Wine Dinners Galore!

Hey, it’s fall. How did that happen? Looks like I’m not the only person surprised by the arrival of the serious dining season: There are a bunch of wine dinners around town that should by all rights be total sell-outs—but no one knows about them but us?

Sea Change and an Outdoor Argentinian Tango Dinner!
Chef Erik Anderson—fresh from a trip to eat at El Bulli and all over Barcelona, Spain with Piccolo’s Doug Flicker—has been inspired by the possibilities of everyday grace in the fusion of location, food, culture, and wine, so he’s throwing a more or less spontaneous celebration of… Argentina! I don’t quite follow it either, but it sounds fun. There will be tango performers putting that very theatrical space to good use, and a grill sizzling with, says Andersen, “fresh cuttlefish with lime and sea salt, grilled hangar steak with chimichurri and marinated white beans,” and more, all paired with Argentinian wines. Cost? $30 a person. “We just really have to enjoy that patio while the good weather’s still here,” notes Andersen. Hallelujah on that front. When is this lovely event? Tonight! September 10. Call Sea Change for a reservation: 612-225-6499.

La Belle Vie and Bobby Kacher!
Any American who has made a serious study of wine knows about Bobby Kacher, the importer behind Robert Kacher Selections, who is responsible for bringing in some of the best French wines in the United States and is also largely responsible for shaping the American palate. He’s also personable, brilliant, prickly (he has long promised a tell-all about ‘fiddlers in the cellars—no violins included’), and shockingly, he’s coming here! For a La Belle Vie wine dinner on Sunday, September 19. Tickets cost $125, and for that price you’ll get to try wines from Kacher’s portfolio, from the Loire Valley, Burgundy, and the Southern Rhône, all paired with five courses of James Beard Award-winning chef Tim McKee’s food. I don’t say this lightly, but this dinner is nothing short of historic. I talked to Kacher a few times for my book, Drink This: Wine Made Simple and he’s just inspiring, amazing, and fabulous. Call La Belle Vie for reservations: 612-874-6440.

Solera, Susur Lee, and Half the Name Chefs in Minnesota!
You think the whole town would be on fire with news that one of the most awarded Chinese-cuisine chefs in North America was coming to town, but evidently there was some technology problem getting out word on this Susur Lee dinner; I just learned of it and was shocked to find it’s next week! Here’s the down low: Susur Lee is one of the most important Chinese chefs in North America, because of his restaurants in Toronto, mainly, though he also has spots in New York, and Washington D.C. He’s handsome, he’s charismatic, he has appeared on Iron Chef, and had a run on Top Chef Masters. And he’s coming here next week, for a benefit at Solera for the Beard House, where he will be cooking with—hold on to your hats—Sameh Wadi (Saffron, also Iron Chef), Jack Riebel (The Dakota, 2010’s Minnesota Chef Challenge Winner), Lenny Russo (of Heartland, he will be bringing some of his knee-weakening Mangalitsa lardo across the river for the occasion), and all the La Belle Vie family, including Tim McKee, Erik Anderson, J.P. Samuelson, Diane Yang, and Mike DeCamp. Heavens! Tickets are $150. That price includes wine, tax, and gratuities. Call Solera if you don’t have plans next Thursday, September 16, and want in: 612-338 0062.

Faribault Dairy, Elk Cove, and Salut!
I’m a super-fan of cheese from the Faribault Dairy, and so was very excited to see that chef Anthony Leonhardi of the St. Paul Salut has put together a dinner pairing the wines of the Oregon Pinot Noir powerhouse Elk Cove with cheeses from Faribault Dairy and local produce. Price: $59. Date: September 21. Call Salut in St. Paul for a reservation: 651-917-2345.