Bourbon: The “Liquid Gold of America”

If you’re not drinking Bourbon at the Roadhouse, you should be!

By Sarah Bartlett, Bar Manager

Roadhouse Bar Manager, Sarah Bartlett, in front of shelves of whiskey and bourbon.
Roadhouse Bar Manager, Sarah Bartlett.

From a bartender’s perspective, the popularity of bourbon has risen significantly thanks to popular tv shows like Mad Men and a booming industry of craft cocktail bars. Euromonitor, a market research company, states that American whiskey sales have risen a whopping 40% in the past 5 years. Folks have come to appreciate the sweetness of bourbon over the smokiness of it’s eternally-popular cousin, Scotch.

You’ve probably heard that bourbon must be made in Kentucky to be named such, but the law says it can be made anywhere in the United States. The mixture of corn, malted barley, wheat, and rye must be at least 51% corn, stored in new charred oak barrels, and can’t exceed 160 proof. While there is no minimum age requirement many bourbons are aged for years, like one of my personal favorites Elijah Craig 12 year. Aging for longer periods forces the distillery to project demand years in the future, making availability spotty and creating hype when particular brands are scarce.  

Being a restaurant that specializes in really good American food and beverage, it makes perfect sense to have many different bourbons available. While the majority are distilled in Kentucky, we carry bourbons from Michigan such as Detroit City Butcher’s Cut and the increasingly popular Journeyman Featherbone from Three Oaks. High West Distillery from Park City, Utah is a crowd favorite with their various ryes, American Prairie bourbon, and Campfire; a blend of bourbon, rye, and Scotch.

There is no standing rule that you have to spend more for good bourbon. Two years ago at the Roadhouse bar, W.L. Weller went mostly unnoticed on the shelf. Rumors began that Weller was the same as highly sought-after Pappy van Winkle with a different label and much lower price tag. There is some truth to this, as they have the same mix of grains, but their age and warehouse locations are vastly different. Today we can hardly keep Weller bourbons in stock!

The best part about drinking the “liquid gold of America” at Zingerman’s Roadhouse, is you can can sample anything before committing to a full pour. In fact, we encourage sampling to ensure we find you a product that will provide a memorable experience. Whether you’re sipping it neat, on a giant ice cube, or enjoying it in an Old Fashioned or Manhattan, you’re going to love it alongside our pit-smoked barbecue. Better yet, visit us at the bar on Thursdays when we feature a Blue Plate BBQ special and $2 off any bourbon pour. Don’t forget to ask for a bourbon punch card–buy 9 and get the 10th for a dollar! See you next week?

On a Beach Somewhere

It’s a cocktail.

by Marcy Harris

The Somewhere On a Beach Cocktail at the Roadhouse.

Winter is upon us, and everyone has their own way of keeping warm.  It could be wrapping up in a cozy blanket in front of the fireplace. Some folks prefer to warm up by staying active, perhaps with a bit of snowshoeing followed by hot cocoa. I’ve actually heard quite a few people say they are leaving for a tropical vacation for a few days. As for me, since I’m not diggin’ my toes in sand anytime soon, a hot toddy will have to suffice to spread the warmth.

Melt away those winter blues!

One of our talented bartenders at the Roadhouse, Simon Anderson, pulled me aside the other night when the freezing rain was keeping us all on edge. He offered me a sip of something heartwarming. It was a steaming hot brandy infused with pineapple, and I felt myself melt into a  puddle when I tasted it. It tasted like candied dried fig macerated in the hot juice of a pineapple just pulled off the grill. It tasted like leaving a winter storm to be on a Caribbean beach somewhere, but you need both elements to appreciate what you have. Since I’m not hopping on a plane anytime soon, it’s just what I needed to accept that fact and stay put.

Oops. Turn that pineapple into something useful.

It came about as an accident, as many things do. The restaurant had accidentally ordered three cases of pineapple. We love pineapple and will gladly dish it up all day, but we needed to use it or lose it. So Simon made a pineapple syrup, and also infused Christian Brother Brandy with pineapple, cinnamon and a dash of Cayenne. He then blended Chai, chamomile, and Golden Yunnan teas with açaí, fresh ginger, and orange zest. 

The result? Think roasted pineapple soaked in brandy with a dash of exotic spices. It’s radiant, like the sun on golden sand. It will warm your hands, your soul, and and even your toes. Come in, get out of the chill, and sip one with us.

What else is on our cocktail list?

Journeyman Distillery: From Grain, to Glass, to Roadhouse

A new Michigan whiskey flight, featuring feathers.

by Marcy Harris

A journey to find the quality you seek may not take you far from home. While the Roadhouse has had many adventures seeking out the best liquor in America, one of our favorite discoveries has been right here in Michigan. Journeyman Distillery in Three Oaks offers everything we could hope for in handcrafted spirits: A commitment to quality, to staying 100% organic and kosher, and above all, to really good flavor.

That’s not to say we don’t love a good story, too.

We are Zingerman’s after all! The story of Journeyman Distillery begins with a corset and buggy whip factory. The space Journeyman currently occupies was used by E.K. Warren in the late 1800s for producing the first line of corsets made with featherbone instead of whalebone. Apparently he was also a prohibitionist. But perhaps if he was around to taste the whiskey coming out of his former factory today, he might chirp a different tune. At any rate, he put the small town of Three oaks on the map with his comfy corsets.

Fast forward to 2006, and a golf lover by the name of Bill Welter travels to Tasmania to visit his friend’s new golf course. Greg Ramsay not only developed the famed Barnbougle Dunes Golf Course in Tasmania, but his love for whiskey led him to turn and old grain mill into a distillery. Bill plays golf, visits the distillery, and drinks some whiskey. A few years later, he would return to Tasmania to learn the craft of distilling. By the end of 2010, Bill and his father, Chuck Welter, had purchased the old featherbone corset factory that once belonged to an avid prohibitionist…and turned it into a distillery.

The Roadhouse becomes a part of the story!

And what a fine distillery it is. By using the best quality grain in the Midwest from organic farmers, Journeyman has produced excellent whiskey with spirited flavors. We are thrilled to showcase them in a new flight at the Roadhouse. One of our bartenders, Lauren Grant, came up with the idea to showcase the rye, wheat, and bourbon whiskeys we bring in from Journeyman.

Lauren says, “I was inspired to put this flight together to showcase really great American whiskey that’s distilled in Three Oaks, Michigan. All of the grains (wheat, corn and rye) the folks at Journeyman Distillery use are certified organic and I love supporting businesses who go the extra mile to ensure they are using quality ingredients. The Buggy Whip Wheat is crafted from 100% organic Michigan grown wheat. This flight is a fantastic way to experience three different variations of a classic American spirit while also supporting a local Michigan Distillery.”

A toast to the prohibitionist who understood quality.

In order of tasting, the flight includes Featherbone Bourbon, the Last Feather Rye, and Buggy Whip Wheat. The Last Feather is a 2X Gold Medal winner, and the Featherbone has received accolades for being one of the best bourbons made outside of Kentucky.

In order of the flight, bottles of whiskey from Journeyman Distillery: Featherbone Bourbon, Buggy Whip Wheat, and Last Feather Rye.

Of the Featherbone Bourbon, Journeyman Distillery states: “Today, we create quite a different kind of Featherbone at Journeyman and find it ironic to be operating a grain-to-bottle distillery in this once “dry” community.  We hope that E.K. would find it in good spirits to see us carrying the torch for manufacturing into the 21st century.”

The folks at Journeyman named several of their whiskeys in honor of E.K. Warren and his revolutionary and adventurous spirit, and also in recognition of the fact that the products he made were done so in a time when manufacturing meant American-made. Journeyman has continued to do so with their artisan spirits right here in Michigan–a great place to live, eat, and drink whiskey.

FEATHERBONE BOURBON WHISKEY | ORGANIC & KOSHER

ACCOLADES

  • 10 Great Bourbons Distilled Outside of Kentucky – Men’s Journal
  • Best Bourbon Not From Kentucky – Gear Patrol

PRODUCT INFORMATION

  • Single-distillation from 70% organic corn / 25% organic wheat / 5% organic rye
  • 45% abv / 90 proof
  • Blended to profile for each batch

TASTING NOTES

Bold and assertive, youthful, earthy flavors, nutty notes, spirituous, cereal notes, peanut butter, sweet, caramel, vegetal qualities – warming on the palate.

LAST FEATHER RYE WHISKEY | ORGANIC & KOSHER

ACCOLADES

  • 2x Gold Medal Winner – San Francisco World Spirits Competition
  • 91 pts – Jim Murray’s Whiskey Bible 2018
  • 5-stars / Highest Recommendation – F. Paul Pacult’s Spirit Journal

PRODUCT INFORMATION

  • Single-distillation from 60% organic rye / 40% organic wheat
  • 45% abv / 90 proof
  • Blended to profile for each batch

TASTING NOTES

Ripe banana on the note, spice and pepper of rye really well balanced with sweetness of wheat, fruit notes, clean and dry, mint notes – easy drinking.

BUGGY WHIP WHEAT WHISKEY | ORGANIC & KOSHER 

ACCOLADES

  • 94.5 pts “Sensational!” – Jim Murray’s Whiskey Bible 2018

PRODUCT INFORMATION

  • Single-distillation from 100% organic Michigan wheat
  • 45% abv / 90 proof
  • Blended to profile for each batch

TASTING NOTES

Light bodied, summer, soft, approachable, Sweet, balanced, woody but well rounded, subtle vanilla, orange, caramel notes – silky and easy drinking.

What will you eat with your whiskey? Check out our menus!


Rice and Race; A Taste of African American Rice Cooking

The 14th Annual African American Foodways Dinner Event.

by Ari Weinzweig

Ari Weinzweig with Farmer Melvin Parson from We the People Grower's Association.

On Tuesday, January 22, we’ll be hosting our 14th Annual African American Foodways Dinner at the Roadhouse. Five different, delicious, rice dishes that highlight African American culinary traditions; two inspiring speakers; a wonderful way to raise money for a great local cause; and, of course, a coming together of community to share food and learning in the spirit of generosity which powers all of us every day. While the import and influence of African American culture, cooks, and cuisine play a huge and positive part in this country every single day, the dinner gives us an opportunity to highlight a particular part of that culture and cuisine.

This year, our work will be around the fascinating flavors of great rice. While commercial rice is quite easily available and well known, the roots of rice-growing in North America are little understood. And while industrially-processed, relatively flavorless rice is everywhere, there are some barely-known heirloom varieties with a whole other world of fine flavor out there!

At the dinner, we’ll do a bit of looking back—from the world of West African rice-growing centuries ago to the little-acknowledged work in the American colonies by enslaved African people. And, fast forwarding to 2019, to the also little-known role of modern African American chefs in what is becoming a renewal and revolution in the world of heirloom rices in American cooking.

It will also be a tribute to both the sorrows and celebrations of African American farmers over the centuries. Back in the early 20th century, there were roughly 1,000,000 black farmers in the US, owning about 15,000,000 acres. Today African Americans own less than 1 percent of American farmland. And there are fewer than 18,000 African Americans farming for a living. This dinner will, in part, be a fundraiser for one of the folks who’s working to turn that trend around—Farmer Melvin Parson whose work with We the People Growers Association has been both super-inspiring and exceptionally effective. Melvin will be at the dinner to share his story and talk about how funds raised can help him and others create the world class urban farm in Ypsilanti that he’s been working so hard to build!

Our other guest speaker at the dinner will be the equally inspiring, insightful, creative, Stephen Satterfield. While you may not—yet—know Stephen’s good work, if you come to the dinner, I guarantee that you will be inspired, and motivated to make more of a difference. He’s a skilled writer, publisher, wine expert, and more! I’ve heard Stephen speak a number of times in the last few years—at a Southern Foodways Alliance symposium; at Camp Bacon (a fundraiser for Southern Foodways—the speaker line-up for the main event is up and tickets are for sale); and at last year’s Juneteenth Celebration here in Ann Arbor (not to mention at the Roadhouse where he’s our wine consultant!). Having heard hundreds of other speakers over that time period, I can tell you that Stephen’s content and style are both top notch. If you want to get a taste of his work, check out his wonderful new Whetstone Magazine or his writing at Civil Eats.

All the talking and fundraising aside, the main point of the evening is the meal! A whole series of dishes prepared by head chef Bob Bennett, working with Stephen, Melvin, and me to bring the flavors of America’s fantastically flavorful heirloom rices to the fore! You can see the whole menu here. Hope to see you there for this celebration of the past, present, and future of African American cooking in this country!

Join us for an unforgettable evening at our 14th Annual African American Dinner!

Hawthorne Vineyards: A Secret Shared

by Marcy Harris

A secluded Michigan vineyard can’t hide its wine from the Roadhouse.

Courtesy of Hawthorne Vineyards

Discovering wine in Northern Michigan has been a passion of our beverage experts at the Roadhouse for years, and we have yet to be disappointed in our venture. Northern soil is rich with minerals from glacier deposits that impart unique flavor profiles in cool climate grapes. The extraordinary wines produced in Leelanau and Old Mission give depth to our list, and we are excited to bring the best of these Michigan wineries right here to Ann Arbor.

From wine what sudden friendship springs!
~ John Gay 

Hawthorne Vineyards is no exception. The wines from Hawthorne are vivacious expressions of one of the most beautiful and protected areas of Old Mission Peninsula in existence. Bruce and Cathleen Hawthorne purchased the 80-acre property in pursuit of their passion for agriculture and making wine that shares its many virtues.

Located on a high bluff overlooking West Grand Traverse, the winery is a world in and of itself, secluded from urban development. The property is surrounded by vineyard, water and woods only, protected by the Peninsula Township’s Purchase of Development Rights program.

While it makes for a serene and picturesque destination, Hawthorne’s intimate estate is perfect for small production, handcrafted wines. Of the 80 acres, Bruce and Cathleen have used 26 to plant their selection of grapes. By doing so, they can focus their efforts on nurturing the terroir to maximize the charming profiles of each wine. Their boutique tasting room offers an opportunity to savor and connect with a vibrant list, including Gamay Noir, Pinot Noir, Merlot, Rosé, Chardonnay, Pinot Blanc, Pinot Grigio, and Gewürtztraminer. While we love them all, the Gewürtztraminer is the selection we proudly offer on our list.

He who knows how to taste does not drink wine but savors secrets. 
~ Salvador Dali

Prevalent in Alsace, France, Germany, and Austria, Gewürtztraminer is an aromatic white wine that varies from sweet to off-dry. The grape itself was discovered in Northern Italy, in an area known as Alto Adige. It is believed that it might be a cross between the Italian Traminer grape and a Pinot varietal, resulting in a bright pink to light red fruit that boasts low to medium acidity and high sugars. The wine produced offers an intoxicating and complex bouquet of lychee fruit, flowers, honey, and delicate spice.

Hawthorne’s 2017 Gewürtztraminer exemplifies a terroir-driven approach, evoking the best characteristics of this Old World varietal. As you drink it, however, you will discover New World secrets unearthed from Michigan soil. Neither sweet nor subtle, this wine has shows lemon, tangerine and herbs on the nose, while citrus, pineapple, and dill intertwine on the palate, with a balanced, lasting finish. Enjoy it alongside our Creamery flight, or pair it with bright seafood dishes, and mussels.

Discover more of what we have to offer on our wine list.

BBQ Hash at the Roadhouse

A terrific taste of South Carolina

Thanks to head chef Bob Bennett, we’ve got a tasty new bit of traditional barbecue on the Roadhouse Specials list this week! If you’re from South Carolina, or have done some serious study of regional Southern specialties, then you’re probably familiar with barbecue hash. More likely, though, it’s completely unfamiliar. Robert Moss writes in his book Barbecue Lover’s The Carolinas: Restaurants, Markets, Recipes & Traditions, “Like yellow-mustard based sauce [which we also have regularly at the Roadhouse], hash is one of the regional twists that baffles newcomers to South Carolina barbecue. A cross between a meat stew and a gravy, it’s almost always served over a bed of white rice and it’s the state’s signature barbecue side item.” While pulled pork and ribs tend to garner national attention, in the small communities of South Carolina, hash remains an everyday attraction! 

It’s origins? The word “hash”—as in corned beef hash—comes from the French, hacher, meaning “to chop.” Some culinary history folks credit barbecue hash to enslaved African Americans who needed to make meals out of the small bits of meat to which they were allowed access. Others offer that it was invented by meat-focused German settlers. Whoever did it first, it’s likely that the dish worked well for anyone who would have been wary of wasting trim and scraps and wanted to turn bits and pieces into a singularly delicious dish. One that’s now one of the state’s culinary signatures! Barbecue hash served as a community builder as well. Libby Wiersema writes that, “Huddling around a simmering pot of hash is a time for kinship, a social rite where warmth is found through fire, food, fellowship and the following of recipes handed down through generations by masters of hash-craft—those pot-stirring wizards with a knack for turning odds and ends into Southern foodways gold.”

While it would certainly be good at a holiday meal, hash in South Carolina is down-to-earth, day-in, day-out fare. Jake Allen, the man who manages the marvelous Midway BBQ in Union, South Carolina says, “I eat hash six days a week.” He speculates that his father-in-law, who started the place “ate hash seven days a week—he took it home on Sunday!”

Bob’s put together a Roadhouse barbecue hash using bits of smoked pork and beef all turned into a great, just-a-bit spicy, gravy based around the South Carolina Yellow Mustard barbecue sauce. We’ve got the barbecue hash served up as a main course over the great organic Carolina Gold Rice topped with small bits of a toasted buttermilk biscuit. In South Carolina, hash is also a typical side dish, so order up a small plateful to accompany whatever else you’re ordering. Hash is on the weekend brunch menu as well, topped with a couple of poached eggs. And I’m thinking it’d make a great lunch sandwich—sort of a South Carolina Sloppy Joe! 

Come on by this week for some community and some great South Carolina comfort food!!

Check out our other dinner specials!

Biscuits and Gravy: Sawmill, Sausage, or Chocolate?

Come in and try three varieties of biscuits and gravy with us!

By Marcy Harris

Buttermilk biscuits with chocolate-bacon gravy.

Two days of note are fast approaching. Tomorrow, December 14th, is National Biscuits and Gravy Day. We will be featuring two different styles of gravies on our breakfast menu to celebrate. The Blue Plate Eggs and Biscuits with Sawmill Gravy we typically offer on Mondays will be available. Called such because it originated in logging camps hundreds of years ago, we make this thick gravy with Nueske’s applewood-smoked bacon at the Roadhouse. We will also feature our famous sausage gravy, which we make with our amazing hand-ground Roadhouse sausage.

December 16th is National Chocolate Covered Anything Day, and we will also be celebrating biscuits and gravy that day. Ordinarily you would think that chocolate has nothing to do with gravy. But this is Zingerman’s, and if there is a way to connect chocolate with gravy, we are going to make it happen. And we did. We actually have a third type of biscuits and gravy on our brunch menu, one that is quite unique and amazing. It’s our buttermilk biscuits smothered with chocolate-bacon “gravy”.  Yes, you heard me correctly.

Two days of note are fast approaching. Tomorrow, the 14th, is National Biscuits and Gravy Day. We will be featuring two different styles of gravies on our breakfast menu to celebrate. The Blue Plate Eggs and Biscuits with Sawmill Gravy we typically offer on Mondays will be available. Aptly named because it originated in logging camps hundreds of years ago, this thick gravy with Nueske’s applewood-smoked bacon at the Roadhouse. We will also feature our famous sausage gravy, which we make with our amazing hand-ground Roadhouse sausage.

The 16th is National Anything Covered in Chocolate Day, and we will also be celebrating biscuits and gravy that day. Ordinarily you would think that chocolate has nothing to do with gravy. But this is Zingerman’s, and if there is a way to connect chocolate with gravy, we are going to make it happen. And we did. We actually have a third type of biscuits and gravy on our brunch menu, one that is quite unique and amazing. It’s our buttermilk biscuits smothered with chocolate-bacon “gravy”.  Yes, you heard me correctly.

