Tag: Bakery

Trung Nam French Bakery: Croissants and Banh Mi

Saturday morning Trung Nam runs are becoming my new thing.

Trung Nam is a Vietnamese and French bakery located along University Avenue in the Frogtown neighborhood of Saint Paul. The owners have been serving french bread and croissants since 1989.

Although I remembered Heavy Table visiting Trung Nam in one of their Green Line Checklist chapters, what really pushed me to visit for the first time was learning they also serve banh mi sandwiches in the morning. Not only can you buy almost any flavor of croissant, but also a pork banh mi, too, all starting at 8 o’clock in the morning.

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24 Hours in Fargo

Fargo is cool.

Everyone who’s been to Fargo already knows this. Everyone else doesn’t always believe me.

When I think of Fargo-Moorhead, I think of hanging out on our friends’ big front porches and drinking wine. I think of tromping down main street in a snow storm, popping in and out of bars ordering pickled eggs and Chuck Norris shots.

I think of the troll lounge at the Sons of Norway building, cheese plates with slices of cheeses fanned out as opulently as a peacock’s tail feathers at Mezzaluna (half-price at happy hour!), and knoephla soup. I think of overflowing molcajete and ridiculously cheap beer at Mango’s and buttermilk pie at Josie’s.

I think of blowing up Peking ducks with air compressors in M State culinary school and the madness that was German Sausage Chowder day in the Sanford hospital cafeteria.

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Time Traveling For Chicken Fried Steak & Peach Pie At The Blue Owl

First things first, some big news: We’re moving (again).

This time, we’re making a full circle back to the Twin Cities. Jake recently accepted a new role at work and so we’re wrapping-up our last full week in St. Louis.

Last month, I attended a bloggers dinner at the newly revamped Preston in the Chase Park Plaza hotel. I sat next to a woman who had also moved many times for her husband’s job. We talked about frequent, corporate moves and I tried to put a positive spin on them.

Moving a lot makes you crazy,” she replied.

I had to laugh because it’s true. Like the past moves, this one feels bittersweet.

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Chasing Kolaches In St. Louis

This is the kolache that started our obsession. Last week, Jake’s coworker brought in a box of kolaches from St. Louis Kolache to share. Jake was so excited about this Philly Cheesesteak kolache that he texted me a photo.

It really started here, though:

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A Bakery That Smells Like Butter In Belmond, Iowa

Last weekend, Jake and I postponed our little getaway to the Twin Cities. So, obviously, my second choice of destination was Belmond, Iowa, a small town of about 2,300 located 40 minutes southwest of Mason City.

On one of our first warm and sunny days in North Iowa, Beth asked if anyone was interested in joining her on a mini road trip. Her travel plans had been dashed by bad Tennessee weather, so her second choice was also Belmond, too. Why Belmond? The owners of Sugarpie Bakery & Cafe recently reached out to our North Iowa blogging group inviting us to visit.

I posted this photo on Facebook when we arrived in town.

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One friend who grew up near Belmond asked me, “What in the world are you seeing in Belmond? Are you visiting Cattleman’s?”

Belmond has survived two tornadoes in recent history. In 1966, a tornado destroyed most of the downtown area, injuring 100 people, and killing six. And in June 2013, an F3 tornado hit the town destroying several local businesses including Cattleman’s restaurant which the Abel family purchased over 30 years ago. Cattleman’s actually reopened at the city’s golf club just this past November. We only had time for one meal on this trip, but so many people recommended Cattleman’s, we’ll have to return for dinner.

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We arrived late Saturday morning so we could explore out some of the antique and gift shops our friends suggested. The main street was very quiet and most of the stores were closed. We watched as a fellow shopper tugged at the flower shop door. At first, she appeared surprised to find it closed, but remembered there was a big robotics competition at the school. We had to smile as we imagined the business owners cheering on their sons and daughters at this competition.

The day was so beautiful. We enjoyed strolling the awning-covered sidewalk and found an open thrift shop and pharmacy with a real soda fountain.

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This Jazzercise storefront brought back happy memories. Jessica and I are children of the 90’s who grew-up with moms who religiously attended Jazzercise classes, while Beth was one of those moms. She recalled her Jazzercise outfit complete with leg warmers. We also passed by a Belmond historical museum. The sign said it was open by appointment and even listed four individuals’ phone numbers to call. We saw visitors inside as we left for Mason City.

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Beth found a Teapot Tuesday treasure at the thrift shop and I bought an epic mug that I’ll share in the next Mugshot Monday. “What can I collect?” wondered Jessica. We also found Girl Scout cookies for sale by the register and lots of doll heads. The clown heads were my favorite.

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We met Val and her kids for lunch at Sugarpie. What struck me upon opening the door was that the cafe smelled like butter. I don’t trust bakeries that don’t smell like butter.

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At Sugarpie, customers can order breakfast or lunch. My friends gravitated towards hot pork and beef sandwiches, while the kids and I chose breakfast.I chose a Denver omelet ($7) filled with cheddar, ham, onions and peppers with a cup of coffee. I like how Sugarpie serves their coffee from an eclectic collection of mugs.

The previous week, I dined at Perkins with some blogger friends and still had omelets on my mind. When I was in high school and college, Perkins was the watering hole for flirting over chicken tender melts and ham and cheese omelets. I hadn’t visited a Perkins for years and was surprised to find out that about half of their omelets contained celery!

For whatever reason, this just cracked me up and I have been laughing about it ever since. This is what Jake refers to as a “Jeni Joke.” This Sugarpie omelet did NOT contain celery. In fact, none of them did, because most omelets don’t. My meal was simple and satisfying.

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I got a kick out of this salt and pepper holder.

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I have to admit, I eyed Jessica’s pulled pork sandwich. The pork was cut into thick chunks. When Val’s kids left the table to play with more toys, some of the adults nibbled in the leftover french toast sticks. These were no pre-frozen school cafeteria product, but long strips of real french toast.

I chose a flaky bacon and cheese turnover from the bakery case to share with Jake.

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While we enjoyed our meal and chatted over coffee, the cafe’s tables and lunch counter remained busy with customers. Val’s kids had a lot of fun playing with toys and coloring on a chalkboard with the other kids in the children’s area. Val’s son was very dedicated to his craft of baking dominos into different flavors of crackers in the toy cash register. The dominos with yellow dots were cheese, the chocolate dots were chocolate, the green were pepper, and some of them were simply cracker flavored crackers. We nibbled on dominos as we chatted over lunch.

This cafe has only been open since September 2014 and owners report they’ve been so busy, they forgot about their six-month anniversary until after it had passed. I love big and little cities, alike, but there are some charms that occur in small towns that make them sparkle. Like Jazzercize awnings, stores closed on a Saturday so proprietors can cheer on their children at the school’s robotics competition, and real soda fountains in pharmacies. Every town needs a scratch bakery and coffee cafe that smells like butter.

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