Earlier this week, I stopped by Herbie’s on the Park to check out their Toast to Summer festivities! Located inside the old Minnesota Club, one of St. Paul’s original buildings, the hockey-themed restaurant is next to the Xcel Energy Center. If you have trouble finding it, just look for the Herb Brooks statue outside – he also serves as the eatery’s inspiration.
Part old world elegance and part game-day sports public room, the formal historical ambience mixed with large screen tvs playing above the massive bar help to round out the upscale atmosphere. A full bar for those who love beer and handcrafted cocktails, they even have a nod to my favorite mythical lumberjack! Try the Babe, the Blue “Mule” with Bombay Sapphire, lime, and ginger beer.
Herbie’s is walking distance from some of Minnesota’s best cultural attractions. If you are in downtown St. Paul and need a drink after a show at the Ordway, looking for WILD or Lynx pre-game merriment, grabbing dinner after a conference at the Rivercentre or need a break from studying at the St. Paul Library, Herbie’s is the perfect spot.
Pictured (with exceptional presentation): roasted pear toast with cambozola, and gemma balsamic on crostini; cauliflower salad with medjool dates, peppadew pepper, chevre, almonds, and roasted garlic vinaigrette; a BLT with hickory bacon, lettuce, tomato, avocado, jalapeno aioli, between two slices of grilled sourdough; creme brulee with macerated seasonal berries, and Bulleit Rye bourbon.
Well hello, hot weather staple! Ice cream is my go-to in the sometimes unforgiving Minnesota heat. And there is no better place to kick it off than Nelson’s Ice Cream in Stillwater. Started in 1923 as the Seven Corners grocery store, owned by John Lustig, it was the place for top-heavy, cold ice cream. After John died in 1964, Art Nelson operated the grocery store until his death in 1964. His son Wade took over and changed the name to Nelson’s Dairy Store since the family already owned Brown’s Ice Cream in Minneapolis, where they served generous two-scoop ice cream cones for ten cents in the 60s. Later sold in 1992, and then again in 2006. In 2014, Nelson’s expanded and opened a second location in St. Paul.
The tiny building is quite the hot spot with lines out the door and cramped, full picnic tables – but don’t worry, the line is fast-moving and Nelson’s more than makes up for the wait with monumental portions. Who knew that someplace so small could house something so epic?! Back to the ice cream… Nelson’s has more than 40 flavors including Monster Cookie, Chocolate Peanut Butter Swirl, Praline Pecan, Caramel Collision, Elephant Tracks, Moose Tracks, Mackinaw Island Fudge, Zanzibar, Pirate’s Booty, and even Superman! And for the caloric adventurer, try the Lumberjack. A challenge to eat five softball-sized scoops of any flavor with a choice of toppings. If you do actually finish, your photo will be displayed on Nelson’s “Wall of fame”. Nelson’s isn’t just a local hideaway, it carries a long list of accolades like “The Best of Minnesota Ice Cream” by WCCO, “One of the top five things to do in Stillwater” by Minnesota Public Radio and “Top 25 World’s Best Ice Cream Parlors” by The Daily Meal.
Oh! It’s helpful to know; they only take cash.
It is my personal belief that that only way to make it through mid-weekdays, happily, is by chocolate. You may disagree, and that’s okay; more chocolate for me. Speaking of, I give you Mademoiselle Miel in St Paul.
Founded in 2011 by Susan Brown, MM moved to its current location, a small storefront and showroom off Kellogg in 2013. Specializing in rooftop honey bon-bons thinly-coated in 100% dark chocolate, MM is lovingly known as the beekeeping chocolatier because they collect honey from hives that sit on the rooftops of several Twin Cities buildings. The honey from each different location has a very distinct flavor because they are reflective of any place the bees are getting nectar from. When it’s time to harvest, the honey is extracted directly from the hives in the shop. After it is encased in the bittersweet, black chocolate, it is painted, by hand no less, with edible 23k gold leaf. What a better way to add ‘fancy’ to your Wednesday?! Amirite? These babies belong in a museum. While the raw honey is Miel’s signature, they also have seasonal flavors like rose, espresso, fennel, and black pepper. I loved the rose because the essential oil laced through to the chocolate and permeated the bon-bon into perfection. Beautifully packaged in sets of 3-PC, 8-PC, 20-PC and unique in every single way, Mademoiselle deserves its accolades; Awarded 2014 Top 10 Chocolatier of North America and named one of the best chocolates in the state by Minnesota Monthly.
If you know me well, you’ll know that I have a deep love of all things holiday. Decorating, baking, presents, themed movies, you name it, I love it. There is one winter festivity that reigns supreme for me and it has every single year since its inception. The Union Depot’s Annual Holiday Bake Sale is my utopia. Celebrating its 4th year and playing host to the top Twin Cities bakeries, the Bake Sale includes baking demonstrations from Stephanie March from Mpls.St.Paul Magazine, Alexis Thompson from myTalk 107.1, and craft demonstrations by Staci from KS95. You even get a commemorative train themed cookie cutter gift set, free tote bag, and recipe cards from some of the bakeries present! I stopped at Nikkolette’s Macarons for her chocolate and marshmallow assortment, Potter’s Pasties, Cravin’ Pie where I got a handheld Mocha pie, T-Rex Cookie Company, LLC who I got massive monster, chocolate chip and peanut cookies from, Honey & Rye Bakehouse, North Mallow for homemade marshmallows, Curly Girlz Candy, Bread Art, Groundswell Midway which is my favorite for coffee and ugly sweater cookies. Then Groveland Confections, Cookie Cart for their stack of double chocolate cookies, Minnecookies who have the cutest Babe the blue ox cookies on a stick, The Buttered Tin for my all-time favorite holiday cupcake 4 pack, Heavenly Treats, Taste of Love Bakery for their 12 days of Christmas mini cupcakes, Black Dog Cafe, Kerry’s Donut Bites of which I was having with my morning coffee this morning and Something Sweet by Maddie Lu. My friends at The VOICE Community were there with Lowertown Pop too! I have come to this every single year and have never been disappointed. Fun fact: The proceeds from ticket sales benefit Merrick Community Services Food Shelf! How amazing is that?!