Chocolate and bacon? It’s all gravy.

I’m not sure whom to credit with the discovery of eating chocolate and bacon together, but I do know that it is one of the most sensational flavor combinations that ever existed. I mean, everything tastes better with bacon, and everything tastes better with chocolate. Right? So it only makes sense that the two together would take us to a new height of flavor. The possibilities are endless: bacon dipped in chocolate; chocolate-bacon cupcakes; chocolate-bacon donuts; chocolate-bacon ice cream… Many people at this point might have tried them together in a chocolate bar (think Vosges Haut-Chocolate’s Mo’s Chocolate and Bacon bar, named after our very own Mo Frechette at Zingerman’s Mail Order). But ok, who came up with the idea of chocolate-bacon gravy?

From the mountains to our brunch menu.

Ari has the lowdown on the history of chocolate bacon gravy, explaining how it might have originated out of the Appalachians. Bacon fat was used as the base for many mountain dishes, including the milk gravy they made from scratch. When Hershey rolled out cocoa powder over 100 years ago, they made chocolate more accessible to Americans who might not otherwise have been able to try it. As a touch of luxury, it was added to the Appalachian milk gravy made from bacon fat. A star was born.

It’s really something quite simple. Milk, cocoa powder, and bacon. But in combination, these simple ingredients offer rich complexity. We use Askinosie chocolate powder and Nueske’s applewood-smoked bacon in our recipe, both of which take it up another flavor notch. It’s spoon-licking good on its own, but smothered over our buttermilk biscuits? It really doesn’t get any better than that.  Sweet, salty, buttery and smoky all wrapped up in one? Yes please. It’s the perfect solution to one of those most challenging questions you can have at brunch. Sweet or savory? How about starting off your meal with both?

Now you are only stuck with the dilemma of what brunch drinks to order. You’re welcome!

Check out the rest of our brunch menu!

Cal-Fiorentina Steak at the Roadhouse

Dry aged steak dressed with exceptional new harvest olive oil from Hudson Vineyards!

by Ari Weinzweig

Dry-aged steak topped with new harvest olive oil from Hudson Vineyards in Napa Valley.

If you’re up for a really nice steak, if you love great, green, really peppery olive oil, if you want to celebrate Hanukkah in super fine style, or you just want a good meal, the Cal-Fiorentina steak at the Roadhouse could just be your ticket!

To give some context and explain the name, La Fiorentina is the classic steak dish of Florence. Generally, a big T-bone, cooked rare, finished with great Tuscan olive oil. In the never-ending entertainment I get out of playing with words, I combined the La Fiorentina, with the California origins of the oil, and got…Cal-Fiorentina!

The main thing, of course, is that this dish is delicious! It’s definitely on its way to becoming a great December tradition at the Roadhouse—the Hanukkah miracle is actually tied to the arrival of new harvest olive oil (think about it—waiting for more “holy oil” for the Temple? What was given to the priests in every culture was always the first fruits of a harvest. What time of year is olive oil harvested in the northern hemisphere? Add them together and the answer is that the Maccabees were waiting to bring the new harvest olive oil to the Temple to relight the Eternal Light with new harvest oil)!

If you aren’t familiar with new harvest oil—Olio Nuovo in Italian—it’s exceptionally green, delicious and excellent. More polyphenols, more peppery. Olive oil, of course, unlike wine, is at its peak of intensity immediately after being pressed. Even in the bottle—while still super delicious six or sixteen months later—will slowly but surely soften in flavor as the weeks pass. So getting this new harvest olive oil only a week or two after it’s been pressed is a special eating experience that can’t be replicated later in the year. I’m so happy to have this wonderful new harvest olive oil here in Ann Arbor! I’ve been friends with Cristina Salas Porras for a good twenty-five years now. I’m honored and touched to have this great oil crafted by her and her winemaking, farming husband Lee Hudson.

Hudson Vineyards is right across the road from one of our favorite wine suppliers and long-time ZingTrain client, Domaine Carneros (they love open book management), in Napa, a bit south of town on the road that will eventually take you down to San Francisco or over to Sonoma. Lee is originally from Texas, studied horticulture in school and then went to France to learn more about grape growing. Later he got his Master’s in Viticulture and Enology at University of California, Davis. Lee started growing grapes right around the time we started the Deli in the early ‘80s. The property he chose for Domaine Carneros has cool bay breezes and stony volcanic soil which helps his grapes and olives both to achieve excellence. Most of the award-winning grapes he grows are sold to very high-end wineries like Kongsgaard, Kistler, Cakebread, and David Ramey.

In 2004 Hudson Vineyards started producing its own wines. The olives followed a few years later—the 700 or so trees are spread around the farm. All are handpicked to protect their flesh and the oil that’s contained within. It’s made with classic Tuscan varietals making for a really wonderful peppery, green, front forward, fresh-tasting oil—well-suited to the Florentine origins of this dish. Just the sort I love! It’s perfect for the Roadhouse—one of the best American olive oils out there. The flavors are big, bold, meaty and memorable; the agriculture is sustainable, and clearly after all these years, so are the relationships.

And, of course, I don’t want to pass over the main point of the dish which is the actual steak! As it has been for so many years now, the steers for the Roadhouse beef are raised entirely in the pasture. The sides of beef are dry-aged for about five weeks, before being butchered in the Roadhouse kitchen. The steaks are cooked to order over oak wood logs, then finished with the olive oil. And to make the meal even better, they’re served with a side of terrific Tellicherry black pepper fries! A great meal, and a marvelous and historically appropriate way to celebrate Hanukkah!

It’s on our Chanukah menu, but you’ll see it again as a dinner special throughout the year.

Nashville Fried Pies: Pockets of Perfection

Big flavor comes in small packages.

by Marcy Harris

A cherry-filled fried pie at Zingerman's Roadhouse.

If I could pick one thing from another Zingerman’s business to eat for the rest of my life, it would be the Nashville Fried Pie we get in from Zingerman’s Bakehouse. The first time I ever tried one, I made up a little dance to go with it. Yep, it’s that good. Warm, buttery, flaky crust, luscious fruit spilling out into pools of melting vanilla Creamery Gelato… Oh. Em. Gee. Any pie from the Bakehouse is amazing, but these are super special because they are a hand pie instead of a slice from a bigger pie. A perfectly crimped little package, they are great for carrying to work, to school, or to hold while dancing in sheer glee over their deliciousness.

The legend lives on.

They are a long-standing tradition in the South, where historically they were known as “Crab Lanterns”. Made from crab apples, the pastries were cut with slits for ventilation, so they looked much like a lantern. There are many variations, of course, but ours are inspired by E.W. Mayo, who was known for the “world’s best” fried pie at his former restaurant in Nashville, Mayo’s Mahalia Jackson Chicken & Fried Pies. The dough was carefully cut around a saucer then folded over into a half-moon, each pie a work of love. People lined up out the door of Mayo’s restaurant to buy the apple, sweet potato, or peach. They were made by his momma, and he learned the recipe from her and had been making them since he was in high school. I love this video from Southern Foodways Alliance about Mayo, because you can see the process from start to finish: 

At the Bakehouse, they are made with the same all-butter crust they use for their whole pies, and the filling varies by season. Cherry, apple, jumbleberry… They are all amazing, whether they are hot out of the fryer or cooled to room temperature. They’ve become become quite popular on our dessert menu, and we encourage you to come try them for yourself!

 

Check out our dessert menu for the current flavor!

Southwestern Tsimmes from Joan Nathan

Spicing things up with a holiday favorite!

by Marcy Harris

Southwestern Tsimmes at Zingerman's Roadhouse.

Dubbed by the Houston Chronicle as the “Queen of American Jewish cooking”, we love our friend Joan Nathan because she connects us with Jewish foods and their stories. The author of no less than 10 cookbooks, Joan preserves recipes that are important to Jewish culture. 

“Cooking traditional recipes is a way of saying, ‘This is my family, these are our customs’”, says Joan. “Holiday cooking should show Jewish people where we came from.”

What we also really love about Joan is that she likes to make traditional foods approachable. One of our favorites are the Southwestern tsimmes from her James Beard award-winning cookbook, Jewish Cooking in America, and they are super easy to make at home.

While the Ashkenazi Jewish dish is more often prepared for Rosh Hashanah, they also find their way on the Roadhouse menu nearly every Chanukah. Joan’s version, which requires stuffing tsimmes into chilies, reflects how traditional foods can adapt as people move around the globe. At the Roadhouse, we mix the tsimmes with roasted New Mexico green chilies before we bake them to capture the Southwestern flavor. The adaptation fits perfectly with the Roadhouse because of our love for American regional cuisine as well as Jewish foods.

Rather spend your time stuffing your face than stuffing the chilies? In step 8, you’ll find an alternative that requires you to simply bake the stuffing in a casserole dish. Just as we do here, you can of course still mix chilies in with the tsimmes. The subtle smokey heat is a perfect complement to the sweet tang offered by the rest of the dish. What’s also fantastic about Joan’s recipe is that they are vegetarian, gluten-free, and could honestly be served throughout the season for any occasion. I actually make them for Thanksgiving after realizing that they are far superior to the sweet potato casserole I had been making for years. Any version you choose to make will definitely be a hit for your family holiday feast!


Southwestern Tsimmes Stuffed in Chilies

From Jewish Cooking in America

1/4 pound pitted prunes

6 medium peeled carrots, cut in chunks

3 medium sweet potatoes (about 2 pounds), peeled and diced

6 tablespoons honey

1/2 teaspoon nutmeg

1/2 teaspoon cinnamon

1/2 teaspoon salt

1 tablespoon lemon juice

1/4 cup orange juice

2 tablespoons chopped cilantro

12 green or red Anaheim chilies

  1. Mix all the ingredients except the cilantro and the chilies in a greased 3-quart baking dish.
  2. Cover and bake in a preheated 250-degree oven, stirring occasionally, until the vegetables are soft, but not mushy, about 2 hours. Let cool.
  3. Using a fork or a potato masher, mash the mixture coarsely with the chopped cilantro to facilitate stuffing into the chilies. This can be prepared a day ahead.
  4. Place the chilies on a cookie sheet in a preheated 450-degree oven. Roast for about 20 minutes, turning occasionally, or until the skin is black. Remove to a plastic or paper bag and leave until cool. Peel off the skin.
  5. With a sharp knife, make a slit from the bottom of the stem to the point of each chili.
  6. Gently scrape out the seeds and rinse the inside of the chili.
  7. Pat each chili dry and stuff with chopped tsimmes so that each chili is slightly overstuffed, causing the slit in the chili to open, exposing the filling.
  8. Bake in a preheated 350-degree oven for 10 to 15 minutes. Alternately, you can merely put the stuffing mixture in a greased flat casserole, approximately 9- by 13-inch, and bake in a 350-degree oven for about 20 minutes or until it is warm.

Yield: 10 to 12 servings

Whole Smoked Turkeys from the Roadhouse

A long-standing Texas tradition comes to the west side of town!

by Ari WeinzweigCoffee spice rubbed turkey at Zingerman's Roadhouse.

Smoked turkey in Michigan is mostly just about Deli sandwiches. But down in Texas, whole smoked turkey has been one of the strongest Thanksgiving traditions in the state for nearly 70 years. While the election seems to have caused a fair bit of controversy, it seems like serving smoked turkey at Thanksgiving is a non-partisan Texas tradition. People of all races, ethnicities, ages and political persuasion have long been sold on it. For good reason—a beautiful whole smoked bird on the table looks and tastes terrific!

Historically speaking, the smoked turkey tradition in the Lone Star state dates back to the middle part of the 20th century. For reasons I don’t really know—it seems to have sprung up strong with Jewish merchants. Rose Diamond, the Greenberg family (still the most famous Texas turkey smokers) and one “Mrs. Potishman” get the early credit. The Greenberg family originally used only kosher turkeys (Samuel Greenberg was a kosher “shochet”) but that part of the tradition fell away ages ago. At Greenberg’s, to this day, people of all backgrounds literally line up outside for days to get their smoked turkeys for the family table, so many that they could fill every seat at Michigan Stadium. If you want a non-Texan take on it, Oprah put whole smoked turkey on her holiday favorites list last year!

The Roadhouse, being focused, as you know, on bringing all sorts of long-standing American food traditions here to Ann Arbor has added this Texas treat to our annual routine on the pit. Whole, free-range turkeys (about 18 pounds each) from Peacock’s Poultry Farm, that we rub with extra virgin olive oil, fresh garlic, and our Spicy Coffee Spice Rub. (It’s a great seasoning—ground Roadhouse Joe coffee, Turkish Urfa pepper, black Tellicherry pepper, cloves, and sea salt. It’s excellent on potatoes, fish, and steak, too!) The turkeys are smoked over smoldering oak on the Roadhouse pit for about four hours. They come off looking lovely—dark, almost chocolate brown skin speckled with the spice rub.  The meat stays moist; the flavor stays big!

Like the Deli and Cornman Farms, the Roadhouse crew have a whole array of stuffing, mashed potatoes, pies from the Bakehouse, and a plethora of other really good things! And you can order it all online for pick-up at the Roadshow! They’re also doing more typical-for-the-Midwest oven-roasted turkey—if you’ve got a good sized family, having one smoked and one from the oven is a great way to go! That Roadhouse mac and cheese makes a marvelous side dish, as does pimento cheese, green bean casserole, and buttermilk biscuits. There’s a long list of options on the website!

Order your Thanksgiving To-Go from the Roadhouse!

Eat, Breathe, and Drink Wines from Maison Noir

André Hueston Mack breaks the trends to produce delicious wine.

By Marcy Harris

André Hueston Mack standing in his vineyard in Oregon.One of the most exciting changes we’ve made to our new wine list at the Roadhouse is to feature the noteworthy wines of André Hueston Mack. André owns his own winery in Willamette Valley, Maison Noir Wines, and has won Best Young Sommelier in America in 2003. He is the first African American to win that distinguished honor.

André’s road to success is one less travelled. For anyone who’s explored Ari’s anarchist approach to business, André’s philosophy will sound familiar. After learning about André’s guidelines to being a Mouton Noir, or a black sheep, on a presentation he did for TEDx Talks, I can definitely see how both he and Ari share ideas on becoming successful by doing things differently. Specifically, they both embrace the freedom of being unique, not following trends, and having fun while doing it. André fits right in to the Zingerman’s fold. Here are his rules for being a black sheep:

  • Don’t do what you are supposed to do.
    In A Lapsed Anarchist’s Approach to Building A Great Business, the first ingredient for Ari’s Recipe for Making Something Special is A Vision of Uniqueness. Likewise, When André mentions creativity, he emphasizes defining yourself as being unique. He did not grow up around restaurants or vineyards, but André followed a course that would take him to become Thomas Keller’s Sommelier for Per Se in New York. This is when he gained the nickname Mouton Noir, because he was not like many sommeliers in New York City. He found the name empowering.
  • Don’t be afraid to do it yourself.
    The second premise in Ari’s Recipe for Making Something Special is Bucking the Trends. He specifically speaks about the idea that when you start off doing something really different, you don’t often get a lot of support. André embraced his unique identity and chose to do something totally different… on his own. He left Per Se and became a winemaker. He opened his own winery, Maison Noir Wines with no startup and no investors. He didn’t have a design team to create his labels, so he created his own, and is now a talented self-made designer.
  • Don’t dress the part.
    André started to design t-shirts in addition to his labels, like we do at Zingerman’s. And he wears them, like Ari. Neither of them want to be caught up in a status symbol culture. André’s mission is to make sure wine is accessible to everyone, and to make sure this happens, he chooses to not be restricted by how other people think he should appear.
  • Don’t seek approval.
    According to André,“Wine is not a beverage reserved for the elite, but can and should be enjoyed by everyone.” He feels that wine is subjective, like anything else creative, so he does not have his wines rated. He understands that people will either like them, or they won’t. But he has to believe in the product, and avoid the anxiety of worrying about what everyone else thinks.

    Ari’s written an entire book on the Power of Beliefs in Business, and he’s been talking about the importance of belief since the beginning, “Without it…food is at best is technically correct, but almost always lacks the soul that makes it special.” By believing in his wines and not sweating about what everyone thinks they should be, André has been able to focus his energy on making them really great. Or as he says “put your energy into what feeds you.” In his new pamphlet, My Beliefs About Cooking, Ari echoes this sentiment, that the act of feeding ourselves just to get by has become so much more than that for him: “What was a rather unremarkable routine that ensured survival is now the centerpiece of my existence, something that sustains me physically and financially, intellectually and emotionally.”
  • Play.
    Having fun is another crucial ingredient in Ari’s Recipe for Making Something Special. For André, creativity is key. There is something to be said for figuring out what feeds you and playing with it. André has designed a coloring book about food and wine, called Small Thyme Cooks: Culinary Coloring and Activity Book. Have you seen his labels? Or his t-shirts for that matter? Personally, I’m a huge fan of his Knock on Wood label for his chardonnay:

The label André Hueston Mack designed for his Knock on Wood Chardonnay.


Or his Eat, Breathe, and Die shirt, which to me exemplifies what he means when he calls wine a “condiment to life.”

A t-shirt designed by André Hueston Mack with clusters of wine grapes that look like lungs.

If you like what you see, don’t miss out on an opportunity to taste wine created by the man who’s sharpened the edge on winemaking. Dare to be different and join us for a glass at the Roadhouse. Come alone if you’d like, wear a t-shirt, don’t ask permission. It will be fun.

View our new and improved wine list!

Curried Sweet Potato Fries at the Roadhouse

A great way to get your dinner going!

by Ari Weinzweig

Curry spiced sweet potato fries at the Roadhouse.The sweet potato fries at the Roadhouse, are, of course, one of the single most popular foods we make. I think we cut about 1,500 pounds of sweet potatoes every single week! If you didn’t know, they come, originally, from the Gullah tradition on the Sea Islands, off the coast of Georgia and South Carolina. They’ve been a staple at the restaurant for ages!

Last week, in our regular research into making spiced fries (we’ve had great success with Tellicherry black pepper fries, Cajun fries, cumin fries, and more), we had the thought to try our hugely popular sweet potato fries spiced up with the really great Garam Masala spice blend from our friends at Épices de Cru. Wow. That, it turns out, was a seriously good idea!

The blend is one of the de Vienne family’s long time specialties. And for good reason! It’s terrific. While, as they point out that “there are probably as many versions of this famous Indian blend as there are families in India,” their classic combination contains Indian cumin, black pepper, green cardamom, clove, mace and cassia. It’s killer! It’s also designed to keep you warm. As the de Viennes explain, “Garam Masala is a blend of aromatic spices originally designed to activate heat in our body, a principle that has long been applied in Ayurvedic medicine. Indeed, in Hindi garam means “hot,” whereas masala means “mixture.” It would have been created in northern India, in areas where winter is hitting fiercely and where the need to warm is undeniable.” All of which makes these curried sweet potato fries ideal for impending winter weather!

We grind the blend in the Roadhouse kitchen, so the essential oils and aromatics remain intact! As is true with the on-site milling of the rye at the Bakehouse, fresh grinding does make a difference. Really, all you have to do is smell these curried beauties to know you’re onto something special! The aromas are amazing. Literally, you can savor the scent as soon as they get to your table. Even just running an order of them to the table can give me a spice high! The creamy sweetness of the orange-fleshed sweet potatoes, the golden brown of the outside (from the double blanching) goes great with the spicy mayonnaise. Order them on the side with your burger or sandwich, share an order—or two—with your table mates. They’re so good, I’m thinking you could almost justify having them for dessert. Or, maybe just come by on the way home, have a beer and a basket of ‘em and then head on your way!

Check them out on our menu!

