Shoppers who arrived early at Twin Cities farmers markets this past weekend were fortunate enough to snap up the very first locally raised strawberries of the season. Ambrosia, right?
Their appearance was also a harbinger of more warm-weather news, in the form of the 2012 U-pick season, which kicks off this week at a number of Minnesota and western Wisconsin farms.
Here's a list of 25 close-to-the-metro-area venues for strawberry self-starters. Call ahead -- or consult the farm's website -- before heading out.
Anoka: Berry Hill Farm, 6510 185th Av. N.W., 763-753-5891
Champlin: Bauer Berry Farm, 10830 French Lake Rd., 763-421-4384
Clear Lake: Grayson's Berryland, 6705 Country Rd. 8 SE., 1-320-743-3384
Delano: Apple Jack Orchards, 4875 37th St. SE., 763-972-6673
Elk River: Becks Elk River Greenhouse & Vegetable Farm, 15362 190th Av., 763-263-2631
Faribault: Straight River Farm, 3733 220th St. E., 1-507-334-2226
Forest Lake: The Berry Patch, 19221 Keystone Av. N., 651-433-3448
Hastings: Afton Apple Orchard, 14421 S. 90th St., 651-436-8385
Hastings: Sam Kedem Nursery Garden, 12414 191st St. E., 651-437-7516
Hastings: Wyatt's Strawberries, 10370 180 St. E., 651- 437-8479
Hinckley: Ben's Berry Farm, 34921 Two Rivers Rd., 1-320-384-7232
Above: A previous year's opening day draws a crowd to Sam's Produce in Arkansaw, Wis.
Lakeville: Applewood Orchard, 22702 Hamburg Av., 952-985-5425
Marine on St. Croix: Natura Farms, 19060 Manning Trail N., 651-433-5850
Monticello: The Strawberry Basket, 12591 Aetna Ave NE., 763-878-2875
Northfield: Lorences Berry Farm, 28625 Foliage Av., 1-507-645-9749
Northfield: Silkey Gardens, E. 115th St., 1-507-645-4158
Rochester: Firefly Berries, 5542 23rd St. NE., 1-507-252-1309
St. Joseph: A&G Produce, 10448 345 St., 1-320-290-0907
Shafer: Pleasant Valley Orchard, 17325 Pleasant Valley Rd., 651-257-9159
South Haven: Fairhaven Farm, 13835 51st Av., 1-320-236-7685
White Bear Lake: Pine Tree Apple Orchard, 450 Apple Orchard Rd., 651-429-8026
Above: The fruits of a few hours of picking.
Arkansaw: Sam's Produce, 7272 Cty. Rd. P, 1-715-285-5351
Eau Claire: Appledore Woods, W3865 Cty. Rd. HH, 1-715-834-5697
Glenwood City: Green Hill Farm, 3234 140th Av., 1-715-265-4004
Osceola: Demulling Farms, 466 240th St., 1-715-294-3742
UPDATED WITH PHOTOS.
It was a heady day for the crew of the Bachelor Farmer restaurant on Friday, as they prepared lunch for President Obama for a fundraiser. The meal was directed by chef Paul Berglund.
"It was a thrill and a tremendous honor to host the President in our restaurant. And we're incredibly proud of our entire team for the terrific job they did today," Eric Dayton and Andrew Dayton noted in a prepared statement. The lovely menu presentation was created by MCAD DesignWorks, the in-house design studio at the Minneapolis College of Art and Design.
Each of the staff was wearing a tie created for the event in a partnership between Askov Finlayson (sister store to the Bachelor Farmer) and Minnesota-based Pierrepont Hicks. The tie was also presented to President Obama as a gift. A handful of extra ties from the limited edition run will be for sale tomorrow (Saturday) at Askov Finlayson, 200 North First Street, Minneapolis (612-206-3925).
The chalkboard at the restaurant offered greetings.
President Obama offered good words about Gov. Mark Dayton, below, and Mayor R.T. Rybak, according to Robert Stephens, a guest at the luncheon.
Here's what the crowd of 100 had to eat:
A cocktail of juices: Sanbitter (a nonalcoholic, bitter orange Italian soda, similar to Campari), pressed OJ, white verju (slightly sour grape juice), seltzer, lemon
House-smoked pork breast, spiced pork rillettes (think pork spread), Dijon mustard, chives from the restaurant's rooftop garden
English pea and creme fraiche pureed soup, radish, Parmesan, mint
Salad of early summer vegetables and flowers, goat's milk cheese, pistachios, cider vinaigrette
Choice of Copper River sockeye salmon, sauce Choron, new potatoes, grilled asparagus, tarragon, or
roasted chicken, arugula-bread salad, chicken confit, pickled shallots (The restaurant can't comment on which entree the president chose.)
Assorted cookies for dessert.
Dayna Burtness of Laughing Loon farm in Northfield, who supplies the Bachelor Farmer, was thrilled that her spring mix of lettuces and spinach was used at the meal. She tweeted "And guess who grew his salad and has two thumbs? This girl!"
Indeed, she did. "Tell the president to stop by for an espresso," Janna said as she handed over the drinks.
Fire hit the Easy Bean Farm in Milan, Minn., on March 19. The farmers -- Malena Handeen and Mike Jacobs -- lost several outbuildings, including two greenhouses, and a tractor. The CSA farm has sold organic vegetable shares in the Twin Cities and southwest Minnesota since 1996.
A fundraiser to help them will be held on Sunday, April 22, from 3 to 8 p.m. at the Nomad World Pub, 501 Cedar Av. S., Minneapolis, 612-338-6424. Tickets are $10 ($30 per family) at the door.
Music will be from The Field of Medicine (Malena's band). Food is being provided by Chowgirls, Muddy Waters, GingerHop/Honey, Drew's Caramel Corn and Brian Crouch, with donations from Moonstone Farm, Thousand Hills Cattle Co. and Pabst.
Photos from the fire are posted on the Easy Bean Farm's Facebook page. Subscriptions to their CSA are still available. An account has been set up for donations at the Co-op Credit Union, 2407 Hwy. 7 East, PO Box 447, Montevideo, Minn. 56265.
Move over Andrew Zimmern. There’s another star in the neighborhood.
The Star Tribune is asking readers which 2011 image is their favorite photograph of the year (you can find the ballot here). The choices are a treasure trove, and I can't pick just one.
Instead, I'll play photo editor and offer my own.
My colleague Tom Wallace snapped it while we were visiting Khaiti and Andrew French's fascinating farm in western Wisconsin, where the couple raises several hundred Khaki Campbell ducks.
That's Khaiti -- note the duck tatoo on her left arm -- and some of the farm's gorgeously pearly, extraordinary-in-every-way eggs.
Find the story here.
And Happy New Year!
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