Preservation Hall Jazz Band at Orchestra Hall – March 27, 2015

24 Mar

Preservation Hall Jazz Band | photo © Shannon Brinkman

Preservation Hall Jazz Band | photo © Shannon Brinkman

Preservation Hall Jazz Band are lauded as one of the most talented and recognized bands to come out of the incredibly well saturated New Orleans music scene. Their most recent album That’s It is a great snapshot of what the band is musically capable of.

Lucky me, I saw them in 2011 at SXSW, during their performance (with Jim James and Del McCoury!!) at a taping of Austin City Limits. It was, by far, one of the best most entertaining shows of that year. I’ve been waiting to see this band again ever since.

I’m happy to say you can see them for yourself this Friday, March 27, at Orchestra Hall.

Buy your tickets here.

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Coffee, how I love thee

5 Mar

By: Sheela Num Num



Dear Coffee,

I have tried, oh how I have tried, to give you up. But I just can’t quit you. Especially when I am driving the length of Wisconsin. So it’s great that you have some amazing purveyors in the land of beer and cheese.

1In fact, some of my favorite coffee is roasted in Milwaukee. Colectivo Coffee Roasters has many things going for it: fresh roasted, perfectly balanced. The aesthetic is brilliant: cute but not precious. All of their cafes have extensive menus of bakery, breakfast and lunch items in addition to a strong coffee program. They have a bake house and 11 cafes, a baker house & roastery in Milwaukee, two cafes in Madison and one in Grafton.

So I am a little gaga over this place. Maybe it is the years I have spent sitting in coffee shops and cafes writing papers, playing cards, swirling slow pokes in to thick black coffee. But if I have time in Milwaukee to sit in a Colectivo, it makes me really happy.


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I had about an hour to kill before an appointment yesterday so I was able to have a little breakfast and coffee while making some calls. I was at the Bayshore location, not necessarily my favorite (I tend to favor the Bayview location as this is where the bakehouse is. I know I know, once a bakery girl always a bakery girl) but it right next to where I needed to be. Soy vanilla latte and baked oatmeal with yogurt. It was 3 degrees with a whipping wind outside, so this was a pretty ideal.

(Yes, I do have a travel coffee mug from Colectivo. I just love their design!)

In summation: I love this coffee, it’s cafes and always not pretentious service. One place in Minneapolis carries it: last time I checked: Victory 44 has Colectivo coffee and espresso. Do yourself a favor when in Milwaukee!

Algonquin For The Good Land

3 Mar

By: Sheela Num Num

Anyone who knows me has heard me rave about Milwaukee in the past year. I have fallen in love with this city. Fantastic bars, an up and coming restaurant scene, beautiful old architecture. I am glad I have to come here about every 6 weeks or so, I am really getting to know more of the nooks and crannies of this town.

It is helpful that I have a guide: my buddies Jason & Tracy live here (Plug! Check out their etsy shop: I Love Vintage Stuff). Jason has given me lots of great suggestions of places to hit, and he never steers me wrong. In doing this project, I will have broaden my horizons a little, since I have become addicted to a few places. This post will have some of my favorite highlights: and next time I am in Milwaukee I’ll start going to the new.

I got in town about 4pm today, and I already knew where I was headed for dinner. Jason told me about a ramen shop called Tochi Ramen in the Shorewood neighborhood. I first went here about a year ago, and I cannot stop going. Everything I have tried here has been delicious. Tonight was no exception.

I arrived about 5pm: which I was excited about as there is a home store above Tochi called ModGen that I haven’t had a chance to check out, as they are always closed by the time I get to the ramen. Man, I could spend way too much money at this place. Kitchen, gardening, cards, candles, bar supplies, locally made jams and pickles. All too cute. I got out with a lemongrass candle and went downstairs for noodles.

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I started with their edamame, which has a sauce of sesame chili oil, veggie stock, yuzu and smoked salt. Yes please. Just what I wanted. I have had their steam buns in the past: the pork belly and smoked tofu and they are both lovely.

I got the ramen I always get: the Tochi Ramen. It is a pork belly ramen with a miso-pork broth, welsh onion, noodles and a miso deviled egg. Deviled egg! I love it. I know I should try another kind when I am there, but I am hooked on this one.

In summation:
Tochi is Bomb. Get to it!

