We returned from our spring break weekend getaway to the Twin Cities just over a week ago. It was even better than our trip to Kansas City this summer: we saw friends and family, relaxed, and even Dexter let go of work for the entire weekend.
Here are the top ten things I enjoyed on Saturday and Sunday in the Twin Cities:
1. Clean car – We have profusely shedding dogs and a very weak vacuum. Thus, it’s impossible for us to go to work or a wedding without being covered in fur. I also have a dust allergy that affects my breathing, so we splurged and had our car professionally cleaned before driving to the Twin Cities. What an improvement to be cooped up in a tiny, clean box for 5 hours.
We would totally live here if we lived in Mason City.
2. Ralph’s – Ambre reviewed this new restaurant on her blog, so when I realized we’d be passing through Mason City at lunch time, I couldn’t pass up the opportunity to try it out. I was thrilled by the variety of vegetarian options they had. I chose a grilled sandwich with macaroni that came with pickled green beans. I had never heard of pickled green beans before, but I am now officially a fan.
3. the Walker – Our first stop in Minnesota was the Walker, where we met my aunt and uncle. Last time we went to the Walker, they had a minimalism exhibit that enthralled my husband with its cubes and ladder like installations. It was gone, but he enjoyed the current Sol LeWitt: 2D + 3D exhibit. They also had a treehouse-like installation patrons can walk around in.
4. French Meadow Cafe – When my aunt suggested we eat here and sent me a link to the menu, I was immediately thrown in to turmoil because everything on the menu sounded sooo good. I settled on the vegan sweet corn arepas, made with vegan sausage, spinach, red peppers, and a balsamic reduction. It was delicious! Dexter took advantage of the organic meat and had a burger. Other than the food, we enjoyed the quirky way they indicated which food to bring to your table; they abandon the little plastic tent with a number on it and give you a celebrity themed table marker. We got Jake Gyllenhaal.
5. Apples to Apples – After dinner, we headed to my aunt’s house for chocolate cake, ice cream, and a round of Apples to Apples. It is awesome to have family members that are so fun to spend time with.
6. Sleeping – We were in the Twin Cities the weekend of the Daylight Savings Time switch. I decided to be “the cool wife” on Sunday and let us go without an alarm. We slept in till 11:00. Although we were initially shocked that we’d slept so much of the day away, we really enjoyed not packing the day full of activities.
7. Pannekoeken – Last time we were in Minnesota, we breakfasted at Pannekoeken Huis both days. It’s a lot like a Perkins or Village Inn, but instead of serving all-american pancakes, they serve pannekoeken, a Dutch pancake topped with deliciousness. This time we knew to split one instead of each getting our own plus eggs and hashbrowns. The tables are adorned with classy Dutch tulips, and the waitresses are required to sing/yell/moan “Pannekoeken!” each time they bring it out from the kitchen. It’s a pretty sophisticated dining experience.
8. IKEA – At some point, I made the decision to stop carrying around the things I wanted to buy or remembering to pick them up at the end of the trip and got a cart. I also didn’t have a clearly defined budget for the trip. Don’t tell Dave. I picked up a box grater (mine was broken), a salad spinner (for $3!), an area rug (my old one had dog vomit on it and was chewed up), and some flat-file type drawers for Dexter’s art. They have an “as is” section where they sell slightly damaged items and in-tact pieces of broken furniture. We spotted something labeled as the “handy man’s cart” which was filled with wood and chipboard pieces. Dexter was enamored, and continuing in the “cool wife” pattern I started by letting us sleep in, I expressed my support of bringing the pile of wood home. We loaded it all into our car, and could just barely shut the trunk. It was so heavy that our car rode pretty close to the ground and we bottomed out several times in the city and on the way home. It was a little frightening, but all for the sake of having a happy husband.
9. Punch Pizza – I love pizza. I love french bread pizza, frozen pizza, deep dish pizza, thin crust pizza. Pizza is an amazing food. Punch Pizza takes pizza to a completely different dimension. We ordered a ricotta with basil and salt to spread on foccacia, a greek salad, and the Margherita Extra pizza. Stewed tomatoes and buffalo mozzarella on a chewy, slightly charred crust that was baked quickly in an 800* wood-burning oven is pretty much the incentive I need to start looking for a job in the Twin Cities. If you go to Minnesota, go there. (Thanks to Dana for the recommendation!) Not to forget what’s really important–we met Tony and Elise there!
10. the Bean Factory – We meant to check out a coffee shop that focuses on organic, cruelty-free dairy, but they closed early. We happened upon the Bean Factory, a local roastery, which Dexter enjoyed. We caught up over lattes and enjoyed the local coffee shop ambience. Elise is a good friend from my childhood. Despite hanging out for a week each summer during our adolescence and sending e-mails for most of our communication, she’s the kind of friend that I click with every time I see her. The last time I saw her in person might have been at her wedding 3 years ago. Or maybe for a few minutes at a funeral. We both love Jesus, want to work for social justice, and are becoming more aware of how the food we eat affects our bodies and the world. If I got to force a few friends to live nearby, I would definitely pick her!
Stay tuned for the New Adventures we had in the Twin Cities on Thursday!