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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

When Happiness Is Smoked Trout

All it takes is one moment of contentment to realize you never knew what content was. Let me explain how this relates to smoked trout.

After a leisurely day of enjoying breakfast At Sara’s Table Chester Creek Cafe, touring the Glensheen Mansion, and napping, we headed to Northern Waters SmokeHaus for lunch.

The tiny deli storefront is located in an indoor mall of sorts. A big chalkboard menu sits above the register. There are so many types of sandwiches to order, from house-smoked meats and fishes to roasted lamb, house-cured meats, and liver pate.

It’s easy to turn any sandwich order into a boxed lunch; simply add $3.50 for a cookie, pickle, and chips. Or, add a side of homemade kimchi or deli salad.

We ordered fish baskets – a fish basket is simply an order of any smoked fish you want sold by the pound + $3 which adds a hefty portion of saltine crackers and container of some of the creamiest scallion cream cheese you’ll ever find. It reminds me of the really high quality cream cheeses from Ess-A-Bagel and Rise Bagel Company in Minneapolis.

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Visiting The Glensheen Mansion: Duluth, Minnesota Road Trip

“If you can read this sign you should take a tour!” “#BolderNorth,” boasts the banners lining the fence surrounding The Glensheen Mansion.

Built in 1908, the 39-room mansion which sits on 12 acres of Lake Superior shoreline property is shrouded in history and lore. Chester and Clara Congdon and then their family lived in the mansion into the 70’s. It’s now operated by the University of Minnesota.

The first thing I wondered was how on earth the Congdons made all of that money. Fortunately, it’s one of the first questions the tour guide answers. Chester Congdon, a self-taught lawyer invested in mining, steel, orchards, and banks. He and his wife Clara met in college. Clara was also an accomplished painter and one of a few number of women in her graduating class, as it wasn’t typical for women to attend college at that time.

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This Is Why We Loved Vikre Distillery: Duluth, Minnesota Road Trip

It took ten minutes in Duluth to know I loved Duluth.

The beautiful thing about Duluth is that it’s only 2.5 hours from the Twin Cities. In just two and a half hours, you move from the bright lights of downtown Minneapolis to land doted with lake cabin lakes and trees which become thicker and taller until you reach the western-most tip of Lake Superior upon which sits Duluth.

People asked us, “Why would you want to go to Duluth in February?”

Duluth is beautiful. The food is good. Lake Superior is so vast it feels like an ocean. As you stare at the waves of blue-green water crashing against jagged sheets of ice piled up against the coast, you will feel so small. The cold lake breeze whips your hair around your face and make your eyes water. Lake Superior will humble you and it will feel so good to be humbled even if you didn’t know you wanted to be.

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Thoughts On Crashing & How To Make My Favorite Breakfast Sandwiches

This has nothing to do with breakfast sandwiches, but I just really want to say that I am kind of into HBO’s Crashing.

The main character Pete (real life comedian Pete Holmes)  is an aspiring stand-up comic pursuing his dream and crashing on famous comedian’s couches, post separation. He’s not quite sure how to function on his own and support himself financially. Both Pete and his ex-spouse come from a conservative Christian background, and, for the first time, they’re both trying to figure out who they are and what they believe. It’s funny and so heartfelt. The push and pull between both spectrums are treated with surprising compassion.

I can relate to pieces of Pete’s background and floundering around one’s 30’s.

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