Caramel Apple Cider at the Roadhouse

October 30th is National Caramel Apple day. Celebrate with our favorite fall drink.

by Marcy Harris


A 16oz glass full of hot Roadhouse Caramel Apple Cider, topped with whipped cream and cinnamon.
One of the amazing things about living in Michigan has to be apple season. As soon as the colors on the trees starting turning, you can find me at any local orchard loading up with as many apples as I can get my hands on. Apple pie, apple cobbler, caramel apples….all the apples.

The best part about going apple picking at a cider mill, though, is always going to be the cider. It’s a labor of love, and it tastes like a crisp autumn day. It has not been unusual for me to upend a gallon of it into my mouth. While many local ciders offer just the flavor I am looking for this time of year, I am hard-pressed to find one that beats Hy’s cider from Romeo, MI.

The apple doesn’t fall far.

Hy’s Cider Mill has been around since the 70’s, but the orchard itself has been in the Goldstein family since the 1930s, when Joe Goldstein purchased it on 37 Mile Rd. His son, Hyman, sold apples at Eastern Market in Detroit with Joe, then started the mill so he could sell cider at the market as well. Today, Joe’s grandson Jim now owns and operates the orchard and the mill, and is proudly teaching his children to take over someday.

The Roadhouse has been using their cider pretty much since we opened. The flavor just can’t be beat. It’s tangy and and crisp, every sip like biting into a freshly picked apple. Every fall we serve it out of the Roadshow steamed, and it really is delicious on its own. But of course at the Roadhouse, we have to take it to another level.

A traditional treat transformed.

So we make a Caramel Apple Cider. And it’s amazing! The Roadshow steams Hy’s cider with homemade, creamy caramel syrup, then tops it off with real whipped cream and a dash of cinnamon. One of our veteran servers, Sharon Kramer, loves this cider. She likens the flavor to Grandma’s apple pie, and that is exactly what it tastes like. There is something about the cream melting into the warm cider and mixing with the caramel that offers a hint of buttery pie crust. Ya’ know how when you first pull an apple pie out of the oven, you can see the thickened juice bubbling up around the apples and caramelizing at the edges? We’ve captured that in a drink.

As the weather cools, drop the gloves and warm your hands (and your soul) with our Caramel Apple Cider. Your inner child will thank you.

What other warm delicious drinks are offered through the Roadshow?

We The People Grower’s Association is Growing

Farmer Melvin Parson’s dream to nourish the soil of the community is taking root!

by Marcy HarrisFarmer Melvin Parson holding a bunch of kale at his farm in Ypsilanti.

It is amazing sometimes how the vision of one person can bring a community together. A huge part of the mission statement for Zingerman’s is to “Show love and care in all our actions, and to enrich as many lives as we possibly can.” It’s no wonder that Farmer Melvin Parson has become an important member of our family, as he has set out to change the soil in the lives of everyone he comes in contact with by nurturing the community with his farm, We the People Grower’s Association.

Farmer Melvin has been delivering fresh organic produce to the Roadhouse for over a year now, along with several other local businesses including Frito Baditos, Miss Kim, the Lunch Room, and more. With the help of volunteers cultivating his modest half acre farm, We the People Grower’s Association behind Grace Fellowship Church in Ypsilanti, Melvin has been able to consistently provide good food to restaurants and to the community. But his dream is much bigger than a half acre.

Finding space for a large vision.

Melvin has a vision to turn his small farm into a world class urban farm that will not only provide food to local residents, but will also provide employment opportunities and education to citizens returning from incarceration. He has successfully added a Michigan-approved non-profit arm to the Grower’s Association, called We the People Opportunity Center, that is the catalyst for his vision. It is this center that will allow Melvin to use farming as a vehicle to provide these opportunities. It cannot happen on the half acre he is leasing from the church, though, so Melvin has discovered a chance to move into a larger property–the former Kettering Elementary School in Ypsilanti. Back in July, I visited Melvin to view the 10 acre space behind the school. I was super excited to see it, but was not prepared for the beauty and scope of what I walked into that morning.

Charles F. Kettering Elementary School in Ypsilanti, which is condemned and deserted.

The school is just around the corner from the church, and at the time I visited, the building was still intact, yet condemned. Melvin ushered me through a rusty fence, and as we walked into the schoolyard, it was like entering a secret garden. I got goosebumps as Melvin started to explain his vision to me of what he wants to do with the space.

There really is a giving tree. It’s in Ypsilanti.

It starts with a tree. No joke. He points it out to me, a 300 year-old burr oak towards the back of the property. I didn’t grasp the full immensity of this tree until we got closer to it. Melvin is tall, but this tree is huge. It is powerful. Melvin tells me about how when he first saw the tree, he just knew in his soul that this was where he was meant to be.

“This tree has been around long enough to see Native Americans here. Think of the stories it could tell, and the stories we can create with it.”

A large 300 year-old burr oak tree in the yard of the Kettering school.

He talks me through a vision of hanging lanterns, and benches wrapped around the tree. He sees maybe about ten returning citizens working the soil around it, all with living wages and benefits. He sees residents from the community gathered here, all engaged in different activities. A market stand here, beehives there… as we walk around the school yard, Melvin starts pointing and I can see it all materialize in front of me.

The front of the property can be a community garden, designed as a space for neighborhood residents to grow their own food, while WTPGA provides easy access to water, tools, and shares the knowledge and skills needed to produce an abundance of delicious and healthy food. The playground equipment that is overgrown with weeds can be used as trellises for fruitful vines. There’s a pole barn with farm equipment and hoop houses. The black top can be turned into a outdoor event space, where everyone is welcome to gather.

Old playground equipment at the Kettering school, overgrown with weeds.

The education doesn’t end with Kettering Elementary.

The biggest part of all of this, though, is the school building. It will be razed to the ground, leaving space for another building. This is where Melvin’s vision really starts to take shape. By establishing the Opportunity Center in its place, Melvin hopes to provide a world class culinary training facility for returning citizens and young adults in the community. It is here that Melvin sees a change really taking place. Where I see broken windows and discarded school books, Melvin sees hope and development.

“They locked the doors and walked away,” he tells me. “It’s all been completely deserted. No one loves this place as much as I do.”

The abandoned Kettering school building.It’s true. With all the work he’s put into this, Melvin’s love will nurture the abandoned property into something extraordinary. “If we can focus on bettering the soil of a community, people with flourish. People need a place to take root, and be nourished so that they can turn around and give back. Continue the cycle.”

He is so close to planting seeds of hope in Ypsilanti. One of Melvin’s favorite sayings is “When you have a vision, the universe comes back with the provision”. In this case, St. Joseph of Mercy has generously offered to match up to $50,000 raised by We the People Opportunity Center towards obtaining the property at Kettering and building the center. With the help of many volunteers and the support of New Solutions for Nonprofits, Zingerman’s Roadhouse, Habitat for Humanity of Huron Valley, and more, Melvin has a chance to start raising the funds he needs to make his dream happen.

Melvin holds up a playground statue he hopes to keep on the property as an homage to the Kettering schoolIt will start with a Harvest Festival of Thanks on October 27th at Grace Fellowship Church, where food and entertainment will be provided to the community as a way to celebrate the people who have generously volunteered and offered their time to We the People. It is here that Melvin will unveil his plans for the Opportunity Center at Kettering. All are welcome to attend this free event, which will officially launch the We the People Opportunity Center campaign.

Can’t join us at the festival? That’s okay, because there will be more ways to contribute in the future. Look for a donation page coming soon, and more information about the Roadhouse’s annual African American special dinner in January, which will offer a fundraiser for WTPOC.

 

Visit the We the People Grower’s Association website for more information on volunteering!

Chicken Fried Steak at the Roadhouse

A hearty old school taste of Texas.

by Ari Weinzweig

Roadhouse server, Michael Smith, holding a plate of chicken fried steak.

I’m sure you’ve been waiting anxiously for its arrival. I know I have. In case you forgot to put it in your calendar, October 26th is national Chicken Fried Steak Day. That’s right: a holiday. Don’t worry—banks and post offices will still be open. And, so will the Roadhouse, where every day is—or at least can be—Chicken Fried Steak Day! Though it’s certainly not our biggest seller (fried chicken, burgers, and ribs take those honors), it has a very loyal, almost cult-like following—folks who come and passionately order it almost every time they’re in.

To get into the spirit of the dish you have to think Texas, hot days, cold nights, cattle drives, Clint Eastwood in Rawhide. It’s a nice big plate of comfort food: really good dry-aged steak butchered in the Roadhouse back kitchen from pasture-raised beef, floured, dipped in egg, then breadcrumbs, and, finally, deep fried. (According to friend and food writer Robb Walsh, what we make is the Central Texas version.) Served up with three sides of your choice—homemade mashed potatoes topped off with a generous ladleful of homemade chicken gravy (you can have more, of course—just ask!), sautéed spinach, and the grits with cheese are just a few of my favorites. It really is a marvelous, big ‘ol platter of comfort food.

Ted Ownby of the University of Mississippi, says, “origin stories are always disputed,” and I’m sure the story of chicken fried steak would be at the top of the stack. I think it’s safe to say that floured or breaded pieces of meat have been getting fried and happily eaten by mankind for centuries. Texas State University history prof James McWilliams wrote in Texas Monthly that chicken fried steak was “a product of necessity and poverty.” I’ve heard tell that it came from the era in Texas when beef was cheaper than chicken—chicken fried steak was the poor man’s substitute! Beyond that, the prominent role of Germans and Austrians in settling Texas makes it likely that it has roots in the Central European tradition of Wiener Schnitzel—it’s not hard at all to imagine it as the frontier version of the upscale Austrian classic. The dish spread outward from Texas and, to this day, is popular up into Oklahoma and the rest of the South. The modern restaurant version seems to be credited to one Jessie Kirby who founded the Pig Stop drive-in restaurant on a Dallas-Fort Worth highway in 1921. In what was then a mind-blowing innovation, Kirby had teenagers who would hop up on the running boards of the cars as they pulled in to take the patrons’ orders (hence the name “car hop”).

At the Roadhouse, our goal is always to put out the most flavorful version of any dish we offer. In this case, rather than using tough bits of otherwise unused beef, we work with the same amazing sirloin steak we serve on the menu. Chicken gravy is homemade, as are the mashed potatoes! The whole thing comes together to make for what might be the consummate meat eater’s version of comfort food. So come on by on the 26th to celebrate National Chicken Fried Steak day in style (or any day, really!).

Check out all of our comfort food offerings on our dinner menu!

Jimmy Nardello Heirloom Peppers: From Italy to your Plate

They’ve come a long way, baby!

by Marcy Harris

A pair of Jimmy Nardello peppers, freshly picked.

A couple years ago, Ari and his lovely girlfriend and farmer extraordinaire, Tammie Gilfoyle, introduced the Roadhouse to the Jimmy Nardello heirloom pepper. They had fallen in love with these babies in California, and couldn’t wait to try growing them out in the former Roadhouse Farm hoop house as well as in our Out Front Farm patch (as the name suggests, they were grown in front of the restaurant).

We successfully produced a small batch of them, and were able to run them as a special for a bit. I loved having them in front of the restaurant, because I could just walk by on the way in to work and snag one to munch on. This year Tammie has grown a few out at Tamchop Farm, and we have been able to source bushels of them from Land Loom Farm to feature on our menu! It’s super exciting to know that this sweet, delicious pepper is taking off locally. They have a really cool history of how the seed got to be here so that these glossy red beauties could end up on your plate.

Booking passage for one pepper, please.

The Nardello can be traced back to Giuseppe and Angella Nardello, who grew it in their garden year after year in their Italian village, Ruoti. In 1887, they came to America with their daughter Anna and the seeds of their beloved pepper. After settling in Naugatuck, Connecticut, they started up a garden where they could plant these seeds.

It’s a success story for the seeds, and one of many. Immigrants often brought seeds with them, sewn into the lining of their clothes even. If you are leaving your home country and you don’t know if you are ever coming back, you bring those things that are the most important to you. That link is crucial, because otherwise the authentic, regional cuisine we know today won’t taste the way it is supposed to.

It’s so romantic, but at the same time surreal to think that if Giuseppe and Angella hadn’t brought their seeds, we would not be enjoying Nardello peppers today. The thought is almost enough to keep me up at night. Thankfully, they did, and out of their 11 children, their son Jimmy inherited his parents’ love of gardening. He carefully maintained the terraced beds, similar to what the family would have cultivated in their mountainous region back in Italy.

Under his care, the pepper thrived, and it became his namesake. The long, thin-skinned pepper dries easily, and was perfect for keeping through the cold Connecticut winters. Ever see a photo of dried peppers strung up and hanging over a kitchen window? Traditionally that’s how they are kept, after running a needle through the stems.

A pepper by any other name would not taste as sweet.A plate of sautéed Jimmy Nardello peppers at the Roadhouse.

When it comes to eating them, don’t be fooled by their fiery red appearance.  Nardellos do not contain capsaicin, the alkali substance that make other chilis hot. With their rich, sweet, fruity flavor, they don’t need to be fussed with in the kitchen. The pepper’s reputation has spread as a highly esteemed frying pepper. Just toss it into a pan with a little Fleur de Sel sea salt and Tellicherry black pepper, toss it around until the skin crisply bubbles and the candy sweet juice releases its aroma. Oh yeah…..

There are many more uses for them if pan-frying isn’t your thing. Nardellos can be grilled, roasted, stewed, pickled, canned, and used in any dish that calls for a sweet, yet firm pepper. I’m a huge fan of slathering them with goat cheese or snacking on them right out of the garden. Ari swears that they should be enjoyed on their own, with just a drizzle of new harvest olive oil. Their flavor is just that good, they don’t need anything extra really. In fact, they are so good, this variety has been placed in “The Ark of Taste” by the Slow Food organization.

Before he passed away in 1983, Jimmy Nardello donated the seeds of his favorite pepper to the Seed Savers Exchange, and now anyone can grow them! It’s really the perfect example of a legacy that stems from an heirloom seed, and every time I eat one all I can think about is all the history I am tasting. What a love of a pepper! Come on in and try them at the Roadhouse!

Check them out on our dinner specials menu!

 

Super Tasty New Shrimp at the Roadhouse

Shrimp and Grits, Po’ Boys and other good things to eat!

by Ari Weinzweig

Shrimp Po'Boy with fried shrimp, lettuce, tomato relish, and mayo on a soft baguette.

British Olympic cycling coach Dave Brailsford has an approach to progress: rather than waiting for some wondrous big stroke of success or genius to turn everything around, he argues, one should make a one-percent improvement every day. I agree—a small step a day adds up to big things over the long haul. This is very much how we’ve approached our work at Zingerman’s for all these years. We’re very committed to our visioning process—getting clear on the long-term future we choose to pursue—but at the same time, it’s all about small steps in the right direction.

There are dozens of these small quality improvements happening in the ZCoB every week. One of the more recent ones that’s on my mind is the new shrimp we’ve brought into the Roadhouse. Last spring, we began searching out something really superior, and after a bunch of phone calls, email exchanges, and collaborative conversations with folks around the country, we found our product.

The really fabulous shrimp from Mexico we chose fits our ideal product profile. It’s wild caught and fished from small boats (known as “pangas”) using specially designed nets to avoid the endemic bycatch problem of industrial fishing. There are no motors on the boats to reduce pollutants, and because the boats are small, they return to the dock after only hours at sea (rather than days at a time). This shrimping group has the lowest percentage of bycatch and the lowest fuel consumption of any good-sized shrimping group in the world. Quick processing is critical to seafood quality, and this shrimp is off the boat and at the plant within hours of being caught. The fisherman are paid more for their product, which helps the community. And, they taste terrific!

How good? One of our regulars ordered the shrimp and grits (made with incredible Anson Mills grits and topped with butter-sautéed shrimp) at the Roadhouse for dinner last week. On the way out, he stopped to say, “Hey, I eat out all over the world, and I’ve spent a lot of time in New Orleans lately. That shrimp and grits was seriously one of the best meals I’ve ever had. Anywhere!” Not five minutes later, another regular said the same thing: “Whatever you did to that shrimp and grits, it’s a keeper!”

Another great dish featuring this new offering is the Shrimp Po’ Boy on the lunch menu. A handful of these new shrimp, fried, are served on a soft bun from the Bakehouse and dressed with plenty of mayo, lettuce, and tomato, along with Roadhouse tomato relish. It comes with our Cajun fries (tossed with blackening spice). I had one the other day—terrific! The story of the po’ boy dates back to 1920s New Orleans. Two brothers, Clovis and Bennie Martin, decided to make a sandwich they could give away to striking street car workers. They gave the sandwiches for free to union members—hence the name—a sandwich for “poor boys” who had no money! Now, it’s a way of life down in New Orleans. With this new shrimp we’re excited to make the shrimp Po Boy at the Roadhouse part of ours.

While it’s still warmish out, come sit outside and enjoy an excellent lunch!

Hedges Cellars: Where Soil Meets Soul

Sip one of the most sought after wines in Washington State.

by Marcy Harris

Sarah Hedges Goedhart tending to a vat of grapes.

The Roadhouse is excited to keep discovering winemakers throughout the U.S. who round out our focus on women and minorities in the biz. There is something really special about the wines they produce! Our latest new favorite is a Cabernet blend from Hedges Family Estate in Red Mountain, produced by head winemaker Sarah Hedges Goedhart. The wine is a beautiful, lush expression of one of the most uniquely distinctive appellations in the country, and we are thrilled to have it on our list.

They might be small, but they are scrappy.

Located in Columbia Valley, Washington, Red Mountain started to develop its fertile slopes about 18,000 years ago, as glacial floods left behind gravelly deposits. The Missoula floods over the last 10,000 years have deposited a windblown silt creating dunes, and the resulting heterogeneous layers have created a terroir that is vastly different than those in the surrounding area.

The grapes are small, with highly concentrated flavor and complex identities, and their thick skins provide resistance against an extreme climate. With an average yearly rainfall of about 5 inches and direct sunlight on the southwest facing slope, the area is considered a desert climate, boasting high temperatures during the day. Cool winds from the north blow down the slopes and lower the temperature at night to preserve the acidity of the grapes. The combination of the interesting soil composition and the warmer temperatures contribute to complex characteristics in the Red Mountain grapes, creating some of the most sought after wines on the West Coast.

A Red Mountain vineyard, with the reddish colored dunes in the background.

Family owned and safely grown.

Tom and Ann-Marie Hedges started their winery in 1987 after Tom, a produce exporter, was asked to create a red table wine to sell in Sweden. Their daughter, Sarah Hedges Goedhart, is now head winemaker of Hedges Cellars, but she worked hard for the role. Her mother is from Champagne, so Sarah spent a great deal of time as a child around her relatives in French wine country. Wine was a huge part of her family’s culture, and she “…became fascinated by this liquid. A liquid that causes so much excitement, so much conversation and that has the power to dictate the entire evening.”

Even so, Sarah did not consider winemaking until after college. She then started working from the ground up as a “cellar rat” at Preston of Dry Creek in Sonoma. After taking an enology course at Washington State University, Sarah was able to step into the position of assistant winemaker at her family’s estate. For 8 years she worked as an assistant before she replaced her uncle as head winemaker, and 2015 brought her first harvest in a role she is honored to fulfill.

Considered one of the country’s greatest meritage producers, Hedges uses biodynamic farming on their vineyards to produce 4 different Cabernet blends. Similar to organic farming, biodynamic farming avoids the use of artificial fertilizers and pesticides. Instead the land is farmed so that certain practices correlate with the timing of natural elements. Chickens are employed to eat predatory worms and insects, and they in turn provide natural fertilizers for the plants. The grapes are hand harvested, and no commercial yeast is used during the fermentation process.
One of the vineyards at Hedges Family Estate

Sarah embraces the practice. “Hang out with your grapes!”, she recommends. “Be humble and know you are just an observer of this complex world of yeast, bacteria, proteins, and chemical reactions. I pay close attention through observation and taste, but I allow what wants to happen naturally just happen. I think this produces wines that express not only the place where they are from but also the vintage. We are telling the story of each year at our estate through our wines.”

