Winter Culinary & Wine Experience invites foodies for a weekend getaway

Categories: Events, Road Trip

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Grand View Lodge
This weekend Grand View Lodge hosts it's first Winter Culinary & Wine Experience

Looking for a last minute winter weekend getaway? On January 25-27, the Grand View Lodge (in Nisswa, just north of Brainerd) will be hosting it's first Winter Culinary & Wine Experience. The event will feature a slew of wine and culinary professionals from around the state offering their expertise in the form of various demonstrations and seminars focused around food and wine.

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Smalley's Caribbean Barbeque on 'funniest episode ever' of 'Diners, Drive-ins and Dives'

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Smalley's viewing party starts Monday at 7 p.m.
Last December, the temperamental host of the Food Network's Diners, Drive-ins and Dives, Guy Fieri, and his crew rolled through Minnesota filming new episodes of their show. One of their stops was Smalley's Caribbean Barbeque and Pirate Bar in Stillwater. That episode will be airing for the first time on Monday at 9 p.m., and Smalley's is planning a viewing party for the celebrate its national TV debut, which owner Shawn Smalley was told features one of the most hilarious scenes the film crew had ever witnessed.

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Tutti Frutti now serving frozen yogurt in Maple Grove

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A new fro-yo store comes to the Twin Cities
Frozen yogurt with self-serve toppings? Driving 25 miles to Maple Grove was certainly not out of the question for me to check out this phenomenon. Tutti Frutti has stores in several other states, but this seems to be the only store in the Twin Cities.

Here's what we found:

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Dock Cafe in Stillwater: Fine food at reasonable prices

Categories: Road Trip

​Take a drive right to the border on the edge of the St. Croix, and you'll find Dock Cafe, a beautiful Stillwater staple. Although it's too early in the year to appreciate the fine view of the river while dining on the patio or glancing through the large row of panoramic glass windows, you can enjoy tasty food in a contemporary setting year-round.
We ventured to Stillwater recently, and here's what we found.

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Val's Rapid Serve in St. Cloud: a burger joint with retro flair

Yael Grauer
Val's Rapid Serve: Blink and you'll miss it!
Located off of Highway 10 in St. Cloud, Val's Rapid Serve is certainly not much to look at. Blink and you'll miss it, and don't plan to dine in. You'll be waiting for your order in a teeny tiny room that looks like any other hole-in-the-wall.

Val's Rapid Serve is fast-food takeout with an old-fashioned flair. Val Henning opened the restaurant in 1959 and sold it to his sons Bill and Dave Henning in 1979. The burger joint likely hasn't changed much since then.

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San Pedro Cafe offers Caribbean food in Hudson

Categories: Food, Road Trip

Yael Grauer
A taste of the Caribbean: Yucatan pork stew with potatoes, onions, tomatoes, and peppers.
San Pedro Café is a Caribbean-themed restaurant in charming Hudson, Wisconsin--about a half-hour drive from Minneapolis. Named after the town of San Pedro, on an Island off of Belize's mainland, the restaurant's Caribbean flair extends to the bright and colorful décor. There's a 100-gallon aquarium with marine fish and reef and tables made from jobilla, a tropical hardwood from Belize. Each table has rainbow-colored salt shakers and Marie Sharps hot sauce, which is made in Belize. And there's a wood-fired brick oven, used to prepare foods ranging from mildly to fiercely spiced. San Pedro also offers a nice selection of drinks, including margarita mix made daily with freshly squeezed limes.

When the weather starts to chill, the food at this out-of-the-way cafe can bring a bit of tropical sunshine to Minnesotans. Here's what we found on a recent visit:

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The Nova Wine Bar: A romantic getaway in Hudson

Categories: Food, Road Trip

The Nova Wine Bar
Nova's impressive display of wine
Located in quaint downtown Hudson, Wisconsin, The Nova welcomes guests with a cozy and intimate atmosphere. A flickering fireplace and the collection of Tiffany lamps give the setting a warm glow. Tucked away on the hillside overlooking the St. Croix River, the Nova is a quick 30-minute drive east on I-94. When we arrived we found that, much to our delight, the menu was suited to the season and left us to make some tough decisions.

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Clearwater Beer Festival in Altoona, Wisconsin: An easy beer road trip

Categories: Beer, Road Trip

Clearwater Beer Festival offers an alternative to sold-out local fests
Didn't get tickets to tomorrow's Surlyfest? Missed out on Summit's silver anniversary tickets too? Maybe you're just looking to get out of town. Well, beer fans, don't despair. Eau Claire, Wisconsin, has a beer festival opportunity just for you. The 12th annual Clearwater Beer Festival is happening this Saturday across the St. Croix in our neighbor to the east. It looks to be a more intimate event than either of the offerings at home. Go for the day or make a weekend of it. Northwestern Wisconsin is nice this time of year.

Here are the details.

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A to Z's farm-raised pizza lures urbanites to the country

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Who in their right mind would drive 90 miles for a pizza? The expense! The time! The carbon emissions! There's probably a pizza joint two blocks from your house! And yet, right-minded people seem willing to drive to Stockholm, Wisconsin, from all over the Midwest, just to have a pizza at A to Z Produce and Bakery. What is so all-fired special about this place?

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Schmeckfest: South Dakota's Mennonite "dinner theater"

Categories: Road Trip
Photos by Nikki Miller
German kuchen
The scene is a community center basement in rural South Dakota. Your ticket in hand, you wait in line as one after another, satiated women and very pregnant-looking men, suspenders stretched over their stuffed bellies, exit the dining room, freeing up space for you and your party to sit at one of its many long white benches. You're finally seated next to families you've never met, brushing elbows with strangers as you're served nudel suppe, danpfleisch, kase mit knopfle, and kuchen. As you pass the geschmacke and sauerkraut, a man who grew up in a local Russian Mennonite colony compares his Low German dialect with the High German spoken by the man next to him, who likely learned his own dialect from parents emigrated to the farmlands of South Dakota from Germany. Pass the kaffe, bitte and danke.

To a food enthusiast traveling from the city, Schmeckfest is a Brave New (Old) World, to be sure.

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