Where I Write

Throughout my blogging journey, I realize that I’ve probably mentioned my love for quaint coffee shops quite a bit. I’m not shy to admit my very basic girl tendencies which are sort of ironic because I don’t even like the taste of coffee. I love the idea of a calm peaceful space dedicated to quality drinks. Small coffee shops are always a joy and I find that there is no other space where I can be at my productive peak. I go when I need to study, socialize, write and experience food and drink in such a pure and wholesome form. Given this love, I figured I’d share where it is that I settle down with a chai latte and write to my hearts content.

Whether it be for studying or blogging, I find that quaint coffee shops offer the perfect little escape from the world around me. There, I can fully focus on the task ahead while relaxing and enjoying my surroundings. Being in college, the library and other spots on campus can often be high stress suffocating environments that distract me from doing my best work. That is why I escape. I leave to relax, take a few deep breaths and get to completing what seems to be an always growing pile of work.

At home: Penny’s Coffee (Linden Hills, Minneapolis)

While I still stand loyal to my multiple local Starbucks, I was super excited when Penny’s Linden Hills opened last spring since I really wanted a perfect work space coffee shop near me. Their drinks are incredibly flavorful and unique with specials such as the pink spicy peppermint latte (perfect for the ‘gram). They serve up a menu of gourmet crêpes and sandwiches, along with breakfast items and pastries. I will literally just come for their avocado toast which is probably the best I’ve ever had. They just recently started baking their own pastries which is giving me major FOMO since I’m back at school.

At school: Rye Berry Cafe (Hamilton, NY)

I’m currently sitting at Rye Berry right now, writing this, and eating their amazing homemade extra-strained yogurt which is definitely my ideal way of spending a Tuesday morning. Everything is made fresh in-house every morning from the coffee and tea syrups to all of the breads and baked goods. I think that you seriously cannot go wrong with any of Rye Berry’s breakfast or lunch options which range from a daily quiche special to biscuit sandwiches and cinnamon buns. They had a mean pumpkin spice latte this fall which made me actually enjoy the very sweetened taste of coffee.

At school part 2: Fojo Beans (Hamilton, NY)

The Fojo Beans cafe just recently opened after having a local gourmet coffee business for years. The shop specializes in their special blends and fancy teas while selling a changing menu of baked goods from local CNY bakeries. They have a variety of grab and go items such as rice puddings and overnight oats which are delicious and (fairly) healthy. The atmosphere is very relaxed and casual making it a great space to get work done and hang with friends. It is great that Hamilton is expanding their cafe culture with another new place to come in and study.

Newest (and Sweetest) Minneapolis Summer Hotspots (as seen all over Instagram)

New food places nowadays have Instagram to thank (or not to thank) for making their businesses go viral, literally.  While visual presentation has always played a big role in the appeal and popularity of food, social media has moved its importance to sky heights, making it crucial for “popular” food joints to make, for lack of a better word, beautiful food.  Food trends are also more prevalent than ever thanks to the rise of social media, especially Instagram stories since everyone wants to prove and brag to the world that they eat well and some-what healthy.  As for trendy Instagram-worthy places in the Minneapolis area, two new places stand out as being the definition of this; cool, hip, and delicious.

MNice Cream (NE Minneapolis):  The name might be cheesy, but MNice Cream is the new “It” ice cream spot for the summer.  Serving up crazy over the top soft serve creations, the original food truck and shop inside a northeast warehouse has been gathering quite the line.  The concept is classic and simple.  You order either vanilla, chocolate, or vegan/dairy-free soft serve, then choose a creation (a mixture of toppings) from the menu or create your own masterpiece.  The toppings are over the top (think eatable glitter, churros, and homemade donuts, along with the traditional and every variety of candy), and you have the option to get a colorful cone and/or a flower which is purely for the Instagram aesthetic.  The homemade soft serve itself is really delicious as it is perfectly creamy and flavorful, but the toppings truly make the place an experience, one that is perfect for a hot sunny Minneapolis day.