The Roadhouse loves big flavor!

A bottle and a glass of the Hedges Family Estate Red Mountain Cabernet Blend.Their stories feature powerful Cabernet-focused wines with big structure that are full expressions of the land that produced them. They are less fruit driven than other Cabs in the state, but the unique terroir produces bold berry flavors with layered earthy qualities. The wine we’ve brought in from Hedges, The Hedges Family Estate Red Mountain Cabernet Blend 2013, is made from grapes grown on three of their vineyards, including 59% Cabernet Sauvignon 28% Merlot 5% Cabernet Franc 4% Malbec 2% Syrah 2% Petit Verdot.

A dark purple-black color, it gives aromas of dark raspberry, blackberry fruit, dried herbs, nutmeg and a touch of cinnamon. Playful hints of gingerbread, cardamom and dusty earth reveal themselves on the nose as well. In the mouth this wine is full, slightly sweet, and tart with just a hint of tannin on the finish. Our wine expert Felipe Diaz recommends this beauty with grilled salmon or swordfish, our burger, any farro dish, or a wood-fired steak.

 

Check out our specials to find out what you will eat with this wine!

Biscuits, Biscuits, Biscuits

The Year of the Biscuit begins at the Roadhouse

by Ari Weinzweig

Buttermilk smothered in honey.

The buttermilk biscuits at the Roadhouse have always been good, but in the last year they’ve been getting better and better. Barely a day goes by that I don’t hear a compliment about them. Even biscuit connoisseurs have started to swear by them. Southerners, transplanted Southerners, and biscuit lovers are all going bonkers for these.

While nearly every buttermilk biscuit recipe will have similar ingredients, the quality of the final product is in the hands and skill of the person making them. Head chef at the Roadhouse, Bob Bennett, and crew have been working at them for well over a decade. As Bob told me, “I’ve made biscuits at almost every job I have held. Over time, I have definitely gained an appreciation for our biscuits.” The results just seem to keep getting better. Karl Worley, the man behind the nationally acclaimed Biscuit Love in Nashville, holds the Roadhouse biscuits in high regard: “The biscuits at the Roadhouse are the definition of hospitality. Bob sources the best ingredients, carefully mixes them together, and bakes them to perfection. They are everything that takes me back to my grandmother’s table when I eat one. Buttery, flaky, and filled with love!”

My favorite thing of late is to buy a dozen and bring ‘em to meetings. While donuts delight and Bakehouse pastries are a surefire way to please, folks just don’t see boxes of freshly baked biscuits around these parts all that often!

A few years back Southern Living magazine wrote that, “Biscuits were so revered and celebrated in the pre-Civil War South that they were usually reserved for Sundays. Early Southerners actually considered the biscuit a delicacy.” I still do!

P.S.: The first biscuit cutter was created by Alexander P. Ashbourne. He got his patent for it on November 30th, 1875. Ashbourne was born in 1820 and lived to be 95 years old in Oakland, California. For more on the work of Mr. Ashbourne, see “Biscuits and Black History” from Southern Foodways Alliance.

We’ve got biscuits all day, but they start here!

From Seed to Plate: Heirloom Tomatoes at Tamchop Farm

How Tammie Gilfoyle champions the stories behind her seeds.

by Marcy Harris

Tammie Gilfoyle in her hoop house.

Sometimes it takes just an hour or two of visiting a farmer to give you a glimpse into the love and service that goes into growing our food. A recent afternoon with Tammie Gilfoyle, the farmer behind Tamchop Farm in Dexter, gives me more than just a glimpse. It’s an invitation to become part of an ongoing story that I realize is much bigger than farm to table. There is more beyond the farm that we don’t want to miss.

Rethinking farm to table.

Farming is undoubtedly a crucial source of food, yet the stories behind much of what we eat begin before the farm. They start with the seed. Seeds have come a long way. They travel across oceans and time. Their stories are shaped by visions of how what is grown will end up on our plates.

A perfect example is the sweet Jimmy Nardello frying pepper, one of Tammie’s favorites. The seeds migrated to Connecticut from the mountains of Italy with the Nardello family in 1887, and one of the sons in the family replicated the terraced gardens the family kept in the old country. The pepper is traditionally dried, and did well for keeping through the winter in Connecticut so it could be fried up as needed.

The farmer serves us by growing our food, but they also serve the seed to bring each vision to fruition, by continuing their stories. Out in Dexter, MI, Tammie is a leading agent of service in the local agricultural scene. Just like her boyfriend Ari Weinzweig, CEO of Zingerman’s, loves to connect our community with the stories behind food, Tammie loves telling us the stories behind her seeds. She does so by bringing her farm goodies to local businesses, including the Roadhouse, and to the Westside Farmer’s Market every Thursday during the market season. Tammie is also currently growing heirloom tomatoes for our upcoming annual Tomato Special Dinner, and we can’t wait to taste the stories behind the varieties she is nurturing.

Rows of sunflowers at Tamchop Farm

The vision in the hoop house.

As I pull up to Tamchop Farm, I am greeted by towering sunflowers basking alongside rows of squash and melon. It doesn’t take me long to spot Tammie in the hoop house, her long blonde hair and signature sunhat giving her away. She is tending to her tomatoes with her graceful dog, Eva, by her side. It’s a peaceful, welcoming sight.

Walking into the hoop house, I am wrapped up in my favorite aroma of pungent basil. Tammie grows a ton of the Genovese broadleaf variety for a local brewery Homes for their Blurb Sherbet, a blueberry basil sour ale that has gained national attention. There is also peppercress, and a variety of arugula called Astro that is one of Ari’s favorites. In fact, he calls her while we are chatting to ask her if she’s bringing any home.

Tammie's dog, Eva, in the hoop house.

Rows of tomato plants in the hoop house.
Courtesy of Tamchop Farm

As much as I love these things too, there is something else that is stealing the show in my opinion. For me, it’s the tomato plants. You can see right away the amount of work and dedication Tammie has put into growing them. As I stand in the entrance, I look down orderly rows of the plants. They are pinned to a trellis stretched across the length of the hoop house by these little gadgets called tomahooks. Tammie explains that when they get tall enough, she can lower the trellis, hook the plants, and slide them over, a process called “lean”. The result is stunning.

Tammie also uses garden mats for the plants, which help with weeds and controlling the temperature of the soil. A carpet of burlap bags from Zingerman’s Coffee Company between rows and beds also keeps the weeds at bay and provides a warm and welcoming walkway. It all seems simple and straightforward enough, but every solution stems from a problem.

“When I first cleaned out the hoop house, there were wheelbarrows full of weeds,” Tammie recollects. “I tilled, put down the manure, planted the seeds, and as soon as the water hit the soil there was more grass everywhere. I almost gave up.”

A close up of the tomato vines hooked to the trellis using tomahooks.But she didn’t give up, and as far as I can see, Tammie has achieved her vision in the hoop house. The proof is in the colorful jewels hanging in front of me. Cherokee Purples, Gold Medals, Moldovan Greens…the heirloom tomatoes stretch across a canvas of vines. It’s art. And the artist works hard for this, yet she loves every minute of it. She knows that every seed she’s planted has come a long way to get here, and she is honored to cultivate them into the fruit we look forward to every summer.

A golden heirloom tomato dripping with dew in the hoop house.

The story behind the farmer.

Tammie’s own journey began years ago. On a run in San Francisco, she saw two women on their hands and knees gardening, and she knew right then that she wanted to be like those women. While this was a pivotal moment for Tammie, her inspiration reaches back farther to when she was a seedling herself. Tammie grew up in California with parents who loved gardening, so watching things grow from seed has always been a magical experience. Her dad loves to grow tomatoes, and insists that they only be eaten with salt, not cooked. This profound respect for the integrity of earth’s bounty, for each and every plant and the fruit it has to offer, has been integral to how Tammie approaches her farming.

A close up of Tammie Gilfoyle.
Courtesy of Tammie Gilfoyle

“My inspiration comes from growing up with a family that values food and growing things of all types,” Tammie says. “This is all a dream I couldn’t almost even dream. I became a client gardener, and I can now be on my hands and knees like those women in San Francisco. It feeds my need to serve.”

She does so by learning every day, by understanding how to care for all of her plants, and by putting in a ton of work to do so. Tammie works in a community of farmers who all support each other. With the advice of fellow farmers like Stephen Lamberti of Rio Rosa and Jill and Nate Lada from Green Things Farm, Tammie is able to keep her vision going for growing her plants and addressing the issues that can pop up with farming. She keeps mentioning, “I’ve learned so much. No one makes you feel like you are doing a bad job, they all deal with the same problems.”

Purple heirloom tomatoes hanging on the vine in the hoop house.

Serving the seeds.

Tammie buys her seeds from Ann Arbor Seed Company, Johnny’s Seeds, and Uprising Organics Seeds in Washington. She gets a lot of information from all of them, including not only how to grow her heirlooms, but also where they originated from. Knowing their stories seems to connect her even more with her plants. Just as her friends all form a community and offer support to each other, Tammie also believes in being encouraging of her seeds. She whispers sweetly to her tomato plants “You are doing a great job!”

Seeds struggle like people, and have a history. Just like people, the more they struggle, the more they persevere, the more they have to offer. They carry forth a vision of what they can bring to a plate, and it becomes crucial for the farmer to give them what they need to keep the qualities of each seed intact. It’s these qualities that will determine how the resulting crop will be prepared, what it will be served with, and how it should be eaten.

Deep red heirloom tomatoes in the hoop house.

As we walk the rows, Tammie pulls a tomato out here and there for me to taste, and based on the flavor and texture she has worked so hard to capture, explains to me how it should be enjoyed. The soft, fuzzy Garden Peach tomatoes are my favorite, and while I could eat them all day by themselves, Tammie recommends stuffing them with cream cheese and scallions. Oh my.

I am glad that Tammie has persevered like her seeds, and not just because she is feeding me tomatoes. Her vision has become a reality, and she talks about the people who have helped her get here, who helped nurture her dream and keep it intact.

A handful of Tammie's seeds.

“When you write a vision and show it to people, they help you get there. The forces of the universe come together. People believe in me. Ari believes in me. He offers hope”.

And here we are, admiring how the hope of one woman in Dexter has become part of the stories behind her seeds, and in turn is making sure these stories are passed on. Look forward to having her tomatoes on your plates at the Tomato Dinner on September 12th!

Ari Weinzweig kissing one of Tammie's tomatoes.
Courtesy of Tammie Gilfoyle

Just a few of the stories behind the tomatoes in the hoop house.

A large Gold Medal tomato in the hoop house.

Gold Medal:

These beauties were originally named Ruby Gold in 1921 by John Lewis Child, and understandably so. This treasure boasts a stunning sunny orange with red marbling, and each fruit is worth its weight in gold at just about 1 pound. It was mentioned in Child’s catalog, which may have been the first seed catalog business in the U.S. These juicy, meaty babies were renamed Gold Medal by Ben Quisenberry, an ardent rescuer of heirloom seeds, in his catalog in 1976. Eat them fresh on their own, on salads, and even on sandwiches.

Moldovan Green:

A cut open Moldovan Green tomato.
Courtesy of Tamchop Farm

A vibrant green with golden kissed hues, this beefsteak-style tomato ripens to 8-12oz and boasts a bright, rich, and mildly fruity flavor. This baby deserves to have dishes created to have it star in, even a simple, yummy caprese. Or try it in a chunky salsa! It is a rare heirloom from Moldova, a little-known country straddling the border between the Ukraine and Romania. The original seed came to the U.S. via Glenn Drowns of Iowa, then was introduced in the Seed Savers 1998 Yearbook. 

A Garden Peach tomato on the vine.

Garden Peach:

This darling is a smaller tomato, but with a big, rich flavor. It’s appropriately named because the warm yellow skin offers a soft, subtle fuzz, like a peach, with a glowing pink blush when fully ripe. Elbert S. Carman, owner and editor of The Rural New-Yorker magazine, is credited with the origin of peach tomatoes due to his plant breeding work in 1890. Originally named “White Peach”, the unique fruit was soon after listed by seed companies and by the early 1900s, their own breeding work produced several new “peach-type” varieties. I love eating these straight from the vine, but I can’t wait to try them stuffed with Zingerman’s Creamery cream cheese!

Cherokee Purple:

Sliced Cherokee Purple tomatoes.

Don’t let the irregular shape of this variety deter you from tasting it’s sweet yet subtly smoky flesh. The skin looks like autumn, with dark green fading into purplish red hues. Tomato connoisseur and chemist Craig LeHoullier acquired the seeds from John D Green of Sevierville, Tennessee in 1990, who claimed that they had been in the family for over 100 years and were a gift from the Cherokee tribe. Upon growing the tomato and noting its purplish coloration, Craig named the variety Cherokee Purple and sent it to Jeff McCormack of Southern Exposure Seed Exchange. They are perfect for slicing, and their rich, robust flavor demands to be savored fresh in simple dishes.

New and Noteworthy Clam Burger at the Roadhouse

A super-tasty spin on the ‘60s classic of surf ‘n’ turf.

by Ari WeinzweigA Roadhouse burger topped with fried clams and tartar sauce.

This is not something you see every day. It makes me think of a great summer diner meal on Cape Cod—a small pile of freshly fried Quahog clam strips, set atop a blanket of homemade Roadhouse tartar sauce sitting, in turn, atop the just-off-the-grill burger on a Bakehouse-made brioche bun. The burgers, if you haven’t had one lately, really are something special—pasture-raised beef, dry-aged, ground fresh daily, hand pattied, grilled over oak. Contrast that meatiness with the crunch of the hot, fried clams, the creaminess of the tartar sauce, and the pillow-y, down-to-earth elegance of the brioche bun and you can see why it’s so good!

Seriously, this great new burger makes me smile every time I see one heading to a table. And, more importantly, it makes me want to sit down to order one. I’ve watched a few times from afar as people bite into it. I love the look they have on their face. Since it’s new to our menu, they are curious, intrigued, even excited. They decide to order it, and then anxiously await its arrival, hoping it will be as good as they imagined it might be. And then when it comes, the visual affirms their intuition.

To take it up another notch still, we’re serving the Clam Burger with a side of what we’ve been calling “East Coast Fries”—our usual hand-cut, double-cooked, potatoes tossed when they’re hot and right out of the fryer with a healthy dose of Epices de Cru’s “East Coast Spice Blend.” It’s quite a spice-world lineup—celery seed, Indian black pepper, red chiles, ginger, Canadian mustard seed, Spanish paprika, Moroccan bay leaf, Indian clove, Jamaican allspice, Sri Lankan mace, Indian cardamom, and some Indonesian cassia. It’s exceptionally aromatic and, for me at least, liberally enticing. Philippe de Vienne once told me, “The East Coast Blend is what the original Old Bay would have tasted like back in the ‘30s.” I believe him—Philippe is rarely wrong. If the name weren’t already owned by someone else I suppose we could have called it the “old Old Bay.” The original blend, by the way, was “invented” by a Jewish immigrant to the U.S.— Gustav Brunn escaped Nazi Germany and came to the States in 1939. He named his blend for the Old Bay Line, a passenger ship that worked the Chesapeake Bay. Shortly after arriving, Brunn got a job at McCormick spice company, but, Brunn claimed, he was quickly fired when the company discovered he was Jewish. Ironically, McCormick bought Old Bay in 1990.  Said Phillipe de Vienne, “We reconstructed it from a pre-McCormick can with the complete list of ingredients. That was very helpful as a starting point, and with the flavor memory of the old blend and some inevitable personal touches we arrived at something that was inspired from the original and hopefully preserved the touch of genius of Gustav Brunn.”

The more important story is, of course, how good all this tastes. People have been “ooh”-ing and “aah”-ing about the Clam Burger for the last few weeks since it first appeared on the menu. It really is something special. Surf ‘n’ turf taken to a new, down-to-earth, excellent level. An all-around, all-American blending of textures and flavors, a fine finish, and a very fun meal. Order one, imagine eating it by the ocean, and send the summer season off in style!

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South Carolina Mustard Barbecue

A little-known gem at the Roadhouse

by Ari Weinzweig

Pit-smoked BBQ beef with yellow mustard South Carolina BBQ sauce.

To state what most of you, and certainly, most everyone in the South, already knows, barbecue isn’t just something to eat—it’s tied to a region, to family, to tradition, to politics, to people. Just the other morning I met a customer at the Deli who hails originally from Chapel Hill, NC. She lives now in Birmingham (Michigan, not Alabama) and had only been up to the Deli once before. She was lamenting how she couldn’t find real Eastern Carolina barbecue. She hadn’t been to the Roadhouse yet, so I steered her that way, and I’m hoping that we were able to make her day by serving up the real thing. For the people who grew up with it, barbecue is a big deal!

The #1 seller at the Roadhouse is the Eastern North Carolina vinegar sauce that we started with. It’s right up there with the Red Rage, Memphis-style red sauce that Alex Young spent so many years working to perfect. But, more and more, I personally love this terrific South Carolina mustard sauce. It’s such a great blend of rich, spicy, tangy, terrific-ness that I find myself wanting to put it on almost everything I can think of (more on this in a minute).

While lots of folks in South Carolina are familiar with mustard barbecue, it isn’t necessarily served all over the state.

In the northeastern part of the state, they seem to eat mostly vinegar sauce akin to the Eastern North Carolina style we already do. In the northwest, it’s tomato vinegar akin to the way it’s done in western North Carolina. In the south down by the Georgia border, they opt for a thicker tomato-ketchup type sauce. But in the center of the state that they seem to swear by the mustard sauce. But in the center of the state, they seem to swear by mustard sauce. Heather Showman, who once worked at the Roadhouse and who grew up in Columbia, SC, was very happy to see it here when she started. For her, mustard sauce was just the way it was. “I think I was fifteen before I realized barbecue could come in any other color,” she told me.

No one seems very sure of the mustard sauce’s actual origins—one theory I read is that it was tied to the settlement of Germans in the area and their love of good mustard. Germans were actually actively recruited to the South Carolina colony in the first part of the 18th century, and there’s a relatively strong presence to this day. Some of the biggest names in South Carolina mustard barbecue are of German origin—Bessinger, Sweatman, etc.

The main thing here is that the mustard sauce is really good. Really good. Nothin’ fancy—just delicious! It’s made with a lot of Raye’s stone ground yellow mustard from Maine, Gingras oak-barrel aged cider vinegar from Quebec, a pinch of sugar, and a bunch of spices—ground coriander, celery seed, fresh garlic, chili pequin, and fresh ground Tellicherry black pepper.

How do you eat it? Simply put it on terrific whole hog, pulled pork (14 hours on the pit over smoldering oak logs). Great on a sandwich or on a dinner platter! Both are on the menu at the Roadhouse. If you’re up for doing a bit of “off-roading”, you can ask for a couple of things that I think are terrific but aren’t yet regularly on the menu: the South Carolina mustard sauce on the ribs or the Memphis Macaroni with the yellow mustard sauce instead of the Memphis red. Fantastic! Or, order some Eggs in Outrage, but made, again, with South Carolina mustard sauce instead of Red Rage barbecue sauce. Lastly—for the moment—it’s terrific on fish! So with that in mind, come on out and give it a try!

Check our all the BBQ on our menu!

Country Peach Pie: A Taste of Summer

August 24th is National Peach Pie Day! Celebrate with a slice at the Roadhouse.

by Marcy Harris

A slice of Country Peach Pie, topped off with vanilla gelatoI love pie. It’s always been my favorite dessert, no matter what the season. I’ve been asked what my favorite is many times, and I will always say “yes”. Cherry? You bet. Apple? Absolutely. Blueberry? Of course!

Peach pie will always hold a special place in my heart, however. For me, it has always tasted like summer, like bright sunny days and picnics. There is something really special about baked peaches, and the way their juice creates a warm golden syrup one could call liquid sunshine. Growing up, it was the last taste of freedom before going back to school.

