From cream puffs to BLTs, here’s a rundown of our dining diaries’ greatest hits over the past seven days. What were your top eats of the week? Share the details in the comments section.
Mini choux from B’beri Desserts
For my spouse’s birthday this week, a family member in New Jersey orchestrated the delivery of two gorgeous boxes of baked goods to our door. They came from this husband-and-wife-owned bakery (pronounced bee-berry). Fritz Ebanda does the baking from their home in Coon Rapids, and Diane Ebanda handles the deliveries (among other things), which explains the delightful visit I had with her on my porch.
The couple was born in the former French part of Cameroon, where Fritz learned the essentials of French cuisine. He has worked in hotel kitchens and restaurants, including some top spots in Montreal.
“We make the French classics,” Diane said, “the things that remind us of our childhood. Any French people that live in France or even the territories, they won’t get lost; they know exactly what we sell.” He also incorporates Afro-Caribbean flavors, such as coconut, mango and pineapple.
The menu includes these bite-size puff pastries filled with both raspberry and praline cream. And the fluffiest, dreamiest caramelized onion and leek quiche. “He just puts it in the oven and it comes out perfect,” Diane said, as if that were all there was to it. In fact, Fritz is laboring over every aspect of his sweets and savories himself, down to the buttery quiche crust, and the powdery rolled sugar that falls like snow atop those little choux.
The Ebandas launched their business late last year as a delivery-only business, and it really took off right when the pandemic hit. Now, they’re at three farmers markets, and can hardly keep up with demand. “If you would put any other pastry chef in our kitchen, they would probably pull their hair out,” Diane said. A brick-and-mortar shop is the goal.
Diane credits their rapid success not only to Fritz’s pastry wizardry, but to her bubbly personality as well. “I love people,” she said. “I always try to have that little interaction with our customers,” just like she did with me on my porch. (Sharyn Jackson)
Order delivery at bberidesserts.com or 763-406-1040, or find them at the Maple Grove Farmers Market (Thursday, 3 to 7 p.m.), Shoreview Farmers Market (Tuesday, 3 to 7 p.m.) and New Hope Community Farmers Market (Saturday, 9 a.m. to 1 p.m.)
Avocado toast from Mill Valley Market
One of the most impactful additions to the Minneapolis parks system in recent years has been a series of casual restaurants that have popped up in prime locations: Tin Fish (followed by Lola on the Lake) at Bde Maka Ska, Sea Salt Eatery at Minnehaha Falls, Bread & Pickle at Lake Harriet and Sandcastle at Lake Nokomis.
The latest is this excellent outpost in the Trailhead in Theodore Wirth Park. It’s the work of chef Mike Rakun, a familiar name to the many fans of Mill Valley Kitchen in St. Louis Park and Benedict’s Morning Heroes in Wayzata.
He’s devised an appealing counter-service menu that’s full of welcome touches (one of many examples is the on-tap “Woke” punch, an exhilarating blend of hibiscus, mango, pineapple, ginger and lavender, crafted by the gifted folks at Jinx Tea in Minneapolis) and lively, health-conscious cooking.
At breakfast, I indulged in my avocado toast obsession ($9), and was not disappointed with its less-is-more aesthetic. The crusty and tangy sourdough bread was perfection, the smear of creamy avocado was just right, and the runny, sunny-side-up egg, flecked with pepper, was skillfully prepared. Extra credit points for the splash of fruity olive oil and the crunchy, punchy radish slices.
