St. Paul Winter Carnival

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WinterSkate, Landmark Center, downtown St. Paul (photo courtesy of Lindsay Cameron)

For a few weeks in late January and early February, the dead of the Minnesota winter, St. Paul has traditionally put aside desires to stay bundled up indoors and instead head out to brave the cold and have fun. In typical St. Paul fashion, this often involves a fair amount of drinking. I speak, of course, about the St. Paul Winter Carnival, one of the world’s largest urban celebrations of the winter season. Having spent a fair bit of time in St. Paul this year with Lindsay, we were able to check out a few of the crazy events that make up the festivities of the Winter Carnival. As we enter the last week of meteorological winter, I thought I should discuss some of the adventures had this year at the Winter Carnival!

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As a child, I recall visiting downtown St. Paul with family members to view the St. Paul Winter Carnival opening parade, being vaguely disturbed by the Vulcans and awed by the transformation of Rice Park into a snow bedecked wonderland of strange, elaborate sculptures and palaces of ice. It had been a few years since I last experienced the Carnival, though, so I was excited to check out a few things with Lindsay. Sadly, I had to work during her favorite recommendation, hot chocolate and cookies at the St. Paul Hotel!

However, we were both able to attend some pretty cool events. A lot of the awesome stuff happens in Rice Park, in the heart of downtown St. Paul. Visiting one night we saw the awesomely wintery ice sculptures, only slightly damaged due to unseasonable warmth. Along with an accordion player, it made a romantic and beautiful time to visit the park. This is especially true while visiting the Wells Fargo WinterSkate, situated right under the majestic spires of the Landmark Center. They even rent skates for a few bucks.

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Ice sculptures, Rice Park (photo courtesy of Lindsay Cameron)

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An unhappy cat (photo courtesy of Lindsay Cameron)

At the St. Paul RiverCentre, we visited the Saintly City Cat Show January 23rd and watched judges choose, among the many variously amiable felines, the “very best cat.” It was always amusing to watch the judges make quick and efficient judgement of the cats, some of which seemed more tolerant of it than others. Compared to the Land O’Lakes Kennel Club Dog Show at the RiverCentre a few weeks earlier, it was pretty funny to see how little the cats have do to be deemed the “very best.” Both the cat and the dog show were good places to go if you want to watch people grooming their cute pets, though.   

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Germanic Institute, during Fasching

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A man readies himself to apply a mouse trap to his tongue…

At the Winterfest Karneval, on the night of January 30th, the Germanic-American Institute hosted an interpretation of Fasching, a German version of Mardi Gras which often happens around this time of year in Germany. I had never been to the Germanic-American Institute, so it was a perfect time to check it out! The elaborate mansion was packed full of costumed attendees sipping the heady German libations, including the perennial favorite Jagermeister and watching burlesque and sideshow carnival shows from the Dangerous Fun Show. It took some Jagermeister to watch a guy snap a mouse trap on his tongue! The Euro-style dance party in the basement was also super fun!

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Snow Sculptures, Minnesota State Fairgrounds

 

On Saturday, February 6th, there was more drinking to be had at the Minnesota

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Crowd prepares for the Beer Dabbler!

State Fairgrounds at the Beer Dabbler Winter Carnival, of which I had never visited. Before the Dabbler, we stopped by the Snow Park at the Fair, where we admired the various snow sculptures produced for the snow sculpting competition, including a huge and elaborate seascape complete with whales and octopi. It reminded me of Minnesota childhood with the huge piles of snow set aside for kids to climb and shove each other down off of. By this time, we decided to follow the growing crowds to the Midway to visit the Beer Dabbler. With Lindsay as a “designated driver,” I sampled my way through dozens of breweries from across the country with the complimentary tasting glass. Along with the craft beers and ciders being offered, a wide variety of local cheeses and other snacks were also on offer. Just get ready to wait in a few lines, of course. The place was packed and tickets sold out days in advance. Watching the other festgoers bedecked in pretzels, cheese sticks, and the occasional garland of beef jerky was also quite amusing. I’ll admit, I probably had a bit more than I normally do, but it’s a little hard to keep track of it all when you are having little tastes of a whole lot of stuff!

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Lindsay samples some goat cheese at the Beer Dabbler!

