Best of Summer 2011
Everything you have to eat, do, and see
(page 4 of 5)
FOOD & DRINK
Have supper at a farm.
The best meal of your summer might look a lot like a picnic—if your hamper was filled with top-flight restaurant food. The monthly Tour de Farm meals, which are hosted at farms around the state, feature four-course meals prepared by celebrated chefs, along with wine pairings. Afterward, visitors feel filled and fulfilled in a way few restaurants can match. ★ tourdefarmmn.com
Sip a Superior brew.
Celebrate summer with one of Fitger’s summer brews. The Duluth brewpub has been creating handcrafted beers with pure Lake Superior water since the 1800s. The next time you’re in Duluth, grab a patio seat and a mug, and make a toast to the best summer yet. ★ brewhouse.net
Shop a farmers’ market.
Saturday morning is the new Friday night at Minneapolis Farmers’ Market. Cellists pluck out lively versions of jazz standards, lines form for Tollefson’s brats at 8 a.m., and mouth-watering fruits and vegetables are piled high. Thousands descend on this Minneapolis mainstay every weekend, so count on a crowd as well as more fresh produce than you can carry. ★ mplsfarmersmarket.com
Drink in a beer garden.
Patios seem like a great idea—until the mercury hits 90. For those hotter-than-hot days, head to the beer garden at Black Forest Inn. The covered patio and nearby burbling fountain will keep you cool enough to spend all night tipping back mugs of the restaurant’s signature Hacker Pschorr Weissbier—and maybe a schnitzel, too. ★ black-forestinnmpls.com
Hook a trout.
If your favorite part of fishing is the moment you feel a tug on the line, avoid the hours of waiting and head to Star Prairie Trout Farm. There, they’ll set you up with bait and tackle and point you to their well-stocked pond. Simply drop in your line and reel ’em in: it’s that easy. ★ starprairietrout.com
Order the lobster.
If you have already fallen hard for food trucks, then the Smack Shack is a must-try. Chef Josh Thoma’s seasonal sensation serves up lobster rolls that have already achieved legendary status as well as an equally scrumptious fresh seafood menu. ★ smack-shack.com
Twilight foes seeking an extra layer of defense against vampires should plan to spend August 13 at the Minnesota Garlic Festival, where more than 100 varieties of the pungent bulb will be in use and on display. Cooking demonstrations are just part of the fun: the full-day celebration includes musical performances, kite-making, and a parade. ★ sfa-mn.org/garlicfest
Get fresh veggies delivered to your door.
Cardboard-flavored tomatoes, wilted iceberg lettuce—these may be your Minnesota winter vegetables, but during the summer? Not a chance. Sign up for community-supported agriculture (CSA) deliveries with an organization like Big Woods Farm, which will provide you with a box of freshly picked seasonal herbs and veggies each week for four months. From green beans to pumpkins, you’ll get the best that the state has to offer plus recipes to spin each ingredient into an amazing dish. ★ bigwoodsfarmcsa.com
Tour a Minnesota winery.
Can’t afford to fly to Napa? Then hop in your car and head to one of Minnesota’s own wineries, like Hastings’s Alexis Bailly Vineyard. The vineyard’s owners have spent decades developing grapes that deliver just the right flavor and can withstand Minnesota winters. It’s a comfortable setting with picnic areas and bocce courts, but our favorite part was the vineyard’s sly, Keillor-esque motto: “Where the grapes can suffer.” ★ abvwines.com
Eat buttered corn at the State Fair.
The sweet corn sold at the Minnesota State Fair’s Corn Roast booth not only brings in the fourth-highest sales at the fair, but is so famous it has a song written about it. Grown from special seed, each savory ear is roasted, dipped in butter, and salted. Find it at the southeast corner of Nelson Street and Dan Patch Avenue. ★ mnstatefair.org
Get an extra scoop.
Lines at Izzy’s Ice Cream can stretch down the block, but visitors don’t mind: they swear by these locally crafted scoops. With more than 30 flavors, it’s tough to choose just one. That’s why each order comes with a smaller “Izzy” scoop, letting you test out that chocolate peanut butter-raspberry combo you’ve been considering, or even the Summit oatmeal stout–marshmallow fluff pairing you insist will be the next big thing. ★ izzysicecream.com
Try some pie.
A sampler of slices from around the state, plus one
from across the border.
A favorite of Duluth-area visitors for more than half a century, Betty’s serves up pies so good that they should be eaten for the main course and dessert. Try the raspberry, with just enough sugar to balance the berries’ tartness and a generous sweet-crumble topping. bettyspies.com
Turtle Bread Company
There are great pie shops scattered around the state, but thanks to the ubiquitous Turtle Bread Company, there’s one close to home, too. You can’t go wrong with the lattice-crusted blueberry-rhubarb pie, which has generous chunks of rhubarb and an unbeatably flaky crust. turtlebread.com
The Chocolate Moose
Attention Boundary Waters adventurers returning to Ely: head straight to the Chocolate Moose, where good meals are topped off with spectacular pie. Pies feature thick, almost bread-like crust and two scoops of ice cream with every slice. The rhubarb combination pies—peach, strawberry, raspberry—are all plate-scrapingly fantastic. 218-365-6343
Stockholm Pie Company
There are fewer than 100 souls in Stockholm, Wisconsin, but don’t be surprised if every last one seems to be at Stockholm Pie Company each Friday afternoon. There, locals and visitors debate the merits of peach over strawberry-rhubarb slices. Don’t worry if you can’t decide: order two half-slices of your top picks. stockholmpiecompany.com