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MSP-Golden Fig and River Chocolate

I live on Grand in St. Paul and, until yesterday, I did not own a car. I rarely made it to the farmer's market on the weekends. So I was very excited when GF&RC opened in Maud Borup's old space.

Made up of a consortium of St. Paul farmers market veterens, they sell a nice selection of locally made goods. Syrups, honeys, breads and cookies. I've been seriously tempted by the homemade marshmallows and graham crackers. The smoked trout haunts my dreams (and is not always available). Luscious butter. There's usually a full selection of truffles from River Chocolate. The proprietor of River Chocolate has been working the last few times I've visited and he's been very helpful.

My favorite thing is the cheese selection. Lots of local cheeses and opportuties to taste. Last night I polished off a semi-hard smoked cheese. Now I think I need something blue.

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  1. Thanks for the heads up. I think I will have my own little "truffle-off" comparing River Chocolate and some recently purchased BT McElrath. Ooh and did you know there is a chocolate show heading our way?


    2 Replies
    1. re: MplsM ary

      Strangely, that chocolate show features Ameriprise Financial, Warner-Stellian Appliances, Nokomis Chiropractic Center, and Dazzle Me Jewels as exhibitors. Sigh. I went two years ago, and was completely underwhelmed. Tickets are really expensive, and there aren't that many chocolate exhibitors, so the lines for samples were insane. But at least they do have B.T. McElrath and Legacy Chocolates this year.

      Tip: The Legacy Chocolates store isn't that far away from Grand Ave - make sure to pick up some of their luscious truffles for your "truffle-off"!


      1. re: AnneInMpls

        I agree -- I wasn't that impressed with the Chocolate Show although it was their first year and that's where I was introduced to Legacy (they were just opening their St. Paul store at the time). Between Chocolat Celeste (University and 280), Just Truffles (1300 block of Grand) and the ones mentioned, you have quite a selection in the span of a few miles.

        E's Cheese in Mendota Heights also has some wonderful truffles.

    2. I did a bit of a truffle-off in August. I felt it was my "duty" to be in the know. I do like BT McElrath, but I prefer to frequent the truffle shops. Allen Whitney at River Chocolate is like totally my new best friend. Love his truffles, and have you tried his chocolate sauces? TO DIE FOR. (and I do love their local cheese selection) I finally made it to Legacy, and have to say that the 99% dark chocolate truffle, while maybe is not better than sex, that it's probably worth giving up sex for a day for. I've also been a long time fan of Just Truffles on Grand. And I also did a swing by Chocolate Celeste on University Avenue. Great truffles, plus they also were making Al Franken dark chocolate reese's cups. So what is my favorite truffle? Well, the one in front of me, probably.

      1. Thank you for the update on this place. I went when it first opened, but haven't made it back, mostly because I can't bear the parking on Grand Avenue. I just pulled up the short report I wrote on this place and remembered they said they were going to be bringing in some refrigerated cases so they could stock locally raised meats. This is one of the things that would perhaps bring me in. Did they ever get around to that as far as you can tell?



        1. I have been to the GFRC store on Grand a couple times and they have always been very helpful, and have lots of samples around. They do have some refridgerated cases in the store, so you might be able to find some local meat there. Definitely worth a call to verify...

          1. also super nice gift wrapping for all purchases, at gfrc if wanted-- a good, local choice for holiday & hostess gifts for foodies, unless you want to eat everything yourself! :)

            1. They did bring in refrigerated cases and just keep adding to the locally produced items they offer. As I mentioned, they are selling awesome cheeses from MN and WI, many of which I haven't seen elsewhere. They also will be starting to stock made-from-scratch vinegar from Leatherwood Vinagery in Long Prairie MN - not just stock vinegar infused with other things, but honest-to-goodness made from fruit (grown on-site), aged in barrels, fermented and bottled.

              3 Replies
              1. re: jennywinker

                Thanks for that. They had the upright cases with cheeses and yogurts when I was there, but no meats, aside from a couple of packets of the trout. It doesn't sound from your posts that you've seen any locally-raised lamb or bison or pork, etc.


                1. re: The Dairy Queen

                  They aren`t really carrying any local meats, but I also find a good selection at the St Paul Farmers Market or at my coop - Mississippi Market. This summer at the market we got awesome boneless pork chops, bison tenderloin and other good stuff.

