Small Business Saturday in St. Paul - So much fun!

I was so excited for Small Business Saturday!  I had my list of places I wanted to go ready, in fact I'd had it ready for over a week.  The dogs got me up at their normal 6:00AM and I was l like a kid waiting for Santa waiting for it to be time to go!

Stop 1 - Ward 6

We started the day with a good breakfast at one of our favorite local establishments, Ward 6.  I had two eggs, bacon and toast with a decaf.  I was saving room for a treat at Golden Fig!  Dave had oatmeal and a breakfast beer.  They have lots of beer there!

Stop 2 - Sunrise Creative Gourmet

Our second stop was a brand new place called "Sunrise Creative Gourmet."  We've purchased their pastas at Farmer's Market and when we heard they were opening a store front, well it just had to go on the list! 

The store wasn't difficult to find if you know their logo and are watching for a sign.  A new, lighted sign will be coming soon.  It's in a rather industrial area and the storefront is part of a much larger building. 

We got to meet the owner, Tom Forti.  Tom's great-grandfather started the business in 1913 when he immigrated from Italy to Hibbing and it's been going strong ever since.  I encourage you to read their story.  It's pretty cool.

About Sunrise Creative Gourmet

Tom was a great host.  He told us about the vision for the location and even gave us a tour of the entire operation.  The building will be a cooperative kitchen for local companies like Ruhland's Strudelhause.  Any of the products produced there will be sold in the storefront.  There are several kitchens including one very large kitchen that will be dedicated fully to gluten free products.  One smaller kitchen will be used for cooking classes!  You know you will find Dave and I there.  We love cooking classes!

We found lots of our favorites there already, like Snappy Dog Salsa and Deena's Hummus!  A product we hadn't had before was Chiqui's Chocolates.  Catalina “Chiqui” Berg is originally from Colombia but now lives in Pengilly, MN.  Do you know where that is?  Me neither!  I had to look it up.  It's about a 3 hour drive north of the cities, near Grand Rapids.  Chiqui started making her chocolates when her daughter came for a visit and wanted something from a local South American candy store.  A little trial and error later and these delicious treats were born.  Chiqui now has a commercial kitchen in her basement where she makes these delicious candies.  You don't have to visit her basement though, you can just head to St. Paul.  Don't be surprised if you see some of these in your Christmas gift from me!  The cinnamon was delicious!

Speaking of Christmas gifts (or birthday or hostess or any other reason) there are some great options at Sunrise Creative Gourmet!  I had all kinds of ideas going around in my head.  In addition to dry, fresh and frozen pastas and pasta sauces there are other great treats like salsa, jams, granola, cookies and other baked good, all reasonably priced.  Tom has some gift baskets already made up or you can pick out some goodies and make your own. 

Want to make homemade soup but don't want to make your own noodles?  They have that!

Know someone who loves meringue?  They have that too!

Know someone with a gluten allergy?  Or someone who loves pasta, salsa, jam, cookies, bread or granola?  This is a great place to shop for unique treats made right here in Minnesota.  It always feels better when you give something that gives back!

So if you find yourself in St. Paul, please check out the new Sunrise Creative Gourmet.  You're going to find something you want to bring home!  Don't live in the area? No worries they will ship! Check out their website! Sunrise Creative Gourmet

Dave and I picked up some pasta (we forgot a cooler so we had to stick to shelf stable), chocolates (of course!) and because I was curious a gluten free cookie.  I'm lucky, I don't have a problem with gluten but lots of people do.  What did I think of the cookie?  It was ok.  It tasted a bit "raw" to me.  Not underbaked raw, but had that raw flour taste.  It wasn't terrible by any means and I did eat the whole thing.  For someone needing this kind of treat, it would be that, a treat!

Stop 3 - Foxglove Market and Studio

Foxglove Market and Studio is a relatively new stop for Dave and me.  We stopped in for the first time a few weeks ago and were surprised to find a great combination of new, vintage and new made to look vintage trinkets in the store.  Dave and Christine, the curator, found they had bourbon in common the first time we went in.  I was busy gasping in delight as I found cool little things like wooden spools for thread and paper straws!  My first trip in I had to have these porcelain jars, one Mason and one apothecary.  I love to cook and I am a chemist by education you know.

This time Dave found some vintage glasses he had to have and I found this fun pad of paper!  There are some great little finds in this store.  Things you won't find anywhere else.  There are fun aprons and paper and fabric place mats, great vintage bar ware and nearly everything made out of paper.  It's definitely worth a stop if you find yourself on Grand Avenue.

Stop 4 - Golden Fig Fine Foods

If you know us you know we love Golden Fig Fine Foods.  It is our go-to place when we miss Farmer's Market or when I'm out of salted caramel sauce for my ice cream!  Laurie McCann Crowell and all the staff are friendly and helpful and yes, they'll talk you into that Salty Tart treat!

