For The Week: Wine, cocktail, and food ideas for this warm weekend

BMTN food writer Lindsay Guentzel has a host of local food and drink suggestions for a warm Easter, and the end of Passover.
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apple crisp french toast 3

Happy first day of April! The sun is shining, the birds are chirping and while the temperatures are much lower than any of us would like, they will get better. Like this weekend!

An absolutely beautiful forecast for a busy holiday weekend – with both Easter and the end of Passover falling this Sunday. 

People will be busy this weekend. Restaurants will be busy with people dining out, taking advantage of open patios and rooftops and to-go bags will be rushing out the door as businesses cater to those not ready to leave home yet. Families will gather at home, both indoors and outdoors, in small and large groups. And traditions of years past will be traded in for quiet mornings at home with immediate family only. Regardless of what you have planned this weekend, Amy and I have tips, tricks and recipes to make your weekend that much more special. 

For The Week Focus: Local! Local! Local!

This week’s edition of For The Week focuses on all the things you might be considering ahead of this weekend’s festivities. Sommelier Amy Waller joined me last night for an Instagram Live to offer up her amazing suggestions, both for wine and cocktails but also amazing takeout options being offered up by Twin Cities restaurants.

Amy has worked at some of the Twin Cities’ most well-known hot spots, most recently The Bachelor Farmer where she was the restaurant’s wine director prior to its closure last year. She is currently at France44 in Minneapolis where she is the group sales manager and one of the educators you might meet during one of their classes or special events.

[Last night’s Instagram Live was the first of many conversations Amy and I will be having about food and wine on Bring Me The News’ account in the coming months. We are already working on ideas for our next event and hope you’ll join us. Follow Amy and me to stay up-to-date on our latest projects! ]

In recent months, I have been working to share more Bring Me The News stories on its Instagram page. If you aren’t following us yet (@BringMN), we would love for you to follow us and help us build our brand with Minnesota Instagram users and readers. 

Wine Recommendations For This Weekend’s Warm Weather

wine recommendations

If you’re planning brunch this weekend, here are a couple of tips Amy likes to stick to: find something fruity, light, easy to drink and make sure it is lower in alcohol.

Alcohol content in wine can range drastically and is something you might forget to think about before hanging off that heavy pour to Grandma. 

Here are three of Amy’s picks for this weekend, all available at France44 (prices are listed below).

NV Flora Prosecco from the Veneto region of Italy - $15.99

  • Fresh, fruity, fizzy. Not fussy.
  • Perfect for a celebration or brunch -- on its own or in a mimosa. Or serve it as an aperitif!
  • Notes of green apple, honeysuckle and lemon.

2019 Dönnhoff ‘Estate’ Riesling from the Nahe region of Germany - $27.99

  • The ultimate food pairing wine. Works with salty ham, breakfast dishes, poultry, hard cheese, charcuterie.
  • People think Rieslings are overly sweet. Most German Rieslings are dry. Look for the word Trocken on the label (means dry).
  • German Riesling comes in a wide range of styles.
  • This one has a kiss of sweetness on the finish and tons of beautiful fruit (stone fruit, lemon, apple). Ends with a mineral finish.

2020 Jolie-Laide Rosé of Gamay from El Dorado, California - $25.99

  • Dominated by juicy red fruits (think Starburst strawberry candy). This wine is brilliant on it’s own but really shines with food. It’s incredible with everything off the grill (burgers, sausage, chicken, ribs) and still plays well with more traditional holiday food like ham and potatoes. Of course, I love this with cheese and charcuterie too. I’d pick up a duck prosciutto and a triple cream like Brillat Savarin from the France44 Cheese Shop to go with it.
  • Also perfect with sunshine (wear your sunscreen).

The Perfect Dish For Brunch At Home

This easy and delicious recipe combines my favorite brunch foods — French Toast & monkey bread — with one of my favorite desserts — apple crisp. The recipe is written to be gluten-free but can easily be made with whatever bread you have on hand. If you are gluten-free, check out Trader Joe’s for a variety of gluten-free bread options that won’t break the bank. 

