Heartlanding Through the Breadbasket

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wanderingjew
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Heartlanding Through the Breadbasket - Thu, 09/9/10 9:04 PM
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I promised Chi Town Diner I would begin my trip report this evening since he is suffering from withdrawal symptoms after 2 weeks of consecutive pie photos.
 
This was a 2 1/2 week long venture into America's heartland precipitated by this previous thread which I started 4 years ago.
http://www.roadfood.com/Forums/tm.aspx?m=238997
 
If you review the thread it seems that the heartland received the least love regarding favorite american cuisine. Well I hope I can prove that not only is the heartland a definitive region of culinary diversity  but that many of the specialties which sadly have been neglected as of late and labeled as dead or dying are in fact alive and well and better than ever...
 
Thursday August 19
 
An early flight out of TF Green ensured an early arrival of 11 AM in Minneapolis St Paul after a brief layover at Midway in Chicago.
After getting my car rental, I was on my way down to Red Wing just under an hour from the Airport. I was on a quest. I was looking for that definitive Minnesotan Dish. I did my research, and yes it does exist, although usually as just an alternating weekly or monthly special and it's  even more challenging to find in the summer months.
 
You see I was looking for Hotdish
 
Not Gimmicky Hotdish
 

 
or
 
Pretentious
 

 
"Haute Dish"
but the real deal
So I went to visit an old friend I last saw in 2006
 

 
and found it there!
 

 
When I arrived the place was packed and in full swing. I enjoyed a superb Hot Roast Pork Commerial when I last  visited Bev's Cafe in 2006 and was hoping for another fine experience.
 
Of course I ordered the Tater Tot Hotdish which I never had before and was somewhat apprehensive if it would meet or exceed my expectations or be a flat out disappointment.
 

 
My meal arrived with a side of Asparagus and it exceeded my expectations. It was heads and shoulders above  my Tater Tot Hotdish on a stick I experienced at the Minnesota State Fair 4 years earlier (which lead to my initial apprehension). With hints of Cardamon Spice there was definitely a Scandinavian touch to this meal.
 
I finished my meal off with a slice of good ol' homemade apple pie.
 

 
At the end of my meal I also met the owner which I also had the opportunity to do at  several other restaurants I visited on my trip.  The entire staff was extremely accommodating and gracious.
 
What I noticed at many of the cafes in the midwest is that most folks go for lunch just before noon and shortly after 1pm the place clears out.
 

 

 
Same thing with dinner too. Shortly before 6pm everyone arrives and shortly after 7pm the restaurants are empty..
 
Anyway, my take on Tater Tot Hotdish is that I probably wouldn't go out of my way again to find it, but if it's on the menu I would certainly order it again.
 
After lunch I headed back towards the Twin Cities to meet up with Davydd at one of his favorite watering holes
 

 
Lord Fletchers on Lake Minnetonka
 
Arriving first, I enjoyed the view
 

 
and noticed that they paid homage to my old neck of the woods
 

 
Davydd arrived about 5 minutes after I got there and we each ordered Minnesota's own Summit Beer which I actually enjoyed numerous times over the course of this trip. We talked for probably close to two hours and discussed just about everything including my trip up North a few days a way, as well as Davydd's house on Lake Minnetonka, his trip with his family the following day and of course Breaded Pork tenderloins, the meaning behind his screen name and several other interesting subjects,  and of course I had to let him know what I enjoyed for lunch before our meet up and even Davydd conceeded that hotdish can be good. As rush hour was approaching I had to leave since I was heading about an hour north for dinner and didn't want to hit too much rush hour traffic which Davydd warned me about. I enjoyed meeting Davydd.
 
Well, Davydd was right I hit insane traffic as I tried to head north from the Twin Cities. Considering I was up since 4am and had already done quite a bit of driving I decided not to take the nearly hour long drive up north (having to return back to the Twin Cities after dinner) and decided I would flip flop my meals and do Friday's lunch for Thursday's dinner and vice versa, besides at this point I was only a few miles away from what would have been Fridays' lunch...
 
In 2001 the Stern's put out their book Blue Plate Specials and Blue Ribbon Chefs.
In that book they praised a restaurant called Carol's Calico Kitchen. Unfortunately that restaurant suffered a fire loss and the owner reopened as
 

 
Carol's Restaurant and Vintage Rose in Blaine MN with continued rave reviews on both YELP and Urbanspoon.
 
The interior
 

 
reminds me of the type of Roadfood restaurants the Stern's used to write about pre website.
 
After reviewing their online menu I already new what I wanted....
 
I ordered  the hot meat loaf commercial
 

 
Unfortunately they accidentally delivered a hot turkey commercial which looked absolutely fantastic but it wasn't what I wanted. Had I had time to go back, I would have tried it. I notified the waitress of the error and she apolgized and immediately corrected it. The original owner's daughter who is also part owner also came over to ensure that everything was ok.
 
This was a fine sandwich and even the cranberry sauce on the side was a nice touch with the meatloaf, everything was absolutely homemade, even the bread. Truly the first highlight of the trip.
 
I wish I could say the same thing about dessert. Carol's has a website on "my space" their menu indicates they have sour cream raisin pie on the menu. Unfortunately I found out it is no longer offered on the menu and is more or less a seasonal item. I also found out that they don't do their own baking. They did have rhubarb pie on the menu. I never had rhubarb pie before, I've had strawberry rhubarb, raspberry rhubarb, etc.
 

 
I found the pie to be somewhat bitter. I guess you really need to acqure  a taste for rhubarb pie, unfortunately I didn't.
 
After dinner I was exhausted, I checked into my hotel the fairfield inn near Mall of America. I was just planning on staying there one night as I will staying in downtown Minneapolis the next few nights....
 
Much, much much, much more to come....The next installment will likely be tomorrow.
<message edited by wanderingjew on Thu, 09/9/10 9:17 PM>

buffetbuster
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Re:Heartlanding Through the Breadbasket - Thu, 09/9/10 9:12 PM
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TWO slices of pie on the first day!  Keep up the good work.  The apple pie looks terrific.