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Milwaukee is for Lovers (of cocktails)One of the things I have found amazing about Milwaukee are the bars. There are BARS, not restaurants with bars, or bars with food. Just bars. Really cool, old school, friendly bars. One of my favorites is Bryant’s Cocktail Lounge. It has been around since 1938, and looks like it hasn’t been updated since 1973. Old school Hi-Fi, dark and inviting, in an old house on a corner. This is what I am talking about. Even better: no menu. Over 450 cocktails, but no menu. This I love. You have to talk to your bartender, who is always awesome. Start chatting about the things you like, flavors and liquors. Then a beautiful cocktail will come to you. I adore this. I feel like this is what a bar should be. Cozy, inviting, perfect.

Uff-Dah!

3 Mar

By: Sheela Num Num

When one is on the road, one watches the weather like a hawk. Midwesterners already have a predilection to watch the weather, so I have now become a crazy person checking the weather channel app on my phone every hour. I looked before I went to bed in Green Bay, checking on the crazy snow storm that was to hit Wisconsin in the wee hours of the morning.

1   I awoke to, well, not much snow. Hurrah! It was indeed snowing, but the crazy storm of March had been downgraded to 1-3″ of snow. I can handle that. So up and away I went towards Door County. I stopped for coffee at a bakery that looked adorable, took one sip when I got in my car, and promptly ditched it. Espresso WAY over pulled, super bitter. Humph. Green Bay, you are not winning thus far. Will have to get coffee later on this journey.

I arrived at my destination early, on purpose. The store I was to visit is not only a Swedish themed boutique, but also a restaurant. PERFECT. Swedish breakfast here I come!

2Al Johnson’s Swedish Restaurant and Butik is in the village of Sister Bay, Wisconsin. Yes, you read that right, village. 3 square miles of village on Lake Michigan. I am sure when it’s not snowing and it is summer and sunny this place is crazy adorable. It was pretty darn cute covered in snow.

I went in to the large dining room, got myself a table and was greeted by a woman in traditional Swedish garb. Keepin’ it real, Al Johnsons! I checked over the menu: hoping for some old school Swedish breakfast. Lo and Behold! Swedish pancakes with lingonberries and a side of Swedish meatballs. Sign me up!

Everything was delicious. The Swedish meatballs reminded me of the kind my mom used to make. It made me super happy. And made up for the terrible coffee of 2 hours earlier. Fast, friendly service and from scratch food. Couldn’t ask for anything more.

In summation: When in Door County check this place out! The boutique has some great stuff in it, and they had lots of Scandinavian candy, a favorite of mine.

Not Really Post Script:

On my way in to Sisters Bay I saw out of the corner of my eye a tiny coffee shop called Bearded Heart Coffee. What the What? I am in Baileys Harbor, Wisconsin. This place looked amazing. I made a mental note to stop on my way back out of town.

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Stop I did: and I am SO GLAD. They are serving Dogwood Coffee (shout out to Minneapolis), have locally brewed Kombucha from Tapuat, fresh bakery items, vegan options, and all around coolness. I was never so happy to drink a Dogwood Latte, it made my day so so so much better.  This is a photo of Mo, who made me a fantastic latte, gave me a recommendation to get the 3 root kombucha (which I LOVED), and was all around awesome.  If you find yourself in Door County: go here every day. I mean, EVERY DAY. I wish that it was closer to me at all times!

The Land of the Packer Backers

2 Mar

By: Sheela Num Num

Things I know nothing about:
1. Sportsball
2. The love of Sportsball

You know who does love Sportsball? Green Bay, Wisconsin. Home of the Green Bay Packers, this town is football all the way. I have never been here before, so I was excited to check it out! I arrived in town kinda late: 7pm. Since it is still winter, 7 is dark dark dark. I have been looking forward to getting to the Downtown area and finding something delicious.

Now, if you don’t know, Monday is traditionally a day that restaurants are closed. I found this the case at a few places a drove by that looked promising. BLARGH! I was not deterred though, I knew I could find something that was not another Applebee’s.

I did! On the corner of Crook and Washington: Fox Harbor Pub & Grill shone like a beacon. I could go for a burger and a cocktail after a long day of driving and talking. Walked in to a large bar, full of people in Badger, Packer, & Brewers gear (I told you: SO MUCH SPORTBALL). I bellied up to the bar and ordered myself a drink.

