Buenos Aires Dulce de Leche Brownie

Wickedly good collaboration of South and North America

by Ari Weinzweig

A Buenos Aries brownie from the Bakehouse.

While they’re not our top seller, the Buenos Aires Brownies from the Bakehouse just might have the most loyal fan club of anything we make. While many folks still aren’t familiar with them, the ones who are start to swoon and wax poetic at the mere mention of them. If I remember right, at one point we put them “on vacation,” but we heard so many comments from highly concerned customers that we quickly brought them back. 

The best of two worlds in one brownie.

The Buenos Aires Brownies are, I’ve realized, a great culinary coming together of two classic comfort foods—one from each of the two American continents. Dulce de Leche, from South America, has its generally acknowledged roots in 1829, or so the story goes, when a cook preparing sweetened milk to drink at a peace treaty meeting between two warring politicians left the milk on the stove too long and it cooked down into a confection the texture of a thick honey. The meeting failed (having nothing to do with the overcooked milk) and Argentine politics and factionalism continued on in conflict for decades. The nation did seem to coalesce, though, around the wonder of this new confection. To this day, Argentines eat Dulce de Leche even more than Americans eat peanut butter or Italians eat Nutella—whether it’s on toast, in tarts, layer cakes or cookies, many people won’t go a day without it. With this story in mind, Argentina claims Dulce de Leche as its own. But in the same way that the American South is deeply and intensely divided about the “proper” way to make BBQ, pretty much every country in South and Central America has its own slight variation on the recipe and many still lay claim to being the true origin of Dulce de Leche as well. 

The possible birth of the brownie.

Brownies, the North American contributor, date back to the late 19th century. The most interesting origin story I’ve seen is that they were developed by an unknown pastry chef in 1893 at the request of Bertha Palmer, the wife of Potter Palmer, founder of the famous Palmer House Hotel in my hometown of Chicago. She wanted a dessert that well-to-do and proper citizens could carry to the World’s Columbian Exposition, also known as the Chicago World’s Fair, and brownies are what she got. The original, for what it’s worth, apparently had an apricot glaze. Earlier that year the Crash of 1893 was caused when a coup and a wheat crop failure in Argentina sent stock prices falling. Hence, both Dulce de Leche and American brownies were “born” in the shadows of Argentine politics—it’s all the more fitting then that they now come together to form such an enjoyable, rich, sweet union. 

What makes our Buenos Aires brownie so good.

A century or so after the Palmer House brownies were first introduced, the Bakehouse came out with this exceptional Buenos Aires brownie. That dark chocolate Black Magic Brownie, split down its horizontal middle with a layer of the Dulce de Leche. Creamy, a bit gooey on a hot day, chocolatey . . . all topped with amber-colored crystals of Demerara sugar. Pretty terrific! You can buy the Buenos Aires brownies on their own as individuals, or in the ever-popular Bakehouse Brownie Party 4-Pack (the Buenos Aires is always on the top of the stack so its delicate, lovable, lusciousness doesn’t get squeezed out by the other three.) I will confess that the way I like to eat a Buenos Aires Brownie is to gently push a few of the great Piemontese hazelnuts I wrote about last week into the Dulce de Leche at the edges. The crunch and savoriness of the nuts make for a marvelous contrast to the lusciousness of the brownie and Dulce de Leche. Of course, the Buenos Aires Brownies go great with a good cup of coffee—the Costa Rica Reserve that’s the coffee of the month, has been terrific! (In Costa Rica they call Dulce de Leche “cajeta” and use it, among other things, to stuff sweet empanadas!)

We have them at the Roadshow, along with many other Bakehouse goodies!

South Carolina Mustard Barbecue Sauce from the Roadhouse

Great on pulled pork, but you can happily eat it on about 18 other things, too! 

by Ari Weinzweig

Pulled pork from the Roadhouse, smothered in South Carolina mustard-based BBQ sauce.

While mustard BBQ sauce is still not super well known up here in the Midwest, if you were to head down to South Carolina, you’d find out yellow mustard BBQ sauce is about as common as ketchup. One of our former staffers hailed from that part of the world. “I think I was fifteen before I realized barbecue could come in any other color,” she once told me.

The history of South Carolina BBQ sauce.

Central South Carolina is one of the only—if not the only—places in the country in which mustard-based sauce is the norm. The general theory among culinary historians is that the tradition had its roots in the cooking of German immigrants to South Carolina and their love of good mustard. Germans colonists started arriving in the area in 1674 and by the time of the American revolution, they comprised about 20 percent of the population in the colony/state. Some of the biggest names in South Carolina mustard barbecue to this day—Bessinger, Sweatman, etc.— are of German origin.

The golden “secret” ingredients.

History aside, the main thing here is that the mustard sauce is good. Really good. 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 freshly ground Tellicherry black pepper. To be clear on the color, third-generation BBQ man David Bessinger says, “A lot of people from outside of South Carolina think it’s like more of a French’s—you know, French’s Mustard. But it’s not; it’s—it’s more of a darker golden look and that’s why we call it the ‘Golden Secret.’” 

All the ways to enjoy South Carolina BBQ sauce!

The “golden secret” is a good name, and you can, in fact, make it the secret to a whole series of tasty treats at your house with this sauce as the secret ingredient. You can order it on pulled pork or ribs. And beyond that, the possibilities are abundant. It’s good on a fried egg sandwich. It’s a great sauce for fish. Or pasta. Spoon a bit atop a pile of the Creamery’s handmade cream cheese like you would pepper jelly—pretty darned good! It’s excellent spooned on top of some of the Roadhouse’s bacon-braised collard greens. Add it into scrambled eggs before you cook them. Put it on a grilled cheese. Spoon it over grilled salmon, a steak, or a burger. Use a little bit as a quick salad dressing. One of my current favorites is to mix a few spoonfuls with a tin of sardines and you’ll have a super tasty salad or appetizer (seriously, it’s terrific!).If you want to learn more about South Carolina mustard BBQ sauce, the Southern Foodways Alliance website is a wonderful resource.

Rian Fertel interviewed the late pitmaster Douglas Oliver for SFA. Asked if the tradition would survive, Oliver’s response seems poignant for the pandemic, and for all of us in the food world: “The future of barbecue here, I think it’ll—it’ll survive. Because like I said, it’s back to good food and everybody loves a little pork every now and then . . . I think it’ll survive. I’m—at least I’m hoping for the time being. I’m pretty sure . . . we’ll survive.”

Try our South Carolina BBQ sauce when you order our BBQ pork!

Broadbent Sausage for Breakfast

It melts in your mouth.

by Marcy Harris

Broadbent Smoked Sausage wrapped in a muslin bag printed with the logo and nutrition information.

I have something to tell you, dear friends. You are the first to know. Ronnie Drennan of Broadbent Country Hams in Kentucky will be at Zingerman’s Camp Bacon 2020, at the Main Event on June, 6th. We are sooooooo excited! Have you tried their hickory-smoked bacon? It’s divine. You can buy it at Plum Market. At the Roadhouse, we have Broadbent sausage on our breakfast and brunch menus. While we love our handmade Roadhouse sausage, sometimes only the Broadbent will do. It’s developed quite the following around these parts. What makes it so good? Let me explain.

It might be the history.

The Drennans use a dry-cure method for their ham, bacon, and sausage that has been core to Broadbent B &B Foods since 1909. The method is an important part of American foodways, because colonial settlers used it as they migrated out west to preserve their meats. Given the hardships the settlers experienced moving out west, staples like dry-cured meat came about simply as a way to survive. The Broadbent family brought this traditional method with them to Kentucky.

Ronnie Drennan’s grandmother, Anna Broadbent, created the recipe for the sausage she started selling in 1909. The dry-cured recipe is still used for the sausage we love and savor today from Broadbent.

It might be the dry-cure method.

When I envision the family making their sausage, I can picture a colonial family dry-curing their meat in a similar manner. At Broadbent, 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, After they take it out and regrind it, they stuff it into cloth bags, which are hung to air dry and cure for a week or so. Somehow the climate in Kentucky contributes to the final product. Finally, it’s smoked over green hickory for 24 hours.

