Tuesday, December 31, 2013

St. Paul Eats: Bachelor Farmer and Marvel Bar

The evening out started at a friend's swanky apartment in Minneapolis (look at the view!) -- though overcast, you could still see the river, the bridge, and even St. Paul in the distance!

After a couple glasses of mulled wine, we walked ourselves over to Bachelor Farmer, the much-lauded Nordic project of Minnesota governor Mark Dayton's two sons. 

Cozy and the combination industrial-farmhouse that is so popular these days, we had the Sunday Supper price fixed meal - celery root remoulade with garlic aioli, a pastrami-pickled hard boiled egg, roast chicken with succulent roasted carrots and radishes, roast beef, cabbage rolls stuffed with whole grains, there wasn't a bad bite of food in the whole meal.  

And bonus, the dessert course was beautiful Christmas cookies and milk. 

A perfect accompaniment

Our next stop was the speakeasy Marvel Bar, located in the basement, but accessible only one you go outside, head towards the garbage bins, and talk to the chilly bouncer, standing outside checking IDs.  You walk through the door, then through a hallway, and enter through a purple door.  And then you're there!

Eric and his whiskey flight. 

Snacks served at the bar:  olives, GORP, or cheetos.  Obviously, we had to have some cheetos.

Things I want: white ceramic lucky cat glasses. 
(sad, I could only find one online, and it was sold!)

Sunday, December 29, 2013

St. Paul Eats: Tea House

Strangely enough, though I've mentioned one of my favorite restaurants before, I've never shown pictures of the glory that is Tea House!  Located off the beaten path in a strip mall on 94 and White Bear Avenue, their dandan noodles are the perfect porkiness, with a tinge of spice but not too much.   Their scallion pancake is superb: flaky and crispy without being too oily.  And a bonus, their entrees are fabulous.  My mom, brother and I go whenever I visit home, and it's always a wonderfully delicious trip.

Friday, December 27, 2013

Minnesota Friends

I was lucky enough to spend an afternoon with one of my oldest friends while at home, she lives just a few blocks up the road.  We share a love of The Tenth Kingdom, sheep, and Redwall, and if we were in the same city, I daresay we'd get together often to cook down summer fruits into delicious jams, make homemade butternut squash ravioli, and belt out "We Will Shear You!" at the top of our lungs and joke about zoop while drinking aquavit and pine tree cocktails.  Like you do.

Sadly, we don't get a chance to hang out often, but I'm hoping she can make it out here soon for a Boston weekend of fun and food!

I was also able to hang out with one of my roommates from the Gnome House! 

She's now hitched and has her own cute little house in Minneapolis, complete with a golden retriever that does a splendid imitation of Bambi with his long spindly legs.  

We visited Ingebretson's, a Scandinavian grocery and home goods store, and it was practically mobbed with folks looking to pick up their sill, sausage, and cookies for the holidays. 

The wait time during the holidays is no joke.

So much red and white for Christmas! 

This man was outside working on his beautiful wooden bowls in 5ºF weather (-10ºF windchill).  I asked him how it was working in the cold, and he said, "Oh, I love it!  There's no mosquitos!"  

Spoken like a true Minnesotan!

Wednesday, December 25, 2013

A bit of winter in Boston

Winter in Boston is a different beast altogether from a Minnesota winter...the average temperature hover much closer to freezing, meaning there's more ice and certainly less snow that stays around (much to my dismay).

But some days, it is perfectly lovely out, with snowbanks and blue skies.

Monday, December 23, 2013

Swedish Yuletide Festival in Boston

When hosting my first Midsommarfest, I scoured the internet for information about Swedes in Boston - are there any groups I could join?  Is there any place besides Ikea to find Swedish goods?  And, to be perfectly honest, are there cute eligible Swedish bachelors somewhere in this town? 

I didn't come up with much...The Crown Bakery in Worcester (pronounced whu-stah here, I know, don't even get me started), plus another bakery that had closed long ago. 

But funny enough, a friend emailed me this December and said that one of the vendors he likes on Etsy was going to be at a Boston event...and it just happened to be a Swedish Yuletide Celebration!  After five years, I finally found a bit of the homeland in Boston.

(it's not surprising that I didn't find anything before now, either...the only bit of the host website that is in English is "Yuletide Celebration" which didn't make it on my list of words to search)

Hosted by the Swedish Women's Educational Association (SWEA), an organization focused culture and education, the Yuletide Festival has been held yearly since 1985.  Full of crafts, books, musicians, a Lucia parade, and food, it's a bustling event.

I don't know what I was expecting, but it certainly wasn't a line this long!