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Plus #1:
pint glass of whiskey. Love it, Wisconsin. I perused the menu, very much bar fare: Wings, Nachos, Fried Cheese Curds. They had a big menu of wraps, sandwiches, salads and burgers as well. I thought, burger and salad to go with my whiskey was the way to go. I opted for the “Hot Harbor Special”: a big ol’ burger with a spicy feta blend, fried jalapeños, bacon and lettuce. With a side salad, that sounded good to me.

Side Salad: not surprisingly, bag of salad. Totally fine, nothing exciting or terrible. Just bag of salad.

3Burger:
WHOA. This was a doozy. Great amount of spice, but not so spicy that it can’t be eaten, the cheesy blend gave it a messy goodness I love in a burger. The jalapeños weren’t very flavorful, probably could have done without them. But all in all, a good burger on a cold Monday night. I have a feeling this place is PACKED (no pun intended) when there is a sporting event going on. It is about 3 miles from Lambeau Field, so I am sure it is a destination for people going to the games.

In summation: Good bar food! And big drinks.

An Introduction to My Sweet Tooth (subtitled: why i am a snarky brat when it comes to bakeries and desserts)

26 Feb

By: Sheela Num Num

Anyone who knows me knows that my biggest vice (and I have a few) is sugar. I love love love me a stellar pastry, a sugar-encrusted bag of fried dough, or perfectly balanced ice cream. I am particular about my sugar, however. I won’t just eat a Hershey bar just because it’s there (give me some credit! although a bowl of M&M’s at my parents will always be a downfall). Gummis notwithstanding, I can restrain myself if need be.

As a recovering pastry lady myself I am always on the prowl to find something super decedent and delicious. The Twin Cities are INSANELY lucky with immense talent at our disposal. With bakeries such as Patisserie 46, The Salty Tart & Sun Street Breads, we are spoiled rotten with out of this world breads, cookies, cakes and pastries (My faves? Salty’s Cheddar Jalapeño Bread, Macaroons, Pastry Cream Filled Brioche and Oatmeal Chocolate Chunk Sour Cherry Cookies, Patisserie’s 46 Baguette, Brioche Bostok, Currant Scones and Gibassier, Sun Street’s Biscuits, Kolache and Turnovers.) See: I told you I had a sweet tooth.

When I am on the road I am always looking for a bakery/coffee shop to grab breakfast and do some computer work. I, and many of my Gen X brethren, do have that affinity of sitting in a coffee shop for hours in front of a laptop. Glowing Apple logos as far as the eye can see. Go in to any cafe in Minneapolis and that is what you will witness. Cute, young, white hipsters earnestly working on whatever thing they are currently earnest about. I am the one with the headphones on in the corner (that’s me in the spotlight…).

So in Sioux Falls, I was a little worried that I would only have access to a Starbucks (not my fave) or Caribou (better than Starbucks, but would rather have an independent). Low and Behold! I found two!

The Black Sheep Roasting Company
1I found this place while driving around looking for dinner the night before. In a strip mall as the road is curving in a precarious way, I saw the sign that said “Coffee is Rad! So Have a Rad Day!” SOLD. I made a mental note to check this place out in the morning. I love this place. It has a super 1990’s coffee house feel in the BEST WAY. It reminded me of sitting at Motor Oil for hours in high school (side note: Motor Oil was a coffee shop very close to my high school. Closed 1994 RIP). I was able to snag a window seat, open up my computer, drink a lovely soy vanilla latte and get some work done. The girl working was friendly and lovely, not at all pretentious coffee house. And then out of nowhere: BONUS! I am guessing this was the owner of the shop: he came by and gave everyone donuts. FREE DONUTS! And not grocery store donuts: from a local donut place: Daylight Donuts. Fantastic. I can’t recommend this place enough: great coffee, great service, chill vibe, and a Pac-Man machine. A girl could get used to this.