The roomy patio and swift, friendly service are other habit-forming traits. Another reason to love? The timbered, angular building (it’s the work of HGA, the Minneapolis mega-firm) is a knockout, a huge visual asset to the city’s largest park. Which reminds me: if and when the Minneapolis Park & Recreation Board rebuilds the refectory on the northeast shore of Bde Maka Ska (the 89-year-old home of Lola on the Lake was destroyed in a May 2019 fire), could it please commission one of the city’s many gifted architectural firms, and build a beautiful landmark on that prime piece of real estate? Better yet, how about a design competition? Open 8 a.m. to 8 p.m. daily. (Rick Nelson)
1221 Theodore Wirth Pkwy., Mpls., 763-316-4948
Soulroll from Wendy’s House of Soul
Not gonna lie, I was hungry and scrolling on DoorDash when the word “SOULROLL” caught my eye. A soul roll is essentially an egg roll filled with soul food, and I got “the Nanny,” which comes loaded with macaroni and cheese, collard greens, and bits of fried chicken all mixed together in a deep-fried wrapper. I’ll rarely turn down a handheld food pocket, and this one scored all the points for cheesy, savory, tangy and crunchy, plus sweet-tart from the “SOULsauce” on the side.
There are other versions, including one filled with Polish sausage and cream sauce, another with ground beef and French fries, and one that’s a spin on a gyro. And that’s not all owner Wendy Puckett is wrapping in those egg roll skins. Try a cobbler or banana pudding SweetBabyGrand, which delivers cold fruit fillings atop a hot, fried wrapper. Or go all out with a deep-fried Mogul Burger, which is two patties, cheese, turkey bacon, peppers and onions inside a crisp shell. (It fed me for days.) Open for walk-in, pickup and delivery 11 a.m. to 6 p.m. Tuesday through Saturday. (S.J.)
1021 W. Broadway Av. N., Mpls., 612-800-4535
Sweet basil vanilla ice cream from La La Homemade Ice Cream
July 19 is National Ice Cream Day, and there are all kinds of ways to celebrate. I might be going with a pint of owner Jennifer Lisburg’s quietly refreshing combination of vanilla ice cream and basil sorbet. In terms of flavor and color, the basil has a cool, garden-fresh quality that whispers rather than shouts its presence. As a backdrop, the luscious vanilla ice cream is no dullard but it also doesn’t overpower. It’s an inspired pairing, and a glorious embodiment of our too-short summers. Scoops $3.70 to $8, pints $8 and quarts $15. Open for walk-in, pickup and delivery noon to 8 p.m. Tuesday through Sunday. (R.N.)
3146 Hennepin Av. S., Mpls., 612-824-5252
Heirloom tomato sweet corn BLT from Birchwood Cafe
“This is gonna be good,” was the message written on the takeout bag. Yeah, no kidding. The BLT, one of western civilization’s pinnacle creations, is my favorite sandwich, and the B’wood’s interpretation of this classic ranks as one of my all-time-favorite versions. Ultra-juicy, color-saturated tomatoes have just started to ripen at Heartbeet Farm in Zumbro Falls, Minn., and their arrival has triggered the sandwich’s reintroduction to the restaurant’s hyper-seasonal menu. The thick-cut bacon is no slouch; it hails from one of the region’s top-performing pork producers, Fischer Farms Family Pork in Waseca, Minn. Because tomato and sweet corn seasons coincide, this BLT wisely incorporates a swipe of puréed kernels and chipotle peppers, a pairing that inserts gentle sweet-hot notes (it works, big-time). The bread? It’s the kitchen’s rustic “Birdseed” loaf, thinly sliced and toasted. In 2018, this beauty was introduced (with one alteration, a different bread) to the Minnesota State Fair, and it was a runaway hit. We may be fair-less this year, but we still have this BLT, for as long as the local tomato supply lasts. Open for curbside pickup 10 a.m. to 1 p.m. and 4 to 7 p.m. Wednesday through Thursday, 10 a.m. to 1 p.m. and 4 to 8 p.m. Friday, 9 a.m. to 1 p.m. and 4 to 8 p.m. Saturday and 9 a.m. to 1 p.m. and 4 to 7 p.m. Sunday. (R.N.)
3311 E. 25th St., Mpls., 612-722-4474
Note: “5 Best Things” is going on summer vacation and will return on Aug. 7.