The cloth bags are an integral part of the story. Back in the day, settlers didn’t have plastic, and paper was scarce or too delicate. Muslin was cheap and available. It is also breathable, and soaks up the grease. So it is still used today!

It might be the flavor and texture.

A close up of browned Broadbent smoked sausage at the Roadhouse.

Broadbent offers their sausage in mild or spicy, and we serve the mild version. Our Roadhouse sausage actually offers more of a kick, which is great when you want to spice it up. But sometimes I want the more buttery and smokey flavor of the Broadbent with my eggs, or on my biscuits. The finer grind gives the sausage a round mouth-feel. The patties are fork tender, and crumble easily enough to mix into an omelette or grits. The fat content makes a huge difference to the final product. Just like their bacon, the Broadbent’s sausage melts in your mouth like no other breakfast meat will. After it gets cooked up on the flat top at the Roadhouse, that fat browns into a perfectly seared patty of goodness that tastes like it’s been perfected for over 100 years.

Oh wait! It has been perfected for over 100 years. Come in and taste it at the Roadhouse, and better yet, come hear Ronnie Drennan tell more of the story at Camp Bacon on June 6th!

Check out our full breakfast menu!

Smoked Ribeye at the Roadhouse

A perfect marriage of steak and BBQ.

by Marcy Harris

The Roadhouse butcher trims a freshly cut ribeye steak.

Recently I got caught up in a debate with a friend about steak at the Roadhouse. He was convinced that we are not well-known for our steak. Considering that many people think of the Roadhouse as a BBQ establishment, he has a point. But what he did not know is how much care and time we put into the quality of the steak we serve at the Roadhouse. He also hasn’t tried our smoked ribeye. Yet.

How we do our pit-smoked steak.

We’ve had steak on our menu since we opened in 2003. Really good steak for that matter. Admittedly, there have been times when I’ve come in for dinner and I have been torn between our tender, dry-aged ribeye and our hand-pulled pit-smoked BBQ. So you can imagine my excitement when Chef Bob Bennett rolled out a smoked ribeye about a year ago. Talk about the best of both worlds.

A guest recently described it as a “perfect marriage of steak and BBQ”. I can’t think of a better way to describe it. Our pitmaster smokes a whole, dry-aged ribeye over oak for about 2 hours. Our in-house butcher then portions the steaks, and we grill them to order for dinner. It tastes so good as it is, we only add a bit of butter to melt over the top. But we really want you to taste the deep smokey flavor of the beef. We actually take a lot of pride in our beef at the Roadhouse, so it is super important that we don’t add too much to overpower the natural flavor of good quality steak.

Taste the difference with our beef.

So what makes any of our steaks so noteworthy? At the Roadhouse, as with anything we serve, it starts with the source. We are able to constantly evaluate the quality of our meat because we are very careful about where we get it from. By selecting animals that are farm specific from Northern Ohio or Southern Michigan, the Roadhouse can make sure we know exactly where we are getting our beef from. The steers are humanely treated and all pasture-raised to ensure better tasting and more tender beef. We also make sure the beef is processed locally, which leaves a much smaller carbon footprint. We purchase whole animals, and our in-house butcher customizes all cuts and dry-ages the primal cuts for up to five weeks.

You can definitely taste the attention to detail in the flavor of our steaks. They are richly marbled with flavor. But then we definitely take it up a notch with the smoking. In 2004, we welcomed BBQ pitmaster Ed Mitchell from Raleigh, North Carolina to help us design and build our 13-foot BBQ pit, located just outside the restaurant. Ed taught us the secrets to really good whole-hog Eastern North Carolina BBQ, and ever since we’ve been turning out some of the best BBQ you’ll ever eat. 

So what do you when you have really good steak and the skills to make really good pit BBQ? You put two and two together and make the best smoked ribeye in town. And then you put yourselves on the local map for really good steak. Come on by and taste the difference with our smoked ribeye at the Roadhouse.

Check out our whole list of steaks!

Fried Ribs at the Roadhouse

Rockin’ new appetizer kissed with a touch of artisan cane syrup.

by Ari Weinzweig

A plate of fried ribs at the Roadhouse.

This week, the Roadhouse is marking the much-awaited return of Fried Ribs! 

What makes our fried ribs so good?

About 18 months ago, chef Bob Bennett brought a new dish to the Roadhouse; something seemingly simple, but one we’d never done before. It worked. Fried ribs rocked the house! Single bone sections of the Roadhouse’s already huge selling BBQ ribs, floured and deep-fried—essentially they’re chicken-fried ribs—and then finished with a generous drizzle of the amazing artisan cane syrup we get from Charles Poirier down in Lafayette, Louisiana. The only problem? They got so popular that our demand far exceeded Charles’ supply. His production is small—solely by hand, the way it was done 200 years ago. Which meant that about six months after they hit the menu, they were gone. After all, sugar is an agricultural product. And since Charles grows all his own sugar cane, there wasn’t anything he could do. I tried, to be honest, to find a suitable substitute but, not shockingly, nothing came close. Charles’ syrup is super special. So, impatiently, we waited. Now, finally, the new season’s syrup is here! Which means that fried ribs, in all their deep-fried, full-flavored glory, are back. If you’re one of the many who came to love them in their six month stint, you may want to join me and your fellow fried rib lovers in a loud round of “Hallelujah!” 

It starts with really good pork.

The dish starts with the same super popular, super good pork ribs that the Roadhouse sells so many hundreds of a week. Free running pork, raised by Niman Ranch farmers here in Michigan, baby back ribs, 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, and then get topped with some of our Red Rage barbecue sauce. The fried ribs take a bit of a side road—they get cut into individual ribs, 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 then drizzle them with that oh-so-fine artisan cane syrup.

Poirier’s cane syrup really makes the difference.

The syrup is a story in itself. I met Charles at a Southern Foodways Alliance symposium about ten years or so ago. Charles raises the cane, crushes it, and boils down the juice. One hundred fifty years ago, half the state of Louisiana probably did the same thing. Today, best I know, Charles is the only one that’s still at it. He was proffering tiny bottles of his yet-to-be sold syrup. I tasted it straight from the bottle. It was mind-blowing. The 2019 crop is just as good as ever. The New Orleans Advocate wrote that “This coveted ingredient is Poirier’s Pure Cane Syrup, and it has lately been trickling into the culinary arsenal of well-known New Orleans chefs. The amber-hued delicacy is produced by Charles Poirier, following the same method used by his great-great-grandfather, Anatole Poirier (1873-1941). ” 

Stop by and order some up Fried Ribs. You could make a meal out of them if you order them with some mashed potatoes and collard greens. Either way, if you like barbecue, good pork, a touch of sweet and a bit of spice, they’re surely going to be a hit with you too. 

They are on our dinner menu, along with so many other really good things!

Roadhouse Red Rage Sauce: A Recipe

How do you make really good BBQ sauce?

A rack of Roadhouse ribs with Red Rage BBQ sauce.

If you plan on grillin’ yourself, though, let’s at least make sure you have a BBQ sauce that will make your feast unforgettable. Ever wondered why our Red Rage tomato-based sauce is so good? 

Here it is:

Roadhouse Red Rage BBQ Sauce


  • 3 cups ketchup
  • 1/2 cup Muscavado brown sugar
  • 1/2 cup finely diced onion
  • 1/2 cup cider vinegar
  • 1/2 cup Pilsner beer
  • 2 tablespoons raw honey
  • 2 tablespoons dark molasses
  • 1 tablespoon minced garlic
  • 1 1/2 teaspoons freshly ground black pepper
  • 1 1/2 tablespoons ground coffee 
  • 1 1/2 teaspoons Urfa pepper
  • 1 1/2 teaspoons ground dried chipotle chili peppers
  • 1 1/2 teaspoons Pequin chili flakes
  • 3/4 teaspoon sea salt


Combine all of the ingredients in a heavy-bottom stock pot and mix thoroughly.  Bring to a boil, then reduce to a simmer.  Allow the sauce to gently simmer for 30 minutes or so, stirring occasionally.  

Zach Milner Preaches Peaches

Our own Roadhouse Supervisor shares what he learned from the Peach Truck.

by Zach Milner

A box of peaches with the Peach Truck logo on the top, opened to reveal the peaches inside.