Every bite is peachy keen!

The Country Peach Pie was actually the first pie I tasted from Zingerman’s Bakehouse after moving to Ann Arbor. I hadn’t started working for Zingerman’s yet, but I was a couple weeks away from getting hired in at the Roadhouse. It was right smack in the middle of August, and I was finishing up my shopping at Plum Market when I saw it. A layer of golden sugary oats standing out amongst all the other pie crusts. I didn’t bat an eye before snagging it, along with a pint of Zingerman’s Creamery gelato.

The experience was extraordinary. The Country Peach Pie is made with fresh peaches and a touch of real vanilla, then topped with rolled oats baked with brown sugar and browned butter. After warming the pie, the brown sugar melts into the soft peaches, offering warm pockets of sugary goodness. Each bite, when folded in with the tender oats, rolls out in waves of flavor that wrap one up in hazy summer memories. I felt like a kid all over again!

A perfect end to a peach of a season.

There is no surprise that this amazing dessert is a favorite for many of our diners at the Roadhouse. It really is perfect with the vanilla gelato from Zingerman’s Creamery. When the vanilla gelato melts into the pie, it creates thick, luscious pools of peaches and cream. It’s the perfect way to end a meal, perhaps along with a steaming cup of Roadhouse Joe.

It’s time. Before the picnic basket gets packed away and the school clothes laid out, come by the Roadhouse and treat yourself to Country Peach Pie before it goes on vacation until next year!

 

Check out our dessert menu for all of our yummy offerings!

We Love National Bacon Lover’s Day!!

Come in and eat bacon with us on August 20th! Or any day, really.

by Marcy HarrisA basket of applewood-smoked bacon.

Bacon. It’s something so dear to us at Zingerman’s, every spring we throw a five day festival around it called Camp Bacon. What’s not to love? It’s crispy, salty, and smokey. The flavor lingers well after the bacon melts on your tongue, and wraps your soul in a way nothing else can. It is something to be savored, as it has been for thousands of years. So if there is one day out of the year that honors this sizzingly addictive treat, we are going to celebrate–with all the bacon.

Bringing it home.

The Chinese were curing pork belly as far back as 1500 B.C., In the broad timeline of things, however, pork as a culinary trend in America is a like a drop of bacon grease is a very large skillet, yet one that spread very quickly.

Columbus reportedly brought 8 pigs to Cuba, but the kick-off of the American pork industry began with Hernando de Soto, who brought 13 to Florida in 1539. By 1542 his personal herd boasted 700, and the domestication and trade of pigs became very popular with Native Americans and settlers alike. By the end of the 17th century, the average American farmer had 4-5 hogs, used to feed his family and to trade with. Because of its extended shelf-life due to curing, bacon quickly became a year-long staple and a provision for settlers as they moved west.

According to Ari Weinzweig, who wrote a book called A Guide to Better Bacon, “Bacon is so integral to the culinary history of this country. The roots are so deep in our cooking, I think of it as the olive oil of North America.”

Today, bacon can single handedly boost the pork market. Americans consume 70 percent of their bacon with breakfast, but there are so many ways in which we can enjoy its deliciousness.

The cure for any appetite.

At the Roadhouse, we primarily use Nueske’s bacon, fondly dubbed “The beluga of bacon, the Rolls-Royce of Rashers,” by R. W. Apple, New York Times. Made in Wisconsin, the bacon is smoked for 24 hours over applewood, giving it a perfect balance of salty and subtly sweet.  It is perfect on its own, a thicker slice giving way to a tender bite.

We also love creating dishes in reverence to the pig, and will look for any way we can add a boost of bacon. We use it in our braised collard greens, pile it high on our burgers, and layer it on our grilled cheese sammys. It adds a depth of smokiness in combination with our pimento cheese that is unparalleled, so if you haven’t tried the Pimento Bacon Mac yet, make sure you order it the next time you visit. We love topping off our Stas’ Pierogi dish with loads of bacon, creating something similar to a loaded baked potato along with the sour cream. If you are stopping in for breakfast or brunch, the Grits and Bits Waffle is a favorite, the batter packed with bits of Nueske’s bacon, Anson Mills’ grits, and Cabot cheddar cheese.

Buttermilk biscuits with chocolate and bacon "gravy".

Do you love chocolate as much as you love bacon? Our buttermilk biscuits smothered in chocolate-bacon “gravy” is absolutely hands down one of the best things you can treat yourself to for brunch at the Roadhouse. One of our favorite desserts at the Roadhouse is the Donut Mondae, or the Everything is Better with Bacon Sundae. We take our famous buttermilk Dutch donut, top it off with Zingerman’s Creamery real vanilla gelato, then drizzle it with buttery bourbon caramel sauce, the chocolate-bacon “gravy”, even more applewood-smoked bacon, Virginia peanuts, whipped cream, and a cherry. You have to experience this, our cakey donut soaking up Creamy gelato melting with rivulets of chocolate and caramel, and bits of smokey bacon candied by all this gooey goodness.

There are so many ways to celebrate bacon at the Roadhouse, on National Bacon Day or any other day! If you just want to come in for breakfast or brunch and order sides of bacon, we’d love to have you here enjoying one of our favorite treats with us!

Check out our menus for more dishes we make with bacon!

Big Bad Voodoo Daddy Burger at the Roadhouse

Love affair between nationally known band and local food business gives birth to special burger!

By Ari WeinzweigThe Big Bad Voodoo Dady burger at the Roadhouse.

A few weeks ago, I got an email from Mark DeCarlo and Yeni Alvarez, co-hosts of the iTunes podcast A Fork on the Road. Turns out that they’d recently interviewed swing revival band Big Bad Voodoo Daddy on the show. The group has been playing together for 25 years, and they’ve performed over 3,000 shows. They’re still friends and still enjoy working together—super inspiring if you ask me!

During our conversation, Yeni relayed to me that they’d asked the band about their favorite restaurants, and Zingerman’s came up. Given that they’ve been touring nationally for 25 years, the fact they picked us out of all the thousands of spots at which they must have eaten is no small compliment. (The others on their list are all excellent, too—clearly they have good taste!) They went on about all the parts of our organization, but they particularly talked about coming to the Roadhouse.

When we neared the end of our call, Yeni caught me off guard with a question: “If you were gonna make up a menu item for the band, what would it be?” I stumbled for a few seconds since I wasn’t prepared. “Well,” I started slowly, “we have some amazing burgers. I think it’d be a burger, topped with our pulled pork with Nueske’s applewood smoked bacon and Tony and Julie Hook’s 7-year cheddar from Mineral Point, Wisconsin. And top it all off with the Red Rage barbecue sauce.” I paused. It actually sounded good. “Yep, that’s it. The Big Bad Voodoo Daddy burger!”

Two weeks later, head chef Bob Bennett put the burger on the menu. It’s been selling like crazy! Like the band, it’s got big flavors—if you’re up for a burger that’ll make you want to get up out of your chair and dance, something bold, this is it! Big bass, trombone, some sax…a lot of instrumentation…nothing subtle about this one!

If you want to hear the interview, check it out here. We’re mentioned about half way through. As for the band, here’s what Roots Music Report had to say about their recent album Louie, Louie, Louie:

Big Bad Voodoo Daddy is one of the most dynamic little big bands in the land. This 11th album is proof positive of that claim. Formed 24 years ago in Southern California they never fail to slay an audience.

I hope we’ve done justice to their big, thigh-slapping, boogieing beat with this new burger!

What else is on our specials menu?

Honoring the Ann Arbor Blues Festival

50 years ago, an Ann Arbor event changed the history of music.

by Marcy Harris

A photo of Son House playing the guitar at the Ann Arbor Music Festival in 1969.
Son House playing the guitar at the Ann Arbor Music Festival in 1969.

On August 16th-18th, the 50th Anniversary of the Ann Arbor Blues Festival will bring great music, amazing people, and a celebration of Ann Arbor history.  The event will strike a chord that is local, national, musical, and personal for many. It’s about remembering and reviving, connecting and caring, listening and learning.

In 1969, 13 years before we opened Zingerman’s, a handful of students at the University of Michigan took the initiative to start the very first festival to honor the blues. The impact on the history of music was beyond the scope of a small university town in Michigan. The strum of live blues echoed beyond Ann Arbor to connect the nation with the soul of American music.

Twenty thousand people went out to what is now Fuller Park to hear from the top blues players in the country. The three day lineup included blues greats such as B.B. King, Howlin’ Wolf, and Muddy Waters. Not only was the Ann Arbor Blues Festival the first of many live blues and jazz festivals all over America, it introduced music from black artists to a mostly white community.

The director of the present day Ann Arbor Blues Festival, James Partridge, reminds us that, “It was a really major cultural event, because it introduced black music by black artists to a white audience. It was the ‘by black artists’ part that was so transformative. I’ve spoken to so many people who were in the audience, and their reaction was like, ‘Wow, these guys are playing Rolling Stones songs and Zeppelin tunes.’ They didn’t realize those (bands) had actually (covered) the blues tunes.”

The blues had already established roots in the Southern United States over a hundred years before the festival. It originated from soulful songs sung by slaves in the fields, then also developed after the Civil War from ragtime, folk music, church music, and minstrel shows.  Many of the artists who transformed the blues into the style we hear today were from small, poor Delta towns, their artistic endeavors often limited by education, income, and oppression. Given that the blues offers narrative of the working class struggle, these musicians are actually true historians. They are bards passing on the cultural notes and stories of an era rich in musical talent, namely the 19th and 20th centuries when the reverberant hum of blues and folk music brought inspiration to a transitory nation.

One of these musicians, Son House, played at the Ann Arbor Festival. Ari Weinzweig says: “He was born in 1902, about 800 miles to the south, in a small hamlet just outside of Clarksdale, Mississippi. That’s the same town where, not that many years later, at the crossroads of Highway 61 and Highway 49, Robert Johnson—influenced by Son House who was about 10 years his senior—is said to have sold his soul to the devil. Both went on to become two of the greatest blues musicians of all time!”

Last August, the Roadhouse featured the story of Son House and the other blues legends at a fundraising event to support the revival of the festival. Thanks to local hero James Partridge, the soul of legendary music has been resurrected in Ann Arbor. In 2017, James brought back the Ann Arbor Blues Festival for one day. With the support of the Ann Arbor community, he was able to expand it into a three day festival last year, and into what will be an unforgettable celebration with the 50th anniversary on August 16th-18th.

Just like the James has brought back musicways embedded in American roots, Zingerman’s Roadhouse has strived to connect with you foodways that are steeped in American culture. Traditional Southern BBQ, buttermilk biscuits, collard greens, and more will offer you a taste of what makes our country great! Don’t forget to stop by the Roadhouse after your fill of really good music for really good food!

Buy tickets to the 50th Anniversary of the Ann Arbor Blues Festival!

Clase Azul Tequila at the Roadhouse

Bottling the heart of a spirited tradition.

by Marcy Harris

A bottle of Clase Azul tequila on the Roadhouse bar.

I am probably not alone when I say I’ve had to grow into my appreciation of tequila. I chalk it up to bad choices in college. After a few regrettable occasions of imbibing a little too much at parties, it took me years to venture into trying it again. Luckily by that point I knew people who could introduce me to really good stuff. I attended tequila tastings through work, and began to truly enjoy the depth of flavor offered by the agave plant.

So when our beverage specialist, Kim Green, brought in a new artisanal tequila, I was super excited to try it. The way she described it, the Clase Azul Reposado is a sipping tequila. Vastly different than my experience with shooting it as quickly as possible with lemon and salt.

Go ahead and lose the shaker of salt.

While tequila has often been enjoyed as shots in a celebratory setting, there is now a trend to slow down and savor the integrity of the spirit. Tequila offers a depth of character with beautiful flavors that develop from the blue agave plant. Many of the best tasting tequilas are produced from this plant, grown in the highlands of Los Alto, in the Jalisco region of Mexico. Clase Azul is among those.

Just like with wine, the flavor of tequila starts with terroir. The blue agave in Los Altos grows at a higher elevation, leading to more sunlight, which in turn leads to more residual sugars. As a result, you get a smoother tequila with more tropical fruit flavors. Clase Azul tequila is created using only 100% organic Tequilana Weber Blue agaves – the only kind of agave out of 200 varieties that produces tequila.

Once harvested, the hearts of the agave used for Clase Azul, the piña, are cooked in old-fashioned brick ovens for 72 hours. They are then crushed, carefully fermented with a proprietary yeast, then distilled twice to establish the quality of the tequila.

Like a fine wine…

Once the tequila has been fermented and distilled, it can then be aged. There are several classifications of tequila, and there are three types in particular that represent distinct characteristics determined by the aging process. Blanc is unaged, reposado is aged in oak barrels from 2 months to a year, and añejo is aged in oak barrels for 1 to 3 years.

Just like aging wine or a bourbon in oak barrels, aging tequila results in a unique array of flavors. Sometimes it can even be aged in a combination of barrels made of different types of oak to offer blended complexity. The Clase Azul Reposado is aged in carefully selected barrels for 8 months. The finished liquor is a mesmerizing amber color, with a silky smooth body. The notes are woody, fruity, vanilla, and toffee caramel.

A benevolent spirit.

This tequila is so unique and special, of course it deserves to be housed in art! The decanters used for all of the tequilas produced by Clase Azul are hand-molded from clay and hand-painted by the Mazahua natives in the small village of Santa María Canchesda. Just over 100 artisans create one precious bottle at a time.

According to Clase Azul, “Starting from the bottom of the bottle, the spiral appliqué on unfired clay symbolizes the earth’s fertility. When the earth comes in to contact with water, represented by a fine blue line, it gives life to the agave. Once the agave has reached its optimal ripeness and is jimado (“harvested”), the treasured heart of the agave is obtained.”

In addition to containing the tequila, the bottles comprise the México a Traves del Tiempo bottle collection. This collection is sold along with many other hand-painted pieces to help support the artisanal community in Mexico. This is all done through the non-profit part of Clase Azul. The charity uses the proceeds from the sales of these beautiful pieces to protect the cultural development of artisans who cannot afford the resources to continue their craft. As a result, a long standing art and tradition is preserved.

The Roadhouse is honored to include the Clase Azul Reposado among its collection of spirits. It is perfect to savor during the summer days out on our patio, offering a lingering warmth on the palate. Each sip offers a taste of art, of commitment to quality, and the heart of tradition.

Check out our seasonal cocktail list!

Eggs in Outrage

Delicious new breakfast dish at the Roadhouse

by Ari Weinzweig

Poached eggs smothered in Red Rage BBQ sauce, with breakfast potatoes and bacon.

Although I’m very bonded to traditional food, there are times over the years where my mind wanders from what’s been already been done, where I start to imagine ingredients combined in a new ways, all in the interest of creating something super delicious. For me, with my roots in history, it’s almost always taking an ancient dish and altering one element to take into a new construct. Which is exactly what happened earlier this spring when I was out running—I had an idea, which turned out to be too tasty to pass up. And now, a month or so later, it’s on the breakfast menu at the Roadhouse!

The jumping off point for me this time is an old Italian recipe called Uova in Purgatorio, or, in English, Eggs in Purgatory. It’s a delicious dish in which you heat up a spicy tomato sauce and then crack whole eggs right into the sauce, and simmer until they’re lightly cooked. When you eat it, you break the yolk into the sauce and sop it up with toast. It’s terrific!

The origin of the name? Well, the generally accepted theory is that the eggs represent the vulnerable souls, trying to stay intact, suspended between heaven and hell. Many people believe that the culinary roots of the dish go to the southern Mediterranean, where a comparable dish known as shakshouka has been made for centuries.

On this day I was thinking: what if I did what my friend, New York Times food writer, Melissa Clark, referred to when she wrote about having “widened my eggs-and-red-sauce circle?” What if, I started to wonder, we replaced the Italian tomato sauce, with an all-American usage of the Roadhouse’s now-classic Red Rage barbecue sauce? Not every idea I come up with is good. But this one turned out terrific. The intuition was insightful—the dish was delicious.

A month later, the newly-christened Eggs in Outrage appeared on the breakfast menu at the Roadhouse. (Credit for the name goes to the Roadhouse Kitchen Supervisor Dennis Bennette.) Two eggs, simmered in that great, slightly spicy, slightly sweet barbecue sauce, served next to those delicious griddled breakfast potatoes. We ladle some of the sauce from the sautée pan over the potatoes, too. Add one of those flaky buttermilk biscuits and, man, what a meal! A southern Italian tradition that’s taken an American Southern turn. It’s probably my number one breakfast choice at the Roadhouse right now! Come by and check it out!

Check out our outrageously delicious breakfast menu!

Cabot Cheddar: A Cherished Cheese at the Roadhouse

This cheese stands alone in making our dishes special!

by Marcy Harris


Roadhouse mac and cheese with caramelized Cabot cheddar cheese.
At the Roadhouse we can never have enough of good thing, and we definitely feel that way about cheese. Our list is pretty extensive, and includes a good variety from Zingerman’s Creamery, as well as many noteworthy cheese artisans from around the country. We are not trying to confuse anyone, or make it difficult for you to choose a cheese for your burger, it’s just that we love cheese. There is one that really lay the brick for the foundation of our menu, though, and that is our 1-year aged white Cabot cheddar from Vermont.

An aged cheese that never gets old.

Since the Roadhouse opened its doors in 2003, we’ve been using Cabot in many of our dishes. The crumbly, nutty, delicately sharp cheese lends itself well to recipes where we want to enhance natural flavors of other artisanal ingredients, not overpower them. For example, sprinkled on our creamy Anson Mills’ grits, it adds that something extra without smothering the heirloom corn flavor of the grits themselves. It’s a critical bit in our Grits n’ Bits waffle, but we want to make sure you are tasting the bits of Nueske’s applewood-smoked bacon, too, and the Cabot is perfect for that balance in flavor.

We use it in our pimento cheese because it is mild enough to support the fiery and smoky flavor of the roasted red peppers and cayenne. The texture offers just enough structure to make it perfectly spreadable on sandwiches or melted over corn beef hash. It cuts well into the smoke and and spice of our chili fries. And you know that amazing award-winning mac and cheese we love so dearly? The not-so-secret is in the sauce! It’s that velvety smooth melted Cabot cheddar that fills up every noodle, and caramelizes to a perfect golden brown on top.

I love it melted on a burger because it offers just enough sharpness to lift the round, buttery flavor of our course-ground beef that we want you to experience. On a cheese board it’s fantastic, pairing perfectly with the tang of our balsamic-marinated grapes.

Why Cabot cheddar is better.

Many of the products we use come from families, so it’s pretty fantastic that Cabot is actually a cooperative of dairy-farming families in Vermont. Even better that they are coming from farmers with mindful practices! The Cabot farmers take really good care of their cows. As the folks at Cabot like to say “As any dairy cow would tell you if she could, she who is most productive is she who is most contented.” They support participation in the National Dairy FARM Program, or Farmer’s Assuring Responsible Management, which ensures a commitment to the care of animals that will lead to safe and wholesome dairy products.

Cabot is a B Corps company, which means they use business to solve social and environmental problems by meeting high standards of social and environmental performance. They also participate in a program called Cow Power, offered by Green Mountain Power, which uses integrated services to help people save energy and resources.

What does all of this mean? At the end of the day, that the cheese we get in from Cabot tastes really, really good due to mindfulness of the cows, the environment, and the resources involved with creating it. So while we love all the cheese on our list at the Roadhouse, the Cabot cheddar will always be one of our most treasured. Add it to a farm-fresh salad, your eggs at breakfast, or have a wedge with a slice of Bakehouse apple pie. You’ll love it!

 

Explore our menu for dishes to add Cabot cheddar to.

Fried Ribs at the Roadhouse

Rockin’ appetizer kissed with a touch of artisan cane syrup!

by Ari Weinzweig

Fried ribs at the Roadhouse.

