My Tropical Fix at Como

I love to visit the Como Conservatory, especially in winter. Walking from the car, several inches of glistening snow has fallen on the rolling hills of Como Park. I see the glass monolith in the distance; it’s windows steamed up. As I open the door to this enormous greenhouse, I enter a lush, green jungle that’s humid and inviting. Seeing all of the exotic ferns and variety of tropical plants transports me to a better frame of mind. The orange and white koi swim toward the surface of the black water as if to say hello, with their gaping mouths opening and closing.

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The Marjorie McNeely Conservatory was first opened to the public in 1915. I was surprised to find out that it is open every day of the year. There are several gardens and galleries. Some of my favorites are:

  • the Bonsai gallery, where there are about eight bonsai trees. Most of them have been, as they say, “in training” since 2001.
  • the Fern Room which features a wide array of tree ferns, Bird’s-nest fern, Adiantum, and several others.
  • the North Garden, which houses useful plants such as aloe, bamboo, bananas, cacao, coffee, figs, macadamia, mahogany, manila hemp, manioc and papaya, and
  • the Tropical Encounters Exhibit, featuring animals and plants from Central and South America. The river fish were especially intriguing since they are so much a part of the local culture.

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Another attempt at Nosh

A restaurant review. I’ll give it 4/5 stars

cornfieldWe’ve been trying to go to Nosh for quite some time. Every time we go, we’ve picked a day when they’re closed. But today we took our usual road trip from Minneapolis, en route toward Lake Pepin, which takes us through some very quaint, but small towns like Maiden Rock, Stockholm and Lake Pepin. There were droves of people waiting for the Harborview Cafe to open at 5pm, so we hit the road toward Nelson and saw the other side of Lake Pepin, on our way to Lake City. We were anticipating another harbor and hopefully a great restaurant.

nosh-signWe saw the familiar harbor in Lake City, with Nosh nudging at its side. Fortunately we got the last table on the second floor, which had a great view of the harbor. We started by sharing a large Belgian beer, followed by a warm beet salad with arugula and candied walnuts. We ordered a good, dirty red until the delicious steamed mussels in a tomato broth arrived with just the right amount of chili heat. We both ordered the Thai red snapper. I thought it would be the typical filet with a side of vegetables, but instead it was a fragrant stew with bok choy and a perfectly spiced broth. Given the fact that it was a sunny, but cool 40 degree day, the hot stew was very comforting.

harborAs with most restaurants, I’m usually hesitant to order dessert, but I thought that if everything was so great up to this point, the dessert would also be fabulous. Not so. I ordered the chocolate mousse with chipotle chiles. It was good, but not anything to write home about. My partner had the chocolate torte with raspberry sauce which was just so-so.

The service was excellent. Everyone involved made an extra effort to make our experience memorable. I hope to return to Nosh when I can enjoy the sunny patio in humid, 90 degree heat, while watching the boats come in to the harbor. I know the food will be good.