Tuesday, September 20, 2011

Food In the Heartland

What a time we had in St. Paul! Not only was the Creative Connection Event itself inspiring, invigorating, and infectious, Huxley was a total champ, Midwesterners offered up their customary kindness, and the food scene was totally off the hook.

Since so much of my time was taken up with the conference itself, we tried to make our meals outside of the event truly memorable. Boy, were they ever. Next to the hotel itself was the stellar Senor Wong, an Asian/Latin-fusion joint. Hubs declared their sweet potato fries the best to have ever passed his lips, while I will never, ever forget their Yuzu curd with meringue (I die!).

Friday morning found us at the iconic Mickey's Diner, where the pancakes were fluffy, the accompanying butter house-made, the coffee hot and served in those diner mugs possessed of such perfect heft, and the waitress both curt and kind all at once. We loved it.

For lunch, we stopped at Heartland Market Cafe. While we'd love to have dined at the main restaurant (whose rotating menu is built around seasonal, local foods), attempting to do so with a wiggly, wily baby seemed like no one's idea of a good time. Instead, we enjoyed sandwiches filled with in-house cured meats and seasonal condiments, locally brewed sodas, perfect cappuccinos, an expert Russian tea cake (for me) and a spot-on berry-topped cheesecake (for Hubs).

Saturday morning, after I'd wrapped up my morning breakfast/panel discussion, we walked over to the St. Paul downtown farmer's market. Not only was it one of the most well-patronized markets I've ever witnessed, the prices on display were truly jaw-dropping. Many of the booths were run by Asian farmers, offering the traditional autumnal roots and tubers alongside ethnic specialties, like bitter melon and sour herb (whatever that is-I want to know...)

We rounded the corner in search of somewhere to eat after leaving the market only to run into Potter's Pasties & Pies. A food truck run by a married Brit and a Minnesotan (brand new parents as of the 15th!!!), Potter's offers AMAZING meat and veggie hand pies. We sampled the following before collapsing into grunts and groans of gustatory delight: The Traditional-minced beef, carrots, potatoes, onions and gravy; The Pig-braised pulled pork, apples, onions and coriander (this one garnered the most amount of "oh my god!" exclamations-they have magical ways with pork, these Potter folk); and their Sausage Roll-sausage rolled up in pastry dough. If Asheville had such a food truck, I'd be tempted to work them into my daily routine.

While our foray in St. Paul was brief, it was nonetheless bright and blissful. If you'd like to see more images from some of the places mentioned above (as well as Huxley looking incredibly happy at the incomparable Minnesota Children's Museum, where we went twice on Friday, so great was his love for the place), go here, here, here, and here.


nicole said...

GREAT photos!

How lucky you are to have had a chance to check out the market.

Mickey's was one of my highlights from the trip as well. Best breakfast for dinner I have had in ages. I can't remember the last time I ate any meal, much less dinner, for $4.

Anna said...

Glad you had a good time in St Paul. I've never tried Senor Wongs, but I appreciate the good recommendation. After moving here from the east coast, I was also shocked by how inexpensive things were at the market.

Sarah said...

Nice pictures - sounds like you have a nice trip and really great food to go with it!

Sarah from The House That Ag Built

El Gaucho said...

Super cool photos indeed. As a newly minted North Dakotan I must agree with you that the Midwest folks know their food. Glad to hear your trip was a success.

Janine at Rustic Kitchen said...

So delighted you enjoyed the Twin Cities. I visited the St. Paul market while on a road trip to research my book about farmers markets in the Midwest and found so many treasures!

elisa said...

sounds delicious! i think the best thing about traveling is trying different food x

Melanie J. said...

Huxley's expression in #8200 just knocks me out! Beautiful!

Anonymous said...

Yay! So glad you had a good time. I love St Paul.

(I am partial- I live here.)