The Minnesota Opera has commissioned an original opera based on Stephen King's The Shining. At first, I was all "Huuuuuuhhhhhh...." But when I thought about it, The Shining actually would make great source material for an opera. Dramatic, emotional, lots of tension. And I'm very fond of the Minnesota Opera--they do wonderful work.
It's so nice when some locally owned place ventures into the suburbs, not assuming that those of us who live here only want to eat at Applebee's. Even better when it turns out to be a really good place to eat.
Tavern 4 and 5, which is not a particularly inspired name (it's at the intersection of highways 4 and 5), recently opened in Eden Prairie, and I say, huzzah.
They make a more-than-decent Cuban sandwich. With yummy fries.
Or a pineapple-upside-down cake, which was a special offering one day. Tasty.
But what I really like here is breakfast.
Corned beef hash. Oh, my, as George Takei would say. This was just excellent. The brisket is roasted onsite, and it's flavorful and tender. There's a good amount of potato and onion in there too. My eggs were perfectly cooked over easy. I could eat this again, and again, and again.
But the other thing I really have appreciated in my visits there is the service. This has to be one of the friendliest staffs I've encountered anywhere recently. My first stop there, I was on my own, and braced myself for what has become an all-too-common experience. Imagine my surprise--and pleasure--when I was greeted with enthusiasm and was even offered a newspaper to entertain me while I waited for my food. In fact, I was treated as well as any other party around me, even much larger ones. That, my friends, is a wondrous thing, and a reason to return.
Let's talk about one of the most fabulous bounties of summer (and this year, probably a bit into fall): sweet corn. And let's talk about Marie Porter's new book, Sweet Corn Spectacular.
Marie gets corn. Marie gets the Midwest love affair with corn, and why it's so darned important to buy and eat it pretty much the minute someone harvests it off the cornstal. For me, that means no grocery store corn on the cob. Ever. Yes, I am a corn snob.
This lovely book, full of tantalizing recipes, gives us the inspiration behind her experiments with corn: her husband, who could--apparently very seriously--would be thrilled to eat nothing but corn. For his birthday one year, Marie decided to do a "Day of Corn"--every component of every meal had corn in it. He was delighted, and a tradition was born, one that led to this book.
The brief introduction has some helpful tips about buying and cooking with corn. I didn't realize that the reason corn becomes tough when it's overcooked is because fresh corn kernels contain a milky substance that hardens up when overcooked. Nor did I realize you could sweeten up corn that's slightly past its prime by adding milk to the boiling water.
Then there are the recipes. Wouldn't you like to try the Bacon-Wrapped Corn on the Cob? Of course you would. How about a Spicy Corn Pakora? Ham and Corn Skewers with Pineapple-Bourbon Glaze? A Creamy Sweet Corn Popsicle? Yes, please.
The text is reader-friendly, with Marie's narration like having a friend helping you in the kitchen. This one's a keeper, and makes me want to check out the otherbooks in the series.
Just because the Fair is over, Labor Day has passed, and kids are back to school doesn’t mean Minnesota has shut down for winter. There may not be quite as many festivals—but there are still enough to keep anyone from getting bored. And besides, soon the harvest and Halloween festivals will pop up. Be sure to check the Minnesota Historical Society’s event page; they’ve always got something interesting going on.
Shakopee Minnesota Renaissance Fest Weekends through Sept.; also open Friday, Sept. 27 Rowdy jousting, roasted turkey legs, raucous and libidinous comedy, people in costumes—really, what more do you need?
Northfield Defeat of Jesse James Days Sept. 4-8 The infamous Jesse James met his match when he tried to rob the Northfield bank on Sept. 7, 1876. Today his defeat is boisterously remembered with a bank raid re-enactment, hog roast, square dance, steak fry, vintage base ball, and a parade.
St. Paul Concrete and Grass Music Festival Sept. 5-7 Lowertown St. Paul hosts this festival with a diverse range of free music: Lucy Michelle with Chan Poling, Moore by Four, Eastside Quartet, Halloween Alaska, and the St. Paul Chamber Orchestra, among others.
Ely Harvest Moon Festival Sept. 6-8 Lumberjack shows, live music, food, and demonstrations of old-time arts (blacksmithing, birch bark basketry, wool spinning, and fire starting, among others), all in this scenic Boundary Waters gateway community.
Moorhead Greater Moorhead Days Sept. 5-9 Parades, bocce ball tournaments, live music, food—a full week of fun on the border of North Dakota.
Stillwater Grape Stomp 2013 Sept. 7-8 Seriously—it’s a grape stomp at a winery (St. Croix Vineyards, to be specific).
St. Paul St. Paul Classic Bike Tour Sept. 8 This is not a race—it’s just a really well thought-out ride through some of the most scenic parts of the Capitol city.
Worthington King Turkey Days Sept. 13-14 All the usual fun stuff (food, music) plus: turkey races.
Mankato Mahkato Traditional Pow Wow Sept. 20-22 Celebrating its 41st year in 2013. Thousands of Native Americans gather here each year for a traditional pow wow, with ceremonial costumes, foods, and crafts.
Shakopee Severs Corn Maze Fri..-Sun., Sept. 13-Oct. 27 (also open MEA) The name says it all: a maze built in a corn field. This year’s maze is Explore Minnesota—very appropriate, don’t you think? Don’t let your kids find the way out faster than you do.
Hastings Fall Raptor Release Sept. 28 Visit the Raptor Center in Hastings and see a variety of raptors released back into the wild.
The Fair ended yesterday. Now we have to wait nearly a year until we can rejoice at its arrival again, plan our food menus, line up to view the crop art, coo over the baby animals, and watch the parade.
Between now and then, here's what the Fair might look like.
Ice cold milk.
No lines for beer on a stick at the International Bazaar.