All in all, there was much fun to be had at the Winter Carnival and I look forward to trying out new experiences next winter!

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Where U Wanna Eat? #2: Sssude-Nutz

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Restaurant: Sssdude-Nutz

Zone: Dinkytown, 317 14th Ave. SE Mpls

Hours: M-F, 7:30 to sellout!, S-S, 9:30 to sellout! Fri-Sat 9:oo pm to late night!

Visited: February 6th, 2016

Last weekend, just before heading into the Kitty Cat Klub for a late evening of local indie bands, still a bit buzzed from the Beer Dabbler (more on this soon!), we felt the need to indulge in a little sugar and wheat based pastries and Lindsay pointed out one right next door the the KCK I had never even heard of before! What?

Sssdude-Nutz is a pretty kickin place. Crammed into a space on 14th Avenue SE, it definitely looks appealing. I mean, that name! That logo! How long has Sssdude-Nutz been here? This place is out-quirking Glam Doll! Where was this place when I was at the U? This is a certainly a place that knows how to style up its donuts. Under the motto “keep it sexy, eat donutz” they certainly offer an eclectic array of decadent desserts to get any student through a hard night, whether studying or partying. For we who have left school, we can stop by before a show, grab some ‘nutz, and go to town! Offering an always evolving roster of donutz, including some vegan options, there seems to be enough to trigger a paralysis of indecision for after drinks munchies.

We had an OH Fu$ck Yah!, a soft and fluffy toffee topped chocolate raised donut and a tasty cake donut too (I, sadly, was too tanked to recall the name right now…) But at $2-3 a pop (er, donut) that’s something you can nibble on anytime. They definitely have some heft to them, too! These nutz definitely satisfied! Open weekdays until they sell out of ‘nutz, on the weekends they’re open until the wee hours.

Check it, here!

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Herbivorous Butcher

 

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A sunny afternoon in Northeast from the Herbivorous Butcher (picture courtesy of Lindsay Cameron)

A few weeks back, Lindsay and I drove over to the grand opening of the Herbivorous Butcher, the vegan charcuterie, the first in the United States, that’s been the subject of much discussion over the last year or so. Lindsay is a vegetarian, and, though I’m not a strict vegetarian (or vegan) I do tend to cook and eat mostly plant based recipes. My only weakness is seafood, so I guess I’m what people call “pescatarians.” In any case, siblings Aubry and Kale Walch have been selling their wares at local farmers markets for a few years, though I never had the fortune to pick up any of their wares. So, when they announced their flagship store in Northeast Minneapolis opening in January, I was there!

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Crowd waiting for vegan meats at the opening of the Herbivarous Butcher, January 23rd, 2016

It seems like half of Minneapolis had the same idea, though, so when Lindsay and I found ourselves in a three hour line, we opted to sample the Italian sausage (delicious) and come back at a more manageable time. It was awesome to see the attention the little shop had attracted. So a few days later we returned to pick up some vegan meats for dinner in the next week. The place was hopping on this late Sunday afternoon, and while the bacon was gone, we picked up some porterhouse steak, some maple breakfast sausage, and some sriracha brats. Next time, maybe the cheese!

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Some of the delicacies available at the counter- note that the Korean Ribs have just sold out. Next time, next time…

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Chopping some porterhouse for chili! (photo courtesy of Lindsay Cameron)

It was easy to see why; with their small batch recipes made from local ingredients, it is a perfect opportunity to get people more interested in trying out a vegan diet, even if just for a “meatless Monday” thing, if only for the oddity factor. It is certainly a more sustainable one!

I tried out the porterhouse in Isa Chandra Moskowitz’ “Chili Sin Carne al Mole,” which turned out quite delicious (though I may have gone a little too much on the chili powder, this turned out to be a five alarm type!).

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Preparing breakfast sausage!

Lindsay made a lovely breakfast for dinner, using the deliciously mapley maple sage breakfast sausage with pancakes and eggs. A great way to end a day! I’m really looking forward to grilling some of those sriracha brats sometime soon!

Basically, I think it’s an awesome place to get anything for a party or a special recipe, and we are lucky to have them in Minnesota! Even if I haven’t converted to be a pure vegan yet, I still feel much more comfortable trying some kind of vegan bologna rather than whatever it is in the “real” thing! I imagine the pepperoni would go pretty well on a pizza, and be pretty well indistinguishable from the spicy, tasty little mystery meat pucks you usually have!

