Shelagh Connolly and Black Dog bring Farmers Market to fine dining

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As part of the Twin Cities Media Alliance’s second annual Pick of the Market dinner on Sunday, September 18, chef Shelagh Connolly will walk across the street from the Black Dog Café to the Saint Paul Farmers Market to select some of the freshest ingredients available in the Twin Cities. Master Chef Connolly has been working in the Twin Cities for 30 years. She is a veteran of W. A. Frost, Bravo! and the Dakota and owned her own restaurant, Mildred Pierce, for several years near the turn of the century.

FULL DISCLOSURE: Troy Pieper is a TC Media Alliance board member and this is an unpaid but shameless plug for a TC Daily Planet fundraiser — we’ve got to disclose that, even though every word is true!

As a member of a family that visited the farmers market every Saturday, Connolly has had decades to sharpen her eye for the best the market has to offer, to the benefit of Pick of the Market diners. What will that benefit look like when they take a seat at a Black Dog table later this month? Connolly says you never know what you will find at the farmers market, “and that’s part of the fun,” but late August/early September is her favorite time of year for produce. Summer squashes, green salad and different varieties of potatoes are what Connolly will be scoping out this time, and she has plans for pork loin from a local farmer she knows at the market. “It’s always an improvisation, which is really fun for me, and it results in a delicious locally sourced dinner,” she says.

But with all of the vegetables Connolly expects to find at the market, vegetarians won’t go hungry. And with so many different fruits available at this time of year, “we are sure to have options for a great dessert,” she says.

Dinners like Pick of the Market are the brainchild of Connolly and Black Dog Café owner Sara Remke. The two friends and neighbors in Saint Paul’s West End hatched the idea “over backyard barbeques and hanging out,” says Connolly. Their shared love for the farmers market inspired them to offer such dinners.

“The idea is to use what is freshest,” Remke says, and with the Saint Paul Farmers Market’s requirement that everything sold there be produced within 50 miles, freshness of the market’s offerings is virtually guaranteed. Remke also likes the idea of family style dinners “where people who don’t necessarily know each other sit down to eat together and socialize.”

That idea fits in with the sort of gathering place that the Black Dog has become over the years. The café features a constant rotation of art exhibitions and a busy schedule of performances. When she was approached last year by the Twin Cities Media Alliance, Remke, a Twin Cities Daily Planet reader, was excited to start a relationship between the TCMA and Black Dog.

Pick of the Market diners will will receive an appetizer, entrée, wine and dessert. Cost is $45 for Daily Planet members, $50 for non-members. Click here to buy a ticket.

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