Nancypalooza
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Re:Heartlanding Through the Breadbasket - Thu, 09/9/10 9:18 PM
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A hotdish and a hot commercial in the same day.  You are doing the upper Midwest for sure!

wheregreggeats.com
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Re:Heartlanding Through the Breadbasket - Thu, 09/9/10 9:45 PM
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Looks great.

mar52
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Re:Heartlanding Through the Breadbasket - Thu, 09/9/10 10:26 PM
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Sounds great, but I'm not sure about the hot dish. Can you describe what it is?  To me it looks like oatmeal with mixed vegetables mixed in.  If I saw it, I wouldn't order it....  But, I might after I know.

boyardee65
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Re:Heartlanding Through the Breadbasket - Fri, 09/10/10 6:13 AM
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  Looks to me like SOS with little corn niblets mixed in, poured over tater tots. Sounds good to me having been raised in Kansas and Missouri.
 
  David O.

Nancypalooza
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Re:Heartlanding Through the Breadbasket - Fri, 09/10/10 7:18 AM
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That's pretty much what it is.  I can't speak with determination about that, but it looks like ground beef + cream of mushroom soup + frozen mixed vegetables + tater tots, either in a crust on top or as a bottom layer.
 
I like hotdish, I have made hotdish, but I don't think I'd travel to another state for hotdish.  But mine and Dale's differences on this subject are well established.

wanderingjew
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Re:Heartlanding Through the Breadbasket - Fri, 09/10/10 8:17 AM
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I believe Cream of Mushroom soup is used as well as vegetables, ground beef and tater tots. I liked it although at first I couldn't gage whether this was good, bad or average hotdish, there were definitely spices in there, I could at least detect Cardamon. I did end up having tater tot hotdish one more time later in the trip (completely by accident) and although it was good, it wasn't  nearly as good as the Hotdish I enjoyed at Bev's Cafe.
 
I can't find Hot Dish anywhere outside of the Northern Midwest. Even when I lived in  Seattle,  with its large Scandinavian population, the locals didn't know about it. The only people I knew there that knew what Hotdish was, were transplants from Wisconsin-Minnesota-Dakotas which leads me to believe that its a Northern Midwest thing versus a scandihoovian-american thing. So I guess the same train of thought is that others won't travel outside of their state for hotdogs, burger or pancakes.  In fact outside of a couple of regional style burgers - I deliberately kept burgers to a minimum on this trip.
 

Nancypalooza
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Re:Heartlanding Through the Breadbasket - Fri, 09/10/10 8:27 AM
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If those people put cardamom in their hotdish I would wager they're smoking something in the kitchen.  And it's not meat.

wanderingjew
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Re:Heartlanding Through the Breadbasket - Fri, 09/10/10 8:31 AM
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Nancypalooza


If those people put cardamom in their hotdish I would wager they're smoking something in the kitchen.  And it's not meat.


You know, it could have been cinnamon-nutmeg-allspice- something along those lines. I wasn't sure what it was, but it worked.

susanll
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Re:Heartlanding Through the Breadbasket - Fri, 09/10/10 8:50 AM
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Ewww, that hotdish picture brings back terrible memories.  When something like that was served in our house, I was relegated to my bedroom.  The rule was: Eat what is served or eat nothing at all!  Ick.

Ralph Melton
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Re:Heartlanding Through the Breadbasket - Fri, 09/10/10 8:58 AM
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I'm not familiar with this use of the word "commercial". Is it different from "hot sandwich with gravy"?

wanderingjew
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Re:Heartlanding Through the Breadbasket - Fri, 09/10/10 9:14 AM
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Ralph Melton


I'm not familiar with this use of the word "commercial". Is it different from "hot sandwich with gravy"?


That's what the local menus call it. The Sterns have used the same lingo when referring to these sandwiches in the Northern Midwest so perhaps they might have an answer. It's unique to me because I can't find anything remotely similar here in Rhode Island...

billyboy
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Re:Heartlanding Through the Breadbasket - Fri, 09/10/10 9:31 AM
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Hey WJ!  Great stuff man.  I'm hooked already.  Nice that you were able to break bread with Davyd.  You mentioned "gimmicky" hotdish with an accompanying photo of Grumpy's Bar.  Is there a story behind that?
<message edited by billyboy on Fri, 09/10/10 9:57 AM>

wanderingjew
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Re:Heartlanding Through the Breadbasket - Fri, 09/10/10 9:48 AM
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billyboy


Hey WJ!  Great stuff man.  I'm hooked already.  Nice that you were able tyo break bread with Davyd.  You mentioned "gimmicky" hotdish with an accompanying photo of Grumpy's Bar.  Is there a story behind that?


Actually Davydd and I had the opportunity to "break beer" which I was looking forward to since we're both beer guys. Speaking of Davydd, he's the man who can best explain the story behind Grumpy's. Paraphrasing from what Davydd relayed to me is that it's two young guys from Chicago behind an overly stereotypical Minnesotacentric menu.

ChiTownDiner
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Re:Heartlanding Through the Breadbasket - Fri, 09/10/10 5:41 PM
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WJ - Nice start...cured my withdrawals.  I see buffetbuster is keeping tabs on the pie count!  That means all is right with the world!  Your apple looked great!  Keep it coming brother!

wanderingjew
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Re:Heartlanding Through the Breadbasket - Fri, 09/10/10 7:19 PM
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Friday August 20
 
Waking up to a dreary morning with on and off drizzle is not pleasant. I needed something to cheer me up...
 
How about a meal at one of my favorite breakfast joints in the country
 

 
Hell's Kitchen, located right in downtown Minneapolis.  I got here after enjoying a couple of quick cups of decent coffee at a coffee house in uptown called Isle Bun and Coffee.
 
