The first day of autumn may have only been a couple of days ago, but already we are seeing the vibrant fall colors showing themselves throughout
Honeymoon Trail near Lutsen
the North Shore. The colors down by the lake are still working their way from green to a soft yellow, but head inland just a couple of miles and you will be greeted by bright oranges and fire engine reds!
The poplars and tamaracks are bursting with light yellows, while the maples are transitioning from orange to red. According to our Activity Guides, they are putting fall colors at about 30-40% peak and are estimating that we will be at peak within a couple of weeks.
If you haven’t made plans to venture up to join the show, now is the time! The weather is gorgeous (a couple days of rain are in the forecast) and the rest of the week into early next week is forecasted to be in the high 50s/low 60s. The dip in temperature from the past few days of 75-80 degrees is sure to push the colors closer to peak.
Week of Sep 25 weather in Lutsen, MN
There are plenty of trails and roads nearby the resort where you can either take a hike or drive the backroads to view the colors. The gondola at Lutsen Mountains is also a must-do! Taking you high above the tree line, the views from the gondola and on top of Moose Mountain are spectacular.
White Sky Rock Overlook
Fall Colors Lodging Special
If you’re looking for a lodging, check out our Fall Colors Package which runs now through October 18th. The package includes two nights of lodging, breakfast each day and one dinner entrée in our Lakeside Dining Room – starting at $174/night.
We are pleased to announce that Stephen Hesse and Tyge Nelson, chefs and co-owners of the Parajito restaurant in St. Paul, will be joining us as our guest chefs for our Fall Food & Wine Dinner this November. Our culinary team will be collaborating with Stephen and Tyge in the coming weeks to develop the menu for the event. We are excited to see the ideas that follow and will share the details with you as soon as we can.
“These two have been local industry luminaries for a long time, and if you listen carefully you can hear a big “OMG at last,” from many, many cooking lines in local kitchens. Both are Tim McKee protégés: Hesse opened Masu and has been making Libertine taste good since it opened in 2014, and Nelson started cooking for McKee in the kitchen at La Belle Vie Stillwater in 2000 … Hesse and Nelson’s new spot looks to … take food that people already like, and make it with all the cheffy insight and tricks of the trade which make it better.”
~ Dara Moskowitz Grumdahl, Mpls/St. Paul Magazine
About the Chefs
Parajito is a dream fulfilled for Stephan Hesse. Known for his rare combination of culinary artistry and business savvy, for years Stephan had been thinking about opening a neighborhood restaurant – bringing dining with character and originality to a community more typically home to chains and fast food. And, it would appear that Stephan was destined to open his own place – few chefs have racked up more than 25 years of culinary experience while still years shy of hitting 40.
Stephan started working in the restaurant industry at the tender age of 13 at his mother’s Maplewood Perkin’s restaurant and never stopped. After high school the St. Paul native took a job in executive dining at 3M; and it was there one of the chefs noticed Stephan’s talent and suggested he pursue a culinary career.
That decision quickly led Stephan to the Art Institutes International of Minnesota where he enrolled in the Culinary program. Upon graduation, Stephan’s early career was filled with work at the prestigious four-star St. Paul Hotel and St. Paul Grill as well as at Premier Restaurant Management where he was instrumental in opening such Minneapolis crowd-pleasers as Stella’s Fish Café and Prestige Oyster Bar, Tonic of Uptown and Major’s Sports Cafés.
For Stephan, Pajarito’s vision is to be a great neighborhood hangout with superb Mexican food:
“We want to push the envelope on traditional Mexican fare with modern touches and fresh, vibrant flavors. Tyge and I will both be building on our passions and strengths. I’ll be playing up my skills in in-house butchery and charcuterie, while Tyge will be playing up his extensive knowledge of the differences and subtleties between various Latin American and Mexican regional cuisines in his use of chili peppers and seasonings.”
To quote Star Tribune restaurant critic, Rick Nelson, when describing Chef Tyge Nelson, “Talented chefs beget talented chefs.”
Tyge’s interest in food traces back to childhood memories of watching his grandmother canning and baking, and trips with his grandfather to buy fresh milk from nearby dairy farms. However, his culinary destiny was not a foregone conclusion.
Like many other chefs, Tyge discovered his own interest in food only after pursuing other potential career paths. “I’d been going to school for awhile (at the University of Minnesota) and nothing really drew me.” But when he thought about becoming a chef, it just “felt right.” So, in 1999 he quit the University of Minnesota and enrolled at Le Cordon Bleu College of Culinary Arts, Mendota Heights, graduating in 2000.
Upon graduation Tyge won a coveted internship working for uber-talented Chef Tim McKee at then just two-year old La Belle Vie, which was still located in Stillwater, Minn. Tyge was quickly promoted to sous chef. When Tim brought in Jack Riebel to serve as La Belle Vie’s executive chef as he began splitting his attention between the two restaurants, it created new opportunities for Tyge to learn from yet another talented chef.
