A plate of RumChata French toast on a white plate on a restaurant table
The Hideaway series documents a marvelously placid three days I spent by myself in a fish house on Lake Vermilion. You can read first chapter here. This chapter begins on the morning of January 2, just after dawn. I woke from an uneven night's sleep and made for Ely, in search of a good breakfast and a couple of...
When I ask Isabel Street Heat owner Tony Stoy about the last time he hurt himself while making hot sauce, he brings up an incident three years ago that occurred while he was processing ghost peppers. “I had this respirator on,” he says, “and this seed actually popped off , got caught behind the glass , and sat on my...

UP NORTH FOR THE HOLIDAYS

A glass of Vanilla Rose Porter beer sits on a wooden counter at a Wisconsin brewery taproom
I spent my first two nights of 2019 hidden away in a fish house on an otherwise empty Lake Vermilion. I captured a beautiful sunset, stood alone among the stars, and nearly filled a whole notebook with chicken scratch and lefty-made ink smears. I sustained myself with peanuts, beer,...
A woman shows off her salmon mounted on a wall

The Thirsty Salmon: How a Big Catch on the Kenai Helped Build a Christmas...

The woman who brought pizza dip to this holiday party asks me what I think of it and I blurt out “I love you!”...

At the Vermilion Club, You Save Your Best Stories for the Bamboozler

When the Bamboozler shows up, everybody moves. You shove your napkins to the side and pull your drinks back toward your chests. You scoot your...

Dog, Gone! Conquering the Mutt at Gator’s Grilled Cheese Emporium

“What do you mean, I have to eat the sides, too?!” You have to eat the sides, too. My man Eliot and I were in Ely,...

Pretzels and Grilled Cheese Sandwich Bacon Burgers at Mike’s Pub

Where were you when you had your first cheeseburger with grilled cheese sandwiches used as the bun? I was in Hibbing, dining and talking with two...

Hibbing’s Alpha Meal: Steak and Eggs at “Sporty’s”

We had 'em long before I woke up New Year's Day with a splitting headache, long before my man Eliot and I were driven...

SCENIC ROUTES: A COLLABORATION WITH CHEVROLET

Pork wings on a paper film in a basket at a restaurant

There’s Good Food on My Turf: Where to Eat on Highway 23

One of my favorites stories to tell about Highway 23 is the one about my job-shadowing day at KBJR, the NBC affiliate in the...

Jeff Petcoff on the Passion that Drives Duluth’s Corktown Deli and Brews

This is the second installment of the Scenic Routes series, done in collaboration with Chevrolet. You can find the first post, a guide to...
White cup of coffee and deck of cards on a marble table

But First, Coffee: Four Key Cafés From the St. Croix Trail to Little Sweden

You're on the road in the morning, and how do you survive that without a good cup of coffee? If you're taking the scenic route...

ROLLER DERBY

Til Valhöl! Now a Dagger Doll, Val Kyrie Plans a Thunderous Minnesota RollerGirls Debut

It's hard to believe only three years ago, Val Kyrie and I were drinking beer together out of the Golden Skate during a Minnesota...
Roller derby skater Scootaloo

The Number FU Stunner: Good Words with Scootaloo

At 21 years old, Scootaloo skated with the Minnesota Rollergirls for the first time. At 22, she was running the league's Public Relations branch....
Roller derby skater Brickyard collides with skater Jacked Pipes

Keepin’ it 400: Good Words with Brickyard

Depending on which team you're on, All-Galaxy jammer Brickyard has been either a godsend or the bane of your very existence since moving to...

Willie Nelson, Wheels and Dolls: Good Words with Shotgun Millie

This weekend, the Dagger Dolls face the Atomic Bombshells for the Minnesota Rollergirls Season 13 home championship. It'll also be the final bout for...

THE ST. CROIX RIVER VALLEY: A SERIES

White cup of coffee and deck of cards on a marble table

But First, Coffee: Four Key Cafés From the St. Croix Trail to Little Sweden

You're on the road in the morning, and how do you survive that without a good cup of coffee? If you're taking the scenic route...
A sculpture made of old boomboxes at Franconia Sculpture Park

A Visual Tour of Franconia Sculpture Park

One of the first things you'll probably see when you pull up to the Franconia Sculpture Park is a wall made of boomboxes. What...
Coffee Talk, a coffee shop in Taylors Falls, with a forest in the background

Call it a Pre-Adventure: Hot Drinks and Comfortable Seats at Coffee Talk

Dear O., I hope this letter finds you well. As I write this, it's a Saturday in July. The sun is brilliant in Taylors Falls...
A man drinks a can of beer and looks out from a boat at rocks

What You’ll Get Exploring the St. Croix River by Paddleboat

“Left or right, your choice,” Ryan Ramaley announces over a loudspeaker as his boat advances on some poor schmuck who's canoeing right in the...

FOOD

A variety of pastries, tarts, cakes, cookies, and cupcakes are in a display at a Saint Paul bakery

Salty Tart Bakery is Known for Sweets, but Give Their Veggie Bowl a Try

Don’t ask me why I Googled “beet salad history.” Just know that Google offered me these four links as the most relevant sources on...

All Square, the Minneapolis Restaurant Where a Movement is Gaining Momentum

The most important new restaurant to open this year in the Twin Cities might just be All Square, the grilled cheese sandwich house in...

Tacos, Dogs, and a Lake Breeze: Doug Flicker’s Sandcastle on Lake Nokomis

For seven years, my wife has been dealing with this idiot constantly waffling over which restaurant to visit for dinner. Seven years of rattling...

Effortless Fish Recipes (Feat. Coastal Seafoods)

You're on this website, so I'm going to assume you've at least heard of Twin Cities fishmonger Coastal Seafoods. If you caught the write-up...

If You Seek Underwater Treasure, All You Have to Do is Find Sea Salt...

It was 102 degrees outside when I finally found Sea Salt Eatery. It was back in May. There were four of us at a...

THE RIVERSIDE BOOKSHOPS ROAD TRIP: A SERIES

Chapter 5: Driftless Books and Music in Viroqua, Wisconsin

If you walk into Driftless Books and Music too quickly, you’ll miss the headstone leaning out against the front stairway. It commemorates La Crosse’s...

Chapter 4: Pearl Street Books and Buzzard Billy’s in La Crosse

Last time I was out on St. Patrick's Day weekend, my man Hornish and I hit 7th Street in St. Paul after a Minnesota...

Chapter 3: A Visual Tour of Minnesota’s Most Famous Toy Store

The appearance of LARK Toys on Highway 61 hit us the way Harmon Killebrew hit baseballs back in the day. It's a long building...

Chapter 2: Fair Trade Books in Red Wing

“Outside of a dog, a book is man’s best friend. Inside of a dog, it’s too dark to read.” — Groucho Marx Before we get started,...

Chapter 1: Valley Bookseller and Daily Grind Espresso Café in Stillwater

My wife and I spent St. Patrick's Day making up for postponed Valentine's Day plans. This year's romantic adventure? A 171-mile drive to a...

We see you, Wisconsin!

I know, I know, MINNESOTA Skinny ... but don't think for a second we go hungry when we cross over into Wisconsin. The world's best cheeseburger is in Superior! We named our dog after a beer made in Hudson! And you should SEE the size of the cheeseburger at Frankie's in Sheboygan. It's all right here! ... over there.