There is a little bit of everything at Golden Fig.  Yes, great food.  They stock an amazing variety of cheeses, Fischer Farms and Otis Family Farms pork, Otis Family Farm eggs, and that amazing Golden Fig Salted Caramel Sauce!  They have chips, salsas, cookies, candy, all manner of breakfasty things like pancake and biscuit mixes and amazing syrups.  And look what else I found on the shelf!

And then there is the fresh bakery they have every day.  Dave and I usually get something, either the cranberry, chocolate chip cookies or our new favorite, the Vanilla Brioche from Salty Tart bakery.  Oh my!

Yes, we got the brioche.  We also picked up some staples, bacon and eggs.  And we couldn't resist the pumpkin spice granola!  I can't wait to use that in pancakes!

Stop 5 - PJ Murphy's Bakery

PJ Murphy's is a great little neighborhood bakery.  When you walk in it smells like a bakery should smell.  It's like walking back in time.  The staff is very friendly.  While we were waiting to check out we got to eavesdrop on a conversation between the staff and a little boy.  He was explaining that he was going to leave a note for Santa to make sure he gave the reindeer the carrots and not the cookies he was going to leave out because cookies were bad for reindeer.  He was adorable, even put his bow tie on for his trip to the bakery!

We picked up hamburger buns and a loaf of Black Russian Rye bread.  And even after half of that brioche from Golden Fig, Dave couldn't resist a maple frosted treat.

Stop 6 - The Olive Grove Olive Oil Company

I think I own almost one of everything from this store.  Don't believe me?  This is my counter (the big bottles won't fit in my cupboard) and below it is a picture of my cupboard stash of these amazing olive oils and balsamic vinegars.

I cook with them nearly every day.  If you don't, you don't know what you are missing!  Once you start tasting it will be hard to leave without buying a bottle (or two, or three as my neighbor found out).  Natalie and the entire staff are very helpful.  They'll give you some delicious ideas for using the different products.  One of our favorites is the Tuscan Herb olive oil.  Use this to roast veggies and you'll never roast them in anything else again.  I use the lemon and orange olive oils in cakes.  And the butter olive oil is a great replacement in any baking.  Better for you too!  We always have a big bottle of the 18 year balsamic too.  Mix some fig balsamic with a little roasted walnut olive oil for a great salad dressing!

Don't think you need any oil or vinegar?  How about pasta?    The orecchiette and bucatini are a staple in our home and I just noticed they also do a gluten free pasta as well!

They have great seasoning blends to add to the oils for bread-dipping.  There are great spreads and chutneys and you'll even find a line of skin care products with olive oil in them.  I use the face cream every day!

On this visit in they had chocolate bars that are made with their olive oils!  They had one out for tasting.  We loved it!  What a great little Christmas gift a bar of chocolate, a bottle of the oil used in that chocolate, and a bottle of 18 year balsamic would be?  How could you make it better?

I know!  Put the oil and vinegar in one of these adorable "gift bags."

Don't live near Mendota Heights?  No worries!  They ship!  Check out the website. 

This trip we purchased pasta, farro and one of those amazing chocolate bars!  We couldn't pass up the gift bags either.

Stop 7 - Buon Giorno Italian Market

We hadn't been to Buon Giorno in a long time.  This is a great little Italian deli and grocery store.  It's a bit smaller than Cosetta but every bit as good.  They had several specials going on for Small Business Saturday including buy one, get one on their sauces.  I just made a big batch of bolognese so we didn't really need sauce, but we did find something!

Years ago we went to a wine tasting where I learned that I didn't dislike all Chianti's, just some.  I like Chianti Colli, I don't like Chianti Classico.  Guess what?  They had a Chianti Colli on sale.  It came home with us!

Stop 8 - Sunfish Cellars Wine Bar

Our final stop was a new one for us.  Dave read about the new wine bar in the paper and we thought it would be a nice place to get some lunch after a day of shopping.  We weren't wrong!

We started in the liquor store.  They have 1700 wines and 500 different beers!  We were just going to look around but we were greeted by a great staff member who really knew his wine.  He asked what we liked and pointed out some wines he thought we'd like that we hadn't had before.  He was great fun and we ended up buying 4 bottles!  We had the "Shebang" last night.  Not bad for an inexpensive (I think it was $9) red.

OK, now we needed lunch!  We moved over to the wine bar and ordered lunch and a glass of wine.  I had the "Sweet and Salty" flatbread.  It was topped with pears, blue cheese and prosciutto.  I paired it with a Riesling.  Perfect.  Dave had a ham and cheese with a Zinfandel.  Also delicious.  And check out the view!

We had a great day.  We'll be back to all these places because now that I've had time to think about things, well, I need some gifts!  Don't be surprised if you see something from today in your Christmas package this year!  We met some fun people and hopefully helped out the local economy just a little.

If you have any questions let me know!  Or better yet, check some of these places out for yourself!

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