This is their new location, when I last visited 4 years ago, it was at their original location a block or so away.
 
The first thing to arrive at the table was their trio of spreads including their fantastic peanut butter which I tried for the first time.
 

 
very dense n' crunchy...
 
It mated very well with the amazing sausage bread
 

 
a side of garlickly bison sausage
 

 
and a cup of sweet n hearty Mahnomin Porridge complete the meal
 

 
 
There are very few occasions I can say that I enjoyed each and every course of a meal- This was on of them.....

However there are few things I wasn't happy with...
 
I found the decor tacky and overdone
 

 
and the new space lacks the intimacy that the old place had.
 

 
Most important of all, the website is very misleading as it refers to "their parking garage" for parking options. After parking in "their" parking garage when I got to the restaurant I found out that it is in fact NOT their parking garage and that they do not provide validated parking. Although I only paid $5 for parking, I could have parked a block or two away and paid a few $ less. Although I'll admit it was drizzling and I didn't have an umbrella and didn't know if it would get worse or better after leaving the restaurant.
 
After breakfast the sun was shining again (although it was very muggy) and I decided to revisit
 

 
Minnehaha State Park which I last visited 12 years ago
Home of
 

 
Minnehaha Falls.
 
Enjoying the natural beauty and taking advantage of the trails both beneath and over the falls, the jaunt was quite invigorating.
 
After an hour or two of walking around It was time to take the hour drive north of the Twin Cities for lunch at..
 

 
Kaffe Stuga in Harris MN
 
In business for over 50 years. The place was buzzing when I got there around lunchtime.
 

 
I started out with their outstanding Wild Rice Soup.
 

 
Although this was my first cup of wild rice soup of the trip (which I would enjoy 3 more times) I will declare this now as the best "traditional" cream of wild rice soup of the trip. Thick and flavorful and loaded with grainy goodness. I did have one cup that was even better but it was more of a buttery broth.
 
I then moved on to a fantastic Hot Beef Commercial
 

 
Fork tender beef, homemade gravy and real mashed  potatos.
 
Will this meal be as perfect as the last????
 

 
It's strawberry pie. But I don't know what to make of it. It's supposedly home made but appears to be poorly constructed and I wasn't convinced that it was. It was ok, but it was the only glitch of the meal.....
 
After lunch, the weather seemed fine enough to head to Interstate State Park in Taylor Falls for a little bit of nature and trail hopping...
 

 
But not before a stop in Lindstrom MN
 

 
Yes that's a coffee pot on top of that tower!
 
And a stop at The Lindstrom Bakery for one of their scandinavian donuts
 

 
It was a cake style donut, it was ok, nothing to write home about.
 
I then continued on to the park...
 

 
I was about a third of the way through the trail when it started to pour. Luckily the dense forest prevented me from getting too wet..
 
I waited out the rain  at the nearby visitors center... When it stopped raining I observed some of the amazing pot hole formations that the park is famous for.
 

 
 
There's even a river boat which provides tours of the lake
 

 
It would have been cool to spend more time here and explore but I had to get back to Minneapolis in time for the ballgame..
 
Before heading back to check into my new hotel. I stopped for an early dinner at
 

 
Mavericks in Roseville (Just outside of St Paul)\
 
It was before dinner time and the place was empty. Allthough I did enjoy the decor.
 

 
I had the brisket served on a dark pumpernickel roll
 

 
Brisket can sometimes run a little dry, but not this brisket it was quite juicy and flavorful and was quite good, the smear of horseradish complimented the sandwich quite well. I also got an order of  onion rings
 

 
The two guys behind the counter who took my order were great. They gave me a sample of their Roast Beef to try as well..
 

 
It was good but the brisket gets the nod over the roast beef.
After dinner I headed back to Minneapolis to check into my new hotel, the Holiday Inn Metrodome about a couple of miles from Target Field
 

 

 

 
New home of the Minnesota Twins.
 
The exterior of the ballpark is constructed with local granite
 
Lots of great statues surrounding the ballpark including
 

 
Rod Carew...
 
Inside the ballpark was even better!
 

 

 

 

 
The view from my seat
 
also offering

 
great views of the skyline...
 

 
The Twins were playing the mediocre LA Angels that evening. Fortunately It didn't rain but it was excessively muggy and humid and taking the nearly 2 mile walk to and from my hotel left me sticky and sweaty... I believe I ended up having more bottled water than beer.
 

 

 

 
 
The Twins beat the Angels that evening. Unfortunately I don't remember the score..
 
And of course here are "The Twins"
 

 
"Minnie" and "Paul"
 
After the game I walked back to my hotel, and so far- everything has been perfect no rain outs, no closed restaurants and look what's located right next to my hotel!
 

 
The town hall Brewery- a local brew pub.
 
What more could I ask for???
 
That's it for installment #2
 
I'll be busy this weekend, so I probably won't be able to add more until next week..
 
Again...this is going to be a long one....
<message edited by wanderingjew on Fri, 09/10/10 7:25 PM>

Michael Hoffman
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Re:Heartlanding Through the Breadbasket - Fri, 09/10/10 7:36 PM
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>That's what the local menus call it. The Sterns have used the same lingo when referring to these sandwiches in the Northern Midwest so perhaps they might have an answer. It's unique to me because I can't find anything remotely similar here in Rhode Island... <
 
It's a local name. Here in central Ohio they call a hot roast beef or turkey sandwich a Split for some strange reason.

mar52
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Re:Heartlanding Through the Breadbasket - Fri, 09/10/10 8:03 PM
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Dale, I'm sure glad that you ordered those sandwiches.  I don't know that I'd be happy with slop looking meals.  Now your desserts look devine!  (They don't have rice pudding to go with the theme?)

CajunKing
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Re:Heartlanding Through the Breadbasket - Fri, 09/10/10 8:29 PM
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WJ
 
Your trip thus far has looked great, good food, great roadfood friends, local brews, and that beautiful new stadium.  Looking forward to seeing and reading about the rest of your adventure.
 
