Our first anniversary weekend kicked off on Friday afternoon with a trip to the grand opening of Bad Weather Brewing off of West 7th in St. Paul. It was absolutely packed in there. A nice couple gave us their spot at this rock structure, so we gratefully took it. The brews were decent, and the tap room itself was fairly impressive.
After the brewery, we took the light rail downtown. We grabbed a quick bite at a nice little Panera-esque restaurant in the IDS, and then we walked over to the Orpheum to see The Little Mermaid. Shannon ended up winning some contest where she got to pay $25 for any remaining seat in the house. We ended up sitting in row U on the main floor. The show itself was decent. There were quite a few technical glitches (mics cutting in and out, light cues not hitting right), and we sat next to an obnoxious group of drunk people who needed to impress the crowd with their versions of Under the Sea. We were quite impressed, however, with the use of the fly system to emulate "swimming". Quite a nifty stage trick.
The next day, Shannon and I woke up early to drop off bagels for her work, and then we drove up to Taylors Falls. We stopped at an awesome bakery in Lundstrom off Highway 8 and had some delicious donuts. Once we got to Taylors Falls, we hiked along the river. Despite some light traffic noise and an unseasonably hot day, it was a gorgeous hike. The fall colors were absolutely breathtaking.
On the way home from Taylors Falls, we figured we were close enough to Stillwater, so we drove down to Lift Bridge Brewery and tried a few of their brews. (from left to right: Mini Donut Beer, Citra Kellerbier, Oktoberfest, Harvestör Fresh Hop Ale) All four beers were pretty decent, but man, that Mini Donut Beer was out of this world good. What can I say: I'm a sucker for the novelty beers. Shannon and I tried to purchase a growler of it, but that wasn't in the cards. Dang.
After we had our fill of Mini Donut Beer, we decided lunch was in order, and it wouldn't be a complete anniversary weekend without a trip to Leeann Chin. I also got my haircut at Great Clips. We're a Great Clips family now, by the way. More on that to come in the next couple of weeks (I hope!)
With a freshly full belly and a neatly trimmed set of hair, we decided to detour on our way home to Big Wood Brewing Company in White Bear Lake. (from left to right, top to bottom: Bark Bite IPA, Board #4, Fork, Oktimberfest, Lil' Red Riding Wood) I think we were both a little full from all the Chin and Mini Donut Beer, so maybe we shouldn't have done the heavy flight... but on the whole, the brews there were pretty good. Their Bark Bite is definitely deserving of "flagship status". We left Big Wood and wandered around White Bear Lake a little bit, and then we finally headed home.
One of our other friends mentioned that for a fancy date night one time, they did their own surf and turf at home. That sounded like an affordable way to have a fancy dinner on our anniversary, and since we spent all of our money on beer and Little Mermaid tickets, we figured we could do things ourselves. (I have to admit, it was a little weird eating lobster after seeing The Little Mermaid.) The meal was phenomenal. We bought a pre-cooked lobster and steamed it in a pot, and we bought a steak that was big enough for the both of us. We accompanied it with some sweet potato fries and a little salad. My wife had to be extra sweet to me and sauté a bunch of mushrooms (which she hates, but knows I love). We capped it off with some homemade chocolate cake and berries. I got to dust the powered sugar myself. Once we demolished this excellent deserts, we watched the latest episode of Empire and fell asleep early.
On Sunday (our actual anniversary), I rolled out of bed around 8am and got my 10 mile run in (prep work for the Seattle Marathon in a few weeks). After that, we got all gussied up and drove down to St. Anthony Main for a Sunday brunch at the Nicollet Island Inn. We had the 5 course meal, which included:
A pastry basket. That bread (not pictured) was so moist and delicious.
Angel Food French Toast.
Lobster bruschetta with avocado.
Mushroom Gnocchi. Oh my goodness, that was incredible. I'm definitely a gnocchi fan.
Overall, the experience and the food were incredible; if you're looking for a top-notch place to bring your significant other on a fancy Sunday morning brunch, look no further than the Nicollet Island Inn.
The rest of our Sunday was pretty much a normal Sunday. We got back home and watched the Packers barely edge one out over the Rams (hah), and then we tried to avoid the unseasonable 80 degree heatwave. We did end up getting over to my parent's house to help my mom prepare for her knee replacement surgery later that week, but besides that, it was quite uneventful.
They say that the first year of marriage is the most difficult. If that's the case, then the rest of our lives should be smooth sailing. I'm so lucky to have found the perfect woman for me, and I am looking forward to many, many more anniversaries together.