Sue Z Says

IF YOU’VE GOT VISIONS OF SUGAR PLUMS, what’s more fun than building a gingerbread house? It’s Play Time at 50th and Xerxes in Minneapolis provides all the materials plus hands-on instruction for making a customized gingerbread house at its December 17 class. Call 612-927-7529 to register or get more information at www.itsplaytime.com.

The Marchionda family, owners of I Nonni and Buon Giorno, have opened Il Vesco Vino (Italian for “the bishop’s wine”) in the former Vintage Restaurant space on Selby Avenue in St. Paul. I recommend the mussels all’acqua pazza, the spaghetti alla puttanesca, and the bistecca alla pizzaiola.

New gift items of all kinds arrive daily for your home and kitchen at the General Store of Minnetonka, just west of I-494 on Highway 7. You will find the Barefoot Contessa’s delicious dessert mixes, plus kitchen gadgets for making holiday meals or giving as gifts. And do plan to attend the special Monday afternoon teas. For reservations, call 952-935-7131.

Speaking of teas, check out the holiday schedules at Fox & Drake on Lake Street in Wayzata and the Saint Paul Hotel. They’re good spots to take out-of-towners, granddaughters, or great aunties.

No time to bake for the holidays? Get yourself to The Country Cake Cupboard and Café at 491 Willow Drive North in Long Lake, where April Wysocki makes divine cakes, cupcakes, cookies, and bars, plus birthday and wedding cakes. For more information, call 952-476-0222.

If you’re traveling this winter or looking for a great stocking stuffer, pick up a copy of the Cool Restaurants and Cool Shopping guides available for many international cities at Nola Home at 404 Penn Ave. S. in Minneapolis.

Sue Zelickson is the 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.