The rice soup looks FANTASTIC, I would love 3 bowls to go puhleeze!
 
 
Pie count stands at 3 for now (CCD & BB)

mar52
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Re:Heartlanding Through the Breadbasket - Fri, 09/10/10 9:31 PM
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Truth is I'd really have to try all those things we can't get in Los Angeles.  At least once!
 
I still like chewing.  
 
Tell me about that Wild Rice Soup...
 
Cream base?  Cheese?  Was there a predominant  flavor other than the rice?

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Re:Heartlanding Through the Breadbasket - Sun, 09/12/10 10:38 PM
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Always love hearing reports from MSP.
Re: "Commercial"...I've been living here 20 years and have eaten a lot of meatloaf/turkey/etc. sandwiches like that and this is the first time I've heard the term.  I can't remember it from a menu, but I suppose now I'll be noticing it everywhere.

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Re:Heartlanding Through the Breadbasket - Mon, 09/13/10 10:02 AM
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wanderingjew




"Minnie" and "Paul"


When I first saw this photo I wondered why "Paul" has a big dollar sign on his shirt...must be something in my subconscious about professional sports.
 
Great report so far, WJ, for both food and scenery.  The commercials, sausage bread and wild rice soup look particularly good and I'll bet I could easily kill a day in Minnehaha Park; hopefully if I can get tickets to a Twins-White Sox game next year I'll be able to make a weekend of it.
 
Anxiously awaiting your shots of Nicollet Mall after dark...
 
Brad
<message edited by Brad_Olson on Mon, 09/13/10 10:04 AM>

Nancypalooza
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Re:Heartlanding Through the Breadbasket - Mon, 09/13/10 10:07 AM
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Minnehaha Falls is really beautiful--there are several parks in the downtown areas where you could easily lose a day.
 
Marlene, you often add cream at the very end of cooking a wild rice soup, but that flavor is really unique.  Very subtle but very unique.  It's almost nutty like a bean moreso than rice.  It's like if you took brown rice and made it really good.  :)

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Re:Heartlanding Through the Breadbasket - Mon, 09/13/10 10:15 AM
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Excellent report, Dale. Can't wait for more. the wild rice soup and the porridge look very good.

wanderingjew
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Re:Heartlanding Through the Breadbasket - Mon, 09/13/10 7:25 PM
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Nancypalooza


Marlene, you often add cream at the very end of cooking a wild rice soup, but that flavor is really unique.  Very subtle but very unique.  It's almost nutty like a bean moreso than rice.  It's like if you took brown rice and made it really good.  :)


You hit the nail right on the head.  I was going to describe it as brown rice on steroids. Chewier and with a richer grainier taste. I guess the best analogy would be like comparing steel cut oats to plain ol' oatmeal.

wanderingjew
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Re:Heartlanding Through the Breadbasket - Mon, 09/13/10 8:28 PM
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Brad,
 
I walked by Nicollet Mall several times between my hotel and the ballpark- unfortunately I didn't walk up Nicollet Mall during the course of my trip,.
 
 
Saturday August 21
 
I decide to drive approximately 30 miles west of downtown Minneapolis to Delano MN
 
My first stop for breakfast was The Three Crows Coffee House and Cafe
 

 
One thing I noticed, coffee houses in Minnesota are more than just coffee houses. Besides serving great coffee many have full menus offering comfort food in a northwoods lodge setting. The Three Crows is no exception.
 


 
I decided to skip the special

 
And  went with the Minnesota Flappers
 

 
These are buckwheat pancakes loaded with wild rice and blueberries
 


The portions were substantial and hearty and they were really good. The coffee was also exceptional. In fact I thought it was better than Bun Aisle  in Minneapolis. I really enjoyed the fact that since they were busy, I was allowed to go up and refill my own cup.
 
After breakfast I walked around Delano's Main Street and eventually took the brief walk to stop # 2
 

 
Peppermint Twist
 
Cool exterior-- they were just opening up when I got there around 11AM.
 

 
I got their namesake peppermint shake''
 

 
It does have bits of peppermint in the shake, but I was underwhelmed. I'm not sure what I was expecting, but I guess I was expecting more. It wasn't bad but I didn't think it was anything special.
 
From there I made my way north.
 
As I was driving. I entered the town of Buffalo MN and noticed a beautiful lake to my left.
 

 
There was also a Saturday Morning Farmer's Market in the center of town.
 

 
and I decided to pull over, and explore since I had some time to kill before lunch
 

 
 
After taking both the farmers market and the lake, I continued up North about another 10 miles to the town of Monticello MN for my lunch stop at
 

 
The Cornerstone Cafe
 

 
The place was only about 1/3 full when I arrived
 
I started out with the chicken wild rice soup.

 
The soup itself was ok although I could taste the cream and chicken stock,  unfortunately the wild rice did not take center stage and therefore it was my least favorite wild rice soup of the trip.
 
On the other hand, I was given a sample of their tomato basil soup 


 
and that was exeptional.
 
My main course
 

 
Was yet another Hotdish!- Chicken and Wild Rice
 
I really enjoyed the creamy mushroom sauce which covered the chicken and I confirmed that the wild rice is in fact the real deal.
 
Finally for  dessert, I noticed their huge pie selection. but I already knew what I wanted, and it was waiting for me...
 

 
This was the most dense and richest sour cream raisin pie of the entire trip. It was almost too much of a good thing. I ate about a 1/4 of my pie and then had to ask them to box the rest of of it up for later I just couldn't finish it but yes I did finish it off at my hotel later on in the evening.
 
I then returned to Minneapolis just in time for my second twins game it was a mid afternoon game that began at 3pm. It was a warm Saturday afternoon, thankfully it seemed to less humid than the day before.
 

 

 

 
The Twins continued their series with the Angels...
For this game, former Yankee, Hideki Matsui was the designated hitter for the Angels.
 

