Dinner by the Berries
Fall in the Northwoods brings a sense of magic. Leaves turn shades of bright yellow + fiery red, days grow shorter, and nights get cooler making it the perfect time to slow down and appreciate the incredible place we call home. On October 7th, 2017, we hosted Dinner by the Berries, a one-of-a-kind experience to celebrate the season and the soul of northern Wisconsin. This intimate evening combined the elements of a perfect fall gathering - vibrant colors, delicious cuisine, community, and cozy spaces - with one of northern Wisconsin’s best-kept fall secrets, cranberry harvest. As day turned to dusk, guests spent the evening wading through cranberries, dining at our family table, and learning about a day in the life of a cranberry farmer at Bartling’s Manitowish Cranberry Co.
As guests arrived, they grabbed a Manitowish Mule, the local version of a Moscow Mule mixed with homemade cranberry simple syrup, and served in a classic enamel mug. After catching up with old friends and meeting new ones, the Bartling family took us on a behind the scenes tour of their 4th generation cranberry farm. Brothers David and Steven Bartling joined their family farm in 2014, and carry on the work ethic and values that have been passed down from generation to generation. Bringing new enthusiasm, fresh ideas, and innovation to the farm, guests learned how their operation and management set them apart from other growers in the area.
After getting a glimpse of the daily tasks of a cranberry farmer and walking the farm property, the rain clouds parted just long enough for guests to enjoy a special treat - the opportunity to put on their own pair of waders and sip a fresh cocktail while wading through the floating berries. Fun fact: cranberries don’t grow under water, they grow on low-lying vines and are only flooded for harvest.
In an ode to the changing seasons, Chef Jon Wipfli of The Minnesota Spoon created a four-course meal that celebrated cranberry harvest and included root vegetables and cured fare. Fresh bread with cranberry maple butter for the table was followed by sweet potatoes with pickled cranberries, cured foie gras, and pecans. For the main course, Jon chose a recipe from his recent cookbook, Venison: the Slay to Gourmet Filed to Kitchen Cookbook - choucroute garni with duck + moose sausage, smoked pork belly confit, yukon gold potatoes, and braised sauerkraut. For the final course, guests enjoyed smoked cranberry + apple crisp, served with a coffee blend created exclusively for Dinner by the Berries from Ann Marie’s in Minocqua. Jon cooked each course in his mobile smoker and carefully chose wine pairings to add dimension to the food. It was the perfect meal for a rainy fall evening - warm, hearty, and uniquely Northwoods.
The rain stopped as we sat down for dinner, giving us a glimpse of a beautiful sunset over the cranberries. Guests lingered long after dinner was over telling stories, savoring the memory of unique food, enjoying good company, and soaking up the beauty of the season. When the evening came to a close, guests departed with a full belly and a bag full of treats to bring cranberry harvest into their own home. Thank you to everyone who helped us make Dinner by the Berries possible. We cannot wait to do it again next year! Make sure to sign up for our newsletter, The Current Collective, so you don’t miss your chance to attend Dinner by the Berries next season.
Becca Bartling + Elizabeth Gering