Our five faves of the moment.
1 In this summer of overheating, gazpacho has become our go-to refreshing meal. Most recipes for this cold vegetable soup tend to be tomato-based, but we've heard of green gazpacho (with honeydew melon, avocados and cucumbers). One of our favorites is served at Sea Salt in Minnehaha Park: a spicy red soup, garnished with slices of avocado, cukes and yellow squash, a green-onion swizzle stick and a side of crispy tortilla chips. Eat a bowl of gazpacho, and you've probably fulfilled your five servings of fruits and veggies for the day. seasalteatery.wordpress.com
2 "Ruby Sparks" is a curveball delight, the work of serious-minded jokers. It takes the premise of a hundred wish-fulfillment romantic comedies -- wounded, young, creative guy revitalized by pretty, effervescent kook -- and deconstructs it while delivering a smart, funny, challenging, dark but hopeful love story. The plot has "Twilight Zone" logic, but real-life couple Paul Dano and Zoe Kazan (who wrote the whip-smart script) pull it off with finesse, charm and energy.
3 Former Hsker D howler Bob Mould still did his old hometown proud with his other trio, Sugar, whose entire early-'90s catalog has been reissued by Merge Records. The breakthrough debut, "Copper Blue," is newly remastered and packaged with the scorching "Beaster" EP and some grade-A outtakes -- simply some of the best music of the Nirvana-led alt-rock era. Twin Cities fans will especially dig the deluxe edition of the second CD, "File Under: Easy Listening," which includes a bonus disc of a full-tilt 1994 concert at First Avenue.
4 When men go to war, women are left behind. In "City of Women," novelist David R. Gillham tells the story of a lonely stenographer in Berlin, living with her mother-in-law while her husband is off fighting the Russians. While Sigrid seems the perfect wife, her life is actually suffused with secrets. She has a Jewish lover, now missing. And she is quietly helping a neighbor in aiding Jews to avoid concentration camps. Gillham's debut novel is a meticulously researched and beautifully told love story -- and a remarkable look at life in Germany during World War II.
5 With the Broadway revamp of "American Idiot" and his upcoming stint on NBC's "The Voice," Billie Joe Armstrong has had his punk-rock cred tarnished to no end. He should silence some of his critics with Green Day's cranking new single, "Oh Love," a crunchy, vaguely Irish-punkified anthem. A meatier and meaner new track, "Let Yourself Go," is also all over the Web as a live video. Can't wait to hear the whole new album, "Uno!" -- and then the next two right after that (the band will be releasing three albums in three months, starting Sept. 25).