Essentially, you’ll be building each part of the recipe separately — the French Toast, the apples & the oatmeal crisp. Then you’ll layer the different components in the baking dish to combine the wonderful sweet flavor together. Top it all off with the necessary crunch from the oatmeal crisp and you have the perfect recipe to kick off your next brunch at home.

My final advice? Round out the meal with extra crispy bacon, fresh fruit and a mimosa cocktail and be sure to leave room after the meal for a nice, comfy early afternoon nap. Looking to make things even easier? Put together the Apple Crisp French Toast the night before, leaving off the oatmeal crumble until you are ready to bake it in the morning. Unbaked oatmeal and butter left in the fridge overnight will get soggy and you want that oatmeal to add the perfect crunch to the dish. 

Find the recipe here.

Local Takeout Options

Heather’s Minneapolis

Heather’s Minneapolis is offering an extensive Easter to-go menu that’s available to order until Friday at 1pm for pick-up on both Saturday and Sunday. Highlights? A spring frittata with asparagus, leek, & gruyere, a lamb stew served with pappardelle noodles and a beautiful list of sweets featuring a carrot cake loaf and a white chocolate coconut cream pie.

Heather’s Minneapolis does have an enclosed patio out back that they are taking reservations for, if you are looking to dine out this weekend

Animales BBQ 

Animales BBQ in Northeast Minneapolis is whipping up a pastrami pork shoulder meal served hot from smoker Sunday from 11am to 3pm through pre-order. Served with braided brioches, house pickles and their famous mustard-butter BBQ sauce, the meal pre-order meal is the perfect ‘do not work’ barbecue for this weekend’s weather. 

Sift Gluten-Free Bakery

If you have anyone gluten-free in your life, Sift Gluten-Free in Minneapolis is a place to get acquainted with. If baking is a science, gluten-free baking is astrophysics. That’s why we are so lucky to have an amazing gluten-free establishment in our community. Their items are amazing! Their Easter orders have already closed but they do take special orders with 72 hours notice and will be open both Saturday and Sunday this weekend with their normal bakery cases.
[I had a carrot cake with vegan cream cheese frosting from Sift for my birthday a few weeks ago and it was magical!]

Kitchen & Bakery

With two west metro locations (St. Louis Park & Minnetonka), yum! Kitchen & Bakery is offering both a Passover and Easter menu this week. Traditional Passover items like chopped liver and matzah ball soup pair well with popover sandwiches and coconut macaroons. For Easter, they are offering up a beautiful array of baked goods including carrot cake cupcakes, caramel pull-aparts and their infamous chocolate Patticake. 

An Easter Brunch Cocktail

The French 75 is one of my favorite cocktails to order and I’ve missed it over the last year. So I asked Amy to walk me through making one at home. Just in time for this weekend’s celebration.

Named after the 75 millimeter field gun that was utilized by the French during World War I, the French 75 mixes gin, Champagne, lemon juice and sugar. Not only is it easy to make but it’s fresh and bright, the perfect combination for a warm spring weekend. 

When looking for the perfect gin for a French 75, Amy recommends staying away from a gin that has a heavy pine taste to it. Instead, look for a citrus-forward or juniper-heavy gin. Or just look for a well-balanced, neutral gin. 

gin recommendation

Local option? Crooked Water Sundog Citrus Forward Gin (available at France44 for $34.99)

The French 75 Recipe

  • 2 oz. gin
  • ½ oz. lemon juice
  • ½ oz. simple syrup
  • Sparkling wine or Champagne

Fill cocktail shaker or pint glass with ice. Add 2 ounces of your favorite gin.
Add ½ oz. lemon juice and ½ oz. simple syrup.
Shake well.
Strain into wine glass or flute.
Top with sparkling wine of your choice.
Garnish with lemon coin.

Have a question? Want to share your own kitchen success story? Email me directly at or connect with me on social media @lindsayguentzel. 

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