It’s not very often in life when a food artisan with something of a cult following shows up on your doorstep. Even better when they share the same ideologies of quality and flavor. But when they actually go above and beyond your expectations? It’s like the ice cream on the peach cobbler.

A perfect product of their environment.

That’s exactly what the Peach Truck did when they showed up to the Roadhouse on their Grand Peach Tour 2019. Everywhere they go, they bring lines of 200+ people long with them, patiently waiting for the best peaches and pecans the country has to offer. Picked within 48 hours of their arrival, these peaches are prized because they are simply a product of the perfect environment that we call Georgia.

Georgia has a nutrient-concentrated red-clay soil, lots of rain, and, as Rick Haley from the Peach Truck told me, “Punishingly hot summers.” These summers pummel these peaches with a blast of humid heat that really ripens them to a perfect sweetness that no other place in the country can replicate.

Peach prizes in every box!

My family always called me a “fruit fiend,” simply because I eat so much fruit and really enjoy the best nature has to offer. So when I say this is easily one of the best pure fruits I’ve ever had the pleasure of eating, I mean it.

$42 for a 25lb box of peaches may seem like a lot, but that’s about 50-60 peaches you can share with family and friends. You definitely don’t wanna peel these bad boys (unless you are making a pie!), because the skin has such a nice, earthy note to the sweet, tangy insides of the peach. The sweetest part is the flesh that is hugging the pit, and the rest of the succulent peach has the tang to tie it all together.

I recommend waiting a couple days after getting one of these big ‘ol boxes; they still need to soften up to be perfect for eating. Rick mentioned to me to take them out of the box and lay them out on the kitchen counter at room temp. Just go over and feel a few of them–if they get soft like a ripe avocado does, they’re good to eat. 

So then what do you do with 25lb of peaches? How about a homemade peach cobbler with a scoop of Zingerman’s Creamery vanilla gelato and pecans sprinkled on top? Amazing. Don’t even get me started on the pecans from The Peach Truck, which are the smoothest, creamiest, and butteriest pecans I’ve ever eaten as well…it seems I can’t even help myself. Making a pie? The buttery pie crust from Zingerman’s Bakehouse is perfect for a peach pie like mom used to make. But my personal favorite? Enjoying the fresh peaches with Zingerman’s Creamery City Goat cheese and a touch of summer basil. Wow.

Don’t miss them this time around!

They’ll be back July 27th for one last time until next year…so do yourself, and your tastebuds, a flavor (ha, get it?) and sink your teeth into the crown jewel of Georgia, the Peach Truck’s peach. 

What’s the Buzz? The Peach Truck is Coming!

Ripe Georgia peaches for sale by-the-box in the Roadhouse parking lot

by Ari Weinzweig

The Peach Truck unloads 25lb boxes of peaches for the guests waiting in the Roadhouse parking lot.

Can’t wait for really tasty, tree-ripened Michigan peaches to the hit the market? I know I’m anxious for their arrival. If you are as well, we have a short-term solution for you: some super tasty, hand-picked, ripe peaches driven up to us in Ann Arbor by the folks at the now nationally-famous Peach Truck! They’ll be parked out front of the Roadhouse—right near the Roadshow—this coming Saturday afternoon from 2-3:30 so plan accordingly. That’s right—they’ll be there for just 90 minutes to make your peach purchase!

If you like peaches, I guarantee you’ll be happy you made time to stop by.Many of you seem to already know about the Peach Truck. They’ve been featured on The Today Show, in Southern LivingFood and Wine, Huff Post, Yahoo Food, among others. It’s a great idea—bring amazing peaches from the Peach State around the country on a terrifically peachy-keen road trip. It’s a great way to spread the love of ripe Georgia peaches to the rest of us!

The Peach Truck works with the oldest peach farm in Georgia (1885). Each summer, they host an enormous “tour,” or “roadshow,” featuring their world-famous Georgia Peaches. I’m getting the idea from folks who clearly know more about the Peach Truck than I did up until a few months ago, that this is a BIG DEAL. People wait in line to purchase peaches and are happy to do so (like they did for that Deli pop-up we did in Chicago last month).

Yes, it’s true, in another month we’ll have our own wonderful Michigan peaches at the Farmer’s Market. But why wait? You could have a 25-pound box of ripe peaches at your house starting this Saturday afternoon! As Stephen Rose, who started this whole thing, writes, “These are the sweetest, juiciest peachesyou’ve ever tasted, and they’re backed by the Peach Truck’s Sweet & Juicy Guarantee, so there’s no risk to you!” Given that peaches are an agricultural product, there is, of course, variability from year to year. No need to worry, though. Stephen reports: “Good news! Y’all, this is the best crop we’ve ever had. Not only is it the fullest crop in our history (did someone say no sell-outs and no limits?!), but the flavor is going to be off the charts!”

They’re also going to have the Peach Truck Cookbook on hand to sell. One-hundred recipes for good things to do with perfect peaches like these! I know the Roadhouse folks will be buying up some boxes to use for specials over the coming days. Peaches will be available by the 25 lb. box for $42 (they’re also bringing Georgia pecans for $10 for a 10 oz. bag (shelled & halved). The PeachTruck crew did ask us to remind you that they’re “100% cashless, so please bring your debit or credit card! This helps move the line quickly and keep our team safe!”

I spent a few days with Stephen when he came to a ZingTrain seminar last winter! Great guy, great business. Turns out he’s excited to be here as well: “We are so thrilled to bring The Peach Truck Tour to Zingerman’s Roadhouse. Zingerman’s has long been a brand we’ve admired from afar, and getting to attend the Zingerman’s Experience seminar last winter really prepped our company for the future. We’re so thrilled they’ve agreed to host us in Ann Arbor! We fell in love with the town last time we were here, and can’t wait to experience it during the magic of summer.” Stop by. Buy a box. Surprise your friends with this fine gift of Southern summer flavors!

New Season’s Wild Alaska King Salmon at the Roadhouse!

Michigan native Marie Rose ships amazing wild salmon back to her home state! 

by Ari Weinzweig

Marie Rose from Shoreline Wild Salmon, holding two freshly caught salmon.

In his book Culture Care, artist Makamoto Fujimora writes that, “A healthy culture is impossible without the participation of artists and other leaders who are educated intellectually, trained experientially, formed spiritually, and growing morally. Beauty is both a goal and a catalyst for each of these elements.” I couldn’t agree more. The idea that life and business and community are all art has continued to build for me—the learning path I got on in writing “The Art of Business” pamphlet resonates with me more all the time. People who will bring that kind of beauty are quietly, but effectively, making the world a better place, one meaningful action at a time.

With her work at Shoreline Salmon, all the way out in Alaska, Marie Rose is bringing art alive in the very practical here and now. She seems certainly to be the sort of person to which Mr. Fujimora is referring, someone who is working to both preserve natural beauty and, at the same time, bring a small briny bit of that beauty to the rest of us in the form of some of the best tasting salmon in the world. And now, I’m happy to say, the freshly caught, meticulously-handled salmon we get from Marie and her partners is on the specials list this week at the Roadhouse

So how did a girl from a Battle Creek start a business catching and shipping salmon all the way in the Pacific Northwest? “I went to Michigan State and got a degree in Social Work,” Marie shared. “Most of my advocacy work in college was focused towards women’s issues: reproductive justice and domestic violence awareness. When I accepted a job in Alaska focused on salmonconservation, it was on a total whim. That’s what grounded me in creating this life in salmon. I’d never even eaten salmon before I moved there. In fact, I hated salmon. I realized once I was here that I’d never had good salmon and that’s why I didn’t eat it.” Fortunately, her good work with Shoreline is making it possible for more and more Michiganders to experience salmon in its superb, wild, delicious state. Five years after heading west “just because,” Marie is now a passionate fish buyer, a partner in a growing small business, a purveyor of some of the best salmon in the country, and someone who’s creating a constructive and sustainable future for a famous, if at times, faltering, fishery.

