Food Musings

A Winnipeg blog about the joy of preparing food for loved ones and the shared joy that travel & dining brings to life.

Long weekend in Duluth, MN



D and I often chat about taking a road trip to the Black Hills, or another location within a day’s drive. I have often heard people talk about Duluth as being a quaint location because of its arts and crafts scene and comfy places to stay. D felt that we needed a little getaway. He remembered my mentioning Duluth and did the research about a long weekend away.

We stopped for a brief lunch and numerous pee breaks (we’re getting old) and were in Duluth 7 hours after leaving home. The route that D chose had us driving through areas of both Manitoba and Minnesota that we had never driven before. Except for a short piece at the beginning of the trip, we drove through “Canadian” Shield the entire time. The groves of poplar and pine were lovely and familiar. We knew that Duluth was on Lake Superior but we did predict the elevation of the city. We have yet to visit San Francisco but we predict that Duluth’s steep climbing streets would mimic it.

D chose a hotel across from the city’s mall but we headed right downtown for some browsing. While I was shopping D found Zeitgeist Arts Cafe-a bar and restaurant located in a historic building also housing a performing arts studio and movie theatre. As we perched at the bar, we looked around and saw solo men eating three course meals at the bar top. It was Eat Downtown, Duluth’s Restaurant Week and the special at Zietgiest was a surf and turf option. I spied cheese stuffed and bacon Medjool dates on the menu so we had an appetizer with our refreshing beer.

Zeitgeist Arts Cafe Menu, Reviews, Photos, Location and Info - Zomato

It was a quick trip to another fun area where our dinner destination was located. Bellisio is fashioned after the small village of Bellisio, Italy, home to the owner’s ancestry. Located close to the east coast of Italy, we must have been near the region on last year’s trip to Tuscany. Bellisio’s has received Wine Spectator’s prestigious “Award of Excellence” every year since they opened in 1999.

The restaurant was located in Canal Park, as well as numerous other restaurants, shops and bars. We were also going to take advantage of downtown restaurant offer ourselves. We chose a delicious pulled chicken minestrone (tasty but not piping hot) and a Caesar salad chock full of anchovies and garlic.


Our entrees were Walleye Milanese (topped with a lemon butter caper sauce) on a bed of parmesan mashed potatoes


and Chicken Pancetta (linguine, chicken, pancetta, shallots and peas in a light broth-style sauce).


As Bellisio is also a wine bar, we chose an Italy vs California Merlot flight. In the end we may have enjoyed the wine as much as our dinner. At $25 for each multi course dinner and $7 for the Merlot flight, we couldn’t believe the value! Too full for the tiramisu that came with our dinner, we packaged it up for D to enjoy later in the evening as we watched The Crown on Netflix and listened to the Jets game.

Bellisio's Menu, Reviews, Photos, Location and Info - Zomato

On Saturday morning, I had some fun shopping at Target for Christmas stocking stuffers. D had a beer tour planned at Bent Paddle but we had an opportunity to try the lunch version at Midi Restaurant which was the hotel dining room for Fitgers Brewery and Hotel.


BTW-did you know that Bob Dylan hails from Duluth?






Right on the Lake Superior, we enjoyed an early lunch in the warm sun by the windows. We started with duluth17

Chicken and wild rice soup and another Caesar salad.


Lunch entrées were a ½ Ruben and amazing French fries


and a small piece of pork schnitzel, spaetzle and sweet red cabbage. At first when we saw the small piece of schnitzel and half sandwich, we were concerned that we may not been satisfied but it turned out to be absolutely the perfect portion (Downtown restaurant Week price of $10 per). I focused on the fries while D loved the spaetzle. We took our strudel “to go”.

Midi Restaurant & Wine Bar Menu, Reviews, Photos, Location and Info - Zomato

While D was on his tour I checked out the mall across from our hotel. I made my way to Younkers, a department store I had never heard of. An hour or so later, I was shopped out, having purchased a special community coupon book and receiving very pleasing items of black jeans (that fit), black flat boots that I have needed for a year and a beautiful pair of Anne Klein sling backs that I also sorely needed. I walked back to the hotel just as D pulled into the parking lot.

