Sunday, August 21, 2011
Food and paddling
My elusive, globe trotting friend, the BessemerConvivialist, has been scarce on the water this year. Last night in a multitasking coup de grace, she managed to combine a bit of kayaking with her service on the board of the Youth Farm & Market Project. At a fundraising auction for the organization she offered a guided paddle trip with instruction, lovely appetizers, and wine on the water for two. The folks that won the bid asked if they could bring another couple and 'double down' on the bid. The BC jumped on that like a hawk on a field mouse and the deal was done. The problem was she only had one extra boat.
Enter the ManFromSnowyLegs, BemidjiIntelOfficer, the VoiceOfReason, and me. The SKOAC trailer was rounded up, along with paddles, life jackets, and other gear. The MFSL dropped off the trailer at our joint with two boats and we added two more, a couple on the roof, and headed for Cedar Lake. We unloaded just as the four auction winners, Ron, Paula, Ed, and Lisa showed up. Some quick instruction, sans spray skirts, and we were on the flat water of the Minneapolis city chain of lakes.
Youth farm is part of a growing initiative to showcase locally grown food. City kids are shown that carrots are not little finger shaped, uniform things in a plastic bag at the grocery store. They need to be planted, weeded, tended, and harvested. They learn that performing this work, mainly outdoors, is kinda fun. A big lesson of the program teaches them that this 'homegrown' food is not only tasty and healthful, but that people will give them money for it! One of my skinny stick buddies, FrogtownTony, and his wife FTownPatty, are involved in getting a program of that type off the ground in their St Paul neighborhood. The VOR, who will shortly be feeding 11,000 kids a day in the South Washington School District, is actively involved in a farm to school program. Locally grown produce is purchased and showcased on the school menus for that month. September is 'beet month' with a couple recipes from the outstanding Duluth Grill. More importantly, local chefs are buying the produce as the local food movement gains critical mass. This evening there is another fund raiser for Youth Farm at Brasa Minneapolis. Brasa used to be a nice, quiet place in a converted Midas Muffler shop in NE Mpls. Then things happened like a couple feature on the Food Network and a bunch of people in New York City deciding that the chef/owner Alex Roberts should get something called the James Beard Award. Now, to misquote Yogi Berra, "Nobody goes there any more, its too crowded". But if you go there tonite Chef Alex will whip up some wonderful chow, you can listen to some live music, and support Youth Farm, all in one fell swoop.
Back on Cedar Lake, we paddled through the channels to Lake of the Isles, took a quick lap around the west end of Isles, and then back to Cedar. We rafted up, hauled out the wine and horz doovers, and watched a spectacular sunset. Our guests, who lived near the lake and spent lots of time walking and biking around it, marveled at the view from the water and the new perspective that it offered. As Ed said, "We could be in the BWCA if not for the lights". We paddled back when the sunset show was over, said our goodbyes, and loaded up. It was as they say, a good night on the water.