Pajarito is an opportunity for Tyge to showcase his depth of expertise as well as his love of Mexican food and culture.
“With attention to detail, technique, and ingredients you quickly elevate the dining experience into something extraordinary. For example, a salsa can be a simple dish, but it becomes great when you put thought and effort into every aspect: the selection of the vegetables, how they’re roasted, type of heat you introduce, the amount of acidity. The end result still looks simple on the plate, but the effort elevates the final result and the overall experience.”
RSVP online now via the links below or call us at 218.663.7212.
We are excited to announce that this year’s theme for our Spring Food & Wine event is “Swine & Wine.” Our new executive chef, Ian Heieie as created delicious menus for Friday, May 5 and Saturday, May 6.
Friday Night Menu | A selection of the following:
Housemade chili-seasoned pork rinds
Smoked pork Braunschweiger with grain mustard, pickled vegetables, and sesame flatbread
Dehydrated and rehydrated beets, creme fraiche, and pickled garlic root
House cured venison loin Bresaola
Whipped lard and sourdough bread
Fresh cow’s milk cheese on a potato chip with chives
Our annual Spring Food & Wine weekend has been set for Friday and Saturday, May 5-6. We are in the process of developing our menus, but we are taking reservations now. You may rsvp online or by calling us at 218.663.7212.
Cost is $45 for Friday evening | $85 for Saturday evening. Prices do not include tax and gratuity.
Minnesota is known for its four glorious seasons. The summers are filled with tire swings, casting lines, a cold one or two on the deck, and evening campfires with all the s’mores fixings. Fall bursts with colors you have to see to believe. Winter transforms the landscape into a winter wonderland with a side of endless outdoor adventures and cozy fireplaces. As we turn towards spring, Minnesota seems to take pride in having an extra season squished right in the middle of this seasonal transition. Loving known as “Sprinter,” it doesn’t have a special date on the calendar like all of the other seasons. No, sprinter flies by the seat of its pants. Sometimes arriving as early as mid-February and staying as late as May.
Up here, we know how to do sprinter the best. You could say it’s a long-standing tradition. It can be dumping a foot of snow five miles inland, while
the shore melts away. You can hit the ski hill in the morning and cruise on spring sugar snow in a t-shirt and then hike on snow-clear trails by the Temperance in the afternoon.
With a thunderstorm one day and a snowstorm the next, sprinter keeps us all guessing. But that’s the beauty of where we live. Soon enough, we’ll move onto the next extreme and instead of comparing how cold it got at our houses, we’ll be comparing how hot it was. So for now, enjoy this moment in time where we get a bonus of two seasons in one.
Until next time, remember that the lowest fence is the easiest to get across.
I tend to like the finer things in life. A good oven pancake, Swedish pb&j (made with lefsa), homemade wild rice hot dish (I’ve included mama’s recipe below), among others. When it comes beer, a good ‘ole Bush light often hits the spot. I haven’t gotten too much into the latest craft beer craze, but I’ve been known to test a few out. Who can say “no” to beer?
This weekend just so happens to be the resort’s annual beer lover’s dinner. Where, get this. You can sample a number of Castle Danger’s craft brews. As an attendee in the past, I can assure you – these are healthy-sized samples. The new Executive Chef, Ian Heieie, has a menu even mama would approve of.
I’ve heard there are a few more seats available and with the colossal snow storm we’re forecasted to get slammed with, what better way to spend the time then sipping a good brew and watching the snow fall. See you all there.
Until next time, raise a glass to old man winter – he’s not done yet.
As promised, mama’s wild rice hot dish recipe is below.
1 ¼ cup wild rice (soak the rice overnight)
Boil about 2 cups of water and then place then put the rice in it and soak overnight
2 sticks of celery, chopped
½ of an onion, diced
Sauté the celery and onion in butter, 1 cup of mushrooms optional but recommended
Brown 1 pound of hamburger (drain off grease)
Mix 1 package of thawed little smokies into the hamburger
Mix all of the ingredients together with 2 cans of cream of mushroom soup
Add a little water, ½ cup – 1 cup for consistency
Put everything in a roasting dish or a 2 quart baking dish, sprinkle with French onion topping for an added crunch
Bake in the oven at 350 for 20 minutes
If you’re interested in attending the Annual Beer Lover’s Dinner this Friday, February 24, call 218.663.7212 to RSVP.
A long standing tradition in Northeastern Minnesota is the one and only, John Beargrease Sled Dog Marathon. For those who are not familiar with the race, it serves to honor John and his contribution to the North Shore. For nearly twenty years, John and his brothers delivered mail to communities from Two Harbors to Grand Marais while out on their hunting and trapping routes. Each year, at the end of January mushers ready their dogs and head out on the trail for a grueling 350+ mile race, paying homage to John’s mail run.
