"Candyland" a treat
In 1932, as the Great Depression loomed, a shop called Flavo Korn opened in downtown St. Paul, at the corner of Wabasha and 7th streets. It offered popcorn and other snacks to office workers and shoppers and people lined up at the several movie theaters. Times change. Today, the store is called Candyland and, while still on Wabasha, it's shifted with the times. But it has survived. Local author Susan Barbieri recounts the history of the place in "Candyland in the Twin Cities: Popcorn, Toffee, Brittle & Bark" (The History Press, $19.99). It's the story of candy, of course, but also of social change and how an urban center ebbs and flows as jobs, government, transportation and livelihoods change. It's not hard to imagine gangster John Dillinger sampling the popcorn there in the early 1930s; now, the bulk of Candyland's business is shipping via Internet orders. Barbieri captures the hard work of owning a family business, but also the joy of selling fudge that makes memories.
Guests at the Old Rittenhouse Inn in Bayfield, Wis., know the picturesque views of Lake Superior, the Victorian charm of the baronial rooms, and the glory of the inn's gardens. But they also know they're going to eat really well. Now, they can attempt to replicate the chefs' recipes in a new cookbook, "The Old Rittenhouse Inn Cookbook: Meals and Memories From the Historic Bayfield B&B" (Lake Superior Port Cities Inc., $24.95). This combo of stories and recipes recounts how the inn came to be, high points (and amusing points) in its history, but mostly how fine dining always has been central to its hospitality. Recipes range from local delicacies such as whitefish liver paté to banana hazelnut cake with chocolate malt ice cream. Cocktails, too!
Veggies with verve
This zucchini season, we've been having fun with the latest gadget in the Microplane line of extraordinarily sharp kitchen tools: the spiral cutter. It's designed to create spiral, spaghetti-like ribbons out of zucchini, carrots, cucumbers, radishes and whatever else fits in the two round barrels. The cutter most resembles a large pencil sharpener and works on the same principle. We found that the firmer vegetables such as carrots were a piece of cake, softer cukes less so. But a pile of zucchini strands only needs a bit of seasoning and a slosh of vinaigrette for an effortlessly fresh salad. It could be great for innovative garnishes, too. The cutter is supposed to be available this month for about $15, but Microplane says that early demand has taken a toll on production and seeks our patience. Check in at www.microplane.com.