Alycia here. When I was in college, my friends were nice enough to indulge me with an entire birthday week, which for anyone who loves their birthday is much more fun than celebrating on just a single day. I have tried as much as I can to introduce this concept and get John on board with continuing the tradition of birthday weeks, and he is really starting to come around. This makes for an exciting end of May/beginning of June, as John's birthday is just one week before mine, and our Anniversary is smack dab in the middle of the week between our birthdays (I planned this as such).
The birthday week allows the birthday celebrant to be in charge of all sorts of daily household decisions, such as what we will watch on TV at night, and what we will eat for our meals. So while it may not seem like a big deal, I feel that it allows for the feeling of a little extra specialness for an entire week, which is always nice.
For John's actual birthday day, we planned a day trip out to visit some small towns in Minnesota. The first stop was a cafe in Winger, MN that had been recently reviewed by world-renowned local food critic, Marilyn Haggarty of the Grand Forks Herald. The Depot Cafe and Bakery was appropriately located in an old train depot that had been moved and renovated.
There were some nice touches that reminded the customers about the building's history.
The interior was nicely finished with lovely wood paneling and lighting. The food was actually pretty good. John had a very large burger on a homemade bun. I had some of the best egg salad I'd had in a while.
In Marilyn's review, she mentioned a bakery. She made it seem as though it was right next to the cafe, but when we queried the waitress, she said that it was actually in McIntosh, MN, about 10 miles up the road. So after lunch, we headed to the next stop. McIntosh was actually a very lovely town that we will visit again. The bakery had a very large kitchen and appeared to specialize primarily in bread products (duh, it's a bakery), but it had a respectable amount of doughnuts as well.
John was able to pick up a package of sandwich rolls, as well as a couple doughnuts and an apple fritter, which made him happy.
After the bakery stop, we crossed the street to check out the meat market. Why, you ask, would a gluten-free vegetarian support visiting a bakery and a specialty meat store? Well, it was John's birthday and I think it's important to check out all available options for interesting food. Being in the middle of nowhere, beggars can't be choosers when it comes to possible food delicacies. We didn't buy anything at the meat market since there's a pretty good one here in Grand Forks (L&M Meats), but for a town of a couple hundred, it was fairly impressive.
Our next stop in town was the McIntosh Country Store. John didn't think we should go in - he thought it would be a feed store for cattle, etc. But I argued with him and said that the sign said they had fresh eggs, of which we needed some. So in we went. It was actually more of a natural foods store, with some random farm animal necessities. They had a whole bunch of gluten free items and bulk foods, as well as vaccines for your animals. In addition, as I was walking through the store, I kept hearing the cheep-cheeps of baby chicks, but I couldn't find them. Eventually I located the chicks, they were in a box under a table. (John here - it's been a while since Alycia's gotten to play with chicks)
It appeared as though the chicks had been mailed to the store, and they were waiting for their owner to pick them up. While I thought it was somewhat inhumane to mail live animals, according to my mother, this is often how its done. The chicks really didn't seem the worse for wear, at least based on my quick peek inside the box.
I also liked that the store had this lovely metal chicken outside.
And across the street from the store, was a plant nursery that the store ran. We picked up some (hopefully) lovely heirloom cherry tomatoes. We've had heirloom regular sized tomatoes before, but the cherries are a new one and I'm looking forward to what they'll produce.
We then headed home for a birthday nap and later had a lovely dinner with my parents at the Brick and Barley here in town. It's a newer brew pub that has a decent selection of rotating beers on tap. John likes to try the different beers; I stick with the always gluten-free ciders. There are very few decent gluten-free beers and I've learned that the ciders are usually a better/safer bet.