“Why is your fish different?” I asked. “Our salmon is all pressure bled,” Marie shared. “It takes a lot more time. We immediately cut the gills out and take the artery out and we insert this tiny hose that goes right into the main artery and flush the blood out really quickly and then we gut it. When the salmon is bled and gutted so quickly it really increases the quality of the fish. Most people don’t use the pressure bleeding—there’s just not a general sense of urgency to handle the salmon all that well.” What’s the alternative to the methods Marie, Joe, and Keith are so committed to? Basically, it’s the lower quality salmon that dominates the market. It’s not as fresh; the flavor and integrity of the fish has suffered significantly long before it gets close to a consumer. “The way we’re doing it with Shoreline,” Marie says, “people get paid a price [higher than ‘market’] that’s worth their while.” While it might seem mundane to be framing finance and craft in the same construct, this is exactly the sort of meaningfully artistic way to live that Fujimora suggests we find. Shoreline is not just some slick, superficial marketing campaign—their product is markedly better than most of what’s on the market! 

King salmon like this can weigh in at well over a hundred pounds, and the flavor of the fish is terrific! Meaty, big flavor, clean finish! If you haven’t had wild salmon before—and sadly—most Americans who live outside the Pacific Northwest might not—you’re in for a treat. Please know that every time you order it, you’re helping to preserve the natural beauty that has become a calling for this caring young woman from Battle Creek. And to help her spread that beauty, through better eating, into our own community here.

Freshly Milled Rye Makes Roadhouse Bread Even Better

The Bakehouse’s Grain Commission continues to take quality levels ever higher

by Ari Weinzweig

A loaf of Roadhouse Bread with fresh butter.

In Part 1 of the Zingerman’s Guide to Good Leading, A Lapsed Anarchist’s Approach to Building a Better Business, I wrote “The Twelve Natural Laws of Business.” It’s my very strong belief that all thriving, successful organizations—and, really, thriving individuals—are living in harmony with those natural laws. Number eight on the list is “To get to greatness, you’ve got to keep getting better! All the time!” You’ll see that reality with musicians, athletes, professors, teachers, and upper level executives. Everyone that’s achieving at high levels of well-being is working, steadily and successfully, on self-improvement!

One of the things I most admire about the work of all the amazing people who are part of the ZCoB is this same constant, steady drive to make everything we do better! Literally, not a week—barely a day, I’ll bet—goes by that something isn’t improved. This week we’ve got a big one: one of my favorite breads from the Bakehouse just got better!

Although almost every day I come across some customer who’s just discovered it, the Roadhouse bread has been one of my solid Bakehouse favorites for nearly 15 years now. It was actually a favorite of 18th and 19th century New Englanders, too, but for whatever odd reasons of historical trends, completely fell of fashion (as far as I know, we’re the only ones in the country that bake it commercially). Back those hundreds of years ago, it was known as “Rye ‘n’ Indian” or also “Thirded Bread.” Here, we just call it “Roadhouse Bread” since it’s been our “house bread” since we opened in 2003. A mix of organic wheat, rye, and corn, subtly sweetened up with a bit of molasses, it’s really quite excellent. (As you might also already know, I’m a big fan of very dark crusts—the darker the crust, the more the natural sugars in the grain caramelize and the better the bread tastes. I always ask for the darkest loaf on the shelf.)

In the last few weeks, though, this already excellent bread just got better! As part of the Bakehouse’s inspiring and insightful Grain Commission project, we’ve begun milling the rye—from a farm in western Illinois—for the Roadhouse bread right here on Plaza Drive. Does it make a difference? The answer is an absolute yes! Fresh milling, we’ve been learning, leaves the natural nutrients of the grain intact. Studies are showing that this simple act makes an enormous difference in bread’s impact on our bodies. It also improves the flavor and texture. There’s just something a bit more vital, a little bit livelier, a touch lovelier. And the texture seems to hold its moisture a bit longer—I’ve had one at my house for four days, and it still feels alive and well. This new project is a big deal, and we’re just beginning. Amy Emberling, Bakehouse co-managing partner, says, “Milling some of our own grain is one of the most exciting and transformative steps we’ve taken in years. It is going to transform not just our baking but also our relationship to our community.” Watch for way more Bakehouse offerings to transition to being made freshly milled on site in the months and years to come.

What do you do with the Roadhouse bread? Makes super marvelous toast—I love it with either the Creamery’s cream cheese or fresh goat cheese. Try it with the American Fried Bread on page 162 in Zingerman’s Guide to Better Bacon. Great for a sandwich, of course. If you want some history to serve at Thanksgiving dinner, the Roadhouse bread couldn’t really be more perfect—a blend of European influence and Native American origins, with a touch of the West Indies woven in. Oh yeah, one little known fact is that Roadhouse breadmakes super-great croutons! Just cut it into roughly one-inch cubes and fry gently in extra virgin olive oil, turning the cubes regularly, until they’re golden brown. Toss while hot with fine sea salt and a healthy handful of freshly ground, good black pepper. They’re great on salads, but honestly, I often find myself eating them just out of hand at home!

In any case, come by the Bakehouse, Deli, or Roadhouse to try this newly improved loaf! As you can tell, I’ve been loving it. I hope you do, too.

Roadhouse Joe from the Coffee Company

A beautiful blend that’s the bomb for everyday brewing!

by Ari Weinzweig

A bag of Roadhouse Joe beans.

 Hard to believe—it’s been sixteen years since we were first trying out various blends for what would become the Roadhouse Joe from the Coffee Company. Here we are, all these years later and, I think it’s worked out—the Roadhouse Joe is one of the most persistently popular coffees we’ve got on the ZCoB block! It’s got one of those all around, accessible yet interesting, big but not overwhelming, flavors. Something that you can drink for breakfast, midday, with dinner, or after dinner too.

What’s in the blend? Right now, it’s made up of Papua New Guinea, Costa Rica, Brazil Peaberry, and Indian—representative of the major growing regions of the world. But it hasn’t always been that way. The point of a blend—as opposed to the many single origins we do—is that we can adjust it a bit regularly to keep the flavor profile consistent. Less variation from “vintage to vintage.” And so we’re always working to make it a bit tastier and a snippet smoother. That sort of pushing towards—though, of course, never really reaching—perfection, is a lot of what drives most of us here in the ZCoB. Which is likely why I feel like the Roadhouse Joe is tasting better than ever!

Last week I referenced Natural Law #8 on the list of “Twelve Natural Laws of Business,” which says that “To get to greatness you’ve got to keep getting better. All the time!” It’s in play here as well. Managing partner Steve Mangigian (just back from visiting the fantastic farm at Daterra in Brazil, from whence we get our Espresso Blend #1, Brazil Sweet Yellow, Full Bloom, and more), shares that, “My approach in the last several years has been to continually make the Roadhouse Joe better. For example, this year we swapped out Guatemala beans for Costa Rica. It makes the blend more of a ’relationship coffee’—we like working with farms that turn into longstanding partnerships. The Indian Mysore (we were using a Monsoon Malabar) perks up the pepper/spice notes in the coffee and makes it a touch more complex.”

Any way you drink it, the Roadhouse Joe is likely to appeal. Smooth, just subtly sweet, a bit nutty. I like it best in a pourover out at the Coffee Company, but of course, I’ve consumed a lot of cups at the Roadhouse where it’s our all day, seven days a week, three meals a day, coffee of choice!

Check out the rest of our favorite drinks we make in house with Zingerman’s Coffee and Espresso.

Fresh Squeezed Orange Juice at the Roadhouse

A good way to start your day; a super start to a great cocktail!

by Ari Weinzweig

A glass of freshly squeezed orange juice in front of a large, state of the art juicer at the Roadhouse.

The Sri Lankan writer Amanda Coomaraswamy said that “Industry without art is brutality.” I agree. And I’ll add that business without beauty is much the same. The beauty, for me, comes mostly in the little things—the small stuff that’s easily overlooked but makes for outstanding, though quiet, moments of both majesty and magic. Sometimes the magic comes from people. Other times from food. Other times still, it’s about a drink. In this case, it’s one of the simplest, but subtly special ways I know to start one’s day: a glass of fresh orange juice at the Roadhouse.