Because we’re around so much good food every day, it takes a lot to get our staff really talking. But that’s what happened when fried ribs hit the Roadhouse appetizer list for the first time.

The dish starts with the same super-popular pork ribs that the Roadhouse sells so many hundreds of weekly—they also helped earn the Roadhouse a spot on Bon Appetit’s Top Ten New Barbecue Restaurants list back in 2009. Made from free-running pork, raised by Niman Ranch farmers here in Michigan, these baby back ribs are liberally spiced and then set on the pit over oak smoke for about three hours. From there they head back to the kitchen where they braise for another three hours, and then they’re left to steam for another three hours still. When you order a rack, the slabs go onto the grill over more oak wood smoke, topped with some of our Red Rage barbecue sauce.

The fried ribs take a bit of a side road—the get cut into individual ribs, are dipped in buttermilk and seasoned flour, and then dropped in hot oil in the deep fryer. It doesn’t take long before they come out golden brown and hot. We drain them quickly and finish with a drizzle of Charles Poirier’s powerfully good artisan cane syrup.

The syrup is a story in itself. I met Charles probably five or six years ago at Southern Foodways Alliance, and immediately upon tasting, fell head over sweet heels in love with his homemade cane syrup. The whole thing is incredible–he raises the cane, crushes it, boils down the juice. One hundred and fifty years ago half the state of Louisiana probably did the same thing. Today, best I know, Charles is the only that’s still at it.

Because Charles’s syrup is limited, we bought up all we could get last winter. Fried Ribs will continue on while supplies of the syrup last (next harvest will be in the autumn). You can try Charles artisan cane syrup on a fried chicken biscuit at Happy Hour, too!

The fried ribs have been so popular that almost everyone at the Roadhouse has been talking about them and eating them! Stop by and order some up. I think you could make a meal out of the dish if you paired them with sides of mashed potatoes and collard greens. Either way, if you like barbecue, good pork, a touch of sweet and a bit of spice, they’re sure going to be a hit with you too.

Check out our dinner specials menu!

Birichino Wines at the Roadhouse

Bottling the American Dream.

By Marcy Harris

One of the vineyards for Bircihino Wines, in California.
Photo courtesy of Birichino Wines.

Our love and respect for American wine at the Roadhouse deepened the day before Independence Day, with a visit from Alex Krause from Birichino Wines! Alex visited us from California to talk about four refreshing, playful wines he produces with his partner, John Locke. The wines they make are delightfully obscure, made from Old World vines brought overseas long ago to be planted in American soil. As we tasted them at the Roadhouse, we got a chance to hear Alex tell us the deeply-rooted story of these wines–and how he became one of the artisans who brought the story to life.

Working from the ground up.

It all started with learning how to clean a tasting room and operate a forklift at Bonny Doon Vineyards. Alex Krause knew he wanted to pursue a career based on his love of business, food, and language. He had also spent time as a student in the South of France, so his exposure to French wines at a young age reinforced his decision to pursue winemaking. After writing to many wineries, he received a handwritten note from the clever and creative Randall Grahm at Bonny Doon Vineyard. Alex found himself embarking on a whimsical ride that would lead him to his business partner, John Locke (who also interned at Bonny Doon), and a venture into making really delicious wine.

After learning all the aspects of the wine business at Bonny Doon, Alex found himself sitting with a buyer in Montreal one day, who asked him to grow an obscure Italian wine in California called Malvasia Bianca. Alex advises not starting your business this way, but that is indeed how Birichino began in 2008–by producing one wine for one buyer.

It is no wonder they named their winery Birichino (pronounced biri-kino), which means “naughty’ in Italian. At Zingerman’s, we like to do things differently as well, so we are intrigued. The company consists of two employees, Alex and John, who do everything–from making the wine and keeping books, to cleaning the tasting room and running the forklift. They don’t own any vineyards, and they share their facility with a friend in an unglamorous industrial park in Salinas. So what makes Birichino wines so irresistibly special?

That’s the spirit!

Alex and John work with really old family-owned vineyards producing wines that you can’t get anywhere else in California. Alex admits that he relies on the kindness of the families who own the vineyards to grow the grapes he needs for his vivacious wines. These French, Portuguese, and Italian families are descended from immigrants who came to California either in the late 1800s or early 1900s and planted vines. The Malvasia Bianca that Alex and John started Birichino with is an ancient grape, and supposedly arrived as a cutting in the boot of a grandfather coming from Italy. Four generations later, I am sitting at the Roadhouse sipping this wine. It’s unreal.

So it occurs to me as I’m tasting wine with Alex and the Roadhouse team the day before our nation’s birthday, that we are tasting the story of what makes our country really great–the people who built it. Families immigrated here and brought with them the seeds and fruits that they didn’t want to leave behind. Their story is the backbone of our country as much as it is the backbone of the wines we are drinking. We taste it with what we eat and drink everyday, whether we think about it our not. We taste it in Old World wines grown in American soil.

Preserving the flavor of American terroir.

For the guys at Birichino, it is super important that this story is told by the grapes themselves. By selecting grapes that inherently express beautiful aromatics in a variety of ways, Alex and John are able to produce wines that reflect the terroir in which they are grown.This means trying not to intervene with too much processing. The key is understanding how to naturally preserve the flavor and freshness of the grapes.

For example, they pick the Malvasia from the Salinas Valley at 2:00am, when the grapes are at the peak of their acidity in cooler temperatures. To make their Vin Gris rosé, they pick fruits that are specifically grown for rose´, like Grenache and Cinsault, instead of using runoff juice from other wines. Their wines are lightly pressed, their whites fermented for long periods of time at low temperatures. They use stainless steel or neutral barrels. They refuse to filter their reds.

The result is extraordinary. Each wine we tasted with Alex offered a full expression of perfectly balanced, sensationally bright, and elegantly aromatic qualities. The natural beauty of the grapes shines through, unveiling the character of the soil in these aged vineyards.

“There are layers that carry you like a sine wave through time. Instead of imprinting our huge winemaking egos on these grapes, we do what we can to just reveal their qualities”, Alex explains.

As we taste each wine, Alex talks about the soil in which they were grown. In the mountains of California, layers of granite, limestone, and clay give depth of flavor to what we are tasting. Flavors of wine develop as a result of the struggle of vines in the rocky soil. What defines this country is a similar struggle, as we dig deep to preserve the families who built it.

Like America, these wines offer diversity. They are multi-dimensional, and as time passes, one is introduced to yet another layer of character. Like with America, it’s this diversity that creates liveliness, structure, and balance. 

Here’s to you, America!

The Roadhouse is humbled to feature the following wines from Birichino. They are lesser known, yet bring spirit and variety to our list. We encourage you to share a bottle with friends, especially during the summertime!

Malvasia Vines with the Monterey Bay fog rolling in.
Photo courtesy of Birichino Wines.

Malvasia Bianco 2014:
Don’t let the bold and sweet aroma of this refreshing white fool you! A floral bouquet with hints of citrus, lemon, orange, and grapefruit leads to a long mineral dryness. Alex and John ferment the residual sugar out of this one to give it a playful personality. Grown in the shale-strewn upper edges of the Salinas Valley in the Santa Lucia range, Malvasia is very aromatic and naturally acidic. The cool fog that rolls in from Monterey Bay at night preserves the freshness of the grapes. Planted in the early 20th century by an Italian family, this vibrant wine was the first one produced by Birichino in 2008, and the inspiration for the name of the winery, which means “naughty” in Italian.

Vin Gris Rosé 2017:

Grenache vines, used for making rosé.
Photo courtesy of Birichino Wines.

A delicate pink wine offers notes of tropical flowers and exotic fruits, followed by a smooth and lingering acidity. Alex and John created this one as an homage to Old World rosé from the South of France, and they make it from grapes specifically grown to make rosé. The most prominent is Grenache, grown in a vineyard planted in 1910 in the cool foothills of Sierra Nevada, at 3,000 feet. The other three grapes in this blend include Mourvédre, Cinsault, and Vermentino. Each grape is gently pressed separately, allowed to sit on their skins, then carefully married to produce this very pretty summery wine.

Bechthold Cinsault Old Vines, 2016:

Cinsault vines, planted in sand.
Photo courtesy of Birichino Wines.

It offers a lovely structure to the rosé, but drinks very well on its own as a plucky red. The Cinsault offers bright cranberry and strawberry notes with accents of purple flowers and hints of red currant. Planted in 1886 (the same year the Statue of Liberty arrived!) in Lodi, these vines produce a wine that is comparable to an elegant Beaujolais.

St. Georges Pinot Noir, 2016:

Big clusters of pinot noir grapes, hanging on an old vine.
Photo courtesy of Birichino Wines.


Lightly colored with scents of candied fruit and herbs, one of our favorite Pinots shows bright fruit and a little pepper on the palate. The St. George is built from 3 different Pinot Noir plants that offer a lingering array of perfumed characteristics, from red fruit to exotic incense. The flavor comes not only from the grapes, but from the stems as well, so much of this wine is pressed as whole cluster and left unfiltered to capture its integrity.

Tour our all-American wine list!

Tellicherry Texas BBQ Brisket

By Roadhouse Head Chef, Bob Bennett

Texas brisket on the Roadhouse smoker.
Here at the Roadhouse, BBQ is a big thing. We have ventured all over the map to learn about it, hitting as many of the hot spots as we could. The Carolinas and their whole hog BBQ, mutton BBQ from Kentucky, Alabama white BBQ, NOLA BBQ shrimp– these are just a few of the regions we have explored. There has been one, however, that we had never approached–Texas.

Until now. About a year ago, I started down a road of learning about Texas BBQ that led to brisket. My first stop on that road was the restaurant Franklin BBQ in Austin, Texas. The chef, Aaron Franklin, has a cookbook called Franklin BBQ: A Meat-Smoking Manifesto. For those of you who haven’t checked out this book, I would highly recommend it. It is awesome! There are 4-5 recipes that are well-detailed, and the book also captures priceless concepts he invests into his brisket BBQ. After reading this book a couple of times, along with really great articles from Texas Monthly, I came to the conclusion that we can indeed do Texas brisket BBQ!

It just came together from there. The timing was perfect, as we had just started receiving our Tellicherry black pepper from Kerala, India via Épice de Cru. Tellicherry pepper is like a fine wine in the spice world, offering superior flavor. Also, we had just started getting in brisket from Matt Romine at Farm, Field, Table in Ferndale, MI. Romine and his team source only from small, local farms where the animals are treated humanely and there is a high level of commitment to quality.

Sliced Texas BBQ brisket.

The cooking of brisket BBQ is a test of patience, but for those who see it through, the results are worth it. We start by trimming the meat of any crevices or odd spots that would overcook or not receive the right amount of smoke, resulting in a very smooth, aerodynamic piece of meat. We rub it with black pepper and salt, giving it a nice, thick coating. It is then pit-smoked over oak for about 18-20 hours, until the meat is nice and tender. The last step, and perhaps the most important, is the slicing. A great piece of meat can be wasted with improper slicing. Making sure each piece is cut across the grain to the right thickness is key.

The results are so good. The meat that hits the table is moist, smokey, and literally melts in your mouth. The salt and pepper finish really carries you to that next bite. It has quickly become a obsession that I am super excited to share with everyone on our menu at the Roadhouse.

Tellicherry Black Pepper Brisket Recipe:

Serves 6-8 people

3lb brisket, whole
8oz Tellicherry cracked black pepper
4oz kosher salt

  • Clean brisket of silver skin and any fat except for a ¼ inch fat ring around the brisket.
  • Moisten brisket evenly with water.
  • Mix salt and pepper together.
  • Liberally coat brisket with salt and pepper mix.
  • Smoke on grill or pit-smoker at about 200 degrees with off-center heat for 12 hours (about 4 hours per lb of meat).
  • Let the meat rest, then slice it in ¼ inch slices against the grain before serving.

Check out our full list of BBQ entrées on our dinner menu!

Sea Scallops at the Roadhouse

A delicious hint of the sea without having to leave home

by Ari Weinzweig

A dinner special plated with scallops.

While we’ve never really called them out as a headline act, scallops are actually one of the most steadily popular dinners at the Roadhouse—they’re one of those dishes that people come back for over and over again, quietly but consistently eating, enjoying, and remarking about how much better these scallops are than what they’re used to finding. In fact, one of my favorite, long-time, regular customers said with a smile a few months ago, “You guys have ruined me for scallops. I mean, I love scallops. And I travel all over the country and order them. But now, everywhere I go, I just think about how much better they are at the Roadhouse!”

One of the big, if little discussed, “secrets” to scallop quality is that most commercial versions these days are chemically treated to help them retain—in some cases even gain—moisture. Much as water-added-ham has become the commercial norm (reducing costs, prices and flavor across the board), treated scallops are what most people have been served. By contrast we only offer what are known in the trade as “dry-pack” scallops—no treating allowed. And we work with a long-time supplier—M.F. Foley out of Boston—to bring only the top of the catch, the freshest scallops we can get. “First and foremost,” the Foley folks say, “we don’t want to be bigger, we want to be better. Our scallops are never soaked in sodium tripolyphosphate because this standard industry practice destroys the natural flavor and texture of the scallop. People think we’re a bit crazy about our buying.” If they are crazy at Foley, it’s only in the same quality-committed way we are here. Their scallops are moister, more delicate, more delicious, more “of the sea”, you might say, than any other scallops around.

While you can order scallops at the Roadhouse any way you like, personally I go for ‘em done in a hot sauté pan, so that they outside gets slightly caramelized and seared just a touch. The meat in the middle is still really moist and tender, and they taste of the sea.

Next time you visit, ask for a little Roadhouse surf and turf—scallops topped with a bit of eastern Carolina pulled pork! The richness and smokiness of the pork (14 hours on the pit, sauced with a two-year-old, oak-barrel-aged organic cider vinegar from Quebec) set gently atop each of the scallops with their fresh-from-the Atlantic flavor.

Sea for yourself what’s on our dinner menu.

Fried Fish at the Roadhouse

We’ve caught traditional flavors just for you!

by Marcy Harris

Fish and chips at the Roadhouse.

The fish fry is a classic American tradition, bringing people together to create special memories as they enjoy special flavors. It’s a foodway enjoyed all over the United States, and every region will claim that their version is the best. At the Roadhouse, we don’t show favoritism. We offer fried fish every day on our menu in two ways, as fish and chips or as Southern fried catfish. We love them both, in very different ways.

Fish and Chips

Fish and chips is a dish people often associate with the UK, and rightly so. Fried fish can actually be traced back to Western Sephardic Jews, who settled in England in the 17th century and prepared fish coated in flour. The inspiration for this recipe was most likely pescado frito, a floured and fried fish that was coveted in Spain and throughout the Mediterranean. The Andalusian Jews in Spain enjoyed the fish on Shabbat in the 16th century. Once the culinary phenomenon of battering and deep frying fish coincided with that of fried potatoes, the resulting trend took off all over the UK. But the first known fish and chip shop, or “chipper”, to open in London in 1860 advertised fish made in the “Jewish fashion”. Before long, the paper-wrapped goodness could be found all over Britain.

The deliciousness known as fish and chips crossed the seas to become popular in the United States. While the style of breading, the type of fish, and the sides served with it vary by region, the customs are strong everywhere with this one. It’s a deeply rooted Lenten tradition as a way to enjoy fish on Fridays, and a prominent offering at potlucks and social gatherings in many areas of the United States. One could enjoy it fried up in beer batter on a Friday in Wisconsin, or on the bank of a lake as a Shore Lunch in Minnesota. Serve it with coleslaw, tartar sauce, French fries, or potato pancakes–no matter what it will always be authentic.

At the Roadhouse we make ours with either blue cod or haddock, the same types of fish used in England, Ireland, and upstate New York. Both species offer a firm white flesh that stands up well to our full-flavored beer batter. We make it with the P.U.B. Lager that Wolverine State Brewing Company in Ann Arbor brews just for us, and it fries up golden and crispy. Our fish and chips is a favorite with our regulars and our staff, served up with our twice-cooked French fries, mustard coleslaw, and housemade tartar sauce. Sometimes nothing else will do except for that flaky tender fish, wrapped up in a light, steamy shell, drizzled with lemon or malt vinegar.

Cornmeal Fried Catfish

Fried whole catfish with braised greens and cheese grits.
Photo courtesy of Emma Boonstra.

This dish has always impressed me, and I’m even more impressed by the people who can consume the entire thing. I mean, it’s a whole durn catfish. This is a Southern tradition we don’t mess around with. Whether the whole fish is breaded with cracker meal or cornmeal before being fried, there is a craft in how to eat it, working your fork against the spine to pull away the tender morsels.

The Southern fish fry is also known to be a social event, although it originated as a way to feed blue-collar families in North Carolina. Southern Foodways Alliance has put together an excellent film about the riverside fish camps that popped up in North Carolina as a way to feed textile mill workers in the 1940s. The laborers would catch their own fish and the fish shacks would clean and fry it for them, then serve it with hush puppies, French fries, and coleslaw. The feast brought about a sense of community as the workers gathered on their days off, a feeling that continues today as families and friends gather to enjoy the bounty of fried fish.

We coat ours with buttermilk and Anson Mills’ organic cornmeal before we fry it up whole. After adding a pinch of garlic salt, we serve it with Anson Mills’ stone-ground grits topped with Cabot cheddar cheese, our yellow mustard coleslaw, and a mess of bacon-braised greens. We named it after Uncle Joe Burroughs, the father of our friend and food tour expert, Peggy Markel. Peggy has fond memories of growing up in Alabama, eating her father’s fried catfish. “He always wanted his own fried catfish joint. He was famous. People came from far and wide to our house for some of ‘Uncle Joe’s famous catfish.’ We never had enough money to realize his Catfish Café, but we had one anyway, every Friday night at our house with people going crazy over crispy fried catfish.”

Whether or not you choose to share your catfish, I recommend bringing your appetite for this one, because you won’t want to stop once you dig in. Every bite melts in your mouth.

Raye’s Yellow Mustard from Maine

The primary color of mustard makes its way to Ann Arbor

by Ari Weinzweig

A jar of Raye's Mustard.

Given all of the really great goings on in the food world these days, something as seemingly simple as yellow mustard would be easy to miss. But, you won’t be shocked, I suppose, to hear that here at Zingerman’s we’ve tracked down a yellow mustard that’s made by some of the most mustard-passionate people in the country.

The folks at Raye’s in the tiny town of Eastport, Maine, are almost as far north as one could go without actually crossing the border into Canada (the town is actually the easternmost city in the U.S.). Raye’s is the only traditional stone mustard mill left in the U.S., and as Karen Raye says, “It’s probably the only one left in the Western Hemisphere.” The mill was built 109 years ago, at the turn of the century, by her husband’s great-great uncle, J.W. “If he were here today, J.W. would see the mill pretty much as it was working when he built it. We’re still using the original stones” she said, referring to the eight, 2000-pound, quartz wheels that were quarried, carved, and carted over from France in 1900.

The mustard-making process at Raye’s starts with whole mustard seed. By contrast, most other commercial products these days start with already processed mustard powder. Raye’s work is all based on cold stone milling of that mustard seed. As the seed passes through each of the four sets of stones the resulting paste gets ever creamier, which explains why the finished product you and I get out of the Raye’s jar is so smooth. To protect the cold-milled seed, the Raye’s use cold water from their 400-foot well—same idea as mixing the bread dough out at the Bakehouse. Cooler water takes longer but protects the flavor of the seed. (Most all commercial producers today use heat in the production process to speed production and increase yields.) The mustard is then allowed to age for a few weeks before it gets packed up.

