Jake and I returned home for a long, holiday weekend in the Twin Cities.
We spent time with our families and I visited some good friends.
Even as adults, we enjoyed being spoiled by our families who made Easter ham, roasted turkey, lamb, & cheesy potatoes.
We were somewhat productive in that we ascertained an electric saw and hammer and destroyed the lock on our storage unit at our Bloomington condo. I had almost forgotten about my grandma’s engagement and wedding rings, packed somewhere in the dusty unit filled with mostly crap. The rings swam amongst friendship bracelets and 10 for $5 jewelry from Claire’s, in a jewelry box wrapped in old newspapers and packed into a Cub foods box. My engagement ring is part loaner-band and we are hoping to use my grandma’s.
Most importantly, I grabbed my copy of Hunger Games that was accidentally sent to our Bloomington address. Everyone and everything have become obstacles between me and my Hunger Games. I stayed up entirely too late on work nights, reading, and suffered Hunger Games-induced nightmares.
Hunger Games is ruining my life and I’m just beginning Catching Fire.
Announcing our engagement was a lot of fun and less anxiety-inducing than I had anticipated. The story of our engagement is as unromantic as how we met, which is perfectly fitting and perfectly us. Only Jake can really tell the engagement story, as it is practically a complicated web of lies. Except for the part where he asked me to marry him and I said “yes.”
The Food Run-Down
We fit in a few meals out.
828 7th Street East
St. Paul, MN 55106
I was thrilled when I realized Jake’s family lives fairly close to Manana. The pupusas filled with pork, cheese, and beans were as memorable as my first visit, pre-Jake. Jake commented the pupusas were one of the best things he’d tasted for a while, the sentiment I remember feeling the first time I tasted one.
Unfortunately, my take-out order did not come with the promised cortido cabbage salad and hot sauce. I wonder if my questions were misunderstood and I was supposed to serve myself.
On trips home, we always enjoy stopping at The Wine Thief & Ale Jail where Jake selects craft beers and I treat myself to sake. The sake selection in Fargo is less than ethereal (not that I even know that much about sake, but still). Afterwards, Jake wanted to stop at Chipotle for lunch.
I’ve practically grew-up on Chipotle. Ever since Chipotle made its debut in Apple Valley, my mom became hooked on their barbecoa burritos. Sometimes she bought them by the trio, slicing the foil-wrapped logs by the chunk for lunches. I had already eaten my fill of Chipotle when I left for college in another Chipotle-less land. When I returned to the Twin Cities, I found myself, again, at countless Chipotles until it no longer resembled food.
Now, I find myself in the land that Chipotle forgot. Or blatentely ignores. Around here, Chipotle is like a god. Legendary and spoken of reverently, in hushed voices. I still don’t crave Chipotle, but was somewhat happy to be reunited with my old friend and managed to choke down half a burrito.
On our last evening in the Twin Cities, Jake and I planned a date night. We were disappointed when we found that Meritage and Broders Cucina Italiana were closed so we scrambled for a convenient back-up plan. Which is how we found ourselves ordering take-out from Little Szechuan.
422 University Avenue West
St. Paul, MN 55103
When I lived near Tea House in Plymouth, MN, I always enjoyed their fish fillets in a spicy broth filled with cabbage and tofu. I ordered Litte Szechuan’s Fish Fillet in Spicy Tofu Broth and cream cheese wontons. Jake ordered Kung Pao Beef, extra spicy, and sesame chicken.
Our order cost $46 plus tip and was packed into this sturdy box.
I enjoyed the Fish Fillet in Spicy Tofu Broth, although I still think the Plymouth Tea House’s version is better. The broth was more viscous than Tea House’s, though it was plentiful with chili.
It’s fish fillets had a silky mouth-feel and tasted fresh. This portion was huge and could easily feed a small family.
Little Szechuan’s Kung Pao Beef was one of the best versions of Kung Pao we’ve ever eaten, in addition to Tea House.
The sauce was flavorful and struck all of the spicy, sweet, and savory notes. Lots of tender beef, and pleasantly spicy.
My least favorite dish was the sesame chicken. It wasn’t inedible, but the batter was soggy, the chicken pieces tasted dense and dry, and the sauce was a little bland. But it fulfilled my craving for Americanized Chinese take-out.
I’ve dawdled in a life-long love affair with cream cheese puffs.
All in all, a wonderful and eventful trip back home. It looks like we’ll be home a couple times in the near future for celebrations involving family and friends.
A thank you to our families for taking care of us this weekend and to the friends who were able to spend time with us.
Meritage and Broders Cucina. . . we will be back for mussels, absinthe, and Eggplant Special pizza.