Minnesota North Shore, Grand Marais, the Gunflint Trail & Brick Ovens - A Culinary Odyssey

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2009/06/05 02:18:02 (permalink)

Minnesota North Shore, Grand Marais, the Gunflint Trail & Brick Ovens - A Culinary Odyssey

Thursday, May 28th, I said goodbye to my wife, Nancy, as she embarked on her flight to Cochabamba, Bolivia for a month to tend our two grandsons as our daughter-in-law led a student anthropology field study. What do I do? Alone! I'm not used to that. When Nancy's trip was firmed up in March I decided my consolation would be to head north the following day to the North House Folk School in Grand Marais, MN on the North Shore 40 miles from the Canadian border and take a 3 day course, Ovencrafting - Building the Wood-fired Bread Oven. The course was full and I was placed second on the waiting list at that time. In thinking positive I made reservations for a campground site adjacent to the school. I later learned I was rather lucky moving up the list and getting in (by early May) from fellow participants who had tried several times for this class. As it turned out there were 13 participants.

The course was part of the trip. Grand Marais, population 1,312, is the springboard to the Gunflint Trail up to the eastern end of the Boundary Waters Canoe Area and a center for kayaking, canoeing, fishing, hiking, biking, sailing, skiing, snowshoeing, snowmobiling and other recreational activities. In addition to physical activity, it has attractions for the citified casual set intent on the arts and quiet relaxed activity for it also has an arts center, music festival, birding activity and an astoundingly abundance of great eateries that I think before I am done in this thread are going to wow you.

I have reported on northern Minnesota and the North Shore in past reports rather thoroughly so this time I tried to round out my trip with new places along with a few re-visits but new food ventures. Those past reports can be found on Roadfood.com here...

Minnesota Northern Exposure

and here...

Minnesota's Lake Superior North Shore Tour

...to help round out this trip and also provide a lot of scenery flavor. Those were more on the trails Vasque hiking boot reports. This one is more of a Keen sandal on the pavement culinary tour de force. At least I hope you will agree.

So with those past reports I zoomed non-stop past Tobies in Hinckley, MN and Duluth; but I did stop again at Russ Kendall's Smokehouse on the old section of US 61 along Lake Superior south of Two Harbors that had been by-passed by a freeway like stretch parallel and adjacent. That stretch of road is what is used for Grandma's Marathon in late June, the 13th largest marathon in the USA run mostly along the shore. Since Nancy was not with me, taking the old road section, brought my Garmin Nuvi GPS, Dory alive with "Recalculating" at nearly every intersection in trying to get me back to the main highway. So after a couple of hundred miles driving I got to hear a female voice.

Russ Kendall's Smokehouse. Those are real seagull sentries on the roof.

Russ Kendall's smoked fish under the counter.

I bought about a pound of smoked Alaskan Wild King Salmon. OK, I'm sure you've seen smoked fish before. How about this good old fashion newspaper wrapping? Enjoy because it may not be long before fish markets will have to start finding new kinds of wrapping paper.

Rest easy. This salmon was not a Great Lakes fish. I only wanted it to make a salmon spread. There will be more smoked fish of a more local variety to come in this report so we will keep this one under wraps.

In those past reports I cited I included most all of the waterfalls along the North Shore. In case you don't get around to checking them out I did stop at Gooseberry Falls State Park for an easy Keen sandal walk and this quick shot as a reminder of what the North Shore is about.

Gooseberry Lower Falls

That meant I rushed past Betty's Pies and the Rustic Inn in previous reports. Up the road there were several places like Bluefin Bay I mentally thought about stopping and hated to pass them by but one has only so much time and so many meal opportunities.

This time I decided to stop for lunch at the Cascade Lodge Restaurant just a few miles south of Grand Marais. At that point it is more west but I think in terms of going north and south on US 61 anyway. I had driven by this restaurant so many times and curiosity just got to me this time.

Cascade Restaurant on US 61 surrounded by Cascade River State Park.

Cascade Dining Room with the prerequisite moose over the fireplace mantle and also wolf skins on the wall, bear skins hanging over the beams and wagon wheel chandeliers. This is a northern setting drum roll of what yet is to come.

I ordered the breaded Walleye sandwich. My intent was this one will be the only one I will have on this trip but a necessary north woods experience. To each his own. The man at the next table was excited they had catfish this far north.

I arrived at the Grand Marais Municipal Campground and asked for and got site 30W we had once before camped in within a short walk to the North House Folk School and with a spectacular view of the harbor.
post edited by Davydd - 2010/08/12 18:39:10

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