Union Depot’s 5th Annual Holiday Bake Sale

My absolute, most-favorite event of the year is the Union Depot’s Annual Holiday Bake Sale. Hosting the top Twin Cities bakeries for 5 years in a row, it certainly doesn’t disappoint! More than just a bake sale, it includes all kinds of events like baking and cooking demonstrations and musical performances. This year, there was even a holiday cake walk sponsored by The Germanic American Institute! Every year I buy so many baked goods that I can barely hold my camera, let alone walk back to my car! I tend to get very “involved” when baked goods are offered. My camera is covered in frosting, and rightfully so. I fell in love with Groundswell’s Ugly Sweater Cookies, The Buttered Tin’s Sugar Cookie Christmas Trees and Grandma’s Gourmets Dilly Beans.
Featured Bakeries and Vendors: North Mallow, Heavenly Treats, Potter’s Pasties, Bread Art, Curly Girlz Candy, Nikkolette’s Macarons, Cookie Cart, T-Rex Cookie Company, Something Sweet by Maddie Lu, Sarah Jane’s Bakery, St. George Greek Orthodox Church, The Buttered Tin, Ink Sweets, Groundswell Midway, Black Dog Cafe, Groveland Confections, ALMA, MinneCookies, The Sweet Retreat, Mademoiselle Miel, Germanic American Institute, Antoinette’s Little Bakeshop, Amy’s classic Confections, Nothing Bundt Cakes, Jamazing, Double Take Salsa, Patti’s Granola, Grandma’s Gourmets, Panache, Blue Heron Soap Company, Wild Country Maple Products, and Vom Fass.

Check out past years here: 2013, 2014, 2015 and 2016. I HIGHLY recommend adding the Bake Sale to your yearly holiday traditions.

Herbie’s On The Park

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.

Nelson’s Ice Cream

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.

Mademoiselle Miel

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.