Herbivorous Butcher, 507 1st Avenue NE, Minneapolis, MN T-F 10-7, Sat 10-6, Sun 11-4.

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Photo courtesy of Lindsay Cameron

A January of Music

 

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Interior of George Latimer Central Library, Loud at the Library

During the dead of a Minnesota winter, whether during biting subzero temperatures, dreary winter thaws, or majestic but disruptive blizzard is to take advantage of some of the Twin Cities’ venues for live music, listening to bands both local and visiting our cities. Over the past month, Lindsay and I have seen some pretty awesome shows, in some pretty awesome and intimate settings. In all of them, it felt like we were just hanging out with the bands! Here are a few highlights from a January of music!

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The Anonymous Choir, at Icehouse

Probably my favorite show of the month (and the year so far) was the Anonymous Choir Sings Leonard Cohen, a beautiful and romantic interpretation of Cohen’s classic songs by Anonymous Choir. Nona Marie Invie of Dark Dark Dark’s fifteen person women’s choir, . The venue, Icehouse, was a particularly apt place to experience the dulcet vocals and piano the choir specializes in. This was made even more enjoyable as Lindsay and I enjoyed a few of Icehouses’ heady, delicious cocktails at the site of our first date! Wow, romantic!

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StoLyette at the Nomad World Pub

Another of my favorite local bands I found out about a year ago at the Cedar Cultural Center, StoLyette played a few weeks ago at the Nomad World Pub, part of Bones and Beeker’s Minneseries, held there every Thursday night. The Nomad is a great, relaxed pub with a pretty strong list of craft beers and cocktails (in both senses of the word) and is a great place to experience some live music. Dosh had some interesting and hypnotic tunes, mixed live, and again StoLyette entranced me with their ethereal, eerie sound and modernized Russian folksongs sung in Russian! Pretty cool.

When seeing shows at First Avenue, I think I prefer the 7th Street Entry which, while a little cramped, always seems to be a cozier, more intimate space for listening to bands. Earlier in January we went to see one of Lindsay’s favorite bands, Lower Dens, an indie pop band from Baltimore on their return to the Twin Cities. The group performed a lively and energetic show for a packed audience eager for their dreamy but upbeat sound.

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Straining to see Lower Dens through the crowd at 7th Street Entry

The last music event we experienced in January was one of the most interesting. Celebrating the reopening of the historic, elegant George Latimer Central Library branch of the St. Paul Public Library, this year’s first Loud at the Library concert was awesome. Featuring local sibling singers The Ericksons and the headliner, folk rock singer Reina del Cid, it was a great location for some awesome, upbeat songs, like this one!

In between sets, a DJ played selections from the St. Paul Public Library‘s own, awesome vinyl collection (which are available to check out!) Thanks to sponsor Summit Brewing, another local St. Paul institution, bottles of free beer were provided. I will definitely have to pay off the fines I owe to the St. Paul Public Library so that I can make use of their collections (in particular their vinyl) in the future!

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Reina del Cid, Loud at the Library

Loud at the Library will be continuing to bring live music to the George Latimer Central Library in February and March, so definitely check that out!

 

 

Blizzard 2016 Adventure

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Blizzard on Nicollet

So, over the past few days the local media around here has been buzzing about the first real blizzard to hit Minnesota in 2016, and this time around, they weren’t just talking. We got a lot of snow!

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Snow on Hennepin, from Teen Central, HCL Minneapolis Central branch

Yesterday, I worked at the lovely Minneapolis Central Library branch, watching the wind and snow through the expansive windows of the building while helping those patrons brave enough to come in that day, tromping snow and happy for the cozy feeling inside the library. Watching snow accumulate through a window is one of my favorite winter experiences in Minnesota. Of course, it helped that I did not have to brave the roads to get home, living a conveniently walkable distance away, so I got to experience the blanket of white down Nicollet Avenue and into the Loring Park neighborhood. I only slipped and fell in the snow once! I’m looking forward to heading out into the fluffy, frozen stuff for some skiing, snowshoeing, or hiking soon!

(As an aside, I can’t believe it’s taken me this long to add a “Weather” tag to my blog)

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A snow muffled sidewalk…