Sue Z.’s Picks: Chili, Sliders, and Valentine’s Day

This month around the Twin Cities: a White Castle tradition reimagined, chili samples by Midtown Global Market, and more
White Castle
White Castle

Super Bowl and Sweetest Day at the St. Paul Farmers’ Market

Great things are happening at the St. Paul Farmers’ Market for Super Bowl and Valentine’s Day. Get yourself to Lowertown on Feb. 6 and 13 to find recipes and local foods, such as locally raised meats, cheeses, root veggies, microgreens, salsa, locally roasted coffee, honey baked goods, and more from the 18-20 vendors outdoors each Saturday from 9 a.m. to 1 p.m. All these edibles would be great for the at-home celebrations this year. As the world turns, we have to change with it, and this is a beautiful homegrown way to do it. Learn more. 

A Global Trip for your Tastebuds

This year, Midtown Global Market chefs will still battle for the title of 2021 Global Chili Cook-off Champion, on Saturday, Feb. 27—but due to the pandemic, you will want to register to pre-order your sample set of nine delicious chilis in one to-go container at $20, to be enjoyed on site or at home. Guests are invited to vote for their three top favorites to decide the Cook-off Champion.

Only 150 sample sets will be available, so order online right now. Pick up your container at the Global Market on Saturday Feb. 27, from 11 a.m. to 2 p.m., at 920 East Lake Street in Minneapolis. The nine chefs cooking for the title include:

  • Frank Chase (Andy’s Garage) – Turkey Chili
  • Soleil Ramirez (Arepa Bar) – Venezuelan Surprise
  • Vicki Potts (Grass Roots Gourmet) – Zuni Chili
  • Manny Gonzalez (Manny’s Tortas) – Chipotle Black Bean Tequila Chili
  • Hassan Ziadi (Moroccan Flavors) – Harira Soup
  • Trung Pham (Pham’s Rice Bowl) – Aztec Chicken Chili
  • Kevin Hannigan (The Produce Exchange) – Cheese Frito Pie To-Go
  • Lorenzo Ariza (Salsa a la Salsa) – Vegetarian Green Chili
  • Sothy Minh (Sabbai Express) – Curry Chili

Cost for the nine-container pack is $20, which will benefit Books for Africa, the world’s largest shipper of books to over 55 countries. Every dollar donated sponsors two books. Learn more.

A White Castle Tradition

White Castle turns 100 years old this year. Hard to believe that, 30 years ago, White Castle started its Valentine’s Day celebration as a joke here in Minneapolis and in St Louis Park. I’m proud to report that I was one of the first to join the celebration. Loving these little  sliders since they were a nickel apiece in the ’50s, they were a special treat for our entire family. I’ve attended the V-day event at the  Castle on Highway 7 several times and have loved all sweetheart specials.  They have served 30,000 Valentine’s diners in the participating locations across the country, and even the pandemic won’t deter this popular tradition.

In the past years, they’ve converted the quick service to fine dining with a hostess, reservations, tablecloths, flowers, and wait staff service, plus other treats. This year, with the pandemic and social distancing, they are moving carside with car hops, taking orders and running out the food. They’ve dubbed the parking lots “Slider Lovers Point.”

Reservations can be made on White Castle’s website or on Open Table. Customers can pull into their spot at their designated time for car-side service. There will be a brochure with activities to do while waiting for the food and a curated Spotify playlist called Slider Lover’s Luv Channel that will include shoutouts to loved ones and customers’ stories from around the country.

Also, if you want to surprise your family or coworkers on Valentine’s Day, check the website to order the 20-slider Crave Clutch, with a special holiday design. Sign up soon at a White Castle near you. Learn more.

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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.