Above are some examples of amazing creations at MNice Cream brought to you from their Instagram.

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My MNice cone was the dirty worms creation (oreo, gummy worms, chocolate sauce, and sparkles) with an added churro donut and flower on a waffle cone.

Nautical Bowls (Minnetonka):  On the other side of the health spectrum (or at least we hope) is Nautical Bowls, a concept cafe that solely sells acai and such bowls which, if you live under an Instagram-less rock, are breakfast-like parfaits with a base of acai sorbet.  While this might sound sweet, the bowls are more like a tangy super thick smoothie topped with fruit, nuts, and seeds.  At Nautical Bowls (the name is derived from being near Lake Minnetonka), you have the option to create your own (see a trend?) or order from a couple of pre-designed creations.  Acai isn’t the only base available.  In fact, it’s probably the least exciting.  There are 5 options which you can choose multiple of per bowl: the classic acai (deep purple), pitaya (beautifully pink dragonfruit), matcha (green tea), coconut with activated charcoal (a deep grey color), and chia seed pudding.  Once you choose your base which is arguably the most exciting part, you choose 4+ toppings.  They have a huge variety of “superfoods” such as bee pollen, goji berries, hemp hearts, in addition to fresh fruit and butters such as peanut butter and almond butter.  The result is a colorful bowl chock full of nutrients and yumminess.  The experience is literally amazing, as the taste of the bowls is super unique and satisfying.

Above are two bowls that a friend and I ordered at Nautical Bowls.  I had a base of pitaya, coconut and chia seeds with banana, strawberry, bee pollen and coconut on top.  I was in heaven.  My friend had a similar thing, but with acai instead of chia seeds.  The colors were so vibrant.

The cute interior of Nautical Bowl is supposed to reflect a nautical theme which feels really fresh and cheerful.  It might seem kind of random, but if you were boating on the lake, the shop would be a perfect place to stop by after!

Don’t wait, and adventure to these spots for the amazing food and photos waiting to happen!  It will be totally #instaworthy!

A Foodie’s Guide to US Bank Stadium-Home of Super Bowl LII

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The glass walls of US Bank Stadium reflect the glistening Minneapolis skyline in the background while entrapping the sheer excitement of fans.  Even on a normal game day, the atmosphere is one of grandiose amazement.  I can only imagine what the stadium will be like on February 4th.

While the newly completed stadium is a sight to behold, the experience of attending a game is not second best.  Local eateries and chefs have put in a great deal of effort to curate to fans for the ultimate game day experience; one that is still overpriced, but one that will not make you feel like peeling over from eating too many crappy nachos at the end of the game.  One thing is certain, the stadium and the NFL will be pulling out all the stops for the big game.

Most older stadiums tend to serve only overpriced deep-fried American “classics” which don’t always settle well in the stomach.  While chicken fingers and nachos are typical, and they are available at US Bank, most of the food in the stadium is thankfully pretty gourmet and tasty.  With changing eating habits and an emphasis on healthier foods, American fans are sick of the classic hot dog and beer combo.  Celebrity chef and Minneapolis native Andrew Zimmern, who is revolutionizing game-day food through his successful restaurant stands in Minnesota stadiums, said that “People expect better food these days” and “We put our best foot forward, not despite the fact that it’s a stadium, but because it’s a stadium” (The Star Tribune). It’s true.  The food is still overpriced, but I know that I’m personally much more willing to pay more for something that I’d actually like than something that I’d never eat out of a stadium.

Here are some of the best foods found at US Bank Stadium.

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The roasted chicken sandwich at AZ Canteen.  This booth is one of Zimmern’s ventures and serves up many different carnivorous options that are sure to delight any meat lover.  The chicken was juicy and tender while tasting great with cajun spices.

