Hej Kompisa

Good evening, friends, and hello to you from a basement out here in central Minnesota. It’s been more than a minute or two since my last post and I hope this missive finds you all doing well, and enjoying your weekend.

Saturday evening’s off to a lovely start. Boris McCutcheon‘s When We Were Big‘s playing in the background, there’s a pan of sweet potato fries roasting in the oven for George’s dinner, and I’m about to get into a few of the selections from 21st Amendment‘s sampler pack (I’m partial to the Blood Orange IPA and Hell or High Water Watermelon Wheat Beer).

The first day of February delivered warmer weather with the sun sticking around long enough to melt some of the snow build-up. After settling a bellyful of pancakes and coffee, we ventured out to brave the perils of Saturday Costco. The town of Anoka lies on the way to the bastion of bulk food shopping, and in this town (self-proclaimed Halloween capital of the world) is The Swedish Crown Bakery. A friend who lives in Anoka had recommended this bakery, and I’d been wanting to try it ever since. There’s a good deal of Swedes and Norwegians in my family tree, and as such I’m always interested in learning more about the history and culture of the Scandinavian people.

After our Costco excursion, we decided to stop into The Swedish Crown for a bite to eat. This hole in the wall bakery was nestled smack dab the middle of tiny shopping center featuring a taco shop, a Mexican market, and a BBQ joint.

A bright jingling of bells welcomed us as we walked through the door, and though we had baked goods on our minds, we decided to sample the fresh paninis and the soups. Audrey is a lifelong vegetarian, and I eat mostly vegetarian these, so we knew we’d be good with the tomato and herb soup, but asked Fari, one the owners/bakers/chefs, if it was possible to make any of their sandwiches vegetarian. He suggested we try the Reuben, made with tempeh on cardamom bread.

The sandwich and soup comprised one of the best meals I’ve ever had. The flavor of the grilled bread and thinly sliced tempeh made for fine dance partners to the dressing, cheese, and sauerkraut. And the tomato soup, hearty and hale as a garden pasta sauce, made for the perfect pairing. Afterwards, we swooped on cookies, Matrix bars, and a Semla to enjoy throughout the rest of the weekend.

While the ingredients themselves certainly contributed to the excellence of the meal, it was the care and affection for the ingredients which rounded things out. Before we left, we decided that all future Costco trips would warrant a visit to The Swedish Crown.

This small moment of passing the time with loved ones over a shared, simple meal made for a tremendous Saturday. If you ever find yourself near Anoka, MN, make some time and stop in.

I’ll close for now, and as I sign off I encourage you to light a candle, friends, because the darkness grows and the only way to beat it back is to carry the fire and let it shine. Be well.

-R

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