It’s funny how things that we could take for granted have somehow become so rare that getting the real thing is cause for pause. In this case, for most of the country, actually drinking fresh orange juice is not an everyday activity. What have we been drinking? For the most part, it’s commercially processed and packaged juice, that begins with oranges, and is sold as “fresh,” but could be many months old before it’s consumed.

I can’t remember ever having the real thing when I was growing up in Chicago. Clearly, we could have made it at home. It just wasn’t done. At least not in my family. Why squeeze, I suppose, when you could score the convenience of canned or bottled, store-bought, long shelf life options? In hindsight, it’s a bit embarrassing but I realize now that I grew up drinking the citrus equivalent of “American cheese singles.” Or Wonder Bread. Soulless industrial offerings that could be stored forever and kept consistent (in their standard so-so state) for ages.

What is all that commercial juice? Well, I wouldn’t have known either, but I decided to do a bit of homework. And now I know—there’s a reason why the “orange juice of my childhood” tastes so strange. And so little like fresh juice of the sort we squeeze and serve at the Roadhouse. For the industrial version, oranges are squeezed, en masse, and then all the oxygen is taken out of the fresh juice. That keeps it from turning bad. It also apparently takes all the flavor out. The flavor is then replaced with a series of “faux flavorings” (which are made by labs, combining “natural flavors” so that the labels don’t have to list anything artificial.) The end result, I know from decades of drinking experience is . . . orange for sure, but not all that tasty.

Turning back to the positive, though, there’s this delicious fresh juice that we have on hand every day. It’s kind of a marvel. I look forward to it every time I’m in the building. One good friend who gets around town said, rather adamantly, the other day: “You probably don’t realize it, but that orange juice at the Roadhouse is some of the best around.” She’s right—it’s easy for me to take it for granted—there’s not really much to it. Oranges. Squeezed. Poured into glasses. Honestly, it’s spoiled me—it’s become hard to drink the commercial stuff. The same, I should say, goes for the grapefruit. (We also squeeze lemon and lime juice for cocktails but we’ll save that for another story—try the Roadhouse limeade too!) I generally enjoy it in the morning, but it’s marvelous any time of day. It makes a mean cocktail.

Speaking of which, the fresh juice in that sense, can be as much of a revelation later in the day as it is when the sun is coming up. I asked Sarah Bartlett, bar manager at the Roadhouse, for her favorites. She sent me back a strong list:

  • Mimosas!!!!!!
  • Grapefruit juice (and lime) are in the Hemingway daiquiri (on the cocktail list)
  • Monkey Gland – OJ, gin, grenadine, and absinthe 
  • Paloma – grapefruit juice and tequila
  • Salty Dog – grapefruit juice with vodka and a salt rim
  • Blood & Sand – scotch, OJ, sweet vermouth, and Heering cherry liqueur 

With any or all of these in mind, I’d like to raise a toast—with alcohol or otherwise—to all the barbacks who do the work to squeeze all that citrus at the Roadhouse. A thousand thanks to Ava, Chris, Sophie, Ethan, and all the other folks who make the fresh juice magic happen every day!

Check out our breakfast menu for other awesome ways to start your day!

Blackberry Patch Jam: The Search is Over

Nothing but the best for our biscuits!

by Marcy Harris

A jar of Blackberry Patch blueberry jam.

For those of you who love American Spoon preserves, this isn’t going to be easy to hear. We’ve said goodbye to the preserves we’ve had on our menu since the dawn of time, and said hello to a new jam. It was not an easy decision, and it’s not that we don’t love American Spoon anymore. Sometimes things just don’t work out. But man, it took forever to find something that measures up–in this case, in spoonfuls.

For Ari and Chef Bob, it was a tough 6 months sourcing out a new jam. We can’t settle for just anything to top our amazing buttermilk biscuits. They deserve something really good. After all, they’ve been good to us. But we’ve finally found just the right thing for our Southern homemade biscuits: Southern homemade jam.

Keep it simple, keep it delicious.

We are now spreading the love for really good jam with Blackberry Patch in Georgia. Ari has known one of the founders, Harry Jones, for years. Harry and his partner Randy Harvey took over Blackberry Patch in 1999, expanding the distribution of their jams and fruit syrups. Before then, it was owned by farmers local to Thomasville, with the intention of using time-honored Southern techniques with locally harvested fruit. The ingredients are simple: fruit and cane sugar, which is far superior to beet sugar. By keeping it simple, Blackberry Patch accomplishes their mission of making jam that tastes like your mom made it.

They’ve been featured in O The Oprah Magazine, Southern Living, Garden and Gun, USA Today, and more. After stumbling upon Blackberry Patch, Food and Wine named Thomasville one of the ”best small food towns in the country” last year. They couldn’t get enough of the jam and the Sweet Grass Dairy cheese that is also found in Thomasville. This is the kind of stuff that Zingerman’s dreams of–small town, artisan-made, with really good local ingredients.

Orange you glad we have a new flavor?

We started out with a flavor that is not well-kown up in these parts: Satsuma. It’s actually been a common request for years that we offer some sort of an orange marmalade on the breakfast menu, so this worked out well. Satsuma is a variety of Chinese mandarin. The original Chinese name means “honey citrus of Wenzhou,” which is an apt description of its gentle, sweet flavor. Satsumas originally came to the U.S. by way of a Jesuit plantation up the river from New Orleans early in the 19th century, and from there, spread across the South and out to California. The towns of Satsuma in Alabama, Florida, Texas, and Louisiana were all named after the fruit. By 1920, Jackson County in the Florida Panhandle started to call itself the “Satsuma Capital of the World.”

“Honey citrus” perfectly describes the flavor. It is delicate and unassuming, which is just what we want to showcase the buttery flavors of our biscuits. But we didn’t stop there. We also offer strawberry and blueberry as options, and they are both wonderful. We look forward to more seasonal flavors, as Blackberry Patch offers quite a variety!

Jam on!

If you like the jams for breakfast here at the Roadhouse, you might like them at home, too! The jams and the fruit syrups are now available in our retail shop, so you can smother your homemade pancakes and biscuits with pure deliciousness.

In the meantime, stop in for breakfast or brunch and get your jam on with Blackberry Patch!

What’s on our breakfast menu?

Casamara Club Amaro Sodas at the Roadhouse

A taste of time and place, captured in a bottle.

By Marcy Harris

Four bottles of Casamara Club soda, each with a uniquely designed label.
Photo courtesy of Casamara Club

May is Made in Michigan Month, and I am super excited because there are so many things we have here at the Roadhouse that we can celebrate. One of those things happens to be a new soda we are offering on our non-alcoholic drink menu, made with natural botanicals. They are crisp, refreshing, food-friendly, and made in Detroit. Score!

Casamara Club started up in 2017 with Jason LaValla. His partner, Erica Johnson, joined in 2019. Since then, the team has created four flavors of soda bubbling over with natural flavor. They are all made with bitters in the style of an Italian digestiv (after-dinner drink) called amaro. What’s cool about this is that not only is the drink delicious, but it captures a sense of time and place in a bottle. These aren’t your everyday sodas. These are how sodas used to be made, and should always be made.

A sip of something to put a sparkle in your eye.

When soda fountains popped up in American pharmacies in the mid 1800s, they offered a new and invigorating way for people to feel better. Pharmacists made natural extracts to boost the curative properties of sparkling water. We’ve all heard the stories about Coca-Cola. It’s hard to think of ingredients such as caffeine and cocaine as “natural botanicals”. But when pharmacist Dr John Stith Pemberton created Coca-Cola, he was extracting the caffeine from the kola nut, a native of African rainforests, and the cocaine from coca leaves. While these substances are certainly addictive, the intention was to treat headaches, and at 5 cents a glass, many people found the drink a bargain to gain relief and a little pep in their step.

Other soft drinks created from root and herbal extracts soon followed without the cocaine, such as Pepsi, created to treat dysPEPSIa. Dr Pepper became a popular one with its 23 natural ingredients including cola, cherry, licorice, amaretto almond, vanilla, blackberry, apricot, blackberry, caramel, pepper, anise, sarsaparilla, ginger, molasses, lemon, plum, orange, nutmeg, cardamon, all spice, coriander juniper, birch and prickly ash. While Charles Elmer Hires is credited with the invention of root beer with his extract of sassafras, early versions of the beverage are known to include allspice, birch bark, coriander, juniper, ginger, wintergreen, hops, burdock root, dandelion root, spikenard, pipsissewa, guaiacum chips, sarsaparilla, spicewood, wild cherry bark, yellow dock, prickly ash bark, sassafras root, vanilla beans, dog grass, molasses, and licorice.