 
And considering that I was the only person applauding everytime he came up to bat, I can assume that I'm the only one that cared.
 
The Angels beat the Twins in this game.
 
After the game I walked back to my hotel and had probably one of the best beers of the trip, a "smoked heff"  at the brewpub next door.
 
Ahi Mpls was supposed to join me at my final stop of the evening. She called and  told me she would be unable to make it.
 
Be that as it may, I made it to
 

 
Casper and Runyons The Nook in St Paul
 
One of several homes of The Twin Cities Juicy Lucy.
 
The place was packed and there was a good 90 minute wait for  a table.
 

 
I got a kick out of their decor
 

 
I started out with the cheese curds (Hey Wisconsin isn't that far away)
 

 
Which tasted a little flat. The Cheese Curds I enjoyed at the state fair 4 years earlier were much better..
 
Finally my juicy lucy arrived...
 
I wasn't sure how I was going to take a photo of this. I didn't want to bite into it and have the cheese splatter everywhere. I decided to let the burger cool down a little and then cut a piece away...and that seemed to work..

 
It was certainly a good burger and definitely had more character than the Connecticut Steamed Cheeseburger but it left me wondering what all the hype was all about. It's a stuffed cheeseburger for crying out loud, there was really nothing about it that made me think "wow....this is really unique".. Like Tatertot Hotdish I don't think I would go out of my way to find  one again but if it were on the menu I would certainly get one.
 
After dinner I returned back to my hotel for another nightcap at the brew pub next door and then called it a night...
 
More tomorrow....
 
 





<message edited by wanderingjew on Mon, 09/13/10 8:40 PM>

Ivyhouse
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Re:Heartlanding Through the Breadbasket - Mon, 09/13/10 8:43 PM
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Very nice report.  The chicken and wild rice looks wonderful.

Nancypalooza
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Re:Heartlanding Through the Breadbasket - Mon, 09/13/10 10:41 PM
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I think the chicken and wild rice sounds like it was very tasty, but I might have to add hotdish to the short list of foods (including chili cheeseburgers and corned beef hash) that test the skills of photographers.  Nice day out Dale!

CajunKing
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Re:Heartlanding Through the Breadbasket - Tue, 09/14/10 3:48 AM
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After all that and Ahi Mpls stood you up!! 
 
Hmmmm no more guess the roadfood pix for her! Just kidding
 
That raisin pie looked SOOOOOOOOOOO very good, (#4 btw CTD & BB)
 

wanderingjew
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Re:Heartlanding Through the Breadbasket - Tue, 09/14/10 9:50 AM
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CajunKing



That raisin pie looked SOOOOOOOOOOO very good, (#4 btw CTD & BB)



This is only the beginning-  much more pie to come (and lots of sour cream raisin too)

RodBangkok
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Re:Heartlanding Through the Breadbasket - Tue, 09/14/10 11:21 AM
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thanks for the trip report, I really enjoy all the photos....only no tater tots for me eeeeeewww.

mar52
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Re:Heartlanding Through the Breadbasket - Tue, 09/14/10 5:15 PM
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Now that's a hotdish I could eat.  Looks more like Kasha than slop.
 
How lucky you were to find that Farmer's Market!  Did you purchase any of their locally made jarred goodies to take back home?
 
I'm a sucker for mustards and sauces.
 

Davydd
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Re:Heartlanding Through the Breadbasket - Tue, 09/14/10 5:29 PM
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wanderingjew


billyboy


Hey WJ!  Great stuff man.  I'm hooked already.  Nice that you were able tyo break bread with Davyd.  You mentioned "gimmicky" hotdish with an accompanying photo of Grumpy's Bar.  Is there a story behind that?


Actually Davydd and I had the opportunity to "break beer" which I was looking forward to since we're both beer guys. Speaking of Davydd, he's the man who can best explain the story behind Grumpy's. Paraphrasing from what Davydd relayed to me is that it's two young guys from Chicago behind an overly stereotypical Minnesotacentric menu.

Grumpy's is a bar/grill that serves bar food. There is nothing authentic or home cooked or Scandinavian about it. It is owned by two non-native young guys. Hot dish has been embellished by the likes of Garrison Kiellor's Prairie Home Companion radio show and a satire book written by Howard Mohr on How to Talk Minnesotan. Also there are several recipe books on hot dish both serious and satirical. It is today a food to be made fun of for the most part and probably to satisfy out of towners, it might look good on a menu. Wanderingjew was not looking for the the satirical dish from SYSCO but a dish with some distinctive Scandinavian ancestral roots that are getting harder and harder to find. BTW, my wife made traditional hotdish for our RV social potluck this week in Grand Marais. I insisted she use authentic hand cut and parched native wild rice. At $16 per pound I can guarantee you will not get that in a restaurant.

Greymo
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Re:Heartlanding Through the Breadbasket - Tue, 09/14/10 5:34 PM
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This is  interesting.  What is traditional  Hotdish?.  I   had always thought  that it  was  a casserole  which  was  basically  a  one dish meal

Davydd
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Re:Heartlanding Through the Breadbasket - Tue, 09/14/10 5:57 PM
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Hot dish is casserole. It can be baked in an oven or slow cooked in a crockpot. The traditional Minnesota hot dish is wild rice, mushroom and chicken or ground beef. Often it is layered with potatoes and often Tater Tots.

wanderingjew
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Re:Heartlanding Through the Breadbasket - Tue, 09/14/10 7:07 PM
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mar52


How lucky you were to find that Farmer's Market!  Did you purchase any of their locally made jarred goodies to take back home?

I'm a sucker for mustards and sauces.


 
Mar
 
I can never turn down a good farmers market. Unfortunately with 2 1/2 weeks of clothes in my luggage, I was limited as to what I could bring back with me

wanderingjew
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Re:Heartlanding Through the Breadbasket - Tue, 09/14/10 8:47 PM
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Sunday August 22
 
This would be my last full day in the Twin Cities before I head to points north.
 
