(Hanaa is holding an amazing spiced cake called sellou or sfouff, so fragile it just barely holds together with a fine almost sandy texture. I miss it still!) We started our Minneapolis visit with a long anticipated and fabulous Moroccan dinner at our Alpha baker Hanaa's home with her husband, T, and Marie and Jim Wolf. Hanaa pulled out all the stops with a vast variety of savories including the best spiced olives and a wide variety of extraordinary baked items. Hanaa is one of the most gifted and imaginative bakers I've ever met and it was a very special treat to taste her baking first hand in addition to meeting her and her lovely husband for the first time. We had the pleasure of staying with Marie and Jim, and finally got to meet the infamous JJ and the adorable baby Lilly. While I slept late, recovering from the intense events of the Chicago Housewares Show, Woody did the entire prep for our demo/book signing at the Nordic Ware Factory Outlet store. This included baking a cherry lattice pie, making two extra piecrusts for rolling out, and baking some Rollie Pollies to show how to make good use of the dough scraps. Photo credit Linda Stewart The event turned out to be one of the most enjoyable of my memory because it was comprised of a large group of dedicated bakers. This resulted in a lively Q & A exchange. We were especially delighted to welcome several olds friends including Mike Quinlan, VP Sales and Marketing, and Woody's charming daughter Maran, who is a professor of Philosophy at Minneapolis Downtown Community College. Photo credit LoAnn Mockler My dearest friend, Michelle Gayer, owner of the "Salty Tart" bakery generously provided her deliciously chewy/chocolaty meringue cookies. Michelle and I baked together years ago when she was pastry chef at Charlie Trotter's in Chicago and we have been friends ever since. Photo credit LoAnn Mockler The following evening we returned to one of our favorite restaurants-- 112 Eatery and got to meet Anna, Michelle's valued associate and to congratulate Michelle for her James Beard nomination for Best Pastry Chef--Midwest. A serendipitous visit to The Kitchen Window kitchen supply store, turned out to be a delightfully dangerous place for an equipment junkie like me. Fortunately, we only take carry-on bags for our flights, which limits my purchasing impulse. This incredible store has a mind-boggling variety of high-quality kitchen equipment and also conducts around 400 classes a year in three classrooms above the store. We talked in length with Ken, one of the salesmen and a fellow x-New Yorker who has lived all over the world. His in depth knowledge of the equipment was so impressive we made a second visit the following day. Our last meal before our return home was lunch at the award winning 46th Patisserie. Marie and Jim are so lucky it is in walking distance from their home. I was totally blown away by their pastries, bread, and chocolates. It is no wonder it is rated as one of the top bakeries in the nation. Chef-owner John Kraus sat down with us along with two weekly regulars, Woody's daughter Maran and her friend, Tom, while we enjoyed the amazing Brioche Bostock and coffee. Photo Credit Jim Wolf Photo Credit Jim Wolf Chef Kraus was about to fly to San Francisco on a pastry fact-finding mission, so I gave him a few suggestions along with my new mini SynGlas rolling pin to show our SF colleagues and to try out on his return. He gave us a terrific walnut and current bread, half of which we shared with Marie and Jim and the other half with Elliott on our return.
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