Istanbul, Minnesota

Few would describe south Minneapolis as an exotic destination, which may be the point of the upcoming Istanbul Night dreamed up by Cafe Maude and its kindred private dining venue, the Armatage Room at 54th St. and Penn Av. S. Kevin Sheehy, who owns both places, is a veteran traveler to Istanbul for his importing business. On his most recent trip, he was joined by Cafe Maude's head chef, Aaron Slavicek; musician Patrick Harison, and cocktail mixologist Johnny Michaels, who returned with the idea for a Turkish feast at 7 p.m. July 17. With food by Slavicek, music by Harison and conversation led by Sheehy, you just might think you're near the Black Sea instead of Lake Harriet. Cost is $80 for dinner, wine, beer, tea, coffee, tax and service. Seating is limited to 40. For reservations, call Ruth Beland at 612-849-6787 or send e-mail to

An apple a day

Here's some good news for devotees of the HoneyCrisp apple who wait months for the harvest, yet know that their joy will be fleeting. Pepin Heights Orchard Inc. in Lake City, Minn., the nation's top grower and distributor of HoneyCrisps, has introduced HoneyBites, dried HoneyCrisp apple slices to eat year-round. The label says it all. "Ingredients: Apples." No preservatives or artificial color here. The distinctive tart/sweet flavor comes through, and although the trademark "Explosively Crisp" slogan must necessarily go by the wayside, the intensified taste of the dried product surpasses many of the bland shriveled rings in stores. HoneyBites are at Lunds, Byerly's and Festival Foods stores, with a 4-ounce, three-serving pack selling for about $3.99.

For serious beef lovers

Grass-fed beef is becoming more available in steaks and roasts, but for those with the long view (and a deep freezer) the Grass Fed Cattle Co. offers whole, halves or quarters of cattle, or 60-pound sampler packs, ordered online and available for pickup at 50th and France in Edina. The company is a cooperative of regional family farmers who specialize in raising 100 percent grass-fed, free-range cattle with no added hormones or antibiotics.

Marcus and Abby Andrusko, who direct the Boundary Waters Experience camp ministry, got the idea after realizing that grain-fed beef no longer tasted good to them. They also have strong beliefs about the ethical treatment of animals, the environment and consumer health. A quarter of beef weighs about 120 pounds and costs $770. Broken down, the company says that works out to slightly less than $15 a week, based on a person eating about 1.4 pounds a week over a year's time. There's also a three-installment pay plan. There's plenty more information on the company's website,

Master your grill

With a freezer full of beef, the next step is to tune in to BBQ guru Steven Raichlen's new TV barbecue series on PBS, airing at 10 a.m. each Saturday through August on tpt2. "Primal Grill" is a 13-part series that began in June and features Raichlen, a familiar TV presence and author of the award-winning "The Barbecue! Bible" and "How to Grill," both from Workman Publishing.