Top 10 Things to Eat and Do Before Summer Ends

Back-to-school ads are blitzing televisions and newspapers, the Minnesota State Fair is a few weeks away and Vikings football is once again the talk of the town. It can only mean one thing: summer is almost over.

But don’t put away the sunscreen and picnic baskets yet; the best of the season has only just begun and there’s still plenty of time to enjoy them. To help you do just that, here is our list of the most delicious seasonal foods to eat and fun activities to do before our magnificent Minnesota summer comes to a close.

Top 10 Things to Eat and Do Before Summer Ends 

1. Sun-ripened tomatoes

What does summer taste like? Freshly picked tomatoes, from farmers’ markets or straight out of your own garden, come close to capturing the essence of the season. Colorful and sweet, the flavor of these late summer fruits is worth waiting through the long winter. For a classic caprese salad, try heirloom tomatoes from Abraham Bauman of Real Foods, topped with locally made mozzarella from Morning Star Farms in Cokato MN, fresh garden basil and olive oil.

2. Eat outdoors

The next time you think about going out to eat, then really go outside and eat! Whether it’s a restaurant rooftop patio or your backyard deck, a picnic table at the local park or a picnic blanket on soft grass, there’s no dining room that can compare to sitting beneath sunny skies or twinkling stars. Need ideas for an al fresco meal? Check out what Mill City Farmers’ Market growers and vendors suggest for packing a basket of delicious local food.

3. Minnesota-grown sweet corn

Bodacious. Ambrosia. Triple Sweet. Asian Sticky. If you thought that sweet corn were all the same, then you’re in for a treat. It’s now peak sweet corn season and at the Minneapolis Farmers’ Market, you can find sustainably and locally grown, chemical- and pesticide-free varieties like the above. Grilled, steamed or boiled, with husk or without, summer sweet corn dripping with melted Hope Creamery butter is the picture of local and seasonal food at it’s very best.

4. Seasonal ice cream and sorbet

How about some Sweet Corn ice cream? It’s a popular flavor in Asia, and the Minneapolis version -- Sonny's -- is now available at Crema Café. And Sonny's unusual sorbet offerings are made from seasonal fruits, herbs and even flowers, including summer-only specials such as an elegant Cucumber Pinot Grigio with Mint, herb-y Anise-Hyssop and the floral Shungiku, made with the leaves and petals of edible garland chrysanthemum. In St. Paul, don’t miss Salted Caramel ice cream from Izzy’s, made with organic ingredients, and many more flavorful scoops at other Twin Cities ice creameries. Sure, you can have ice cream year-round, but doesn’t it taste so much better on a steamy summer day?

5. Pick-your-own blueberries

From pies, cakes, jams and smoothies, the small blueberry proves to be a giant among summer fruits. Try a simple dessert parfait by layering blueberries, Very Prairie organic granola, plain Greek yogurt and a sprinkling of brown sugar. You can find plenty of blueberries at your favorite farmers’ market, but why not pick it yourself? Since 1987, Rush River Produce in Maiden Rock, Wisconsin, has been growing these juicy plump berries for the happy benefit of local blueberry lovers who make the trek to pick as much as they can carry. But you’ll have to hurry – the farm will be open for only a couple more weeks.


6. Open-air movie nights

High humidity is like a wet blanket on daytime outdoor activities, but instead of heading to an air-conditioned multiplex, watch free movies under cooler, starry skies. The Minneapolis Parks and Recreation Board presents Movies in the Park, with showings at various city parks. City Pages and Lund’s offers Four Nights in Loring: Local Bands, Local Films featuring a duo of music and movies at Loring Park every Tuesday night in August. For a crunchy showtime snack, popcorn is fine but granola is bliss. Try Bliss Granola, made with dried fruits, nuts, Ames honey and locally sourced oats, and available at Mill City Farmers’ Market and Local D’Lish.

7. Free concerts

Crickets and frogs are summer’s natural musicians, but more lovely notes can be heard at the many musical events throughout the Twin Cities metro. The Minneapolis Parks and Recreation Board offers concerts in four locations, including the Lake Harriet Bandshell. In St. Paul, the Music in the Parks series continues with August concerts being held at Como Lakeside Pavilion. Be sure to bring along that picnic basket for a tasty and tuneful meal by the lake.

8. See some art

If you enjoy strolling while enjoying the creative arts, then head to the 46thannual Uptown Art Fair, which opens this weekend. It is second only to the State Fair as Minnesota’s largest event and almost as crowded. Admiring beautiful artwork can work up an appetite, but rather than fight the crowds at the food vendors, take a seat at nearby Lucia’s, the critically acclaimed local foods restaurant where chef Lucia Watson offers a different menu each week featuring the freshest seasonal ingredients. 

9. Summer brews

Local breweries have made a name for themselves and, interestingly, some of the most well-known start with the letter "S" – Summit, Schell’s and Surly. Of course, summer also starts with an "S", and they’ve all released warm-weather editions of their beers. Don’t be put off by Surly’s seasonal special, Bitter Brewer, which has a pale orange hue and citrus-y notes. Made in the style of English Bitter (pale ale), it pairs deliciously with cheddar cheese – perfect for a late summer grilled cheeseburger made with Thousand Hills ground grass-fed beef and Pastureland’s aged cheddar

10. Simple, Good and Tasty’s Pig Roast and Potluck

Saving the best for last, this list wraps up with Simple, Good and Tasty’s Second Annual Pig Roast and Potluck, August 15, at Minnehaha Falls. The roasted porcine centerpiece comes from Hidden Stream Farm in Elgin, Minnesota, while Birchwood Café will provide refreshing lemonade. And the rest of the menu? Well, that’s up to you. How about a summer vegetable tian featuring heirloom tomatoes, a blueberry pie, or a corn, farro and goat cheese salad? Bring along your favorite chilled summer brews to complement the food, listen to some live acoustic music from Brad Senne and Ryan Lovan, and enjoy the company of fellow local food lovers in the beautiful outdoors.

Autumn may be peeking around the corner, but for a little while longer, it’s still summer; so revel in its simple pleasures now, before it's too late.


Tracey Paska is a frequent contributor to Simple, Good and Tasty who also writes about the complex, confusing and fascinating connections between food, culture, and society on her blog Tangled Noodle.