Fall is for fireplaces...and chocolate

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November 1, 2004 // UPDATED 4:32 pm - April 25, 2007
By: Tammy Sproule Kaplan
Tammy Sproule Kaplan

Food-lovers weekend

What will you look forward to after the votes from this cliffhanger presidential election are in? Well, you can stuff your sorrows or revel in your joy in a full weekend of foodie amusements, Nov. 13-14.

The Junior League of Minneapolis will hold a "Masters in the Marketplace" event Saturday, Nov. 13, 5-8 p.m. at the Minneapolis Convention Center, 1301 2nd Ave. S., as part of their annual Winter Market 2004. The Masters affair is basically a night of exclusive shopping. Eventgoers will be able to try James Page brews, Knollwood Liquor wines and gourmet appetizers from various sources.

In addition to the samplefest, four local chefs will face off to create the best impromptu dishes at the Masters' own IronChef-like cook-off. This year's chefs are David Fhima (of Fhima in St. Paul, Minneapolis Caf/ on 11th Street & Hennepin Ave. S. and Louis XIII in Edina), Philip Dorwart (of Tryg's in Southwest Minneapolis), Mike MacKay (of the Sample Room in Northeast) and Jack Reibel (of La Belle Vie in Stillwater).

Tickets to "Masters in the Marketplace" are $30 and can be ordered at jlminneapolis.org. Proceeds support the Junior League's community projects.

The Twin Cities Chocolate Extravaganza will also be held Saturday-Sunday, Nov. 13-14. From 11 .am.-6 p.m. on Saturday and 1-6 p.m. on Sunday, there will be lots of chocolates to sample and live demonstrations on chocolate-related topics. (There will also be a $5 raffle for various prizes to benefit the Make a Wish foundation.)

The event will be held at International Market Square, 275 Market St. Tickets are $10 in advance, $15 at the door and can be purchased in-person at Maud Borup, 555 Nicollet Mall. For more information, visit mspchocolateshow.com.

As if this weren't enough for one weekend, food writer chef Andrew Zimmern ("Chef Andrew") will do his weekly radio show, "Chowhounds," live from the Minneapolis Convention Center, Saturday, Nov. 13, 1-2 p.m.

Although the show is fairly new, Andrew has already established a reputation for delivering boldfaced but educated opinions. Take his words on the education of the palate, for example: "The reason [people] eat at LeeAnn Chin and not Ruam Mit [a Thai caf/ in St. Paul] is because they haven't been exposed to it. The reason a mom uses Rice a Roni and doesn't make a coconut-lemon rice pilaf for her braised chicken is because she thinks the former is faster. Wrong."

The "Chowhounds" taping is part of the Women's Home & Interior Design Expo, which runs Nov. 12-14, Friday, noon-9 p.m.; Saturday, 10 a.m.-9 p.m.; and Sunday, 11 a.m.-5 p.m. Tickets for the expo are $6 at the door or $3 with a half-price coupon at 101expos.com/whid.

Urban Cuisine treat: Check out the seasonal recipe Chef Andrew drummed up for Urban Cuisine readers to try at home on page 15.

Loring Park's cozy enclave

As the days get shorter and you increasingly feel like crawling back under the bedcovers but can't, consider a visit to the toasty warm Loring Park Coffeehouse.

Complete with a fireplace and wide selection of soups and warm drinks, this caf/ hits the spot. Located at 1301 Harmon Place, the coffeehouse offers such seasonal goodies as warm apple cider with caramel and whipped cream, a coffee drink called "Autumn Delight" (which has allspice and cinnamon in it) and fresh-baked pumpkin bars.

More substantial fare is also available. Try a hearty pot roast soup (or one of the other daily soup selections) with a thick, freshly made sandwich. (The combo can run over $7, which might seem high for a coffee shop but is pretty good compared to many restaurant's soup-and-sandwich deals.)

The coffeehouse, located on the first floor of the Loring Park Apartments building, is a great convenience for local residents. (In addition to the ready-made offerings, residents in a pinch with last-minute dinner guests can also find a couple of gourmet cooking items like pastas, oils and vinegar.) The clientele also includes students and employees of small businesses and colleges in the area, according to owner Cynthia Spolyar.

Guilt-free coupon clipping

You've got to get your hands on a Blue Sky Guide, a book of coupons from environment-friendly Twin Cities businesses.

With over $5,000 in savings to be had at Downtown and nearby establishments -- including Caf/ Brenda (300 1st Ave. N.), Sapor (428 Washington Ave. N.), StoneArch Espresso and Tea House (21 SE 4th St.), Izzy's Ice Cream Caf/ (825 Nicollet Mall), Auriga (1930 Hennepin Ave. S.) and St. Martin's Table (on the West Bank, at 2001 Riverside Ave.) -- it won't be difficult to recover the guide's $20 cost.

This year's edition contains a Dining Guide to area restaurants that emphasize locally grown produce, sustainable seafood, and hormone-free dairy and meat products. There's also no shortage of manufacturer's coupons for organic products, which are usually hard to come by.

In addition to good food and dining deals, there are discounts aplenty from local theaters, health and beauty establishments, home and garden shops, etc.

For more information, or to order a copy, go to findbluesky.com. A portion of proceeds go towards local community programs and projects.

Palomino's dinner deal

Through Monday, Nov. 15, you can get a three-course meal deal that rings up at just $24.95 at Palomino, 825 Hennepin Ave. S. Add selected wines paired with each entr/e for an additional $19.95. Items on offer include full portions from the regular menu's appetizers (such as traditional bruschetta) and entrees (such as spit-roasted pork loin).

Note, however, that this special offer is only available in the evenings, after 6 p.m. -- after the lunch and happy-hour crowds have peaked.

Send food-related tips and Downtown restaurant news to Tammy Sproule Kaplan at tammysproule@yahoo.com.