Bread & Butter 2022: Dining Guide to the Iowa City area and Cedar Rapids

Page 1

THE CEDAR RAPIDS & IOWA CITY AREA’S

2022 Dining Guide PUBLISHED BY LITTLE VILLAGE

Delhicacy, Cedar Rapids P. 28




PUBLISHER

DISTRIBUTION

Genevieve Trainor

Distro@LittleVillageMag.com

MANAGING EDITOR

ADVERTISING

Frankie Schneckloth

Ads@LittleVillageMag.com

ART DIRECTOR

LITTLE VILLAGE CREATIVE SERVICES

Jordan Sellergren

Creative@LittleVillageMag.com

DIGITAL DIRECTOR

LITTLE VILLAGE TICKETS

Drew Bulman

LittleVillageTickets.com

PHOTO EDITORS

SAY HELLO

Zak Neumann, Frankie Schneckloth

Little Village

CONTRIBUTING EDITORS

623 S Dubuque St, Iowa City, IA 52240

Emma McClatchey, Matthew Steele,

319-855-1474

Genevieve Trainor

FOLLOW ONLINE

EDITORIAL CONTRIBUTORS

LittleVillageMag.com

Zach Berg, Timothy Buhmeyer, Brynn Buhmeyer, Jav Ducker, Lindsey Frisbie, Jay

Special thanks to distribution partners the Iowa

Goodvin, Tiffani Green, Brian Johanessen,

City/Coralville Area Convention and Visitors

Jeff Mannix, Zoe Mossman, Zoe Pharo,

Bureau. For information on membership, visit

Celine Robins, Frankie Schneckloth, Helaina

thinkiowacity.com.

Thompson, Andrea Truitt, Adam Witte PHOTO & DESIGN CONTRIBUTORS

Additional thanks go to to our advisory team of

Jav Ducker, Zak Neumann, Frankie

Melody Dworak, Candice Smith and Adam Witte.

Schneckloth, Jordan Sellergren ILLUSTRATIONS

/LittleVillageMag

Julia DeSpain

/LittleVillage /littlevillagemag Zak Neumann / Little Village

4

BREAD & BUTTER 2022


THE CEDAR RAPIDS & IOWA CITY AREA’S 2022 DINING GUIDE

22

Dr. Food Therapeutic diets to treat disease

40

Table With a View Public art that enhances dining

46

What Happens Now? Restaurants and food businesses plan for the future

56

The Power of Lunch Inside a 40-year-old Free Lunch Program

62

Hang Me Out To Dry The sober curious movement gains traction

70

We Few, We Happy Few Bard-inspired wine from an Iowa native

74

Mini But Mighty Small food operations with a big following

BREAD & BUTTER 2022

5


HOW-TO

GUIDES

8

Top Marks

RECIPE

29

These spots stand out in a sea of new options

12

Veg is Life

Mediterranean Chicken Meatballs RECIPE

Plant-based options to love

30

Make Yourself at Home

33

Strawberry Chia Jam RECIPE

14

Cozy spots that feel like yours

16

Spicy Peanut Sweet Potato Stew RECIPE

34

When I Dip, You Dip, We Dip

Puttanesca Sauce

The area’s best hummus

18

Thank a Farmer A guide to area CSA farms

26

Come Hungry Eat your way through the CRANDIC

28

Travel the World No passport required

36

Pack it in, Pack it Out Tranquil spots to enjoy your takeout

42

Caffeination Station Coffee shops fueling the area

44

Baked, Good! Next-level bakeries

50

Need a Wingman? Local experts guide you to the best

52

Bigger Than Your Head How area tenderloins stack up

60

Knock One Back High-quality cocktails crafted by pros

64

Time-Tested Long-running local watering holes

66

Breakfast Club Kid-approved morning spots

68

Here’s The Scoop Find the best ice cream On the cover: Delhicacy, Cedar Rapids Zak Neumann / Little Village

6

BREAD & BUTTER 2022



GUIDE

Notable Newbies Opening a restaurant is no small feat, but opening your doors for the first time in the middle of a global pandemic is next level. These new spots are worthy of a gold star.

Zak Neumann / Little Village

Alebrije Restaurant 401 S Linn St, Iowa City, 319-569-1083, face-

Otmane Benjilany at O’s Grill, Cedar Rapids Zak Neumann / Little Village

El Gustito Pupuseria y Restaurant

with the pupusas: El Gustito offers them in a

book.com/alebrijerestaurantiowa/

2020 8th St, Coralville, 319-499-1602, face-

variety of flavors to satisfy vegetarians and

Named for the brightly colored Mexican folk

book.com/elgustitopupuseriayrestaurant

carnivores alike. A lunch encounter at the

art sculptures you’ll notice dotted through-

You might miss it if you’re not careful, as it’s

restaurant allowed the opportunity to sample

out this new upscale Mexican restaurant, Ale-

tucked in a strip mall next to the Coralville

a few—revuelta, queso con loroco and queso

brije occupies the corner space of the Hyatt

Hy-Vee, but this hidden gem is likely to

con frijol—and while they all were savory, the

Place hotel in Iowa City’s Riverfront Crossings

become a favorite. A handful of pupuserias

highlight was far and away the loroco option.

district. This alluring two-level restaurant has

have popped up in the area recently, but this

The subtly flavored loroco flower buds

an open airy feel with colorful artisan-made

spot in Coralville takes the cake. Let’s start

mingled perfectly with the melty cheese

hammocks, handcrafted lanterns and string lights hung from the rafters, and even an indoor patio with a “living wall.” Dining in on a cold winter night, I forgot, however briefly, that I was in frigid Iowa. If only for a moment, I envisioned a warm-weather locale and dining al fresco. Owner Fernando Weber made it his goal to create a modern dining experience that celebrated Mexico’s culinary traditions. The menu is certainly reflective of that, serving everything from tacos and burritos to Chamoy-laced Brussels sprouts, cactus salad and chicken almendrado mole. The restaurant proudly makes their own tortillas in-house from heirloom Mexican corn and Sonoran wheat and uses family recipes to prepare many of the dishes on the menu. The restaurant also offers a wide range of beverages for those looking to imbibe—everything from margaritas to micheladas and agua frescas. 8

BREAD & BUTTER 2022

El Gustito Pupuseria y Restaurant, Coralville Zak Neumann / Little Village


The Hip-stir, Marion Zak Neumann / Little Village

stuffed inside the griddled flatbread; adding a spoonful of the acidic curtida with every bite was heaven. At less than $3 a pop, you can easily leave feeling satisfied for less than a tenner, but you really should explore the rest of the menu. Other Salvadoran delights await: Plates of delectable fried chicken or whole tilapia and rellenos calling your name. The Hip-stir 1120 7th Ave, Marion, 319-200-5465, facebook.com/thehipstir This newcomer in Marion’s Uptown neighborhood offers diners eclectic, inspired fusion food and another reason to visit the oft-overshadowed community. Whether it requires a short drive from restaurant-laden Cedar Rapids or Iowa City, or a zip down the block, program your GPS to take you to The hip-stir. The menu is a creative culinary mashup of comfort foods and international dishes: fried bologna, Thai-inspired mussels and clams, kimchi fried chicken and pork belly steam buns have all made the cut. Cocktails at The Hip-stir are also imaginative and well-crafted with a program backed by lead bartender Caleb Scales. The restaurant combines barrel booths, richly patterned wallpaper with geometric tile and stained glass lamps and panels with airplanes and canoes as considered design choices to reflect the restaurant’s personality. It’s like visiting that friend’s house who’s perpetually thrifting but magically manages to make everything work together to create a space that’s an extension of themselves. Visit for a cocktail and an appetizer and you’ll find it easy to let it turn into a second round and dinner. O’s Grill 3911 Center Point Rd NE, Cedar Rapids, 319-200-333, osgrill.com O’s Grill owner Otmane Benjilany moved to Iowa 15 years ago from Rabat, Morocco. His foodservice career here began in the dishroom of a Lone Star Steakhouse. From BREAD & BUTTER 2022

9


GUIDE there, he opened a food cart selling kebabs

Smash Juice Bar & Eatery

orange and pineapple juice—this one drinks

in downtown Cedar Rapids (while also

620 Pacha Pkwy #4, North Liberty,

like a familiar favorite but there’s just a hint

working a factory job), and soon, that cart

319-512-3833, smashjuicebars.com

of adventure in the form of turmeric to keep

became so popular he leveled up to a food

Tina Whitney, a Washington state native and

it exciting. For those looking for something

truck. After six years, it was time to level up

longtime health and fitness professional,

a bit heartier, Smash also offers breakfast

again. This time: a brick-and-mortar loca-

found herself in North Liberty surrounded

sandwiches and panini as well as salads and

tion. Opened in October 2021, this spacious

by a plethora of fast food, drive-throughs

housemade soups.

new spot boasts an open kitchen, plenty of

and pizza. Aching for fresh, healthy options

seating and delicious offerings.

like she was used to in Seattle, she decided

The Webster

The menu is focused by design,

to make one herself, opening a cold-pressed

202 N Linn St, Iowa City, 319-800-0720,

offering just gyros and gyro platters and a

juice bar offering organic juices, sandwiches,

thewebsteric.com

handful of sides, but don’t be mistaken. The

salads and smoothies. The location, situated

The Webster is the shiniest new jewel in the

small menu means your food is ready that

across from a McDonald’s and neighboring

crown that is Iowa City’s Northside neigh-

much quicker and you can trust that any-

a local dance studio, is one Whitney hopes

borhood. Owned by a husband and wife

thing and everything on the menu is good.

will act as a bit of a disruptor in the sea of

team, Sam and Riene Gelman have brought

The falafel here at O’s Grill is honestly some

fast-food options, capturing the attention

luxury ingredients to the Midwestern table.

of the best falafel I’ve ever had. Each piece

of young dancers and turning them on to

The menu evolves with the seasons which,

was delicately fried with a seriously perfect

healthy food at a young age.

admittedly, is nothing groundbreaking these

light, crunchy exterior surrounding a bright,

You’re sure to find something that

days, but the attention to quality ingredients,

herby flavor. The housemade tzatziki sauce

speaks to you on the extensive juice menu.

the nuanced layers of flavor built into each

is exceptional and is the perfect finishing

The Squeaky Clean, a zippy blend of beet,

dish, the artful preparation and presentation

touch for any gyro or platter. Be sure to

apple, ginger and lemon, is refreshing and

of each menu item—it’s a thing of true beau-

order a piece of flaky, sweet baklava to

bright with bold spice to balance the earth-

ty. The same attention to detail is on display

round out your meal. Come to O’s hungry

iness of the beets, but the Healthy Hippie

in the interior of the restaurant as well.

and you’ll be sure to leave happy.

is something even the youngest patron can

Stepping inside transports you somewhere

get behind. It’s a classic blend of carrot,

far from Iowa City, yet it’s also somehow a

Bluebird Cafe

Frydae

K Brother’s Grocery

112 E Main St, Solon,

125 S Dubuque St,

743 10th St, Marion,

2058 8th St,

319-624-2031,

Iowa City,

319-200-4550.

Coralville,

bluebird.cafe

daydrink.coffee

finallyfrydae.com

319-338-5619,

BurgerFiend

Delhicacy

The hip-stir

2020 16th Ave SW,

921 Blairs Ferry Rd NE

1120 7th Ave, Marion,

Keto Kitchen

Cedar Rapids,

#150, Cedar Rapids,

319-200-5465,

116 E Washington St,

319-200-4488,

319-320-7345,

facebook.com/

Iowa City,

burgerfiendonline.com

delhicacycr.com

thehipstir

515-639-3702,

Cliff’s Dive Bar & Grill

El Gustito Pupuseria

Hospoda

227 2nd Ave SE,

y Restaurant

62 16th Ave SW, Cedar

Kingston’s

Cedar Rapids,

2020 8th St,

Rapids, 319-200-8001,

568 Boyson Rd

319-200-113,

Coralville,

hospodacr.com

NE Ste 100, Cedar

facebook.com/

319-499-1602

DAYDRINK

kbrothersgrocery.com

theketokitchenia.com

COVID-era Successes

Zak Neumann

Against the odds, these restaurants arrived and thrived mid-pandemic.

Rapids, 319-536-7898, Hype Bar & Grill

kingstonssteak

Eva’s Mexican

1810 6th St SW, Cedar

houseia.com

Crosby’s

Restaurant

Rapids, 319-289-8527,

1028 3rd St SE Ste #1,

835 7th Ave, Marion,

the-hype-bar-and-

Kismet Coffee

Cedar Rapids,

319-320-7702,

girll.business.site

& Bloom

319-200-4449,

evasmexicanrestau rantmarion.com

cliffsdivebar

Alebrije Restaurant

Brass Fountain

epiccateringia.com/

401 S Linn St, Iowa

122 E Main St, Solon,

locations/crosbys

City, 319-569-1083,

319-624-6122,

alebrijerestaurant.com

brassfountain.com

The Bohemian

The Breakfast Bar by

1029 3rd St SE, Cedar

1000 3rd St SE Ste 1, I Love Fufu

Cedar Rapids,

230 E Benton St, Iowa

319-200-3218, kismet

Euro Foods

City, 319-499-8189,

coffeebloom.com

Cruz’s Cafe

1210 S Gilbert St Ste

ilovefufuiowacity.com

568 Boyson Rd NE

100, Iowa City,

#190, Cedar Rapids,

facebook.com/

Iowa Athletic Club

836 1st Ave NE, Cedar

Saucy Focaccia

319-320-2424,

eurofoodiowacity

200 E 9th St Ste 205,

Rapids, 319-449-4047,

Rapids, 319-213-2051,

1950 Blairs Ferry Rd

cruzscafe.com

Coralville, 319-499-

facebook.com/

newbohemian.com

Ste 116, Hiawatha,

1293, iowaathletic.com

lacasitabreakfast319

319-200-1090, saucybreakfastbar.com 10

BREAD & BUTTER 2022

La Casita


The Webster, Iowa City Zak Neumann / Little Village

place that feels like home: warm and inviting.

or opt for a dry-aged steak if you’re really

Sleek leather booths and banquettes line the

here for it. The side dishes, though limited,

perimeter of the dining room, which has an

should not be overlooked (I’m looking at you

open view of the kitchen, while the bar and

Warm Nugget Potato Salad with Pella bolo-

lounge area offers a more intimate and cozy

gna), and the dessert menu, which remains

dining experience. When you visit, try the

fairly consistent throughout the seasons, is

whole Wisconsin trout, housemade pasta or

definitely something to save room for. Order

the chicken liver toast—they’re all sublime—

the panna cotta. Just. Please.

La Chamba

Old Hospital Pub

Taco Loco

Tiki Tacos ‘n’ Wings

5001 1st Ave SE,

916 W 9th St, Vinton,

1755 Boyrum St, Iowa

119 E Washington St,

Cedar Rapids,

319-318-5027,

City, 319-569-4545,

Iowa City,

319-220-3239,

oldhospitalpub.com

tacolocoiowa.com

319-569-2989,

Perez Family Tacos

Tasty Crepe

tikitacosiowacity.com

mexicanrestaurant cedarrapids.com

630 Iowa Ave, Iowa

4444 1st Ave NE

Tribute Eatery & Bar

La Mexicana

City, 319-519-2522,

#3001, Cedar Rapids,

901 E 2nd Ave Ste

1701 2nd St, Coralville,

perezfamilytacos.com

319-251-3281,

100, Coralville,

tastycrepe.co

319-569-1550,

319-259-7178 Press Coffee

tributebar.com

Mamacita’s Taco Bar

1120 N Dodge St, Iowa

Tavern Blue

834 1st Ave NE, Cedar

City, 319-887-1500,

805 2nd St, Coralville,

Tru Coffee

Rapids, 319-320-

presscoffeeco.com

319-569-1136,

287 N Linn St,

tavernblue.com

Iowa City

7417, facebook.com/ mamacitatacobar

Roxxy’s 127 E College St, Iowa

Tee’s Liberian Dish

Unimpaired Dry Bar

Marco’s Island

City, 319-855-5979,

1271 1st Ave SE, Cedar

125 E Burlington St,

121 N Linn St, Iowa

roxxyic.com

Rapids, 319-364-0105,

Iowa City,

teesliberiandish.com

319-259-7110,

City, 319-259-7555 SpareMe

unimpaireddrybar.com

Morning Story

Bowl & Arcade

Thai Spice Express

2931 7th Ave Ste 400,

404 E College St,

101 Windflower Ln,

Villa’s Patio

Marion,

Iowa City,

Solon, 319-644-8095

433 7th Ave, Marion,

319-200-8244,

319-519-6350,

morningstoryrestau

sparemeic.com

319-447-1101, Tic Toc

villaspatiomarion.com

600 17th St NE, Cedar

rant.com/iowa/marion The Stuffed Olive

Rapids, 319-200-4210

The Webster

O’s Grill

121 E College St, Iowa

epiccateringia.com

202 N Linn St, Iowa

3911 Center Point Rd

City, 319-855-5229,

City, 319-800-0720,

NE, Cedar Rapids,

thestuffedolive.com/ic

thewebsteric.com

319-200-3331, osgrill.com BREAD & BUTTER 2022

11


Herbivore Hangouts Vegan, vegetarian or just prefer a colorful meal? These local spots make the case for plant-based foods, from juice to tacos to barbecue. BY ADAM WITTE

I

owa is home to the fifth highest number of organic farms in the United States, so it’s no surprise that the first place to look when seeking out vegetarian fare in the Hawkeye State is at your local farmers market. There you can find fresh, local produce of a bewildering variety sold alongside Amish pies, locally roasted coffee and those spring rolls with that peanut sauce I pine for from November to April. Beginning in mid-May, veggie-philes at the north end of the Corridor can shop farmers markets bi-weekly in downtown Cedar Rapids, Marion’s Taube Park every Saturday morning or in Hiawatha’s Guthridge Park on Sundays. This year marks the 50th season of the Iowa City Farmers Market, and market-goers can celebrate that anniversary Saturday mornings at the Chauncey Swan parking garage. Coralville hosts a farmers market every Monday evening, or you can avoid the crowds by heading to the West Branch Farmers Market in Heritage Square on Tuesdays. Those Farmers Markets are often incubator spaces for small vegetarian start-ups, some of which outgrow their market roots to become year-round businesses. This is how Wendy Zimmerman was able to use the fruits (and veggies) of Iowa’s farmers to turn a juicy profit. “I’ve seen people transform their lives through juice,” Zimmerman explains while sitting in the sun-drenched dining room of her Get Fresh Café. As a teen back in Connecticut, Zimmerman was hired by neighbors to help prepare fresh watermelon juice twice a day for a family member whose cystic fibrosis was being treated, in part, through diet. “When you have a slice of watermelon, the white part around the flesh contains a natural antibiotic,” Zimmerman explained. She was reminded of that symbiotic 12

BREAD & BUTTER 2022

Get Fresh Cafe, Iowa City Zak Neumann / Little Village

relationship between food and health when, as an adult with children of her own, she noticed the Iowa City Farmers Market had incredible produce, but nothing healthy for her kids to sip as she shopped. She bought a home-juicer and set up a booth. “I would search the farmers market for what was in season, wash it, and then make juice one glass at a time.” Her idea paid off, and even paid back when smoothies were added to the menu: customers got a dollar back when they mixed their own smoothie using the Blender Bike loaned from the Iowa City Bike Library. The business grew, so Zimmerman opened a year-round retail space in another great culinary incubator: the NewBo City Market in Cedar Rapids. NewBo provides space for local food entrepreneurs, including some exciting vegan and vegetarian options. Look for The Full Bowl, where chef Wes Shirley celebrates the humble rice and bean bowl by combining fresh veggies and bold spices from around the world to bring some plant-based fire to your belly with organic black beans, lentils and chickpeas to add some protein and dietary fiber to your body. “I think the easiest way to save the planet is for people to eat chickpeas,” explains Ofer Sivan, co-owner of Oasis in Iowa City. Hummus, ubiquitous in Middle-Eastern kitchens and a thriving immigrant in American palates, is a rich, savory blend of garlic, lemon, tahini and chickpeas. “They have the same protein by weight as an egg, but they produce a tenth of the carbon by unit of protein as beef. We have meat on the menu, but you don’t need meat. I’m more convinced than ever hummus is the solution to so many nutritional and environmental problems.” (Read more about hummus on pg. 16.) Which is exactly the mission Zimmerman

Get Fresh Cafe Zak Neumann / Little Village

is on as well. “Nutrient density is my thing— how to get the most nutrients into a person’s body. You have to know where the goodness is. For pineapple, it’s the core; for apples it’s the seeds.” When Get Fresh left NewBo for Iowa City in late 2019, the menu expanded to include sandwiches and soups, crafting recipes that maximized flavor and nutritional impact. There is locally sourced meat and dairy for omnivores, as well as tangy, peppery-hot tempeh bacon for the herbivores looking for protein- and nutrient-rich meat substitutes. Tempeh is just one of the alternatives to animal proteins at Trumpet Blossom Café, the only restaurant in Iowa City to use no animal products in their kitchen. Meyer was a chef and co-owner in Iowa City’s legendary vegetarian restaurant The Red Avocado when developers bulldozed that building in 2012 to make room for highrises charging higher rents. But Meyer wasted no time, opening Trumpet Blossom on her own later that year. The nondescript building nestled alongside Ralston Creek gives little indication of the gorgeous interior, including the stunning decorative wood bar—where gorgeous, cruelty-free cocktails are shaken and stirred. For those put off by phrases like “vitamin-rich” or “dietary fiber”, Trumpet Blossom’s menu offers luscious American


comfort food so decadent that you won’t realize how nutritious it is: tangy, incendiary Buffalo-style seitan wings, tempeh Reuben on grilled housemade bread stacked with pickled cabbage and smothered with Thousand Island dressing, fresh potatoes cut and fried to perfection and, because this is Iowa after all, sided with ranch dressing—housemade and vegan! The dining room is proudly meat-free and TV-free, but there is never not music, whether from spinning vinyl, live local musicians, or as an evening of Feed Me Weird Things, a collaboration with Record Collector to bring eclectic live performances by international artists to the area, from Nigerian heavy metal to Riot Grrrl free jazz to avant electronic marimba soundscapes. Everything goes with ranch. Just a short float down Ralston Creek towards the Iowa River brings you to Big Grove Brewery & Taproom, offering beer so local you can see the fermentation tanks from the patio. Catch the game on huge TV and projector screens, and relax in open-air seating complete with fire pits and yard games. There is enough meat on the menu to satisfy any carnivore, but the chefs at Big Grove have brewed up a surprising number of vegetarian options, including an incredible vegan crispy Korean BBQ cauliflower appetizer, which

Don’t Miss These Spots! Grandma’s Root Cellar 1100 3rd St SE, Cedar Rapids, 319-640-3271, grandmasrootcellar.com While the specialties at this small business are jams and fermented foods, they also feature a damn delicious, fully vegan menu with options ranging from posole to peanut Trumpet Blossom, Iowa City via Katy Meyer

warms your tummy up to take on the sweet potato and black bean street tacos, the griddled paneer and coconut curry rice bowl, or the Smashburger, a black bean and chickpea burger topped with tofu aioli created in house by chef Sean Towley. Of course, you can get fries with that. And if you linger a bit too long at the brewery, and wake up just a little worse for wear, Get Fresh opens every morning at 9 a.m. to replenish your body with some fresh-pressed raw juice. “It’s the gold standard for what your body needs,” Zimmerman promises. Ask nicely, and she may even take mercy on you and mix up honey, lemon, coconut water and blue spirulina—the house-made Hangover Helper. You just might live to eat another day.

wraps and chilaquiles. The Full Bowl 1100 3rd St SE, Cedar Rapids, 319-320-8243, thefullbowl.com The Full Bowl serves “globally-inspired grain bowls” offering both menu staples and rotating specials. Everything is vegetarian—and almost completely vegan aside from one appearance of Colby cheese on the menu—and made with organic ingredients. It’s healthy and nutritious comfort food. Rawlicious 1101 3rd St SE, Cedar Rapids, 319-560-5090, rawliciouscr.com This raw, vegan restaurant is something just about everyone can get behind. Their delicious and healthful preparations are as creative as they are savory.

BREAD & BUTTER 2022

13


GUIDE

Home Away from Home

Sid Peterson

Foodies who spent the last two years dining only al fresco—or simply a casa—are itching for a change of scenery. While these local spots offer a range of fare, what they all have in common is a comfy, casual atmosphere that will help ease you back into the dine-in experience.

Sanctuary

Sanctuary, Iowa City Sid Peterson / Little Village

something to hit the spot. Their cocktails are

And it’s not just charcut’ on offer.

lovingly made takes on the classics, with just

They’ve got some lovely soups, salads and

enough topspin to keep you guessing. Sanc-

sammies so you can spend your whole eve-

405 S Gilbert St, Iowa City, 319-351-5692,

tuary’s menu of upgraded pub fare has nary

ning in one place; the Salmon Niçoise salad is

sanctuarypub.com

a miss on it, and the portions are generous

to die for. Plus, they’ve got a great selection

Pile into a corner booth on Monday for half-

enough to soak up a pint or two. And great

of wines available for retail purchase, so you

price pizzas, snuggle up by the fire and catch

news: They removed the short-lived TVs (if

can take a little piece of the experience back

some live local music, or bring the whole

you know, you know).

home with you when you’re done.

