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.
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.
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
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”.
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.