Learn About The Food

All American Knick-Knacks

A Growing Salt & Pepper Collection

The ever-growing number of salt and pepper shakers at the Roadhouse do get a good bit of attention. My partner Paul thinks I’m crazy, but humors me. A lot of people love them. A few barely notice them. Kids, I’ve noticed, are very into them. Parents walk them around and see which are their favorites and play games like I Spy. Design people get really into them. Every once in a while someone comes in, who has their own collection or who knows someone who did. Mostly people are intrigued, at the very least curious, which comes out most often in the form of two questions: a) how many are there? and b) how long have you been working at gathering up what’s in there?

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Classic Cocktails

Turning Back the Cocktail Clock a Hundred Years

One of the most exciting flavor developments at the Roadhouse has actually come about behind the bar. Just as we have worked to bring back classic, full-flavored traditional American foods, we’re reviving classic American cocktails of earlier eras. This return to old cocktail form is not just some superficial change. It’s not really about style (though it has it in spades), nor is it merely an academic exercise. There’s an enormous difference between the classic cocktails and the “modern” versions that carry the same names, as much as there is between factory and farmhouse cheddar, or the Creamery’s cream cheese and the stuff they sell in the supermarket. And the biggest part of that difference is about flavor—classic cocktails simply taste a whole lot better! Here are the keys to traditional cocktails at the Roadhouse.

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Delicious Desserts

Butterscotch Pudding

by Ari Weinzweig Honestly I’m not 100 percent sure what it is that makes this pudding so darned good. I don’t really eat much in the way of sweets, but I surely do love this. And so do loads of other regular customers. When it’s not on the dessert list it evokes loads of requests;[.....]

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Featured Food

The Search for the Imperfect Burger

It’s a new thing for me, this interest in imperfection. It just sort of happened. It’s strange how stuff can come together like that sometimes; fate finds funny ways of furnishing the material I need to make mental moves forward: things that unexpectedly open intellectual and emotional doors, stuff that helps me stay away from the stagnation of sitting with the status quo for too long. In this case it was a funny bit of nonfiction; burgers inserted themselves, unexpectedly, into the writing of a business book. One of the best things for me about writing as I get to do it here is that I move very freely from food to business and back again. Usually I have at least one essay on each in the works at the same time. I like that a lot—I live the food and the business work every day. And not that many people get to go from mission statements to wild mushrooms the way I do.

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Foodways: History You Can Eat

Ari’s Interview with Toni Tipton-Martin

I first met Toni Tipton-Martin nearly ten years ago at the Southern Foodways Alliance’s annual symposium in Oxford, Mississippi. At the time Toni was the President of the board and I was just getting to know what has probably become my favorite food-oriented, non-profit organization (our annual Camp Bacon is a fundraiser for SFA—read more[.....]

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Fresh Fish

Potlikker Fish Stew

This one’s on the menu at the Roadhouse so, although I’ve been making it at home, you could actually just go in there and order it for dinner as well. Either way, the dish starts with potlikker—the broth from the long cooking of greens (collards or whatever you’re using) with bacon. I buy mine from the Roadhouse but you can easily make your own by doing some long simmering at home. Take the greens out and serve them for dinner—save the potlikker for whatever you like. In the moment, we’ll say for this very fine fish stew.

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Full-Flavored Meat

Where’s the Beef?

What are you most excited about this upcoming year?
Sourcing local meat. Preparing barbecue everyday means that we cook with a lot of meat at the Roadhouse and always have used really good stuff like Niman Ranch and chickens from the Amish farmers in Indiana. As time goes on, we have opportunities to develop our connections to the community, and it has become more and more important to contribute to our community in any and every way possible. We’re working hard to create change in our own small piece of the food system. Finding local meat sources means that we’re looking for producers whose passion matches our own. We look for individuals who have the ability to produce really full-flavored meat. We work with them to select the breeds–old breeds–whose flavor profile satisfies our specifications. We then look to ensure that they are fed a natural diet and raised in a sustainable and healthy manner.

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Great Grains

Really Wild Wild Rice

It’s probably been ten years now since I wrote the chapter on really wild wild rice in Zingerman’s Guide to Good Eating. But this all-American food has been on my mind and my table a lot again of late, inspired in part by dialoguing with Meg Noori, who teaches Ojibwe at U-M and is doing amazing work to get language down in writing and up in regular use. (Email me and I’ll fill you in on my covert campaign to make Michigan the “Aanii State.”) But in the moment I’ll share a couple or six key points about what makes this totally traditional aquatic grass (yes, wild rice is not a rice; you can chalk the name up to more confusion from the early European settlers here—they thought it looked like rice so that’s the name it got.) so good.

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Real American Cheese

Zingerman’s Pimento Cheese Recipe

While everyone in the South knows this stuff at a level of intimacy my family would have reserved for chopped liver, it’s still relatively unheard of up here in the North. Although pimento cheese doesn’t have bacon in it, I’m giving you the recipe because it’s so good with bacon on it—the two pair up nearly perfectly.

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Really Great Ingredients

Love, Luck & Irish Butter

I’ll not forget my first trip to Ireland. I went over, on my own and knowing no one there, in June of 1989. Although I can’t say I could tell at the time it was happening, that first visit was the start of a lifelong love affair with the place. I’m not really at all sure why it happened. I suppose in truth it doesn’t really matter—the thing is that it did. I guess that’s usually the way that sort of stuff unfolds. Whether you’re knowingly ready or not, something clicks and you find yourself, planned or not, with a connection that works, one that continues to build as you get to know more of the details and the depth behind the initial experience.

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Sensational Sippin'

Totally into Tea

by Erin Thoresen

Rishi is a company that sacrifices nothing for quality. They travel far and wide throughout the world’s tea-producing regions in search of the finest quality artisan teas. They work directly with the tea growers – no middlemen – to guarantee a better relationship between Rishi and the tea growers, bringing us a better product.

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