I changed into my new boots and we headed out on another exploring adventure. We drove one of the long bridges between Duluth MN and Superior Wisconsin, shopped for some beer and cheese and headed back to Duluth. Fortunately (or unfortunately) they also had low fat cheese and sour cream Cape Cod potato chips (being our favourite brand since we discovered them on our honeymoon 32 years prior). These became our happy hour snack.

We found a spot in the sun in Canal Park but the wind off the water was pretty brisk so we hopped in the car and drove the narrow peninsula almost connecting Duluth and Superior. But before we did, we were in for a special occurrence. The park is so named because of the unique aerial lift bridge. We got to see the bridge in action as it made way for a sail boat returning to the harbour. We loved Minnesota Ave., the little ribbon of land which reminded us staying on the Airport Strip on Isla Mujeres, where we got to enjoy both sunrises and sunsets from our hotel. This strip of land was even narrower and was populated by inns and houses. We were not sure if they were summer or year round homes.


We stopped and climbed a sand hill to the beach, just as the sun was starting to set. Once the sun disappeared, it proved to be rather chilly indeed and D had a perfect way to warm up.


Enjoying another wine flight at Bellisio, Shiraz this time, we also loved the rolled eggplant and olive tray.

We were heading back to the hotel to regroup and then have our final dinner Downtown when D suggested that we order in and see what might entertain us on Netflix. “Chef” starring Jon Favreau, and co-starring Sofía Vergara, Scarlett Johansson, Oliver Platt, Dustin Hoffman, and Robert Downey, Jr. was a lovely light, feel good movie with some delicious food scenes.

Our Chinese food proved to be very plentiful and affordable and we have a bag of it for left over’s this week.


We stopped in Thief River Falls on the way home, to watch some Vikings football and have one last feed of walleye. A perfect weekend.

Kath’s quote: “If people concentrated on the really important things in life, there would be a shortage of fishing poles.” –Doug Larson


Love never fails.

Foraging for Wild Asparagus-By Guest Blogger: Alice Kulyk


Last year, as I was driving around the countryside, I discovered many wild asparagus ferns growing along ditches, railroad tracks and road sides. Unfortunately I realized this too late in the season, but I made a mental note that I would stop in these spots next spring and see if I could harvest some.


Sure enough in the spring there were ferns growing and I would stop every couple of days to harvest. I used a knife to cut the stalks at ground level and harvested all that I could. Wild asparagus in my opinion is more tender and tastier than store bought and worth the effort it takes to pick it.

Asparagus grows really quickly so you can harvest all the new stems but it is important to leave some stems to encourage more growth for the following year. I didn’t harvest lots that first year but enough to get excited for more. This year, I found a couple more stretches of asparagus ferns and by the end of the summer I found fields with up to 20 or more clumps growing just waiting for me to harvest next spring.


The best time to look for asparagus is in the fall as the clumps have turned yellow and are very visible. I make notes on my phone as to where I see them because I know I will forget a couple of spots. I also take a picture of the spot hoping the clumps show up in my photo like a treasure map.

I get great satisfaction in finding the beautiful and delicious bounty that nature gives us. This is still a great time to keep your eyes open during your travels, find spots for yourself, and make notes of where you find them.

Kath’s quote: “I look forward to the spring vegetables because the season is so short. Mushrooms, edible foraged herbs, wild leeks, early season asparagus”. -David Chang


Love never fails.


2016 Isla Mujeres Trip Report-Day Two



We were blessed with a great first night’s sleep and so we were up before the sun. In fact, the moon was still out.


A beautiful shot of the villa that we would move to mid-week.



The gorgeous Villas looked even more lovely in the rising sun.

D had everything set up i.e. coffee and chairs for sunrise that first morning from the roof at Villas San Miguel.





We realized that we must have been sitting in someone else’s chairs and sure enough we met Milly and Kim from Minneapolis. We hit it off immediately. They emptied their surplus holiday supplies with us. We walked them to the ferry. There was an entourage of many people I know saying good-bye to Cousin Frank.


The view out of our kitchen window.


The gate that is locked and secure at night. I love seeing the shock of the blue Caribbean!




Every morning that I am on Isla I go beachcombing for treasures.


This was my haul the first day. Do you see the green marble in the middle of my stash? I sometimes find one over the course of a couple of weeks. I have never ever found one my first day!


