Slow Food fetes writers

Slow Food Minnesota is hosting an evening of readings and food at 4 p.m. Oct. 21 at Lauderdale City Hall, 1891 Walnut St., Lauderdale (just north of W. Larpenteur Avenue and east of Hwy. 280). Guest authors Tricia Cornell, Atina Diffley and Beth Dooley will read from their books. Attendees are asked to bring a dish for the potluck, which will be held between the second and third author presentations. Slow Food also will provide a dish related to each book, and coffee and tea. Tickets are $10 for members of Slow Food and $15 for nonmembers. Ages 12 and under get in free. Reservations and more information:

Films and food

The Twin Cities Film Fest, opening Friday, will highlight hunger -- and some food events. On Oct. 18, from 6 to 9 p.m., Bradstreet Craftshouse in Minneapolis hosts a 30-minute cooking competition, Cook Your Pantry Off!, pitting Food Network chef Rob Bleifer against three local top chefs who will prepare entrees using at least four of six surprise ingredients. There will be hors d'oeuvres and wine, with a buffet dinner to follow. From 6 to 7:30 p.m. Oct. 19 at the DoubleTree Motel in St. Louis Park, you can sample Entwine!, the film fest's official wine, along with food at "tasting stations" also featuring Bleifer. For tickets, www.twincitiesfilmfest .org. Ticket prices vary. Proceeds benefit Second Harvest Heartland, Emergency Food Shelf Network and STEP SLP.

A pumpkin gap in latte land

The Wall Street Journal reports that supplies of Starbucks' incredibly popular pumpkin spice latte have been spotty, causing some of its cultish sippers some seasonal angst. Demand for the drink has drained supplies of the special sauce that gives the treat its spicy, squashy flavor. Starbucks Corp. officials told WSJ that the shortage isn't widespread, although "they acknowledge shortages at some stores due to infrequent deliveries." Packets of Starbucks instant pumpkin latte mix, about $8 for six servings, are selling on eBay for more than twice that. Want to make your own? Here's a link:

Cake craftmanship

Frosting and fondant aficionados will want to get their eyeballs over to the Mall of America rotunda Sunday for the sixth annual Ultimate Cake Decorating Competition, in which professional cake decorators from the Upper Midwest Bakers Association compete for the $500 championship. Eleven decorators will compete in the "My Extreme Halloween" birthday category at 11 a.m., and eight teams of decorators will strive to create the perfect cake for bride and groom, from 1 to 4 p.m. The birthday competitors have 90 minutes to decorate a cake and 24 matching cupcakes, while the wedding competitors must complete a five-tier or larger wedding cake in less than three hours. It's free.