Category: Memoir (page 1 of 19)

The Joy Of Ordering Appetizer Platters & The Chain Known As Chevys

Sometimes the greatest act of self-love is ordering your own appetizer platter for dinner.

Appetizer platters always make me think of this girl I knew from college named Trina. I hated Trina for really only reason, mostly involving an appetizer platter. To celebrate the end of a big project,  a group of us dressed-up and met at Olive Garden. We attended a small college in rural Iowa and an evening at Olive Garden was an event. I decided to let loose and do something I’d always wanted to do: Order an appetizer platter as an entree.

The main reason I ordered the appetizer platter was because it contained a portion of calamari. Trina, my seat mate, was also excited I ordered the appetizer platter and suggested we share meals. Back then, I wasn’t confident saying “no,” so I reluctantly agreed. Trina ordered something completely unremarkable that I can’t remember and then she ate most of my calamari. I watched in horror as her hand kept reaching over, grabbing ring after ring. “I just love calamari!” she gleefully exclaimed.

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Hello Old Friend: Rustica Bakery

On Saturday morning, I felt like eating my feelings and my feelings tasted like baked goods. Not just any baked goods, but really really good baked goods. I headed to Rustica.

There’s a deep disdain I hold for bad baked goods made with cheap shortening. Of course, there are always a few exceptions like Thin Mints and those fudge striped cookies. Growing up in the Twin Cities; southern suburbia during the 90’s, bakeries weren’t really a thing. We simply ate baked goods from the major grocery stores. From time to time, we bought one of those hefty dense loaves from Great Harvest.

Some of then desserts my mom made were very good. However, many of them fit into that low-fat, no-sugar obsession that partially defined 90’s food trends. Our cupboards were stocked with Snackwell’s fat-free Devil’s Food Cake Cookies and WOW chips. My mom tried baking with Splenda and replacing butter with everything from canola oil spread to applesauce to canned pumpkin. Ice cream was Edy’s low-fat versions. I ate these things but thought I didn’t like desserts that much. In fact, I went years without touching ice cream. I truly think our parents’ intentions were good; to feed us healthy foods but many were misguided by the understanding of nutrition at the time. The tides have turned and now we’re embracing real butter and decadent desserts, just enjoyed in moderation.

It wasn’t until my years as a new college grad that I started my happy chase after really good baked goods. This led me to cinnamon and caramel rolls at Isles Bun & Coffee, za’atar bread from St. Paul Flatbread, injera from Shega Foods, biscuits and bars from Butter Bakery Cafe, and loaves of bread and macarons from Patisserie 46.

Rustica opened near my apartment in 2009. I was mindblown by their breads and lacquered buttery croissants and little fruit tarts and currant scones. Never had I seen a pastry like a Kouign Amann or Bostok. Our families remembered I loved the chewy, fudgy flourless chocolate cookies so much they included them as party favors at our wedding. For a few dollars I could treat myself to the fanciest treat.

This weekend I drove through my old stomping grounds, back to Rustica. In fact, this was my first visit back to the Minneapolis location since we moved back. I have bought their baguettes from various shops and pick up a scone each time I visit Golden Fig

It felt strange to drive past the ghosts of places I frequented that are no longer there; the Blockbuster on Hennepin were I spent hours wandering the aisles and renting Sex & The City DVDs, Figlio’s where I experienced my first happy hour, and my old apartments that are being listed double the rent I paid ten years ago.

Rustica is still here. They’ve since opened a second location in Eden Prairie. My old favorites were still there. The baked goods and coffee are still good and the prices haven’t changed much. I came for one thing and left with five. My feelings tasted good and after eating some of them, I actually did feel better.

Rustica Bakery – Minneapolis location
3220 West Lake Street
Minneapolis, MN 55416.
Phone: 612-822-1119

This Is Sort Of One Of Those End-Of-Year Posts: Highlights, Lowlights, Current State

Confession: I hate gift guides but I enjoy reading everyone’s “Best and Worst” end-of-year recaps.

Usually I publish something along the lines of “The 10 best foods I ate this year” type of thing. This year I’m writing something a little different.

One year ago, I was wrapping up a temp job I began soon after we moved back to the Twin Cities from St. Louis, MO. The data entry assignment at an ill-fitting desk wreaked havoc on my body.  The problem was that I was too efficient and so they kept extending my end date. I was in constant pain day and night. In December, I got pushy about requested an assignment that aligned more with my career interests.

The next gig led to a permanent job and this fall I finally got hired as an employee. I’m grateful for this job opportunity and for every day that my body feels normal enough that I don’t even think about it.

Each morning, I hop on the bus at 6:45 a.m. that heads to downtown Minneapolis. I love looking out the windows at all of the glittering buildings and bridges as we cross the Mississippi river.

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Colin Hay In Concert + Some Purple Rain

The Garden State soundtrack was the soundtrack of my young adulthood.

The movie and the music resonated with what my friends and I were feeling in college. It captured our coming-of-age angst, anxiety, uncertainty, and desire for something more. Whatever more was. We weren’t quite sure (and probably still aren’t). But we knew it sometimes felt like that Shins song or trying to let ourselves feel like whatever we were actually feeling, falling in love with our best friend, or screaming into an infinite abyss. Watch a clip of the movie scene here

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Memories of Visiting NYC in the 90’s + A Trip Wrap-Up

A big thank you to my folks for sending us to explore NYC for my birthday!

This wasn’t my first trip to New York City.

For I had visited once before during my freshman year of high school. My high school choir was chosen to perform at Carnegie Hall amongst many other high school choirs. All 60 (or so) of us traveled to New York City as one big mass with a team of parent chaperones. We wore matching t-shirts with all of our names on the back.

Back in 1999, we didn’t have laptops or smartphones. We actually traveled without smart phones or laptops. I took lots of photos with a disposable camera that I had to bring to a drugstore to develop. At the time, my disposable camera was high-tech because it could take panoramic photos, too. You put your eye to the camera viewfinder and pray that most of your photos would turn out well. If you wanted to appear in your own photo, you asked a friend to take it. It didn’t occur to us to turn the camera around.

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