Brix Cheese Shop & Wine Bar

Vivian’s Soul Food

209 N Linn St, Iowa City, 319-359-1999,

2925 Williams Pkwy SW, Cedar Rapids,

brixcheeseshop.com

319-396-2229, vivianssoulfoodcr.com

Don’t let the time-worn trope of the snobby

Never has a restaurant had a more fitting

oenophile keep you from hitting up this

name. Vivian’s Soul Food serves Southern

Zak Neumann

delightful Northside Iowa City restaurant! The servers are always friendly and willing to make a suggestion, no matter your wine know-how or desired price point. Brix’s rotating selection of both local and imported charcuterie items is always a sensory exgang for an intimate evening in the Red

perience, and the homey interior will make

Room. Whatever your pleasure, Sanctuary’s

you feel like you’re at a dinner party at your

vibe is right. This cozy pub is just far enough

chicest friend’s house. Brix is a perfectly ro-

from downtown Iowa City to avoid being

mantic and still-approachable date spot, but

swarmed with college kids, and their eclectic

some of my cheesiest memories are of sitting

beer tap—usually populated with a good

around the table for hours of good wine,

proportion of local brews—is sure to have

good friends and good conversation.

14

BREAD & BUTTER 2022

Jordan Sellergren


comfort classics like barbecue short ribs, baked mac and cheese, fried okra, catfish and more, all cooked with such genuine care and attention that you feel like a visitor in the chef’s own home. My recommendation is the chicken and waffles, which come with whipped butter and maple syrup and are best eaten with a little hot sauce and greedy, sticky fingers. The service is warm and casual, and the jewel-toned interior proudly bears artwork of some of the Black titans of music history. The mix of soul, R&B and jazz playing softly in the background sets an inviting mood. There’s also a house specialties. Vivian’s is a great place for a hearty meal with family, be they of the blood or chosen variety—and don’t skimp

don’t

on the sides, each one more delicious and

stop in

soul-nourishing than the last.

if you’ve got somewhere important

Frankie Schneckloth

bar with wine and cocktails, including a few

to be afterward. At George’s, you’re bound to have a conversation you’ll never forget—or one you’ll struggle to remember. Lincoln Wine Bar 125 1st St W, Mt Vernon, 319-895-9463 foodisimportant.com The intimate atmosphere of this Mt Vernon treasure is well worth the drive. Cozy, close-together tables fill the richly colored Zak Neumann

dining space, sandwiched between LWB’s two claims to fame: the bar, well-stocked with wines to suit every taste, and the open kitchen, cooking up delicious woodfired pizzas with toppings both creative George’s Buffet

and traditional. The servers are abundantly

312 E Market St, Iowa City, 319-351-9614,

knowledgeable but never fussy, so feel free

facebook.com/georgesbuffet.iowacity

to ask for recommendations. If you want

George’s has been voted Best Home Away

mine, the Greens pizza, featuring pistachio

from Home in Little Village’s Best of the

pesto, arugula, lemon and freshly shaved

CRANDIC contest, in addition to multiple

parmesan, is both refreshing and indulgent,

wins as Best Dive Bar. Whenever I’ve had the

with the richness of the housemade pesto

pleasure of spending an evening at George’s,

perfectly balanced by the peppery bite of the

the time seems to pass by in hyperspeed as

greens. If the table conversation comes to a

I sip on a Pabst and hear the town goss in

lull, you can always stare into the comforting

the dimly lit Northside space. And when that

flames of the old-fashioned Neapolitan pizza

midnight munchie feeling hits, the burg-

oven bearing the restaurant’s motto, “il cibo

ers, served by request (don’t expect to be

è importante,” meaning “food is important.”

handed a menu; it ain’t that kinda place), are

The way they craft each pie with care extols

a rite of passage for Iowa City townies. When

the virtue of that motto. Lincoln Wine Bar is

you’re done, you’ll be as stuck to your booth

also known for hosting live local music, which

seat as the melty cheese left over on the wax

they promise will return when health and

paper. I always end up running into colorful

safety allows. Be warned, though: This spot is

characters at George’s and leave feeling

small and widely beloved, so you may want

more deeply connected to my neighbors. But

to make a reservation. BREAD & BUTTER 2022

15


The Hummus Among Us Three area producers trace their signature hummus recipes back to their origins. BY ADAM WITTE

T

he origin of hummus is obscure. The earliest recorded recipe is found in a 13th century Syrian cookbook with the phenomenal title Winning the Beloved’s Heart with Delectable Dishes and Perfumes: boil chickpeas, then mash them together with tahini, olive oil, salt, spices and vinegar. Sometime later, lemon replaced vinegar and garlic was added, but the recipe has remained essentially unchanged for eight centuries: a humble dish made with simple ingredients available to all, at least in the Levant. “I don’t know where she found tahini in Iowa in the 1980s, but she did,” explains Ofer Sivan, co-owner of Oasis Falafel in Iowa City.

Elias Harika at Pita’Z Mediterranean and American Cuisine, Hiawatha Zak Neumann / Little Village

“I grew up with it. On every table in Lebanon, there is hummus. At first there was no recipe. I made it, tried it, and started adding from there: a little more lemon, a bit more salt, until…boom!” —Elias Harika, owner of Pita’Z

“It all started with my mom.” Sivan was born in Israel and moved to Iowa City as a child, where his mom preserved her culinary culture and nurtured his love for food. By the early 2000s, Sivan was completing his undergrad in engineering, but, with his mom no longer in town, he could not find decent hummus in Iowa City. Friend and fellow

Ofer Sivan and Naftaly Stramer in front of Oasis Falafel, Iowa City Zak Neumann / Little Village

hummus devotee Naftaly Stramer decided to step away from his career in the tech industry, and together they opened Oasis in 2004, serving the recipes he loved as a child. “When we opened the restaurant, I just made it the way I liked it,” which, of course, was the way his mom made it. This is the paradox of hummus: five basic ingredients can

Yochai Harel at Cortado Mediterranean Cafe, Iowa City Zak Neumann / Little Village

16

BREAD & BUTTER 2022


produce infinite flavor permutations. The that makes hummus magical. “You can throw hummus at Oasis has a texture so light it feels everything on there: literally any vegetable, whipped, the perfect consistency for scooping pickled, not pickled, with some pita, labneh, up with pita or vegetables or (who am I kidhard-boiled egg. It is such a fucking great ding) eating by the spoonful at the open refrigmeal.” erator door before I ever make it to the table. Cortado Mediterranean Cafe in Iowa City It is savory and creamy, the garlic taking the likes to keep their hummus real, too. Yochai lead, lemon content to softly harmonize in the Harel opened Cortado with business partbackground. ner (and Hudson’s Tap owner) Ryan Just up the highway in Hiawatha, O’Leary in 2017, envisioning a cosmohowever, Pita’Z Mediterranean and politan coffeehouse like the ones he Pita’Z American Cuisine pumps up loved growing up in Tel Aviv or the volume on those bright the ones he worked in when lemon notes in a recipe crehe immigrated to Manhattan, ated by owner Elias Harika. where he fell in love with a Born in Lebanon, Harika Cedar Rapids native and graduated culinary school moved to the Midwest. before immigrating to Cortado is so good at so the United States in 2002. many things, from coffee He settled in Cedar Rapids to pastries to egg salad sandwhere he worked for his uncle wiches to die for, that it is easy at the Starlite Room, turning out to overlook their hummus. Don’t! the deep-fried comfort food that place So perfectly smooth that it wants is famous for. to flow like honey, the hummus at Oasis Street In 2009, with the blessing and support Cortado is best enjoyed as part of the Food of his uncle, Harika opened Pita’Z. Deconstructed Falafel Bowl, hidThere are echoes of the Starlite den under crisp lettuce with on the menu with onion rings diced pickles, onions, tomaand chicken strips, but the flatoes and cucumber, anointvors of Lebanon prevail: shish ed with a savory, rich tahini tawook, chicken shawarma sauce, and crowned by a and, of course, hummus. half-dozen falafel balls still “I grew up with it. On every warm from the fryer. Protable in Lebanon, there is humtip: for a mere dollar extra, mus.” Instead of relying on famCortado will add a baked-toily tradition, Harika put his culinary order pita so warm and delicious training to work, crafting a hummus all you’ll never be able to eat those lifeless his own. “At first there was no recipe. I shrink-wrapped frisbees in the grocery made it, tried it, and started adding store again. Cortado from there: a little more lemon, a The one ingredient which bit more salt, until…boom!” all three chefs agree has Pita’Z hummus is a lovely no place in hummus is boom!, indeed: that bright chemical preservatives. citrus note coming through The combination of crolike Mediterranean suntonaldehyde and ketene shine, sending the garlic into with potassium hydroxthe shadows. The blend of the ide might allow mass-prochickpeas is slightly rustic, alduced hummus to remain lowing those gorgeous garbanzos edible for a couple months, but Zak Neumann he insists on importing from Lebanon these chefs keep their recipes fresh to retain a bit of their texture. Pita’Z hummus and all-natural. “We could add preservatives is so substantial, in fact, that I kept breaking in there, but the flavor gets weird,” explains the pita chips trying to scoop it out (truth be Sivan. No artificial preservatives means this told, those chips are a fried-to-order thing of local hummus has less than two weeks before beauty all by themselves) until Harika showed it starts to go funky, though the idea that humme the trick: a generous glug of beautiful, mus might go uneaten for even a few days is grass-colored olive oil (also from Lebanon, of unthinkable. course!) on top of the hummus to be slowly inWith five simple ingredients from a recicorporated as I dig to the bottom of the bowl. pe older than the Magna Carta, these three A side of pickled turnips adds a briny punch chefs traveled across the globe to win the which would be foolish to forgo. CRANDIC’s beloved heart with their delectaThis, explains Oasis’ Sivan, is another thing ble dishes and perfume. BREAD & BUTTER 2022

17


GUIDE

CSA Guide

echocsa@gmail.com

Pickup: Thursday evenings, 4-5

Products offered: Vegetables,

p.m. at Iowa Grown Market. De-

herbs and fruit. Flowers avail-

livery available to West Branch/

able as add-ons.

Cedar Bluff area on Tuesdays

There are many different types of CSA (Community Supported

Pickup: Wednesday evenings,

from 5-7 p.m.

Agriculture) options within Iowa—we’ve compiled a list of those

5-7 p.m. or Saturday mornings,

Season: early June-mid-Sep-

located within one hour (and often much closer) of Iowa City

9-11 a.m. at 1003 Ginter Ave in

tember (15 weeks). Shares cater

and Cedar Rapids, or offering pickup in these areas. Many of

Iowa City. Thursday evenings,

to smaller households and mod-

these CSAs sell a combination of items, so be sure to check out

5-6 p.m. at NewBo City Market

erate vegetable eaters.

what is unique about each.

in Cedar Rapids.

Price: $310.

Season: May 15-October (21 Products offered: Collaboration

weeks). Ends with a holiday box

Jupiter Ridge Farm

Share (6-12 varieties vegeta-

before Thanksgiving. Option for

Will Lorentzen and Adrian White

bles and fruit) or Apple Share.

a small or large share.

35217 Jupiter Rd, Garber, 563-

Flowers and bread available as

Price: Sliding scale from $0-

255-2021, jupiterridgefarm.com

add-ons.

1,560. Echollective Farm accepts

jupiterridgefarm@gmail.com

Pickup: Buffalo Ridge farm store

EBT/SNAP and workshares and

Products offered: Vegetables

or at the Iowa City Saturday

payment plans are available.

and herbs. Mushrooms available

Farmers Market from 7:30 a.m.-

as add-ons.

12 p.m.. Home delivery available

Pickup: Wednesday from 1-10

in Cedar Rapids, Marion, Hi-

p.m. at Rodina in Cedar Rapids.

Abbe Hills Farm

awatha, Central City, Iowa City,

Home delivery available in the

Laura Krouse

Mt Vernon and Solon. Apple

Cedar Rapids or Dyersville

825 Abbe Hills Rd, Mt Vernon,

CSA pickup in Cedar Rapids,

areas.

319-895-6924

Marion and Mt Vernon.

Season: July-November, good

abbehills.com

Season: Available as individual

for those looking for a late sea-

laura@abbehills.com

seasons (summer or fall) or

son CSA. An “Early Bird Box” is

Products offered: Vegetables

a full season which runs from

available for May-July.

Pickup: Abbe Hills Farm in Mt

May-November (24 weeks), with

Vernon on Thursday afternoons

biweekly or weekly pickup.

Garden Oasis Farm, LLC

from 4-6 p.m.

Price: $75-900

Price: $150-500 T.D. and Sarah Holub

Kroul Farms

Season: May 30-Oct. 10.

3262 York Ave, Coggon, 319-

John and Kaylene Kroul

Available as a single or family

435-8588, gofarmveggies.com,

245 Hwy 1 South, Mt Vernon,

size share (10 or 20 weeks).

gofarmveggies@gmail.com

319-895-8944, kroulfarms.com,

Price: $380-580

Products offered: Vegetables.

mdkroul@gmail.com

Pasture-raised broilers available

Products offered: Vegetables

Bountiful Harvest Farm

as add-ons.

and fruit. Flowers, eggs and fire-

Angie Scharnhorst and Marla

Pickup: Thursday evenings,

wood available as add-ons.

Looper

4-4:45 p.m. in Iowa City at

Pickup: Thursday or Friday at

4045 245th St, Solon, 512-644-

Robert A. Lee Recreation Center

Kroul Farms. Home delivery

1623, bountifuharvestcsa.com

Parking Lot or Wednesday eve-

available for those within 20

ascharny@me.com

nings, 4-5 p.m. in Cedar Rapids

miles of the farm.

Products offered: Vegetables,

Cultivate Hope Urban Farm

at Havertape Chiropractic.

Season: June-Sept. 24 (17

herbs and fruit. Flowers, eggs,

Zach D’Amico

Pick up also available in Center

weeks)

milk and cheese available as

437 G Ave NW, Cedar Rapids,

Point, Independence and at the

Price: $525

add-ons.

319-362-2214, cultivatehope.

farm in Coggon. Home delivery

Pickup: Bountiful Harvest Farm

square.site, cultivate@hub25.org

is available for Iowa City and

Midwest Best Beef

Wednesday evenings from

Products offered: Vegetables

Cedar Rapids addresses.

David and Annette Hill

5-6 p.m. or the former North

and fruit

Season: June 8-Sept. 21

26564 US-52 N, Holy Cross, 319-

Dodge Hy-Vee parking lot, 1201

Pickup: Cultivate Hope Urban

(16 weeks), with biweekly or

481-8641, midwestbestbeef.com,

N Dodge St, in Iowa City. Drive-

Farm on Thursday evenings

weekly pickup.

contact@midwestbestbeef.com

through pickup.

from 4-7 p.m., 437 G Ave. NW in

Price: $320-690

Products offered: Beef sub-

Season: June-September (16

Cedar Rapids.

weeks)

Season: May 12-Oct. 6

Iowa Grown Market

Price: $525. Workshares or

(22 weeks)

Bethany Fischer and Vince

payment plans available.

Price: $500. Discounted rates

Waters

available.

2613 Newport Rd NE, Solon,

Buffalo Ridge Orchard

scription: steaks, roasts, ground

563-886-7506,

Vern and Mary Zahradnik

Echollective Farm

iowagrownproduce.com,

1337 Rollins Rd, Central City, 319-

Derek Roller and Molly Schintler

iowagrownproduce@gmail.com

521-1353, buffaloridgeorchard.com,

879 Echo Ave, Mechanicsville,

Products offered: Vegetables,

info@buffaloridgeorchard.com

319-325-3910, echollectivefarm.com,

fruit and herbs

18

BREAD & BUTTER 2022

Glen Lowry


W

Malcolm MacDougall / Little Village

Feed Iowa First hat began as a summer project in 2011 has since taken root and grown into a flourishing operation nourishing and feeding countless hungry individuals in the Cedar Rapids community.

Non-profit organization Feed Iowa First works to connect individuals experiencing food insecurity with locally-grown produce through a variety of channels. The model at work is slightly different from other typical food banks and pantries. Rather than rescuing food that is past its prime or ‘best by date’ from local grocers and merchants, Feed Iowa First takes on the endeavor of actually growing the food themselves. By partnering with a multitude of community agencies from faith organizations to corporations and schools and utilizing open spaces to grow healthy produce, they are able to offer fresh vegetables to any person that struggles with food insecurity at no cost. The bulk of the produce distributed through the program is grown on one of the organization’s 28 urban farm sites across the county which are planted, maintained and harvested by volunteers and grow upwards of 36,000 pounds of produce. Feed Iowa First also encourages donations from any grower of produce (commercial, residential or backyard gardener) that is chemical-free and non-GMO in the Linn County area, though, please, only donate it if it’s something you would eat yourself! They’ve also established partnerships with several commercial farmers and residential growers to redirect excess produce to Linn County residents in need. Commercial and residential farmers can also donate a portion of their land to grow produce for Feed Iowa First–the non-profit will provide the plants and will organize volunteers to help plant, maintain and harvest produce. Last year, the program repurposed a mobile library purchased from the Cedar Rapids Public Library and transformed it into a mobile food pantry, servicing an area in need just north of downtown Cedar Rapids. With a regular schedule, the Fresh Choice Pantry became a resource neighborhood residents could rely on for regular access to nutritious food. The program also employs Veggie Vans which make regular stops in neighborhoods across the city during the growing season and serve approximately 80-100 households at each of their regular delivery sites each week. They deliver produce to local pantries and food banks and maintain two Community Fridges that are well-stocked with vegetables on a seasonal basis, offering clients 24-hour access to fresh produce. By traveling directly into neighborhoods with their produce, they alleviate the need for transportation to acquire healthy foods, offering a more accessible and nutritious path forward. INTERESTED IN GETTING INVOLVED? Visit feediowa1st.com Email feediowafirst@feediowa1st.com Or call 319-775-0149 BREAD & BUTTER 2022

19


GUIDE beef and stew meat.

overthemoonfarmandflowers@

Products offered: Vegetables

Pickup: Monthly at drop sites in

gmail.com

and fruit. Flower bouquets,

Cedar Rapids and Dubuque. Op-

Products offered: Meat and

microgreens, eggs and seasonal

tions range from a 5-40 pound

flowers available as an add-on

honey available as add-ons.

share for a 6-month or 12-month

to vegetable shares offered by

Pickup: Monday or Thursday

membership.

Sundog Farm & Local Harvest

evenings at the farm, 4:30-6:30

Price: $75-500

CSA, Rainbow Roots Farm, and

p.m. in Iowa City, or Mondays in

Buffalo Ridge Orchard. Coffee,

Cedar Rapids.

Morning Glory Farm

ground beef, pasture-raised

Season: Spring: May 1-29 (5

Donna Warhover

chickens, whole pekin ducks and

weeks), summer: June 5-Sept.

able as add-ons.

681 Hwy 1 S, Mt Vernon, 563-451-

Thanksgiving turkeys available

18 (16 weeks), and fall: Sept. 25-

Pickup: Mondays, from 5-6 p.m.

6676, morningglory.community,

as add-ons.

Nov. 6 (8 weeks).

at Feed Iowa First in Cedar

morningglorycommunity@gmail.com

Pickup: Meat CSA: Thursday

Price: $125-450

Rapids; from 4-5 p.m. at 131 N

Products offered: Vegetables.

evenings, 2-8 p.m. or home

Eggs, honey, fruit, jam and cof-

delivery every month. Flower

Small Frye Farm

after 4 p.m.; Thursdays from 5-6

fee available as add-ons.

CSA: home delivery, weekly

Susan Frye

p.m. at North Liberty Commu-

Pickup: Wednesday evenings,

or biweekly. Also available for

11150 New Liberty Rd, Maysville

nity Pantry; or from 5:15-6:30

5-6 p.m. in Iowa City at Zion

pickup alongside your Local

563-285-5570, smallfryefarm.com,

p.m. at Fiddlehead Gardens in

Lutheran Church, Monday

Harvest CSA or Rainbow Roots

susanjanefrye@gmail.com

Iowa City.

evenings, 4-5 p.m. at Back In

vegetable CSA.

Products offered: Cut flowers

Season: Full season runs from

Line Chiropractic in Hiawatha,

Season: Meat CSA options

arranged in vintage vases; herbs

April-November (29 weeks).

Thursday afternoons, 3-4 p.m. at

include Spring (March-May),

Pickup: Weekly home or busi-

Choose from the Spring Greens

Mercy Medical Center in Cedar

Summer (June-August), year-

ness delivery

Share (5 weeks), Summer Share

Rapids and Thursday evenings,

long (12 months), or sampler

Season: April to October

(16 weeks) or Fall Share (8

4-5 p.m. at Morning Glory Farm

box (1 month only). Economy,

Price: $800

weeks).

in Mt Vernon.

family size, or poultry-only also

Season: May-October. Spring (4

available. Flower CSA season

Sundog Farm &

& Local Harvest CSA accept

weeks), summer (16 weeks) and

runs from June-September.

Local Harvest CSA

EBT/SNAP. Discounted rates

fall (4 weeks) shares available.

Price: $99-270

Carmen Black

available.

Price: $175-495. Morning Glory

Market St in Solon; at the farm,

Price: $150-475. Sundog Farm

5025 120th St NE, Solon, 319Rainbow Roots Farm

331-3957, solonsundogfarm.com,

The Millet Seed Farm

Corbin Scholz

localharvestcsa@gmail.com

Jon Yagla

Over the Moon Farm & Flowers

3167 Rapid Creek Trail NE, Iowa

Products offered: Vegetables,

911 S 7th Ave, Iowa City, 319-

Shae Pesek and Anna Hankins

City, 319-331-3991,

fruit and herbs. Eggs, bread,

471-0807, themilletseed.com,

Coggon, 319-777-6519,

rainbowrootsfarm.com,

coffee and flowers as well as

jonyagla@gmail.com

overthemoonfarmandflowers.com,

rainbowrootsfarm@gmail.com

pasture-raised chickens avail-

Products offered: Greens, roots,

ket is also a participant in the

to $10 each market day) for SNAP

now accepting SNAP and Double

Iowa-specific “Double Up Food

benefits spent at the market,

Up Food Bucks as well. Farms in

Bucks’’ program, allowing you to

which can then be used to pur-

the area set up to accept SNAP/

double the amount of produce you

chase local produce. This means

EBT include Echollective Farm,

can buy with your SNAP dollars.

that produce worth $20 could be

Morning Glory Farm, Sundog Farm

Specifically, SNAP customers re-

purchased for only $10.

& Local Harvest CSA and Trowel &

Farm accepts EBT/SNAP.

Using SNAP/ WIC Benefits at the Farmers Market

I

n addition to grocery stores, Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP) and Special Supplemental

Nutrition Program for Women, Infants, and Children (WIC) benefits can be used at approved farmers market locations. As of January 2022, the Iowa City and Cedar Rapids farmers markets and the Field to Family Online Farmers Market are authorized to accept these benefits. The Iowa City Farmers Mar-

ceive a dollar-for-dollar match (up 20

BREAD & BUTTER 2022

Individual farms and CSAs are

Error Farm.


fruits, tubers, bulbs, herbs and

Walker Homestead

some specialty items. Edible

Farm & Winery

trees, shrubs and perennial

Ben Weber

plants are also available for

3867 James Ave SW, Iowa City,

purchase.

319-351-4791,

Pickup: Monday and Thursday

walker-homestead.com,

evenings, 5-6:30 p.m. at 911 7th

ben@walker-homestead.com

Ave, Iowa City.

Products offered: Vegetables.

Season: Mid-May to Septem-

Flowers and additional vegeta-

ber. Option for a full share (24

bles are also available.

weeks) or half share (12 weeks).

Pickup: Thursday evenings, 3-9

Price range: $325-600

p.m. at Walker Homestead.

Alternative payment options

Season: May 26-Oct. 6 (20

available.

weeks). Option for a full share or half share (10 weeks).

Trowel & Error Farm

Price: $325-550. Workshares or

Carly McAndrews and Bryant

sliding scale payments available.

Mann 4811 Melrose Ave, Iowa City,

Wild Woods Farm

203-668-1278,

Kate Edwards

trowelanderrorfarm.com,

4065 245th St NE, Solon, 319-

trowelanderrorfarm@gmail.com

333-2980, wildwoodscsa.com

Products offered: Vegetables,

kate.wildwoodsfarm@gmail.com

fruits and herbs

Products offered: Vegetables

Pickup: Wednesday evenings

and herbs. Pasture-raised meat

at the farm from 5-6:30 p.m.

and eggs (via West Fork Farm-

or Marion City Hall Parking Lot

stead) and fruit and jam (via

from 6-7 p.m.

Turkey Creek Orchard) available

Season: June 1-Sept. 21 (16

as add-ons.

weeks), with a one-week break

Pickup: Monday in Iowa City or

in the middle. Option for a full

Thursday evenings at the farm.

share or half share.

Season: June-September (16

Price: $240-45. Trowel & Error

weeks) and fall season runs from

Farm accepts EBT/SNAP.

September-November. One-time annual herb share in May. Price: $200-495

How to Redeem Your Benefits Due to transaction fees, many

sale. Signs indicating which tokens

of the Iowa City Farmers Market

are accepted by each vendor are

vendors opted out of accepting

displayed at their booth. Both

Electronic Benefit Transfer (EBT)

the tokens and Double Up Food

at their individual stalls, said City

Bucks can be used on the day of

of Iowa City Recreation Superin-

purchase or saved to use at a later

tendent Brad Barker.

visit to the market.

