It’s the time of the season for eating

These local hotspots do seasonal food right.

People eat inside of Spoonriver across the street from the Guthrie Theater on Wednesday afternoon.

Jason Kopp

People eat inside of Spoonriver across the street from the Guthrie Theater on Wednesday afternoon.

by Sally Hedberg

As human beings on the planet Earth, our basic needs are simple: a place to sleep, clothing, sustenance and water. But, just beyond the realm of necessity lies something that truly directs the motivations of humankind: desire. It takes on a multiplicity of forms. ItâÄôs the perfect pair of shoes that you canâÄôt afford; itâÄôs a ticket to a sold out show, itâÄôs astronaut Mike Dexter and itâÄôs a steaming plate of delicious food.

While at times âÄî mainly after 2 a.m. âÄî Mesa may indeed provide for a gratifying culinary experience, âÄòtis the season for more wholesome cuisine. So, if youâÄôre feeling hungry for change, A&E has the dish on the dishes.

Seasonal foods are easy enoughto understand. As the climate of our planet changes, so do the crops that thrive during different parts of the year.

âÄúSeasonal means when things become ripe or ready to harvest,âÄù Minnesota Monthly Food editor and author Dara Moskowitz Grumdahl said. âÄúThere has to be an appropriateness to the season. For winter this means things like pumpkin, cabbages, squash, potatoes and wheat berries.âÄù

To experience these seasonal ingredients in a formal dining environment, the Twin Cities is definitely the right place to be. LuciaâÄôs in Uptown is a sure choice. Though the price point on an entrée and a glass of Syrah Grenache may be steep for a penny-pinched student, your mouth will be grateful if you surrender to Epicurean desire and splurge. The slow-roasted duck with hazelnut sauce, squash pancakes and brussel sprouts provide a satisfying introduction to seasonal tastes.

 Vegetarians and foodies alike were cast down in 2009 when chef Brenda Langton closed her downtown eatery, Café Brenda, after 23 years, taking with it the royalty of veggie burgers: the Brenda Burger. Luckily, her other culinary endeavor, Spoonriver, is just as inspired and veg-friendly. You can still even order a Brenda Burger. The riverside restaurant also boasts some great seasonal dishes, complete with characteristic Langton flair âÄî like the chicken quesadilla with roasted vegetable spread and mint salsa.

Still another mouthwatering option for fanatical food-lovers sits on Nicollet Avenue at Corner Table. Their take on classics âÄî like pork loin paired with an array of seasonal veggies âÄî can transport you to grandmaâÄôs kitchen on Christmas Eve.

As you embark on any sort of food adventure, itâÄôs important to pay attention to what it is that you actually taste. By playing food critic you can begin to develop your palate. ThereâÄôs no need to be daunted by forming an opinion about your entrée.

âÄúJust use your common sense,âÄù Grumdahl said. âÄúYou definitely donâÄôt need to overthink it. The primary point of going out to eat is to have a good time and if youâÄôre not, itâÄôs a deal breaker.âÄù

After all, food is meant to be enjoyed. In a city with so many options, branching out in your dining habits this season puts the odds in your favor, and youâÄôve got nothing to lose but the gurgling of your hungry stomach.