farmers market

Great Things About Minneapolis

millcity

I’m having another Minnesota summer. I love how my eyes relax here – it just feels so good to look at all the shades of green everywhere. I spent most of the last week in Minneapolis, meeting my brand new nephew (who could try to be cuter, I suppose, but it’s difficult to imagine how he would succeed) and seeing other family and friends. I also had a chance to check out some farmers markets in the Twin Cities – there is a real local foods scene in these parts that is all the more impressive by how trying much of the year is.

There is plenty to love about Minneapolis, especially in the summer. It is beautiful, there are lakes and rivers everywhere you look, the skyline is stunning, the Mississippi riverfront is revived, there is plenty of art and theater, the state now has two (count ‘em, two!) senators, and the city is just full of people who are drunk on the warm weather and frolicking accordingly. I’ve written here about the wonder that is Jasmine Deli before (the first day we were here Ernest asked “Mama, can we go to the Jas?”), some new delights I discovered on this latest visit:

Brasa Rotisserie. Roasted meats and sides like creamed spinach with jalapeno with a super-cas atmosphere and generous portions that make the reasonable prices seem almost criminal

Mill City Market. I went to the St. Paul Farmers Market too, but I really dug Mill City. It’s in downtown Minneapolis, between the new Guthrie Theater (worth a visit its own self) and the Mill City Museum (ditto) right on the Mississippi riverfront at St. Anthony Falls (again – go, visit, enjoy!). Tons of vendors selling a great range of stuff – including a place selling grain and home flour mills! How cool is that? Also a food truck called “Chef Shack” dishing out all kinds of deliciousness including “Indian spiced mini doughnuts” that were crave-inducing. In fact, now that I’m thinking about it I’d like some right now….

Izzy’s Ice Cream. I don’t care about their “Izzy’s Scoop” which is a mini scoop you can have them put on your cone. But I fell in love with the cake batter ice cream. It tastes just like very cold golden cake batter – it even has that almost chewy texture of raw cake batter. Brilliant.

Clancy’s Butcher in Linden Hills. Okay. I knew aboand have shopped at Clancy’s before. But I just have to give them a shout-out. Coming in from a state where a butcher (a bucher! the shame!) once told me that “bratwurst and knockwurst are the same” it is a delight to go to a fabulous neighborhood butcher and find there some amazingly perfect bratwurst in the case. Spicy, tender, perfect bratwurst. The kind that haunt a Midwesterner’s California dreams.

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Luxury leftovers

I had to eat early in order to get to UC Berkeley by 7. Well, in a seat and ready to listen at 7. That time between “arriving” in Berkeley and actually being at a specific place is what always gets me. Parking, walking to the building, potentially having trouble finding the room… is why I need to leave an hour to get to Berkeley events. An hour for a 15-20 minute drive. Why so much wiggle room? Because I find being late physically unpleasant. It makes me so nervous I have a visceral reaction.

So I ate early and by myself. I had squirreled away a few slices of the abalone from last night (as well as some of the sweet potato fries), thought ahead and bought a soft roll from Acme Bakery at the farmers market in the morning, slathered on some mayo, layered in some tomato slices and baby arugula, sprinkled on some salt, and counted myself lucky indeed.

Speaking of the Ferry Plaza farmers market (oh wait, weren’t we?)… I was there yesterday for the smaller, more manageable version of the fresh fine food cluster f*** that happens on Tuesdays. The crowds and insanity on Saturdays tend to keep me away unless circumstances demand something from Fatted Calf. Quite frankly, the whole CSA membership in Terra Firma Farm has dramatically cut down on my farmers market visits–the house is already full of organic local produce. But I do find myself occasionally in need of items Terra Firma doesn’t grow or, as was the case yesterday, in need of pictures of various seasonal fruits and vegetables.

I went for pictures, and, $43.40 later, I left with a bag containing the following:

The breakdown goes something like this:

Italian Loaf 3.70

Sandwich bun .70

Shelling beans 9.00

Brussels sprouts 6.00

Pomegranates 4.00

Pimentos de padron 20.00 (with a bag of hot peppers thrown in for “free”)

Granted, I could have brought the total down significantly if I could have resisted the pimentos de padron. But I’m human. I can never resist the pimentons de padron. They are $6 a bag or 4 for $20. I know math and it is a better deal to drop the $20. We all love them at my house and every time I eat them I think of a gray day in Madrid when I stopped into a bar with two friends. We ordered some mushrooms a la plancha that made me re-think the very nature of mushrooms and those small glasses of beer you can get in Spain that are so perfect for a little afternoon snack break. The owner brought over a plate of pimentos de padron, explaining they had just come into season and were from his native Galicia. Oh. My. God. I just couldn’t believe how green and grassy they tasted, with just the teeniest tiniest bit of heat, and how the crunch of the coarse grains of salt made them taste all the grassier.

So I spend the money, eat the peppers, and am grateful for good friends and sweet memories of a time when we were young, unfettered by children, and dropped into a bar in Madrid on a Wednesday afternoon.

abalone
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pimentos de padron

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