Foods I Still Think About That I Can’t Get Here

I’m obsessed with soup and have been following @jdhovland‘s soup quest. His road trip to Fargo to eat knoephla soup got me thinking about foods I miss from other places we’ve lived.

Knoephla soup in North Dakota is like wild rice and chicken soup in Minnesota. Until recently, it’s no where to be found.

(He recently found knoephla on the menu of a new restaurant called Mary Ellen’s Bistro in NE Minneapolis).

Knoephla soup reminds me of culinary school where we prepared it for lunch. A crowd favorite, for sure. I can still see one of the second-year student supervisors tasting our batch of soup and growling, “Mmmm. . . that’s some good knoephla.”

Anyway, here’s some thoughts on the foods that are on my mind:

North Dakota:

Knoepha Soup

The Home Plate Cafe in Fredonia and Josie’s Coffee Corner in Fargo served my favorite versions of knoephla soup. Unfortunately, you can’t eat it. No one can, for the restaurants are closed.

What these versions of knoephla have in common is a brothier consistency, and, most importantly, a sheen of milk fat sparkling on top. Some knoephla soups are pasty thick while others are more like this. I prefer this.

My take on the version we made in culinary school has a similar vibe.

Beer Cheese Soup from Bertrosa’s (Closed)
Betrosa’s is a long-closed restaurant that made THE BEST beer cheese soup, ever. Every version I’ve had before or since is worse. I have no idea how they made it. For a while, they served it at Dempsey’s bar but it’s no longer on the menu.

This beer cheese soup had the perfect texture – not too thick and not too thin. And the flavor wasn’t straight-up cheese wiz or beer. Somehow it had complexity that just made it the perfect balance of everything. I miss it.

Saint Louis, MO:

Kolache Shops


There are still no kolache shops in the Twin Cities. If someone opened up a kolache shop in the Minneapolis skyway, I feel like people would go nuts. I’ve seen people post pictures of sweet kolaches around here (the flat, open kind with filling in the middle). What I really crave are the savory ones.

Kolache shops have  the sweet kolaches + a myriad of little, round bread balls stuffed with all types of filling – philly cheese steak, artichoke dip, sausage gravy, jalapeno popper, scrambled egg, nearly anything you can imagine. People like me who love bagels will certainly love kolaches. I dream of jingling around a cup of iced coffee and carrying a bag of kolaches to my work desk.

Mai Lee Salt & Pepper Calamari


Since we lived in St. Louis, Chef Qui has gone on to open Nudo House and receive a James Beard Award nomination for  Mai Lee for Outstanding Restaurant.

We are fortunate to have so many fantastic Vietnamese restaurants in the Twin Cities. I’ve never seen anything like Chef Qui’s salt and pepper calamari outside of Mai Lee. The fresh, fried calamari is tossed with sauteed onions, pepper sand scallions, surrounded by tomatoes and served with a peppery, tart dipping sauce.

It’s so good we ordered it on each visit. We certainly enjoyed it as lone of our last meals in STL and still wistfully talk about it to this day.

Iowa:

Casey’s Pizza (especially the breakfast pizza)

So there are technically Casey’s General Store gas stations in Minnesota. The closest ones to the Twin Cities are in Brooklyn Center and Eagan.

Casey’s pizza is surprisingly good for what you’d expect from chain gas station pizza. The crust is good and the cheese is high quality and chewy. When we lived in Iowa we used to order whole pizzas for pick-up. Some locations delivered.

If the gas stations near us also served pizza as good as Casey’s + those little cups of pizza rolls, I’d be loyal.

2 Comments

  1. There is just something special about Casey’s Pizza 🙂 And those calamari look amazing and something I’d love to try!

  2. I dream of eating the savory kolaches you would post about! I did see that one time there was a class in the st paul community ed for making them. but that was a few years ago.

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