 

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Smoky Chicken Nachos from Twin Cities Foodie.  These serve as an upgrade to the fake cheesy classic nachos that seem to have embedded themselves into stadium fare.  They are spicy but flavorful.

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Fried Chicken Sandwich from Revival.  I guess that chicken seems to be a common theme, but it is so good at the Stadium.  Revival is a popular Minneapolis-based southern fried chicken restaurant that has transferred their well-known chicken sandwiches to the football stadium.  This was my favorite as the fried chicken was paired perfectly with mayonnaise, tomatoes, and pickles.  Also available in Tennesse-style hot (tasty but a challenge to finish).  Delicious!

 

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Frozen Hot Chocolate from AZ Canteen.  This unconventional desert is a must try for a chocolate lover.  I would describe it as a frozen chocolate mousse paired with white chocolate covered cereal on top.  It is sort of like ice cream, but better than what stadium ice cream is usually like.

 

 

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Bomboloni from AZ Canteen.  Ok, this canteen place is really good.  I feel like anything there would be worth a try.  Before the game, my family shared these beignet-like donut holes for breakfast.  They are just as good as they look and sound!

Overall, the best places…

  • AZ Canteen:  Gourmet meat sandwiches and bbq along with unique desserts and drinks.
  • Revival Fried Chicken:  Fried chicken exemplar, enough said.
  • Minneapolis Foodie:  Focuses on gourmat food options that are targeted to more sophisticated fans.
  • 612 Burger Kitchen:  A classic burger stand serving well-made burgers with fries and tots.
  • Curds ‘N Cakes:  If you really want to pig out, indulge in some fabulous beer battered cheese curds.

Find out more here

 

Minneapolis Restaurants-Broders’ Cucina Italiana

Often over shadowed by its older sibling across the street, Broders’ Cucina Italiana is a little known foodie paradise.  Its quick grab and go cafe atmosphere is perfect for a great last minute dinner, lunch or takeout which is what differentiates it from the pasta bar’s slight inconvenience of always being overcrowded.  The food is very authentic and well prepared with an extensive menu to choose from.  Anyone fascinated by foreign products or unique food products in general will delight, as I do, over the expanse of goods imported from Italy.  Many of the products, such as pasta, vinegar, candy and gelato to name a few, are in Italian which elaborates on a cultural shopping experience for the globally intrigued.  I find much joy looking around to see what they have while waiting for my food.

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Some of the goods on sale

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As a customer, you can order pasta dishes such as the delicious Mac and Cheese or the Spaghetti Parmesan, in addition to sandwiches, pizza, salads, and anti-pasta.  I love the tomato mozzarella sandwich on a baguette.  It’s simply perfect.  The pizza is Italian style thin crust and offers many traditional and innovative flavors.  There is a case of all the prepared salads and such where you can go and pick them up to bring home.

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The Mac and Cheese is nothing like Kraft’s.  It more of a cream and tomato dish topped with baked bread crumb.  Delicious!

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The salads and gourmet goods on display

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In addition to freshly prepared meals and the groceries, the Cucina has an assortment of homemade desserts and a coffee station with the ability to brew up plenty of gourmet drinks.  I recommend the caramel flan and the cheesecakes which changes flavors everyday.  There are also imported cookies and small bits.

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The beautiful display of desserts.  

Together, Cucina Italiana is a great place to enjoy to quick meal, shop and just look around.  The food is fabulous, the atmosphere’s refreshing and it’s easy!

Minneapolis Restaurants-Borough

Right in the heart of the North Loop lies Borough, an innovative American restaurant with an ever changing menu filled with classics and unique dishes.  It’s a fairly small place, but on a Friday night, it’s bopping.  The space looks industrial and casual, but the booths are cozy and the dim lighting offers a more sophisticated atmosphere.

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The menu is unusual since there are 3 courses listed with the first two being small plates.  You can order off of any of the courses which presents plenty of options.  I decided to get 3 dishes from the first course while other people ordered a first/second and a third.

