It behooves me to let you know that there are only six Saturdays left of summer. Then, Labor Day followed by January. What are you going to do with these spectacular spiraling six? Will they be marked by fried foods at county fairs? Will there be room for leisurely strolls that end at new cafes? Can at least one be spent seeking wellness much norther than this? Or is the plan to find grass, a tall sweating glass, and a worthy sandwich as the clouds roll by? Six.
+ Carved out of the side of i.e. Italian Eatery is a new sitch. Un Dito sip & snacks is now open as the cutest order window/patio spot. Amble up to order small plates of Sicilian street-side seafood snacks, and take them home, or grab a table on the airy patio (shall we say piazza). Get the fried calamari, maybe the citrus poached prawns, a cucumber insalata, and sip a Cocchi spritz or some Moscato and you are nearly half-way to the Ionian Sea. Th-Su, L+D.
+ Malcolm Yards Market is now open! It’s flippin’ true, you can actually believe me this time! Grand opening will be Aug. 5th, but they had such fun at their crazy friends and family nights that they decided: what the hey. Opening today for meatballs, sushi, drinks, burgers, dosa, sandwiches, and so much more. The food hall will use your credit card to set up a tab card, which you can use at any of the vendors as you roam and eat and drink. Just drop the card in the bucket at the end of the night, and they’ll charge you accordingly. It’s a nice neat system, but you WILL end up buying more than you think (because how do you not get ice cream before you leave?).
+ Open at the Walker Art Center is Cardamom, the new Aegean and Mediterranean influenced cafe from Danny del Prado and Shawn McKenzie. It’s a counter service situation, open Th-Sun 11am – 6pm. Now you know everything I do.
+ Wild Rice Retreat is officially open in the Bayfield, WI area. The first all-inclusive wellness retreat in the Midwest, the stylish Lake Superior spot offers explorations from meditation and yoga to metalworking and photography. More importantly, the on-site restaurant NOVO, which offers a modern approach to light and nourishing foods and beverages, is being run by former St. Genevieve somm and chef: Brie Roland and Dustin Thompson.
+ Soul Bowl is opening their next location in Richfield this coming Monday, Aug. 2. Brittney and Gerard Klass are opening a counter service takeout spot next to Galaxy Foods, a popular Caribbean foods importer that brings in all the great ingredients that boost our local restaurants. This is a fortuitous pairing on Chicago Ave and 71st, because while the Soul Bowl menu will be about 85% the same as the North Loop location, it will be adding some West Indies influenced foods to round it out: curry goat, oxtail stew, and hopefully more plantains and coconut rice.
+ The MN State Fair pulled a sneaky fast one on us this week, as they slipped in TWO new vendors into the 2021 line up. Please welcome Baba’s Hummus Bowls, offering many flavors and toppings with hummus (looking forward to the Hummus bi lahme with minced beef shawarma, lemon sauce, parsley, pine nuts and sumac … a bit concerned about the Dilly Dilly dill pickle hummus, with dill pickles, cheese curds, crispy onions). And Solem Concessions which will bring blueberry mini-donuts and multi-flavored cheese curds. Both booths are closer to the North End (don’t worry, we’ll get you a map quite soon). Also: they finally moved the llama costume contest to the bigtime Coliseum + more MNSF news!
+ Stilheart Distillery and Cocktail Lounge is back open in North Loop. Open Th-Sa, from 4-11pm to start, the two level distillery and bar opened in Feb of 2020, bless their hearts. They opened the patio for a bit last summer, and survived the winter with cocktail kits sales, but they are ready for their official hot pink do-over thank you very much. Go clink a drink with them.
<< The St. Paul Cheese Shop is having some crazy utility issues due to a fire in the alleyway last weekend, so it is currently temporarily closed. Consider a quick jaunt over to the St. Paul Meat Shop for perhaps a ham deluxe sandwich in support. Support sandwiches are good karma.