Queen City Bakery
2I am a sucker for a re-purposed warehouse space. Big, bright, exposed brick, clean lines: it will always get me. I was excited to check this place out on my way out of town. Let me set the scene: it is snowing, windy, miserable outside. The day before was 45 and sunny: now it’s blizzard time. Ah, winter. I had to get to Sioux City, IA and then to Omaha, NE, so this was a to-go situation. I walked in to the space, gorgeous. Just what I expected. I was a little sad to see the bakery cases kinda empty, but no matter. Coffee and a breakfast pastry is what I was after: I had a white-knuckle drive ahead of me. I stood at the front register for a good 3 minutes before anyone acknowledged me (side note: something to know about me is that my biggest pet peeve is bad service. I am that girl who will write letters) which was frustrating as there were 3 employees: once of which was just talking to his buddy about a triathlon. Don’t freak out Sheela, just get your stuff. Triathlon guy finally came over and apologized for the wait (alright, I forgive) and took my order. 5 minutes later I was out the door. I had a soy vanilla latte (yes, I am a one trick pony) and a spinach, bacon and swiss quiche. I thought perfect! Get some protein and goodness in me for this drive. Sadly: super under seasoned and underwhelming. Bah. I will gladly give this bakery another go when I am back in town. I mean, their T-shirts say: No Decaf, No Doughnuts, No Tuesdays. That’s a winner.

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PS:  I was supposed to go to Modern Love Omaha for dinner (and let me say I was EXTRA EXCITED for this. Though I am the furthest thing from vegan, Isa Chandra Moskowitz is an amazing cookbook author and I was so looking forward to going to her restaurant). Sadly, that cruel mistress winter was not having it yesterday. The roads were extra scary, and if I was to get home in one piece I had to get out of dodge early. Next time, swanky vegan food.

Sioux Falls, bring me your enchiladas

24 Feb

By: Sheela Num Num

Ahhh, February in South Dakota. So very scenic! Oh wait…

I arrived in Sioux Falls about 7pm, so it was nice and pitch black. I checked in to my hotel, and asked the front desk where I should go grab some dinner. Let me be clear: I don’t usually do that, but Sioux Falls is pretty new to me: I have only been to chain restaurants here in the past. The very nice girl at the front gave me a 10% off coupon to Granite City and told me how much she loved it. Hmmmm. Tempting… but no. So off to driving around aimlessly I went!

I drove to the downtown area of Sioux Falls, passing casino upon casino. I was starting to wonder if there was much other than chains, and then: JACKPOT! A cute little area came out of nowhere. HURRAY! I was looking on both sides of the street, and a sign caught my eye. Mama’s Ladas Enchiladas.

1I’m sorry: MAMA’S LADAS ENCHILADAS? Well that’s freaking adorable. I must check this out!

I walked in to the tiny little spot on 11th street. Warm, cute, seating about 45 max: this little hole in the wall is just too charming. I sat down and checked out the deal. Mama Lada’s has a super tight menu: 3 types of enchiladas (1 vegetarian!), nachos, chips and guac. White and Red sangria in abundance: and the table next to me was drinking a pitcher of Surly (shout out to the big MN!).

I was STARVING, as I had been driving all day and surviving on clementines, Annie’s cheddar bunnies and Sweet Tart gummis (PLUG! check out me and my girl Zena in our Vlog all about gummi candy: gummi dummies). I quickly checked out the enchilada section: beef, chicken or veg. The menu stated that the beef was the spiciest, so that is where I was headed. I ordered a sangria (red and white mixed? Yes thank you) and the beef enchiladas.

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They came in quick order, I waited maybe 5 minutes. A side of chips and guac (no extra charge for guac!) and an array of hot sauces arrived as well. The enchiladas are done in flour tortillas, and covered in 2 kinds of cheese, sour cream, iceberg lettuce and fresh tomatoes. Midwestern, oh you betcha. Spicy? Not in the ACTUAL spicy sense, but in the Midwestern White People sense, sure. But absolutely flavorful and exactly what I wanted.

In summation: do you check out Mama Lada’s while in Sioux Falls? I say: do it! It is fast, warming Tex-Mex in the Midwest. Can’t go wrong in my book.

Music for Brandee Mitchell

13 Feb

1475971_1021655994516283_7390581269711661112_nOne of the biggest supporters of Minnesota music is in this photo. His name is Kent Mitchell, and he’s pictured with his daughter, Brandee, who’s only 33 years old. Brandee has been through a LOT of life – including that jerk cancer that just won’t seem to go away. Her parents have been loving, amazing, people throughout everything and moved her back to Hudson, WI, to stay with them as a last ditch effort to get more treatment and hopefully save her life.