After another coupla cups of coffee at Bun Aisle, I decided to head to St Paul for a real breakfast at the original Keys Cafe


 
Keys Cafe is a local chain in the Twin Cities. The original location that I went to opened up sometime in the 1970's. I told Davydd of my breakfast option a few days earlier when we met and he gave me his seal of approval.
 
Keys offers both counter and booth seating.
 

 

 
I decided to go with the Loon Omelet.

 
Not only was this omelet enormous but it was also
every bit amazing. Basicallly  a breakfast hotdish in an omelet, it contained wild rice, turkey, mushrooms, onion, tomato, swiss cheese with creamy mushroom sauce ladeled on top. My only regrets was that I was unable to finish this gargantuan masterpiece. Asides from Hells Kitchen, this was my favorite breakfast of the trip and it will find itself on a top 10 list for 2010.
 
After breakfast, it was such a beautiful day, I decided to stroll around some of the urban neighborhoods in Minneapolis. I started with the West Bank located near my hotel and then drove to uptown and walked around there.
 
I stumbled upon an indepent bookseller called Magers and Quinn and found this book.
 

 
 
Like Davydd mentioned there are even books written about Hotdish and this one came out about 4 years ago, as I remember Michael Stern mentioned it in a previous thread, however for those who are curious, I did not purchase the book.
 
Afterwards I headed over to Lake Calhoun to take  a stroll around the lake
 

 

 
 
Even the ducks seem perfectly content!
 

 
After strolling around, I deliberately planned on having a light lunch. (not Chi Town Diner lite) but a legitimately light lunch since I already an enormous breakfast and knew I was going to have a big dinner.
 
I went over to the Midtown Global Market a newish indoor market with several stalls and international offerings including
 

 
Vietnamese
 

 
Carribean
 
and
 

 
Mexican
 
I decided to go with
 

 
You guessed it,  Cafe Finspang, a Scandinavian gift stop, bakery and deli. I believe they may even have Lutefisk there but I didn't get any.
 
I decided to go with their Smorgasbord.
 

 
Small open faced sandwiches on dense dark bread
(from left to right- herring, salmon and jarlsberg cheese)
These little sandwiches really hit the spot- just enough to carry me over til dinner.
 
For dessert, I got a lingonberry bar.

 
I wish I could say something favorable about  the Lingonberry bar as I did the sandwiches but I can't. I've had lingonberrys before and although the bar was moist and sweet, it really didn't taste like anything remotelely resembling lingonberries and was surprisingly bland.  The meal itself was relatively inexpensive about 6 bucks and change.
 
After lunch I walked around the market some more, soaking in the atmosphere and listening to the live band they had there that afternoon.
 
I then drove back downtown and headed to ...
 

 
The Mill City Musuem. A museum celebrating Minneapolis' history as one of the biggest flour manufacturers of the nation in the first half of the twentieth century.
 
As some may know...
 

 
This guy got his start here!
 

 
and here is the old building.
 
And of course
 

 
gold medal flour aka general mills..
 
The museum was really interesting  being greeted by an unusually monster sized box of bisquick
 

 
and other interesting contraptions
 

 
 

 
Inside the flour tower you are taken inside a freight elevator and are taken to different floors which were amazingly duplicated to look like different areas of a working mill and the computer generated animitronics were just out of this world. Eventually I was taken to the observaton tower with a great view of St Anthony's Falls.
 

 
After the museum my final stop for the evening was the place that no one can leave the Twin Cities without stopping at...
 

 
Although there is extremely heavy sun glare on the sign- this is Tavern on Grand in St. Paul.
 
Several days earlier Davydd mentioned that Buddyroadhouse had been there recently and it had changed. Apparently renovations had been done and the place was not as good as it used to be. I sent Buddy a pm before going and he indicated that the  renovations changed the atmosphere of the place and that it now looked more like a sports bar versus a northwoods cabin. Also there are items that are no longer on the menu but the Walleye is still good.
Just as long as the wild rice soup and Walleye are on the menu- that's all I care about.
 
Anyway, I may not be the most observant person in the world, but it appeared to me when I walked in the northwoods cabin atmosphere still appeared intact...
 

 

 

 
I started out with the chicken wild rice soup.
 

 
This used to be my benchmark for wild rice soup.  Still good and was better than the wild rice soup at Cornerstone Cafe, however it fell short of the wild rice soup at Kafe Stuga.
 
When I visited Tavern on Grand in the past, I usually ordered the walleye sandwich.  This time I ordered the Walleye Entree. You have the option to order one or two fillets. Of course I chose two
 

 
It came with a choice of potato, the only logical option to me was the potato cakes. Both the Walleye and Potato Cakes were outstanding, however I'm not sure if its my imagination or not but it seems that they use a lighter batter for the walleye sandwich than they do the entree. I didn't ask but when I checked some of the yelp reviews others had mentioned the same thing.
 
That's about it for Sunday. The next day I will have an early start so I returned to my hotel after dinner.
<message edited by wanderingjew on Tue, 09/14/10 8:51 PM>

Davydd
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Re:Heartlanding Through the Breadbasket - Tue, 09/14/10 9:29 PM
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I've been in Minnesota only 40 years. Maybe some day I will get to some of those places.

Nancypalooza
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Re:Heartlanding Through the Breadbasket - Tue, 09/14/10 9:35 PM
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That's a beautiful plate of walleye and I did not know all that about the flour mills downtown--very cool!

mar52
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Re:Heartlanding Through the Breadbasket - Tue, 09/14/10 9:47 PM
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Amazing meals and things to see!  I'm now craving wild rice soup.  I really like the look of that omelet.

joerogo
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Re:Heartlanding Through the Breadbasket - Tue, 09/14/10 9:59 PM
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Hey Dale, cool trip and pics.
 
