In June, we swoon—for so many reasons, though any self-respecting foodie will tell you that it’s all about the berries. The season kicks off with strawberries and just gets better from there: a bounty of blueberries, raspberries, blackberries and more. The trend in super foods has ushered in some exotic newbies: acai, dragon fruit and goji berries. So just in time for the season, we’ve tracked down the yummiest and most interesting berry incarnations around. Don’t let these precious summer months slip by without enjoying a bevy of them.
Plymouth Farmers’ Market
Minnesota explodes with neighborhood farmers’ markets, where we can support local farmers and pass an enjoyable hour while doing so. The sellers are many; berry bearers include Mau Family Produce and Untiedt’s Farm. Pick up a berry-riffic smoothie from Berry Blendz to slurp on your stroll among fruit and flowers. The market is open 2:30–6:30 p.m. Wednesdays June 18 through October 1, and hosts 20-plus vendors, all of them from within 50 miles of Plymouth. Plymouth Ice Arena parking lot, 3650 Plymouth Blvd; 763.509.5225.
BLUEBERRY CHEESECAKE ICE CREAM
Honey and Mackie’s
Honey and Mackie’s, named for the owners’ two young sons, charms the heck out of its strip mall location with old-fashioned, churned-onsite ice cream in a gazillion flavors, including ones that will flood any grandfather with nostalgia. Berries lend themselves quite handily to a deep freeze with cream and sugar; strawberry ice cream is beloved but ubiquitous; at Honey and Mackie’s, berries go fancy in get ups like blueberry cheesecake. Blueberries are a perfect foil for the tart, dense creaminess of cheesecake; in this ice cream, the outcome is something both decadent and light, sweet and sophisticated. And guess what—you can get some hand-packed into a pint container and delivered to your door. $6/pint. 16725 County Road 24; 763.225.6682.
SWEDISH PANCAKES WITH LINGONBERRIES
Original Pancake House
Minnesota’s early Swedish settlers have made quite a few culinary contributions, not the least of which is the lingonberry, a crimson jewel that’s sort of a cross between a red currant and a cranberry. Also called bear berry, cougar berry, fox berry, quail berry, beaver berry, partridge berry and cow berry, critters rely on them for cold-weather nourishment. The berries are packed with the important A-B-C vitamins and are used in folk medicine as a laxative, astringent, diuretic, antiseptic, antihemmorragic and a defense against scurvy. The sour fruit is often cooked with sugar and used in jams, syrups and compotes; at the Original Pancake House, lacy thin, crepe-like Swedish pancakes with lingonberries are a special delight, served with whipped butter and decorated with a dusting of powdered sugar. Three pancakes, $8.25. 75415 County Road 101; 952.475.9151.
DRAGONBERRY LEMONADE COCKTAIL
First it was pomegranate, then goji, then acai: Exotic super fruits keep hitting the scene, and we keep gobbling them up along with promises of untold vitamins and mysterious jungle nutrients. Bacardi smartly maximized its own super food, the exotic-looking dragon fruit, a sour, melon-like cactus from Asia purported to have medicinal properties. Why not add it to rum? The great mediator berry, the strawberry, jumps into the barrel to soften and sweeten, and the result is a luscious mélange of sweet-sour with a sultry floral undertone. Kobe adds lemonade to make a most refreshing and utterly pretty cocktail. Watch out, these lovely libations go down easy, and they pack a punch. Happy hour prices from 4 to 6 p.m. Sunday–Thursday. 15555 34th Ave. N.; 763.559.9999.
CRANBERRY SUMMER SAUSAGE
Lunds and Byerly’s
You might think of cranberries as a winter thing, only appropriate for the holidays. But Minnesota grows them, and we ought to appreciate their gifts year round. Astringent, brilliant red and unmistakable, the cranberry is sassy enough to stand up to the brawn of beef, and it adds wonders to Lunds’ house-made summer sausage. Its tartness is a striking counterpart to robust spices such as mustard seed, garlic and black pepper. This sausage is a glorious centerpiece to any picnic: Just add a loaf of bread and a jug of wine. $8.99/16 oz. 3455 Vicksburg Lane; 763.268.1624.
WHITE CHOCOLATE RASPBERRY CREAM TORTE
Truffles and Tortes
We count on Truffles and Tortes for treats in every hue, and the company’s berry creations shine. The white chocolate raspberry cream torte is a symphony of raspberry. Three layers of delicious white cake filled with raspberry cream are gilded with a luscious white chocolate cream, finished with elegant white chocolate curls and garnished with fresh raspberries. $24.95 for a six-inch cake, $34.95 for an eight-inch cake. 72 Nathan Lane N.; 763.512.0944.
ROASTED PEAR AND CHICKEN SALAD
Doolittle’s Woodfire Grill
Let us not forget the profound influence of California cuisine during the 1980s, which used fruits and vegetables in new ways and granted us the miracle of raspberry vinaigrette, now a staple in salad land. At Doolittle’s, the dressing is made with care and combined with good ingredients, and the result is as delicious as ever. The salad is as gorgeous as an impressionist’s canvas: golden roasted pear, glowing gems of fresh raspberries, spiced walnuts, blue cheese, mixed hues of greens and the final flourish, raspberry vinaigrette, binding it all together with a wonderfully tart sweetness. Oh yeah, there’s chicken in this dish, too: tender breast meat full of lean protein. $11.95. 550 Winnetka Ave. N., Golden Valley; 763.542.1931.
SEASONAL CHOCOLATE BERRY TRUFFLES
Painted Turtle Chocolatier
There are truffles in heaven, this we know. Mouthfuls of rich, dark ganache commingle with berry flavors to divine effect. Painted Turtle selects the tastiest fruits for these pretty bon bons. One of the most intriguing is cassis, or black currant, familiar to us from the sweet French cordial, crème de cassis. A popular flavoring in Europe, cassis is a little plummy, a little grapey and a tad puckery. Robed in dark chocolate and stamped with a daisy pattern, the cassis truffle is irresistible. Put together a berry truffle quartet with a white-chocolate covered cranberry, a pink-striped milk chocolate raspberry and a strawberry truffle sculpted and “painted” to look just like a chocolate-dipped berry. $11.95/box of four. 10100 Sixth Ave. N.; 763.550.9475.
BERRY GREEK FROZEN YOGURT
Cherryberry Yogurt Bar
The very name of this self-serve fro-yo joint promises a frenzy of berries, but how to choose? Toppings include blueberry, blackberry, raspberry, strawberry, oh my! As for the yogurt, select from non-fat, low-fat, dairy-free, sugar-free and Greek. We love the thick tang of Greek yogurt and the idea of a multi-berry infusion. If you don’t think you like Greek yogurt, try this one: Cherryberry claims to “take the eek out of Greek,” and it has 30 percent more protein, gut-friendly active live cultures, fewer carbs and less sugar—a more sophisticated take for the grownups among us. Help yourself to a swirl of the creamy yogurt, then add more berries from the dazzling array of toppings: fresh-cut strawberries, blackberries and raspberries. Kiwis are a berry, too—better include some of those. How about a chocolate accent? Nuts? Some whipped topping? Don’t get too outrageous with your creation; you pay by weight, and it adds up quickly. 46 cents/oz. 3500 Vicksburg Lane N.; 763.559.9736.