Fall Adventures: Apple & Pumpkin Picking

apples

As Katie and I have admitted, we’re pretty basic, and I’m not ashamed. I get major FOMO in the fall-I need to experience it all: the leaves, crisp weather, boots & scarves, pumpkin & apple goods, beer, and of course football. This year I knocked two important tasks off my list early in the season: apple and pumpkin picking.

Aamodts Apple Farm:

farm

A week ago, my girlfriend Katina grabbed a few friends to go apple picking at Aamodts apple farm near Stillwater. Katina has been going here the past three years-it was a tradition she couldn’t miss. The weather was warm and perfect- we munched on apple sausage, sparking apple wine from St. Croix Vineyards, apple cider donuts, and tasted an assortment of fall condiments-apple salsa, pumpkin and honey butter. Sadly we didn’t pick apples as the variety available didn’t excite us (Cortland are mainly good for baking not snacking). All in all, a great place to go for a relaxing time with girlfriends-you can’t beat sipping wine outside on a beautiful fall day.

food-3

 

Ever since I moved to Minnesota, Kadi, Ashley, and I have a fall tradition of pumpkin picking…and usually hitting a winery nearby.  Ashley had been wanting to check out Winehaven near Chisago, a popular Minnesotan winery, so we picked our pumpkin patches accordingly.

Although the wine was too sweet for my taste, 6 tastings for $5 wasn’t a bad way to spend a Saturday afternoon. The winery was also setting up for a wedding which gave us entertainment to analyze the decor.  My main amusement was ordering the $10 cheese plate-a packaged wedge of Wisconsin cheese with a sleeve of ritz crackers on a paper plate.

winehaven

We then made a stop at Tom Pumpkins, which was a beautiful farm overlooking rolling hills. Kadi of course wanted to go on the hayride (which Ashley and I secretly love) to take us to pick our pumpkins. Ashley found the perfect classic orange pumpkin, while also picking me the perfect white Cinderella pumpkin (I had to color scheme my coffee table accordingly). Naturally I ran into an Ohioan and yelled “OH” who replied with the current OSU football score.

kate-2

kadi

On our way home, we stopped at another pumpkin patch named Lents, which really filled in the holes of Ashley’s & I’s fall assortment. Here we gathered up gourds and mini pumpkins to decorate our apartments.

lends

So far, I’m feeling pretty accomplished at tackling my fall list.

Kate

Donut Sunday

Whafullsizerender-1t do Sunday mornings mean to you? I  know for Kate (love ya) they mean hitting up the best farmers’ markets around town. And sadly lately for me they mean hitting up the closest donut shop – shout out to Glam Dolls. Well this past Sunday I knew I would end up grabbing a donut and coffee because it just goes so well with brisk Fall mornings. While Glam Dolls is easily walk-able and has some undeniable great donuts (looking at you Pin Up Girl), I was itching to get out and try someplace new. That someplace was a Minneapolis Instagram favorite. I’d seen so many posts of people at Mojo Monkey donuts but the trek over to St. Paul seemed impossible most days. This Sunday however I made that 9 mile drive over and I was pleasantly surprised. You have to look closely because the store front is tiny and with no real signage I must admit I blew right by it the first time. But nestled in an old, brick storefront on 7th street hides a quaint little donut heaven. I walked in and was a bit surprised to be the only patron in there. Two ladies were behind the incredibly small counter and at first I was shocked by the seemingly limited selectiofullsizerendern. The 3 foot case however boasted flavors like crème brule, caramel oreo and pb & j.Hiding to the right of the counter were racks upon racks of more donuts ready for back up when the case inevitably sold out. I opted for a cinnamon sugar (was feeling pretty classic that day) and it was incredible. The light and fluffy dough with the dusting of cinnamon sugar was the perfect version of this old favorite. Paired with a $1 coffee, couldn’t go wrong. I would say that donut was the best part of this jaunt but really it was the little older man that came in for his usual and the lady behind the counter handing him 2 donuts and a coffee and saying “love you Dad” as he went about his way. Mojo Monkey Donuts definitely lived up to the hype I had put on it. One word describes it for me: charming.

Total Ranking:

4 out of 5

-Katie

 

 

 

Grand Marais

When I move to a new state-I have this innate need to explore every ounce of it-all of the events in the city, local watering holes, best places to eat, and where the natives visit on the weekends. One place on my MN bucket list has been heading up the north shore to Grand Marais. With my two girlfriends in tow, Kadi, Ashley, and I took a trip one late summer weekend.  Kadi and Ashley are Minnesotans and had driven up the coast many times in their childhood. I always love their enthusiasm to show me part of their home state!

We met in Duluth Friday am and started making the trek up the north shore.  Our first stop – Gooseberry Falls state park. Here we walked along the waterfalls and rocks, and I officially coined my nickname for the week of “cautious Kate” since I was terrified to climb some of the rocks!

Processed with VSCO with a5 preset

Next up, Split Rock light house-my first light house experience. Here at the top of the winding steps, you could take in a beautiful view of Lake Superior. We toured the lighthouse keeper’s house, walked along the shore, and saw the old remnants of the lift used to haul supplies up to the lighthouse.