It didn’t take long for pharmacists all over the country to start adding their own herbs, fruit syrups, and “secret ingredients” to create an everyday “cure for what ails you”. Between the bubbles and the bitters, the fun and fizzy drinks sold at soda fountains all over America were tasty and good for easing indigestion. As far as discovering drinks with these qualities, however, America was a bit late in the game.

An ancient drink with a modern twist.

Amaro, an herb-infused liqueur, has been around since Ancient Rome and used in abundance for its restorative benefits. Amaro is traditionally made by infusing grape brandy with a mix of herbs, flowers, aromatic bark, citrus peel and spices. By the late 1800s, it was being sold by pharmacies and peddlers across Italy as a health tonic. While amaro translates to “bitter”, the drink stands apart from the ingredient bitters as a sweet and sippable after-dinner drink.

The folks at Casamara Club desired to create a drink that would capture the refreshing and herbal qualities of an amaro without the alcohol, and without the heavy, cloying sweetness of a modern soda. We know that over time, the natural ingredients in sodas gave way to lab-synthesized flavoring, preservatives, and high fructose corn syrup. Instead, Casamara Club is trying to get back to how sodas were originally made (without the cocaine, of course).

They make their sodas using the natural extraction methods of yore, using pot and still method. By using only natural, farmed ingredients and producing in small batches, they are able to evoke a genuine Italian influence in every bottle. According to Jason, “The long term goal is to go beyond the Italian influence and even deeper into the local–to work with indigenous botanicals as a way of celebrating the people, soil, and history that make Michigan special.”

They do add a bit of Demerara sugar to balance out the bitter taste of the herbs they are using, but not enough to make the effervescent concoction overly sweet. Instead, the flavors are delicate and harmonious, taking a bitters and soda to a whole new level.

Casamara Club has created four drinks based on ingredients carefully selected to provide an experience of flavor that is deep, meaningful, and authentic.

Alta (Italian for high or deep)
Inspired by a Northern Italian aperitivo, Alta is intense, like a dry, spritzy Negroni. Lively notes of dark berries, fruity spices, and bright pink citrus peel.

Onda (Italian for waves or vibes)
A Sicilian amaro reimagined as a dry, herbal limonata. Vibrant notes of candied lemons and fresh sage with dank salinity.

Capo (Italian for head of mafia)
Draws on amaro traditions from the mountains of Northern and Southern Italy. Invigorating notes of fresh picked wildflowers and melow key lime acidity.

Sera (Italian for evening)
An American-Italian family recipe. Perfect to unwind with after a long day, it is a riff on a paloma turned lo-fi cinnamon spritz. Dreamy notes of purple flowers, strawberry candy, and fruit tart acidity.

We offer all of these at the Roadhouse! They are delightful on their own, after a heavy BBQ dinner, or even mixed with a spirit for an invigorating cocktail. Stop in and try one!

What else is on our beverage list?

Zingerman’s Roadhouse Zecret #2: Oysters Rockefeller

A secret within a zecret.

by Marcy Harris

Oysters Rockefeller at the Roadhouse.

When I hear the word “secret”, I typically think of something kept. But I also think that sharing a secret with a friend is quite special. At Zingerman’s, we don’t want to keep zecrets, we want to share them with you!

What is a zecret? It’s something we do that people might not know we can do. Perhaps it is something that is not on our menu, or we don’t talk about it as often as we should. So what is something we can do that you might not know about?

The Roadhouse opens up about their oysters.

By now, you might be aware that we serve oysters. Not sure what gave it away. Perhaps it’s the separate oyster menu we hand out. It could be the large display case of oysters on ice up near the host stand. Maybe it’s all the sun-bleached oyster shells we use to line our property. Regardless, the fact that we serve oysters is not a zecret.

What you might not know is that we can do things with the oysters besides just serving them iced on the half shell. We let the cat out of the bag about the Hangtown Fry, an awesome breakfast dish made with eggs and pan-fried oysters. But did you know we can also make Oysters Rockefeller?

We do actually offer them on occasion as an appetizer special, but we can make them for you at any time! And who can resist those plump, buttery, scrumptious babies? So good!

The secret really is in the sauce.

The original dish was created in New Orleans in 1889, at a restaurant called Antoine’s by a man named Jules Alciatore, the son of the restaurant’s founder. Apparently, there was a shortage of escargot at the time, so Jules used oysters as a substitution. Due to the richness of the dish, it was named after the wealthiest man in America at the time, John D. Rockefeller.

Did you know that Oysters Rockefeller have their own secret that can never be revealed? Jules made a savory green sauce for his oysters, and never told anyone what was in it. He took the recipe to his grave. Since then, many people have tried to replicate it, but can only make an educated guess as to what the ingredients were. It is believed that they included celery and capers, with herbs like parsley and maybe chive.

Since the secret sauce was never shared, many people now enjoy their Rockefeller with spinach as a substitute, and they are still pretty amazing. We make ours with spinach, fennel, applewood-smoked bacon, Sarvecchio cheese, and bread crumbs. Come on by and treat yourself to something sizzlingly rich and delicious.

We offer so many more seafood options on our menu!

Zingerman’s Roadhouse Zecret #1: Hangtown Fry

Oysters and bacon and eggs….oh my!!

by Marcy Harris

Hangtown Fry made by Zingerman's Roadhouse, served in  pie tin.

Zingerman’s Roadhouse has secrets. Or zecrets, if you’d rather. And they are not well-kept. We want you to know about them!! So what makes them zecret? They are not typically published on our menu. But you can certainly come in and ask us to share them with you!

One of our favorites is a breakfast dish with a rich history. It’s called Hangtown Fry.

Only the best for your breakfast!

Ever since its creation in Placerville, CA (then known as Hangtown) during the Gold Rush in the 1850s, the dish has graced the tables of the nation’s leading hotels and restaurants. No wonder, as it is quite scrumptious! Ari tells more of the story below, but legend has it that it was made for a man who struck it rich with gold, then asked for an expensive meal at the local hotel to celebrate.

Hangtown Fry was actually on our breakfast menu at the Roadhouse years ago. When I asked Chef Bob Bennett about it, he recalled how it was served in pie tins from Zingerman’s Bakehouse. It did gain enough of a following that after we took it off the menu, we still had people come in and request that we make it just for them,

You don’t have to strike it rich to order it.

Here’s how it works. You come in and ask for the Hangtown Fry, and we will pan fry our chef’s selection of oysters for you with Nueske’s applewood-smoked bacon, bread crumbs, and farm-fresh eggs. It’s a hearty breakfast, and the smokiness of the bacon is perfect with the sweetness of the plump oysters. Come on by for breakfast or brunch and treat yourself to this zecret favorite!

Or you can make it at home with Ari’s recipe:

Hangtown Fry

By Ari Weinzweig

The full recipe follows, from Zingerman’s Guide to Better Bacon: Stories of Pork Bellies, Hush Puppies, Rock ‘n’ Roll Music and Bacon Fat Mayonnaise, page 158:

Oysters, eggs and bacon in one really good all-American dish, Hangtown Fry is a California classic that’s long been one of the most popular items on the Roadhouse brunch menu. I love it because it’s simple to make, it’s delicious and it’s got a great story to boot. I like to use a dry-cured bacon like Broadbent’s because that’s the sort of intense, long-cured bacon that Gold Rush-era cooks would likely have been working with.

The story of Hangtown Fry takes you to a northern California town originally known as Old Dry Diggins, then as Hangtown and now Placerville. Back in Gold Rush days it was a prominent supply town – many of the area’s miners went there to restock and cut loose, and, while they were at it, often got themselves into a bit of trouble. The name Hangtown came about in the middle of the nineteenth century, when three bad guys were strung up on the branches of a big old oak in the center of town. I’ve been told that the stump of that old oak is still “stuck in the mud” (so to speak) in the basement of a bar called The Hangman’s Tree (which you’ll be able to find quickly by the body hanging from a noose off the front of the building).

