>> Ice cream in January > frozen pants. I can't crow loudly enough about Sameh Wadi's Milkjam Creamery which opened this week right next to World Street Kitchen. I tried all 16 flavors and yowza: black fig and mezcal? Poppin' Bottles champagne sorbet? Ridin' Duuuurty with oreo milk and oreo chunks and salted peanut butter? Cereal Killers with orange coriander milk and candied fruity pebbles? ALL YES. And here's the crazy thing, a lot of them are dairy free ... and you'd never miss it. Also, the kids are doing adult floats, sundaes drizzled with olive oil and salt if you so wish, and a bit of wickedness known as the Jam Bun: a donut-banked ice cream sandwich with your choice of flavor.
>> Go Bears! White Bear Lake's favorite sushi joint has a new sibling in downtown St. Paul. Red Lantern Sushi & Noodle Bar is open in the former Fujiya space. Tucked into that prime corner, the space is a little darker and more rustic looking now with lots of wood and a big communal table running down the center of the room. There's a small "waiting bar" at the front and a noodle bar along the side wall.
>> Birdtown has new beer! Wicked Wort Brewing is throwing their grand opening party this weekend in Robbinsdale. They've totally overhauled the old TCF building and now there's some sweet garage doors, an open floor to the brewhouse below, and potential for patio action (not open for your 30degree shorts wearing, tho). Of note, this gig is strictly 21+ so don't bring your babies to the bar. Live music and snacks tonight along with plenty of beer including Birdtown Blonde, Burly-Eyed British Bitter, Big Deal Kolsch, and Geno Stout.
>> Punch Bowl Social will be opening this year in the West End. With other locations in Detroit, Denver, Austin, and Portland, this seems to be a hipster-rich environment where the food is diner-cool (cauliflower nachos, iron skillet burgers, breakfast served til 3pm) and the hijinx include bowling, darts, video games, ping pong, marbles, shuffle board, and private karaoke. It's taking up a whopping 23,000 sq. ft., but promises to be cool and funky with separate spaces and a central 360-degree bar. So not that Latitude 360 thing that fell through, but .... sounds better than Toby Keith's.
>> GOOD ON YA! Minnesotans did us proud at the national Good Food Awards in SFO last weekend. Out of 13 categories we placed thrice: Red Table Meats for charcuterie, Spyhouse for coffee, and Far North for spirits! Wisconsin, our favorite sibling, did well too with Lakefront scoring for beer, AeppleTreow and Finnriver for cider, JBC and Kickapoo and Ruby for coffee (but getting skunked for cheese!).
>> Speaking of ciders, Keepsake Cidery (one of my favorites from last year) is opening up membership to their 2016 cider club. Purchase a half or whole share and you'll be sipping ciders all year, along with the privilege of access to events at the orchard, exclusive bottles, and a rumored secret handshake.
>> Did you know that Tin Fish at Braemar Park is open all winter long? Tonight Hoigaards will be there to lead you on a snowshoe hike under the full moon, after which you might enjoy a free Summit Beer tasting with their $10 all-you-can-eat Friday fish fry! Who knew!
>> This Saturday, Fulton is the indoor winter market of choice.
>> Have you always dreamed of dressing your pancakes from your own backyard? Maple Sugaring in the City is a FREE class this Saturday about how to make maple syrup from your maple trees. It's harder than just sticking a spigot in there, people.
>> The Great Neighbors' Burger Food Fight is good for your belly, good for your wallet, and good for your karma. Is that like a trinity? Anyhoo, all you have to do is buy a Food Fight card for $25 and use it to get a free burger at each of five restaurants (5-8 Club, B52, Cherokee Tavern, Jersey's Bar & Grill, and Mississippi Pub) from Feb. 1 - Mar. 20, then go online and vote for the top dog. Five burgers for $25? And the proceeds benefit Neighbors Inc., which provides emergency assistance to low-income families? WIN.
>> La Fonda in Eagan is 40 years old! To celebrate their middle age, they are rolling back prices on their Northern New Mexico dishes to an absurd level from an absurd decade: The 70's. On Jan 25-27 you can duck in for $4 nachos, $5 enchilada plates, and $6 chimichangas washed down with $1.75 margaritas.
>> Take the warmish weather opportunity to dig through your garage for your kite and then report to Excelsior Brewing's Big Island and Back Ski Race and Kite Open on Jan 30, benefiting the ICA Food Shelf. Even if your kite has a picture of Elsa on it and can't pull you across the tundra, go for the support and the after beers.
>> Well, the COCHON555 is coming back to town on Feb. 21 in search of a new Prince of Porc (that could be heir apparent to King Boemer if they try super hard). Competing this year, each receiving a heritage breed hog that must be broken down and used completely for at least 5 dishes are ... Jorge Guzman from Surly, John Ng of Zen Box, the Summer-Carlson duo of Chef Shack, Chris Nye of Spoon and Stable, and The Travaillians. It's a riot of a time and you will get your ticket's worth of eat and drink I swear. Let's also not forget that there's a charity component to this event, it's all for the good of a real live Piggy Bank.