at Minnehaha Falls
My friend Nell and I only had a half day here but made the most of it. After driving my son Noah back to his apartment in Minneapolis from a trip home to DSM, we checked into our pretty Airbnb, an early 1900’s four square with a lovely garden in South Minneapolis near the Minnehaha Parkway and bike trail. We stopped at Midtown Global Market for some “Hot Indian” food including an “indurrito (Indian burrito) and delicious “Indi-Frites” – crispy seasoned fries with an aoili dipping sauce. Clever.
On an afternoon with perfect bike riding weather (cool, light breeze, slightly cloudy) we rode on a lightly populated trail (a Monday) west and north to Lakes Harriet, Calhoun and Lake of the Isles. I did learn that when you ride this direction, you have to stay off of the bike trail that’s on the sidewalk rimming the lakes because it’s carefully designated for riders going the opposite direction — and Twin Cities riders take these designations very seriously, as they should especially on very busy weekends.
The trails were relatively quiet on a Monday but we didn’t want to “break the rules” so we ended up riding a few sections of the trail on the side of the access road lining the trail, which fortunately had few cars but was at times bumpy and sandy. No big deal. I also learned that the Lake of the Isles offers immediate and easy access to the Midtown Greenway trail, another favorite and we rode that subterranean-feeling trail to a cool trailside bike store/cafe called MPLS Coaster Brake Cafe, near the Global Market. I loved that you could wheel your bike right into the store/cafe and park it near some lounge chairs to take a break. No need to lock out front.
We rode back on Portland Avenue along the bike lane which worked well, given the heavy rush hour traffic. There were several other riders, which helped make us a more visible presence on a busy city thoroughfare. Back on the Minnehaha Parkway, we learned the hard way to stay on the trail rather than the bordering streets, in order to get under 35W Highway. (We had to backtrack slightly and portage down some steps with our bikes.) We also had to overshoot the street where our airbnb was because there wasn’t an easy exit off the wooded trail — but no big deal, we just backtracked a little.
Dinner was at The Happy Gnome, a gastropub in St. Paul (which I kept calling the “Grumpy Troll,” a Wisconsin place we’re going to this weekend). We went for the beer (note to self: Indeed is a good local brew!) and ended up staying to eat (note to self: good salmon burger) rather than going to a nearby Cambodian restaurant, as planned. Great company, with two of the world’s nicest boys, errr, young men! On the way home, we stopped briefly at Patisserie 46 (because it was only blocks from our airbnb) and for a quick walk around Minnehaha Falls (note to self: hike this area properly some time!).
Best Chef: Midwest (IA, KS, MN, MO, NE, ND, SD, WI)
Karen Bell (Bavette La Boucherie, Milwaukee)
Steven Brown (Tilia, Minneapolis)
Justin Carlisle (Ardent, Milwaukee)
Gavin Kaysen (Spoon and Stable, Minneapolis) WON
Ann Kim (Young Joni, Minneapolis)
My favorite piece at the art show honoring the late great singer Prince at the U of Minnesota’s Weisman Museum was a portrait by an apparently well-known Minnesota “crop artist” who used a variety of crops (bromegrass, grits, canola, etc.) as her medium. The show was only two rooms worth of stuff – a lot of photos, some painted portraits, a giant mural and some glass sculpture but always nice to wander through the bright high-ceilinged spaces of the museum, designed by Frank Gehry.
my favorite bachelor
Lunch was at the bustling Bachelor Farmer Cafe in the warehouse district where we had fresh-tasting squash soup and an very Scandinavian-feeling open-faced toasted sandwich. The cafe is at the front of the Bachelor Farmer Restaurant, where we had a great meal over Memorial Day weekend.
Nanook of the north here where it is decidedly snowier and colder in the Twin Cities than in Des Moines. Noah and Conor live in a sweet older apartment in the Uptown neighborhood of Minneapolis, which has a good selection of restaurants. We had excellent pulled pork with lime, black beans, chicken stew with green olives and capers and don’t forget the desserts (chocolate cake and flan) at Victor’s 1959 Cuban Cafe, a very atmospheric place, sort of a tar paper shack with the walls and seats covered in graffiti, including by another Betsy who sat in our booth sometime earlier in 2017.
Lunch was quiche and ham sandwich, (real ham on a homemade baguette) at Patisserie 46 (yes on 46th Street),which also has lovely breads, pastries and chocolates (which we did not try). We spent part of the afternoon at IKEA and then browsed at its price/aesthetic opposite — a hygge home goods store in the warehouse district called Foundry.
The drive here had more winter precipitation than I expected maybe because I looked up the weather for major cities between Dsm and Minneapolis (that seemed, and were, fairly dry). I ran into freezing rain and later blizzard-like snow in the sticks so maybe I need to look in the future at the weather forecast for podunk towns between say, Mason City, Iowa and Albert Lea, MN.
As can happen this time of year, the weather is turning from uncharacteristically dry and balmy to wet and cold on Thursday — just as I head north on a four hour drive to the Twin Cities to pick up my son, who is coming home for the holidays from law school. I’ll be watching the weather reports and promise to stop at the first sign of my least favorite form of precip: ICE.
A few things on my list:
– The exhibit on Prince – THE PRINCE – at the U of Minnesota’s Weisman Art Museum (designed by Frank Gehry). open 10-5
– IKEA. Because we need a cheap bedframe. open 10-8
– The Bachelor Farmer Cafe — loved the more formal but very “hygge” restaurant. Time to try the more casual cafe (where, I see, breakfast is served daily from 11 a.m. to 3 p.m.) and explore a few shops in the Warehouse district (if the temps aren’t too frigid). Martin Patrick 3,” a seriously stylish men’s store” and the Foundry Home Goods
– Victor’s 1959 Cafe, for “revolutionary” Cuban food in Uptown, recommended by a friend. I’ve got a 7:45 reservation just in case.
– Winter at the Purcell-Cutts House Info here., which apparently is now owned/overseen by the Minneapolis Institute of Arts. I wrote about this gorgeously restored 1913 Prairie Style home maybe 20 years ago when it first opened. It will be decked out in period holiday decorations typical of an “upper-middle-class progressive lifestyle” and open for tours, alas on weekends only (when I won’t be there.)
If you’re looking for smoked whitefish in Northern Minnesota, here’s a travel story I wrote….
An Iowan takes in the region’s tourist basics, but it’s the taste of the fish that stands out.
Has it really been a week since we were hiking in Jay Cooke State Park, on the St. Louis River, in Carlton, MN? Not for nothing is this park reportedly one of the Top 10 most visited in Minnesota. It was a logical spot to stop on our return from the North Shore to Minneapolis because it’s about 10 miles southwest of Duluth. I was reminded of my beloved Ithaca when we crossed a suspension bridge over raging falls (although the water was an odd yellow-brown, reminiscent of root beer, which I later learned is caused by tannic acid, a natural plant compound used to tan hides – and make wine). We hiked on a muddy but scenic trail along the falls and into the birch and pine forest on a drier trail until a rainstorm suddenly blew in. Fortunately we didn’t get totally soaked. We found a shelter on the trail and the rain soon stopped but we ended up eating our picnic of smoked fish and cheese inside a rustic park lodge, completely with roaring fire! Nice touch!
Back in Minneapolis, we took “the kids” out for a quick Vietnamese meal at Quang, on “Eat Street,” aka Nicollet Avenue, which was packed with customers but the servers did their best to get the food to us quickly.