The dish is said to have originated at the now-defunct El Dorado Hotel, just across the street from the hanging tree. Legend has it that a miner rolled into town with gold from a fresh strike and ordered the saloonkeeper to serve up his most special dish. The cook offered a choice of three high-end options: oysters, eggs (hard to transport and hence costly) and bacon. The miner told him to toss all three into one dish, and Hangtown Fry was born.

It’s a very versatile recipe – great for brunch, lunch or a light supper. Don’t skimp on the egg quality – remember, they were a luxury in mid-nineteenth-century Hangtown and remain a key component of the dish, not just a way to hold the oysters and bacon together.

Since I almost never see single-serving recipes in cookbooks, I decided to design this one that way. But of course the quantities are easily increased for any number of diners. You can vary the number of oysters according to how much gold you’ve got in your pouch.


  • 4 tablespoons oyster crackers, crushed
  • 3 to 6 fresh oysters, shucked
  • 5 ounces sliced bacon (about 2 to 3 slices), chopped
  • 1-1/2 teaspoons bacon fat
  • 3 large eggs, beaten
  • 1/8 teaspoon coarse sea salt
  • 1/8 teaspoon freshly ground Tellicherry black pepper


Dredge the oysters in the cracker crumbs. Leave them resting for at least 10 minutes so that the crumbs bond with the oysters.

In a non-stick skillet, cook the bacon over medium heat until crisp. Remove from the pan, leaving the bacon fat. Reduce the heat a bit and add the additional measure of fat. When hot, add the oysters and cook for about 2 minutes, stirring gently, until the crumb coating is lightly browned.

Add the beaten eggs, salt and pepper, and stir gently. Add the bacon. Cook over low heat, stirring gently every 30 seconds or so, until the eggs are done as you like them.

Serve with San Francisco sourdough toast and “Folsom Prison Blues” playing in the background.

Serves 1 generously as a main dish, or 2 as a smaller side dish

Check out our brunch menu for other offerings!

Single Origin Hot Cocoa from Mexico

A yummy new way to stay warm from the Roadhouse!

by Ari Weinzweig

A cup of single-origin Mexican chocolate at the Roadhouse.

My math tells me we have about another five weeks until the formal end of winter. And then, of course, it could still be anywhere from a few days to a few months before warm weather actually arrives. In the meantime, and even then I suppose, we have this killer new single origin hot cocoa at the Roadhouse.

I met Tom and Monica Rogan from Goodnow Farms at the Mercantile artisan food show in San Francisco a few years ago. They’ve spent the last decade working around South and Central America to develop a line of direct trade, bean-to-bar chocolates. I was impressed with the chocolate and the choices they’d made about trying to work in sustainable ways. The Rogans are working from a two-centuries-plus-old farm in Sudbury, Massachusetts—it’s located on Goodnow Road, hence the name for their business. 

While the cocoa itself is made in western Massachusetts, the beans come from a farm in Mexico. In the spirit of all the great chocolate bars we get from friends like Shawn Askinosie, French Broad, and others, this is a single origin sourcing for their cacao. The Hacienda Jesus Maria is a 175-acre farm, 120 acres of which are planted with cacao. The farm is just a bit inland from the northeast coast of the Gulf of Mexico, past Veracruz, due north of Chiapas. It’s very rooted in its community—the farm has a 100-year history with cacao (even longer than the Appleby’s have been at it with Cheshire). The Rogans share that, “Farmer Vicente Alberto Gutierrez Cacep employs the best farming and processing practices, and he strongly supports community initiatives and local businesses, including those owned by women. Vicente looks for a balance of life on his farm and also releases indigenous rescued animals back into the plantation, including monkeys and marsupials.”

I was caught by the non-Spanish surname. Turns out its of Turkish origin. Vicente’s grandfather moved to Mexico from Turkey years ago and started the farm. The backstory? Tom shared that, “Monica found farmer Vicente when she was in Tabasco for a friend’s wedding.  She took a couple extra days to drive around the area to see what she could find, and stumbled upon him completely by chance. He has an incredible farm—he also does something rare with cacao farmers which is fermenting and drying his own beans. You need a large enough volume to make it work – not to mention quite a bit of skill.”  

Goodnow is one of the few chocolate makers (along with Shawn Askinosie) who make their own cocoa butter as well as finished chocolate. While most mass market cocoa powder is alkalized (which means it’s washed with a solution of potassium carbonate), the Rogan’s (and Askinosie’s) is a different story. As the Rogans write, “You may need to stir your hot cocoa a bit more vigorously but you’ll get the full benefit of cacao’s flavanols and taste the unique flavor of the beans!” While I’m not suggesting you seek out this cocoa strictly for physical gain, there do seem to be a host of health benefits

The idea of working directly with growers is not unique to the Rogans, but it certainly seems a very good thing for many reasons! The Rogans are really passionate about it. “While we’re open to working with producers who are Fair Trade certified, we prefer to buy our cacao using the direct trade model. We strive for as true a direct trade relationship as possible, although in some cases there’s still a middleman (more on that later). In some cases, such as this Mexican Almendra Blanca bean, we go so far as to have the beans picked up at the farm and brought directly to our door. Can’t get more direct trade than that. We make our delicious hot cocoa from the same premium single origin beans we use to make our chocolate, so each variety has its own unique flavor profile!” Why the name Alemendra Blanca? “The beans are really rare in that they’re white, as opposed to the purple color that’s far more commonly found. 

This is, I should make clear, hot cocoa, so it’s lighter, more delicate and not the sort of intense chocolati-ness that fanatical chocolate lovers might be after. It’s got a great, subtle, nuttiness that I’ve found superb to sip along with a nibble of something sweet. 

Come by the Roadshow or the Roadhouse today to try it out. 

Feta, Arugula, Apple, and Cashew Brittle Salad

Wonderful winter salad at the Roadhouse!

by Ari Weinzweig

One of my favorite new things on the Roadhouse menu in the last year, this salad has been winning raves from friends, family, longtime regulars and first-time visitors alike. It’s got a killer combination of sweet and savory, crunchy and creamy—a bit of candy on a healthy bed of greens. Feta and fruit with spicy arugula. Crunchy brittle with soft creamy cheese. All dressed gently with a bit of olive oil and vinegar. I could eat this one nearly every day.

The feta here is probably my favorite cheese for putting on salads—crumbled, soft, beautifully-tasty bits of that super-fine, barrel-aged feta we get from near Almyros in the mountains northern Greece. Made from a blend of goat and sheep milk, and nicely aged in birch barrels, it’s not at all salty or sharp. It’s delicious. The creaminess of the cheese is offset by crisp apple slices—it’s good to get some fresh fruit this time of year! All of which are laid atop a bed of fresh arugula, my favorite salad green. And the key, the capstone, the thing that takes this into the realm of remarkable is the addition of that crazy good Cashew Brittle from the Candy Manufactory (the Roadhouse orders it especially for this salad!). Terrific toasted cashews embedded in sheets of caramelized sugar and butter. Crunchy and not too sweet. Broken into small pieces for the salad, it adds just the right amount of sweetness. It’s like using toasted nuts, but better. And more buttery.

You can order the salad to start out any meal at the Roadhouse. We’ve got some great new pepper grinders that make it easier than ever to add a nice dose of that farm-to-table Tellicherry black pepper we use. You can also make the salad into your whole meal—if you want a double sized large one, just let us know. Or you can come in at Happy Hour and pair it with a biscuit sandwich or plate of Black Pepper Fries. Or combine cool and fresh with warm and cooked by having the salad alongside a bowl of either that delicious Southwest Vegetable Soup (I like it with the addition of some pulled pork or smoked chicken—just ask), or some of the heartier Ancho Beef Chile. A great way to brighten a winter day!

Check out the menu for this salad and more!

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.



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


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


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



  • 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


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


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.



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


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


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.

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!

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!

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!


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.

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!

