handle it.

Overall Review of Cafe Astoria

This meal was fantastic.  
We've hit a few 'well-publicized' places in the last few weeks...none of them were all that great.  
This meal, while simply composed, was created from great-tasting, fresh ingredients and arranged on plates to enhance the experience with a beautiful appearance.   
The latte was creative, beautifully presented, and delicious.

We are so glad we finally made it to Cafe was worth the wait.  But we'll probably try to figure out ways to get there more often now that we have experienced this kind of quality.   Excellent.

Details for St. Paul's Cafe Astoria

Location:  Google Maps