Open Arms of Minnesota – Harvest Pop-up Dinner…

Last night, my husband and I had the opportunity to attend the Harvest Pop-up Dinner, hosted by Open Arms of Minnesota, a nonprofit that cooks and delivers free, nutritious meals to people living with life-threatening illnesses in the Twin Cities.  Each year, they “host intimate, multi-course feasts prepared by our talented chefs. For one night at a time, our beautiful facility in South Minneapolis transforms into an ephemeral communal dining experience, where you’ll savor an inventive meal and meet others passionate about great food.”  And a feast it truly was!

I didn’t know much about Open Arms prior to last night; my husband has done some consulting work with them, via his position within the Minneapolis Public School system. I quickly learned that they are doing incredible work in our community, and have been since 1986!  When I was a kid, I used to volunteer with my Grandmother, delivering Meals-on-Wheels to people in my community.  That work has left a life-long impression on me…something I have wanted to do again.  I am so excited about what Open Arms offers for volunteer opportunities and look forward to getting it on my calendar soon!

Okay, let’s talk about the food!

The volunteer Servers passed hors d’ oeuvre’s and this was truly my favorite thing of the night…stuffed Squash Blossoms with Poblano Crema! I literally could have eaten an entire plate of them!

Turnip & Cherve on Everything crackers (which I believe were made in-house!)

They also have a cocktail sponsor for each event and this year it’s Du Nord Craft Spirits. This delightful drink was called the “Wealthy Apple” and will definitely be on my Fall cocktail menu!

Thanksgiving tip…”garnish with drunken Cranberries”…yes please!

Once seated, we were served our Amuse-bouche, which was this velvety smooth, beautiful Carrot-Ginger soup, with Chive & Truffle Popcorn garnish. I have long been a fan of Carrot-Ginger soup, since we made it for our first course back when I was a member of the Hospitality Management Club at Normandale Community College and we hosted our first fundraising event.  That soup haunts me to this day…

Did I mention there were wine pairings throughout the meal?  This Chateau Graville-Lacoste Blanc was served just before our next course and was a wonderful Summer wine that paired beautifully with my Scallops!

Our first Entree was Scallops (look at that sear!) served on a Leek Purée (wish I knew how they made that!) and had just enough house-made Kimchi and pickled Radish to give it a nice little kick.  The Scallops were cooked perfectly, something difficult to do for a crowd! They melted in your mouth…bravo to the Chefs who served that course!

Look at this GORGEOUS bowl! This was our Intermezzo…Yogurt with a Beet swirl and Mint. It also had some little herb flowers and a few pops of Ground Cherries that added to the freshness of this dish.

Next wine pairing, G.D. Vajra Langhe Rosso which came just before our Second Entree.

The Chef described this Citrus & Maple Smoked Quail as “tiny Chickens” and tiny they are! I am usually one of the first ones to grab a Chicken leg when My husband bakes one up for us, and to hold that tiny Quail leg while attempting to eat the meat from it, was definitely an entertaining part of the night!

All good things must come to an end…and although my stomach was ready to be done, my mouth was not!  This Lemon Verbena Tres Leches Cake with fresh berries was paired with a Whispering Angel Rosé, and was a delicious end to a fantastic meal!

Not pictured, the beautiful bread selection at each table, and the fun “goodie” bags they sent us home with, that contained a jar of Dilly Beans! One of my favorite things to include in a Bloody Mary! Open Arms actually has five of their own farms (Open Farms), where they grow vegetables and herbs for their kitchen and offer a CSA program as well.  Learn more about all of that HERE.

Next month, September 27-28, 2019, Open Arms is hosting their annual Cook-a-Thon, where they will attempt to make 12,000 meals in 24 hours.  Teams of six will spend two hours cooking in the kitchen, preparing and packaging nutritious food for Open Arms of Minnesota’s clients living with life-threatening illnesses in the Twin Cities.

Every member of each team will be asked to raise at least $150 to support their work, resulting in at least $900 raised from each team to support nourishing meals for neighbors in need.

This event will put the Open Arms’ kitchen at least a week ahead of production before the end of the year and add significant capacity to their efforts to provide nutritious, delicious food to more than 1,000 people in the community, each week!  To learn more about how to apply to get these meals, go HERE.  I think this sounds SO fun…who wants to form a team with me?!

It was a wonderful event and I look forward to the opportunity of volunteering and attending another Pop-up dinner!  I hope you’ll take a minute to visit their website and consider donating time and/or financially to their amazing work!

Cheers, Shawn

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