On Monday, we headed to Hemlock Preserve in Esko, MN for a photoshoot.
In pursuit of showing off our catering department, we headed to one of our favorite spots to serve (and photograph) food: Hemlock Preserve.
Although the weather was not in our favor, it was still quite a productive day. To start, we set up base camp in the log cabin. From there, we generated around a dozen curated plates of food to showcase our standard offerings—smoked salmon, cold cuts, dry-cured salumi, and locally-sourced cheese—as well as our versatility—handmade candies, fresh and dried fruits, and artful settings & plating.
The day largely consisted of assembling plates & floral arrangements, getting our feet wet running plates back and forth between the log cabin and the various settings within the barn, and brainstorming ways to utilize the outdoor gathering spaces in future shoots, and eating a bunch of Peanut M&Ms, but our team was able to encapsulate some transcendent moments. The spread of food, once it was all assembled on our signature Douglas fir board, was breathtaking, and to top it off, no one caught a cold, despite the weather.
We’re so excited to be working with Sue at Hemlock Grove. Wandering around the property, you can see the love she puts into this place. Even among the bare remains of a winter that overstayed its welcome and the rigging of ongoing renovations, it is the curated installations of antique signage, furniture, and table settings, the open bureau acting like a frame for vintage camping & outdoors gear, the subtle humor of the “No Gathering Firewood” sign above the woodshed, the seemingly endless hidden shelves of extra glasses & dishes suggesting that there’s always room for one more person to join the party, and the lamps (Oh! The multitude of eclectic and beautiful lamps!) that catch the eye. It’s sort of like a wonderful uncluttered antique marketplace that hosts parties. You could get lost in conversation, get lost in a self-guided tour of the décor, or get lost in Jay Cooke State Park, all with a beverage in one hand and a small plate of food in the other.
Hemlock Preserve, which is situated just far enough from the city to feel like a getaway, and just close enough to make the travel go by quickly, is situated just on the edge of Jay Cooke State Park—there are trails from the property right into the park—features two elevated yurts (on their own isolated tracts of land), and is an ideal location for all scales of gatherings: an intimate anniversary celebration, a weekend corporate retreat, an elaborate dinner, a family reunion, or a wedding & reception. We at Northern Waters Smokehaus rejoice in any opportunity to collaborate with Sue.
Patricia made smoked brisket and bleu cheese pasties.
If you haven’t stopped in for a Wednesday lunch lately, you may not know that we’ve been rocking a BBQ Brisket Sandwich as our daily special—you can settle for the buttery goodness and BBQ tang of the brisket sandwich alone, or you can go big and add a side of smoked pork & beans and/or hausmade potato salad. But I digress. On days that we have a little bit of the special left over, Patricia swings in and makes pasties. This This week, she whipped up some enormous and delicious pasties with brisket, potato, rutabaga, and crumbled bleu cheese. Look for the day’s variety of pasties in the meat case. We’ll even heat them up for you, if you want to enjoy one in the deli. All varieties of pasties are $10.
On Thursday, we headed back to Hemlock Preserve.
Despite the productivity of our first day, there was more to be done. For instance, we had to get some outdoor shots, and to document the landscape around us. On our second day out in Esko, we had plenty of sun. This meant that Bruno, the 12-year old ball of pug-love who runs the whole operation, joined us in the field. While Bruno oversaw the day’s work, we created several scenes, including two different outdoor picnics, a buffet-style dinner in the barn, and various small plates lounging around the remarkable array of sitting areas. It seems like everywhere you look, there is a place to sit (or stand), take a breather, and spark up a conversation.
On Friday (today) we went back to Hemlock Preserve once again.
As soon as this 5 Things™ blog is posted, I’m heading down to our deli for an opening shift, so I am not attending this particular field trip. From what I gather, this is a clean-up day.
If I were there, it would be a pet Bruno day as well. I hope they also carry that spirit with them.
Also on Friday (today) we are at the annual Raise the Roof One Roof Community Housing fundraiser.
One Roof is an institution that gives so much to our community, in terms of creating affordable housing opportunities, educating renters, cultivating neighborhoods, helping first-time home buyers, and much more.
It has been our privilege to take part in their annual fundraiser for many years. Not only do we get to share our food, but we also get to share our passion for it, our stories, and knowledge of the process that goes into making our food, all to a receptive audience (anyone who stops by our table and asks), and in the name of a good cause.
This year we’ll be serving Traditional Atlantic Salmon & Scallion Cream Cheese bites; Hedonist bites (with Country Pâté, onion, cornichon pickles, and a dot of mayo & mustard); and olivada, chevre & pepperoncini bites. The tasting segment of the fundraiser is 6 p.m. to 9 p.m. For more information, check the event page on their website. Olivia, our mail order director, and I will be behind the table. Stop by, enjoy a few bites, and keep us entertained.