Many market organizers have

Due to the effort of the Iowa

set up a centralized system that

Department of Human Services’

allows SNAP customers to come

Wireless EBT Project, which

to one location—the market

provides wireless point-of-sale

information table—where they can

machines, more farmers are now

swipe their EBT card and purchase

able to accept SNAP EBT, Master-

$1 tokens of equal value. Both Ce-

Card, Visa, Discover and American

dar Rapids and Iowa City markets

Express cards.

operate this system. These tokens can then be used

These programs have been instrumental in providing fresh,

to make purchases from vendors

healthy food to low-income fami-

that offer SNAP-eligible items for

lies in our community. BREAD & BUTTER 2022

21


Avocado Rx Good eating can feel like therapy. For some people with chronic health conditions, it actually is. BY LINDSEY FRISBIE, RD, LD

I

t’s likely you’ve heard buzzwords like keto and paleo over the past few years. They’ve become somewhat of a cultural phenomenon, popularized in bestselling books and specialty food products. Flashy advertorials featuring celebrities and social media influencers proclaim that going keto changed their lives, helping them to “lose weight and feel more energized!” What often gets lost behind headlines about trendy diets is the medical, or therapeutic, use of such diets to help treat specific health conditions. This is where taking a deeper dive and studying the history and science behind these eating styles is important. Adapting your diet to adhere to ketogenic or paleo principles is not meant for everyone, but many individuals have relied on therapeutic benefits of such diets over the past century in order to be able to live a safe and healthy life. The origins of what we call keto today date back to the early 1920s when Dr. Russell Wilder of the Mayo Clinic coined the term “ketogenic diet.” He was the first to use ketogenic therapy to help treat epilepsy in children. Epilepsy is a neurological condition of the brain resulting in seizures; oftentimes, the cause of the seizures isn’t known, but may be related to genetics, brain injury, illness or abnormal brain development. The “classic” ketogenic diet involves a specially designed high-fat, low-carbohydrate diet that is prescribed by a doctor and monitored closely by a registered dietitian. More specifically, the diet usually has a 4:1 ratio of fat to carbohydrates and protein combined. Approximately 90% of calories come from fat, with 6% from protein and 4% from carbohydrates. For comparison purposes, a standard American diet contains about 45%-65% of calories from carbohydrates. This classic ketogenic diet is still widely used today in children whose seizures have not responded to medication and requires careful measuring and weighing of all food and liquids consumed. Locally, it’s prescribed at the University of 22

BREAD & BUTTER 2022

Frankie Schneckloth / Little Village

During ketosis, instead of breaking down carbohydrates into glucose for fuel, the liver converts fat into ketone bodies, compounds that are formed when fat in your food or fat stored in your body is broken down. These ketones replace glucose as the body’s primary source of energy. Iowa Stead Family Children’s Hospital, which is home to Iowa’s only Level 4 epilepsy center with state-of-the-art technology and therapies to both diagnose and treat complex cases of epilepsy. Stephanie Borst, MS, RDN, LD, is the primary registered dietitian who oversees pediatric patients on the ketogenic diet at the hospital. Working alongside a team of neurologists, nurses and nurse practitioners, she sees children from infancy to adolescence. “The youngest patients we’ve had to get started on the diet have been between four to five months of age,” said Borst. When asked how long patients typically stay on the diet, she reports, “We do say, at a minimum, to try it for three months. It may take a three-month trial period on the diet so that we can see if it is working for that patient. If it’s working to

help control seizures, then most patients can plan to stay on it for at least two to three years.” Furthermore, “If the diet is working and the patient is not having any side effects, they may stay on it longer than two to three years.” The goal of eating a ketogenic diet—characterized by a high fat and low carbohydrates—is to get the body into a state known as ketosis. Carbohydrates are our body’s primary source of energy. When you eat carb-rich foods, the body breaks them down into individual sugar molecules called glucose. The pancreas then releases insulin, a hormone that allows glucose to enter cells to provide you with energy. Any excess glucose is delivered to the liver and stored as glycogen. When the body is deprived of carbohydrates, insulin secretion is reduced and glycogen stores get depleted. During


BREAD & BUTTER 2022

23


The KETO Kitchen 116 E Washington St., Iowa City, 515-639-3702,

Zak Neumann / Little Village

theketokitchenia.com

Mo Nasr, Keto Master

S

peak with Mo Nasr for a few minutes and it’s plain to see he’s an exuberant and confident young man with a passion for helping others. For Nasr, owner of Keto Kitchen, adopting a

ketogenic diet was a major turning point. After significant weight loss and a noticeable improvement in the myriad health issues he’d been plagued by for years, he’s on a mission to help others feel better, too. “Growing up, I had really bad asthma and used an inhaler; it was hard to even make it up a flight of stairs. I was prediabetic and had food allergies. I was diagnosed with eczema. I was depressed. I was really, really overweight,” Nasr remembers. After a particularly discouraging period, Nasr said he gave up on any real change. He let his health go and saw his weight balloon. Trendy fad diets are a dime a dozen, but after hearing success stories others had experienced with the keto diet, Nasr decided to look into it, mostly to see if he could debunk it. After months of research, he came to understand the science behind the principles and decided he wanted to try it himself. Nasr followed a strict keto diet for three years and lost over 140 pounds, but he said there were other significant benefits aside from the dramatic weight loss. “After three months on the diet, I remember thinking, ‘My brain feels better!’ I was able to process and recall things more quickly. I was emotionally in control. I looked and felt better,” he said. For Nasr, the high-fat, low-carbohydrate diet offered a solution to a very real problem. Rather than looking at it as a temporary fix, it quickly became a lifestyle for him, one he was eager to share with others. That’s his ultimate goal with Keto Kitchen: “How can I help as many people as possible feel well-fed, well-maintained and healthy?” Nasr asks. His downtown Iowa City restaurant offers an assortment of low-carb substitutes for carb-heavy comfort foods that can be hard to give up when making the switch to keto, making it easier for those who are curious to get started. His wife Dani Rose is the creative force in the kitchen. Look for her low-carb lasagna loaded with vegetables, chicken tenders with a housemade “breading,” or breakfast sandwiches on almond flour toast. If you’re on the hunt for something to satisfy your sweet tooth, sample the cheesecake, cookies or chocolate waffles. Rest assured everything hits the macros and what the food lacks in carbohydrates, it more than makes up for in quality and flavor. 24

BREAD & BUTTER 2022

ketosis, instead of breaking down carbohydrates into glucose for fuel, the liver converts fat into ketone bodies, compounds that are formed when fat in your food or fat stored in your body is broken down. These ketones replace glucose as the body’s primary source of energy. While following the keto diet, one can expect to eat fat from nuts, avocados, eggs, butter, cream, cheese, fatty fish, red meat, poultry and oils like extra virgin olive oil and coconut oil. Small amounts of non-starchy vegetables like leafy greens, bell peppers, tomatoes and celery are eaten while foods rich in carbohydrates, including grains, beans, fruit and starchy vegetables are excluded. Borst says that people often don’t realize just how much fat is needed on the diet. “Looking at a meal that is 90 percent fat, you don’t really comprehend it until you visualize it.” For general information and resources on epilepsy, Borst recommends checking out The Charlie Foundation. “They have pictures of meals and you can see that the meals are smaller in size because so much of the meal is fat and it doesn’t take up that much space. That is something I always talk to families about when switching from a general diet to a keto diet. They need to know that, yes, this meal is going to look smaller, but it’s not any less calories than what you’re used to.” Variations of the keto diet began emerging in the 1970s. The Atkins diet, created in 1972 by Dr. Robert C. Atkins, is a low-carbohydrate diet plan but allows for more moderate protein intake and was developed as a weight reduction therapy. By the early 2000s, a mix between the Atkins diet and the classic ketogenic diet began to be studied at Johns Hopkins Hospital. Known as the Modified Atkins Diet (MAD), there are no restrictions on protein, fats are strongly encouraged and foods do not need to be measured or weighed, but carbohydrate intake is monitored to generally be less than 20 grams per day. The MAD is helpful for families lacking the resources to adhere to a more restrictive keto diet. It is actively used in both adolescents and adults for seizure control, with studies showing it to be similar to the classic ketogenic diet in efficacy. Borst has done the MAD a handful of times herself. “It helps me most because it gives me a full understanding of what my patients are going through,” she said. “As their dietitian, it helps me with some of those challenges for them like eating out and recipe and meal ideas. Every time I do it, I have a whole new understanding and new ideas for them because I’m trying new things myself.” Beyond epilepsy, potential benefits of a ketogenic diet have been emerging for other health conditions. There are currently more than 70 trials underway or in the beginning stages looking at its impact on brain, cardiovascular and metabolic health. For individuals with Type 2 diabetes, adapting a very low carbohydrate diet may offer benefits in managing blood sugar and lowering A1C levels, with one review finding it may reduce or eliminate the need for medication. The ketogenic diet has shown to induce rapid weight loss in patients with obesity. Initially, weight loss is mostly water weight because of the limited amount of carbohydrates in the diet, which hold onto water in the body. Further weight loss may be due to the satiety that comes with filling up with high-fat foods; research shows a keto diet may lead to fewer hunger pangs. Despite some findings that low carb diets may cause individuals to lose more weight compared to lower fat diets, there is a lack of long-term research that suggests a highly restrictive keto diet is better for weight loss than other diet plans. It’s also difficult to reach definitive answers on any diet because of the huge variations in how people’s bodies respond to different diets. Accompanying keto in the headlines as of late has been the paleo diet. Often referred to as the “Caveman” or “Stone-Age” diet, the idea is that by eliminating modern highly processed foods, you can lose weight and avoid diabetes and heart disease. Basically, if a caveman didn’t eat it, you shouldn’t either. There is heavy debate about many aspects of


Frankie Schneckloth / Little Village

the diet, such as the variation in diets depending on regions, what foods truly existed in these “caveman” times, and how today’s modern fruits and vegetables bear little resemblance to prehistoric wild produce. Due to these differences, you’ll find many variations of the diet. Overall, it is high in protein and fiber, moderate in fat, low to moderate in carbohydrates and low in sodium and added refined sugars. It includes a lot of grass-fed beef, fruits and vegetables, olive oil and omega-3-rich fish, nuts and seeds. While there are some randomized controlled trials showing short-term benefits of weight loss, decreased blood pressure, improved cholesterol and increased insulin sensitivity, many of these studies were short in duration with a small group of participants. The paleo diet has garnered further attention for its potential to help control symptoms of multiple sclerosis (MS), a disease impacting the brain and spinal cord, which make up the central nervous system. In MS, the immune system attacks myelin, the protective layer that surrounds nerves. This results in communication problems between the brain and the rest of the body. Duration and severity of symptoms vary from person to person, but may include fatigue, memory problems, numbness, impaired coordination, vision loss and/or paralysis. There is currently no cure for MS, with many individuals seeking therapy through their diet. One version of the paleo diet that has specifically been looked at to help ease symptoms and flare-ups is the Wahls Protocol, also known as the Wahls diet. It was created by Dr. Terry Wahls, Clinical Professor of Medicine at the University of Iowa, who ultimately reduced her own MS symptoms dramatically with a nutrient-rich paleo-style diet, filled with vitamins, minerals, antioxidants and essential fatty acids. The Wahls Protocol encourages grass-fed beef, wild fish, vegetables (especially leafy greens), colorful berries and fat from animal and plant sources. Another contrasting eating style some individuals with MS have claimed to help manage their symptoms is the Swank diet. Created by Dr. Roy Swank in the 1950s, it is low in fat, particularly saturated fat, and focuses on lean fish, fruits, vegetables, whole grains and nonfat dairy products. Recently, with the help of the National Multiple Sclerosis Society, Dr. Wahls and a team at the University of Iowa conducted a study comparing the two diets in MS treatment. Both diets ended up being associated with a significant reduction in fatigue and improved mental and physical quality of life, showing how important diet and lifestyle has the potential to be in managing a chronic disabling disease. While the benefits of using food as therapy for various health conditions is promising, it is important that whenever you are considering making significant changes to your diet to consult with your doctor and a registered dietitian. Not all diets are appropriate for everybody. Given the highly restrictive nature of ketogenic diets, factors including nutrient deficiencies, past medical history, any past eating disorders, access to food and current medications must all be taken into consideration. Working with qualified medical professionals can help you come up with a plan that’s right for you. BREAD & BUTTER 2022

25


GUIDE

Eat the Day Away Whether you’re from Eastern Iowa or just visiting, chances are there’s a fantastic restaurant you’ve never tried right around the corner. So get out there, support local and enjoy what the area has to offer! Don’t know where to start? Give these CR and IC restaurant itineraries a try.

CEDAR RAPIDS

the best housemade chai latte,

1st St SW, Cedar Rapids for some

and what do you know? It pairs

Italian fare and craft cocktails.

great with donuts!

The atmosphere is elegant and inviting, and the food checks

Meet up with some friends at

all the boxes. Dote over short

LP - Streetfood, 302 3rd Ave

rib-stuffed ravioli or sample the

SW, Cedar Rapids. No matter

four-hour braised lamb leg, which

how often you go there, it is im-

is nothing short of exquisite. Their

possible to get tired of it. Their

cocktails pair beautifully with the

menu is unconventional and

food—the pear and pomegranate

creative, and they always deliver

Paloma and smoky Manhattan

both great taste and service.

get two thumbs up—and their

Gyros, poutine and foot-long

Salted Caramel Crème Brûlée

corn dogs—there’s something

is the perfect note to end on.

everyone can enjoy. And of

Delizioso! —Jav Ducker

course, you can’t depart without dropping by a local brewery. A Yard Sale IPA from Lion Bridge Brewing Co., 59 16th Ave SW, Cedar Rapids will round off the afternoon just right.

Jav Ducker

Before your last stop, take a break, recharge and make room for more food. Eating is hard work! Then

Jason Smith / Little Village

head over to

BARI ITALIAN, 450

Iowa City First stop: Bea’s Cafe, 2727 6th St SW, Cedar Rapids, located in Jason Smith / Little Village

the former Riley’s location. It’s buzzing, which is always a good sign. Order eggs Benedict—opt for classic with Canadian bacon, or salmon. The hollandaise is rich and creamy, the salmon serving is very generous and the hashbrowns on the side are Frankie Schneckloth

made just right. It’s definitely a great way to start the day. If you’re craving something sweet after breakfast, why not Lu’s Deli,

Frankie Schneckloth

Deluxe Cakes & Pastries,

some of the greatest quiche

NewBo is a great spot to get

and buttery croissant crust that

your fix. Order a few of your

tempts you to ask the table be-

favorites; the old fashioned sour

side you if they’re going to finish

cream and raspberry bismark

their flaky last bite. The quiche

receive high marks. Just a few

has a wonderfully seasoned

steps down the block is

BREAD & BUTTER 2022

at it.

812 S Summit St, Iowa City, has you’ll find anywhere, with a rich

1010 3rd St SE, Cedar Rapids in

26

serving of veggies while you’re

Kis-

Frankie Schneckloth

a Donutland donut?

It’s sunrise; protein up and eat a

flavor with that eggy texture

met Coffee & Bloom, 1000 3rd

in every mouthful. Deluxe has

St SE Ste 1, Cedar Rapids, a new

a delicious bacon and cheese

obsession for caffeine and floral

quiche, but the veggie variety

up with some coffee and start

enthusiasts alike. They have

is beautifully flavorful, too. Fuel

getting those afternoon plans


Zak Neumann / Little Village

ready for that curious belly of

one-for-a-penny special. Yes,

yours.

you read that right. Order some cold ones and start to eyeball

It’s going to be a long day so

that menu for whatever you’re

keep the momentum going.

going to eat. The smoky aroma

Shakespeare’s Pub and Grill,

that hangs heavy around the

819 S 1st Ave, Iowa City is a

restaurant will eventually lure

southeast Iowa City neighbor-

you into getting a tasty partner

hood treasure with great beers,

for those penny drinks. Ask if

a full bar and a long menu of

they have some of their incredi-

made-from-scratch meals. The

ble smoked chicken wings ready

Black & Blue Steak Salad brings

and let the happy hour roll on!

fresh greens tossed with balsamic vinaigrette and is finished

When it’s time for dinner, order

with blackened steak, plenty of

an icy bottle of Kirin Ichiban

blue cheese crumbles, onions

and get to know some of the

and crunchy housemade crou-

local sushi experts. Oyama, 1853

tons. Please, oh please, have

Lower Muscatine Rd, Iowa City is

the bartenders mix you a killer

nestled in the north building of

Bloody Mary, too.

the Iowa City Marketplace and have been creating some of the

You’ll need just a little some-

area’s best sushi for more than a

thing to get you through the

decade. They have an expansive

afternoon until the dinner bell

menu that includes awesome

rings. Zip on over to Dodge

plates of gourmet entrees like

Street Coffeehouse, 2790 N

hot pots, noodles, tempura,

Dodge St, Iowa City, to see what

hibachi delights and more. Good

scones they have ready. They do

luck making a quick decision at

an amazing job creating differ-

Oyama.

ent flavored scones as well as other sweet and savory baked

If you’re planning on staying

goods on the daily. It’s one of

out until the bar lights turn on,

the best places for a quick and

then you’ll need another bite.

delicious afternoon snack, and

Mesa Pizza, 114 E Washington

a quick and delicious shot of

St, Iowa City, stays pretty busy

espresso. Have the talented

all night and always has a great

baristas brew that fresh-baked

selection of wild flavors and

scone a caffeinated sidekick.

generously sized slices ready for your enjoyment. Imagine if

Mosley’s Barbeque and Provi-

the mind of Willy Wonka was

sions, 525 S Gilbert St, Iowa City

put into a pizza maker’s head

has some of the greatest happy

and let loose in the kitchen with

hour specials of all time. Several

tons of fresh dough and copious

selections of adult beverages,

savory, spicy, saucy and seem-

including craft beers, are avail-

ingly endless ingredients to top

able from 3 to 6 p.m. and 9 p.m.

a pizza with. That’s Mesa Pizza,

to midnight on a buy-one-get-

baby! —Jay Goodvin BREAD & BUTTER 2022

27


GUIDE

The World at Your Forktips From empanadas to masala, jollof rice to donburi, let these international eateries take your tastebuds on a trip. Pinoy Cafe

ice layered with milk, fruits, flan

1100 3rd St SE, Cedar Rapids,

and brilliantly colored ube ice

319-343-8081,

cream—incorporates a variety of

pinoy-cafe.square.site

textures and flavors and a paint-

Blanche Vega’s Filipino restau-

er’s palette of colors, making a

rant, Pinoy Cafe, got its start in

truly refreshing treat.

a small spot in Cedar Rapids’ NewBo City Market in 2018. Jordan Sellergren

Vega graduated to a slightly larger space before finally securing a stall with grill and vent capabilities where she could expand her menu. The multiple upheavals of business were worth it as the grill items she’s

Maestro Empanadas

Blanche Vega at Pinoy Cafe, Cedar Rapids Zak Neumann / Little Village

added are perfectly executed

423 10th Ave, Coralville, 319-621-

location. The handheld Argen-

the edges; every flavor has its

and absolutely delectable. It’s

7481, maestroempanadas.com

tinian delights are loaded with

own crimping pattern to save

impossible to go wrong, no

What was once a seasonal op-

assorted protein and vegetables

you from cutting them open or

matter what you order, but the

eration at the Iowa City Farmers

and baked to perfection; the

guessing. If you need something

barbeque chicken skewers are

Market way back in 2012 has

Humita and Quinoa empanadas

sweet to end the meal, sample

moist and flavorful with just the

become so much more. Cristian

are particularly good if you’re

the alfajores de maizena. These

right amount of charred bits.

Bejarano opened a brick and

looking for a recommendation,

little cornstarch cookies sand-

The three piece combo with rice

mortar shop to sell his ever pop-

but there’s something for every

wiched with caramel and rolled

makes a satisfying lunch and the

ular empanadas in 2015 and has

palate on the menu. When

in coconut melt in your mouth.

pork adobo is actually addictive.

continued to grow from there.

you pick up your order, save

After you’ve finished, you’ll think

He now sells his signature herby

yourself the trouble and add

of it fondly and quickly plan the

chimichurri by the jarful and a

a bag of your favorite frozen

921 Blairs Ferry Rd NE #150,

next time you can visit. Pinoy

frozen version of his empana-

ones (for a quick and satisfying

Cedar Rapids, 319-320-7345,

also serves traditional Filipino

das at New Pioneer Co-op and

meal later) and a 12 ounce jar

delhicacycr.com

dessert options like halo-halo

local Hy-Vee stores, but you still

of the chimichurri. If you order

Step through the doors of

and crispy sweet turon served a

can’t beat a fresh order picked

an assortment of flavors, pay

this Indian street-food fusion

la mode. The halo-halo—shaved

up right from their takeout-only

attention to the crimping along

restaurant in Cedar Rapids and

28

BREAD & BUTTER 2022

Delhicacy


Sneh Chopra at Delhicacy, Cedar Rapids Zak Neumann / Little Village

you are transported. It’s clear

beverages and dessert options

this is not your run-of-the-mill

follow with the same inventive

traditional Indian restaurant. The

yet authentic flair. The delicious-

considered decor and seating

ly creamy housemade mango

arrangements alone show a

lassis are available bottled for

holistic approach to sharing an

take-home consumption as well

authentic slice of culture: Indian

and the mango faluda (avail-

inspired textiles frame booths

able at dinner service only) is

for a more intimate feeling,

exquisite. That same mango

and the low slung village-style

lassi is blended with ice cream

seating is nestled into richly pat-

and mixed with crunchy sweet

terned pillows, billowy tapestries

sev noodles, basil and papaya

and glowing lanterns for a more

chunks for the ultimate end-of-

immersive dining experience.

dinner bite.

RECIPE

Mediterranean Chicken Meatballs Recipe and photo by Lindsey Frisbie, RD, LD

T

hese are not your average meatballs. Adding more colorful vegetables to your meals doesn’t have to be complicated. These meat-

The food is handled with the

balls feature chopped spinach, bell peppers and onions, and an infusion

same approach. Delhicacy

of flavor courtesy of feta cheese, olives, and Italian herbs and spices.

offers the hits you see at many

Plus, replacing breadcrumbs with oats ups the fiber content. Zak Neumann

an Indian buffet, but much of

Crêpes de Luxe Cafe

Prep time: 10 minutes Cook time: 30 minutes / Serves 4-5 • 1 pound organic ground chicken • 1 egg • 1 cup spinach, finely chopped

887-2233, crepes-de-luxe.com

• 1/2 cup crumbled feta cheese

Head chef and owner Hicham

• 1/4 cup Kalamata olives, finely diced

Chehouani previously worked as

• 1/4 cup red bell pepper, finely diced

a chef throughout the Med-

• 1/4 cup onion, finely diced

iterranean before moving to

• 1/4 cup rolled oats

the United States and opening

• 1 tablespoon olive oil

Crêpes de Luxe. The delicately

• 1 teaspoon dried oregano

prepared crêpes he creates are

• 1 teaspoon dried thyme

an authentic taste of French

• 1 teaspoon garlic powder

cuisine. Crêpes de Luxe offers

• 1 teaspoon onion powder

both sweet and savory crêpes in

• 1/2 teaspoon salt

the menu is focused on street

countless flavor combinations,

• 1/4 teaspoon ground black pepper

and fusion food, highlighting

with gluten-free options avail-

the food people actually eat

able by request. The crêperie

when dining out in India. Think:

is more than worthy of a visit

tacos and burritos loaded with

just about any day of the year,

In a large mixing bowl, combine all of the ingredients, mixing well to

curry, chutney and housemade

but a meal after the snow has

incorporate spices.

slaw, globally inspired poutine

melted—think late February or

smothered with butter masala

early March, when you can’t

Form into approximately 15 meatballs and arrange on a greased

and slow-roasted vegetables

exactly sort out what season

rimmed baking sheet. Bake in the oven for 30 minutes or until cooked

served with buttery buns. Sig-

it is—means the opportunity

through so chicken reaches an internal temp of 165 degrees. Enjoy over

nature cocktails, non-alcoholic

to sample Le Printemps. This

pasta, zoodles or rice, or alongside roasted vegetables.

Zak Neumann / Little Village

309 E College St, Iowa City, 319-

Preheat the oven to 400 degrees.

BREAD & BUTTER 2022

29


GUIDE

is one not to miss. Owned by Teepeu Pewu and operated with the help of her family, the restaurant offers a selection of West African dishes for breakfast, lunch and dinner. For those new to Liberian cuisine, a great entry point is jollof rice: succulent chicken mixed with onions and sweet peppers and flecked with sausage. The whole tilapia sided by a portion of RECIPE

plantain and brightly colored

Strawberry Chia Jam Recipe and photo by Lindsey Frisbie, RD, LD

vegetables is a winning choice Szechuan House, Iowa City Jason Smith / Little Village

as well, though it does take a little extra time to prepare. Do not

fan-favorite crêpe utilizes fresh

blend of spicy and sour notes;

be deterred; your wait will be

his is the easiest jam you

asparagus, a classic harbinger

and the decadent string beans

handsomely rewarded when you

will ever make! It’s made

of spring, and pairs it beautifully

studded with pork will be some-

take your first bite. The peanut

with frozen berries here, but

with mozzarella, homemade

thing you’ll order again and

butter soup is also outrageously

fresh fruit would work, too.

aioli, turkey bacon, pesto sauce

again. The succulent crispy duck

delicious, packed with bold rich

It’s equally great made with

and a sunny-side-up egg. It’s

or the griddled cabbage also

flavor and spice, so be sure to

blueberries, raspberries and/

available only in the seasonal

make an excellent order. Or even

add that to your mix as well. The

or cherries. A finishing touch

window when asparagus is at

the eggplant with pork. Order-

portions of everything on the

of lemon zest at the end

its peak. Call ahead to be sure

ing a hot pot set is an easy way

menu are more than generous,

brightens the flavor.

it’s on offer if it’s the only one

to satisfy a group of eaters. The

so grab a friend, treat yourself

for you. Otherwise, strike up a

flavorful broth simmers away in

and sample the menu.

conversation with the friendly

front of you on a little burner as

owners, Hicham or Fadwa, or

you cook your own thinly sliced

Ramen Belly

their staff. They can absolutely

meat and vegetables in the bub-

1010 Martin St, Iowa City,

guide you towards your new

bling cauldron. It’s an interactive

319-569-1057, ramenbelly.co

favorite crêpe.

dining experience for you and

This tiny ramen shop in Iowa

your dinner companions and

City’s Peninsula neighborhood

one not to be overlooked.

serves up classic Japanese

T

Cook time: 10 minutes • 2 cups frozen sliced strawberries • 2 tablespoon chia seeds • 1 teaspoon lemon zest, plus juice of 1/2 lemon • splash of maple syrup or honey to sweeten, if desired

Szechuan House 320 E Burlington St, Iowa City, 319-338-6788, szechuanhouseia.com

Cook berries over medium heat

If you’re looking for authen-

in a saucepan until they start to

tic Chinese food, something

soften, stirring often, anywhere

beyond just the Americanized

from 5-10 minutes depending

dishes you see everywhere,

on size of berries. Mash berries

you’ve come to the right spot.

with a fork or potato masher to

The vast menu at Szechuan

break down further.

