Tag: Saint Paul

Friday Lunch at the Russian Tea House: St. Paul, Minnesota

There’s an old house along University Avenue in St. Paul with a sign that reads “Russian Piroshki and Tea House.”

Since moving back o the Twin Cities, we’ve driven by the tea house often, curiously commenting that we’d like to visit sometime.

Linda and Nikolai Alenov have actually operated the Russian Tea House for over 40 years. Nikola’s brother Pete used to operate a famous guitar shop in the house, too, called Pete’s Guitars, until his passing in 1998. Bono, Alton Brown, George Harrison and Bob Dylan are noted as guests. According to this Citypages article, Alton Brown described the tea house as his favorite stop in Feasting on Asphalt: The River Run.

One thing to know is that the tea house is only open on Fridays between 11-3pm. 

Continue reading

Seven Good Things I Didn’t Tell You About Yet

Happy all of the holidays and New Year. There are many things to celebrate and many things to mourn.

This fall and winter have kept us busy with our transition from St. Louis back to the Twin Cities, a new home, and new jobs. This week is the first time Jake and I have had more than a long weekend off, together, since we moved, and it feels glorious.

Instead of a “best of” post to end this year, here’s a recap of seven favorite food experiences I haven’t told you about  yet.

Continue reading

Sights, Tastes & Sounds From North Coast Nosh Curated By The Sioux Chef Sean Sherman

Last Thursday evening, my cousin Alexandra and I attended our first North Coast Nosh. We had been looking forward to attending this event since Heavy Table and The Minnesota Historical Society released tickets in December. The event sold out and the lobby was packed with others like us who were excited to celebrate native food traditions. This particular North Coast Nosh was curated by The Sioux Chef Sean Sherman who’s creating a lot of momentum and interest in native food traditions and producers. He’s in the process of opening a restaurant in Minnesota that focuses on pre-colonial, Native American cuisine and its techniques, both traditional and modern. In this Heavy Table interview, Sherman states:

A culture without food is a lost culture. I think it’s extremely important to bring back some of this knowledge, this food, and to be able to serve it in a modern context that everyone can appreciate.

At seven p.m., the doors to the Nosh opened and we streamed into the Minnesota History Center. Powerful drumming echoed throughout the building.

Vendors were located on all three levels of the history center. Many served samples of food showcasing Native American ingredients or techniques and others displayed artwork.



A view of the Capitol from the third floor.

I have to admit Alex and I lost track of time. We were having so much fun visiting with the purveyors that we missed some of the presentations. However, we arrived in time to hear Chef Lenny Russo of Heartland Restaurant encourage attendees to advocate for the food they want to eat with their pocketbooks and Chef Sherman touch on how Native American food traditions nourish our bodies and the earth. Sherman coordinated about 20 purveyors. Here are some of the foods we tasted:

Refreshing black bean, sweet potato and wild rice salad from Dream of Wild Health, a Native-owned organic farm in Hugo, MN. They even provided their recipe.

Wild Rice

A sweet potato cake with a creamy cheese topping from Mississippi Market Co-op


Duck confit tacos with salsa diablo, pipian sauce, pickled vegetables, and cotija cheese from Harriet Brasserie located in Minneapolis, MN. At the event, people kept telling us to try these duck tacos. The meat was tender and the flavors were so memorable, I wasn’t surprised to see it appear in last week’s Heavy Table Hot Five. You can still order these from Harriet Brasserie’s regular menu.


We sipped Spirit Lake Native Farms pure maple syrup and enjoyed tiny slices of cake made from wild rice flour. This purveyor was located next to Fabulous Catering who served little cheese-stuffed burgers on wild rice buns and blueberry tarts. My cousin encouraged me to try dipping the burger into the maple syrup which made for a perfect sweet and savory combination. Neither of us never keep enough maple syrup on our homes, because we love adding it to our coffee.



A sparkling maple candy (feel free to leave a comment if you know who provided these).


Buffalo meat Tanka BarsI first learned about Tanka bars while studying herbal medicine in Minneapolis because many of the herbalists ate them. If someone was hungry, someone usually had a Tanka Bar in their pocket. My favorite flavor is Spicy Pepper that’s flecked with sweet, dried cranberries. Unlike typical beef jerky, these bars are meatier and more tender. The company’s Tanka Fund supports the return of buffalo to Great Plains Native American communities.

