Friday, April 30, 2010

Orchard in Bloom Preview Event

Orchard in Bloom, the annual garden show hosted at the beautiful Holliday Park begins today. The special preview party was held last evening. Vendors opened their booths a day early and esteemed restaurants fed guests some of their finest morsels. Deliciousness was abound. Here is a peak of some of the edible delights.

Immediately upon entering, we were welcomed with a table of sparkling rosé, a great refreshment for a breezy evening.

Goose the Market displayed their Smoked Duck and Ramp Sausage on a Pork Triscuit with Pickled Radish on a slate platter. The sausage was great, but the "animal cracker" was a bit too crunchy.

H2O Sushi offered bite-sized salmon sashimi on rice crackers.

I thought this adorable, adult lemonade stand was too cute to pass up.

You could (metaphorically) hear the sounds of angel's song at the Taste of Philly table. Soft pretzels are, unarguably, food straight from heaven.

The chef from Great Cooks had an amazing spread of spreads, breads, and sweets. Here you could choose from four different types of freshly baked bread and spreads like olive tapenade, salmon mousse, egg salad, and paté. I appreciated the chef's enthusiasm; it was contagious.

Savorelle had a beautiful table as well. A fresh basil, tomato, and mozzarella appetizer was presented in a tiny martini glass, and the Asian slaw (in front) had it's own mini square dish.

Tulip Noir's table was almost bare when I stepped up to it. Their food is always a smash hit, and I'm not surprised one bit that they were out of samples. Their last taste was a broccoli and cauliflower fritter topped with crème fraiche and Gorgonzola cheese.

Full Plate Catering had an interesting twist at their table. They switched sweet and savory ingredients to make the taster think differently about how foods can be used. Dainty shortbread cookies were infused with herbs, tarragon and oregano. Usually sweet rhubarb was baked into a savory crouton. Both worked equally well.

Naked Tchopstix made my day when I saw the glorious, giant plate of edamame at the end of their table. They had three of their most popular stir-fried dishes to sample as well.

This unholy, blurry photo is of the gorgeous French pastries of Rene's Bakery. I apologize for not capturing the pure beauty of these mini masterpieces.

The cutest, tiny key lime pies and creamy, sun dried tomato pasta were gracing the Sweet and Savory table. Fruit, cheese, and crackers paired well with the complementary wine.

Recess had the most inventive sample: spicy Thai pork and crunchy shrimp cracker. The mix of textures was like "playtime" for the tongue.

The Orchard In Bloom event will continue until May 2nd. If you need any herbs for your kitchen window box or flowers for the garden, this is the place for you.

Thursday, April 29, 2010

Bubble Tea at the Taiwan Tea House

At the sound of the words "bubble tea" my heart skips a beat. I've had a three year love affair for this Taiwanese specialty. My first bubble tea was in St. Louis, then in Chicago, then Lafayette, then INDY! I practically bounded inside the Taiwan Tea House to see if they carry my beloved beverage. To my elation, they do! As if things couldn't get any better, the Taiwan Tea House is only 10 minutes from my house. The rapture!

The hardest part about ordering a bubble tea is choosing the flavor. The Taiwan Tea House has 34 flavor combinations! First choose your type of tea: red or green. Then pick your flavor. Flavors range from strawberry to plum and even kumquat lemon. Plain red or green is available for the traditionalists. The flavor pictured here is the coconut red milk tea. Be sure to mention to the waiter if you want bubbles. They don't automatically come in the tea. They are an extra 50 cents and worth every penny.

Strangely, this beverage is only about 30 years old. It originated in Taiwan at a small tea concession. The "bubble" refers to the little black "pearls" or "boba" which are basically large balls of tapioca. This may sound strange, but it's actually extremely satisfying. Slurping the sweet, slightly slushy tea and chewing on the bubbles is therapeutic for people, like yours truly, who must chomp or bite something during every waking hour of the day. Old Freud would have something to say about that.... Regardless, this is the ultimate refreshing summer drink. Bring on summer and bring on the bubble tea!