My husband has handled multiple times for friends of ours, I’ve been at various checkpoints and assisted so I know a thing or two. This year my husband couldn’t fit it into his work schedule, so the next best stand-in…Helga of course! How hard can it be? After all, Phoebe’s husband Oscar was only running the mid-distance (120 miles). Pulling an all-nighter? No problem!
We rose early Sunday morning and finished loading up essentials such as: headlamp with extra batteries, snickers, reese’s peanut butter cups, sour patch kids, chips…check, adult pedialyte (tomato juice with other essential vitamins and minerals), celery sticks and of course a blanket and pillow. I was still operating under the assumption I would have some time to sleep.
The start of a sled dog race is exciting. The adrenaline is addicting and can be felt from dog to musher to spectator. As the dogs get harnessed up and put on the line, they are yipping and tugging – ready to go! When you bring a dog team through the chute, it makes you almost want to hop on that sled and drive them out yourself, until you jump into a warm vehicle. Then the thought melts away.
The mid-distance race starts in Two Harbors with checkpoints in Finland and Caribou then finishing at Trail Center, up the Gunflint Trail. Oscar arrived into Finland in good time and we bedded the dogs down for a rest. Around 7 pm that evening, we shipped him back onto the trail towards Caribou. Reality started to set in once he left the chute. It was dark, the temp was dropping and we were on our own. No more friends and family to keep us company on this long night ahead.
We made it to Caribou, strung out the line, cooked up a beaver meat stew for the dogs and checked the GPS tracker religiously every two minutes. Standing next to the fire, waiting for Oscar to come in, there was no wind and complete silence. Other than the sound of our breathing and the fire crackling – it was quiet. I peered up for a moment and will never forget how bright the stars looked in that clear night sky. For a moment I thought, this isn’t so bad.
Oscar rolled in shortly before midnight and headed back out for the finish after 4 am. We picked up the hay, loaded the blankets, line and prepared another dish of beaver meat stew and set out for Trail Center. When we arrived, it was a hard choice between catching some shut eye or eating real food. My teeth groaned for a tooth brush and my mouth was nearly raw from all of the sour patch kids. We opted for real food and I’m not sure if it’s just because I was sleep deprived, but it was the best breakfast I’ve had! I highly recommend the roast beef hash!
There was a sense of “we’ve made it” after breakfast. You know when Harry and Lloyd finally made it to Aspen? Insert Phoebe and Helga. We checked the tracker one last time. It said Oscar would be in around 9:30 am. We decided to set our alarms for 9 am. That would give us some wiggle room in case the tracker was off a little. We settled in for a nice three-hour nap. At 8 am we were abruptly woken by a fellow handler, “Helga, Phoebe! Get up! Oscar is a mile out!” What!? We jumped out of the truck and ran to the finish just in time for Oscar to make his way out on the lake.
There was a sense of accomplishment to make it all the way through. It was only the mid-distance, remember? Running the mid-distance as a musher has been something on my bucket list for a long time. However, after handling for it, I felt the need to re-evaluate this line item. My new goal is to run the rec race from Two Harbors to Finland and call it good.
Now that I’ve had a good week to recover, I look back to the time when Phoebe asked me to help handle. We both had the same thoughts. “It’s only one night,” we said. “We can do this, it’ll be fun.” It was fun at times, it was peaceful at times. But it was also tiring and I tip my hat to those who handle and run dogs. It’s not as easy as it looks.
Until next time, don’t forget to look up every now and then.
For those of you who know Chef Rob Wells, our chef for a decade who has provided creativity, and quality to our dining; Rob left the first of the year to head off for a change in career. We wish him the very best and he will be missed. We are fortunate to have found an excellent new chef, Ian Heieie, who is joining us from “The Bachelor Farmer” in the Twin Cities. Ian arrived mid-December and shares our respect for utilizing quality, locally-produced food and we’re happy to have him part of our family.
To celebrate Ian’s arrival and introduce him to all of you, we will be holding a “Meet the Chef” dinner on February 4th. This intimate, 4-course dinner, presented by Chef Ian with wine pairings by North Shore Winery. A true farm-to-table experience, Chef Ian will be serving dishes prepared with a farm-raised Mangalitsa boar from Yker Acres. Durning dinner Chef Ian will be visiting with us about the menu items and his culinary philosophy.
Cost is $50 per person. Call 218.663.7212 for reservations.
First Course | Roasted bacon, brussel sprouts, poached egg and grain mustard vinaigrette. Second Course | Fresh cow’s milk cheese and Lacinato Kale Cannelloni. Third Course | Grilled pork leg, sweet and sour beets, roasted potatoes, creme fraiche and pickled shallots. Dessert | Curried squash creme brulee, whipped creme and candied apple.