 

Next we went to silver lake bay, where we hiked to bean and bear lake. Kadi deceived us by stating it was only a 3 mile loop with little elevation and should only take us about an hour.. It ended up being 3 miles one way-with Ashley and me gripping and starving-but it was worth it towards the end for the beautiful views.01baa8a67d69953c72963326ba0df1443bfb50ed97As Ashley and I officially confirmed we were done with physical activity, we needed something easy, hence onyx beach. This was my absolute favorite attraction of our weekend-the deserted beach with black rocks against the rusty iron cliffs was stunning. This unique beach received its black hue from taconite being dumped in the water near the beach for decades.011c4b4e687ec4a87c4c0470ca37b2b38c4c777e90A few miles ahead was Palisade Head, a large cliff off of Lake Superior. Worth the stop for these views.

01c463caa2f04b6630a570f2bf980146b70d971f1dNext up-Lutsen. This town is a Minnesotan favorite winter destination with to go skiing, but we were there at the end of summer for the alpine slides. I rode my first ski lift (this trip was of many firsts) and showed my nickname of cautious Kate was pretty on point.

As we were about to head out and head to our hotel in Grand Marias, Kadi spotted a winery on the side of the road (this happens with us frequently).  This was worth the U-turn.  North Shore Winery has been open for a little less than a year, but the staff was knowledgeable about their wines and made for great conversation. We even grabbed a sneak peak in their back room with the wine barrels.

Saturday morning in Grand Marias, we stopped for donuts next to our motel at World’s Best Donuts. As a big tourist stop, I think it’s a stretch to call yourself world’s best in donuts, but I’m also biased coming from Ohio (buckeye donuts anyone?).

The girls and I then drove further north up the shore to the border of Canada-I had packing remorse we didn’t bring our passports! We took a pit stop overlooking lake superior, then continued along to Grand Portage state park to see the high falls, one of the longest falls in Minnesota.

That afternoon, we took a break at Grand Marais one and only brewery, Voyageur. Here we soaked in the local band, brews, and pub pretzels.  We continued on to local favorites such as my sisters place (for poutine in honor of seeing the Canadian border), Sven and Oles (for pizzas by the slice college style) , and Gunflint Tavern for late night cocktails on the roof.

On our way home, we weren’t quite ready to realize Monday was around the corner, so we stopped in Two Harbors at Castle Danger Brewing Company. Here you can watch the pizza train come in from Duluth while enjoying good beers such as  Mosaic IPA and Summer Crush.

0144fb7739e940b03aa9bb45813d74eacda7df691fTo end our great weekend, after Kadi and I stopped at Northern Waters Smokehouse in Duluth for the best schnitzel and smoked salmon sandwich I’ve ever had. I’m still daydreaming about it.

01156d3d8ed6b2261ea51f8c7b59e8d818847d4703My overall view of the weekend-there’s not much to do in Grand Marias, but for a few days to get away from the city, it’s a perfect destination with your girlfriends.  Making a day out of the drive up was the ultimate way to explore the great North Shore.

017e8cd1a317ec3b5dda6dc7843d6df98e0869dd71

Kate

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Hi Lo

Hi-Lo Diner

East Lake Street – Minneapolis, MN

If there is one thing that we can admit to being completely basic about, it’s brunch. Since summer weekends in Minneapolis book up fast, we decided to implement early morning Friday breakfast dates so we could hit some of the more popular places in town and avoid the weekend warrior waits. Hi-Lo Diner opened up a few months back and we were psyched to go. Kate had already been there and was eager to get back and try another of their super unique offerings. With rave review after rave review, I was excited to try this new hotspot out. See our personal reviews & total rank below.

FullSizeRender (3)

 

Kate:

Always trying to find an impressive new place I had taken my brother here in June when he was visiting and fell in love with the menu option tagged the “hi-top”: a donut topped with lobster, avocado, and a chipotle aioli. Sadly this was no longer available on the menu this time, so I opted for my go to Mexican breakfast: huevos rancheros. I’ve come to find since moving to Minneapolis that well prepared chorizo  can be hard to find up north and Hi-Lo’s version was no exception. The large, overcooked pieces weren’t satisfying, yet the seasoned sour cream with a sunny-side up egg saved the dish.  While this trip wasn’t as successful as my first venture to the diner, I was impressed enough the first time to keep this on my rotation. I’ll definitely be coming back for the coffee and donuts!

FullSizeRender (1)

Katie:

I think that this was the classic case of too much build up. The reviews around Hi-Lo made this place seem like a breakfast foodie’s heaven and I was excited to try some of their unique takes on traditional breakfast dishes. I loved the vibe the minute I walked in. The old Air Stream and vintage aesthetic definitely made me think this place would move to the top of my Minnie breakfast joint list. Unfortunately that excitement took a nose dive when I saw the menu. I didn’t feel like there were unique options for those of us that are not huge meat eaters. I ended up a bit lost on what to order and landed on a traditional breakfast sandwich. My biggest disappointment was that the biscuit the sandwich came on was so huge and overwhelming there was basically no other flavor. Even doused in Cholula I wasn’t impressed with the flavors and ended up taking about ¾ of it home and never finishing it. Hi-Lo didn’t live up to the hype for me but I’d give it another shot if there was no wait.

FullSizeRender

Total Ranking:

3 out of 5
FullSizeRender (2)