Pillsbury Bake-Off is back, but details are few

The iconic Pillsbury Bake-Off is returning after a three-year layoff, but details are few. Sponsor General Mills, which acquired Pillsbury in 2001, said on its website, pillsbury.com/bake-off-contest, that rules and prize package details won’t be released until Oct. 1. Enthusiasts are filling that information vacuum, speculating that seeking recipes and “the heartfelt, funny, crazy, family stories behind them!” sounds like a contest with a stronger social media aspect than before. Some worry that the move to “re-imagine” the contest with Food Network, along with word that “the winner will be announced February 2018,” means that the online fan voting allowed a few years ago will continue, shifting the judging from knowledgeable experts to, well, anyone. The top prize, once $1 million, now is described as “an experience that money can’t buy.”

It’s a different world, of course, from the first Bake-Off in 1949. The pace of life has changed, along with people’s tastes. The buzz generated by 100 contestants gathered in a room to make their recipes on deadline may no longer work, despite the popularity of “The Great British Baking Show” and others. We’ll know more on Oct. 1. Until then, just know that the Bake-Off is back. In some form.

Festival helps the bees

Polli*NATION is an art and music festival to help protect Minnesota’s bees, butterflies and other pollinators, sponsored by the Pollinator Friendly Alliance at ­pollinatorfriendly.org. The event is from noon-6 p.m. Sept. 10 at Kissing Birch Farm, 10020 Norell Av. N., Stillwater. Popular food trucks such as Red Table Meat Co., Baker’s Field Organic Flour & Bread, Finnegan’s Brew, Sociable Cider and more join tastings from honey purveyors Bare Honey, Bone Lake Meadow Honey and Bolton Bees. Tickets are at ­pollination.bpt.me.

Taste of the NFL warms up

Taste of the NFL’s long standing Party With a Purpose, dedicated to hunger relief, will be held the night before the Super Bowl, Feb. 3, in Minneapolis. But it’s building the buzz with two upcoming events to benefit Second Harvest Heartland. On Sept. 10, football notables will join chef Thomas Boemer at his Corner Table for a spread of gourmet gameday dishes and wine tasting. Tickets are available through Eventbrite (search “party with a purpose”). On Sept. 11, the first game of the Vikings’ season, there’ll be a three-course luncheon at Mission American Kitchen and Bar in Minneapolis with more top chefs and Vikings alums. For reservations, call 612-339-1000.

New restaurant guide highlights the unexpected

The term “unique” is tricky. Technically, it means one and only, and few things are. But it remains an enticing word, and aptly describes many of the restaurants in a new guide, “Unique Eats and Eateries of the Twin Cities” by Terri Peterson Smith and published by Reedy Press. Consider St. Paul’s Babani’s Kurdish Restaurant, the only such restaurant here, which claims it was the first Kurdish restaurant in the U.S. when it opened in 1997. Landmarks such as Al’s Breakfast and Mickey’s Dinner may fit the definition, but the fine dining of the Kenwood, Lexington or Commodore, not so much. But we quibble. Smith, a longtime food and travel writer, has assembled an impressively up-to-date guide that mixes popular destinations with lesser-known spots whose devoted clientele should deservedly grow. From Thai and vegan to Somali and Ecuadorean, this guide is a great resource for adventurous appetites.