Ask anyone anything from outside our borders about what they know of Minnesota and the answer is likely, "cold." Maybe they've heard something about Prince, but they also think there's snow in June. It's with this in mind that every year, usually during a near-freezing heatwave, we celebrate the outdoors with the St. Paul Winter Carnival, the Loppet, annual Pond Hockey Championship, snow sculptures, ice carving and more.
This year, the Great Northern Festival blew the doors off the old events and finally added in some delicious al fresco eating to the lineup. We have obtained some gorgeous photos both from the Minneapolis dinner and the following Saint Paul campfire feast.
The first epic, elegant dinner brought together neighbors and culinary heavyweights Spoon and Stable along with The Bachelor Farmer. The streets were shut down in front of the restaurant and a long table was set for the sold out ticketed event. Gavin Kaysen, Spoon & Stable's chef and owner recalled the tricky logistics of pulling it all together, "The day started out snowing, then had the sunshine, then a bit of rain, finishing with flurries [which] rounded out the exact reason why we live and love this state. It is never groundhogs day here. In the middle of the dinner, it felt as if I was in my childhood again, not caring about the outside world, or temps and just enjoying the present, I applaud Eric [Dayton] and his team for having the vision, tenacity and passion in creating and pulling off this event!"
Eric Dayton had to miss the big event for another one, the birth of his second child, but said, "The Great Northern has been a wonderful success thus far, and it's incredibly rewarding to see thousands of Minnesotans and visitors outside enjoying our state at its wintry best. I'm grateful to Paul, Gavin, Russell [Klein of Meritage], and all the talented chefs who stepped up to be part of this new tradition in its first year."
Meanwhile, on a weeknight, a few Saint Paul chefs and bartenders took over the Farmers Market for their own cookout. Thomas Boemer of Revival and Corner Table paired with Adam Eaton of Saint Dinette to create a gorgeous outdoor hearth to cook up crepes, smoked sturgeon, hot links, smoky mushrooms and more to serve a mellow crowd.
There were bar stations set up pouring hot cocktails, cocoa and even some of the special Revival wine made by the restaurant's co-owner Nick Rancone.
Polite lines filled with happy, bundled souls moved quickly as everyone chatted and shared a bite.
In short, it was a perfect Minnesota night. At its height Rancone was beaming, "I think we have to do this again."