This is a post I have been meaning to share with all of you for a while now! It’s a story that starts as many of mine do…with shopping.
This spring, I paid a quick visit to Salt Market in Syracuse (You can read more about that here. It’s a really neat venture, and in my opinion, something we need more of in Upstate NY.). The warehouse where the market was held was filled to the brim with artisan goods – letterpress stationery, handmade jewelry, organic body products – but in true Carlynn fashion, I made a beeline to the corner where I spotted clothes hanging, bypassing all the rest. These were not just any clothes you see, but bohemian blouses, beaded frocks, floral prints, tailored dresses; essentially all of my favorite girly things, wrapped up in one beautiful pop-up shop called maeflowers vintage. Unfortunately, I only had a few minutes to peruse the racks as I was en route to a meeting at the time, but I did purchase a pendant necklace, and grabbed a card from the owner, Shauna. Later on that evening, feeling inspired, I posted a photo of the necklace on Instagram. That post lead to a visit to the maeflowers studio, a conversation between myself, my sister and Shauna, and an eventual invite from Shauna to a Friday night Slow Supper, put on by Cafe at 407, which is run by her Aunt.
A bit about the cafe via their website:
“The mission is simple: serve delicious, seasonal, locally-produced and handmade-with-love food. Food that nourishes the body, feeds the soul and builds community around it. We buy directly from farmers, change our menu with the season, and all of our proceeds go to support Ophelia’s Place: a nonprofit dedicated to changing the culture and conversation around eating disorders, body image and body dissatisfaction.“
What a wonderful concept, right?
I immediately said yes, and also agreed to help out by taking some photos of the event. I have to admit, I was a little bit scared of that part at first. I spend a lot of time snapping food (all day, every day, really), but that kind of food I can manipulate – some more light here, a garnish there – and this, well it was going to be live action if you will, with people involved, and waning evening light to boot. I had never done anything like that before. But I believe in pushing myself outside of my comfort zone – and I knew if all else failed, I was at least in for a good meal (That’s one thing I have never been able to turn down!).
When I arrived an hour early to start shooting and walked over to the park where the supper was held, I was blown away by all of the elements already in place. A singular wooden table; topped with pretty linens, glass water bottles, and succulent name cards. It was all so fresh looking. A drink station with ice buckets, paper straws, and chilled tea, set next to a custom-made bar. Not one detail was left out. My photographer eyes were so happy! I started clicking the shutter immediately.
After a while, I moved inside to the cafe itself and then on to the kitchen where I was greeted by fresh produce – radishes in particular that were almost too pretty to eat – capers being fried, appetizers getting plated, and a friendly staff all too eager to help me, explain things, and let me sample a few items in the process.
As the evening wore on, and guests began to filter in around us, I had a sweet conversation with Mary Ellen (Shauna’s Aunt) regarding how this night had come to be. As she relayed the series of ideas, people, and events that had brought us all to that very spot, I couldn’t help but think about how uncanny it is that when you follow your passion – do something from your heart – life opens up to you in a way to make all of those things possible. I’ve felt that for myself many times since leaving my corporate job and venturing out on my own, and I felt that that night, grateful to be a part of it – while in the presence of some pretty rocking #girlbosses too.
I wanted to share this with you then for all of the reasons above, but to encourage you as well. If you are in the Syracuse-area, to attend the next supper, and/or to visit the cafe in the meantime. I can promise you, you won’t regret it. And, if you are outside of these parts, perhaps to do something like this in your own town. I can’t even begin to tell you how great of an experience it was; sitting down with strangers who soon felt like friends. I was seated across from Gillian, who also attended Boston College (my alma mater), and as we talked BC-things, I was reminded that the world is actually pretty small after all. There were other conversations, about everything from wine labels, to blogging, to how to make the best salad dressing. Plus, lots of laughs. I hope the photos of the food speak for themselves, but in any case, everything was superb.
Finally, the larger message is that there is power in sharing a meal. It’s in the passing of the plates, the commonality of feeding ourselves, and the ease of connecting that happens when certain barriers are removed. These are connections that I think so many of us deeply need. Even as someone who feels very loved and supported on a daily basis, I still need that. It’s about creating a community, and together, nourishing one another from the inside-out.
I can honestly say that I left that Slow Supper feeling well-fed in more ways than one.