Is it summer or winter this Week in Food?

This week in food we're being pulled in two directions. On one hand you can take a foray into summer at Craftsman, which is hosting a Vin Maison Tasting Dinner to celebrate the popular summer aperitif; on the other, you can learn how to improve on your soups and stocks--a winter staple--at Kitchen Window. Go forth and pick your preferred season.

1/16 A taste of summer in the middle of January? That perked us up immediately. Craftsman Restaurant is offering a Vin Maison Tasting Dinner presented by chefs Ben Jacoby and Jerry Brownrigg. The meal takes its name from the vin maison apéritif, a drink made from fruit, wine, leaves, twigs, sugar, and booze. The Craftsman version has been slowly maturing since late summer and is now ready to pour. Lucky you! Six courses will be paired with various wines made from wild, foraged, and heirloom fruits, and the music of Dreamland Faces will accompany the meal. Dinner begins at 6 p.m., and Molly McNeil of Minnesota Peach Farms will be on hand to answer all your fruit-related questions. To nab a spot at this $65 dinner call 612.722.0175.

1/18 When pretending it's summer wears off, head to Kitchen Window to brush up on your best soup and stock skills. Chef Royal will teach students how to add depth of flavor and richness to their soups, sauces, and homemade stock (hint: making stock yourself is apparently not so hard). Learn how to turn simple ingredients into rich, flavorful stocks, and gather some great soup recipes along the way. You'll learn how to make four stocks that are essential for any home cook: chicken, vegetable, beef, and fish. Students will also get to use stocks in specific dishes, including using the beef stock to make a braised wine country beef stew; a roasted corn chowder with the fish stock; roasted buttercup squash soup with the veggie stock; and chicken wonton soup with the fish stock as well. The class runs from 6 to 9:30 p.m. and costs $70. To sign up visit the Kitchen Window website.

1/19 If the idea of co-op shopping frightens you to your very core, then we've got the class for you: Linden Hills Co-op will ease you into the shopping experience at its free class "How to Shop Co-op." You'll get an insider's look at how to shop the aisles of the Linden Hills Co-op, learn the mysteries of buying in bulk, and taste plenty of local products. In addition, you'll learn strategies for making the most of your food dollar while enjoying high-quality local, organic, and fairly traded food. What's to be afraid of? Sign up in advance for the class at the co-ops Customer Service Desk or call 612.922.1159.

Big Sky Brews come to St. Cloud
Big Sky Brews come to St. Cloud

1/21 A reason to trek to St. Cloud! Thursday is the St. Cloud Craft Beer Expo, where you can explore your interest (and thirst) for great craft brews. The list of participating breweries is extensive and includes Montana's Big Sky Brewing, California's Sierra Nevada Brewing Company, and local favorites like Flat Earth and the Herkimer Pub. The event runs 2-6 p.m. and takes place at St Cloud River's Edge Convention Center in the heart of the city. There are heaps of activities, events, and classes throughout the Expo, so explore! General admission is $30 and earns you a commemorative glass, the ability to taste lots of beer, and access to beer education classes. For more info or tickets visit the event's website.

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