Chocolate Chess Pie: Simple and Delicious

By Marcy Harris

Did you know that Zingerman’s Bakehouse created a recipe based on a Southern favorite just for the Roadhouse? Many years ago, when the Roadhouse first opened, the classic American dessert chess pie was added to our menu. For 14 years, it has continued to hold a special place seasonally on our dessert menu and in our hearts.

So what exactly is chess pie? We know it is traditionally a baked custard pie that migrated from England to New England, and it can be made in a variety of flavors. At the Roadhouse, we feature chocolate and occasionally lemon from the Bakehouse.

A pie by any other name…

The name is what tends to throw people off. When I was growing up, I was convinced that it had something to do with the game of chess. Apparently, we can check that idea off as not likely. While the origin of the name is not exactly clear, there are stories that are considered more plausible.

One idea is that the pie was typically stored in a pie chest, so it was referred to as “chest pie”, and over time the name may have evolved to “chess”.

Another thought has more to do with the simplistic nature of this pie. While the flavor is richly layered, the ingredients are quite simple: sugar, flour, eggs, and butter. Some folks think that the pie was referred to as “just pie”, but when pronounced with a Southern accent, the name sounded similar to “jes’” or “chess”.

Not jes’ your everyday pie.

Chess pie is generally smooth and creamy in the center. The Bakehouse uses a special dark chocolate from Mindo in Dexter, MI, which makes quality chocolate from cocoa beans in Ecuador. The result is a rich, velvety texture with a deep cocoa flavor. With the flakey, all-butter crust, each bite is simply decadent. In the new Zingerman’s Bakehouse Cookbook, Amy Emberling and Frank Carollo call it “flourless chocolate cake in a pie crust.” Oh my.

The recipe is indeed in the Bakehouse Cookbook, which we have for sale at the Roadhouse. Our chocolate chess is a favorite for the holidays, and we sell whole pies of it every year for Thanksgiving. Looking to treat yourself after a full day of holiday planning and shopping? Stop in at the Roadhouse for a mini personal pie! Topped with our housemade, real whipped cream, this little pie will offer up big flavors!

Vegetable Butchery: Ari’s Interview with Cara Mangini

Cara Mangini will be our honored guest at our Tomato Dinner #214 on September 12th! We will be tasting delicious recipes from her new book, “The Vegetable Butcher”, and watching a live demo of her butchering vegetables for the guests!

I love that you focus so much on vegetables.  How did that happen?  Did you grow up a vegetarian?

The ritual of sitting down to share a meal has always been extremely important to me. Since I was a kid, I enjoyed the daily celebration of food and my family, and how those moments marked the year. I knew there was a special kind of magic that was created at the table. I also thought a lot about what I ate and the connection between food and health—how certain foods made me feel beyond sheer enjoyment.

I started to gravitate specifically toward vegetables when living in Paris and traveling around Europe in college. I continued to travel, cook, and eat my way through France, Spain, Italy, Croatia, and Turkey in my 20’s. Those food experiences had a profound effect on my perspective and path. It became very clear to me that I wanted to contribute to making vegetables second nature in our culture—the way they were in so many other places. At the same time, I lived in Brooklyn for 10 years while a vibrant farm-to-table movement was making big waves around me. It completely inspired me. I realized that vegetables have always been the most exciting and delicious part of the plate for me.

I’m sure you get asked this all the time but, what’s a vegetable butcher?

A vegetable butcher is a trusted professional who demystifies produce with tips, tricks, and practical, how-to information (the stuff that somehow no one ever taught you). We have professionals that we turn to for advice in so many areas of our life—traditional butchers, cheesemongers, doctors, hairdressers, attorneys. A vegetable butcher is that person you can count on and who will help take the guesswork out of breaking down and cooking with vegetables—an artisan who has dedicated her life to getting to know the ingredients so that you can benefit from her knowledge, lessons and recipes.

As someone who’s not a vegetarian but who eats a lot of vegetables, I’m excited to see them being put front and center in a cookbook like yours.  Can you talk about that a bit?

At it’s core The Vegetable Butcher is a celebration of vegetables! It’s both a guide that will help readers break down vegetables with knife lessons, insider tips, and approachable preparations as well as a comprehensive collection of produce-inspired recipes (over 150). My hope is that The Vegetable Butcher will give readers the confidence, encouragement, and motivation to cook and eat vegetables every day—and ultimately, find the joy in cooking with seasonal ingredients that connect you to nature and to each moment of the year.

Tell us about your restaurant in Columbus?  You also have a new place opening up soon? And how did you get to Columbus anyways? 

Little Eater is a produce-inspired restaurant and farm stand in Columbus’s historic North Market. And, yes, we are in the middle of opening our second location which is our first real home where we will be able to welcome guests for a full experience. Everything on the menu in our restaurants is inspired by local ingredients and is designed to bring everyone to the table with focus on flavor and abundance (never sacrifice or obligation which can too often be the case or perception with vegetable-driven food). It is our mission to honor the work of our farm partners and to support the health of our community.

I am from the San Francisco Bay Area, went to school just outside of downtown Chicago, and spent most of my adult life in New York. Columbus was not on my radar! I met my husband at the Jeni’s Splendid Ice Creams booth at the Fancy Food Show in San Francisco. I was living and working at a farm and associated farm to table restaurant in Napa Valley at the time. I moved to Columbus six month later and started actively working on my business and book. I always say (and it’s the absolute truth), Columbus was the missing link in my business plan. We are surrounded by inspiring entrepreneurs, incredible farmers and farmland, and a community that is just as invested in our success as we are. I am so grateful for it.

What are some of your favorite dishes in the book?

I can’t pick favorites, but I do have go-to recipes in every season!

Spring: Asparagus, Hazelnuts, and Mint with Quinoa and Lemon Vinaigrette, Snap Pea, Asparagus, and Avocado Salad with Radish Vinaigrette, Artichoke Torta, Swiss Chard Crostata with Fennel Seed Crust, and Ramp (or Leek) and Asparagus Risotto.

Summer: Corn Fritters with Summer Bean Ragout, Marinated Peppers with Goat Cheese Tartines, Seaside Gazpacho Zucchini, Sweet Corn, and Basil Penne with Pine Nuts and Mozzarella, Eggplant Polenta Cake.

Fall: Fall Farmers Market Tacos, and Roasted Sweet Potatoes, Chard and Coconut Black Rice, Turkish Carrot Yogurt.

Winter: Celery Root Pot Pie, Broccoli and Radicchio Rigatoni with Creamy Walnut Pesto, Parsnip Ginger Cake with Browned Buttercream Frosting.

What do you think are some of the biggest misunderstandings about vegetables amongst Americans?

Vegetables don’t have to equate to sacrifice. They can produce over-the-top flavor and craveable, deeply satisfying food. Vegetable-based food isn’t about what isn’t on the plate, it’s about everything that is.

Given that you’ll be here for the dinner in mid September what are some of the dishes you’re thinking about for this special menu?

We’re going to highlight the tomato harvest and all of those late summer ingredients that we’ll be missing a few months later. For sure we’ll do an heirloom tomato panzanella to highlight all of the different colors, textures and varieties of tomatoes grown at Roadhouse Farms. It’s going to be a beautiful celebration of that specific and fleeting moment of the year when the sun is that golden angle, and the food coming out of the ground and the people who grew it deserve to be honored.

Have you been to Ann Arbor before?  Are you excited about coming?

I have never been to Ann Arbor and cannot wait! I have heard about what a special place it is and I’m excited to experience the food scene, most especially Zingerman’s that, honestly, I have admired from afar for so long!

What else should I ask? 

I think you asked good questions, nothing to add. I always ask people that by the way:)! Always the best question… sorry, I don’t have a better answer:)

Purchase tickets today for our Tomato Special Dinner #214: Featuring Vegetable Butcher, Cara Mangini!

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Roadhouse Closed Election Day

Zingerman’s Roadhouse will be closed on Election Day, November 4, 2008.  As a “thank you” to our staff for all of their dedication and commitment over the past 5 years of operation, we are taking this opportunity to show our gratitude to them.

The Roadhouse will open again for regular business at 11am on Wednesday, November 5.  The Roadshow staff will be bright-eyed and bushy-tailed at 6am to serve our drive-up guests espressos, lattes and breakfast bagels.

Thank you for your understanding!