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I started with the sturgeon which was about as good as it looks.  The fish was smoked with capers, onions, eggs and cream cheese along with an “everything” crêpe.

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Next, I ordered the steak tartare which was prepared with mushrooms and a raw egg. What I loved about it was the extra little sauce reductions that came with it. The black was a truffle reduction and the white was a milk one. They paired beautifully on the toast together.

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I ordered the duck confit for my small “entré” which was made delicious by the lingonberries that it was garnished with.  The duck was cooked fabulously and tasted delicious with the sweet/sour addition of the berries.

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The deserts at Borough are very unusual as the choices are limited but extravagant.  I ordered the persimmon dish which had a custard, a to die for sauce, sour cream ice cream and dried sponge cake.  I wasn’t sure what it was going to be like, but I ended up loving it!

Here are some of the other dishes that were ordered.  Everyone agreed that they were great!

Overall, Borough is a great place to have a special dinner if you enjoy funky and innovative food.  The menu is a little mature, so it might not be the place for picky eaters.  However, if you want to try something different then this is the place.  The only down side is that the restaurant gets very loud as it gets busier and I believe it is because of the limited space.  It gets a little hard to hear, but the food is definitely worth it!

Website: http://boroughmpls.com

Minneapolis Food-Glam Doll Donuts

Gourmet donuts have become really popular recently.  We Americans have always loved a good donut with coffee on a Sunday morning but our obsession and demand has grown.  We now crave more than just an old-fashioned glazed from the grocery store.  We want the over the top, the obscure and the finest.  When I find myself at a donut shop, I tend to look for the most outrageous, the one that I can’t get anywhere else.

A little bit ago, I caught word of a newer donut shop right in the heart of Minneapolis.  People had been instagraming pictures of neon bright beautifully designed donuts from Glam Doll, so I figured I had to try it out.

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The fun exterior or Glam Doll.

I came on a Saturday morning and joined the line that curved down the street.  That had to mean it was good.  After waiting, I got to the counter and ordered 2 donuts out of the dozens of unique kinds from the display case.  The display case itself is quite impressive since it is beautifully laid out and eye catching.  I ordered a lemon creme cheese cruller and a blackberry filled parmesan cheese cake donut.  My friend got a plain frosted one which she described as amazing.

They really were well worth the wait.  The cruller literally melted in my month and I was obsessed with the frosting that came on top of it.  The blackberry one was maybe a little too rich, but I really enjoyed it being paired with parmesan cheese making the donut one of a kind.  They also have some interesting savory donuts such a Sriracha donut and beer blended donut.

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My beautiful breakfast at glam doll!

The shop is super cute with fun little decorations and a pink color scheme.  The sitting area is surprisingly quiet which allows you to relax while eating.  They also have a coffee shop like area with all sorts of coffee and tea to enjoy the donuts with, making the experience complete.

I highly recommend venturing to uptown on a weekend morning to discover fabulous donuts in a great environment.  It all makes for a great outing.

Best Pizza in the Twin Cities

America, the land of opportunity and… pizza?  Although Italian, it seems as though our culture has really adapted to the pizza craze and as it has become threaded into our lives.  “Pizza and a movie?, Pizza and a football game?, Having friends over? Pizza?”.  These phases we have all heard countless times as pizza has become embedded into our lives.  However, for many of us, like me, Pizza Hut just doesn’t really cut it anymore.  Why stuff ourselves with artificial fast food junk when our country has plenty of alternatives to enjoy the classic American meal.

While I’m always on the look out for a new good pizza places, I’ve secured my favorites in the Minneapolis area.  If you live in the Twin Cities or planning on visiting, I highly recommend you give both Punch Pizza and Hello Pizza a shot.

