For the love of focaccia

Riomaggiore

I don’t typically regret things. I’ll critique myself mercilessly on how I could have done or said something differently, but ultimately, no regrets. However, there is one thing I’m borderline regretting…and it has to do with bread.

It’s been nearly two months since we returned from our trip to Italy, and while every place we visited cast a spell on me, I’ve been daydreaming about one thing. I wish I could rewind time and go back to Liguria – the northwest coast Italy- not just for the mountains, colorful villages and fresh fish, but for the focaccia. The folks in this part of Italy can bake the crap outta some focaccia, and I wish I spent more time eating it and learning the secret of what makes it so incredible.Breakfast focaccia

In our Cinque Terre wanderings, we passed countless storefronts showcasing the bumpy bread in their windows. Plain, tomato, olive, onion, pesto…they were pretty to look at, but not what our taste buds were pulling us toward. (Side note: My taste buds screamed for what I … Read the rest

Mystery Cave – the ocean’s basement

I’m constantly working hard to earn “wifepoints,” a recognition system invented by my husband that determines whether I earn his “Wife of the Year” award. I get points for thoughtful gestures like buying treats at the grocery store or bringing a beer to him on the couch. So far, I’ve always won the award, and though I’m the only one in the running, I don’t want to chance it by slacking off. Huzzbot has often talked about visiting Mystery Cave State Park in Preston, MN. He’s been weirdly fixated on it. I knew I’d earn a heap of wifepoints if I planned a road trip that included the cave.

Kolache from Daube'sNaturally, I mapped bakeries along the way. On our way south, we stopped in Rochester at one of Daube’s Bakery’s two locations. Daube’s has been around since 1987 and is known for their cakes – notably the carrot cake – fritters, cake donuts and kolaches. They also have irresistable, chunky loaves of rustic bread. I tested the chocolate covered cake donut and poppyseed kolache. I’m going Read the rest

Chasing the high in Mankato

I love getting out of town. I always stumble onto something unexpected and unforgettable. Escaping my usual surroundings refocuses my perspective, amplifies my curiosity and makes me feel brave. My addiction to this feeling keeps me irresponsibly booking vacations across the country and globe. But I’m becoming increasingly aware, it doesn’t matter what distance I travel, the magic of any new surroundings gives me the high I need.

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I write this high on Mankato, a city in the Minnesota River valley an hour and a half southwest of the Twin Cities. After learning Mankato Ribfest was happening, Sissy and I embarked on a bakery/BBQ road trip fueled by Sirius XM’s 70s and 80s R&B station, The Groove. It always delivers.

We started at Friesen’s Family Bakery and Bistro, which opened just over a year ago and has exploded with popularity. We entered to find squishy bags of fresh rolls scattered on tables throughout the store waiting to be stocked. We walked slowly and admired each package as if in a museum, restraining from … Read the rest

I survived a Bed and Breakfast

Lanesboro street signHave you been to Lanesboro? I’m quite sure I was one of the last few Minnesotans to visit. It’s a postcard-worthy town tucked into the base of the river bluffs where the pace is slow and everyone knows each other. Maybe I stayed away for so long due to my aversion to bed and breakfasts. Heads up – Lanesboro is dubbed the “Bed and Breakfast Capital of Minnesota.” I typically crave anonymity in my accommodations and B&Bs sound like a nightmare. I always imagined it like staying at a distant great-aunt’s house. She’s kind enough to let you stay in her country chic guestroom, and in return you’re obligated to spend time small-talking while sitting on wicker furniture and politely eating a too-precious Martha Stewart meal before continuing with your vacation plans.

“Fine. We’ll stay at a bed and breakfast,” I told myself and started my online digging. I perused several before landing on a comfortable, affordable fit. Here’s what sold me – the innkeeper bakes bread every morning. Yes, please. Maybe all B&Bs do Read the rest

Saturday morning in Prior Lake

Sissy and I took a sunny morning drive to Prior Lake to visit Edelweiss Bakery and check out the city’s Farmer’s Market. Edelweiss is perched on the corner as you approach downtown, and with the Farmer’s Market was right outside the door, they were steadily busy with lines out the door at times. The chipper girl behind the counter said the caramel roll was their best seller, so we naturally had to have it…as well as a couple donuts and a breakfast sandwich. Highly recommend!… Read the rest