I have about a dozen "Hot Dish" jokes, but since I'm on Double Secret Probation I'll keep them to myself

1bbqboy
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Re:Heartlanding Through the Breadbasket - Tue, 09/14/10 10:05 PM
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as long as they don't involve blue cheese or avocados I'm safe

1bbqboy
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Re:Heartlanding Through the Breadbasket - Tue, 09/14/10 10:07 PM
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mar52


Amazing meals and things to see!  I'm now craving wild rice soup.  I really like the look of that omelet.

just so you know, California wild rice is not real wild rice. Just thought  you should know.

Nancypalooza
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Re:Heartlanding Through the Breadbasket - Tue, 09/14/10 10:11 PM
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Particularly if they try to sell it to you out of a car. ;)

Greymo
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Re:Heartlanding Through the Breadbasket - Tue, 09/14/10 10:51 PM
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joerogo


Hey Dale, cool trip and pics.

I have about a dozen "Hot Dish" jokes, but since I'm on Double Secret Probation I'll keep them to myself


lAUGHING MY HEAD OFF......................I feel your pain!

mar52
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Re:Heartlanding Through the Breadbasket - Tue, 09/14/10 10:59 PM
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So if I make wild rice soup, it isn't.

1bbqboy
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Re:Heartlanding Through the Breadbasket - Tue, 09/14/10 11:29 PM
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 California Wild Rice Soup. Just have to add the Sprouts, tofu, and Avocado slices.

mar52
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Re:Heartlanding Through the Breadbasket - Wed, 09/15/10 1:02 AM
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I couldn't stand it.
 
Just bought a pound of MN wild rice on Ebay.  

joerogo
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Re:Heartlanding Through the Breadbasket - Wed, 09/15/10 7:52 AM
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bill voss


 California Wild Rice Soup. Just have to add the Sprouts, tofu, and Avocado slices.

 
Don't forget the crumbled blue cheese.

MSPD
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Re:Heartlanding Through the Breadbasket - Wed, 09/15/10 4:03 PM
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wanderingjew
 
It was certainly a good burger and definitely had more character than the Connecticut Steamed Cheeseburger but it left me wondering what all the hype was all about. It's a stuffed cheeseburger for crying out loud, there was really nothing about it that made me think "wow....this is really unique"..


Sigh.  And to think of all the good burgers you missed at the Nook.

wanderingjew
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Re:Heartlanding Through the Breadbasket - Wed, 09/15/10 8:58 PM
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Monday August 23
 
Early to rise I had a quick caffeine fix at the regional chain Dunn Brothers in downtown Minneapolis.
 
Afterwards, my breakfast stop was a return to Lindstrom Bakery in Lindstrom MN, but not for one of their ho-hum donuts. A photo has been haunting me for a while and I just had to tear into a whole hunka this...
 

 
Julekaka Bread or Swedish Christmas Bread. Yes this is the size of a typical loaf of bread
Spiced with cardamon and filled with raisins and dried fruit, it reminded me of Entemann's danish back in the day when Entemann's used to be good when they were a Long Island only regional bakery.
 
Afterwards I continued my way "up north" passing through Duluth it appeared the entire city was under construction. In fact it was.
 
I finally made my way to Two Harbors and to
 

 
Two Harbors Light.
 
It was here that I  had the opportunity to gaze at Lake Superior for the first time.
 

 
While touring the grounds..
 

 
and the keepers cottage
 

 
Afterwards, I walked around small quaint downtown Two Harbors and came across this sign..
 

 
and I thought, "yep, it will cost you an arm and a leg"
 
Making my way north to Beaver Bay it was time for lunch. as I entered the small enclave on Route 61, I found my dinner spot but couldn't find my lunch spot. Their website simply gave their address as Route 61, Beaver Bay. I then pulled over and called The Lemon Wolf Cafe and got the dreaded recording "we are closed Monday and Tuesday"
I decided to hit my dinner spot for Lunch..
 

 
I've reviewed their menu several times on their website...now usually I'm very good about not hitting closed restaurants however I seem to have a knack for visiting restaurants that conveniently remove the coolest items off their menu and leave the items I couldn't care less about....In this case I was looking forward to their Minnesota Ringneck Pheasant and Wild Rice, and was told they no longer offer it...However I was absolutely thankful that they still  had choice # 2 on the menu..
 
I loved the decor in the restaurant
 

 
 

 
And there were gnomes peering out at you in the garden located in the back of the restaurant which overlooked lake superior.

 
I started out with absolutely the most phenominal wild rice soup I ever had...
 

 
a buttery broth versus cream, this soup just screamed flavor and broke the mold for wild rice soups....far different the traditional "cream of" wild rice soups I had earlier on my trip
 
Finally my main course came...
 

 
 
The traditional Swedish Meatball Dinner served with boiled red potatoes, braised cabbage, lefse and lingonberry sauce. Although I enjoyed my meal, my only gripe is I thought they were a little stingy with the meatballs.
 
For dessert....
 

 
Fruit of the forest pie which I suspect was made off premises... The pie wasn't bad but it certainly wasn't one of the better pies of the trip...
 
After lunch I headed to
 

 
Split Rock State Park for yet another lighthouse tour...
 
The Grounds housed a museum
 

 
 

 
as well as the keepers cottage
 

 

 
and there were some great trails and the scenery was just amazing...
 

 
as depicted by this view from the lighthouse..
 
Well....it was now time for a mid afternoon pie break...
 

 

 
at The Rustic Inn Cafe in Two Harbors
 

 
I deliberately took a photo of their empty spare room because I liked the look of it..
 
Anyway
 

 
Their raspberry rhubarb pie was a winner.  It was one of my favorite pies of the trip. The combination of tart and sweet housed in a delicate buttery pie crust really made my afternoon ....
 
afterwards I was feeling...
 

 
Fat n Happy's was actually a really interesting antique and consignment shop located next door to the rustic inn. I spent close to an hour looking around at their really cool items..
 