                  1. re: jennywinker

                    Thanks for the info, Jenny. Yes, we're regulars at the farmers market as well as at Mississippi Market. I agree that Mississippi Market has excellent meats, but it doesn't carry lamb or bison that I've seen.

                    I was wondering if Golden River and Fig was going to be a good St. Paul-based alternative to finding local meats for those occasions when we can't get to the farmers market on the weekend or for during the off-season. When I spoke to the owner on my visit (which was, I think, the day after they opened) it sounded like he had Grander (no pun intended) plans for meat selection.

                    In any case, I think it's a great place to shop regularly if you can walk to it (I'm less enthusiastic about shopping there if you've got to drive in from out of the area--parking and traffic is really congested along that stretch of Grand Avenue) or on those occasions where you're seeking food-related gifts with a Midwestern flair. It seems like it's still not worth crossing town (and braving the parking) for if you're looking for wide-selection of locally-raised meats.


              2. It took months and months, but I finally got over to Golden Fig. What a wonderful store!

                I was having a severe marshmallow deficiency, so I bought two packages of Laura's gourmet marshmallows. I've already eaten half of the Lavender-Lemon marshmallows. I'm saving the double chocolate ones for the weekend.

                And I also managed to come home with truffles from B.T. McElrath and River chocolate, Rustica multigrain bread, Rustica chocolate cookies, Ames Farm honey, and some great sheep-and-goat's milk cheese from Carr Valley, WI.

                OK, so I went nuts. But it's a great store! Thanks so much for the tip - I would have never known about this place if it wasn't for you chowhounds here and in this other thread: http://www.chowhound.com/topics/317220


                7 Replies
                1. re: AnneInMpls

                  Oh, and perhaps the best thing about Golden Fig is that you can buy individual B.T. McElrath truffles. So you can try an unusual flavor without having to risk so much $$$ on a box. I got a Kefir Lime-Coconut-Ginger truffle and a Tomato Basil truffle (for tomorrow, as I'm rather full of marshmallows just now....)


                  1. re: AnneInMpls

                    Oh, wow! The Laura's Candy double chocolate marshmallows are GREAT! I love the way the bittersweet cocoa coating balances the super-sweet marshmallow interior.


                    1. re: AnneInMpls

                      So...if you were saving the double chocolate marshmallows for the weekend, how come you knew how they tasted at 7pm on Thursday... :)

                      Thanks for the luscious description. I'll be in the neighborhood tomorrow.

                      1. re: happysnacker

                        Silly, but true, but I love to use those marshmallows to make smores in my chimenea--and it's the perfect time of year for it, too, where it's nice'ish out, but still a bit of chill in the air. These marshmallows are so fresh and delicate compared to commercial marshmallows, so you have to be very careful with them, but, yum, sandwiched between a pair of Lu Le Petit Ecolier dark chocolate cookies. Very decadent. Believe it or not, you can't overdo the chocolate flavor. It's fun to experiment with the other marshmallow flavors, too.

                        Anne, did they ever get the espresso counter up and running in the back? Or the "meat" freezer with the local lamb, etc? I know they have dairy products...


                        1. re: The Dairy Queen

                          I've been in there TWICE this week to buy gifts -- love that place! I'm trying to shed a few pounds before summer gets here, so no treats for me, alas. :( I can report that there's no coffee counter yet, and I don't believe there's a freezer, either -- just the refrigerated case with cheeses, etc. While the shop still sells River Chocolate products, the RC owners no longer co-own it; I think they're expanding their chocolate business and the shop was just too much.

                          I think that many of the vendors who sell products there also take a turn working the register. Both times I was in this week, I was helped by Amy, who makes the amazing Bramblewood Cottage shortbreads. She's really lovely, and her cookies are amazing!

                          1. re: mcgeary

                            Yes, the River Chocolate folks are beginning to make local chocolate, and they had to step away from the shop.

                            By "local" I mean that the beans are grown in a greenhouse over at the U of M, and the River Chocolate people are harvesting, processing, making the molds, turning out a little bit of chocolate for a whole lot of labor...

                            1. re: KTFoley

                              That's too bad. Deidre's helpful, fun presence was a great asset to the Grand Avenue shop, at least from a customer's perspective. It's great to be able to talk with the vendors--I've been helped by the woman who makes Bramblewood Cottage shortbreads, the one who makes the Golden Fig products and I think by Laura of Laura's marshmallows (although that may just be a fit of retroactive fantasy...)