House will take some time to explore and it’s best done in-per-

Add chia seeds, lemon zest

son with some hungry friends.

and juice. Cook 1 more minute

You’ll get the full experience

before taking off heat. Let the

should you choose to embark

jam cool. As it cools, it will

on a hot pot journey, and you

thicken. Store in the fridge for

can order a bunch of dishes to

4-5 days.

really make a dent in the menu.

Tee’s Liberian Dish, Cedar Rapids Malcolm MacDougall / Little Village

The dine-in presentation of the Serving ideas: Spoon over

food is an added bonus. Some

Greek yogurt (or a coconut-

highlights from the menu: The

1271 1st Ave SE, Cedar Rapids,

donburi—all customized to your

based yogurt) with a drizzle of

deceptively tame-looking cold

319-449-4565,

taste and specifications. Start

almond butter or peanut butter;

Szechuan noodle dish is fiery,

teesliberiandish.com

with one of their two ramen

on whole-grain or sourdough

numbing and all at once addic-

Opened in the summer of 2021,

preparations and add your

toast; or stirred into oatmeal or

tive, the dry sauteed shredded

this delicious Liberian restaurant

protein, select your sauce and

on top of pancakes/waffles.

potato hits on a harmonious

on a main drag in Cedar Rapids

throw in some extra avocados

30

BREAD & BUTTER 2022

Tee’s Liberian Dish

cuisine—ramen, poke bowls and


Ramen Belly, Iowa City Jordan Sellergren / Little Village

or jalapenos if that’s your thing.

The team at Ramen Belly have

They’ve even got a Baby Ramen

picked a handful of things to

bowl for the tiniest noodle lovers.

execute with precision, and it’s

The poke bowls provide the same

refreshing to experience as a

flexibility in regards to protein

patron. In the warmer months,

and sauce and are loaded with

the patio is a welcome addition

seasoned rice, tangy seaweed

to the compact space, offering

salad and house pickles. The

both bistro tables and chairs

menu is small and uncomplicated

as well as comfortable lounge

by endless overwhelming options.

furniture.

Don’t Miss These Spots! FOR THE AUSTRALIAN CAFE EXPERIENCE

St. Kilda 300 SW 5th St, Des Moines, 515-369-7854, stkildadsm.com A trip to Australia might not be in your immediate future, but a daytrip to Des Moines is something easier to knock out. The relaxed vibe and elevated healthy, modern food at St. Kilda delivers the experience of the Aussie cafe scene without the 24-hour flight and jet lag. FOR THOSE DAYS WHEN YOU FORGOT YOUR LUNCH… OR FORGOT TO PREP DINNER… OR BOTH

Le Gourmet 201 S Clinton St, Iowa City, 319-471-0959, legourmettogo.com This restaurant is nestled in the corner of Iowa City’s Old Capitol Town Center right by the bus stop and serves an array of Korean snacks, noodle and rice bowls and lunchboxes with a protein and a selection of five traditional Korean side dishes that change weekly. Pick up something tasty for lunch or sneak out of work a little early to grab your dinner order! FOR THOSE IOWA CITIANS HUNGRY FOR AFRICAN CUISINE

I Love Fufu 230 E Benton St, Iowa City, 319-499-8189, ilovefufuiowacity.com The menu here covers a lot of geographical turf but specializes in dishes from Africa and the Caribbean. Ranging from North

Jordan Sellergren

African favorites like lamb kebabs and falafel to West African dishes like jollof rice and okra stew to Caribbean specialties jerk chicken, rice and beans, there’s something to satisfy everyone. BREAD & BUTTER 2022

31


GUIDE

International Markets

City Market 2301 2nd St Unit 1A, Coralville, 319-338-3788

owned and operated by Maxim Avdonin, his

Open for three years, this cavernous store

wife Yelena and daughter Marina and brings

just off the Coralville strip specializes in Asian

a taste of “home” to Iowa City for those

and Middle Eastern grocery staples and Halal

missing their favorites from Ukraine, Russia

Acapulco Mexican Bakery, 1937 Keokuk St,

meat and grocery. The store sees weekly de-

and the Baltic countries. They offer a large

Iowa City, 319-338-1122, acapulcoia.com

liveries of local fresh Halal meat—something

selection of products prepared according

that sets them apart from other area stores—

to “old home recipes” ranging from dense

and is patronized by a mix of customers.

flavorful rye breads and rich European

African Family Market, 4346 16th Ave SW, Cedar Rapids, 319-396-2018,

Instead of rushing in and making a bee-

butters, to frozen dumplings and sausages

line for the specific items on your list, take

and salamis. They were just recently issued

your time and wander through the aisles.

a home bakery license as well as a liquor

Al Salam International Foods, 787 Mormon

You’ll find locally made Sudanese breads and

license. Yelena keeps the case stocked with

Trek Blvd, Iowa City, 610-202-2024,

crackers, trays of plump, glossy dates and

delicious baked goods. The honey cake is

al-salam-international-foods.business.site

Moroccan bath soaps and oils in addition

truly exceptional, and though it’s offered in

to fresh produce, dried fish and assorted

both half and full size options, if you’re smart,

Asia Plus, 201 S Clinton St Ste 193,

canned goods. If you’re curious about an

you’ll purchase the big one. A selection of

Iowa City, 319-354-2906,

ingredient or an item, just ask. The owner,

European wines and beers rounds out the

asia-plus-asian-grocery-store.business.site

Ahmed, is friendly and eager to share.

offerings at this family-owned operation. Visit

africanfamilymarketcr.com

their Facebook page and you’ll stay in step Asian Market, 624 S Gilbert St,

with in-store specials and new products that

Iowa City, 319-338-2000,

arrive daily, and you’re likely to learn a thing

facebook.com/asianmarketiowacity

or two about traditional ingredients, dishes and preparations. If you can’t make the trek

Asian Mini Mart, 5429 Center Point Rd NE,

to Iowa City, periodically the market will offer

Cedar Rapids, 319-777-4227

a free delivery day to Cedar Rapids, requiring only a minimum order amount, so be on the lookout!

Chong’s Supermarket, 905 2nd St, Coralville, 319-337-9596 Singh Gill at K Brothers, Coralville Zak Neumann

City Market, 2301 2nd St Unit 1A, Coralville, 319-338-3788

4346 16th Ave SW, Cedar Rapids, 319-396-2018, africanfamilymarketcr.com Located on the southwest side of Cedar Rapids, this market specializes in African,

El Paso Mexican Tienda Y Taqueria, 609 Hollywood Blvd Ste 2, Iowa City,

African Family Market

K Brothers

South Asian, and Mediterranean food, as

2058 8th St, Coralville, 319-338-5619,

well as clothing, cologne and personal care

kbrothersgrocery.com

items and has been serving the area for four

Euro Food, 1210 S Gilbert St Ste 100, Iowa

K Brothers opened in Coralville in April 2021

years. The shelves are loaded with a variety

City, facebook.com/eurofoodiowacity

and stocks its shelves with mostly Indian

of flours, cooking oils and pantry staples,

products. As soon as you enter the door,

and there’s countless reach-in freezers and

Global Mart, 89 2nd St, Coralville,

you encounter stacked cases of beautiful

coolers packed with frozen proteins ranging

319-333-1286

fresh produce. On a recent visit, the selection

from goat, chicken feet, turkey tails, liver and

included bitter gourd, glossy eggplants and

kidney, barracuda and salt fish.

319-338-3703, elpasoic.com

Great Wall, 220 Stevens Dr, Iowa City, 319-338-9683

crisp menthi, among many others. Owner Singh Gill said he sees customers

Saigon Market

from all over the world visiting his shop and

803 2nd Ave SE, Cedar Rapids, 319-363-2900

Hela African Food Market,

he helpfully pointed us in the direction of

One of the highlights of Saigon Market is

3260 Southgate Pl SW, Cedar Rapids,

his son’s favorite snack mix and the best ice

the walk-in cooler tucked in the back corner;

678-557-4386, heladesigner.com

cream treats in the frozen section. We chose

you’ll find it filled with all sorts of fresh,

the pistachio ice cream layered with rose

good-looking produce. The staff is super

Iowa City African & Oriental Market,

petals and packaged in tiny terracotta pots,

friendly and helpful and will point you in the

1055 US-6 E, Iowa City, 319-290-3405

but there were many other delicious options.

right direction of whatever it is you’re looking

You’ll find the aisles filled with pantry staples

for. The market is well-stocked with Asian

Iowa City Halal Food And Grocery,

like rice and coconut milk, spices and breads

staples: noodles, rice, seaweed, sauces and

1806 Boyrum St, Iowa City, 319-499-1920

in addition to frozen entrees.

seasonings and also has a nice selection of

K Brothers, 2058 8th St, Coralville,

Euro Food

bonito—as well. They used to make an incred-

319-338-5619, kbrothersgrocery.com

1210 S Gilbert St Ste 100, Iowa City,

ible banh mi sandwich but haven’t recently

319-512-4402, eurofood-likehome.com

because of COVID. Maybe, fingers crossed,

A true family-run business, Euro Food is

they will make a return in the future.

proteins—duck and duck eggs, tofu and baby

32

BREAD & BUTTER 2022


RECIPE

Spicy Peanut Sweet Potato Stew Recipe and photo by Lindsey Frisbie, RD, LD

S

weet potatoes and peanut butter are a classic combination in African cuisine,

which is the inspiration behind the recipe. Warming flavors of curry and ginger round out the flavor profile. Jalapeño gives it some heat but feel free to use half or omit, if needed. Prep time: 15 minutes Cook time: 30-40 minutes / Serves 4 • 1 cup brown rice • 1 tablespoon olive oil • 1 yellow onion, diced • 1/2 cup celery, diced • 1/2 cup red bell pepper, diced • 4 cloves garlic, minced • 1 jalapeño chile pepper, seeded and finely diced • 2 tablespoon grated fresh ginger • 1 tablespoon curry powder • 4 cups low-sodium vegetable broth • 1 (15 oz) can low-sodium diced tomatoes, undrained • 1/4 cup peanut butter • 2 medium sweet potatoes, chopped into 1 inch cubes • 1 bunch Swiss chard (or collard greens), finely chopped • 1/4 cup fresh cilantro, chopped Cook brown rice according to package directions. Set aside. Heat oil in a large stockpot over medium high heat. Add onions, celery and bell pepper, stirring occasionally until softened, about 5 minutes. Add garlic, jalapeño, ginger and curry powder. Sauté 1 more minute. Add broth, tomatoes and peanut butter. Stir to combine. Add sweet potatoes and Swiss chard. Turn heat to high to bring to a boil. Reduce heat to a simmer and cook until potatoes are fork tender, about 15-20 minutes. Add cilantro at the very end of cooking. Season to taste with salt and pepper. Serve soup over cooked brown rice. BREAD & BUTTER 2022

33


GUIDE

International Markets

RECIPE

Puttanesca Sauce Recipe by Courtenay Bouvier

Y

ou may have heard about pasta puttanesca, or “whore’s pasta,” as it is so problematically translated,

K.A.F.F. Oriental & African

with its legendary history as a bordello staple that served as

Market, 1507 US-151 BUS, Cedar

both aphrodisiac and restorative. The truth is that no one knows

Rapids, 319-826-1214

precisely why puttanesca is so named, just like no one knows exactly

Julia DeSpain

how factual any folktale is. When I’m simmering puttanesca sauce, though, Karibu Market, 707 3rd Ave SE,

I’m pretty sure I know: my kitchen wafts a sweaty, steamy haze through the house, which smells like garlic,

Cedar Rapids, 319-320-7708,

sure, but there’s a funk lurking a little lower in the air. A fecundity; a salty, fertile funk, made of fermenta-

karibumarketcedarrapids.com

tion and brine, that is physically felt as much as it is smelled. Puttanesca, quite simply, smells like messy, exuberant sex. Italian women have historically been stereotyped as too loud, too passionate, too suscep-

Khartoum Town International

tible to our own appetites. I used to reject these stereotypes, but as I grow older, I embrace them, and,

Halal Food, 106 1st Ave,

when I make puttanesca sauce, I embody them, opening my windows so the whole neighborhood knows.

Coralville, 319-594-5361 Prep time: 5 minutes La Mexicana, 1701 2nd St,

Cook time: approximately 30 minutes

Coralville, 319-259-7178 • 2 tablespoon olive oil (use some of the oil from La Regia Taqueria,

the anchovies but not all 2 tbsp)

• 1/2 cup pitted Kalamata, Gaeta or oil-cured black olives

436 Hwy 1 W, Iowa City,

• 4-6 cloves garlic, sliced thin or chopped

• 2 tablespoon capers

319-341-8226, laregiaia.com

• 4-6 oil-packed anchovy fillets

• crushed red pepper flakes to taste

• 1 (28-oz) can whole peeled tomatoes

• fresh Italian parsley

MODINA African Market,

• black pepper

409 IA-1, Iowa City, 319-855-5211 Shopping notes: It doesn’t matter what brand of anchovies, olives, or capers you use; they don’t need to Mula African Food Market,

be anything fancy. There are no right or wrong answers regarding everything in this sauce except for the

425 3rd Ave SW, Cedar Rapids,

tomatoes. They must be whole. Diced, crushed, pureed, or otherwise altered tomatoes are too acidic for

319-450-7662, mulamarket.com

this sauce, and they don’t provide the rustic, chunky texture that is integral to puttanesca. If you only have previously adulterated tomatoes, I’ve heard that a pinch of baking soda can neutralize the acid, and I can

Saigon Market, 803 2nd Ave SE,

attest that a finely grated small-to-medium carrot added early on can also improve this—though this adds a

Cedar Rapids, 319-363-2900

sweetness that some may not prefer.

Starlight Market 3, 906 2nd St,

Thinly slice or chop the garlic; nothing fancy. No need to do anything to the anchovies; they’ll break down

Coralville, 319-358-1688

as they heat. Chop the olives coarsely, in half or at least similarly, so that they remain significant but can distribute relatively evenly into the sauce. Everyone always says to rinse capers, but I never do; I just make

Taj International Foods,

sure not to get too much brine in my scoops, and this works fine.

2419 2nd St #2, Coralville, 319-354-1901

Add oil, garlic, crushed red pepper, and anchovies to a large skillet and warm it all slow and low, stirring once in a while to incorporate the anchovies into the oil as they break down. When it’s all tender and glori-

Taste of India Grocery,

ously stinky, about 5-7 minutes, open your tomato can and set it right next to the pan.

1060 Old Marion Rd NE, Cedar Rapids, 319-393-1090

Grab each tomato from the can and crush it with your hands into the pan, one at a time. Then, dump the juice from the can into the pan, too. Add a few twists of black pepper to the tomato mixture, and then turn

Tienda Mexicana La Lupita,

the heat up to medium-high. When the sauce starts to bubble aggressively, turn it down to medium and let

108 2nd Ave #1, Coralville, 319-

it simmer until it’s visibly thickened, about 10 minutes. Add your olives and capers, stir, and keep simmering

338-1282

until the sauce is the consistency you like.

World Food Market, 1705 S 1st

If you’re serving this over pasta, salt your pasta water heavily before cooking the pasta, and reserve about

Ave P, Iowa City, 309-314-5512,

¼ cup of salted pasta water—post-cooking, when the water has absorbed some pasta starch—into your

worldfoodmarketiowa.com

sauce toward the end of the cooking time. If you’re not serving it with pasta, add salt when you’re adding black pepper, at the beginning of cooking. If you don’t know how you’ll serve it just yet, salt it whenever

World Fresh Market, 2301 2nd St #1, Coralville, 319-351-5929

you want; just proceed with caution, as the ingredients themselves are pretty salty. While this sauce is delicious over pasta in its conventional form, it is also a kick-ass base for other fishy stuff; add raw shrimp, salmon, or other fish while the sauce is cooking, or mix in canned tuna for more sub-

Yumei’s Asian Market & Anime,

stance and staying power. It also supports all manner of vegetables, particularly cauliflower, which is easily

901 1st Ave SW, Cedar Rapids,

cooked in the sauce as well. Once, I braised a pork shoulder in some puttanesca sauce, and I served it over

319-378-2910

polenta, and my friends say they still dream about it; I’d imagine braising an old baseball glove in this stuff would also somehow be magical.

34

BREAD & BUTTER 2022



GUIDE Highway 1. About halfway to Kalona keep your eye out for

Carried Away

Frytown Nature Preserve on the west side of the road. Head down the main path, up and over the hills. Frytown is a great

Fatigued by takeout-centric dining? Forgo the couch, bench or car and have a real picnic with a view as tasty as your meal.

spot in the spring for wildflowers such as wild geranium and trillium, as well as tree frogs and snakes. If you stay on the

20 PLACES TO HIKE

wide main path (impeccably

BY WILL KAPP

WITHIN 50 MILES OF IOWA CITY

maintained by your friends at

By Will Kapp

Johnson County Conservation),

Available at White Rabbit and

you will come to an old bridge

Prairie Lights in Iowa City

over the creek. This will be an excellent spot to unwrap your sandwiches, dip your fries in

be surprised if you flush out

the lingering detritus and enjoy

a group of wild turkeys while

the swaying branches of the big

you’re there. Find a spot high on

maples hanging overhead.

the bluff and pick your view to enjoy: the huge oak trees and creek to one side, or the tram-

WHAT TO EAT

La Mexicana Grocery y Taqueria

poline-filled backyards of the

1701 2nd St, Coralville,

tract homes on the other.

D

uring the lockdown portion of the COVID-19 pandemic, our family took the opportunity to dive much deeper into two of our interests: exploring nature and eating takeout. The marriage of these two activities can go wrong easily—a soggy, sloppy sandwich in a poorly balanced Styrofoam container spilling onto your jeans in the great outdoors can bum out even the most rugged of us. After a fair bit of trial and error, here are some recommended pairings of local takeout and prime eatin’ spots for your picnicking pleasure. sub out the Mediterranean salad

Located off of the strip just before the turn-off to Coral Ridge Mall, La Mexicana Grocery y Taqueria is a stellar new choice for anyone looking for good Mexican food. You can make the straightforward decision and go with burritos or quesadillas—always strong travelers—or you can get a bit wild and get some birria or sopes! Make sure to try all of their excellent salsas and grab some Sidral Mundet from the cooler to wash it all down.

WHAT TO EAT

While you’re waiting for your

Maggie’s Farm

food, wander the aisles of the

Wood-Fired Pizza

grocery and you’ll realize that

1308 Melrose Ave, Iowa City,

you’ve been buying ingredients

319-351-4588,

for Mexican food in the wrong

maggiesfarmpizza.com

places; La Mexicana’s king.

Let’s give a big shoutout to

for the less juicy tabouleh to preserve the integrity of the

Zak Neumann / Little Village

Zak Neumann / Little Village

319-259-7178

Maggie’s Farm for providing WHERE TO GO

a straightforward, no-contact

pita as it bounces in its foil

Muddy Creek Preserve

pick-up option throughout the

package on the hike. Get the

2806 Muddy Creek Ln, Coralville

pandemic. You pull up in the

juicy stuff on the side—the com-

A nature preserve tucked

back parking lot, walk up to

bination of tahini and hot sauce

behind a housing development?

the door, and grab your pizza

is imperative but best saved

O, Coralville! The good people

from a rack in the entryway.

Oasis Falafel

for application immediately

at Bur Oak Land Trust maintain

Granted the infrastructure that

206 N Linn St, Iowa City, 319-

before consumption. A bag of

a 40-acre property by the name

happened to be in place made

358-7342, oasisfalafel.com

fries ages like fine wine in those

of Muddy Creek Preserve, but

this a clear option, but it was

Call ahead to Oasis Falafel

paper bags.

you have to travel through the

disheartening to see how many

maze of culs-de-sacs to find it.

places seemed to put so little

Once there, you can throw your

thought into this throughout

WHAT TO EAT

and put in an order for pick up. There is a sauciness and a

WHERE TO GO

gloopy-ness to their food that

Frytown Conservation Area

backpack full of food from La

the pandemic. On top of their

you may not think would lend

2198 Angle Rd SW, Kalona

Mexicana over your shoulder

praiseworthy set-up, their pizzas

itself to takeout, but there are

Head south on Gilbert Street

and hike above or into the

are exactly what you want in a

secrets. If you get a sandwich,

and west out of Iowa City along

steep ravines of the area. Don’t

wood-fired pie: a chewy crust

36

BREAD & BUTTER 2022


Zak Neumann / Little Village

BREAD & BUTTER 2022

37


GUIDE that doesn’t get bogged down

buttery masala sauce, but offer

with stuff. The lemon dressing

a more interesting treat for the

on their salads deserves a chef’s

palate.

kiss as well. WHERE TO GO

J. Harold Ennis Preserve

WHERE TO GO

Redbird Farms Wildlife Man-

565 Cedar River Rd, Mt Vernon

agement Area

The J. Harold Ennis Preserve is

Black Diamond Rd, Oxford

located between Solon and Mt

Carrying a pizza box wait-

Vernon, right across the Cedar

er-style through the woods

River from the more oft-trod Pal-

doesn’t seem like the easiest

isades-Kepler State Park. It offers

option, but if you head west out

a trail up into the woods, then a steep drop to the rocky cliffs

of town to Redbird Farms Wildlife Area, you’ll find easy paths

J. Harold Ennis Preserve, Mt Vernon Jordan Sellergren / Little Village

along the river. The derecho did a number on this place, but the kind

with quick access to a couple small ponds that make excellent

area provides beautiful views of

Mumbai street food-style Indi-

folks at Linn County Conservation

picnic spots. After your light,

the Iowa River just downstream

an restaurant in Cedar Rapids

have done a nice job making it

satisfying meal from Maggie’s,

of its confluence with the Cedar.

recently! Their menu offers a

accessible again. On a winter trip,

you’ll have the opportunity to

Off the main parking area there

slew of intriguing options, but

our family was treated to an ex-

traipse through the underbrush

are plenty of tables and a nice

some are better suited to trav-

tended visit with a fox who, rather

in the woods. If you get there

little platform overlooking the

el than others. Their wraps and

than outright disappearing like

at the right time in the spring,

Iowa River that is filled with the

sandwiches are especially ex-

many of their kind, walked along

there are masses of trout lily

almost sickly sweet smell of

cellent. Although I’m normally

a ridge opposite to us for nearly a

and bloodroot that are worth

honeysuckle at the right time of

not a fan of portmanteaus on

half hour. Thanks, fox!

the trip alone.

year. To balance the sweetness,

menus, I can say that I whole-

douse your meal with plenty of

heartedly recommend the

Will Kapp is the author of 20

the dry salsa.

Currito—housemade paratha

Places to Hike within 50 Miles

bread filled with your choice

of Iowa City, a hiking guide

of chicken, paneer or vegeta-

that attempts to challenge the

WHAT TO EAT

Antejitos Carmen 207 Main St, Columbus Junction,

WHAT TO EAT

319-728-9055,

Delhicacy

ble curry and toppings. If you

assumption that anything outside

antojitoscarmen.business.site

921 Blairs Ferry Rd NE #150,

don’t mind finding a spot to sit

of town is a CAFO or a cornfield.

If you’re looking to go a little

Cedar Rapids, 319-320-7345,

when you get to the Ennis Pre-

Find remaining copies at White

further afield, another excel-

delhicacycr.com

serve, the Curry Noodles are

Rabbit and Prairie Lights while

lent Mexican place lies just 30

I was pleased to discover this

worth it. They’re dressed with a

they last.

minutes south of Iowa City in Columbus Junction. You can find Antejitos Carmen on the main drag. This beloved Los Angeles institution moved to the Midwest and brought their incredible SoCal Mexican stylings with them. The chicken al ajillo is highly recommended, and the inclusion of cactus in many items is a welcome touch. The crown jewel of this place is the dry salsa—a spicy, garlicky blend that imparts a totally unique flavor to their food. As an added bonus, it doesn’t leak so it is an excellent takeout option! WHERE TO GO

Chinkapin Bluffs Recreation Area 14198 R Ave, Columbus Junction Take an order from Antejitos just outside of town to Chinkapin Bluffs Recreation Area. This Louisa County Conservation 38

BREAD & BUTTER 2022

Antejitos Carmen, Columbus Junction Frankie Schneckloth / Little Village


BREAD & BUTTER 2022

39


GoOd Taste, Great art Restaurateurs look to local creatives to elevate the dining (and living) experience. BY ANDREA TRUITT

E

ven if you’re in it for the food and drink, a good view never hurts. At restaurants across the CRANDIC, that view is enhanced by artists. The confluence of art and food is visible in everything from grab-and-go items eaten on brightly painted picnic benches dotting Iowa City’s downtown, to an intentional sit-down meal (with reservations even!) against the backdrop of a bold and colorful mural. Art adds immeasurably to these simple pleasures and ordinary activities. Marcia Bollinger, City of Iowa City Neighborhood Outreach Coordinator, says that murals offer “a visual reprieve” from the flow and movement of people in commercial areas. “The movement towards murals seems to have blossomed in the past 10 years or so,” Bollinger said, and given the continual

Ali Hval, Studio 13, Iowa City Jason Smith / Little Village

40

BREAD & BUTTER 2022

The Map Room could feel like an architectural holdover in a sea of asphalt, but Freudian Slip asks passersby to reconsider the space and stop in, anchoring art to place. requests for proposals, there are no signs that Eastern Iowa’s interest in this genre is waning. And if you haven’t guessed already, they also provide economic advantages. “The financial benefit of murals in these commercial spaces is threefold,” Wendy Ford, City of Iowa City Economic Development Coordinator, said. “It is realized by increased foot traffic, interest in locating businesses in an environment that values art, and the motivation of property owners to continue investment in their neighboring properties.”

