What a difference a day makes! This morning, with its cool, comfortable, overcast, sprinkley-ness as opposed to yesterday’s hot, steamy, clear-skied windy-ness.
We decided a couple weeks ago that we would spend our big day on a whirlwind tour south to Red Wing, and then over to Wisconsin ending up in Pepin to dine at the Harbor View Cafe, which I read about a couple of years ago in Food & Wine magazine.
Our morning yesterday was occupied with last minute errands, getting T ready for his departure for his annual guys’ trip to the Boundary Waters. They departed well before sunrise this morning, so we knew there wouldn’t be much time left for last minutes since we had big plans for the day. We had to get it all done before we left…
Errands run? Check.
Packing completed? Check.
Make a list and check it twice? Check, check.
With that behind us, we were able to hit the road about one o’clock and reached Red Wing for a late lunch-snack shortly after two. Despite the scorching heat, we found a part shade (for him) and part sun (for her) on the patio at The Veranda at the historic St. James Hotel.
Even the drinks were sweaty…
We split a Cuban sandwich with sweet potato fries…
OK. I know it’s just a sandwich. But it was fan-tastic! The perfect blend of spices on the pulled pork, creamy and spicy mustard, melty cheese, salty pickles and the perfect crisp on the bread.
I would go back there. Just. For. That. Sandwich.
After we were sufficiently crispy ourselves, we cranked the AC and headed across the river to Wisconsin for a drive down 35 along Lake Pepin, the largest naturally occurring lake on the Mississippi River.
Well, technically it was founded on the Minnesota side in Lake City, but on Lake Pepin nonetheless.
And Pepin, Wisconsin is the birthplace of Laura Ingalls Wilder, author of the Little House on the Prairie books (on which the TV show was based) and the area, including Lake Pepin, is the setting for the book Little House in the Big Woods in that collection.
I’m so full of fun facts!
But instead of visiting the Laura Ingalls Wilder museum, which I’m sure T would have loved (not!), we opted to drop by the beautiful Villa Bellezza winery instead.
The doors appeared to be hand-hewn from Bird’s-eye Maple, with the most incredible texture and tone…yes, I was touching all the doors!
I couldn’t help it!! I was enamored to say the least.
The wine cellar was pure beauty…
Perfect with a flourless chocolate torte, perhaps?
As much as we would have loved to sit on their patio and sip a glass and relax, it was stifling out there. We did notice, however, that there was a wedding prepared to take place on the grounds. What a beautiful event that would have been, despite the heat.
And on the perfect day, of course!
We made our way back to the car (after I had to run my hands over the door again on the way out!!), and headed to the Harbor View. Where we had a sippy indoors instead…
I couldn’t pass up the opportunity to try a brew from Berghoff’s, from Chicago…Sir Dunkle Dark. It wasn’t exactly local, and wasn’t exactly a day for a dark beer, but it looked too good to miss…
I will need to find some on my next beer run. Along with their Oktoberfest, which I hear is quite tasty.
It’s that time of year again!!
The Harbor View Cafe is definitely a unique establishment, with it’s menu on the chalkboard…
Kind of like Cheers but with better beer and award-winning food!
It’s the kind of restaurant our friends Joan and Paul used to own in our neck of the woods before moving back to California (come back!!). Focused on community, sustainability and unique menu items that showcase the creativity of passionate people at work.
We started with salad, mine a Caesar, which was unlike any I’ve ever had before…
I swear I cried through the whole thing. And I hadn’t even seen my entree yet…
Are you kidding me with this??!?
It was ridiculous. My poor tummy was so freakin’ full at the end of this meal. I kept telling myself to stop but I positively could. not. stop.
There are no words to adequately describe this dish. Or this experience.
What a treat!
I love you Harbor View Cafe! You are worth every mile driven, every minute spent waiting, every dollar spent. We WILL be back.
Perhaps that will do.
After a brief walk along the street to soak in the sunset (hoping to spur some pre-long-car-ride-home digestion), we waddled back up the hill to our car, got it and enjoyed every moment of our drive, with the windows down, the sunroof open, and the music blaring.
Taking in the magic…
Thank you, my love!
Wherever this Sunday finds you, I wish you celebration and gratitude for a life well-shared, and well-lived. Friends, family, critters, community, nature…all of it. Precious beyond measure…