It’s Been A Week. At Least There Was Pie & Fries.

This isn’t Instagram. I’m not going pretend like everything’s OK.

It’s been a tough couple of weeks.

My recent egg retrieval cycle concluded and, so far, the outcome isn’t what I was hoping for. There’s so much to juggle financially, physically, and emotionally; all while working a full-time job and fielding things like baby showers and toxic positivity (“Just relax!” or “It’ll happen when you stop trying”).

It all feels so raw and I’ll share more when I’m ready. Perhaps. The kind words people have offered have gone a long way, so thank you for those.

Here are some things that did make my week less (insert poop emoji).

El Taco Riendo and Fair State Co-op

Recently I wrote about the nachos at El Taco Riendo in Northeast Minneapolis. A second meal confirmed they’re still my favorite. $8 gets you a large portion of fresh chips topped with orange cheese sauce, your choice of beans, meat, and garnishes like pico, salsas, cilantro, radishes, etc.

I brought my spouse this time and he enjoyed the tacos, commenting on how filled they are.

The dessert we really like is their chocoflan. It’s like if you layered chocolate tres leche cake on top of flan and topped it with whipped cream and chocolate drizzle.

El Taco Riendo is down the street from Fair State Co-op where we met a friend. This taproom doesn’t offer food (except for pretzels that I suspect are from Aki’s next door) but you can order delivery or bring it with you.

I’m not fond of beer so I ordered the Aperitivo, a “brewed cocktail” (ABV 13.8) inspired by the negroni. I typically haven’t enjoyed negronis but I really liked this drink. The balance between sweet, herbal and bitter is really pleasant and refreshing.

The Spritz (ABV 8) inspired by the Aperol spritz tastes slightly sweeter and packs less of a punch. Still it’s also refreshing and something I’d gladly drink over beer.

Hot Indian at the Mall of America food court Culinary on North

I will always love walking around the Mall of America and eating things.

There’s this corner where the Cinnabon and popcorn shop are stacked above each other – the smell is magic. Pungent, artificial buttery magic.

Usually when we wander around the mall we’re more window shopping than actually shopping. Our main mission is to grab a snack or meal. Culinary on North is the newer food court with the Shake Shack and Piada.

A half order of the rice bowl only costs $5. It’s still a generous portion and a steal. You can choose a filling (I chose the aloo gobi), addition of apple cabbage slaw, chutney, and garnishes. I like the combination of sweet and savory so I added the pickled aoli and tamarind sauce along with cilantro and crispy chickpeas.

Sweet, savory, crunchy, and spicy. This meal was everything I was hoping for in the moment.

Pie and Fries at Birchwood Cafe

It’s surprisingly hard to find a restaurant that always serves pie for dessert.

Birchwood Cafe popped up on a quick internet search and we made plans to visit that evening. The atmosphere at Birchwood is happy and I think it starts from the top. You can read more about their food sourcing and new Fair Wage share and employee benefits here

When you order a meal here you also know it will be scratch-made, prepared with care, and last, but not least, taste good.

You’ll find multiple flavors of pie in the display case out front. We chose slices of apple blueberry pie that kitchen heated and served with whipped cream or ice cream.

French fries go absurdly well with pie. Birchwood’s are thin, crispy homemade fries sprinkled with fresh herbs. The  homemade ketchup is fine. Ask for a side of garlic aoli, it’s fantastic.

Non-Food Things

  • Succession:  My post-op recovery plans always include binge-watching a television series. Last time it was Little Big Lies. This time it’s Succession. Everyone is terrible and my ranking of who I hate the most shifts each episode. Still, I can’t stop watching it.
  • Demi Moore’s memoir Inside Out.  I’m actually a fan of Demi. Since I just started her book, jury’s out on whether or not I like it, but am looking forward to reading more about her life.


  1. Katy F

    The pies and fries look delicious! The drinks picture perfect and just “damn, I’m sorry on the egg retrieval! Sending hugs!

  2. Val - Corn, Beans, Pigs & Kids

    Hugs! Thanks for letting us follow along on all of your adventures. I loved the brewed cocktail and I’m always up for some good nachos!

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