Over the years we have dipped in and out of St. Paul, trying a restaurant here or visiting a shop there but never getting a sense of the place or the lay of the land. With Noah now living in the Midway neighborhood of St. Paul, we spent more concentrated time there and left with a better feel for the place, which looked lovely on a early fall weekend with the trees just starting to change.
The St. Paul Farmers Market, downtown under an overhang structure, was bursting with fruit, veg and huge colorful dahlias. We bought treats for brunch the next morning – peach strudel, cheese, smoked trout, snowflake apples – and some to devour on site including excellent pierogies stuffed with creamy mashed potatoes and cheddar cheese, with plum sauce drizzled on top and sour cream.
Later we had very good sandwiches at the St. Paul Cheese Shop near Macalester College (prosciutto and brie; roast beef, arugula, red pesto.) Dirck and I drove past the grand mansions along Summit Avenue (the annual house tour the following day was packed with people lining up in front of F. Scott Fitzgerald’s boyhood home and other stately homes. Unable to find Common Good Books where we’d last visited it decades ago, we discovered it had long ago moved — around the corner from the Cheese Shop where we ate lunch. It’s still good, even it owner Garrison Keeler’s star power has since dimmed.
Six of us had delicious Cambodian food for $64 (pre-tip) at a no-frills restaurant called Cheng Heng near Noah’s new place. (No liquor, among my favorites — a crispy chive pancake, an omelette filled with bean sprouts and bits of pork served with lettuce and cucumber, stir-fried tofu , crispy and in a delicious light brown sauce.
Before leaving we walked around Lake Como, dropping in at the old pavilion (which we later learned is a 1992 replica of the original early 1900’s structure), the cool old streetcar station with a facade of round stones, a torpedo monument to the WW2 submarine, lovely old Victorian homes overlooking the lake with long green lawns and well tended gardens and porches. The “kiddie” cones at Grand Ole Creamery were big enough for this adult. And takeaway sandwiches from a Kowalski’s Market will do for dinner on the road home. (Not as good as the St. Paul Cheese Shop, though.)