Sue Z. Says

There’s no need to travel outside our state to find the kind of molecular cooking treats that are wowing diners in Spain, New York, and Chicago. At NorthCoast Restaurant (294 E. Grove Ln., Wayzata, 952-475-4960), chef Ryan Aberle is creating some masterful experiments with food that pops—literally—in your mouth. With an approach that often makes his kitchen resemble a chemistry lab, Aberle’s is making his menu edgy, healthy, and local at the same time.

Congratulations are in order for Twin Cities eateries that made Zagat’s “America’s 1,000 Top Italian Restaurants 2008”: Campiello, D’Amico Cucina, La Grolla, Luci Ancora, Prima, Ristorante Luci, and Zelo. Also, congrats to Surdyk’s (303 E. Hennepin Ave., Minneapolis, 612-379-3232), whose cheese shop was one of five stores in the nation awarded “Outstanding Specialty Food Retailers” by the National Association of the Specialty Food Trade.

I loved my trip to Vino in the Valley (, 715-639-6677) in the heart of Wisconsin’s Rush River Valley, an hour east of the Twin Cities. Every Thursday night, Saturday night, and Sunday afternoon through the end of September, owner Larry Brenner creates a unique outdoor dining experience, with guests eating in an open-air pavilion overlooking his vineyards. The property is also open for special family events, and is a perfect spot for private parties and weddings.

Sue Zelickson is host of WCCO Radio’s Food for Thought.

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Sue Zelickson (Sue Z.) is a James Beard Award-winning food media personality, philanthropist, and longtime contributor to Minnesota Monthly and WCCO radio. She has founded the Charlie Awards, the Women Who Really Cook networking organization for women in the local food industry, and the Kids Cafe at Perspectives, Inc., which improves access to nutritious meals for families in need. You can find her buzzing around from event to event throughout the Twin Cities, helping to raise funds for charitable organizations, including some she has had a hand in building.