Another related advantage is that murals and visual art can capture a venue’s personality. In Iowa City, Studio 13 owner Jason Zeman says that Ali Hval’s multicolored and lighted mural outside his space encourages people to linger in the alleyway and use it as a photo-op. “I enjoy it more each day,” Zeman said. “I see it as bright, fun and diverse, a reflection of Studio 13 itself.” And for Katy Meyer, Trumpet Blossom Cafe’s owner-chef, Thomas Agran’s large-format flowers on the building’s west facade attract passersby with their “striking lushness.” The mural’s emphasis on native flora reflects Meyer’s culinary ethos of providing quality, locally sourced, plant-based food. These connections create a rootedness and a sense of place. To Jamie Boling, the best outcome for an establishment is to have art that allows the patron—through an aesthetic experience—to access the establishment’s unique “atmosphere and vibe.” Boling created Freudian Slip on the Map Room in Cedar Rapids, which, along with the restaurant’s patio, marks the space as an oasis in a parking lot. “I am a strong proponent of finding ways to speak about a brand indirectly,” Boling said. “The commercial experiences that leave a lasting impression are the ones where I feel like I have been transported into an idea.” The Map Room could feel like an architectural holdover in a sea of asphalt, but Freudian Slip asks passersby to reconsider the space and stop in, anchoring art to place. “Inspired by the theme of the restaurant,” said Nick Ludwig, co-chair of Cedar


Above: Jamie Boling, Freudian Slip, Map Room, Cedar Rapids Zak Neuman / Little Village Right: Thomas Agran, Trumpet Blossom, Iowa City Jordan Sellergren

Rapids-based nonprofit Murals and More, which coordinated the effort, “Jamie created a rendering incorporating elements from century-old maps of Cedar Rapids and Marion.” Even if the bottom line for art on restaurants and bars is increased foot traffic and sales, it still adds beauty to otherwise drab surroundings. Murals can transform mediocre

apartment buildings, parking lots, construction sites and dumpster-filled alleyways. In the case of Drew Etienne’s work, artwork literally transforms the road, as part of the temporary patio arrangement on Iowa City’s North Linn Street. Murals act as beacons, identifiers, landmarks, brand enhancers, photo opportunities,

outdoor décor, points of interest and free entertainment. They are crucial for placemaking, and vital to our community’s wellbeing, artists, city officials and business owners agree. Perhaps most importantly, outdoor murals allow everyone to experience and interact with art—something that, Boling notes, is hard to find in a gallery or museum.

BREAD & BUTTER 2022

41


GUIDE

Fresh Brew Neighborhood coffee joints have remained a source of comfort and caffeine during these uncertain times. The CRANDIC area is overflowing with options, many new to the scene, while others recently expanded or pivoted to meet community needs.

Daydrink, Iowa City Zak Neumann / Little Village

location will know and love.

back patios and a handy drive-

You can order from the counter

through window for commuters

while you look for your next

and the inviting interior is full of

favorite read or swing by their

gleaming subway tile and cozy

drive-through window. Stop in

nooks perfect for settling in to

Daydrink

onto the Ped Mall. To-go bev-

for a full array of coffees, teas,

meet that deadline. In keeping

125 S Dubuque St, Iowa City,

erages are poured into a glass

smoothies and a food menu of-

with their name, their specialty is

daydrink.coffee

jar that is yours to keep and can

fering a variety of breakfast and

French pressed coffee, available

Daydrink opened in September

be brought back and refilled at

lunch items. With menu items

in sizes just right for one person

of 2020 within the Basic Goods

your next visit.

as affordable as $3.75, there is a

or for sharing with friends. You

bite for every budget.

can also stop by to get your

store at 125 S Dubuque St. The space is small but inviting, lit by

Roaster’s Library Edition

large windows and lined with

405 5th St SE, Cedar Rapids,

Press Coffee

wooden tables and cheery yel-

319-739-0499, roasterscr.com

1120 N Dodge St, Iowa City, 319-

Tru Coffee

low chairs. The menu has all the

The NewBo City Market staple

887-1500, presscoffeeco.com

287 N Linn St, Iowa City

classics as well as pour-overs for

has expanded to a new location,

Formerly located on Oakdale

Opened in June 2021 by Dash

purists who want a well-crafted

taking over the space formerly

Boulevard in Coralville, Press

Coffee Roasters alum Haley

black coffee. Daydrink roasts

occupied by the Greyhound Deli

Coffee has reopened under new

Kesterson, Tru Coffee takes its

and brews their own blend as

inside the downtown location of

ownership at a new location

name from the owner’s mother

well as featuring other roasters

the Cedar Rapids Public Library.

on Dodge Street. The building

and boasts the motto “People

including Des Moines-based

Roaster’s Library Edition has

that houses Press sat empty

first, coffee second.” The airy

Horizon Line. You can order at

retained some of Greyhound’s

for several years and was fully

space features ample seating, a

the counter inside or from the

menu items while adding items

renovated for its new occupant.

hand-painted bar and a regular-

walk-up window that looks out

that devotees of the NewBo

The location boasts front and

ly refreshed selection of vintage

Donutland doughnut fix.

and resale clothing from local thrifters. In addition to espresso and pour-over coffees, you can order locally sourced pastries or take-home beans from Cat Cloud and DAYDRINK. Kismet Coffee & Bloom 1000 3rd St SE Ste 1, Cedar Rapids, 319-200-3218, kismetcoffeebloom.com In November 2021 husband and wife Jeremiah Kasner and

42

BREAD & BUTTER 2022

Tru Coffee, Iowa City Zak Neumann / Little Village

Frankie Schneckloth


Maya Gonlubol opened Kismet Coffee & Bloom, bringing the unique combo of a coffee shop and floral studio to the NewBo neighborhood. Located in the historic Dostal House, Kismet is a joyful space filled with vintage furniture, Pop art and photos of some well known Cedar Rapids faces. The first floor is given over to a cooler with readymade floral arrangements and a coffee bar where you can order your usual. Choose from one of their regularly changing specials or a bag of beans from East One Coffee Roasters, a sustainable, LGBTQ roaster based in Brooklyn. Head upstairs and treat yourself to the flower bar where you can choose stems for a floral arrangement of your own making. In addition to the options available in-house, you can order bouquets and arrangements for local delivery or sign up for their monthly Bloom and Brew subscription online. Lightworks Cafe 501 7th Ave SE Ste B, Cedar Rapids, 319-449-4046 lightworkscafe.com This downtown Cedar Rapids staple has adapted to our new COVID-19 reality by switching to a takeout only model, turning their signature garage door into an order and pickup window, complete with art by a local creative. They’ve also expanded their cheery patio to offer additional outdoor seating. In addition to their expertly crafted coffee beverages and menu staples like sandwiches and pastries, they offer regularly changing take-home meal options, including quarts of soup, take-and-bake pot pies and

Daydrink, Iowa City Zak Neumann / Little Village

cookies and even their amazing biscuits. All of it is served up

FOR A HORCHATA FIX

Mammita’s

with the same kindness and

FOR COFFEE AND CURIOSITIES

Fuel

24 S Linn St Iowa City, (319)

103 1st St W NE, Mt Vernon, 319-

to love. Stop by for a bever-

569-1067, mammitascoffee.com

895-8429, fuelespresso.art

age—their seasonal flavored

A not-too-sweet horchata latte

At Fuel, they’ll brew you a killer

and a pan dulce from Mammita’s

coffee, you can order a slice of The

makes for a brilliant morning.

Local Crumb spelt toast slathered

The Cuban sandwich is also ex-

with butter and cinnamon sugar

cellent if you find yourself near

and you can browse the selection

the shop around lunchtime.

of unique artisan-made goods.

syrups and lattes are dynamite—or their famous buffalo chicken sandwich or a bag of beans from Onyx roasters.

Frankie Schneckloth

cheer that regulars have come

BREAD & BUTTER 2022

43


GUIDE bakers is on full display so you

years. After settling

can sip your espresso and watch

in Iowa City following

someone else work for a bit.

stints working in kitchens and

The pastries here are excep-

bakeries around the world, the

tional. As mentioned, you’ll find

team has developed a diverse

the cases lined with bronzed

menu which includes a variety

buttery croissants (order the

of items ranging from finely

apricot when it’s available!) and

layered, shatteringly good crois-

beautifully assembled fruit tarts

sants and pains au chocolat to

alongside an assortment of

old fashioned coffee cake and

other delights both sweet and

beautifully nuanced cookies.

savory. The quiche is superb

Bread Worthy mills their own

with its crackly, croissant crust

flour and berries in-house

and rich savory custard filling.

and has a keen eye for quality

Deluxe Cakes & Pastries

Quite honestly, they make the

ingredients, using only the finest

812 S Summit St, Iowa City,

best baguettes in town, hands

chocolates, artisan organic

319-338-5000, deluxeiowa.com

down. Come a bit ahead of

flours and silky traditionally

Walking in the front door of this

lunchtime and the bakers have

crafted French butter.

neighborhood bakery is an im-

transformed those already

mediate mood-lifter and hits re-

perfect baguettes into perfectly

set on any bad mood, grumbly

unfussy French sammies ripe

thelocalcrumb.com

interaction or sour note. Truly. If

for midday enjoyment. In the

This first-rate bakery, operated

you’re having a rotten day, take

summer months when their ice

by James Beard Outstanding

cream is on offer, stop by for an

Baker 2022 semi-finalist Aaron

inventive yet refined twist on

Hall, exists without a true brick

classic soft serve.

and mortar location. The baking

Made from Scratch If you’re on the hunt for an award-winning bread program, a neighborhood gem or the most satisfying cookies, these bakers have what you’re looking for.

a break and treat yourself to a

The Local Crumb

operation is housed in a former Bread Worthy Bakery

school-turned-community-cen-

Breadworthy.com

ter in Mt Vernon, and pre-orders

Bread Worthy Bakery is a licensed home bakery located on the east side of Iowa City that creates exceptional pastries and baked

are made online and available for weekly in-person pickup in Cedar Rapids and Iowa City. Delivery is offered through Gallop Courier. The cornerstone of Hall’s bakery is bread and this narrow focus affords him

goods. Their

the ability to craft impeccable

“Saturday

loaves of sourdough bread that

Bake Offs”

incorporate heirloom flours and

are open for

ancient grains. Everything you

pre-order

sample from The Local Crumb,

throughout

from the seeded sourdough, to

the winter

the brioche rolls or the every-

months, but

thing bagels has been executed

when the

with precision and attention to

weather warms, you’ll find them at the Iowa City Farmers Market on Saturdays. The ordering and pickup process is simple and streamlined, and the pre-order process affords you something little pause at Deluxe. Tell me

concrete and guaranteed to look forward to when the weekend arrives—impeccably crafted

Deluxe Cakes

you don’t feel better. As soon

pastries made just for you.

& Pastries, Iowa City

as you enter, there’s an array of

Operated by Colleen Brenann

Zak Neumann

gorgeous baked goods lined up

and her partner Erick Dole, the

/ Little Village

to greet you and a friendly face

pair met in pastry school in

behind the counter to serve you.

Florence, Italy and dreamed of

The amazing team of skilled

opening a place of their own for

44

BREAD & BUTTER 2022

The Local Crumb, Mt Vernon Frankie Schneckloth/ Little Village


Bread Worthy Bakery, Iowa City Zak Neumann / Little Village

good reason. The team of bakers begin by milling their own flour before they set out to bake the deep-toned, naturally-leavened loaves they’re known for. While the sourdough loaves might get star billing, the rest of their menu is marvelous, too, more than worthy of sampling detail. It’s more than obvious

your way through. The sandwich

the care Hall takes in produc-

breads elevate anything put

ing his goods based on visual

betwixt a pair of hearty slices,

appearance alone—the breads

and the Breakfast Loaf—a whole

are richly colored and beau-

wheat loaf marbled with seeds,

tifully shaped—but the subtle

nuts and dried fruit—will give

distinction in flavor profiles

you something to look forward

and the variance in crumb and

to when that alarm sounds in

texture across offerings shows a

the morning. The baguettes are

true understanding and appre-

thick with a beautiful coloration

ciation for the art and science

and a chewy, light interior. When

of baking. The Local Crumb

asked for their recommendation,

partners with many area restau-

the regulars patiently waiting in

rants to keep them stocked with

line first suggested the pretzel

high-quality bakes. You’ll notice

rolls, followed by the cookies,

his handiwork on the menu at

before ultimately deciding on

The Webster and on the week-

the croissants. Not all items are

end-only menu at DAYDRINK

made every day but the bakery

in Iowa City and Cobble Hill

peppers in monthly bread

Restaurant in Cedar Rapids.

specials and Saturday-specific items like filled doughnuts,

Rustic Hearth Bread

turnovers and kouign amann.

3531 Mt Vernon Rd SE,

FYI: Having some of their whole

Cedar Rapids, 319-200-4008,

wheat pizza dough stashed

rustichearthbakery.com

in your freezer at home is like

Rustic Hearth Bread was recent-

money in the bank, so it never

ly voted Food & Wine’s best

hurts to throw a few in with

bread in Iowa in 2022, and for

your next order.

More Delectable Delights FOR THE OOEY-GOOEY-FROSTING-LOADED CINNAMON ROLL LOVER

Kettel House Bakery 945 6th Ave, Marion, 319-310-5509 According to staff, the majority of people visiting the shop have their sights set on the bakery’s signature rolls. On many days, these sugary treats are sold out by eight am. FOR HOUSEBAKED BREAD TURNED INTO LUNCH

Great Harvest Bread Company 5070 Lindale Dr NE, Cedar Rapids, 319-826-6357, greatharvestcedarrapids.com Have the bakery staff turn a few slices of the best looking loaf into a hearty sandwich made to your liking, or pair with your favorite soup for a classic combo. FOR THE COOKIE-LOVER

ShawnnieCakes 1100 3rd St SE, Cedar Rapids, 319-412-5000, shawnniecakes.com Don’t be fooled: the Toffee Butter Cookies are super simple, but super good. To the unacquainted, they might not seem like the impressive choice (check out the pies and pound cakes) but when sampling and sharing with family, we all got a little greedy for the last bite. BREAD & BUTTER 2022

45


Julia DeSpain

The Future of Restaurants Where do we go from here? After a tumultuous period requiring nimble pivots and creative vision to survive, what’s next for Iowa’s food and dining establishments? BY ZACH BERG

I

n 2019, the restaurant industry in Iowa was flying high. According to the Iowa Restaurant Association, there were close to 6,500 restaurants and bars across the state. Nearly 155,000 people worked in the restaurant and bar industry that year. Just over 100,000 were working in restaurants in Iowa in 2014. “The food world was king,” Samuel Charles, head chef and co-owner of Rodina in Cedar Rapids said of 2019. “COVID destroyed that.” By March of 2020, that growth was in a tailspin, thanks to the shattering effects of COVID-19. Roughly 70,000 Iowans working at restaurants were let go in hopes of getting unemployment benefits, according to Jessica Dunker, president and CEO of the Iowa Restaurant Association. Entire menus and business models were flipped on their heads in order to survive. Trumpet Blossom, Iowa City’s purveyor of beautifully complex vegan dishes and a beloved concert venue, made the decision many did and transitioned totally to takeout. “This is not something I had ever anticipated doing,” said Katy Meyer, owner of Trumpet Blossom. “The small crew who had come back to work in person really rolled with all the punches.” Though thousands of workers were hired back in the coming months and years, restaurateurs and leaders of the Iowa food industry know one thing for sure: getting back to 46

BREAD & BUTTER 2022

pre-pandemic conditions is not on the menu anytime soon. But what is next for the restaurants that survived COVID? Can the pandemic prove to be a pivot point that leads to something newer and better? It’s possible, but first, they have to fully recover.

“We don’t necessarily say we’re in the food business, but in the hospitality business. But how do you put hospitality in a box?” ––Samuel Charles, Rodina Of those 155,000 working in restaurants in 2019, 20,000 never returned to the restaurant industry, Dunker said. Of those 6,500 restaurants across Iowa in 2019, 600 to 700 of them closed. Dunker estimates that $1.5 billion was lost in the Iowa bar and restaurant industry due to the pandemic. “We’re like deer on wobbly legs,” Dunker said. “We’re going to run again, but we’ve got to get our footing again first.”

Is a pivot to takeout the future? In March of 2020, New York City was becoming the epicenter of COVID-19 before it reached full force in Iowa. With family working in the NYC food industry, Charles realized what was to come in Iowa. He checked with his financial advisor and got the news: Rodina had 16 days cash-in-hand. Any closure longer than that would be cataclysmic. “Mentally, I had accepted that the restaurant was closing down,” Charles said. Rodina had just opened in January of 2019 as a high-end casual restaurant where groups shared dishes family style. By the end of that year, they had hit their stride. Suddenly, his dream restaurant was going to fall victim to a pandemic. “I just had the mindset that they’re going to have to drag me out of the building.” On March 16, 2020, with COVID-19 spreading across Iowa, Dunker received the call from the governor’s office. They were going to close the bars for two weeks beginning at noon the following day, St. Patrick’s Day, the biggest bar holiday revenue-wise. Her first question to Gov. Reynolds’ office was a simple one: “What is a bar?” Is it businesses that have a liquor license, or get 51% of their sales from alcohol? To help the governor make a clear decision, the Restaurant Association held an emergency meeting of its board of directors. “That board of directors, which included


Pizza Ranch and Culvers and places that don’t even have liquor licenses, they unanimously agreed: take all of us. If you’re going to shut down one portion of our industry, we’re going to stand together,” Dunker said. The State agreed to let them keep takeout, delivery, drivethrough. “That is the most defining moment for our industry because we chose to be a united voice and unified from day one.” That unified front helped ensure the state would eventually get roughly $90 million in funds to about 1,200 restaurants in Iowa in 2020, Dunker said. Suddenly, no matter what, Iowa restaurants were either closed or doing only drive-through or takeout service. For both Rodina and Trumpet Blossom, the transition to takeout was a brutal one. Trumpet Blossom was closed for five weeks. Rodina laid off its staff in order for them to get unemployment benefits. “We don’t necessarily say we’re in the food business, but in the hospitality business. But how do you put hospitality in a box?” Charles said of Rodina. The early pandemic days at Rodina featured himself, his wife and business partner Phoebe Charles, and one or two other staff. When Trumpet Blossom opened back up in May of 2020, they were 100% takeout and stayed as such until May 2021. Meyer credited the restaurant’s then-manager Jenni Cannella and her entire staff for making the transition sustainable for the business. Jenni was answering all the phone call orders and running all the orders out to the customers for pickup. Some menu items at Trumpet Blossom transitioned perfectly to takeout: their vegan macaroni and cheese with coconut bacon bits could easily be reheated at home. Their housemade ice cream was another story. Her staff got busy turning ice cream to milkshakes with exciting flavors like blueberry-lavender, and a turmeric shake with lemon and dates. Due to their success in the carryout-only days, milkshakes remain on their menu. “My kitchen staff worked hard to remain creative,” Meyer said. “Basically everyone, myself included, was willing to do whatever it took to keep us afloat while we operated under completely new circumstances.” Though many restaurants were embracing carryout and delivery due to the pandemic, Dunker said the transition to more carryout was already happening across Iowa before COVID-19 made it a necessity. “Prior to COVID, we were looking at data that said 37% of food and drink that is created in a restaurant or bar is consumed in a restaurant or bar. That means 63% was already carryout, pick-up or delivery,” Dunker said. “COVID was really a catalyst that propelled us forward in a direction we had to go to anyways because BREAD & BUTTER 2022

47


consumer demand required it.” This could potentially lead to other longterm changes for Iowa restaurants, Dunker said: smaller menus that can transition to carryout easier, less dining space so restaurants can focus on to-go orders, and higher prices. In order to make carryout a more practical routine for all restaurants, the Iowa Restaurant Association is supporting House Study Bill 688, which would require an agreement between restaurants and third-party food delivery services. These food delivery services do not have to ask a restaurant to post their menu on their services. Since customers order food through a third party, and not the restaurant itself, things often go awry with what’s available and when items will be ready. Becoming regional destinations Carryout and delivery may be a new or growing lifeblood for restaurants, but there’s something inalienable at the core of businesses like Rodina and Trumpet Blossom: people coming together in a beautiful space with friends, family and restaurant regulars to experience food and a sense of community. “People choose hospitality in the bars and restaurants because they love people. When you invite someone to your restaurant, it’s like inviting them into your home,” Dunker said. In 2021, despite Charles saying he rarely felt comfortable, Rodina found its footing again as one of the premier dine-in destinations for elevated casual dining. After being voted the CRANDIC’s best chef by Little Village readers in 2019, Charles was named Iowa’s Chef of the Year by the Iowa Restaurant Association in 2021. In an interview with the Gazette, he said a large portion of his customers were travelers looking for Rodina’s take on Midwestern cuisine staples done with hyper-local ingredients. “It is my absolute belief that the future of the food world lies in smaller communities that can actually sustain themselves on local farms,” Charles said. “Farm to table is not possible in New York City, or it’s not possible for the average person since prices would be too high.” “In places like Iowa, there’s something that is very special, and it’s that good food is very, very accessible. I believe that there’s going to be this explosion of these really fun concepts in these smaller communities, and I think COVID actually sped that up.” Since so many of the country’s biggest cities were hit hardest by COVID-19, Charles noted that many chefs at prestigious big-city restaurants moved back to their homes in smaller, more rural towns and brought with them their “massive talents.” When dreaming of the future of Iowa 48

BREAD & BUTTER 2022

restaurants, Charles also looks to the Michelin Guide. Starting in 1904, the now iconic food guide was first just a list of notable restaurants in the French countryside worthy of driving or biking to. “That is what Iowa is. It’s a grouping of smaller communities within a drivable distance that have notable food establishments that are worthy of a trip,” Charles said. Lincoln Cafe drove food tourism in Mount Vernon for 12 years. Big Grove Brewery’s success helped Solon’s Main Street rival any neighborhood in Iowa restaurant-wise. Charles hopes we see more and more of this. “If we have all these great, unique, farm-totable restaurants across the region, that warrants individuals wanting to travel the state of Iowa for something they may not be able to get anywhere else,” Charles said.

“As a small business owner, I need to be able to pivot more and be more willing to try things outside of what I’d originally envisioned.” ––Katy Meyer, Trumpet Blossom Dunker knows that the state has to invest in those rural places to make sure restaurants stay long-term. “My biggest worry about 10 years from now is that we won’t find ways to attract and invest in the rural main streets,” Dunker said. What happens when the longtime owners of the iconic small-town breakfast place retire or face a crisis like COVID again? Dunker hopes to see the state create initiatives to attract more people and more money into those rural communities. With Trumpet Blossom as the only vegan restaurant in Iowa City, and quite possibly the only fully vegan restaurant in eastern Iowa, Meyer said that her restaurant routinely has travelers coming for food. But Trumpet Blossom has another point of attraction: it’s a concert venue. For a decade now, Trumpet Blossom has hosted scores of concerts, both independent shows for touring and local acts, and as part of local, multi-location festivals like Mission Creek Festival or Witching Hour. “The revenue and exposure that live events generate has helped the business immensely and has enabled us to feel more connected to our community,” Meyer said.

Restaurants and customers: be more flexible For Meyer and her near-decade-old restaurant, the most obvious lesson and change needed for restaurateurs is more flexibility and learning to “adapt in the environments we operate in.” “The disruption of the pandemic has made us all question our foci in every aspect of our lives and as a small business owner, it has made me aware that I need to be able to pivot more and be more willing to try things outside of what I’d originally envisioned,” Meyer said. Many restaurants had to pivot once again this past December and January as the Omicron variant spread. Due to more staff shortages, and people staying in instead of dining out, January 2022 proved to be worse for Iowa restaurants than pre-vaccine January 2021, Dunker said. As reported by the Gazette, Rodina closed for New Year’s Eve 2021 due to staff shortages. The following day, the first of 2022, their two walkin coolers broke down and most of their food was lost. Due to pandemic-related supply-chain issues, they pivoted again to something he and his business partner had been planning at another location: SureBurger, a concept that sourced fast food-like burgers and fries with local, better ingredients. The pivot to SureBurger lasted just over a month but ensured that loyal customers had fun food and that the business stayed open. Not only will restaurants have to remain flexible in the future, but customers will, too. Dunker knows that restaurants are still struggling to get fully staffed. “The hours are hard, and you can’t work from home,” she said. She hopes customers can extend grace to staff when service is a bit slower than it was in 2019, or when menu items can’t be guaranteed because of supply-chain issues. Her idea: customers should be as loyal to the local restaurants in 2022 as they were at the beginning of the pandemic. “Consumers were amazing in the beginning. They bought things to-go that they would never do previously just to support local,” Dunker said. She remembered customers buying loads of corned beef simply because restaurants and bars closed on St. Patrick’s Day 2020 and had heaps of it left unserved. “We may be struggling to get the ingredients you need, but please be patient,” Dunker said. ”We’re still on the road to recovery. We will not see 2019 revenue numbers in 2022, but we’re on the upward track, and that’s what really matters.”


