People love to retreat into nature to hike – crossing off “fourteeners” like they are part of a grocery list. I totally get it. Escaping into the grandeur of untouched nature is truly spectacular and transformative. But I’m also a pretty big fan of what I call “Urban Adventure Hikes.” This is exactly what it sounds like. Trade the cliffside switchbacks for questionable industrial neighborhoods, and breathtaking views for newly discovered breakfast joints.
You’re like, “Jenna, you’re basically just taking a walk, right?” My response to you is the real-life version of the straight-eyed, straight-mouthed emoji.
I was in NYC recently and set out early, meandering alone through neighborhoods, listening to podcasts, taking pictures, changing course on a whim to follow people, seek out a perfect lunch or Gossip Girl locations – it ended up being about 7 hours and 20 miles long. It’s like being on a trail all day, except with weirdos and street food instead of elk and granola bars. This is easily the most relaxing way I can imagine spending a … Read the rest
I’m one of those lucky people who is surrounded by brilliant friends. Like, legitimately brainy, Ph.D.-holding, well-read friends with unique hobbies, wild stories and boundless ambition. I love spending time with these people. Simply being in their presence increases my I.Q. Even more, I love spending time with these friends in the company of breakfast foods.
Last weekend, I met Summer, a former grad-school colleague and one of these aforementioned friends, for breakfast at The Buttered Tin. This bustling bakery/cafe is just blocks from the St. Paul Farmer’s Market in Lowertown. I’ve heard nothing but fantastic things about it, and Summer was equally excited about the prospect of eggs and confections.
After stocking up on Heirloom tomatoes and cukes at the Farmer’s Market, I arrived at the restaurant. The place is hoppin’. At 8:20 a.m. there was a 20-minute wait, and chances are, you can expect a wait no matter when you go. However, if you stop by the counter to order a coffee and pre-breakfast snack from the pastry case, you won’t even notice … Read the rest
Have 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
This past spring, I took a Sunday morning walk to Rustica to enjoy a latte and chocolate croissant. I sat near the window and took out my journal for the usual scribbling and daydreaming. Halfway through a sentence, I wrote, “Yum. I should really be documenting these.” Over the next three weeks, I sampled 10 unique chocolate croissants comparing flakiness, chocolate flavor, density, size and shape. I have notes jammed in the margins like, “very puffy, like maybe too puffy,” “top like plastic,” “not too much chocolate to be annoying.” Profound stuff.
During this time, I researched pain au chocolat (its fancy name) and studied recipes detailing the intensive rolling, chilling and waiting process involved in producing them. I learned one very important thing – I’m not interested in baking them myself. I’m simply interested in eating them, finding ones that taste great and sharing my discoveries with you.
If I were to put an ad in the personals, it would look like this:
Married 30-something female seeking a crispy-topped, structured, flaky pastry with a
… Read the rest
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
I allowed myself an especially leisurely pace on the way to work recently. Claiming some me-time with coffee, breakfast and my journal before the workday started. This is a treat I like to gift myself at least once a week, fulfilling my quest to feel like one of those people who writes in coffeeshops on a weekday. I biked toward the office and took a small detour into one of my favorite neighborhoods. Scanning the extensive list of must-visit dining options in my brain, I remembered Mon Petit Cheri was nearby.
I was one of three customers enjoying the secret hours most people sleep or stumble through. I stretched in the wooden booth and fondly remembered the Himalayan Restaurant that previously inhabited this space and whose ghost still inhabited the fixtures. The new space is bright, sun pouring through the windows, country recipes mod-podged under glass tabletops. I sat with my steamy latte, journal open, daydreaming out the window. My breakfast sandwich arrived on a homemade English muffin, nestled cozy against a bright pile of … Read the rest