Today I am so excited to share this complete treasure of a post with ya’ll. This post has been a dream for over a year now. Anna Watson Carl, author of The Yellow Table, and I have been scheming this Simple Evening. We knew ever since she rented our friend Sean Kelly’s farmhouse last Summer that we needed to hold a dinner there. The farmhouse is the perfect example of the beauty this area holds. The best part is that you can rent the house yourself on your next vacay north. This home is one of those places that feels like the perfect slice of heaven. Everything from the beautiful indoor decor that is perfectly thought out to the hammock that overlooks the outbuildings of the farm, basically makes this my dream home in every way.
The farmhouse is located just south of Northport proper. It is about 35 minutes from Traverse City up the Leelanau Peninsula, and when you climb the hill beside the home it has the perfect overlook of Lake Michigan and vineyards. It does not get more perfect than this.
The day we decided to have the dinner was the day after we had flown in from Cape Town. Mike and I had asked our good friend Bryan Dale to help us out by shooting. It was such a treat to have him there creating with us. Before we left for Cape Town Anna, Cammie, and I completed most of the ground work, and we vowed to keep the whole night VERY simple and focus on celebrating friends, great food, and the end of Summer. We felt it would be the perfect moment to say our goodbyes to the warmth of Summer and hello to the beauty and chill of Fall.
Anna came in from New York City and brought all her amazing culinary skills with her. She created the menu and cooked everything there in the kitchen with us all around. Check out her post today for all THE RECIPES and full menu if you want more of this amazing meal she made.
Anna gathered everything locally from the farmer’s market and local chef friends she made from her trips here. She found local cheeses, breads, pastries, produce, meat, and everything you can think of. It was the perfect time of year to do this as this was the height of the local food scene in Leelanau and Traverse City.
As we all began to gather and open wine bottles and chat, we talked about the Summer and how we wished it would just last a little longer. We met new friends, chatted about the places we visited in the last year, and caught up on all the exciting things that happened throughout the season. All of it was done amongst the setting of the dreamy farmhouse. Some gathered on the front porch gazing out at the farm road, and others gathered around the warmth of the kitchen as the chilly air rolled in for the first time.
The colors of the light, the way the wind blew, and the chill and scent in the air, told us tonight would be the first evening of Fall. All the signs reminded us that each season is fleeting and meant to be enjoyed.
As Anna finished the dishes we all set the table together and slowly brought out all the dishes that would be shared. The menu brought in all the beauty of late Summer and all the warmth of early Fall foods. It was the perfect meal for this night.
We gathered outside, bundled and prepared for the dropping temperature from 70 to 50 as the sun began to set. Andy built a fire in the pit that would serve as our warmth and light for dinner after the sun dipped below the horizon.
We set the table at the farmhouse. It needed very little added. Cammie brought a few burlap runners and mason jars full of flowers that she gathered from the Cherry Basket Farm gardens her mom maintains and grows. The candles were gathered from around the farmhouse. It was extremely simple and easy to pull together.
As we placed the final touches on the table and Anna made her last preparations for dinner, we all grabbed a good glass of wine that we could enjoy. Some of us wandered up the hill to watch the sunset over Lake Michigan. Others took in the evening slowly near the fire. This image of my best friend Hillary is still one of my favorites that our friend Bryan snapped that night. Watching her enjoy the simplicity and comfort of the evening was the perfect example of how wonderful and full of contentment everything was.
There is nothing like a northern Michigan sunset. Even after all the sunsets in Cape Town I still have a special place for how the sun sets over the Manitou islands here on the Leelanau Peninsula. It is a beautiful and unique thing that I will forever hold dear no matter where I am in the world.
After the sun set we all gathered around the table for the beautiful meal Anna created. We enjoyed pork loin, heirloom tomato panzanella, roasted brussel sprouts, and a roasted squash and quinoa dish.
Before all digging in we of course kicked off the meal with a great toast full of thanks for good friends, amazing food, and the joy of celebrating life in the way it should be celebrated.
As the sun lowered and the evening turned in to the night, the candles flickered as we laughed about life and where it leads. We were thankful for another amazing Summer and even more grateful that there would be more.
I couldn’t have been more thankful to have another evening with friends. After traveling half-way across the world and back to be here at this table to share a meal with some people who mean so much to me was a very special thing.