We’re on week 8 of Operation Save Our Sanity: Winter 2016, and things are feeling downright upbeat thanks to the warm weather and sunshine lately. The way people are smiling at each other and walking with a bounce in their step, you’d think spring is right around the corner.
But we shall stay vigilant in our quest for sanity because we all know a cold snap could sneak up any day, plunging us back into winter (and despair). But not you. Because you’re making plans. You have things to look forward to and good food to eat.
Without further ado, here’s a partial listing of what should be on your culinary calendar for the next couple months.
This weekend: (Beer) Winterfest
Not to be confused with Rochester’s annual WinterFest or the St. Paul Winter Carnival, this Winterfest is hosted by the Minnesota Craft Breweries Guild, and not surprisingly the event gets bigger every year. It’s two evenings of craft beer sampling, along with catered food, beer education, and music. The 15th annual Winterfest is set for this weekend: Friday, Feb. 26, and Saturday, Feb. 27, from 7 p.m. to 10 p.m. each day at the Union Depot in St. Paul.
Even better, this year all of Rochester’s breweries and brewpubs are going to be pouring their beer up there. LTS Brewery, Forager Brewery, and Grand Rounds Brewpub will be serving their beers on Friday night, while Kinney Creek Brewery will be pouring on Saturday. Check it out: A two-night ticket is $135; a one-night ticket is $75.
Two weeks: Wine dinner
Make a reservation now for the next five-course wine dinner at one of the most sustainably and locally sourced restaurants in the area: mark down Rainbow Cafe (212 S. Main Street, Pine Island) for the evening of Thursday, March 10 at 6:30 p.m.
From a roasted shimp amuse buche to a lamb meatball with fried goat cheese, then rare grass-fed ribeye with manchego mac and cheese, finished with crema catalane (like creme brulee) and honey roasted pears? Heaven. Reserve on their website or by phone (507-356-2929), and do it now; these events have been selling out quickly for good reason.
Three-ish weeks: Eggs and beer
The very following week, on Tuesday, March 15, you might be double-booked. On one hand, Forager Brewery is hosting what I think is their first-ever beer dinner (it’s about time!), with unique dishes by Chef Jordan Bell thoughtfully paired with brews from head brewer Austin Jevne. On the other hand, ZZest Cafe and Bar is hosting its final chef “warzz” of the season from 5 p.m. to 10 p.m. We’ve gone through burgers, tacos, meatballs, and potatoes. The final war? A look to spring: Eggs.
The great news about this double-booking is that the ZZest egg warzz go for two nights — so it’s beer dinner on Tuesday, egg warzz on Wednesday, March 16. Perfect.
Five weeks: Cooking classes
Sign up for some upcoming offerings at People’s Food Co-op, including how to make Korean kimbop on March 29 from 6 p.m. to 8 p.m.; or introduction to fermentation on March 31.
Ten weeks: Collaborative dinner
Forager Brewing Company recently announced this event, set for April 28, which is hosted in conjunction with the Rochester Craft Beer Expo. Chef Bell’s five courses will be expertly paired with beers from Toppling Goliath, Fulton, and Surly Breweries, as well as Forager.
Even better? Buying a $63 ticket for the beer dinner will get you a great discount on a VIP ticket to the Rochester Craft Beer Expo, which will be held at the Civic Center on April 30.
Know what comes after April 30? May. And that is almost summer.