BREAD & BUTTER 2022

49


GUIDE

Just Wing it Two bona fide connoisseurs dish on where to find the ultimate chicken wing. BY BRIAN JOHANNESEN AND JEFF MANNIX

S

ince 2019, the original Iowa City Wingmen (Jeff Mannix and Brian Johannesen) have tirelessly scoured the Iowa City chicken wing scene in search of that perfect combination of flavor and texture with the intent of crowning the ultimate, most bodacious chicken wing in Iowa City. Well, that’s a bit dramatic. We mostly just like chicken wings and eat them frequently. Our rating criteria is simple: Would we eat them again? In most cases, the answer is yes. However, we Wingmen have been bestowed the honor of ranking our top three choices in Iowa City, and we do not take that duty lightly. Listed below are our favorite wings in Iowa City (so far). For those who don’t venture to the Old Capitol City often, we have included a couple of our favorites in the greater CRANDIC region as well. Eat up, you wang dang doodles. Disclaimer: The Wingmen do NOT support breaded wings. If you like that crunch in your munch, these rankings may not apply to you. Go to Shakespeare’s, though. We like them.

50

BREAD & BUTTER 2022


Zak Neumann / Little Village

1

Donnelly’s Pub 110 E College St, Iowa City, 319-338-7355, donnellyspub-ic.com

The search for the greatest wing in all the land began because we wanted to see if anyone could beat the wings at Donnelly’s Pub. So far, no one has. Donnelly’s has mastered the sauce game, offering booze-infused lathers that balance tantalizing heat with luscious sweet. The Wingmen recommend trying the Jameson Buffalo and the Guinness Hot BBQ sauces. Saddle up and enjoy the ride.

2

Jimmy Jack’s Rib Shack 1940 Lower Muscatine Rd, Iowa City, 319-354-7427, jimmyjacksribshack.com

Smoked wings are often overlooked in the great wing debate, but when done properly, they can put traditional buffalo wings to shame. Jimmy Jack’s Rib Shack applies their traditional barbeque techniques to their big, succulent wings, adding a smoky dimension unparallelled in the region. Their simple sauce offerings of medium, hot or barbeque are all winners in the Wingmen’s book. Choose your own adventure—there are no wrong turns. If you’re craving adventure from afar, turn to GoldBelly. Jimmy

Wings Without Borders RECOMMENDATIONS OUTSIDE IOWA CITY

Jack’s wings are now available for speedy shipping across the country! The Brass Fountain 122 E Main St, Solon, 319-624-6122, brassfountain.com The newest kid on the block in Solon does not douse your wings for you. You dip the wings in the sauces, allowing you to decide how wet you get while maintaining the fried crispiness of the wings throughout the meal. Don’t sleep on their “dust” options. We

3

Vine Tavern & Eatery

recommend trying the Pickley Dust for

330 E Prentiss St, Iowa City, 319-354-8767, iowa-city.vinetavern.com

some extra tang on your wang.

39 2nd Ave, Coralville, 319-338-7770, coralville.vinetavern.com There was much debate over this third slot, and it nearly went to the delectable grilled wings from Sun

Bushwood

Cafe, but we felt we needed to give a nod to the heatseekers out there. The Vine has, by far, the largest

350 Edgewood Rd NW, Cedar Rapids,

sauce selection in Iowa City, and they are the only wing purveyor in town who offers sauces that can

319-390-7140, bushwoodsportsbar.com

clear your sinuses and leave you mopping regret, errr, sweat from your forehead. The chicken itself

This is your classic, old-school sports

leaves something to be desired and the wings are a wee bit small, but if you’re trying to dial it up, order

bar offering classic, old-school wings.

the Superhot and purge those demons.

No need to get fancy here, the Buffalo sauce is what you want. If you are one of those alternative wing types, the Teriyaki and Boom-Boom sauces are good as well. If you want to follow along with the Original Iowa City Wingmen’s journey, we are on Instagram at @icwingmen. We promise to post more wing content, just as soon as we remember the password.

Zak Neumann / Little Village

BREAD & BUTTER 2022

51


GUIDE

Shakespeare’s Pub & Grill

Pop’s BBQ

30Hop

Joensy’s Zak Neumann /

Tender is theLoin

Little Village

The quest to find the CRANDIC’s most perfect version of a classic Iowa sandwich. BY CELINE ROBINS

T

he pork tenderloin sandwich ranks among Iowa’s most important culinary contributions, alongside Maid-Rites, puppy chow and Casey’s breakfast pizza. The formula is simple: A piece of pork loin is pounded thin, battered and deep fried, served on a bun which it humorously dwarfs in size and topped most typically with LTOP and mayo. For the uninitiated, the sandwich’s intimidating diameter can make it seem inaccessible. Fear not! I’m here to guide you. I sampled some of the most renowned t-loins of the area to decide who’s serving the best take on the classic. To standardize the comparison, I broke things down into a few simple categories.

52

BREAD & BUTTER 2022

SIZE: The tenderloin patty of my dreams is larger than my own head. But if I can’t have that, then for God’s sake, make it larger than the bun. BREADING: I like a delicate golden color to the fry, and of course, I’m looking for a satisfying crunch. I am not interested in grilled tenderloins. I’m just not. PORK: That said, some tenderloins sacrifice pork quality on the altar of crunch. I exacted swift judgment on these pretenders. FIXINS: This category is where a tenderloin may impress me with its toppings, bun or je-ne-sais-quoi. Since I am looking for a classic rendition of the sandwich, tenderloins that did not come with pre-specified toppings were ordered with lettuce, tomato, onion, pickle, mayo and mustard.


1

The Dark Horse

Pop’s BBQ 130 N Dubuque St, Iowa City, 319-354-7677, popsbbqia.com SIZE: pretty good. The patty is maybe 150% of the size of the bun but definitely not head-sized. BREADING: surprisingly deeply browned. The extra fry time gives it a little bitterness, which isn’t necessarily a bad thing but definitely means it calls out for sauce. If you’re less of a traditionalist than me, one of Pop’s BBQ’s housemade sauces could really shine here. Crunch factor was a 4 out of 5. PORK: The sandwich seems to have soaked up some innate barbeque-iness from the general atmosphere of Pop’s, almost a scent more than a flavor. Regardless, it’s giving a unique little somethin’-somethin’ because of it. FIXINS: Pop’s serves it up with LTOP and your choice of BBQ sauces or standard condiments. The sides at Pop’s are hard to beat, and that bumps up the overall experience a notch. Ya know what? A bonus point for the mac and cheese. Because I make the rules. VERDICT: a good pick, but the darkness of the fry isn’t my favorite. I can imagine it being to someone else’s taste, though. The vague smoky aroma sets this one apart. As of the time of ordering, this was my husband’s favorite, and that’s saying something given how many tenderloins we had eaten that week.

2

Hot Mama

30Hop 900 E 2nd Ave, Coralville, 319-351-3800 951 Blairs Ferry Rd NE, Cedar Rapids, 319-200-2010, 30hop.com SIZE: larger than bun, smaller than head. “Meets Expectations.” BREADING: 30Hop’s tenderloin is breaded with panko rather than the more traditional breadcrumbs. To my tooth, this gives a satisfying crunch, though it’s more fine textured than I’m used to. It’s like a lot of little crunches rather than one big one. PORK: on the thick side and very juicy. The pork flavor is very present. This pork sure is … porky! Joensy’s, Cedar Rapids Zak Neumann / Little Village

BREAD & BUTTER 2022

53


GUIDE FIXINS: The fixins are the main event with

a beautiful rose, this tenderloin is made

this one. 30Hop’s t-loin comes with a spicy-

tastier by its proximity to Shakespeare’s

sweet, Asian-inspired slaw, pickled onion,

excellent cheese nugs.

sweet pickles, jalapenos and Dynamite sauce. The slaw is colorful and has good

VERDICT: I wanna smother it on my body.

crunch but tends toward the sweet side,

If I had an out-of-state friend visiting who

Thoma’s Meat Market

playing on the time-honored pairing of pork

had never heard of a breaded tenderloin

1331 Muscatine Ave, Iowa City, 319-338-0780,

with sweet fruits. A bold and innovative

sandwich, this is one I’d pick for them to try;

facebook.com/Thomas-Meat-Market

move, tastily made but decidedly untradi-

it ticks all the boxes. And with everything

tional.

else Shakespeare’s has going for it—good

Zak Neumann

W

beer selection, hometown bar atmosphere,

e’ve all heard the imprecation about VERDICT: She’s a beaut, but she’s not The

tasty wings—it’s a respectable choice that

some history bears repeating and for Aaron

One. But for the tenderloin lover looking to

will never let you down. I thought it was the

Thoma the history of 1331 Muscatine Ave

spice things up, this is a creative sandwich

ultimate winner, but then I had…

made it an ideal place to continue his family’s

when understood outside the cultural con-

tradition of whole animal meat processing.

text of Iowa tenderloin. If I were to quabble,

He loved that it had once been the site of

though, I don’t think it should be listed just

another meat shop and corner grocery store,

as “Pork Tenderloin” on the menu, because

Seaton’s Market, and that it was embedded in

it’s not really a pork tenderloin, at the end of

Joensy’s

a historic neighborhood. In July 2020, history

the day. It’s a pretty dang good sandwich,

2660 Wiley Blvd SW, Ste B,

came full circle with the opening of Thoma’s

though.

Cedar Rapids, 319-390-4288,

the dangers of repeating history. But

4

The G.O.A.T.

Meat Market.

facebook.com/joensysrestaurantcedarrapids

Aaron took the skills he learned working at

SIZE: absolutely insane. Three times the size

his family’s meat locker in Durant, Iowa and

of the bun, or maybe more. Joensy’s also

built on them by attending programs at Iowa

offers a “small” version, but the bigg’un is in

State and University of Wisconsin-Madison

the spirit of the sandwich, if you ask me.

to further his knowledge of sausage making. Everything from cutting steaks to smoking

BREADING: a curiously variable texture that

bacon is done in-house. The market focuses

provides both big and little crunchies, which

on working with local farmers, sourcing their

has the subjective effect of being totally

meats from farms in Iowa City and the Quad

addictive. Begging for mustard and pickles.

Cities.

Again, perfect. Zak Neumann

Thoma’s is stocked with poultry, fish, beef, pork and deli meats as well as staple grocery

PORK: paper thin and still somehow manages to be juicy. It’s kind of miraculous.

items like milk, eggs and butter, much of it from local producers. There are shelves full of chips, buns and condiments, and if you’re not in the mood to cook, you can order a deli sandwich or soup. What sets a shop like Thoma’s apart from a

3

Miss Congeniality

FIXINS: keeps it classic with toppings, but that’s what I came for. Joensy’s has legitimately the best french fries I’ve ever had—

Shakespeare’s Pub and Grill

golden, gorgeous, delicately crispy on the

819 S 1st Ave, Iowa City, 319-337-7275,

outside and fluffy and snow-white inside.

shakespearespubandgrill.com VERDICT: The sign says “Iowa’s Biggest

grocery store meat counter? “It’s really about customer relationships, knowing customers’ fac-

SIZE: surprisingly small; Shakespeare’s

and Best Tenderloin,” and Joensy’s delivers

es and preferences and being able to get those

tenderloin is larger than the bun but not by

on the promise. This place reminds me of

hard to find items.”

much. Despite that, the sandwich still has

the small town greasy spoons where I first

that unmistakable, classic look, so in my

fell in love with tenderloin. But if you want

book, it gets a pass.

swank, if you want to feel cool and trendy,

A stop into Thoma’s for a pound of Italian

this place isn’t for you, and maybe neither

sausage or their signature brats is more than just the running of an errand; it’s supporting

BREADING: absolutely fabulous. It’s the

is tenderloin. Joensy’s contribution to the

local producers and craftspeople, and it’s par-

sheet-like kind, golden in color and slightly

tradition is in fact too good for my hypo-

ticipating in a little bit of Iowa City history.

sweet with satisfying crispiness and good

thetical out-of-state friend. They wouldn’t

adherence to the pork. Perfect execution.

give it the due respect. It feels almost exotic

TIP: Daily sandwich and meat specials are

in its authenticity. Absolutely full marks, and

available. Don’t sleep on the Monday night

PORK: looks a bit thick at first glance, but

also SO CHEAP. As it turns out, the best

smoked chicken special. If you’re walking

it’s a trick of the breading. This one’s pound-

t-loin comes from a place with wood-pat-

around the neighborhood in the afternoon,

ed nicely thin but still plenty juicy.

terned formica booths, a NASCAR/Busch digital clock on the wall, and a pizza burger

your nose will lead you right to it. The chicken is delightfully smoky and peppery

FIXINS: LTOP and a good bun. What more

on the menu—which I should have expected

and endlessly moist and juicy.

could you ask for? Like the leaves that offset

all along.

54

BREAD & BUTTER 2022


BREAD & BUTTER 2022

55


The Food of Love It takes a chorus of volunteers to orchestrate the work of the 40-year-old Free Lunch Program. BY ADAM WITTE

A

n open door, a full plate, no questions asked. It’s a simple, humble mission, but for everyone involved with the Free Lunch Program (FLP), from the diners to the directors, it is less about charity than collaboration, enriching the life of both server and guest. This is a truth strongly felt by Diane Platte, one of FLP’s two directors. “It’s one of the best parts of the job: to be around so many different people, all with such great intentions and good will.” Six days a week, 52 weeks a year, Platte conducts a volunteer chorus of nearly 1,000 individuals from dozens of local church congregations, business organizations and civic groups to perform something of a rhapsody in food: feeding more than 100 people in our community, every day, for free. “We just negotiate and navigate and make it all work.” Iowa City’s Free Lunch Program began one Lenten season nearly 40 years ago with parishioners from St. Mary’s and St. Thomas More who sought to embrace the acts of mercy Jesus describes in the Book of Matthew: “I was hungry and you gave me food, I was thirsty and you gave me drink.” Therapists from the Abbe Center for Community Mental Health provided insight into what the community lacked: a free noontime meal to those in need. The Knights of Columbus offered the use of their building and the fledgling FLP began serving once a month in January 1983. Six people attended. The following month, that number doubled, then again, and by 1989, with support from the United Way, FLP moved to the basement of the Wesley Center, where they could offer a free lunch six days a week to anyone in need. In 2011, the Crisis Center of Johnson County, 56

BREAD & BUTTER 2022

Free Lunch Program co-directors Kai Kiser and Diane Platte Zak Neumann / Little Village

“I was always raised feeling very much like food was love, that food was community. I hope people feel that here.” ––Kai Kiser, co-director, Free Lunch Program the National Alliance on Mental Illness of Johnson County, the Domestic Violence Intervention Program and FLP began work to bring their four organizations under one roof, and a fully-renovated building was dedicated in 2014. “I was always raised feeling very much like food was love, that food was community. I hope people feel that here,” said Kai Kiser, Platte’s co-director. It is something the FLP volunteers and every good chef or home cook understands: the joy and satisfaction which comes from nourishing someone else. It’s also the beating heart which Kiser and Platte share with the other volunteer organizations who make up Iowa City’s ad hoc collection of culinary crusaders to ensure that every member of this community has access to a healthy meal, every day, free of charge. FLP offers lunch Monday through Saturday, while the Salvation Army just across the street on South Gilbert Court provides a free evening meal Monday through Friday. The Catholic Worker House on Sycamore Street offers a Saturday evening meal and a Sunday meal at noon. The Agape Cafe, located in Old Brick on the University of Iowa campus, provides a free breakfast each Wednesday morning. “These congregations came together to fill the gap—literally just community members seeing work that needed to be done and doing it,” Kiser said. If Platte is the conductor of the chorus of volunteers, Kiser is the producer of the show, collaborating with funding organizations and

stakeholders like the City of Iowa City, Johnson County, the United Way and CommUnity Foundation to identify and meet the needs of FLP and their guests. “One thing people don’t realize about nonprofit food services is that we have avenues for purchasing that are not available to the general public,” said Kiser, who, in less than a year at FLP, has learned quite a lot about how to stretch the nonprofit dollar. “A food bank would be able to buy a giant pallet of canned goods for a fraction of the cost you can get them for at the grocery store, so financial contributions really, really do go a long way for an organization like this.” Additional support comes in the form of local produce from Table to Table and canned goods and meat from the Hawkeye Area Community Action Program (HACAP), but most of the food served to guests is purchased and prepared by the volunteer groups themselves. Kiser was not even born when FLP served its first free lunch, but they are no stranger to the social services scene in Iowa City. A native of Los Angeles, Kiser moved with their fiancee to Iowa City in 2015 to attend the university. They almost immediately got involved in nonprofit work as a youth development specialist at United Action for Youth, as a board member for Girls Rock! Iowa City and Pride Rock Iowa City, and, beginning in July 2021, as director of administrative operations at FLP. When Platte and her husband Nathan made Iowa City their home, they brought their passion for music and community with them.


BREAD & BUTTER 2022

57


Free Lunch Program volunteers prepare for the rush. Zak Neumann / Little Village

“The people who have, have so much, and the people who have nothing have so many difficulties, just challenges compounded by challenges. I can work to change the system, but at the same time I can make sure someone has a decent meal.” ––Diane Platte, co-director, Free Lunch Program Together with friends, they organized the Longfellow Neighborhood Front Porch Music Festival in summer of 2015 and have helped it grow each year. During the school year, Platte, an accomplished cellist, worked as the orchestra director of the Iowa City Regina Catholic Education Center. That is, until the challenges of 2020 changed the score. “I looked at what my year as an orchestra teacher would look like and thought it was time to do something different,” Platte said. Her interest in sustainability and climate action led her to Green Iowa AmeriCorps and the Grow: Johnson County farm, which, in partnership with Table to Table, donates more than 25,000 pounds of fresh, local produce every year to relief agencies throughout the county, including FLP. Around this same time, Jama Lidral, who had been FLP’s director of kitchen and volunteer operations since 2014, announced her plans for retirement. Though Platte had a contract with Americorps, the position felt right for her. Platte applied and got the job, and AmeriCorps agreed to allow her to fulfill her commitment to them at FLP. FLP operates when most people are at work or in school, so volunteers are frequently retirees, who were particularly vulnerable during the pandemic. Instead of maintaining the communal table service, they rapidly 58

BREAD & BUTTER 2022

transitioned to a “grab-and-go” model, reimagining the kitchen’s side door as a pedestrian drive-thru window. “We strive to make everything we hand out compostable, in part because I do not want the remains of our meals to become plastic fossils that never decompose,” Platte said. The clamshell containers are made with compostable bagasse, made from the fiber left after sugar cane is processed, and the utensils are made from sustainable, biodegradable bamboo. Plans are underway to add a compost pick-up at FLP so that, at the end of their meal, guests could simply put everything—unfinished food, plates, flatware and cups—into a single receptacle to be composted without waste. “During COVID a lot of our money has been going to compostable take-out containers and silverware,” said Kiser. But they emphasize that it was a necessary cost for FLP to remain consistent with their mission to do good in the community. It is a commitment to sustainability which, frankly, puts to shame the practices of most for-profit restaurants in Iowa City. It also illustrates how unpredictable budgets can be for a nonprofit service like FLP, and how essential it is to raise money to meet changing needs. Along with support from government agencies and corporate contributions, tax-deductible donations from


individuals comprise a substantial part of FLP’s budget. Often, though, these offerings provide far more than mere financial support. “We have had a guest who just continues to amaze me. He was a guest here for years, and got back on his feet,” Platte explained. “Now he comes regularly, not to eat, but to bring us checks. The first check he brought was one of the checks you get when you first open a bank account, so basically, the first thing he did when he got that account was write a check to the Free Lunch Program.” “I sometimes struggle just with the way things are—there is just so much injustice,” Platte continued. “The people who have, have so much, and the people who have nothing have so many difficulties, just challenges compounded by challenges. I can work to change the system, but at the same time I can make sure someone has a decent meal. As much as I want to help other people, this work is my way of managing that struggle of witnessing injustice.” The doors at 1105 S Gilbert Ct are now reopened for in-person dining, and FLP hopes to see more people join them for lunch. Both Kiser and Platte hope to raise awareness in Iowa City’s immigrant community, where high rent or low pay can create financial hardship, and for families struggling to provide for their children. “There is a lot that stops people from getting the help they need,” Kiser noted. “There is pride, there is the fear of taking from someone else. That’s an attitude we want to fight because there are so many people who could benefit from our services who would never think that they could come or should come.” While many people in our community struggle with financial resources, there are also many who suffer from isolation and loneliness, painfully exacerbated during COVID by the need for social distancing. Kiser said FLP can help in this respect as well, “Because it’s really just being with people and seeing them and getting to know them. It’s how you learn to really love that part of your community.” Both Platte and Kiser encourage people to come curious about those members of our community who, far too frequently, folks assume they “know” already. The first step in dismantling prejudice—about the unhoused, about the marginalized, about those who are different—is to break bread together. “I think the greatest thing a person can do is to come get lunch,” Kiser said. “This is our community, and the people who eat here are part of our community. They are worth knowing.” And so that 40-year-old offer stands, every Monday through Saturday at noon: an open door, a full plate, no questions asked. BREAD & BUTTER 2022

59


GUIDE

Exceptional Libations The difference between a good restaurant and a great restaurant largely comes down to staffing and knowledge. A good restaurant purchases ingredients and has cooks that follow a recipe to produce a plate of food. A great restaurant hires chefs who understand what those ingredients are, and how they work with other ingredients to create a balanced and delicious dish. Similarly, anyone behind a bar following a recipe can put out a decent margarita—but a quality bar program is staffed with knowledgeable barkeeps that understand the products they are using—and know the building blocks and techniques used to create great cocktails. Here are six great bar programs in the CRANDIC and the folks responsible for them.

Rodina 1507 C St SW, Cedar Rapids, 319-200-2515, rodinaiowa.com If there’s one person responsible for quality cocktails in Eastern Iowa, David Basinger would be that person. Prior to being a part of the opening team at Rodina—and being named Hospitality Employee of the Year by the Iowa Restaurant Association—Basinger was behind the stick at spots like The Sanctuary and Clinton Street Social Club. He’s spread his wings at Rodina, putting out ever-changing drink menus that are rooted in the classics, and at turns playful (Sour Patch Kid-infused gin) and thoughtful (white port definitely belongs in a Gin & Tonic). It’s a deep menu, and full of surprises—you’d better make a return trip to take it all in. Cobble Hill Restaurant 219 2nd St SE, Cedar Rapids, 319-366-3137, cobblehillrestaurant.com Cobble Hill shines in its research. Classic cocktails are listed by date of creation, and there is a long list of housemade liqueurs: amaro, limoncello, coffee, “Iowa-ish” cream—even a version of Amer Picon, the French liqueur that is featured in a handful of cocktails, but is unavailable in these United States. Approaching its 10-year anniversary, the restaurant is old enough to have a list of classics from menus past, including the popular French Oak Old Fashioned, but still puts out a seasonal list of new creations. Lauren Velez is the bar lead—try her Pretty Little Thing, with strawberry-infused rum, pink peppercorn, tarragon and lemon.

60

BREAD & BUTTER 2022


Zak Neumann / Little Village

Caucho

The Hip-stir

1202 3rd St SE #102, Cedar Rapids,

1120 7th Ave, Marion, 319-200-5465,

319-200-2525, cauchorestaurant.com

facebook.com/thehipstir

The best thing about the drinks list at

Caleb Scales, the head bartender at this

Caucho: co-bar leads Nate Harriss and Ella

Marion upstart, certainly knows what he’s

Kasper’s embrace of a full range of Latin

doing. The alumnus of LP Street Food won

American spirits—including tequila, rum,

a People’s Choice award at the 2021 NewBo

mezcal, liqueurs and even an agave-based

City Market Cocktail Classic before the bar

gin—rather than just a tired menu of flavored

was even open for business. He’s kept up

margaritas. The second-best thing about the

his winning streak—Doesn’t Have the Range

drinks list at Caucho: sipping a margarita on

on the current menu is a perfectly balanced

tap while deciding what cocktail to have.

blend featuring sherry and Grand Marnier.