Punch Pizza is a local chain with multiple locations spread out across the metro.  It is one of the only places where you can get real and authentic Neapolitan pizza.  It might not be quite as good as the stuff you’d find in Italy, but it’s pretty darn close.  A favorite among many, you can order to eat in or take out.  The wait is relatively short and the place is quite casual.  It has a sort of casual Italian street cafe feel to it.  I’m not sure if you can go wrong with any of the pizzas but my personal favorite is the Margherita Extra.  It’s similar to the classic Margherita ( which is also delicious) but instead of regular mozzarella, it has buffalo mozzarella and whole cooked cherry tomatoes on top of it.

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Margherita Extra from Punch!

Completely different from Punch, Hello offers great gourmet New Style Pizza in a fun and quirky setting.  I’m not even sure what to interior is suppose to imitate, but I do know that it is cool.  They have a photo booth in a corner where you can pay an extra dollar to get a string of pictures and post it around the walls of the place.  As for the pizza,  I would recommend the Sicilian which is a thicker square piece with blobs of fabulous sauce, cheese and basil or the Hello Rita which is an Americanized Margherita.   I’ve also heard the Hello Trinity is good too.  They have a great salad called Smoky Greens which is a salad topped with blue cheese, onion, pine nuts and delicious dressing.  Oh and save room for some irresistible soft served ice cream complete with your choice of toppings that include salted caramel and salted olive oil (it is actually very good).

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The funky interior of Hello.  

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Hello Rita!

Where to eat in Minneapolis-Smack Shack

Nestled in the heart of the warehouse district, Smack Shack tries to transport you to a typical american coastal seafood joint even if the patio is shadowed by fellow old warehouses and tall apartment buildings.  Not only does it work but it goes beyond offering great food.  You might as well be eating a lobster roll right of the eastern shore.   The patio is great and fairly casual but the interior is modern, smart and fun, a far cry from what you’d expect from a place that sells divine fried chicken.  That’s just the thing.  You can enjoy great comfort food and guilty pleasures along side gourmet delicacy in a fun and sleek atmosphere.

To give you a taste of the range of the menu, I ordered lobster mac and cheese with all its creamy goodness along with a selection of raw oysters.  It was quite the combo but it worked and I enjoyed it to the last bite.  There are a lot of classic seafood choices but the menu is broad and everyone is bond to fine something appealing from the raw bar and lobster rolls to the southern fried chicken platter and the catfish.  There are sandwiches and seafood entries, in addition to plenty of sides and appetizers.

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A selection of fresh oysters that I chose from a vast menu that showcased oysters from both coasts.  The cocktail sauce was also a delight since it was laden with a huge glob of very fresh and strong horseradish.

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The classic clam chowder and I mean classic which is the BEST way it is prepared.  I’m a bit of the sucker when it comes to clam chowder but I’m also picky on how it is prepared.  Smack Shack’s “Chowda” was fabulous since they didn’t try to spice it up or anything.  If you like a good clam chowder then you will like this one.  I also put in some Old Bay seasoning which is pretty much my favorite seasoning ever.  It’s great stuff!

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The lobster roll is a signature of Smack Shack with multiple different kinds and preparations.  I was told that the classic  roll was a really good choice and tasted how a lobster roll should taste.

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The blackened cat fish is prepared with grilled potatoes, a loosely fried egg and béarnaise sauce which sounds like a strange combination but the mixing of unique flavors really blended well.  The fish itself was cooked perfectly and had plenty of flavor.

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The lobster mac was extremely creamy and delicious at the same time.  It can be ordered in a cup or bowl with the cup being the perfect portion if you want to order something else like me.

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The southern fried chicken entry with coleslaw and fries.  Enough said…

Overall, my experience at Smack Shack was exceptional.  Great food, a great atmosphere and something for everyone describes the newly opened North Loop joint.  Who knew that you could feel like you’re on the beach in the middle of Minneapolis!

Website: http://www.smack-shack.com

Address: 603 Washington Avenue North
Minneapolis, Minnesota 55401

There is also a location in Chicago and one coming soon to the airport in Minneapolis.