After the county fair and then a long weekend to western North Dakota with family and friends, Nathan and I probably should have stayed home Sunday night to catch up on work around our house and yard. We have a full schedule ahead of us this week. But it was 93 F outside.We were home from church. Our kids wanted to swim and our small town pool was open. Away, our younger two kids went with a babysitter while the older one was still away at a basketball tournament.
Forget the housework and yard work. The laundry will wait. It always does!
Nathan and I loaded up in the pick-up for a 134 mile one-way road trip to Coteau des Prairies Lodge for a date night.
A date night 134 miles away? Yes when you live in the middle of the prairie, you will travel for all sorts of things, but especially when there are no snowdrifts stopping you from spending time with good friends, eating fine food, laughing until you cry and soaking in beautiful prairie farm fields.
Hanging out with bison are a bonus on a date night too.
The fine food was prepared by my friends Sarah and Tony Nasello and their son Giovanni. The Nasello’s own Sarello’s restaurant in Moorhead, Minnesota. They live in Fargo, North Dakota and I absolutely share their love and passion for North Dakota, the prairie and fine food. Plus together we talk agriculture and farmers and are working on a fun upcoming event. It’s secret. Shhh. Gio has permission to marry either of our daughters. Isn’t he a handsome boy with a beautiful mama?
My lumberyard owning/ builder husband and I checked out the lodge. Coteau des Prairies can sleep 20-40 people, up to 60 with roll-aways. I imagine family reunions, business retreats and girls weekends here in my future.
And I loved everything about the food.
There was a wine pairing with each course that Tony gave an explanation with and shared his Italian and Silician roots and passion.
And sometimes Gio was laughing at Tony.
Philip Breker shared about Coteau des Prairies Lodge a bit and their family story. I know of the Breker family through their extensive work in no-till farming. They are family farmers and leaders. Visiting their new venture of the lodge was encouraging for all young people (am I still young?) like me who want to see a next generation come back to rural areas. I suppose it is just as rewarding for an older generation to see.
There is a revitalizing of rural happening and you can feel the excitement I think. I definitely heard and saw it in the Breker family. Rural isn’t just label. It’s a livelihood and a way of life. A choice, I think. Driving across rural North Dakota to meet up with friends that share our common love of rural was worth the trip. We laughed. And laughed. And laughed some more, all in between eating.Tony’s Gnocchi alla Puttanesca: Light pillows of homemade potato pasta tossed in a traditional Sicilian sauce of garlic, white wine, tomatoes, kalamata olives, anchovies and capers
After the Gnocchi, it was time for an “Intermesso” in our dining. An intermission. A pause. We were served watermelon with balsamic vinegar to cleanse our palates. Delightful.
We soaked in a North Dakota prairie sunset from the deck of the lodge. My forever friend Karla, who I’ve known for nearly 20 years now, was chosen to be in a wine bottle opening contest. She had an old school cork screw and her competitor had a modern-day wine opener. I bet on Karla. She’s an engineer and smart.
Our “Secondo Piatto” was Pollo Tricolore. This was the best chicken I have had tasted in my life. Karla agreed. My plate didn’t look like this for long because I ate it all gone. My mama taught me to clean off my plate and I did!
Even those words and photo don’t do the chicken any justice. My favorite.
Italy on the Prairie with The Lost Italian was the perfect rural date night. Fabulous location. Fine food.
It had a sweet ending.
Tony gave us a cooking demonstration to make this dessert and I am definitely whipping it up for a summer treat soon.
The sweetest treat was four hours with friends over a long, fine Italian dinner in a perfect prairie location. It allowed for conversation and laughs, for time together we rarely carve out for ourselves.
Driving home, I asked Nathan if there was anything he would change about the date night. He said, “That we didn’t stay overnight!” Indeed, Coteau des Prairies Lodge isn’t a place you just want to make a short visit too. It’s a place to linger. Next time? We are staying longer!
What’s a fun place you have visited this summer? (I’m always up for a road trip!)