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Column: Pause, reflect and celebrate

A special tray of food from left: Fried wonton with Thai peanut slaw, avocado and micro cilantro; baby root vegetable brochette with fennel mustard vinaigrette; and sweet pea falafel with tomato, pickled cucumber, onion and micro cilantro. 1 / 5
Chef John Barnstorf holds up maple meringue.2 / 5
Catering manager Lisa Faris and restaurant manager Moll Ehling.3 / 5
Owner/Chef Scott Graden poses with some berry cheesecake treats for the guests.4 / 5
Naomi Yaeger5 / 5

There are certain “uniquely Duluth” opportunities that I make a concerted effort to cash in on. An afternoon trip up the North Shore on April 8 to attend a ribbon-cutting for the New Scenic Cafe was one of them.

As a member of the Duluth Area Chamber of Commerce Ambassadors, it’s my duty to go to ribbon cuttings. I am invited to loads of them, but in the past year I haven’t been able to attend as many as I would like because I’m always so busy managing the editorial side of the Budgeteer. But when I received notice that the Ambassadors’ presence was requested to help the New Scenic Cafe celebrate their 15th anniversary, I put it on my calendar.

Greeting people at the door were catering manager Lisa Faris and restaurant manager Molly Ehling. Some guests were already leaving with bags of maple meringue. Chef John Barnstorf filled me in on the details. The maple syrup for the meringue is harvested locally by David Rogotzke.

Owner and executive chef Scott Graden said the ribbon cutting and party for the restaurant was a moment to pause and reflect. “So many work hard here and we don’t pause to celebrate,” Graden said. “We need this natural pause.”

Ah ha! My thoughts exactly.

In one wing of the restaurant, the tables had been removed and guests were milling around drinking wine and eating hors d’oeuvres. A collection of original paintings by Adam Swanson hung on the wall behind the wine.

Brochures scattered about reminded me that our Budgeteer Columnist Arlene Anderson had helped the New Scenic Cafe write a cookbook. (Anderson writes to us via China. See her column on page 7.)

The cookbook contains the actual recipes used in his restaurant. At first I was surprised that a chef would give away his secrets. Graden said that the more people that like the kind of food his restaurant prepares, the better the restaurant does. He says each person is unique, so each recipe they make will be unique.

“We are the ones who pull it together and do it,” Graden said. “At home it is just a lot of work.”

I was getting hungry and as a friendly vegan, I never like to make a fuss. There were luscious-looking hors d’oeuvres around me, but nothing I could eat.

I asked Graden if he had anything vegan. He put John Barnstorf to work in the kitchen making me a special tray. It include three appetizers: fried wonton with Thai peanut slaw, avocado and micro cilantro; baby root vegetable brochette with fennel mustard vinaigrette; and sweet pea falafel with tomato, pickled cucumber, onion and micro cilantro.

Graden also gave me canning jars of vegan treats to take home. One was pickled green beans and the other was a berry jam.

When my hubby came home from work I presented him with the maple meringue. He was impressed.

So remember, no matter what you do in life, take time out to pause, reflect and celebrate. And don’t forget to eat something good.

Naomi Yaeger is the editor of the Duluth Budgeteer News.

RELATED CONTENT

New Scenic Cafe: The Cookbook

Naomi Yaeger

Naomi Yaeger is a freelance writer and the former editor of the Budgeteer. See her blog at www.DuluthDailyPhoto.com.

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