Monday, October 29, 2007

Looking back and looking forward

Hi Everyone,

We just finished our Fall Food and Wine Weekend. This years event was the best dinner we have put on in several years. For those of you who missed the event I'll post the menu at the end of the blog.

This time of year we reflect back on the summer/fall and start looking forward to the winter. The fall colors are over, even the tamaracks have turned. The tamaracks are one of my favorite trees to see in the fall. I love the bright orange color of the needles. As a kid I hardly remember seeing any and only remember the yellows and oranges from the aspen and birch trees.

This summer we saw water levels down to extremely low levels. We were very worried about how little water their was. We were also worried that is we did not get the necessary percipritation then it would be harder to get into some of our favorite fishing lakes next summer. Fortunately the rains came and now we have water levels higher than we can ever remember for the fall. Our dock cribbing has been partially flooded for weeks. Now we are worried if we get a ton of snow this winter how are our guests going to keep their feet dry trying to get in a boat this coming spring. What a suprise how quickly we got over 2 feet of water.

I am not sure if it is directly related to the high water but our guides have been telling me that this fall was some of the best small mouth bass fishing they have ever had. They were regulalrly catching 4 lbs bass and not just one or two, but 8-10 every day they went fishing. The marketing side of me is saying that next summer I am going to offer a fall bass fishing package for our guests since the fishing is so strong. You would think since I grew up here I would know about the fall being such a strong fishing season for bass, but we always focused on the Walleye.

We have officially closed the restaurants until mid December. Of course we will be open to the public for Thanksgiving, but other than that we are closed to the public until December. For guests staying with us on the Fall Work Weekends and the Holiday Decorating Weekends we will be cooking a few meals as necessary for the weekend packages. During the time our restaurant is closed we take apart the kitchen and clean everything so it is spotless for Thanksgiving and the Christmas seasons. The staff are excited because once the kitchen is cleaned many of them take time off to go and visit their friends and family so they are recharged and ready for the winter season.

We have sent out our Winter Rate sheets to many of our past guests. We have made a couple of exciting new changes to familiar packages. The biggest change is something we learned from a summer package. In the summer we offer a package called the Super Family Package. This year we included a day with an Adventure Guide. The guide takes you into the woods on a private guided day. If you want to go hiking, or on an animal search, or a day trip into the BWCAW, or exploring, they go with you and tell you about the forest, the history, and show you things that you wouldn't normally go to by yourself.

One time this summer our guides were booked so I even got to take out two families on a day trip into the Boundary Waters. I am not sure who enjoyed it more, the two families, or me. They loved it because I took them places they would never have gone on their own. They caught fish. They went into the Boundary Waters and we hardly saw any other visitors all day. I loved it because I got out of the office and got to spend some time with guests doing what I love, paddling the BWCA.

Since the adventure guide was so popular with the guests we decided to add it to our Wild Winter Package. The only difference is that we only included a 1/2 day with an Adventure Guide. I wasn't sure if guests could or would go all day in the winter months. Our primary winter activities that the adventure guides can take you on include: ice fishing, snowshoeing into the Boundary Waters, skiing, antler shed hunting, birding, animal searches, and winter survival skills. I think guests are going to love a guided trip into the boundary waters on ski or snowshoe. Between the crystal clear air, the white snow, and not seeing anyone else (or tracks of anyone else), it should be a great experience!

Speaking of winter, it is coming our way. Sunday morning we awoke to find a hard layer of frost on the vehicle windows. It was great to see. Right now we are as excited as a kid in a candy store as we wait for snow to cover the grounds. We are looking forward to a winter with lots of snow. If you are looking for cabins over Christmas most of our larger cabins have already been booked so you should call right away if you have a large family and want to get together here this year.

Looking really far ahead, this May the Cook County Events and Visitors Bureau will be organizing our Gunflint Green-Up event. This event is focused around replanting the Gunflint Trail. Right now we have over 100,000 trees ordered and donated that will need to be planted this spring. The event is going to be the first weekend in May. We are expected several hundered volunteers. If are you are interested in participating we will post more contact details as the organizational processes are set up. So right now just save the date and invite friends and family to join you for May 2-4, 2008 for the Gunflint Green-Up.

Okay now I'll tell you about the menu and wine pairings from the Fall Food and Wine Weekend

Course 1: Cotechino Ravioli with fresh italian cotechino sausage, broccoli rabe, and goat cheese in a homemade ravioli with a sage cream sauce and fried pancetta bits. This was paired with Zuani Vigne Collio Bianco

Course 2: Escarole and Dandelion Green Salad with Escarole and dandelion greens dressed in a chestnut honey and blue cheese vinaigrette and finished with Meade poached pears. This was paired with Girlan Pino Bianco. I was very surprised how little of the blue cheese there was on this salad but the wine really accented that flavor.

Course 3: Roast Pumpkin Soup with locally grown pumpkin roasted and served in a vegetable broth with swiss chard and cannellini beans. This was served wtih Girlan Gerwurtztraminer Aime.

Course 4: Walley stuffed squash blossoms. The fresh canadian walleye and pistachios in squash blossoms on sauteed spinach with chili oil was served with a Mario Schiopetto Sauvignon Blanc. This was one of my favorite pairings. The wine was incredible!

Course 5: Pomegranate and honey glazed squab. The squab was basted with a pomegranate and honey glaze nestled atop an acorm squash and wild rice risotto. This was served with Ascheri Barolo Sorano. The Barolo was another oustanding wine!

Course 6: Wild Boar Saltimbocca. The wild boar medallions and sage were ensconced in prosciutto sitting on a roast garlic turnip mash and topped with a puttanesca sautee. This was served with Corteforte Amarone Classico. If you enjoy wine and have not had the pleasure then you need to drink an Amarone! It will definitely be worth it.

Course 7: Toasted Almond Cake saoked in a rose water syrup and crowned with a blood orange mousse. This was served with Montellori Vin Santo.

Whew...I finally finished typing the menu. As I was typing it I was reliving the tasting and drooling. I really want to find a bottle of the Mario Schiopetto Sauvignon Blanc. It really was a great bottle of wine.


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