Food and restaurant news, plus a mini-review of Baba’s Hummus House

Bostock, a French almond pastry


Openings, closings and pivots 

There are two Minneapolis closings to announce: Psycho Suzi’s tiki lounge cocktail club in Northeast Minneapolis, and the vegan restaurant Seed Cafe, attached to Modo Yoga on West Lake Street. Also, The Good Earth, a trailblazer in healthy dining when it opened 40 years ago, and then grew into a respectable suburban chain, has closed its last location, in Roseville.  
Openings in August included the site of one of my mini-reviews below, Baba’s Hummus House, as well as a new spot on Selby Avenue in St. Paul called the High Hat (a reference to the cymbal in a drum set). In South Minneapolis, Northern Coffeeworks, owned by the same person who owns the nearby Angry Catfish bicycle shop and Mend Provisions outdoor gear shop, has reopened after a three-month major renovation at 4208 28th Ave. S. It’s also open an hour longer now, till 3 p.m., seven days a week. Renowned chef Ann Kim is renaming and reformatting her restaurant Sooki & Mimi. It will be called Kim’s and will feature upscale Korean  American cuisine.  

This is foxglove (not kale!)

 Miscellaneous food news 

  • Better Homes and Gardens has discovered that kiwi fruit may be the perfect bedtime snack. It contains

    Lab-grown chicken

    natural serotonin and seems to improve the ability to fall asleep. 

  • Plant identification saves lives! MedPage Today (not one of my usual sources, but this is a gripping food anecdote) has a long story about a medical mystery that almost killed a healthy young couple. Total spoiler – they were gardeners, and a neighbor gave them some kale starters. A few months later, they eagerly harvested their first kale and added some to a salad. Both were admitted to the emergency room a few hours apart with signs of impending heart failure. Turns out the “kale” was actually foxglove. 

Harvesting manoomin (wild rice)

Bostock – why have I never heard of this? 

Recently I discovered a thing called bostock, which is like a combination of two of my favorite sweet breakfast foods –  French toast and almond croissants. It’s made from moistened day-old bread spread with frangipane (a sweet almond cream), sprinkled with sliced almonds, baked, and dusted with powdered sugar. The bread used is usually brioche, sliced at least one inch thick, but it can be day-old plain croissants, sliced lengthwise.  
Recipes vary, and some paint the brioche in a sugar syrup, possibly with cognac or rum, and/or cream, while others use apricot jam or orange marmalade, warmed until runny or thinned a little with water. You want the bread wet enough to counter the staleness but still firm enough to spread with frangipane.  
One recipe calls for eight slices of brioche, one-fourth cup apricot jam, one recipe of frangipane, two tablespoons sliced almonds, and one tablespoon powdered sugar. The frangipane is made by simply combining a cup of almond meal, a half cup of sugar, a half cup of butter at room temperature, a beaten egg, and a half teaspoon of almond extract. Preheat your oven to 400 F and lay the bread slices on a baking sheet. Make the frangipane and heat the jam.

Baba’s Hummus House owners (and siblings) Rana Kamal and Khalid Ansari

Use a pastry brush to moisten the bread, then carefully spread the frangipane. Sprinkle with almond slices and bake for 12 to 14 minutes, until the top is toasty and puffy. Dust with sugar.  
If anyone knows of a local place that serves this, let me know at [email protected] 

Mini-review – Baba’s Hummus House and Mana’eesh Bakery 

I have to admit, I sort of muffed this review. I hate going to places in their first flush of opening excitement, when the kinks are still being worked out and the place is packed, noisy and chaotic. We had to stand in line for nearly half an hour to order at the counter,

Inside Baba’s Hummus House

barely snagged a table indoors, and I had difficulty hearing both the person helping me with my order and my companion in any attempt at conversation.  
Consequently, I ended up ordering too little food, which is the opposite of my usual problem in restaurants; too little to really give the place a full review, that is. What I had was nice, mind you, and a bit of a cross-cultural revelation, which was what I was going for, but it was basically just bread, nutritionally speaking. I had the mana’eesh za’atar. The menu confused me in that swirling mosh of noise as it lists labaneh (thickened yogurt) as an ingredient, but that’s only if you ask for it extra, apparently. Or else the basic amount is subtle. So I had an extremely tasty flatbread with an oily top scattered generously with za’atar, and with a few crudites on the side. I also had a mint tea to drink, which was not pure mint,

Baba’s hummus bi lahme with housemade pita

Baba’s mana’eesh za’atar, minus the olives

but about half mint and half strong, fragrant black tea. (I also wanted the Batta
Hara – spicy fried potatoes with cilantro – but it was sold out.)  
My companion had a hummus bowl with beef shawarma and almonds – hummus bi lahme. And my olives, because I don’t like olives. I forgot to ask him how it was, another symptom of introvert panic and sensory overload. I need to go back when it’s calmed down a bit or order some takeout. I want to try the Palestinian plate, the falafel sandweesha, the Bougie Baba hummus bowl, the jibna + za’atar mana’eesh, and the fatoosh salad. (Not all at once.) In the drinks section, I need to try all of them.   

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