Valentine Ideas; Owatonna is for Lovers (of Me) on Sunday; Smack Shack News

I walked out of work the other day and… It was still light out! Spring is coming. I just know it.

But first, there will be Valentine’s Day. If you’re the sort who makes reservations in March for the following year, good for you. If not, the holiday falls on a Monday this year. Awkward! So why not treat your Valentine to a nice bottle of bubbly, and a couple of tickets to the Food & Wine Show?

We’re having it at Target Field this year—exciting stuff. We’ve had complaints lately that the show was getting too big to take in in a day, so we made it smaller (and raised the ticket price). So far responses from our most loyal customers have been good—people are happy to pay a little more for more elbow room and greater access to the winemakers. What do you think? By the way, you can buy tickets online right now.

Come! I’ll be there both days, helping on Saturday to judge the Cake Challenge (did you see the Silence of the Lambs cake last year? It was the most inspired, amazing, disturbing cake I think I’ll ever see), and on Sunday doing some wine education about the great goings-on in Washington State. And Saturday night I’ll be at a new event we’re doing: The Champion’s Club Wine Dinner.

What’s that? I’ve never been, but evidently the high-roller, best-seats-in-the-house at the new Target Field are in something called the Champion’s Club, and we’re hosting a wine dinner there with Chateau St. Michele and the chef of the new Target Field, Pastor Jimenez.

It should be fun. If you look at the website you’ll find the six-course menu; the plan is that each of the courses will be served through “action stations” so that guests are able to walk around and interact with the winemakers and see the chefs in action. Come! And remember, all proceeds go to a good cause—the whole Food and Wine Experience is a fundraiser for Minnesota Public Radio. And I repeat, tickets would make a pretty wonderful Valentine.

Speaking of love, I’m in Owatonna this Sunday, reading at the public library at 2 p.m. What’s not to love about Owatonna? And libraries? If you are an Owatonnan, come on down! If you know any Owatonnans, send ‘em my way! If you neither are or know any people in Owatonna, you can still help me out: Just pray for good weather. If you can’t pray, hope. If you can’t hope, turn your mind to the fact that January is nearly done. That was a cold one!

In other random news, did you know that the Smack Shack—the street food lobster sensation of last summer—has set up permanent shop in northeast’s 1029 Bar? I didn’t, but they have. Every Wednesday through Saturday night from 5 p.m. to close they serve the Smack Shack’s insanely good lobster rolls, lobster ‘mac (with taleggio!) and the rest of their menu. If you had asked me last week what it would take to get me into the 1029 Bar, I would have said: Contractual obligations. Now, I can’t wait!