Another food truck lands permanent home

The former Cafe Caribe space didn't stay dark for long. Erica Strait, the force behind Foxy Falafel (www.foxyfalafel.com), is expanding her popular farmers market stand and food truck operation into a bricks-and-mortar business in the small storefront at 791 Raymond St. in St. Paul.

"It's the natural progression of the business," said Strait. "I'm excited about the opportunity to be able to sell to my customers year-round. It's what I've always wanted to do."

The counter-service operation will feature the staples that Strait has been perfecting over the years, including beet and curry falafels. She's also adding items such as turkey shawarma, merguez sausage, chicken gyro meatballs ("We've expanded into the meat market," she said with a laugh) and house-made sodas and kombucha. Beer and wine, too.

The restaurant is going to start with lunch. When the food truck and farmers market season ends, Strait plans to introduce dinner and weekend brunch.

Right now the plan is to open later this month or in early August. In the meantime, diners can get a preview every Friday from 11 a.m. to 1:30 p.m., when Strait parks her food truck in front of the restaurant for what she calls "Foxy Falafel Friday."

A nutty ice cream salute

St. Paul's Pearson's Candy Co. is marking the 100th anniversary of its Nut Goodie candy bar by asking Midwestern ice cream shops to find inspiration in the chocolate-peanut-maple treat.

Here in Minnesota, Izzy's Ice Cream (2034 Marshall Av., St. Paul, 651-603-1458, www.izzysicecream.com) is paying homage to the candy bar with a maple nougat-flavored ice cream mixed with salted and chocolate-covered peanuts. The celebratory flavor is being scooped through Aug. 12.

Crazy for doughnuts

Two notes from my ongoing and slightly unhealthy obsession with doughnuts:

At the Birchwood Cafe (3311 E. 25th St., Mpls., 612-722-4474, www.birchwoodcafe.com), longtime pastry chef Sandra Sherva combines three decidedly un-doughnut-ey traits -- gluten-free, vegan and baked.

"We were thinking of calling them 'faux-nuts,' but you can only get so cute," said owner Tracy Singleton with a laugh.

Yet the tender, super-moist results ($2.50 per doughnut) are marvelous, which should come as no surprise, since Sherva enlisted a vegan cupcake recipe as a starting-off point. The flavors change frequently, but expect to find basics along the lines of cinnamon-sugar and chocolate, as well as seasonal concoctions like blackberry-ginger, strawberry-pink peppercorn and lemon-olive oil.

"The bakers have a lot of fun with them," said Singleton. "They've turned into a kind of cult item."

Meanwhile, doughnut hounds need to know about Saturday mornings at Heartland Restaurant & Farm Direct Market (289 E. 5th St., St. Paul, 651-699-3536, www.heartland restaurant.com). If pastry chef Jack Fulton has extra brioche dough on hand -- caution, it's not every Saturday -- he turns it into simple (and sublime) cake doughnuts. If there's a chocolate-iced version, buy it.

RICK NELSON