The kitchen at Villas San Miguel was perfectly set up for light meals.


That morning D had a fancy for a homemade breakfast of Isla ham and eggs.


We had a lovely breakfast around the pool.


Then we walked to North Beach for a brief dip and to hook up with Bro #3 and all the gang. In addition, were Margaret & Andy and Margaret’s brother Wilf and Arlene as well as my second cousin Sandra, her husband Tim and their friends Carol & Gord.


A quick trip back to the Villas San Miguel for a shower.




That evening I had tried to arrange an Islaholic meetup. We walked down the west side of the island to Sergio’s (now closed).



We were familiar with the beautiful setting at Sergio’s.


Sunset was mysterious.


Our family made up a portion of a larger group. My husband D is besides me. In front is our family friend Dona in red. Sister #3 is in between D and I and Bro #3 is behind Dona. Our Sis-in-law is in the middle.


Coconut Shrimp


Whole fish


Fish tacos

There were 15 in our group that evening at Sergio’s for dinner. Which was great, except I already knew every single one of them. There were problems with the food coming out of the kitchen. Many people ordered the Parmesan fish that we all remembered from Sergio’s Playa Sol.


I had herb fish and


D had a tough time chewing his Octupus.


Bro #3 enjoyed his wings. Unfortunately Sergio wasn’t around to have a visit with. In the mean time long time friend Ziggy tried his best to make us feel welcomed.

Kath’s quote: “Octopuses have hundreds of suckers, each one equipped with its own ganglion with thousands of neurons. These ‘mini-brains’ are interconnected, making for a widely distributed nervous system. That is why a severed octopus arm may crawl on its own and even pick up food”. Frans de Waal


Love never fails.

Isla Mujeres 2016 Trip Report, Day One, Part Two





When we stay in Centro our favourite spot for sunset is Playa Sol. I love the setting sun on the local’s boats on the shore.





The silhouette of the palms is one of my favourite Isla sites.





Playa Sol is a special spot where our family loves to congregate for sunset.



As we walked past the cemetery, the angels hushed us.



We chose Abuelo’s for our first dinner where I indulged in bacon-wrapped shrimp


and D chose lobster stuffed fish.


Friends and relations (my second cousin) were dining at Abuelo’s too. I couldn’t resist also taking a photo of one of their meals.

We have enjoyed dining at Abuelo’s since it was a three table spot and loved watching as the family succeeded and re-invested in their family business.

As would prove to be our Isla routine, we walked the beach and then Hidalgo. I was surprised that we were still awake at 9 pm when we had been awake since 4 that morning.

Kath’s quote: “Clouds come floating into my life, no longer to carry rain or usher storm, but to add color to my sunset sky.”-Rabindranath Tagore


Love never fails.

2016 Isla Mujeres Trip Report-Day One, Part One


The flight was a piece of cake Then we flew through the airport and caught the 12 noon ferry. We were met by Sister #3 and Dona and they accompanied us to Villas San Miquel. (I wrote a more extensive post about the villas, right after we got home, in this link)


The view from our first room-the pool courtyard is quiet and gets both sun and shade throughout the day.




The arches and the architectural attention to detail certainly impressed.


The kitchen was so well equipped with everything you might need for a short or long stay.



The artistry of the building, furniture and decorative pieces was top notch and you knew that no expense had been spared  for your enjoyment and comfort.


Our first look at Villas San Miguel was fabulous!



Sister #3 & Dona joined us for fish tacos (mine was garlic broiled not deep fried) at Bally Hoo as is our Isla tradition. We met Jan and Michelle from PEI who we befriended the year prior at Luna D’Miel. They were on their way home. We had a lovely visit.

We headed back to Villas San Miguel so that D could have a nap and then we ventured out for groceries, beer and wine. Since the Villas are just across the zocolo from the Supermercado, shopping for supplies and running them home was as easy as pie.



We tried to hook up with the gang on the island but had no luck. So we had our own Happy Hour on the rooftop of Villas San Miguel.

The next weighty decision was trying to decide where to catch sunset and our first dinner of the trip. Sat-tuned!

Kath’s quote: “Wherever you go becomes a part of you somehow.”  ― Anita Desai


Love never fails.


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