Tanka Bars

Hot Cedar Maple Tea from Dinner on the Farm/WonderGather. I’ve never tasted tea like this. It reminded me of the essence of a Christmas tree.


Smoked fish spread from Red Lake Fishery. We had a lot of fun talking to Robert Blake whose passion and enthusiasm for the fishery’s products stuck with us. The fish are sustainably wild-caught by tribal fisherman and filleted by hand. Red Lake Fishery ships fish to both restaurants and homes.

Red Lake Fishery Collage

We tasted many other foods and made new friends with our table mates. I wish I had taken a better photo of Sherman’s incredible bean soup with maple braised turkey. I’m not exaggerating when I say it was the best bean soup I’ve ever eaten.

As someone who is not very knowledgable about Native American food traditions, I’m thankful for this opportunity to learn, taste, and connect. Sherman’s business The Sioux Chef also offers catering and pop-up dining opportunities.

Dining At A Table Set For 2,000. Create: The Community Meal

It’s hard to describe dining at a half-mile long table set for 2,000.


My place at table 123 wasn’t just part of a meal, but a massive art piece that finally came to fruition after two years in the making.

Artist and host Seitu Jones was inspired to partner with Public Art St. Paul and plan CREATE: The Community Meal after watching people pass by his residence and studio located in the Frogtown neighborhood of St. Paul, Minnesota carrying grocery bags of processed foods from the convenience store. He embarked on a food assessment of the community with the University of Minnesota’s College of Food, Agricultural and Natural Resource Sciences and Afro-Eco to learn what factors drive people to choose unhealthier foods. The study identified cost, a lack of access, and lost sense of knowing how to cook whole foods to be these driving factors.

Volunteers played a pivotal role in cultivating community. They set up and tore down. They greeted us at every entrance gate and helped us find our tables. And at least one volunteer sat at each table to facilitate the moving pieces of the meal’s artistry.

Even the table settings had a very intentional layout.

recycling Collage

The whole event was designed to have zero waste and these Zero Waste Labs dotted each block. The place mats were handcrafted by Jones’ neighbor Mary Hark from neighborhood plants like burdock and rhubarb.

Empty seats were offered to those who were not able to reserve a ticket online and anyone else that wanted to join.

When it was time to eat, our hosts processed to the tables with platters of honey-ginger chicken they served in unison with gracefully choreographed movements.

meal procession watermark

We dove into the tender chicken with our fingers and enjoyed it with rice and beans, cornbread, salad greens and Salad Girl vinaigrette, and spicy collard greens with carrots and green beans all sourced within 40 miles (except for the rice). Of course, everything was served family style.

Meal Serving Collage

It’s impossible to be an island to one’s self while eating from platters meant to be shared. At some point, even the shyest person would have to ask for more of something, as every component was worthy of seconds. Chef James Baker of Elite Catering & the SunnySide Cafe prepared the type of meal that I will try to replicate over and over.

During my first year after college, I interned at Redeemer Center for Life located in the Harrison Neighborhood of Near North Minneapolis across the street from SunnySide. Elite catered some work events and I was filled with excitement when I first read that Baker would lead the menu.

Plate Watermarked

Throughout the meal, our gracious host facilitated discussions about our favorite childhood meals, favorite desserts and asked us to brainstorm one way we could overcome an obstacle in our community to healthy and sustainable food.

Growing up in Apple Valley, Minnesota, we didn’t eat too adventurously. Therefore, my favorite meals were the special occasions where we would order Chinese take-out. I’ve always had a taste for spicy foods and preferred savory over sweet, so as an adopted Korean, I was interested to learn that one’s food preferences can be influenced in utero. In my case, this explains a lot.

All of our food stories are so unique and worth exploring.

When the final bell sounded we read a closing written by Soyini Guyton that ended with the final words, “We wish to never forget the healing power of food, community, and love. We go in peace.” 

Those who walked by and wanted to dine was offered food and a seat at the table, yet some leftovers remained. These were offered to anyone who wanted to take them home and finally delivered to a shelter.

The rhythm of spoken word drew us down Victoria towards University and continued to weave personal stories of food and identity.

spoken word

Participating in Jones’ community meal was a humbling experience. There’s something humbling about being cared for by strangers.

I left overjoyed at connecting with old friends and making some new. Is there a better way to bring people together than over a meal? Good things happen when you break bread with strangers.

© 2024 Jeni Eats

Theme by Anders NorenUp ↑

Visit Us
Follow Me