You really can taste the difference—just try a spoonful of it next to some standard supermarket offering. Try it on a sandwich at the Deli, or with an order of corn dogs (frequently acknowledged by Roadhouse regulars as one of the hidden culinary gems on the menu). Commercial yellow mustard, to me, consistently tastes remarkably thin and watery compared to the Raye’s, which has a mellow but mouth-filling flavor that I want to describe as “exceptionally yellow.” That is a rather silly thing to say, but it’s what comes to mind. “Yellow mustard” is so much a part of American eating that it’s almost a primary flavor in its own right. And if that’s the case, then the Raye’s product is the paradigm.

Find out what our favorite menu items are that we serve with Raye’s Mustard!

Zingerman’s Roadhouse Famous Corned Beef Hash

It might just be the best part of your day!

By Marcy Harris

Zingerman's Roadhouse Corned Beef Hash with poached eggs.

Somewhere in my teens I started branching out and trying new breakfast foods. While bacon will always be my number one, I decided it was time to discover what else my local diner had to offer. While ham steak was a strong contender, corned beef hash very quickly moved into second place. Please understand that we are talking about canned hash, so it was imperative that it was toasted very well on the flat-top to make up for the mushy texture. But as corny as it sounds, I liked the salty-sweet, pickled flavor. Little did I know that I had yet to taste really good corned beef hash, and that I would eventually work for a restaurant that serves a recipe our locals consider “famous”.

Really good corned beef, found just around the corner.

At Zingerman’s Roadhouse we call our corned beef hash “famous” because we use only the best ingredients, and we make it from scratch. We use corned beef from United Meats & Deli, started by the Corned Beef King of Detroit, Sy Ginsberg, at the Eastern Market in 1982. It’s the same corned beef that Zingerman’s Deli uses on their sandwiches, and we love United Meats because they are committed to providing the highest quality. 

Ari Weinzweig says “Good corned beef has been at the core of our work at Zingerman’s since we opened our doors in 1982! It’s been cured for us to Sy Ginsberg’s recipe for over 36 years now.  Long, slow cooking makes for that really tender mouthwatering texture. And our corned beef hash?  We’ve been making it for so long I can’t really even remember at what point it became a ‘Zingerman’s classic.’ But I do know that it is one!”

The preparation of our hash yields a texture and flavor that is far superior to a canned hash. There is a browned crispness to ours that transitions to a firm yet creamy bite in the center. We mix the diced beef with diced breakfast potatoes, celery, onion, and red pepper, all of which offer more flavor and more structure to the hash. The taste of the beef really comes through in a way that is well-rounded, toasty and buttery. You get a slight, smoky tang from the brine that just lifts the beef flavor without overwhelming it, like the super salty stuff I ate when I was younger.

Can you top that?

Enjoy our corned beef hash with runny eggs, and the yolk adds an extra level of richness. A few of our breakfast servers recommend adding Ari’s pimento cheese on top. The chefs will toast the cheese under the broiler so it is perfectly melted over the hash. Our pimento cheese lends itself really well to any meats on our menu that offer a smokier flavor, and this will give you a just the perfect kick to jump-start your day. With or without the cheese, our corned beef hash is a hearty, belly-warming breakfast that will fuel you for a day full of adventures.

Zingerman’s Roadhouse Famous Corned Beef Hash Recipe

Serves 4-5 people

2 lb diced russet potato (blanched and cooled)

2 lb diced corned beef, preferably United Meats & Deli

2 ½ oz butter

1 ½ cup chopped onion

¾ cup chopped celery

1 ½ cup chopped red pepper

6 tbsp all-purpose flour

1 ¼ cup chicken stock

1 ½ tbsp Worcestershire

½ tsp dried sage

¼ c heavy cream

1 tbsp salt

1 ½ tsp ground pepper

Directions:

  • Boil diced potatoes until just tender, about three minutes. Drain and run under cold water to cool.
  • Once cooled, mix the potatoes with the diced corned beef hash in a large bowl.
  • Melt the butter over low heat. Cook the onions, celery, and peppers over low heat in a large sautée pan until translucent (about 5-7 minutes).
  • Add flour and incorporate well.
  • Add chicken stock, Worcestershire, and sage, then stir until the lumps are gone.
  • Add the cream, salt, and pepper. Remove from heat and pour over diced corned beef hash and cold diced potatoes.
  • Gently mix by hand until all ingredients are well-incorporated.
  • The mixture can be cooked on a flat-top, a skillet, or a sautée pan. Heat butter, bacon fat, or oil, then add the mixture, pressing down with a spatula or spoon until it is browned. Turn over to brown on the other side and thoroughly heat through.

What else do we have for breakfast?

Sorghum and Biscuits at the Roadhouse

The syrup of the Mid-South sweetens breakfasts in Westgate

by Ari Weinzweig

A buttermilk biscuit with sorghum syrup, butter swirled into the syrup.

The other day, near the end of Sunday brunch at the Roadhouse, this older, but not at all old, gentlemen politely flagged me down. I know him a bit, but not well. He strikes me as smart, someone who’s well-traveled, well-read, and knows how to eat. He looked me in the eye and asked me with an edge in his voice, “How the heck can you have sorghum on the menu here?” His question was asked with fake severity, but the underlying message was “How am I supposed to watch what I’m eating if you put something as good as sorghum syrup on the menu? And, really, what are you all—who by all rights ought know nothing about it—doing with sorghum syrup here in southeastern Michigan, anyways?”

His question made me smile. “That’s what we do!” I said. And, that’s true. Sorghum syrup is the kind of stuff that, to me, helps to make Zingerman’s Zingerman’s. Something super-delicious, well known in its “heartland”—folks like this gentleman know it well, it tastes terrific, but it’s barely known at all here in Ann Arbor. Our job is to find it, study it, source it, get it here, and convince a bunch of folks who (unlike my Sunday brunch buddy) have never heard of it that it’s worth eating. Then, we stick with the process long enough that, like with pimento cheese, folks can’t figure out how they ever lived without it.

The sorghum plant is native to Africa and grown most places for its grain. For syrup making, the stalks are stripped of their leaves, and the stalks go through a mill to make the juice. It takes about three to four hours of boiling to get the juice cooked down—about 20 gallons of juice is reduced to two gallons of syrup. It’s primarily a crop of the upper South. Kentucky and Tennessee make the most, and its eaten a lot in North Carolina and Missouri as well.

At the Roadhouse, the sorghum comes from the great folks at Muddy Pond, about halfway between Nashville and Knoxville, Tennessee. It’s a tiny production, but their syrup is terrific. Watch this great Southern Foodways Alliance film to learn more about their work. (Thank you all who just supported Camp Bacon so that more films like this can be made.)

Probably the most popular way to eat sorghum syrup in the middle South is to put it on biscuits. Former Governor of Georgia Zell Miller, who grew up on sorghum, says in Joe Dabney’s superb book Smokehouse Ham, Spoon Bread and Scuppernong Wine, that you start by putting butter on a warm plate and pouring on the syrup, then you mix with a fork til the mixture looks a lot like cake batter. Now, spoon the mixture onto biscuits. John Freer, a customer who comes to visit from Kentucky said, “There is nothing better than big biscuits and lots of butter and LOTS of sorghum.” I’m inclined to agree.

I’m betting that sorghum syrup might just make you smile, too. The odds are that, if you’re from around the Mid-South, you may not—yet—know what it is. But the odds are also that if you like good food, have an interest in sweet things and complex, compelling flavors, sorghum is going to strike your fancy, too. I know the Roadhouse menu is big, but if you have room in your day to try some of this small, but sweetly delicious, footnote of Southern eating, sorghum syrup could just make your day.

Check out our breakfast menu!

A Honeyed Legacy for Honig Wines

by Felipe Diaz

Bottles of Honig Sauvignon Blanc and Cabernet Sauvignon on the Roadhouse patio.

Louis Honig purchased the sixty eight acres that would become the Honig winery in 1964. A San Francisco advertising executive, he found a parcel already planted with Sauvignon Blanc and Cabernet Sauvignon. He looked forward to a place where he and his family could enjoy time away from the city, and eventually make wine as well.  In the meantime, he was happy to sell the grapes to local vintners.

Unfortunately, Louis passed in 1981, and never saw any wine made by the family. As a tribute to his memory, Louis’ family took that year’s harvest and made wine, some of which they entered into the Orange County Fair in southern California. After winning a gold medal at the fair, the Honig family realized they might have something special on their hands.

Louis’s grandson, Michael, dropped out of college to focus on developing the vineyard, and has made it a model of sustainable viticulture in the heart of Napa Valley.  Honig practices sustainable agriculture by applying several biodynamic practices, including using sniffer dogs to find harmful bugs amongst the vines. Fittingly, they also maintain several bee hives across their property (“honig” is German for “honey”).

The Sauvignon Blanc is a bright, lively wine which bursts with aromas of orange and lemon, and hints of white flowers. Its flavors are clean and balanced, with grapefruit standing out, followed by lingering mineral notes. Pair this wine with our Kale and Pinenut salad, the Grilled Carolina Grits, or sautéed scallops.

The Cabernet Sauvignon shows more nuance and grace than many bigger Napa Valley cabernets.  The bouquet gives touches of fruits like cherry and blackberry. The palate is soft and smooth, with flavors of plum and dark cherry standing out.  Enjoy a glass with friends while tucking into a half-rack of ribs, grilled salmon, a classic New York strip, or even our Burnt Ends Mac and Cheese. Whether you are looking for a light summer meal, or a hearty dinner, the legacy of Louis Honig has the wine to turn your quick visit into a celebratory night out.

Tour our all-American wine list!

Nueske’s Wisconsin Applewood Smoked Bacon

“The beluga of bacon, the Rolls-Royce of rashers.”  R.W. Apple

by Ari Weinzweig

A tray of sizzling bacon!

Every morning, the aroma of Nueske’s applewood-smoked bacon sizzling off of stainless steel sheet trays has shimmered over the corner of Detroit and Kingsley streets. Depending on which way the wind is blowing, some, if not all, of the folks in the neighborhood are getting a wonderful, aromatically inspiring start to the day. If you grew up in the neighborhood, the smell of Nueske’s bacon, I would imagine, is the smell of morning.

It’s hard for me not to have Nueske’s on my mind this week. It is, after all, the week of the 9th annual Camp Bacon! The “Davos of Pork”, the country’s top conclave for caring pork curing professionals, and a feast of bacon for the brain, the belly and, of course, the soul. The Nueske family have been a big part of Camp Bacon since the beginning. I wrote about them extensively in Zingerman’s Guide to Better Bacon—the book from which the concept of the Camp originally emerged.

If you haven’t already tried Nueske’s amazing bacon, you’ll want to come by and try some. You’ll find Nueske’s in one form or another all over the ZCoB—at the Deli on a plethora of sandwiches (I’m partial to Renee’s Kitchen Magic), at the Roadhouse (try it in the Grits and Bits Waffle), or at the Creamery in our Bacon-Pimento cheese. This weekend, Nueske’s bacon will be out in force at the Bakehouse for their “Bakin’ with Bacon” classes at BAKE! and special bakes of Pepper Bacon Farm Bread and the delicious Bacon Pecan Sandies (one of Roadhouse’s Zach Milner’s all-time favorite foods—featured lovingly in the beautiful Zingerman’s Bakehouse book). We, of course, ship lots of Nueske’s bacon all over the country—the Bacon of the Month Club at Mail Order is one of our all-time top gifts. And, of course, we sell large quantities of it for folks to take home and cook in their own kitchens!

Tanya Nueske, who caringly took on the leadership of the business after her father’s all-too-early-passing, said, “Camp Bacon has been something Nueske’s has been lucky to be a part of, whether presenting our story to the campers or being campers ourselves and enjoying the day of learning, eating terrific food, and making new, like-minded friends. Thank you to all of our Zingerman’s friends for being such amazing bacon educators and good food proponents! Zingerman’s and Nueske’s have been BFFs (Bacon Friends Forever) since around the time the Deli opened, in the early 1980s.”

Nueske’s bacon will be out in force at every Camp Bacon event for sampling and tasting all week. Bring some home—in any of the many forms we offer it —to cook up in your own kitchen. Come to the Main Event on Saturday at Cornman Farms, the Biscuit Love Brunch on Sunday morning (also at the Greyline), and the Street Fair at the Farmer’s Market on Sunday from 11-2pm. The Nueske’s will be sizzling and sampling their wonderful product throughout the week! Grab a slice and raise a pork-centric toast to this terrific family, their fabulous product, and the much-missed spirit of Bob Nueske! The aroma, the flavor, and the energy are guaranteed—as is everything associated with Nueske’s—to be great!!

Check out the Camp Bacon lineup!

Pimento Cheese Burger on a Biscuit

Happy Hour Happiness –
Monday through Friday from 4 to 6 PM

by Ari WeinzweigA pimento cheeseburger slider on a biscuit.

Well, last week I was going on about pimento cheese on toast at the Coffee Company. This week, I keep thinking about the happy hour pimento cheese burger on a biscuit at the Roadhouse. Why? Because it’s totally delicious! Small but significant, it’s ideal early evening eating experience. To begin with, those buttermilk biscuits are so darned good. The Roadhouse crew are making thousands of them a week and the numbers are growing. The bulk of them, of course, go out at breakfast, but more and more I see them heading to tables in the evening as an appetizer or as part of the happy hour dishes. This mini-burger is made from freshly ground, pasture-raised beef, then grilled over oak, and topped with some of that really amazing pimento cheese that we sell an enormous amount of every week (and ship all over the country!)

The delicate butteriness of the biscuit, the savory meatiness of the burger, and the creamy, rich, gently spicy, pimento cheese. Only $7 during happy hour!

And what to drink while you’re getting happy and enjoying your burger? Here’s two picks from Kim Green, head bartender at the Roadhouse:

  • The “People’s Utility Beverage Lager” or P.U.B. Lager is made exclusively for us by Wolverine State Brewing Company! Enjoy caramel, toffee, nutty malt flavors associated with the style of a Mild Ale but with a brighter hop finish. This beer goes great with any of our dishes but whats better than an ice cold beer and a burger?
  • Ransom Cabernet Franc 2014: Aromas of tart fruit and red licorice. Flavors of cranberry, currant, and pink peppercorn lead into a bright tartness and full finish. Stands up to the smokiness of the burger and plays well with the creaminess of the Pimento Cheese and loves the butteriness of the biscuits!

Check out our very happy Happy Hour Menu!

Laurentide Winery: One of Michigan’s Finest

Here’s To Love and Wine

by Marcy Harris

A row of wines from Laurentide Winery.

Boasting a rich terroir, northern Michigan has developed a distinct character over the past few decades with its abundance of bright and lively wines. One of our favorite vineyards, Laurentide Winery from Leelanau Peninsula, has released some of the best we’ve ever added to our list. Recently, we’ve enjoyed uncorking bottles of knowledge about the wines that they make with tastings we’ve hosted at the Roadhouse. Like anything we offer at the Roadhouse, be it food or drink, we collect the stories behind the artisans who produce what we want you to taste.

In the wine world, there is an understanding that the more a vine has to struggle in the soil, the more the grapes develop complexity. Similarly, we firmly believe that the passion and endeavors of any producer deepens your experience and takes you to a new level of flavor. Bill and Susan Braymer have worked hard to produce their wines at Laurentide, and theirs is a beautiful story that starts with falling in love–right here in Ann Arbor!

Love, like wine, gets better with time. – Anonymous

Bill and Susan met at one of our favorite places, the Arboretum at the University of Michigan, on an unforgettable spring day. Their dates often included sipping wine, and over time a romance also developed with food and wine pairings. Their move to Napa Valley in California and their travels to France strengthened a budding courtship with winemaking, teaching them about soil, terroir, and all the earthly elements required to produce great wine.

With degrees in chemical engineering and process control already under her belt, Susan received her certification in wine making at UC Davis. The Braymers tried their hand at garage winemaking with vines in their backyard, but also started flirting with the idea of producing wines outside of California. They had already made multiple trips up to Leelanau Peninsula over the years, and in 2006 they fell in love all over again–this time with a cherry farm on French Road.

The connoisseur does not drink wine, but tastes of its secrets. -Salvador Dali

That farm is now a 10 acre winery, producing 6 varietals of wine. Laurentide is named after the last great glacier that pulled away from North America 10,000 years ago. As this happened, not only were the Great Lakes formed, but Laurentide carved the shape of the Leelanau Peninsula. Rocks and fossils from a sea floor dating 350 million years ago were left behind, forming the mineral-rich terroir that would ultimately provide layers of ancient flavor in the wines made in this area.

Leelanau, home to 26 wineries, is located on the 45th parallel, a global band that includes many other famous wine growing regions, including Piedmont, Italy, and Bordeaux, France. Any of these areas are considered to be cool-climates, but geography contributes to natural buffers for the grapes. In the case of Leelanau, lake effect provides that buffer, and Laurentide is conveniently located one mile away from Lake Michigan. The grapes are kept cool in the summer and warm in the winter. The result? Clean, crisp, and well-balanced wines that are beautifully characteristic of their varietal, and those produced by Laurentide Winery are exquisite examples.

Wine is sunlight, held together by water.- Galileo

So what are our favorites from Laurentide? The Gold Medal winning 2017 Pinot Gris is a fantastic sipper, offering bright citrus notes and boasting well-rounded acidity, with a light, clean minerality. Enjoy a glass with Spiced City goat cheese from Zingerman’s Creamery, sautéed redfish, or with our fantastic buttermilk fried chicken.

The Sweet Riesling 2017 brings a taste of Germany to the Roadhouse, with bold aromas of tropical fruits and underlying mountain floral notes. Tasting reveals pineapple and ripe peach, with a lingering acidity. Try a glass with the Carolina grilled grits, any blackened fish, or our BBQ pork with Red Rage sauce.

Laurentide continues to be a leader in Michigan wine, showcasing the best their vines have to offer. As the Braymers like to say, wine is history, and you will be able to taste the history of Michigan terroir with every sip. Stop by and relax with a glass on our patio! Cheers!

Take a look at our wine menu for Laurentide offerings and more!

Lemon Cloud Gelato Sandwiches at the Roadhouse

A delicious new dessert to welcome in the warmer weather

by Ari Weinzweig

A Lemon Cloud gelato sandwich with a side of lemon whipped cream.

You might want to check out this delicious new dessert at the Roadhouse. It’s a Zingerman’s trifecta—light and delicious sweet Lemon Cloud pastries from the Bakehouse and fantastic vanilla gelato from the Creamery assembled to order at the Roadhouse. The results? They rock—thin, sugar-coated, soft crust of the Lemon Cloud and aromatically amazing gelato served with lemon-scented, fresh whipped cream.

Lemon Clouds are one of the most delicious, little-known gems to be found at the Bakehouse (If you want to make them yourself at home, pick up a copy of the great Zingerman’s Bakehouse book.). The all-butter pastry is puffy and light—like one of those lovely, white clouds floating across the Michigan sky on a nice summer day—and they’re filled with delicious, house-made lemon curd.

(By the way, if you haven’t visited the newly renovated Bakehouse, stop by soon! It looks great, and you can buy your own stash of lemon curd from the cold case. We also have loads of beautiful seating next to the shop. One regular said to me the other day, “You’ve made it so we can just stay there all day. We get coffee and pastry to start the day. There’s salad and soup and sandwiches at the Bakehouse. Grilled cheese and Raclette at the Creamery. Toast at the Coffee Company. All we need now is a gym to work off the calories.”)

The best way to eat a Lemon Cloud Gelato Sandwich is to simply pick it up with both hands and take a nice bite. It’s like eating a pita or falafel, but in this case it’s sweet. Kudos to Ms. Monica Nedeltchev for making it happen. It’s a delicious way to sweeten up your day!

Take a look at our full dessert menu!

Kentucky Smoked Sausage from Broadbent

A special pork sausage from Southwestern Kentucky.

by Ari WeinzweigBroadbent sausage patties at the Roadhouse.