Unfortunately, that effort has come to an end and Brandee is in home hospice. One thing we at CakeIn15 thought we could help with is music. Music is full of memory, emotion, love, loss, comfort, and joy.

We’ve asked a handful of various musicians to come with us tomorrow to celebrate Brandee’s life and play some music for her as her journey fades.

Kent asked me to put up this lovely tune recorded by Ben Kyle and dedicated to Brandee, so he could share it with friends on Facebook.

For Brandee (click to play)

Feel free to leave messages for Kent and Brandee in the comments.You can check in on Brandee and her family at Caring Bridge. If you’re interested in playing music for Brandee, contact us at info@cakein15.com

We love you guys.
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The Suicide Commandos and The Hold Steady at The Turf Club

17 Jan

“Little Hoodrat Friend” The Suicide Commandos + The Hold Steady #Current10 from CakeIn15 on Vimeo.

“Anyway, I got a proclamation, so listen up,” Mayor Chris Coleman announced from stage at The Turf Club on Friday night. His proclamation, between confessions of his own rock n’ roll dreams, recovering bagpiper status and swipes about STP being cooler than Minneapolis (“If Betsy Hodges were here I’d be nicer about Minneapolis, but, what the hell.”) was that Friday, January 16th was The Current (“My personal favorite radio station.”) Day in the City of Saint Paul.

The crowd at the Turf, gathered for one of the events in The Current’s 10-day celebration of their 10th anniversary, were certainly happy to be there, proclamation or not. L’Assassins opened up the show with their amber-coated shit-kicking rockabilliy punk, but the crowd really got into the night when The Suicide Commandos took the stage. The full house of 20-somethings and folks who were 20-somethings when the Commandos started as band 40 years ago pogoed and jittered around as Dave Ahl, Steve Almaas and Chris Osgood made it look easy up on stage. Ahl’s crackling drums drove every everything forward as Almaas’ giddy energy reverberated through the room with his bouncing bass lines and Osgood stalked the stage, planting and delivering huge hooks.

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A young person looking to get in to music could learn a lot from them, and they pulled up a special guest who did – Craig Finn of The Hold Steady, joined by his bandmate Tad Kubler. Together, they all moved through a couple Commandos tunes, including the huge “Burn It Down,” and ended with a version of “Little Hoodrat Friend” that saw Finn deliver an extended monolog about his relationship with Osgood while the band vamped in the background. Watch it above, it’s worth the 10 minutes.

For the grand finale, Mayor Coleman came back out to join them on The Who’s “My Generation.” After the whistling and stamping pulled them back out stage, the guys through together a song that Finn tried to play with his first band 20 years ago but hadn’t played since then – The Clash’s “Should I Stay or Should I Go.” That would have been it for the night, but Almaas and Kubler giggled conspiratorially with Ahl, and then they launched into The Ramones’ “Blitzkrieg Bop.” Both songs were rowdy, loose and cut short because hey, they hadn’t planned on doing them, but they were fun. You want them to think that you’re having a party, and we sure as hell were.

All the Feels

18 Nov

We here at CakeIn15 can’t help but feel all the feels when reading this love story. Because it is just that. A story of love. Yes, it’s also a cancer story, and a heartbreaking one at that. The wisdom and grace with which this Minneapolis family has handled this situation makes us proud to be human.

Start reading their story, and help out Ralphie, Nora, and Aaron by donating here. We are thinking about you & sending you positive vibes and love.

You can also order a “Still Kickin” t-shirt here, if you’d rather support that way. xo

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Ralph has always known about Aaron. He was a calm, serene newborn. He never cried, never fussed. He always curled into Aaron at night, even though I was his food source and first home (I am still slightly offended by this, clearly). If Aaron needed me, Ralph would patiently wait his turn. He crawled for the first time in a hospital bed at Abbott. He came to appointments and chemo and waited calmly and patiently, he cuddled with nurses and with lonely old folks who looked like they needed it. He has his father’s heart, and his father’s face (also slightly offended because I did contribute 50% of his genetic material, so…) He has always been tender. He touches Aaron’s scar and kisses his head. The night we told our family about hospice, Ralph set down his blocks, climbed onto the couch and pushed me aside. “I luh you Papa.” He said, and kissed and hugged his father. Today, he keeps coming into the room to say hello, and say good-bye. “All done!” He says “I luh you!” #ralphiegrams