LP Street Food 302 3rd Ave SW, Cedar Rapids, 319-364-4042, lpstreetfood.com If you walk into LP Street Food on a night that bar champ Jaime Jackson is working, you’re

Wilson’s Ciderhouse & Venue

likely to find her checking on whatever house-

4823 Dingleberry Rd NE #1, Iowa City,

made ingredient is simmering away on the bar

319-354-5651, wilsonsorchard.com

top in between mixing drinks. The cocktails

It’s a small but mighty menu at Wilson’s

here have a tiki vibe to them, so all of those

Ciderhouse, formerly known as Rapid Creek

syrups come in handy. The menu changes

Cidery. Some, like beverage director Becca

a couple of times a year, but if you can’t

Breazeale’s dinner winner A Peppered Pear

decide, let the bartender pick for you: a recent

of Apples, feature their own Wilson’s Cider.

request for something “brown and stirred”

Some, like the Breakfast Marg on the brunch

yielded a delicious, balanced cocktail with two

menu, do not. Either way, they’re delicious;

kinds of whiskey and two amaros. Quality.

have one of each, see for yourself. BREAD & BUTTER 2022

61


Sober Curious Liquor sales have spiked in recent years, but so has interest in creative nonalcoholic beverages (and bars) that bring the vibes without the buzz. BY ZOE PHARO

A

s a Midwest college town, Iowa City has historically been a heavy-drinking community within a heavy-drinking region. “The University of Iowa has long been known as one of the top party schools,” said Dr. Paul Gilbert, a professor in the College of Public Health who studies alcohol-related disparities. “But it doesn’t have to dominate anymore. I think there are more options downtown and around the Ped Mall that don’t revolve around just going to the bar.” This shift has been a concerted effort on behalf of the city and the Iowa City Downtown District. The Partnership for Alcohol Safety, a joint project of the university and the city, has been meeting for about 10 years, and Gilbert got involved when he moved to Iowa City in 2015. “They are specifically focused on expanding the range of options so that socializing and nightlife doesn’t mean you always have to go to a bar.” Unimpaired Dry Bar is one of these options. The first dry bar in Iowa City has had great success since its grand opening in October 2021. They offer everything a traditional bar would— including a fun atmosphere and expansive drink menu—minus the alcohol, according to events 62

BREAD & BUTTER 2022

Julia DeSpain / Little Village

“After the initial uptick, a lot more people were starting to reflect on the role of alcohol in their lives and reevaluating how much they want to be drinking.” —Dr. Paul Gilbert, College of Public Health and engagement manager Angie Chaplin. “It has the energy, it has the music. People will often walk in not knowing we’re an alcohol-free establishment,” she said. When Chaplin first found Unimpaired, she was looking for somewhere to socialize without the pressure to drink. “I’m two years sober and I’m very, very social, but the two don’t often go together,” she said. Unimpaired has been embraced by student organizations through the Campus Activities Board at the University of Iowa— for karaoke nights, painting nights or other themed events. Underage students, as well as fraternities and sororities, “still want a social environment, but they want it to be safe and want it to be inclusive of health choices,” Chaplin noted. This summer, Unimpaired will debut their first sober Hawkeye tailgating club, which Chaplin is particularly excited about as the mother of an Iowa football player. Dr. Gilbert thinks the trend of embracing nonalcoholic drinking, which is moving from the recovery community to the mainstream, has some connection to

the pandemic. He mentioned that early on, rates of drinking started going up, which is a common response to stress. “We’ve seen that with other things like natural disasters, wars and humanitarian crises,” he added. The quickest indicator of this trend is sales tax data released by the Iowa Alcoholic Beverages Division, which reported that Iowa reeled in $452,010,794 in total revenue in 2021, up around 13 percent from 2020. Johnson County ranked the second highest in profits from sales. “But at the same time, I think after the initial uptick, a lot more

people were starting to reflect on the role of alcohol in their lives and reevaluating how much they want to be drinking,” Gilbert said. The two often seem to go hand in hand; as drinking rates rise, people also become more curious about the effects of alcohol and what it does to their overall wellbeing. Alternatives to alcoholic beverages tend to fall into three categories: nonalcoholic spirits that mimic alcohol, like Seedlip liquor and Monday Gin; low-ABV drinks like Haus Apéritifs, near-beer and kombucha; and, of course, nonalcoholic sodas, juices, teas or energy drinks.

Unimpaired Dry Bar’s soft opening, October 2021 Emily Rose Cooper / Little Village


Looking for a place you can socialize sans alcohol? These spots have dedicated non-alcoholic menus or their bartenders are happy to whip something up. Wild Culture Kombucha 210 N Linn St, Iowa City, 319-351-3737, wildculturekombucha.com Vue 328 S Clinton St Unit A, Iowa City, 319-519-4650, vuerooftop-ic.com Zeppelin’s 5300 Edgewood Rd NE, Cedar Rapids, 319-393-3047, zeppelinscr.com The Dandy Lion 111 S Dubuque St, Iowa City, 319-358-6400, thedandylionic.com Goosetown 203 N Linn St, Iowa City, 319-351-1924, goosetownic.com How about for your home bar? Many area liquor stores have already caught on to the nonalcoholic and sober-curious movement, and carry options ranging from NA spirits to wine and beer, as well as more unique options like aperitifs and CBD drinks. Benz Beverage Depot 501 7th Ave SE, Cedar Rapids, 319-365-2556, wine.benzbeveragedepot.com Westside Spirits 3330 16th Ave SW, Cedar Rapids, 319-249-3401, westsidespiritsia.com Basic Goods 125 S Dubuque St, Iowa City, bscgoods.co John’s Grocery 401 E Market St, Iowa City, 319-337-2183

Aerin Black, the front-of-house manager and beverage director at The Dandy Lion in Iowa City, says they had originally designed a nonalcoholic menu two years ago, and at that time there wasn’t much of an appeal for it. But recently, they’re seeing an increased demand, “so we’re getting excited to plan to offer a formal nonalcoholic beverages section again, with cocktails in mind.” Black looks forward to the innovations in mixology these drinks will represent, moving away from “the idea of a mocktail, which in the past has usually been just a Shirley Temple or a virgin Bloody Mary,” they said. Beyond nonalcoholic cocktails, we may even see completely new options in the area, predicts Jenny McMillen, a home mixology enthusiast. She moved from Hawaii to Iowa City and already makes her own mocktails at home, using local tonic syrups from Joanna’s Premium Tonic Syrups mixed with coconut water or ginger ale. She also brews kombucha and jun, a fermented drink similar to kombucha which substitutes green tea and honey for the typical black tea and sugar. She’s noticed kava—a drink that promotes relaxation and is considered sacred in Hawaii (and other Pacific Island cultures)— beginning to catch on in the Midwest. “Kava, in Hawaii, has gotten so many people to stop drinking alcohol, or to help people who are already trying to resist alcohol,” McMillen said. This is because it’s an adaptogen, so it balances your nervous system, with none of the downsides of alcohol. “Kava and kombucha—it doesn’t have addictive qualities, but it has those aspects of bringing people together. It calms you down, lets you relax,” she said. Joe Reilly, Iowa City’s nighttime mayor, agrees that locals’ tastes have evolved. “People are looking for activities,” he noted. “They’re looking for games, a gamification of their experience. They’re looking for a space that is a whole vibe.” BREAD & BUTTER 2022

63


GUIDE

Where Everybody Knows Your Name Linda Kuncl at Hilltop Tavern Ltd., Iowa City Zak Neumann / Little Village

1981. My customers named it. Kenny Parrot

come home with a bundle of quality meat!

came up with the Buckshot Burger! ”

And how’s this sound for the winter months:

40 years, and she calls herself a saloon girl

thing at The Shack for all you bird watchers

at heart. “I love my job 90 percent of the

who like to party, too.

time. The regular customers, a.k.a. our bread and butter, has been what’s supporting us all these years. The most rewarding part is our interactions with all the customers and the hundreds of stories they’ve told—some of which I’ll take to the grave.”

Hilltop Tavern Ltd. The Shack Tavern

hilltoptavernnorthside.com

2545 Old River Rd SW, Cedar Rapids

The end of Prohibition in 1933 was celebrated

319-366-3629

across the country. Here in Iowa City, in the

A local bar is like a watering hole. And when

historic Northside neighborhood, part of that

that bar is located right off a river, it can also

celebration was the opening of the Hilltop

be a handy place to dry off.

Tavern. Many decades would go by until Sep-

Frankie Schneckloth

1100 N Dodge St, Iowa City, 319-338-3063,

beers and bald eagles? There’s a little some-

Kuncl has now owned Hilltop for over

Zak Neumann

They’ve outlasted recessions, floods and indoor smoking bans. Every other customer through the doors is a regular. Longtime employees dispense beer, life advice and local legends in equal measure. Some are nestled into neighborhoods, aging alongside generations of residents who find it hard to imagine their hometown without “the bar.” Every nicked table, specific smell and tchochke nailed to the wall speaks to the good old days. Rediscover some of the CRANDIC’s most historic pubs, taverns, lounges and bars.

Cedar Rapids and the banks of the Ce-

tember of 1981, when Linda Kuncl took over,

dar River wouldn’t be the same without the

and she’s been the main barkeep since. Many

Shack Tavern. Bikers and cyclists alike have

Iowa City locals and visitors know how great

made this a regular pitstop and a long list of

5546 130th St NE, Lisbon, 319-624-2204

the food is at the Hilltop, but the beloved

decades-old customers continue to frequent

sutliffstoreandtavern.com

spot didn’t start out with a full menu.

The Shack for a unique Cedar Rapids experi-

Baxa’s Sutliff Store & Tavern is dripping with

ence. Their classic stick-to-your-ribs cooking,

money. Seriously! Upon entering, your eyes

Three Musketeers, that ate frozen pizza for

river views and summers busy with outdoor

are immediately drawn to the thousands of

lunch everyday because that was all we had,”

get-togethers at their grain bin bar are just

dollar bills that are attached to the ceiling.

Kunci recalled. “We used John Nidey’s recipe

a few of the things to love about The Shack.

Layered over one another, every single

for barbecue pork sandwiches. Next we add-

But this old-school tavern also helps local

George Washington tells the story of a past

ed what we called Maid-Rites, and I then got

charities by hosting an old-school meat raffle

visit. Tyler Light is the current owner and has

a nice letter saying we couldn’t call them that

on occasion. Show up to The Shack, buy

family ties to Baxa’s and its past owners all

anymore, so the Buckshot Burger started in

a ticket, stay for the drawing and you may

the way back to the 1930s.

“There were three regulars, called the

64

BREAD & BUTTER 2022

Baxa’s Sutliff Store & Tavern


“It’s a rite of passage, Baxa’s. I hung out

Revere’s Pizza, Frame House & Gallery and

here as a kid just like many other regulars

Gilpin Paint have all been lost to the ages.

and customers,” he said. “It’s a family-first

Some of the properties turned into different

setting here. It’s the one place where it’s

businesses while some have been replaced

OK to have your kids wander around. If you

by modern condos and retail shops.

don’t like it then you’re the one that has to get out.” Baxa’s is known for a family reunion-es-

George’s Buffet has watched this corner of the Iowa City galaxy change with a classic cheeseburger in one hand and a

que atmosphere. Regular customers inquire

beer-back in the other. Its early 20th century

about the family of the employees, and

feel has never faded, and its hold on the

the staff reciprocates. Customers also play

Northside—where it meets downtown Iowa

catch-up with each other, boasting about

City—hasn’t either. Currently flanked by a

accomplishments and commiserating over

five-story mixed-use development on one

losses over some suds.

side and precious Iowa City public parking on

“Stop and people-watch for awhile

the other, George’s still brings in the crowds

when you’re here,” Light recommends. “It

that pour into the booths and belly up to the

doesn’t matter if you’re in a suit and tie or

bar everyday. The aroma of Americana is all

have hog shit on your boots, you’ll see ’em

around you, coming off a double bourbon

here. And they’re all welcomed. It’s a safe-

neat, the hoppiness of a cold draught beer

zone for beer lovers!”

and the meaty haze lingering from the small

The view of the Cedar River is spec-

hamburger cooker in the back. George’s is

tacular from the bridge. You’re welcome to

the ultimate trip into Iowa City’s history and

take your food and drink out on the wooden

hits the nostalgic sensory angle hard.

planks while you gawk. Baxa’s is known for their burgers, breaded pork tenderloins and

Green Gable Inn

Steve Bray at Green Gable Inn Zak Neumann / Little Village

“It didn’t look like anything was redesigned since the ’70s and when we took over, we modernized it and brought it up to code, but it’s not obvious. For the people who have always come here, it still looks like the same place they’ve always come.”

fried bologna sandwiches, all wonderful. The

1227 J Ave NE, Cedar Rapids, 319-366-4640

beer is cold and the ambiance is legendary,

facebook.com/Green-Gable-

including the cash décor—a visual reminder

Inn-100886129956265

of the many locals and travelers who adore

According to owner Steve Bray, Green Gable

this institution.

Inn has been continuously operating as a

flight of stairs into the basement of the main

tavern, legally or illegally, since 1912. The bar

house, and then up a flight of stairs to the

George’s Buffet

takes its name from the days when a trolley

bar located in the extension off the farm

312 E Market St, Iowa City, 319-351-9614

turnaround was located right outside the

house.

facebook.com/georgesbuffet.iowacity

front doors, and rooms were available for

A lot has changed around the Linn Street

rent for weary travelers. The bar continued

of what’s happening outside the walls of the

and Market Street area in Iowa City over

to operate as a speakeasy during Prohibition.

bar—is something of a feather in the Gable’s

the years. Tuck’s became Hanrahan’s, then

The windows were covered to block light

cap. In April 1996, there was a significant fire

IC Ugly’s and now Wild Culture Kombucha.

from the bar, and patrons would embark on

in the bar after the boiler exploded, but the

Hamburg Inn remains, but the Chill & Grill,

a journey before imbibing—entering through

inn closed just long enough for firefighters

Pearson’s Drug Store, Linn Street Cafe, Paul

apartment 1229 upstairs, traveling down a

to extinguish the flames. The bar reopened

The constancy of service—regardless

shortly after, noting that customers wouldn’t mind the smokiness since people smoked so much in bars anyway. On a recent visit to Green Gable, longtime bartender Brian Marconi also spoke to the longevity of the tavern. “The most rewarding part and the piece that keeps the place running are the people, the longtime regular customers. There are some families where I’ve served three generations. I served his dad”—he gestures to a young man across the bar—“and now I’m serving him, and his little nephew comes in here for soda.” Keeping the interior relatively the same generation after generation is something Bray takes great pride in. “It didn’t look like anything was redesigned since the ’70s and when we took over, we modernized it and brought it up to code, but it’s not obvious,” he said. “For the people who have always come here, it still looks like the same place they’ve always come.” Green Gable Inn, Cedar Rapids Zak Neumann / Little Village

BREAD & BUTTER 2022

65


If we had cars and could drive ourselves around, here’s a list of our top picks:

GUIDE

IOWA CITY

Cortado Mediterranean Cafe 26 S Clinton St, Iowa City, 319-519-2340, cortadoic.com Try their chocolate croissant. See if you can find the U.S. flag on the wall while you wait for your parents to finish their coffees. It was also really satisfying to watch homemade pitas being made into perfectly puffed piles. Educational, as our parents would say. Pullman Bar & Diner 17 S Dubuque St, Iowa City, 319-338-1808, pullmandiner.com Grab a seat in one of the booths and order the coffee cake. It’s as close as kids can get to caffeine without anyone noticing. It was fun to pretend we

A Seat at the Big Kids’ Table

Zak Neumann / Little Village

What started as a simple ploy to banish weekday morning grumbles became a way for these burgeoning foodies to have their voices heard.

I

to shout “All Aboard!” whenever the waiter came to our table. Pro-tip: Use the big mirrors to spy on your neighbors and watch while the kitchen works its magic. Deluxe Cakes & Pastries 812 S Summit St, Iowa City, 319-338-5000, deluxeiowa.com Get the quiche. Hands down. It’s awesome to eyeball the fancy desserts in their pretty display case, but the quiche crust alone is worth the trip. How do they get so many layers in one crust? Tastebuds blown! Also, it’s really clean in there. Like, it made us want to clean up our own crumbs kind of clean. Goosetown 203 N Linn St, Iowa City, 319-351-1924, goosetownic.com Skip straight to the pop-tarts. It doesn’t matter which; they are all good. But good things take time, we’ve heard our parents say. So trust us, you’re going to want to bring a game of some kind. The parents are going to order a lot of things before the

s it just us or is it harder to get out of bed at the end of the week? Our parents have tried a bunch of ways to try to get us up. By Friday morning, nothing but a guarantee of unlimited screen time could get us moving. That is until they started holding a special breakfast over our heads: a genius parenting move. It forces us to try to behave all week in order to cash in on this coupon. It’s interesting that during meals at home our parents refuse to cook us separate meals, forcing us to “try new things” that are usually green or red. Ugh. But when they take us out to eat they want us to order from the “Everything for Kids is the Color Beige” box? Um, no thanks! They trained us better than that. Why do adults get an entire page but us kids get a tiny box in the corner with all the usual suspects—chicken fingers, mac and cheese, quesadillas? It’s kind of insulting. Maybe that’s why we don’t always love going out for dinner. And school lunch? Don’t even get us started. But breakfast! Now that’s a meal that makes us feel like equals. We get to order from the full menu, not just from a few boring things down below. So, the first time they whispered to us, “Let’s go out for breakfast before school today,” we were up and dressed, backpacks loaded, helping each other out the door and in the car with seatbelts on before our parents had on their coats. Now, we look forward to this special morning event all week. For other parents looking for tips on how to get your kids out of bed or if you just want to take your family out for a meal with a truly kid-friendly menu: Go out for breakfast. 66

were on a real train car. It was also pretty hard not

BREAD & BUTTER 2022

pop-tarts come. The Encounter Cafe 376 S Clinton St, Iowa City, 3 19-519-2044, the-encounter-cafe.square.site Go for the blueberry streusel muffin. The breakfast sandwiches are also worth it. Pretend you own the place and sit in the secret cove near the fireplace. Be sure to serve yourself some lemon spa water like a boss while you wait for the order number to light up. Sidekick Coffee and Books 1310 1/2 Melrose Ave, Iowa City, 319-569-1010, sidekickonline.shopsettings.com Get the cruffin. You heard that right: croissant meets muffin with a surprise in the middle. Yum! We tell our parents we want to go for the books. Yeah, sure…the books. —Brynn Buhmeyer, age 8 and Timothy Buhmeyer, age 11, siblings, Kids Menu Advocates and co-contributors to The Buhmeyer Times


CEDAR RAPIDS

Feedwell Kitchen and Bakery 560 Boyson Rd NE, Ste A, Cedar Rapids

I

319-409-6905, feedwellkitchenandbakery.com t is a treat to have breakfast at Feedwell Kitchen and Bakery. The room is full of natural light and decorated in a simple, elegant style. It’s a nice place to sit, and as it wasn’t too busy, we hung out for a while after breakfast, draw-

ing and talking. There was another family there, as well as folks having business meetings and morning coffee. Orders are placed at the counter and the food is brought out to the tables. The menu offers standards with a twist as well as healthy choices and salads. We opted for a pastry board so we could sample more than one of the enticing selection of pastries and cakes. I love a good breakfast sandwich and their Standard does not disappoint: egg and cheese on a perfect cheddar-chive biscuit. I added bacon. My daughter Ruth and I shared the sandwich and a breakfast quinoa bowl served with almond milk, raisins and roasted berries. She chose the quinoa bowl because she “wanted to try something new.” We also shared a special drink—a vanilla steamed milk colored pink with beetroot powder. When asked for her review, Ruth, 6 ½ years old, said: “I like the breakfast sandwich; I like the biscuit and the bacon. I like the drink and I’m so-so on the quinoa.” We will definitely return for more special breakfasts and highly recommend Feedwell Kitchen and Bakery. —Zoe and Ruth Mossman

SOLON

Bluebird Cafe

B

112 E Main St, Solon, 319-624-2031, bluebird.cafe reakfast at the new Bluebird Cafe in Solon was something special for my hungry 3-year-old son George. One side of the restaurant has cozy wooden booths—a

holdover from the previous occupant, Salt Fork Kitchen (RIP!)—but the other side of the restaurant has undergone a bit of a transformation. The space has been outfitted with a smattering of blond wood tables, lengthy bright blue vinyl banquettes (perfect for racing Hot Wheels, in case you were wondering) and minimal, yet thematic decor. It’s a cheery and bright, open space with huge street-facing windows flooding the space with natural light even on a cloudy morning. These windows were the highlight of breakfast for my aforementioned 3-year-old. They allowed for long uninterrupted views of big trucks passing—an activity that could entertain him for hours it seems. The menu at the cafe offers all the classics: breakfast sandwiches, eggs Benedict and omelets as well as some sweet treats: pancakes, waffles and Cinnamon Roll French toast. George is a sucker for pancakes, but at home they’re prepared sans sugar and bulked up with fiber, so the pancakes here were something of a treat. We ordered ours with whipped cream and strawberries, and though the giant pillows of cream and the generous knob of butter were the first bits to be consumed, George ate most of the pancake which was honestly as big as the plate itself. I tried the Steel Cut Oatmeal, which is admittedly not a particularly exciting choice on paper, but I was pleasantly surprised when it arrived with all the accouterments to dress it up and it was much tastier and quicker than what I make at home. When asked for his review, George had very little to say about the food. Instead, his appreciation was focused on the ambiance and scenery the cafe provided: “I like the trucks. I saw a cement mixer and a tanker truck and a grain truck.” He may not have had much to say about the food, but a mostly clean plate at the end of a meal tells me all I need to know. It’s a comfortable and easy spot for breakfast. We’ll be back again. —Frankie Schneckloth and George Davies BREAD & BUTTER 2022

67


GUIDE

We All Scream

Nothing soothes the soul quite like a scoop, cone or mixture named after a weather event.

straight from the owners’ milk cows. That is

and high school students go after class.

as local an ice cream product as you can get,

Korner Kremery earns its multigenerational

and you can taste it. The richness in just the

fanbase with a laundry list of dramatic hard-

basic vanilla bean ice cream is worth experi-

pack ice creams. The bright swirl of bold

encing alone. Their Coffee Oreo brings two

colors in the Superman ice cream tastes like

flavors you never knew you needed together

cereal on a Saturday morning, while their

in one scoop. The Peaches and Cream is

Birthday Cake flavor with chunks of batter

sharp and sweet like a good peach should be.

may actually beat a slice of cake.

All of these flavors are made in small batches;

Get any scoop served in a big waffle

you’ll rarely see some of the limited flavors in

cone. Try their twist on the Dairy Queen Bliz-

consecutive visits. It’s right near a bike trail

zard, the Cyclone, or sip a cereal milkshake.

that goes to Cedar Rapids’ Czech Village, so

Conveniently kitty-corner from the world’s oldest continuously running movie theater,

The Brass Fountain

the Fridley State Theater, take a drive and

122 E Main St, Solon, 319-624-6122,

see why Washington has one of the best

brassfountain.com

downtowns in the state.

An ode to the soda fountains and malt shops Frydae

like a trip to the past. And since it’s run by

743 10th St, Marion,

Brix owner Nick Craig, you know it’s not

319-200-4550, finallyfrydae.com

sacrificing style or substance. The sundaes,

Do it for the ‘gram! Head to Frydae for a

Zak Neumann / Little Village

of a bygone era, The Brass Fountain tastes

shakes, egg creams and floats served with housemade sodas come in the classic tall glass cups, and scoops of hard-packed ice cream are served in stemmed glass bowls. The classic plating matches the restaurant’s sharp, bright, retro decor. But come on, if the ice cream weren’t great, who’d care? The

treat and photo shoot, that is. The cups and cones are piled high here—just look at their already-iconic Glampfire sundae with vanilla ice cream, hot fudge, graham cracker crumbs and lightly charred marshmallows on top. The Cake Shake has a cake pop sticking out of it, and the Everything But the Cookie Jar shake has full chocolate-chip cookies on top.

mint chocolate chip-based Cookie Monster

But their aggressively fun presentations

sundae is delightfully over the top, served

burn some calories on the bike to make room

with cookie crumbles, hot fudge and blue

for Dan and Debbie’s. Just don’t forget to

give way to hugely sweet and bold flavors.

sprinkles.

buy some of their classic cream-topped milk

Frydae’s strawberry purée-infused Strawber-

for home!

ry Short Shake could trick you into thinking

The Fountain even has an impressive

it’s spring in February. With a wide variety

list of alcohol-infused ice cream dishes like the Bananas Foster Shake: vanilla ice cream

Korner Kremery

of loaded French fries on the menu as well,

and flambéed bananas spiked with rum and

202 E Washington St,

we won’t blame you if Frydae becomes your

caramel. Try saying no to that.

Washington, 319-653-2096

favorite indulgent dinner spot.

This klassic ice kream joint is open seasonally, Dan and Debbie’s Creamery

spring through fall. There’s something simple

Dane’s Dairy

1600 Main St, Ely, 319-848-6455,

but magic about small-town ice cream stores

1430 Willow Creek Ct, Iowa City,

dananddebbies.com

like Korner Kremery, the kind of place where

319-354-7400, facebook.com/DanesDairy

Dan and Debbie’s Creamery gets their dairy

older couples come to remember past dates,

How do Iowa Citians know that summer

68

BREAD & BUTTER 2022

Zak Neumann / Little Village


is coming? The hot temperatures? The UI students leaving? The mosquitoes? Nope, it’s the opening of Dane’s Dairy, which usually opens in late April and closes for the season in early October. In business since 1960, this veritable snack shack has become a townie favorite due to its classic flavors and inexpensive prices. Soft serve here is king, and prices are partially why: $1 kid cones, $2 regular cones. Their $3.50 waffle cone is packed with so much soft serve it could probably sedate a bear, but it’s exactly what you want soft serve to be. With no indoor dining space, Dane’s becomes a community lawn where families, couples and friend groups mill around, dripping ice cream on grass and picnic tables. That may sound messy, but it’s also peak summer in Iowa City.

Don’t Miss These Spots! FOR AN ICE CREAM AFTER A DAY’S ADVENTURE AT FW KENT PARK

Jon’s Ice Cream Store & Restaurant 231 W Marengo Rd, Tiffin, 319-545-2558, facebook.com/jonsicecreamtiffin Open seasonally, spring through fall. The blackberry hand-dipped ice cream (a specialty flavor that rotates in) is a standout on a packed menu. When it shows up, clear your calendar. If it’s not on offer just yet, never fear—Jon’s soft serve is great, as are their other specialty ice creams and sundaes. FOR THE CLASSIC SCOOP SHOP FEEL

Heyn’s Ice Cream 811 S 1st Ave, Iowa City, 319-354-1981 25 E Cherry St, North Liberty, 319-665-2249, heynsicecream.com Their housemade ice cream packs a creamy flavorful punch and the charming hand-drawn flavor signs at the Iowa City shop are the cherry on top of the sundae that is Heyn’s. FOR A TRULY CLASSIC MILKSHAKE

Parlor City Ice Cream 1936 42nd St NE, Cedar Rapids, 319-393-4867, parlorcityicecream.com Open seasonally, spring through fall. It takes some work to narrow down your choice from the dizzying array of flavors, but the shakes are damn good and worth the order-induced anxiety.