With Camp Bacon only a few weeks away, I have pork on my mind! Ronnie and Beth Drennan of Broadbent Country Hams won’t be there this year, but they did drive up from Kentucky to speak a few years ago. I love their dry-cured, hickory-smoked bacon and long-cured country ham—and we have their terrific smoked sausage at the Deli and Roadhouse pretty much every day! It’s been one of the surprise hits of the ZCoB culinary crowd over the last 10 or 12 years—it has a lot of loyal fans around here!

The Broadbent is a very interesting style of sausage-making that, as far as I know, is unique to Southwestern Kentucky (Cadiz, Kentucky, to be specific). The Drennans grew up in the area and bought the company from Smith Broadbent, III. The sausage recipe was developed by his grandmother, Anna “Grandma” Broadbent, who started selling it back in 1909. They mix a batch of fresh pork, about two-thirds lean pork trimmings, and one-third fat pork trimmings with seasonings (including sage and red pepper). After they grind that, they let it set in the cooler overnight, taking it out, regrinding it, and stuffing it into cloth bags, which are hung to air dry and cure for a week or so (no one knows exactly what this step contributes to the final product, but it’s what Grandma Broadbent did, so they still do it today). Finally, it’s smoked over green hickory for 24 hours.

Broadbent sausage wrapped in cloth.

Why cloth? The late writer and historian John Edgerton had a theory about that: “Sausage had special appeal because it could be eaten fresh or smoked, mild or spiced with seasonings, such as sage and pepper. But how to store it? At the time there was no such thing as plastic, and paper was too fragile. What about cloth? Muslin? It was the cheapest and most common material for making clothing and also made good sacks that ‘breathed’ air and ‘sweated’ grease.”

Ronnie Drennan says he usually eats it for breakfast with eggs and biscuits. Corinna, a Zingerman’s alum now living in upstate New York, uses it instead of chorizo in omelets, or like lard. “I want to cook French toast in it,” she said. It’s great on the buttermilk biscuits at the Roadhouse. Or just fry it up—your kitchen will smell great and your taste buds will be happily tickled!

Check out our breakfast menu!

Why We Love Shawn Askinosie

Unwrapping one candyman’s secret to really good chocolate, and making the world a better place.

by Marcy Harris

Shawn Askinosie with bags of cocoa beans.

There are some who like chocolate, and then there are those of us who would melt away without it. While I certainly wouldn’t pass up any chocolate you put in my hand, really good bean-to-bar chocolate takes the experience to a whole new level, from my palate to my soul. If you’ve ever had Askinosie chocolate, you’ll know what I’m talking about.

One man raises the bar on chocolate.

After working as a trial lawyer for two decades and feeling exhausted in body and soul, Shawn Askinosie left his work at the bar to pursue his passion for chocolate making. He and his company do so by buying all of their amazingly good beans from farmers across the globe to bring back to their hometown of Springfield, Missouri, and then make them into incredibly good chocolate bars. The bars are crafted from 100% traceable, single-origin cocoa beans from four regions: San Jose Del Tambo, Ecuador; Davao, Philippines; Cortes, Honduras; and Tenende, Tanzania. Askinosie mostly specializes in dark chocolate, and the flavor of their product truly represents the origins where the beans were grown.

As a result, the flavors of Askinosie chocolate are big, complex, and compelling. When we say “full-flavored” here at Zingerman’s, this is what we are talking about. It’s dimensional, very well-balanced, and it’s got a long finish that stays with you, which is what us chocolate-lovers really go for.  Unlike most small chocolatiers, he’s actually going straight to the agricultural source and buying cacao beans from the growers. Shawn has spent significant time in South and Central America in order to meet every single one of the farmers from whom he’s getting cacao in order to get to know them and what they do.

“Because of that,” he explains, “I’m able to literally evaluate the beans before we get them delivered. I direct the exact fermentation and drying specifications of my beans and this is the greatest influence of taste that there is.”

There are additional factors that contribute to the quality and flavor of Askinosie chocolate. Shawn spends a significant amount of time teaching fermentation techniques to the growers, for example. Fermentation is what helps develop the flavor of the chocolate. Also, to focus his chocolate on the pure flavor of the cacao, Shawn does not use any of the lecithin or vanilla that are commonly used in most commercial chocolates. He does add a bit of cocoa butter, which he makes himself in Missouri. The superior chocolate that results from his endeavors is used pretty much exclusively at the Roadhouse in anything that requires chocolate, such as our chocolate pudding, mochas, and syrups, because it in turn makes our product taste better.

“‘Cause he mixes it with love and makes the world taste good.”

While Shawn makes the world a better tasting place to live, he has also made a huge impact on making the world a more meaningful place to live. He makes his chocolate in a workplace that focuses on people, and uses a revolutionary business approach. Not only is he feeding us with really yummy chocolate, but he is feeding the souls of the people he works with, as well as his own with the purposeful work he does. His inspiring book Meaningful Work, A Quest To Do Great Business. Find Your Calling, and Feed Your Soul talks more about this calling and how to find it for yourself.

Through their model called A Stake in the Outcome™, Askinosie practices open-book management, and their employees are share-owners–just like Zingerman’s!  According to the World Cocoa Foundation, an estimated 8o-90% of the world’s cocoa supply comes from 5 to 6 million smallholder cocoa farmers, and most of these farmers live in poverty. By profit-sharing with these famers in addition to what he pays for the beans, Shawn has addressed this poverty by paying an average of 48% more than the average of what they would normally get paid for their product.

They are also a Direct Trade company. Direct Trade approach cuts out the middleman and pays above Fair Trade market price to the farmers. In turn, Askinosie develops a deep and transparent relationship with the farmers, who are inspired to continue improving the harvesting process to meet quality standards–and we get to eat really good chocolate.

Askinosie involves their community in Missouri to have a greater impact as well. They started Chocolate University, where they teach local schools in Missouri through the lens of an artisan chocolate-maker about how we can solve global issues through business. Through their Product of Change program, they sell chocolate products to local schools in Missouri, then use 100% of the profits to feed malnourished children in the communities where their beans originate in other countries.

So while his chocolate was already delicious, because of the love Shawn puts into it at the source, we guarantee it tastes that much better. Stop by and feed your soul with our favorite bars of chocolate at the Roadhouse!

Check out the yummy Roadshow beverages we offer that are made with Askinosie chocolate!

Benedict on a Biscuit

Great way to start your weekend morning at the Roadhouse

by Ari Weinzweig

Eggs Benedict on buttermilk biscuits at the Roadhouse.

We’ve long had a very good Eggs Benedict for breakfast or brunch on the weekends. But a few months back, the Roadhouse crew took it up a notch by shifting it to a base of house-made Roadhouse buttermilk biscuits. The biscuits are so good, so tender, so rich, so tasty that they make pretty much anything you put on them terrific. In this case it’s thin slices of Nancy Newsom’s fifteen-month old (at this time of year), hickory-smoked country ham from Kentucky, freshly poached eggs and a Hollandaise sauce made from scratch. All setting atop that really tender biscuit. Rich and delicious would be a severe understatement. Come by one morning and check it out for yourself!

In case you’re curious—I was—about where Eggs Benedict came from, the quick answer is, no one seems to really know. There are a series of conflicting origin stories, most all of which though go back to New York City sometime between the middle of the 19th century and the middle of the 20th.

I should say that Newsom’s ham alone is amazing—Nancy is one of the only woman ham curers in the country, and one of the only curers who still works only with the traditional seasonal hog slaughter in winter, and ages her hams only with ambient natural temperatures. Her small, artisan, third generation ham curing business is down in Kentucky’s southwest, in the tiny town of Princeton. Nancy came up to speak at Camp Bacon a few years ago, and I started thinking of her as “the Lucinda Williams of country ham”. A powerful, poetic, strong woman who’s a leader in her field, making a product that, once experienced, you’ll have a hard time getting it out of your mind. Same goes for this dish. Once you have it for breakfast the odds are high that you’ll be back for more. And, by the way, if you just want to take home a few slices of the ham, the Deli has it in stock on the cured meat counter.

If all of that isn’t enough to entice you, Metro Times readers just voted the Roadhouse breakfast and brunch as the best in town!

Check out the brunch menu!

Tellicherry Black Pepper from Épices de Cru

The Spice Trekkers crack open the truth about black pepper.

by Marcy Harris

A mortar of freshly ground black pepper.

A pinch of just the right spice will inch the flavor profile of any dish in the direction of being truly memorable. Even something as simple as using really good pepper can make a huge difference in our cooking. Recently the Roadhouse upgraded to using Tellicherry Black Pepper #10 from Épices de Cru in Montreal, Canada, and we haven’t looked back since.

Our friends from Épices de Cru visit us in Ann Arbor every year, continuing to educate us all around the Zingerman’s Community on why good quality spices are so important. By sharing their stories of sourcing spices from all over the world, they remind us about how the people and the regions behind these ingredients contribute to how much better our flavor experience can be. Here is some good stuff they taught the Roadhouse about pepper that we are super excited to share with you.

A dash of info about Tellicherry pepper.

Spices in general have come a long way. We all know the story of Columbus and how he sailed the ocean blue to find the best routes for accessing a very precious commodity. Over several hundred years, colonization and industrialization eventually led to mass production of a valuable resource that used to be difficult to obtain. We now have access to spices anytime and anywhere, but how good are they? By exploring a little bit more about Tellicherry black pepper with the Spice Trekkers, we got really good insight about why the stuff we usually grind on our salads is not necessarily giving us the best flavor.

At some point we’ve heard the term Tellicherry, but what exactly is it? Since the ‘90s, it’s become a label for black pepper that evokes an exotic appeal, and promotes an idea of a better product. It’s a lot like when we use the term Champagne to refer to any sparkling wine. The truth is, due to strict wine laws, we can only use the word Champagne to refer to sparkling wine from the specific region of Champagne, France.

While there aren’t any government restrictions on the use of the word, Tellicherry also refers to a region in the Indian state of Kerala, on the Malabar Coast. Real Tellicherry peppercorns are grown in a small village in the mountains of Kerala, on small, single estates. They are unblended, unadulterated, and bold, the grains a bigger size then most peppers. “Extra-bold” refers to that size, sometimes referred to as grade 10. At the Roadhouse we use Tellicherry #10, which is perfect for our dishes and our pepper grinders!

There’s something in the air…

So why is it so important that Tellicherry comes from Kerala? It all starts with the climate. Everything from the higher altitude of the mountains to the Indian spring sun as it dries the pepper berries contributes to the development of flavor in the pepper. A dash of expertise from the growers and pickers gives us the recipe for really good black pepper.

Pepper is actually a fruit, more specifically a berry, that grows on long woody vines. The vines are supported by tall trees in India, grown by small families in their backyards. Once they are picked, they are laid out to dry in the sun. The fruit dries around the seed, and it is this outer part of the peppercorn that offers a great deal of piperine, the alkaloid that makes pepper firey and pungent. After 2-3 days, the peppercorns are painstakingly hand-sorted so only the best, largest grains are sent to be exported. That’s it. Minimal processing.

All the people involved in growing, picking, sorting, and even exporting the pepper inKerala are super passionate about the quality of the spice. The Tellicherry Pepper #9 from Épices de Cru, for example, is hand-sorted by three ladies before being passed along for export. They are paid very well to do their job, and they are meticulous. The man who in turn exports the peppercorns to Épices de Cru, Sudheer, is eagerly described by the Trekkers as a very passionate individual, with a big heart and a generous spirit. He is determined to work with spice farmers on the quality of the product, paying them highly for taking the time to grow it. He has truly raised the bar on black pepper.

Taste the difference.

Knowing where your Tellicherry pepper is coming from is key, but also understanding the difference in flavor and quality can go a long way in being able to find the right product for your cooking at home. Much of what we find at the store is processed and/or mistreated. The piperine in the fruit can be extracted and sold as an oil, and the rest bottled and sold as an inferior product. The size of the grains can inconsistent, or there might be a mix of grains from different regions that don’t work well together. Storing the pepper in a clear glass jar causes the oils in the pepper to break down, and it loses precious aromatics (Épices de Cru stores their spices in tins!). In the end, you might be left with a pepper that is all heat and little else, at best.

True Tellicherry is generally a larger grain, consistent in size between the peppercorns. As far as flavor goes, it is a visceral, multi-dimensional experience, like a fine wine or olive oil. Whereas with an inferior pepper all you get is intense heat up front, a good Tellicherry pepper develops into lingering flavors including floral, citrus, and even eucalyptus. The profile will vary by region and farm, but the essence is the same. There should always be a far-reaching textural mouthfeel that unfolds into your system, leaving a lingering memory on your palate.

If you’ve ever tried our Tellicherry #10 at the Roadhouse, you might know what we’re talking about here. It’s extraordinary. These large, fully ripened berries have a rich flavor and a long, slow heat that is unparalleled. We crack it over our french fries, rub it all over our Texas brisket, and honestly sometimes just open up a tin, breathe deeply and get whisked away to a beautiful coast in India. Come by and taste the difference!

Check out the dinner specials we make with Épices de Cru spices!

I Scream for Zingerman’s Creamery Gelato!

Savor sensational flavors in every scoop!

by Marcy Harris


A scoop of Zingerman's Creamery gelato

As it gets warmer, I can only think about one thing. Ok, two things. Summer cocktails and ice cream. The former was not a huge part of growing up for me, but as a kid I loved ice cream. It’s always been my favorite… until I tried gelato. Zingerman’s Creamery Gelato, that is.

So what’s the diff? They are both cold, creamy and delicious. Why is gelato necessarily better? It’s all a matter of preference, but admittedly, it’s hard to go back to ice cream once you’ve tasted gelato. Especially our gelato.

Cup or cone? I’ll take a bottomless bowl, please.

Have you ever scooped up a big bowl of ice cream, and found that you are not quite satisfied until you’ve practically licked the bowl? That’s because ice cream is churned so that there is a ton of air packed into it, creating that light, fluffy texture that we all love about ice cream. But because it is about 50% air, ice cream isn’t very filling, and we are often left screaming for more. Gelato, on the other hand, is denser, silkier, and creamier. One scoop goes a long way, and you are less likely to feel like you need a second serving. Unless you you really just love gelato and want to eat it all the time.

Dripping with deliciousness!

The flavor of gelato is superior over that of ice cream in my honest opinion. There is a science behind it that I am not making up, though. Gelato has more milk than ice cream, but less sugar and butterfat churned in. Butterfat coats your palate and makes it more challenging to taste any natural flavor. And sugar just tastes… well, sweet. While a pint of Rocky Road or Peanut Butter Cup ice cream might sound appealing, all those little bits of candy and such are just more sugary components loaded in to give ice cream more flavor. Gelato, on the other hand, does not need sprinkles or chocolate sauce added on. It tastes good as it is.

As long as you are using really good ingredients, simple flavors go a long way. I think that’s the appeal with Zingerman’s Creamery gelato. The Roadhouse Vanilla, used on our famous Donut Sundaes, is made with Madagascar bourbon vanilla beans. The Creamery uses really good artisanal Scharffen Berger chocolate and creamy Calder’s milk in their Dark Chocolate gelato, and you can taste why it is so much better than a pint of ice cream from the store. You don’t need a ton of jazz for something to taste good.

What’s your favorite flavor?

Now don’t get me wrong, Zingerman’s Creamery loves to get creative with its new flavors. One that has been super popular has to be the Sour Cream Coffee Cake, made in honor of Zingerman’s Bakehouse for their 25th Anniversary. It’s a cream cheese based gelato with chunks of their renowned Sour Cream Coffee Cake and swirls of cinnamon.

One of my personal favorites is Maple Pecan! The Creamery uses real Michigan maple syrup, and each bite of the cool treat tastes like a fresh drop of syrup from a tree in February melting on my tongue. The Georgia pecans are tender and buttery, and the maple dissolves off each piece like syrup candy.

Whatever floats your gelato boat, come on by and treat yourself! Add a scoop to one of our Nashville Fried Pies, share a sampler with a friend, or pour a shot of Zingerman’s Coffee espresso on top of a scoop of Roadhouse Vanilla and make it an affogato kind of day.

Check out our dessert menu to find out what gelato flavor we are offering!

 

Tellicherry Texas Brisket at the Roadhouse

A marvelous, meaty bit of Texas tradition on the Westside

by Ari Weinzweig

Texas brisket with Tellicherry black pepper rub at Zingerman's Roadhouse.

This is another Texas classic that has been on my Roadhouse wish list for ages. Head Chef Bob Bennett has made it happen in very fine form! He’s starting with premium briskets from Farm, Field, Table, rubbing them down with a whole bunch of Épices de Cru Tellicherry #10 black pepper, and then smoking them over oak for a good 10-plus hours. As is traditional in Texas, there’s NO sauce. (We can’t stop you from putting some on, but know that if a Texan should see you…you might be at risk of a few cynical eye rolls). It’s great on its own for dinner, on a chef’s BBQ plate, or on a sandwich.

The finished flavor is exceptional. The winey and wonderful complexity of the Tellicherry pepper forms a magical crust, the flavor the Farm, Field, Table beef is beyond great, and the oak-smoke sews it all together. One bite of the brisket will linger on your palate. This stuff is blowing my mind every time I try it—ask for a taste next time you’re in!

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Terra d’Oro Barbera at the Roadhouse

It’s like liquid gold!

by Marcy Harris

A bottle of Terra d'Oro Barbera held in front of the pit smoker at Zingerman's Roadhouse.

To me, wine is always a treasure. On occasion there is that one that is worth its weight in gold, each sip an unearthed bounty of flavor. How fitting that one of the glasses we feature on our Roadhouse wine list is from a vineyard that literally translates as Land of Gold!

A “vintage” goldmine.

The Terra d’Oro Barbera hails from Amador County, in the heart of the “Mother Lode”, or California’s Gold Rush country. As pioneers panned for gold in the 1850s, they also planted vineyards as they settled in the area, burying treasure of a different kind in the earth–the seeds for the wines that grow there today. By the 1890s, the Sierra Foothills region had over 100 wineries (more than any other region in California).

The region was revived after Prohibition when Cary Gott established Montevina Winery and started planting it’s luscious Zinfandel in 1970. Terra d’Oro released it’s wines under the Montevina label in 1973, including the Barbera we enjoy at the Roadhouse. The Trinchero family runs this label, focusing on 100% sustainable agriculture to create wines that are true to their Italian heritage, including Zinfandel, Pinot Grigio, Moscato, and our beloved Barbera.

Uncork an Old World wealth of flavor.

Barbera is a grape found in the Piedmont region of Italy, an area known for its beautiful forests, earthy dishes, and world-renowned truffles. Like its Italian cousin, this Californian Barbera pairs well with savory smoky foods, like our BBQ meats, roasted pork, or heavier grilled fishes. Vegetarian dishes including mushrooms, heavy greens, and root vegetables also make for perfect companions with this wine.

Aging the Barbera in French and Hungarian oak for 15 months provides the oak-based notes that give balance to the wine. It carries a bright complexity, with notes of cherry, and lightly baked fruits. The palate boasts cherry, raspberry, and a touch of smoke, with a long, velvety finish. For anyone who is looking for an approachable red wine with supple flavors that are not too overpowering, this is one is an excellent choice.

Don’t let it bug you!

Terra d’Oro maintains sustainable agriculture mainly by reducing the need for pesticides. Legumes are planted as cover crops between the rows, growing tall enough to attract good insects that feed on the insects that are harmful to the vines. There are also owl boxes built around the vineyards to attract nocturnal hunters to keep the critter population at a minimum. As a result, there is no need for harmful chemicals or sprays.

By utilizing Integrated Pest Management and focusing on producing superior grapes from a deep cultural heritage, Terra d’Oro has been producing wines that are richer than any buried ore. Their Zinfandel and Barbera are truly liquid gold. You don’t have to be rich to sip on a wealth of flavor, though. Did you know that anytime you take a bottle of wine home from the Roadhouse it is 30% off? Pick up a bottle of Barbera today and enjoy it with our awesome BBQ!

Check out our new wine list!