COUNTY FAIRS of the weekend: It’s time to start pre-gaming for the big show, so why not head up to Stearns County Fair this weekend? It’s just shy of 2 hours from the city, past St. Cloud, and you’re set up for some demolition derby, a rooster crowing contest, draft horse parade, full carnival (they got a Sizzler), plus all the cheese curds, corn dogs, and lemonade to prime the pump. If you feel like heading straight west for 2+ hours to Montevideo, the Chippewa County Fair looks hella fun: turtle races, axe throwing, a cattleman’s steak fry, 4H livestock costume contest, speedway racing, bull riding, and something called the Seatbelt Convincer. And hey, the fairgrounds map even has an area pegged as “protest area” (I mean, it’s across the street and probably in another county, but.)
// You should be watching the indomitable Zoë Francois this weekend as her Zoë Bakes show finally launches three new episodes on the freshly baked Magnolia Network (don’t Chip and Joanna know what kind of wattage that woman packs? Let’s let all 10 episodes fly!) She filmed them in and around the metro, included lots of local notables and pals in the filming (ahem) so you’ll see lots of people you know, eating all the things, throwing all the flames, and cracking wise like Zoë does, while still managing to stun you with baked goods. Tune in on Discovery + or online.
// Gavin Kaysen has brought back The Synergy Series for 2021. From Jon Shook + Vinny Dotolo, to Michael Solomonov, Thomas Keller, and Missy Robbins, it looks to be heavy hitting national chefs coming to town to hang out and cook in the Spoon and Stable kitchens. New this year, the chefs will all take the stage with Kaysen for a live discussion, followed by Q+A. Tickets to those discussion events will be $10 with 100% of the sales going to Appetite for Change. For the actual special guest-chef dinners, you can reserve in the dining room like last year ($500-$600), but this year you will also be able to reserve the bar area (which was formerly first come first serve) for a special tasting menu option. Single dinner reservations will be released on Monday at 10am (bar and lounge tickets will be released two weeks before the event) so get your dial tech primed.
// Head over to Muddy Paws tonight to celebrate National Cheesecake Day with a grand parking lot party (as it’s also the cake shop’s 28th birthday!!). That feels like the right kind of reason to party from 9am-9pm. They’ve got two great food trucks, Bad Rooster and Soul Lao, plus live music, random prize give a ways, plus ton of cheesecake! $1 from every slice sold goes to the STEP program in SLP.
// Saturday might find you sniffing barbecue if you head over to Thor’s Cider for the North Star State BBQ Competition. Amateurs and pros alike will be there to compete, and you can chat up the contestants to try to find out their secrets, or just see if they’ll give you a rib or two. There will be plenty of live music, 12 hard ciders on tap, plus pulled pork and barbecue for purchase.
//There are still some tickets left for the Summer Feast at Brother Justus this Saturday. Grab your $60 ticket for a four hour feast prepared by three chefs: roasted whole hog, pulled goat, yucca fry bar and whiskey drinks as chaser!
// Sunday kicks off the Twin Cities Vegan Chefs Challenge for all the meatless eaters out there. Throughout the month of August, a number of local restaurants will be offering special vegan dishes that you the eater to order and vote on. From the Coconut Whisk Cafe to Parkway Pizza to Barbette, there are plenty of places to try a meat-free meal. Vote all month, the winning restaurant gets $150 and snappers who tag with #tcveganchef are entered win prizes.
// Sunday also kicks off National Farmers Market Week, so you should head to the St. Paul Farmers Market for some of THAT good clean fun. It starts with free coffee at 8am, rolls into a kids scavenger hunt and zucchini-car race, plus there will be live music, prize drawings, and cooking demos all day.
// There are two great workshops coming up in August from Four Seasons Foraging. On Aug 15, you can head out with foraging pros for the Foraging Field Day Trip, which gets you out into the rural areas to learn about wild plants and mushrooms you can harvest: stinging nettles, wild mint, chanterelles if you’re lucky. The other class, Foraging for Summer Fruits on Aug 25, is very interesting to me. This is where I need someone to help point out urban fruit like wild plums and aronia so that I know more things, and eat more things. Both classes are offered on a sliding fee scale, to include all budgets.