Half-price gift cards SHOP FOR DEALS: littlevillagemag.com/perks BREAD & BUTTER 2022

69


Vino, Vidi, Vici Iowa native Chris Christensen charts his own course, conquering the wine world one bottle at a time. BY TIFFANI GREEN

“I

’m the fish that likes to swim upstream.” Chris Christensen used this phrase over and over again to describe his journey from a middle-class upbringing in Iowa to attending Stanford University to starting his own winery in Sonoma County. Christensen’s unlikely breakthrough into the wine business is underscored by his identification with and affinity for underdogs and people who exceed expectations. His winery’s very name, Bodkin, is a reference to the arrowheads used by the English peasant archers who faced down aristocratic French soldiers at the battle of Agincourt. And won. Not unlike those archers at Agincourt, Christensen’s story is one of exceeding expectations. It is relatable, remarkable and features serendipitous coincidences and a few adventures. Christensen grew up in Cedar Rapids, the third generation of his family to live there, and is fiercely proud of his Iowa roots. “I identify as an Iowan before anything else,” he tells me. He was raised by a family of educators who, interestingly enough, never drank, and impressed upon him the importance of excelling academically from an early age. He attended Cedar Rapids Washington High at a time when Iowa was nationally recognized for its educational system. An English teacher introduced him to Shakespeare, and Christensen fell in love with the play Henry V, about the English king who fought the French at Agincourt. He credits all of this for setting him on the path to starting Bodkin Wines. “I always knew I would go to college, it was just expected,” he said. “And I knew I wanted to go to an Ivy League school somewhere where it didn’t snow.” Christensen graduated from high school as a valedictorian and realized his goal when he 70

BREAD & BUTTER 2022

Emma K. Morris

“I was in an industry where my degree from Stanford didn’t mean anything and where it was hard to move up. If I wanted to progress, I had to start my own label.” was admitted to Stanford University for college. He had initially planned to study engineering but felt out of his depth at Stanford. “I had been one of the smartest people in the room in high school, but now I was in the company of people who were so brilliant their governments were sponsoring their education. I wasn’t prepared.” He settled on a communications science degree, and graduated in 2003. Unsure what he wanted to do next, he thought he’d try out the wine business, which was ubiquitous in California. He’d met Ernest Gallo III, a Stanford alum, at a university event and mentioned his interest. This led to an eight-month internship in the lab at the E. & J. Gallo winery, where Christensen discovered that he was deeply interested in the chemistry of winemaking. By the time the internship ended, Christensen knew he wanted to pursue a career in the wine industry. He went on to work

at several wineries performing more hands-on work—mopping floors, filling barrels—so he could learn the business inside and out. Career paths often have detours and Christensen’s is no exception. For a year during the Great Recession, he thought he’d try a more stable, traditional route and worked at Wachovia Bank. “I hated it. We were repossessing people’s cars at the height of the recession and I wanted nothing to do with it.” He turned down a job transfer that would have taken him to South Carolina and went back into the wine industry, accepting a job at Medlock Ames in Healdsburg, California. In 2011, Christensen grabbed an opportunity that proved to be a turning point in his transition from working at wineries to building his own. He was invited by winemaker Brian Keyes to participate in a grape harvest at his namesake vineyard in Adelaide, Australia. That harvest turned into a year spent working in Australia, and the money he earned there, boosted by a favorable exchange rate, became


the seed money for Bodkin Wines. Christensen says he started his own winery more from practical necessity than entrepreneurship. “I was in an industry where my degree from Stanford didn’t mean anything and where it was hard to move up. If I wanted to progress, I had to start my own label.” His time in Australia also formed the genesis of what would become Bodkin’s flagship product: sparkling sauvignon blanc. Christensen had already been thinking about making a sparkling sauvignon blanc; it was his favorite grape and there was no sparkling variety in the U.S. market, he says. He found a few examples while in Australia but felt he could improve upon them. Asked why he felt convinced a sparkling sauv blanc didn’t already exist in the U.S., he explained that it was a tricky proposition. “Sauvignon blanc can be a little funky and it gets worse if you add CO2 to that.” Additionally, grapes that will be used in sparkling wine need a certain balance of acid and sugar that is hard to find in sauvignon blanc. It would require finding a vineyard with the right climate and soil composition to get grapes that would be right for this project. Upon his return to California, Christensen started looking for grapes so he could make a sauvignon blanc table wine. Bad weather had led to low yield and most vineyards didn’t have any grapes to spare. Through a process of elimination, he found a vineyard that could sell him a small quantity. When he analyzed their chemical composition, he realized they were right for the sparkling sauv blanc he’d been imagining. Bodkin Wines came into being in 2011 in Healdsburg. Its founder’s affinity for history and for the Bard are apparent in everything from Bodkin’s motto, “We few, we happy few,” a line from Henry V, to the red cross patteés gracing the wine labels, to the wines themselves, which have names like Hotspur Cuvée and The Victor’s Spoils. Clever marketing is all well and good, but

at the end of the day what matters most is that the wines are good. And these wines are good. They’re consistently highly rated and often sold out. I should know, I couldn’t get

Cuvée Agincort Sparkling Sauvignon Blanc

Hotspur Cuvée Sparkling Rosé

The Fearless Blancs de Blancs

The Victor’s Spoils Sauvignon Blanc

my hands on the Cuvée Agincourt in time for this article. But I did manage to snag a bottle of The Victor’s Spoils—a sauvignon blanc sans the bubbles. It should be noted that I’m not particularly

fond of sauvignon blanc. I often find it to be astringent and to taste of lemon and grass to the exclusion of all else. This was my first time drinking it in years, and this sauv blanc was nothing like the ones that had left a literal bad taste in my mouth. Where I was expecting a sharp tartness, the wine was soft and round on the tongue. It had a gentle fruitiness with notes of apricot, green apple and Rainier cherry. It was like no other sauvignon blanc I’ve tried. Christensen saw an increase in interest in Bodkin as people sought out Black-owned businesses amid the 2020 racial justice movement. This support has allowed him to make more unusual wines such as muscat canelli, a lesser-known sweet wine for which he has a particular fondness. “Five years ago I couldn’t sell it to anyone,” he said. “This year it’s sold out.” Success also gave him a platform to increase representation for people who don’t often see themselves in the wine industry. He said he’d like for the industry to become more accessible, and for the teams who make wine to become more visible. “Winemaking is agriculture and wine is made by people. We need to see more of the people who actually get wine made and less of owners.” He also said that winemakers need to evolve and be more responsive to demand in order to attract and retain younger customers. Asked what goals he had for his own business going forward, he talked about how much he enjoys collaborating with other winemakers. Two of his recent projects include a line of canned wines made in collaboration with Maker Wines, and the Where’s Linus line that he’s making with Jenny and François Selections, natural wine importers who decided to make their own wines domestically. Ultimately, though, Christensen says, “I want to keep feeling my way through and see where that takes me. I want to stay out of my comfort zone and keep trying to make my perfect wine.”

BREAD & BUTTER 2022

71


GUIDE Bachan’s Original

Buy Me Something Nice

Japanese BBQ sauce, Basic Goods, 125 S Dubuque St, Iowa City You could drink this

There’s always room for one more treat in the pantry, fridge and super-secret snack spot. From sauces to tinned fish, tea towels to serveware, here’s a rundown of your new favorites and where to snag them.

straight out of the bottle— it’s that good—or, you could use it as a sauce or marinade for proteins, tofu, veggies or rice.

Laoganma Spicy Chili Crisp, Asian Market, 624 S Gilbert St, Iowa City It’s super addictive and good on literally everything. How quick can you make Isastegi Sagardo

your way through the jar?

Naturala, Benz Beverage Depot, 501 7th Ave SE, Cedar Rapids; John’s Grocery, 401 E Market St, Iowa City This dry natural cider from the verdant mountains of the Basque Country is crisp and refreshing, and now Fly by Jing Tribute

comes in cans, making

Mariscadora Galacian Cockles,

Peppers, Prairie Kitchen

it perfect for hikes and

Rodina, 1507 C St SW,

Store, 160 N Linn St, Iowa

picnics.

Cedar Rapids These tinned

City Electrify your stir

cockles get two thumbs up.

fry or braises with these

Tender and delightfully briny,

mouth-numbing Sichuan

they’ll transport you to the

peppercorns.

Galician coast.

Ortiz El Velero Tinned Albacore Tuna, Thoma’s Meat Market, 1331 Muscatine Ave, Iowa City Skip the canned tuna at the grocery store and pony up for this. It’s so much better.

Handmade Truffles, assorted varieties, Simply Divine Candy Shop, 129 3rd Ave SE, Cedar Rapids An assortment of housemade gourmet truffles (among many, many other sweet treats) await you at this downtown candy shop. The boozy ones are the best: try the Grasshopper or Whiskey Caramel.

72

BREAD & BUTTER 2022


Garden.in.a.bag, assorted varieties, The Floral Shop, 4361 1st Ave SE, Cedar Rapids Find a sunny spot and get to growing! You’ll have fresh herbs at your fingertips year-round grown directly from this leakproof bag.

Spring Forager Tea Towel, Roots in Bloom, 524 10th St, Marion Dress up your clean-up! The bold graphic

Reusable Stainless Steel Straws, Straw

Spring Forager

Cleaner, Indigo River & Co., 1501 C St

tea towel is

SW, Cedar Rapids Ditch the straws once

inspired by our

and for all and set yourself up with a

connection to

reusable stainless steel version. Grab a

nature, food and

straw cleaner while you’re at it so there’s

sustainability.

really no excuse any more.

Large Wooden Tray, Moss Plant Shop, 74 16th Ave SW, Cedar Rapids

Opinel No.10

This tray is the

Corkscrew

perfect vehicle

Stainless Steel

for snack or

Folding Knife,

wine delivery to

Prairie Kitchen

the patio or the

Store, Iowa City

coffee table,

Ideal for picnics

but it looks

and meals on

equally great

the go, this

piled high with

folding knife

fresh produce,

with corkscrew

too.

is sturdy enough to remove stubborn wine corks, slice up some crusty bread or divide a sandwich into equal parts.

Flowers by the stem, Roots in Bloom, 524 10th St, Marion Perk up your dinner table with a bouquet from the flower buffet The majority of Roots’ blossoms are sourced from local farmers during Iowa’s growing season. BREAD & BUTTER 2022

73


Micro food Operations Starting small and enjoying the ride proves to be the right path for these local food businesses. BY ZOE PHARO

T

he COVID-19 pandemic taught many of us how to switch gears and pivot. In March 2020, as the regular 9-to5 ruptured, many people quit their desk and retail jobs and started doing the things they’d always wanted to do, either as a side hustle or completely new beginning. “As a person who works in the service industry, the pandemic annihilated your way of life,” said Sam Caster of Brass Ring Coffee, an Iowa City-based micro-roaster. While activity in shops died down, online orders spiked and home-grown businesses saw an opening. Colleen Brennan of Bread Worthy Bakery and her husband Erik Dole were both working in a hotel restaurant when COVID hit, and they were asked to work weird hours, accept pay cuts, and take on new responsibilities as middle management and opportunities for growth vanished. “It was a terrible environment,” she said, recalling that they had looked at each other and agreed they couldn’t stay any longer. After years of living abroad and completing pastry school, they chose to settle in Iowa City, an intentional choice for starting their bakery. “Iowa had both the cottage food and the home bakery license,” Brennan explained. These laws are actually quite rare in their flexibility for bakers, and Iowa is one of the only states with a home bakery license. The cottage food license allows you to sell out of your house or at the farmer’s market, however you cannot deliver, sell wholesale, or make goods that need to be refrigerated. The home bakery license allows for delivery, wholesale and refrigerated goods, but sales must be capped at $35,000.00. Obtaining the licensing for a cottage food set-up is relatively simple in Iowa, Brennan said, and “it’s great because it’s a low start-up cost, and it’s a great way to start actually getting customers and getting a loyal fan base that is very cost-effective because you’re not paying rent,” she continued. Many of these “micro-food” or “underground” 74

BREAD & BUTTER 2022

operations get their start on Instagram. “The micro-food community is one of the most accepting, nicest communities out there,” Brennan remarked. “If you message anyone a quick question, people are so willing to be like, ‘Here’s a recipe, let me help you.’” Or they begin at a local Farmers Market, which was the case for both Brass Ring Coffee and Bread Worthy Bakery. Farmers Market experienced numerous hiatuses during the pandemic, but this year will operate again from May to October in the Cedar Rapids and Iowa City area. Vendors often barter and trade items at the market, making it a particularly collaborative environment for newbies and upstarts. Again and again, these businesses emphasized that though these ventures can be stressful, they are more about the fun of it and savoring slow progress. Constellation Coffee is one of many ventures in the micro world that relishes the slow process. Brought to life by Wake Up Iowa’s Jarrett and Cristin Mitchell, Constellation offers coffee subscriptions as well as bags of beans both ground and whole delivered to your home. Cristin said, “It’s fun to have all the incubation happen within our home and just be creative with each other.” Jarrett mentions the micro model has also provided them flexibility. “When it’s just direct-to-consumer, it can be more reflexive to the commodity market, as well as to consumer demand.” Often these micro-operations start out smallscale, but quickly grow. “Last week was actually our biggest week ever—and so it was getting to the point where I was like, ‘I don’t know how I’m going to do all this,’” said Sam Caster. Marian Trochez of Elida’s Bakery, which opened in April 2020, echoes a similar sentiment, noting they’ve seen the number of orders they’re receiving increase every week. Abbey Uhlenhop of Second Rise Bakery recently felt the need to

Julia DeSpain / Little Village

take a break from her home baking operation. She was saying yes to too many orders and it became a juggling act to complete everything while raising two small kids. She’ll be opening back up again soon, though, and says the challenge is knowing your limits. For many, these micro operations are a true “side-gig” and complement a more regular full-time job. Kirsten Sogaard, who runs Gallop Courier and delivers many orders from micro businesses to their final destinations, is no exception. She also works as a fulltime mail carrier for the United States Postal Service, so all of her deliveries are scheduled in advance, linking local artists and micro operations to the community. At the beginning of the pandemic she found herself, as many others did, asking what her role was with the people around her, which led her to Gallop. “Unfortunately, and also fortunately for people, there was a level of taking the foot off the gas that needed to happen,” she said. She focuses her services towards places that don’t necessarily have as many avenues to reach their customers, and sees Gallop as a slowing down of our on-demand culture and Amazon delivery speed “which is kind of taboo to even talk about—delivery and taking it a little bit slower,” she jokes. Sogaard felt like she could make Gallop happen living in Iowa City and seeing people creating their own small operations. “[They’re] making things from their couch, or making things after they’re done working a job during the day. They’ve got to pay the bills, you know, and they just want to share their work with people.” “People here, we like our makers,” Sam Caster said of the micro movement. “We’re not about macro things, we’re about supporting these local things that are interesting and unique and that feel like Iowa.”


BREAD & BUTTER 2022

75


SacrAments Zak Neumann / Little Village

Praise be the ephemeral and sacred moments created when bread is broken and shared. BY COURTENAY BOUVIER

A

s an annoyingly inquisitive child with parents who encouraged critical thinking, I struggled to believe in God. We still went to church on Church holidays, though—not out of a sense of obligation, but out of an appreciation of ritual. The multisensory stimulations of Catholic mass enchanted and mystified me, with the silk and the leather, the incense, the pipe organ, the choir, the gold and stained glass; the spectacle of hairstyles, faces, fashion; the shaking people’s hands to pass the peace; the tonguejumble of Latin, intelligible threads unknotting to cavort with sunray-shining dust motes; the kneeling, and the standing, and the sitting, and the kneeling again, and the I hope I don’t mess up and stand when everyone kneels; and oh yeah, that famous, constant Catholic guilt. To continue the ritual, we got to go to the Kimberly Diner for breakfast. We never went out to eat, but breakfast is cheap so it was OK. I’d get poached eggs because fancy rich people ate them, and I’d sometimes even get bacon, which we didn’t eat at home. My brother got pancakes that weren’t made with bran and wheat germ and served with peanut butter and yogurt, like we had at home. We liked Mom’s panbricks fine until we learned what actual pancakes are, almost, dare I say, like a certain prelapsarian apple. My brother was so confused and enthralled by this sweet, soaring tower of glossy gold; it was a revelation, a mysterious ecstasy laid bare. We did church every year on Easter and Christmas and on those other days around Lent, but we were mostly in it for family time and diner breakfast. My nonna, an Italian immigrant, attended church several times a week and displayed her faith all over her house, where my mother grew up. The walls and surfaces seemed held together by cataclysmic oil paintings of Jesus and Mary, by mod mid-century crucifixes and Capodimonte saints brooding over plastic-encased white brocade furniture. In the kitchen, where no one was allowed to cook except for Nonna, there was a giant The Last Supper, probably velvet, above the counter where capacious colored-glass bowls 76

BREAD & BUTTER 2022

So, servers and our kin craft and recognize our own holy days, our own rituals. Sharing an impeccably ordered meal at another server’s bar on a weeknight; late-night ad hoc snack collaborations; the surreptitious handoff of a kitchen “mistake” to a hungry colleague: these are blessings of a life whose focus is the making and sharing of food. and goblets held bushels of rubber and plastic fruit. One of my favorite childhood sensations at Nonna’s was the gummy tension of gently gnawing on a cluster of large rubber grapes. But many of my mom’s childhood memories in that house were of anguish and confusion, the kind that comes from knowing that your parents left their home country and hadn’t returned, hadn’t seen their families since they left Italy in 1925, 20 years before my mom was born. Inside that house, you could read, smell, see, hear, taste the homesickness, nostalgia, and displacement. S uch anguish was intertwined with the very Roman Catholicism whose artifacts insulated my mom’s family against a country that believed Catholics, especially the Italian immigrant ones, couldn’t truly be American and were therefore beneath even the most basic respect. So it wasn’t surprising that my mom wasn’t big on Catholicism. Generally, though, my family really liked being outdoors, and by the time my brother and I were in high school, our family’s holy day rituals were all about keeping the things we understood and respected as holy, and discarding the things we didn’t want, like hypocrisy and damnation and even the unbridled consumerism of exchanging presents on Christmas (which sucked for a while, but seriously: Christmas is a racket). Instead, we spent time outside, together, collectively reflecting on things that exhilarated us, on places and

moments that felt suffused with some sort of sacred charge, and we shared these places with each other, and we shared our stories of why they were magic and holy, and then, of course, we shared food. Once we started that tradition, we never did go back to church. Because I didn’t have a First Communion, though, I’m not allowed to ever receive the eucharist. I have finally gotten over my curiosity about what that styrofoam disc tastes like, but I still want to know: Do priests wash their hands with scented hand soap, and isn’t that distracting if they do, with their hands all up in your face like that? As I gradually uncoupled the mysteries, misogyny, and money of Catholicism from the sacred vibrations of its ritual, I settled on my own style of piety that had room for infinities of little gods. The entirety of the language I speak is one of my gods. Words, not in their wielding as weaponry but in their etymologies, the stories their roots tell, their dissection and examination: disassembled and reassembled, uprooted and rerooted, burrowed into, nestled in. Music, usually wordless, both the listening to and the making of, is another god. That moment when it’s deep, frigid winter but the sun shines right into your face, shining just for you—there’s a god there. Oxford commas and properly used semi-colons. Writing with the right utensil on the right paper. All animals, but especially cats. The feeling of footfalls on certain responsive


surfaces. A body using tools to move more smoothly through space, as in skiing or bicycling. Spring in Iowa. Clean, dry socks. And countless other godlike things, but always, always food. Food, and the infinity of entities that participate in its existence, that bring it to me, that allow me to breathe it in, that allow it to inspire me. These are my sacraments. The Catholic definition of “sacrament” is, loosely, an event that is both spiritual and physical. The roots of the word mean “sacred mystery.” The definition of “sacrum,” the tail bone, the bottommost triangle of vertebral bone that supports the uterus, is “holy bone.” Many Catholics sanctify the uterus, that miraculous organ, while disregarding the wholeness of the human who houses it; while I universally despise and reject the anti-choice ideology nurtured by such beliefs, I appreciate the etymological connection between my sacrum and my sanctity. That bone that roots me is what holds me holy and connects me to wholeness. And when I share food with other people, I am rooted. Not to the earth, necessarily, or not only to the earth, but also to the people who grew or raised or prepared the food, the resources that allowed the food to be and to be shared, the people I share it with. In so many different ways we are offered communion through food, the earth saying, ‘Take this, my body, and eat it’. These sacraments grace us, and I say grace to these sacraments. These sacraments are simple and do not require a holy day, or I should say that they do, in the sense that all days are holy simply because they’re days. The rituals surrounding these sacraments may be used to mark days that you hope will become holy, however. I worked in restaurants throughout my adolescent and adult life, which meant I was rarely able to share in most of the commercialized ritual days anyway, religious or otherwise. When you’ve worked in the service industry for more than 30 years, there’s no hope for Valentine’s Day, for example, to mean anything beyond a busy day at work, not that there ever should have been some special meaning for that day in the first place; from a service perspective, that’s a holy day of obligation, and you’re not getting the night off. So, servers and our kin craft and recognize our own holy days, our own rituals. Sharing an impeccably ordered meal at another server’s bar on a weeknight; late-night ad hoc snack collaborations; the surreptitious handoff of a kitchen “mistake” to a hungry colleague: these are blessings of a life whose focus is the making and sharing of food. I no longer work in a restaurant, but I was baptized in them, and their people are my congregation; my soul maintains their rhythms and their inclinations and still seeks out their fellowship. In the best of times, a server spends their

THE WEEKENDER YOUR WEEKLY EDITOR-CURATED ARTS COMPENDIUM, A.K.A.

st uf f to do IN YOUR INBOX EVERY THURSDAY LittleVillageMag.com/Subscribe

BREAD & BUTTER 2022

77


workday inviting people to put beautiful and worthy things into their bodies and then watching over them while they do so. There are distractions from this sacrament, like sore backs and landlords, but the episodes that reappear as holy moments in a server’s nostalgia montage are these sacramental moments, when we are blessed to channel the earth’s gifts through someone else’s craft, to share it with others, and to then participate in the eater’s evolving rapture as they assemble their first bites—perhaps guiding, when it’s not imposing, to suggest combining that sauce with this little morsel and making sure to also get some of the green herby stuff on the top, and honestly I truly think the cabernet franc would be alchemical with that pork, which was raised right down the road—and knowing that yes, you’re selling and you hate being sold to, but you actually completely mean it and want these people to truly understand that there is a sacrament before them. It’s telling that the basis for Catholicism is the punishment of a woman who, seeking wisdom, chose to eat something she wasn’t supposed to. By way of a loophole certain contemporary Catholic clergy must appreciate, the Catholic Church decreed in 1574 that the fidelity or character of the person giving or receiving a sacrament is inconsequential; it is the sanctity of the sacrament itself that shines, and, when the recipient is worthy, that sacrament shines through them. So if the priest who gives you that communion wafer is somehow shady, that’s okay, because the wafer still works. And if you’re a sinner, you’re just not ready for the grace the wafer provides; keep eating those wafers and maybe you’ll get there someday. Maybe, but probably not. Just as the holiness of a sacrament is not created by the priest, as he is merely a channel for the divine, sacraments are not necessarily things we humans cook or otherwise prepare, yet all of these things are also holy. I don’t consider the food I make for other people a sacrament, as it is fraught and neurotic, tethered to too many worldly worries, as I often am. The food I make comes from a far more fleshly, temporal love. But food I did not make, food I had no hand in preparing, food that was given to me somehow, presented by the earth via other humans who channel divinity more successfully than I do, or simply prepared by the earth itself, like coquettish golden oyster mushrooms flaunting themselves in the sun: these are my sacraments, and I receive them in blessed moments of grace that inspire, that reset my soul to zero, that take away the sins of the world, that have mercy on me. Bright orange-yellow yolks; the goddess who lives inside each lengthwise-sliced red cabbage, outstretched arms embracing a distant moon; fish cheeks, a peerlessly pre-portioned piquant protein; the visible, gorgeously hued kinship between artichokes and thistles; bivalves, stones that eat the ocean and then feed it to us fresh from their hidden flesh, barely digested; all things involving vanilla, mostly because “vanilla” and “vagina” are derived from the same etymological root; all the magenta vegetables; things that crunch; any brassica, with their divine Fibonacci display; anything recently picked and still warm from the sun; cheese made from milk that came from cows you’ve met; really, basically all cheese; sharing any food with somebody hungry; any food that comes in its own package, like the perfection of a grapefruit or a boiled egg; food with heritage, food as nostalgia; unwritten recipes learned by smell, taste, and touch; prime rib at a supper club with lots of horseradish cream and a dear friend; gas station fried chicken somewhere in Nebraska while you’re trying to catch up to sandhill cranes; porch-dropped surreptitious delicious blessings; George’s cheeseburgers with Oasis fries, eaten outside; eating on the same property where food was raised and cooked by people I love, which probably isn’t a big deal for a lot of Iowans, but which has played a godly role in keeping me here 20 years longer than I meant to stay. Every moment there are more things, and there are also these things. These immeasurably many sacraments. It is right to give them thanks and praise. 78

BREAD & BUTTER 2022


BREAD & BUTTER 2022

79