Afterwards since it was approaching 5pm I checked into my motel located in Silver Bay. A nice little motel surrounded by the great northwoods.....
 
I decided to return to The Northern Lights Roadhouse and Pub for dinner. When I went their for lunch, I noticed their daily catch of the day- Fresh Herring. This was what I had hoped to have had at the "closed on Mondays and Tuesdays"  Lemon Wolf Cafe.
The meal comes with Salad Bar and the regionally inappropriate soup of the day "Chili"
Actually the Chili wasn't bad but it certainly was far from anything resembling "Texas Red" unfortunately no photos of the chili.
 
The salad bar on the other hand was not exactly what I expected
 

 
This is the first time I encountered a salad bar that included pickled herring. This must be a regional oddity similar to the baked beans I encountered at a salad bar in Gorham ME.
 
Anyway, dinner was surprisingly good..
 

 
The grilled herring had a clean taste and was seasoned well. It too came with boiled potatos and a citrusy-fruity salad garnish....Since I wasn't to thrilled with their dessert earlier this afternoon I decided not to have any.
 
Afterwards i returned to my motel for the evening and had some more Julekaka  Bread which was waiting for me back in my motel room...
<message edited by wanderingjew on Wed, 09/15/10 9:10 PM>

Nancypalooza
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Re:Heartlanding Through the Breadbasket - Wed, 09/15/10 9:06 PM
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That raspberry-rhubarb is a good combination, and I love all the little state parks up this road.  Lovely pictures! 

zataar
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Re:Heartlanding Through the Breadbasket - Wed, 09/15/10 9:55 PM
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Great report! Lots of good food and lots of work reporting it. All of those  pies and wild rice soup...nice :)

BuddyRoadhouse
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Re:Heartlanding Through the Breadbasket - Wed, 09/15/10 10:02 PM
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wanderingjew

 
Several days earlier Davydd mentioned that Buddyroadhouse had been there recently and it had changed. Apparently renovations had been done and the place was not as good as it used to be. I sent Buddy a pm before going and he indicated that the  renovations changed the atmosphere of the place and that it now looked more like a sports bar versus a northwoods cabin. Also there are items that are no longer on the menu but the Walleye is still good.
Just as long as the wild rice soup and Walleye are on the menu- that's all I care about.

Anyway, I may not be the most observant person in the world, but it appeared to me when I walked in the northwoods cabin atmosphere still appeared intact...







There used to be a faux log cabin effect painted on the walls and everything was little bit grittier, giving the place more of a "Roadfood" atmosphere.  Those white arches and the brighter lighting are all new.  Generally, it has a more sanitized (versus "sanitary) look that I found jarring.  Maybe that influenced my opinion of the food which I thought was not up to previous visits.
 
BTW, this is an excellent report.  The only thing missing, IMO, are the vital statistics; addresses, telephone numbers, website links, etc.  Otherwise, exceptional stuff.  Thanks very much!
 
Buddy

Davydd
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Re:Heartlanding Through the Breadbasket - Wed, 09/15/10 11:38 PM
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We came off the Sawbill Trail Tuesday morning and I was intent on stopping once again at the Lemon Wolf Cafe in Beaver Bay but too found it closed. I am glad we stopped at the Coho Cafe in Tofte, MN instead to get coffee coming off the trail and staying for breakfast. Coho Cafe has on premise pies, cakes and pastries. It was another gem. We will also be going back to Northern Lights.

wanderingjew
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Re:Heartlanding Through the Breadbasket - Thu, 09/16/10 8:11 AM
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Nancy,
 
I wish I had more time to spend up on the North Shore. The following  day I spent all day in Grand Marais. It would have been great to have a couple of extra days to check out the gunflint trail, the parks and points north of Grand Marais.
 
Buddy
I was expecting the   "Cabin Atmosphere" to have been completely erased. I was expecting the place to look more like a "TGI Fridays" however it  still evoked a lakeshore cabin feel and it still felt "roadfoody" to me. In fact every place I visited did with the exception of two places which were actually my two biggest disappointments of the trip (Thankfully they weren't full meals- just snacks)  I had asked the waitress if management or ownership had changed recently and she replied it hadn't changed in a long time, I believe her exact words were "years". Either way the food was just as I remembered.
 
Regarding hours/links/addresses, I'm technically challenged and really am not that internet savvy (all intentional), other than roadfood I spend virtually no time on the internet, don't even own a laptop (and have no desire to) and only set up a facebook account so I don't inadvertently get left out of the loop on invites to parties/get togethers with friends locally.
<message edited by wanderingjew on Thu, 09/16/10 8:44 AM>

mr chips
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Re:Heartlanding Through the Breadbasket - Thu, 09/16/10 9:45 AM
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Pickled herring at a salad bar sounds wonderful. Northern Minnesota and environs seem to have been a major topic on the fora this past week and it has been a real pleasure reading about the area and its wonderful food and seeing pictures of the area beauty. I was in the region once in 1978 and my memories are of the spectacular bridge between Superior and Duluth, the huge freighters, and visiting Lake Itasca, walking across the Mississippi there and having my picture taken in the middle of the river. Thanks for illuminating this wonderful area, Nancy, Dale and Davy .
<message edited by mr chips on Thu, 09/16/10 10:13 AM>

Inthewater
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Re:Heartlanding Through the Breadbasket - Thu, 09/16/10 11:56 AM
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Almost every salad bar I have been to in my life has had pickled herring on it.
 
In Iowa.
 
Not just a Minnesota thing.  :)

wanderingjew
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Re:Heartlanding Through the Breadbasket - Thu, 09/16/10 12:12 PM
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Inthewater


Almost every salad bar I have been to in my life has had pickled herring on it.

In Iowa.

Not just a Minnesota thing.  :)


It could be a Northern Midwest thing.
For the record I've been to two salad bars in Iowa neither had pickled herring.. The first time at the very much missed White Way in Durant back in 1998, there was no pickled herring. The 2nd o

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