Category Archives: Minneapolis

Here’s my story in the Minneapolis Star Tribune about smoked fish on Minnesota’s North Shore!

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.
STARTRIBUNE.COM
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Jay Cooke State Park in Carlton, Mn.//Quang Vietnamese Restaurant in Minneapolis 

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.

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Airbnb room with a view (Lake Superior) and Northern Waters Smokehaus – Duluth

Another great Airbnb (unlike the one I booked in Minneapolis where the weird host cancelled at the last minute). We are in a airy blue-walled room on the second floor of an old wooden house in a neighborhood high on a hill above downtown and the blue waters of Lake Superior. Some nice touches including a Polaroid camera to snap a few shots (haven’t used one in years), a white noise machine, pretty botanical prints on the walls, a map with pins to stick in to show where visitors are from. (Other Des Moines residents had been here, as had visitors from Tehran and Hamburg.) We shared a bathroom with the one other room, which wasn’t an issue.

After a brief stop at The Minneapolis Farmers Market downtown on Lyndale near Twins stadium to pick up huge red dahlias, raspberries, strawberries, scones and banana bread to take to Noah and Rachel’s new apartment on Emerson Street, we drove two hours or so to Duluth (not too much traffic) and tried our first batch of smoked whitefish at Northern Waters Smokehaus, a hip, foodie sandwich shop inside an old brick warehouse renovated into a marketplace with nice shops. I ate the fish on saltines with a smear of cream cheese, as directed.

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Peninsula Malaysian Food on “Eat Street”, MilkJam Creamery – Minneapolis

When we were riding our bikes along Nicollet Avenue near our airbnb in the Whittier Neighborhood (26th and Pillsbury Ave. S.), I noticed that there were a lot of restaurants but we needed an insider (albeit a fairly recent 20-something arrival, our pal Conor) to tell us the area was called “Eat Street.” (I had noticed earlier an office that read “Eat Street Dental” which I found curious.)
We had lots of options – especially ethnic, including one Vietnamese restaurant (Quang?) that I think we went to over a decade ago) but we settled on Malaysian food at Peninsula  since I so rarely see or get that food. We counted on the server and a nearby table of what may have been Malaysian diners to figure out what to eat and it was good, especially appetizers (Malaysian pancake and sauce; spicy spareribs.)
Our local-in-the-know also took us to an artisan ice cream shop, MilkJam Creamery , nearby on Lyndale where we seemed to pick the few concoctions that didn’t feature coriander. (Cashew Ousside – malted sweet cream with caramel cashew bar and chocolate chips;  Hard Knock Life – dark chocolate w/ salted pretzels, brownies, and chocolate fudge.) Also very good. We skipped the Doo Wop (avocado lychee.)

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The Grand Rounds Byway, Minehaha Avenue, Midtown Global Market, Spoonriver, Westin, Guthrie – Minneapolis

Guthrie gift shop finds

Another surprisingly gorgeous day and we used it well, spending most of it on our bikes pedaling Grand Rounds Scenic Byway from one lake to another, (Lake of the Isles, Calhoun, Harriet, all the way to Minehaha Falls.) Much of the city seemed to be on the trail, as they should be and we again appreciated the orderly layout of  the trail, with separate trails for bikers and walkers and the cycling trail divided by direction. We also found a perfect diagonal Street with a clear bike lande (Minehaha Avenue) to get back to the Midtown Greenway and our Airbnb, doing a great loop.

Guthrie cantilever

At the Midtown Global Market, we all tried various ethnic foods (excellent baba ganous which I don’t always like at the Holy Land;  brioche for breakfast from Salty Tart Bakery; Indian tacos from a stand in the southeast corner etc). dinner was at Spoonriver, next to The Guthrie. Very good salads, burgers, desserts. (The Vietnamese Salad with grilled shrimp and lemongrass was a standout).

Global Market

The play we went to see was odd (Refugia) but it was a treat to be in that building again. High drama decor with a blood red theater inside a dark deep blue glass building. Next time, I hope we can go up to the ninth floor observation area. (It was closed for a private event.)

At intermission, nature produced even better drama as we watched a storm move in over the city from the deck out side the cantilevered portion of the building. We capped things off with a drink at a Westin Hotel that was once a bank, with Art Deco reliefs, fixtures and carvings beautifully restored. So happy Noah gets to live here!

Westin hotel lobby for drinks

Biking to Minehaha falls

 

 

 

 

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Midway Greenbelt, Airbnb on Pillsbury in Whittier neighborhood, common roots on lyndale– Minneapolis 

Fun day riding bikes with our friends Polly and Jamie who flew here from Traverse City (we drove from Des Moines.) The Midtown Greenway trail was busy with cyclists and walkers but easy to navigate and nice to not be riding in streets, some with dubious bike lanes. We did find the bike share program a little cumbersome because it’s not really set up for daily rentals and although you can buy a day pass (for only $6) you have to stop every half hour at a bike docking station to re-up which is awkward. you get charged $3 per half hour that you don’t re-up but which can add up.

The bachelor farmer

we ate well, first at Lucia’s in Uptown and at The Bachelor farmer, where I had the best meal my vets had in a long time. Not for nothing did this place win a James Beard award. Duck confit, porker belly appetizer, pork meatballs, lemon mouse cake with orange sherbet all excellent, good service, rustic chic industrial decor. Must try the casual cafe next.

we really like our air bnb in the Whittier neighborhood at 26th and Pillsbury. Huge, lots of craftsman furniture, art posters and this dream of a sun porchnadjoin our second floor bedroom.

 

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Midtown Greenway in Minneapolis

imageWe were very impressed last weekend with the Midtown Greenway, a 5.5 mile former railroad bed that runs across the southern bit of Minneapolis. It’s largely hidden from view (we had a hard time finding it from the trail along the Mississippi river) but is packed with people and runs parallel to Lake Street, past some cool places worth jumping off to visit including the Midtown Global Market.  It took us right to South Bryant Street, where our b&b is and where we also found that by heading north, you go over a very handy bike bridge that leads right to Loring Park and downtown.

The Midtown Greenery on a brisk Sunday morning was full of bike riders, from older folks to families to hipsters with the prerequisite full-arm tattoos and pierces.

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May 11, 2014 · 12:12 am