I feel like this chapter of my life could be titled “Tales From a Semi-retired Influencer.” From the first post I published on my old Blogspot blog to the present, it’s been a wild ride. Here are some thoughts that have been whirring around my heat and heart lately as I reflect on joys, regrets and learnings from sharing myself online for much of a decade:
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.
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.
If you invited me to meet you for lunch at a chain restaurant seven years ago when I first started my blog, I would have recoiled in absolute horror. I was a food snob.
Now, it’s not that I think chain restaurants are the pinnacle of dining, but I like eating at them from time to time. I just do and understand if you don’t. Also, I’ve grown up and learned it’s crappy to make some one feel bad about where they like to eat.
Variety is the spice of life. That’s my motto, anyway. Let’s begin with the hill I’d be more willing to die on.
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.