Turn your haphazard summer dining style on its head and opt for one of this week's many multicourse dinners. Some honor stogies while others raise funds for a good cause, but all offer heaps of food made by top local chefs. Then cap your weekend off with a giant tomato fight. We kid you not.
7/26 Bust out your favorite stogie because the St. Paul Grill is hosting a five-course cigar dinner. The evening begins with a reception at 6 p.m. followed by dinner at 7, in which executive chef Adam Bartos pairs each course--which includes treats like oysters in the half shell, grilled lamb chops, and seared scallops--with a Scotch chosen by general manager Michael Lee. Cigars and cocktails will follow, weather permitting, in Rice Park. The cost is $100 per aficionado, and reservations can be made by calling 651.224.4555.
7/27 Beer and barbecue. It just makes sense. Which is why Summit founder Mark Stutrud is hosting a pairing dinner of his beer at Rudolph's in Minneapolis (can we call it a beer-becue?). The four-course meal includes Summit beers like the pilsener, IPA, Great Northern Porter, and Oatmeal Stout matching up with spicy Asian slaw, smoked barbecue chicken, and specially created Oatmeal Stout smores. There's also an "intermezzo" between the second and third courses where Summit Silver Anniversary Ale will be served. Dinner begins at 6 p.m. and costs $35 per person or $60 per couple. To reserve your place call 612.871.8969.
7/28 The Minnesota Landscape Arboretum's popular Toast and Taste in the Garden event has a "Fresh, Local & Green" theme this year. Attendees can take in the Arboretum's flower-filled grounds while sampling local cuisine from 25 top independent restaurants and sampling regional wines. Participating restaurants include powerhouses like Vincent, Strip Club, Cafe Maude, and Sen Yai-Sen Lek. This event, which benefits the Arboretum's gardens and programming, is $125 for pre-party patron reception at 6 p.m. or $75 for general admission from 7 p.m. For reservations call 612.625.9875.
7/30 Today local farms throw open their doors as part of the Eat Local Farm Tour. Get the chance to meet Minnesota farmers and tour the farms that provide you with sustainable eats all year round. The tour includes 11 Minnesota farms within a 100-mile radius of the Twin Cities, and all the tours are self-guided (you have to provide your own transport between farms, too). Farm hours will differ from location to location, so local co-ops are offering detailed guidebooks with hours and maps. Some of the farms participating in the tour include Thousand Hills in Cannon Falls, the Women's Environmental Institute in North Branch, Gardens of Eagan in Farmington, and Riverbend Farm in Delano.
7/31 We like everything about this one: the Midwest Tomato Festival lets you throw thousands of tomatoes at your friends (and strangers) while listening to DJ and refueling at a beer garden. Sounds made up, right? Wrong. For $30 in advance or $40 at the door you can get messy with the expected 200,000 tomatoes being tossed in honor of a long standing Spanish tradition. The festival hosts recommend you dress either in all white or a bathing suit for optimum sauceage. Doors open at 11:30 a.m., and the event runs until 7 p.m., with the tomato fight taking place around 2:30 p.m. For tickets to this Afton Alps event, click here.