After paying my $10 to enter, I wandered, taking in the smell of cider glögg and the festive accordion music.  It was quite crowded, but in some ways, it added to the fun.  Friends and I met and enjoyed a taste of home (two alums from Carleton College in Minnesota, another with Norwegian relatives, and one who's quite Swedish, just like me). 

And bonus, I found cloudberry jam.  Midsommarfest 2014, be ready.  ...because cloudberry jam is amazing.

The 2013 Lucia, likely an au pair from the Svenska Skolan, the Swedish School in Boston

Saturday, December 21, 2013

Thanksgiving 2013

Thanksgiving this year started with the baking of the pies -- because it's not Thanksgiving unless there are at least eight pies on the table. 



Egg wash and sugar.  You cannot beat that.



(top upper left, moving clockwise) 
Cranberry apricot, strawberry rhubarb, pumpkin, apple with pecan streusel, pecan, pumpkin, blueberry, double crust apple.  

Every year, my pies look a bit better.  Egg washes are key, and I've got to troubleshoot the pumpkin pie recipe in these pyrex dishes.  That, and make more of the pecan filling, add more tapioca to the strawberry rhubarb, and more filling to the cranberry pie (can you tell I like a generously filled pie?).  The other fun that I had was braiding one of the crusts (it's the dutch apple in the upper right).  That plus a turkey-shaped cookie cutout of the crust made it look quite festive!

Look at that bird. 


The spread!

Thirty students came for the festivities, bringing such potluck items as pasta, dumplings, and potato chips.

 It's time for pie!

Thursday, December 19, 2013

Wine Tasting and Cocktails --out on the town

It was time again for another wine tasting, this time with the theme of Italy.  The food was plentiful, the guests were excited, and the prosecco was flowing!











And by some miracle, I ended up double-booked for the evening, as a certain Serious Eats' editor's guest at Thirst Boston, a cocktail showcase for people "in the industry."  Me, not in the industry...but apparently my pluck at Kenji's MIT Museum steak demo and the email I sent him that night about my Midsommar event that night added up to an impromptu "I have an extra ticket, would you like to join me?" email.  And was I ever game!

The event was a black tie cocktail extravaganza held at the Harvard Club on Commonwealth Ave in Boston - I hadn't heard a single thing about their week of events, but now that I know about them, you can bet I'll be attending their "High Tea with Drambuie" if they repeat it next year.


The irony is, I had attended a malaria conference in the same spot the week prior (see picture above) - and the thumping bass and tipsy adults seemed completely out of place.  However the many drink stations, themed by base liquor, made up for the strange club atmosphere.  I'm all about music, but sheesh.  If I have to yell at what is supposed to be a networking event, it's too loud.

Now, this is the most unflattering photo I have ever seen of myself, ever.  Literally ever.  But - it is too fun not to post.  I did a shot on an ice luge!  And Kenji took the picture!

Needless to say, there were no red or blue lights for the malaria event.

Tuesday, December 17, 2013

A day in Boston with Sarah!

My friend Sarah came into town for a public health conference, and of course I had to take her to some of my favorite places!





Flour Bakery in Fort Point for Boston Cream Pie
Drink for a fancy cocktail!

It's like they know I adore this glass or something...

After our dessert and drinks, we headed back to my place for a movie, an episode of Bones, and Thai food.  I can't tell you how fun it is to do the laid-back-evening with a friend from out of town, it's perfect.

Sunday, December 15, 2013

Harry Potter Feast

After our 1963 Throwback Party was such a roaring success, we came up with the idea of doing a Harry Potter Feast - and wow, what a fun night. 

I was in charge of the Honeydukes Sweets table, and gave all sorts of candies a Harry Potter identity (I had way too much fun with this...who doesn't want to name things chocolate quaffles and nutty nifflers?)

I also bought frog molds to make chocolate frogs - which turned out great but were a much greater time commitment than I had time for.


Our Chef Chip works with bonsai trees in his spare time, and wouldn't you know, his new maple is a dead ringer for the Whomping Willow!


The dining hall, decked out in school colors.

Cauldron Cakes and snitches complement a British-themed menu perfectly!

Friday, December 13, 2013

The Enemy's Gate is Down

In honor of the release of the movie Enders' Gamer, the MIT hacking crew set up a tribute in the lobby of Building 7.  As a lover of the book, it definitely made me day to walk into the lobby on a normal day, to be confronted with such a scene. 



There were about 20 characters suspended from the ceiling posed in different ways - so creative and fun.

Wednesday, December 11, 2013

Autumn in Boston

The very last of summer's flowers.







Also known as "The sunset that broke my camera."  Despite trying it on every setting imaginable, my camera wasn't up to the challenge of doing this sunset justice.