Sue. Z’s Charitable Check-in: August

Fun philanthropic events around the Twin Cities to round out summer—plus Sue Z.’s hot tips on where to eat next
St. Paul Food Truck Festival, 2018
St. Paul Food Truck Festival, 2018

Photo by Makayla Marty

Being Fair at Valleyfair

WHAT: Urban Ventures Day
WHEN: Thursday, August 1
WHERE: Valleyfair Amusement Park, 1 Valleyfair Dr., Shakopee

Valleyfair has named August 1 its inaugural Urban Ventures Day at the park. Come join the youth, families, and staff of Urban Ventures—a nonprofit that provides cradle-to-career services to kids—for a day of fun and thrills. Friends of Urban Ventures qualify for advance tickets at 45% off the gate price, plus discounted parking. Valleyfair generously donated admission for many Urban Ventures youth but needs help underwriting additional costs associated with the trip, such as busing and food tickets.

Celebrate Our Farmers

WHAT: National Farmers Market Week Kick-Off
WHEN: Sunday, August 4, 8 a.m.-1 p.m.; program 10-11 a.m.
WHERE: St. Paul Farmers’ Market, Fifth and Wall Streets, St. Paul

Meet the farmers. Take part in farm-themed contests, like corn shucking and veggie rolling, for all ages. The kick-off features over 185 farmers’ markets in Minnesota, so make it a special week and get out to one or more to show your appreciation for all the hard work our farm families do to provide us with healthy, fresh produce each summer.

Farmers and Food Trucks

WHAT: St. Paul Food Truck Festival
WHEN: August 17, noon-10 p.m.
WHERE: Mears Park, in Lowertown, 221 Fifth St. E., St. Paul

More than 40 food trucks merge with craft beers, non-alcoholic beverages, live music, and lots of games to play. At the St. Paul Food Truck Festival, enjoy global flavors and vegetarian options—with vendors including Bibuta for sushi burritos and poke bowls; Thai Thai Street Foods; Pierogi Truck; Nautical Bowls for health-nut smoothies; Jinx Tea; and more—plus non-food trucks featuring fashion, men’s grooming, and an escape room. Each Minnesota food truck festival benefits Feed My Starving Children, with 2018 raising 100,000 meals in total.

Hear Jacuzzi Puma from noon to 3 p.m., the Riverside Hitmen from 3:30 to 6:30 p.m., and Alex Rossi from 7 to 10 p.m. Grab a picnic blanket and pack up the kids and the dogs—summer lasts only so long. Come over in the morning and stop at the St. Paul Farmers’ Market, open from 8 a.m. to 1 p.m. close by, on Fifth and Wall Streets.

Farmers’ Market McKee

WHAT: Chef Collaboration Pop-up Kitchen
WHEN: Saturday, August 17, 10 am to 1 p.m.
WHERE: St. Paul Farmers Market Lowertown, E. Fifth St. and Wall St., St. Paul

At the St. Paul Farmers’ Market, chef, restaurateur, and SPFM collaborator Tim McKee joins two local chefs who don’t usually work together. Together, they’ll create delicious dishes for purchase at a collaborative pop-up kitchen.

Grand Slam

WHAT: Grand Slam Dinner
WHEN: Wednesday, August 21, 6-9 p.m.
WHERE: The Capital Grille, 801 Hennepin Ave., Minneapolis

Minnesota Twins players past and present team up with hosts, pitcher Kyle Gibson and wife Elizabeth, to tie on aprons and tee up their service skills, raising funds for the Boys & Girls Clubs of the Twin Cities. They’ll wait on diners during the cocktail reception and four-course meal, where auction items also help raise funds for the Boys & Girls Clubs.

Green Is the New Black

WHAT: Plant-Based Night
WHEN: Thursday, August 29, 5-8 p.m.
WHERE: Breaking Bread Café, 1210 W. Broadway Ave., Minneapolis

Plant-based products for our planet, our bodies, and our community. At this plant-based pop-up market, join vendors Keiko’s Kitchen, Life Juices, Bunka, Nature’s Syrup, Baby Bonito, Adorn by Kella, K’s Revolutionary Catering, Posh Twenty4, Mr. Audley Rolle’s Island Fusion Sauce, the New Market, and more.

Sue Z.’s Edible Hot Tips

Executive chef Michael Rakun and his partner, Abby, not only designed and own Mercy Restaurant, in the Le Meridian Chambers Hotel in Minneapolis, and Benedict’s, in downtown Wayzata and in Rochester at the new Hilton. They’ve also taken over the Mill Valley Kitchen on Excelsior Boulevard, where Michael was the opening chef. His healthy and delicious bison burger is back on the menu, and the new chocolate brownies, served with a glass of milk, are my must-haves each time I go. Plus, the variety of eggs Benedict are amazing at the cafes that bear that name.

Mark a date for Tullibee, the hidden gem at the Hewing Hotel on Washington Avenue in Minneapolis. Executive chef Matt Leverty, Stillwater born and raised, is back from a dozen years working with Wolfgang Puck, first at Walker Art Center and then around the world. He uses local farmers’ produce to create memorable meals for breakfast, lunch, and dinner, seven days a week. The dry-aged beef tartare with rye, horseradish, and frozen yogurt is worth a stop for sure—as is the seasonal English pea soup.

Now, with a name like Bread & Chocolate to lure you inside this storefront on Grand Avenue in St. Paul, it’s hard to believe the interior is even better than the sign. But the Quinn family’s café bakes fresh breads, incredible caramel rolls, pastries of many sizes, shapes, and flavors—plus the best gluten-free chocolate cookies in the country (!). The menu includes soups, paninis, salads, and sandwiches in a 35-year-old, family-owned-and-operated, fabulous find, open 6 a.m.-6 p.m, seven days a week.

Bread & Chocolate is right across the street from the Quinns’ other restaurant, Cafe Latte (open 9 a.m.-10 p.m., until 11 p.m. on weekends). Cafe Latte’s famous for their fresh family recipes, like the decadent turtle cake, the tres leches, the tortes, the bundt cakes, the flourless cakes, the meringues, the tarts, the cobblers, the streusels. Don’t miss their crispy, from-scratch pizza, along with wine and beer in a back room lined with local art, all chosen by the Quinns—Peter, Linda, and son Bryce. Two amazing eateries, kitty-corner from each other, run by one amazing family. Both a must-stop! Soon!

–Sue Z.

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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.