As most of you know, I was in Minneapolis for my sister’s graduation this past weekend.
While the graduates were clearly the most learned among us…
…I did leave with a few take-aways from the weekend myself.
Take-away #1: It is possible to get sunburnt in the Midwest in May. While attending an indoor graduation.
We were only in the sun for the photo shoot.
And my chest was fried…
Can’t tell my chest is bright red?
Yeah, I couldn’t either. Until later, that is.
I should have known, as my skin burns just thinking about the sun. But did I wear sunscreen? Nope.
There wasn’t even a beach involved! #notcool
Take-away #2: Vegan options exist in Minneapolis!
As we headed to Pizza Luce, I was envisioning trying to finagle a cheese-free portion of a pie. But to my surprise and delight, the restaurant was vegan (and even gluten-free!) friendly. I know.
They even welcomed gluten-free vegans and vegetarians with a message:
I was blown away, as normally vegans don’t get an entre option, let alone special recognition.
Vegan menu options include a vegan hoagie, vegan muffeletta, and chocolate peanut bars. AND most of their pizzas are vegan-upon-request; you can replace the cheese with either Follow Your Heart vegan cheese or a “rincotta” sauce made with cashews and tofu. Mmmm.
The Lil’ Gracie pizza even includes veggie sausage, mushrooms, green peppers, onions, green and black olives, garlic, and roasted red peppers. I’m not big into immitation meat myself, but impressive nonetheless.
We ended up ordering some starters for the table, including a few different salads.
And we got two large pizzas to share.
The vegan pie got all my camera’s love….
We ordered the Pizza Athena with fresh spinach, fresh tomatoes, calamata, artichoke hearts, red onions, Greek oregano, and toasted garlic, and–instead of feta cheese–the vegan “rincotta.”
Holy flavorful amazingness! Loved this.
It had a lot of textures and flavors going on–and even a little kick.
Delicious. And I’m not just saying that; my brother was almost converted to veganism from this pizza. True story.
We also had a feast our first night at Chino Latino–specializing in “street food from the hot zones,” or cuisine from countries near the equator, which inevitably meant a very exotic menu.
I went with sushi–although last time I checked Japan isn’t exactly close to the equator, so not sure how it fits into the restaurant’s theme. But we won’t over think it.
Because the point is, it was tasty.
The sushi role was “The Weed Eater”–and it was way more appetizing than it sounds! It had cucumber and shiitake mushrooms layered with avocado and toasted sesame. Mmmm.
Everyone else was pleased and full after shared plates ranging from curry to jerk chicken to tostadas. Plus, the ambiance was very modern and swanky. All in all, it was a winner.
Take-away #3: Sometimes, vegan options don’t exist.
I wish I had all happy vegan tales to share, but not every restaurant had a special message welcoming vegans with open arms and special dishes.
Unfortunately, the very cool Townhall Brewery did not pull through on the vegan front, so I went into default mode and ordered a salad.
The good news is, I love salad.
Sure, I usualy prefer my salads a bit more tricked out–and to include a protein source such as nuts or seeds–but as long as the ingredients are fresh, you can’t go wrong.
I may have been *wishing* the black bean burger on the menu (served with fresh guac!) was a vegan patty, but you can’t win ‘em all.
And the mango beer was refreshing.
A taste of summer.
Speaking of which…
Take-away #4: Summit Beer is brewed in Minneapolis. And it’s reallly delicious.
99 bottles of beer on the wall
Unfortunately, this was about all I learned from our Summit brewery tour–which I highly recommend, by the way.
The taste test was my favorite part.
It’s pretty delcious while you bowl, too.
Yes, my family went bowling; that’s how we roll. Terrible pun intended.
our team, "striking" a pose--again, terrible pun intended. I can't help it!
And it’s pretty good out of a tower as well.
my cousin Mike and the beer tower
Who needs pitchers?
Take-away #5: Minneapolis is beautiful in the spring. The river shaping the city, the blossoming trees, the greenery….
Yes, nature is neat.
[If you haven't laughed yet today, watch this. I would embed the video into my post, but I'm not sure everyone will think it's as hilarious as me. If you're like my family, you'll love it.]
Take-away #6: Snacks are essential
while traveling in any situation. Okay, obviously this isn’t a take-away so much as it’s a tenet I live by. Ha.
I’ll leave you with some highlights.
Banana bread breakfast.
Raw energy to power through the graduation ceremony…
Two Moms in the Raw bars are amazing.
Apple on the airplane.
With delicious Artisana almond butter.
Kale chips along side a clementine and H2O–30,000 feet in the air.
Kale does a body good.
And, finally, on the last day, my mom and I hit up the hotel’s complimentary breakfast, and lo and behold, there was a big pot of fresh oatmeal with toppings galore!
It was a dream come true.
I topped my bowl with sliced almonds, strawberries, sliced banana, shredded coconut, and of course, a Justin’s peanut butter packet I smuggled in. Because what’s oatmeal without nut butter? I mean, let’s be real.
This was perfect–but the lighting was not great. My mom probably thought I was nuts as I took about six different angles.
Lovely way to start my day of travel back to New York. And it goes to show that carrying around packets of nut butter does come in handy from time to time.
And I’ll leave you with that little take-away.