Thursday, October 30
Yesterday, my husband told me to pack a suitcase for a couple of days. No more information than that. So, clearly we were going somewhere for my birthday – not someplace warm because I didn’t have to pack shorts – but no more hints than that.
This morning, while dawdling during my morning routine, he told me to stop and get ready to go. Okay! I can do that. We headed to downtown St. Cloud where he dropped me off at a coffee shop and left. He returned soon after with best friends in tow – Sally and Jeff. Sally had planned a kidnapping with an adventure trip to the Minneapolis/St. Paul metro area. She had a list of places to visit and activities to undertake.
Our first stop was in Maple Grove at Nadia Cakes, a custom cake and cupcake studio which has been featured on a few television “foodie” programs. When walking in the door, we were met with wonderful scents, and the sight of dozens of creatively decorated cupcakes, including worms and dirt, kitty litter, pumpkin spice, triple chocolate, etc. Our task was to pick out the ones we wanted for my “birthday cake.” We selected six, and restrained ourselves from consuming them right away. We saved them for later, and they were indeed worth the wait.
Lunch at Stanley’s Northeast Barroom, a neighborhood bar which has an extensive craft beer list, and great pub foods on the menu. I shared a grilled cheese sandwich with Sally – yummy! Mark had the brisket sandwich and Lift Bridge Commander beer.
Their men’s room features some old style urinals, worth a look if you go there. And you should go there.
Then we headed to Surdyk’s Liquor and Cheese Shop to pick up some cheeses, breads, wines, etc. for snacks later on. Lavender infused vinegar is delightful with bread. This was my first visit to Surdyk’s, and it was a feast for the eye and nose. They carry deli items, wines and beers from around the world. We consumed some of these marvels before dinner tonight.
We checked in at the Saint Paul Hotel. I’ve had dinner there but had never stayed there. It’s located in downtown St. Paul, right across from the Ordway Theater, not far from the Landmark Center, Xcel Energy Center, the Science Museum – a great location. Our rooms were luxuriously decorated and very comfortable, with a view towards the river.
After enjoying some of our snacks and wine, we headed out for dinner at The Strip Club Meat & Fish. I enjoyed some Calamari, with pickled onions, sweet peppers and an aioli that must have contained an entire bulb of garlic, accompanied by Roasted Forest Mushrooms (more garlic). It was amazing. Mark had the Duck Breast which he enjoyed as well.
Next a stop at The Liffey Irish Pub for Irish coffees (decaf for me), and good Irish music.
Back to the hotel for some Sambuca at the Grill Bar. This bar has a large selection of liquors displayed on glass shelves behind the bar. It was a fairly busy place, following a hockey game at the Xcel Center. We made several new friends whose names I can’t remember.
After more good conversation and cupcakes in our rooms, we finally headed to bed at about 2 am. Long day, but wonderful.