Oh, P.S., the Taiwan Tea House serves food. I was too blinded by the tea to notice. I'll get on the food another day.

Wednesday, April 28, 2010

Event, Chew On This, Gets Community Talking

Chew On This - Hosted by the Indiana Humanities Council.

Join chefs, gardeners, self-professed foodies, local community leaders, neighbors, and other concerned folks (including myself) to talk about where Indiana is headed in this brave new world. How can we use our strengths in agriculture and artisan foods to make Indiana stand out in this growing, global economy? Questions like these will be asked and discussed over dinner at 15 different locations on all sides of Indy. This event is inspired by the book, Caught in the Middle: America’s Heartland in the Age of Globalism by Richard Longworth. Let's talk and see what we come up with.

The event is from $50 to free (plus a pitch-in item to share) depending on the location. Select restaurants, like Santorini, Recess, and R Bistro, will provide a set menu while meet-up locations, the John H. Boner Center and the St. Luke's Methodist Church, will house free pitch-ins.

One night. 15 locations. 300 mouths chewing on Indianapolis’ food issues today and in the future.
May 4, 2010, 6:00 to 8:00 p.m.

Click here for more information and a complete list of restaurants/meeting spots. Make your reservation before April 30th.

I will be present at either Zing for their special dinner or St. Luke's Methodist Church for the pitch-in. (TBA) I hope to see you there.

Tuesday, April 27, 2010

Lahody Meats: Hometown Butcher Shop in Muncie

With all of the trouble and drama attached to big-business grocery stores and supermarkets, consumers are reaching out, once again, to Mom and Pop businesses. In most cases, independently owned specialty stores are known to have better quality control and vastly are more knowledgeable about where their products are coming from.

Last year, I had heard of a new, independent butcher shop in Muncie. I finally got the chance to stop in and check it out. There I found Ron Lahody, owner of Lahody Meats, behind the glass counter, ready for my order. As I was only stopping by and in no need of supremely fresh meat at the moment, I browsed through the house-turned-butcher-shop. Inside I found that the majority of the products were made in Indiana. How refreshing!

Eggs from Roanoke, coffee from Ft.Wayne and Farmland, popcorn from Berne and Muncie, candy and baked goods from Muncie, spices from Brownstown, noodles, chicken broth, and the world's best Sweet & Sour salad dressing from Middlebury, and Red Gold tomato products from Elwood were some of the items gracing the shelves. Fresh cheeses and meats from Indiana and neighboring state producers are the hot sellers. Ron even sells his own special meat spice rub. You can also find fresh seasonal fruits and vegetables here.

Have a sandwich built for you while you shop. Choose from seven different sandwiches like Ron's Special of the Day or Miro's Italian which is stuffed with capocollo, ham, and hard salami. All sandwiches start at $6.99 with an extra 50 cents per cheese or other condiment. Pick from a list of 19 add-ons and three types of bread with a pickle spear on the side.

I had to pick up a little something while I was there. This multicolored popcorn called to me. If you're in the neighborhood, stop into Lahody's.
1308 N Wheeling Ave
Muncie, IN

Open Mon-Fri 9am to 7pm, Sat 9am to 5pm, and Sun 1pm to 5pm.

Monday, April 26, 2010

20th Annual April in Paris

Hungry people in cocktail attire filtered into the doors of the Ritz Charles in Carmel this past Sunday for the annual April in Paris fundraising event. This feast is hosted by IVY Tech community college. Every year, the culinary and hospitality students, lead by the fine staff at IVY Tech, put together an elaborate seven course dinner to raise money for scholarships. Donations from local businesses and a silent auction aid in the efforts. Every penny goes back to the students in the form of tuition assistance or funding for the study abroad program. With the study abroad program, some stand-out students get to spend a few weeks totally immersed in European culture and cuisine. Here is what was on the menu last night:

Course #1: Roasted duck breast with orange-brandy sauce. Paired with a 2007 Riesling from Satek Winery in Fremont, IN. (The orange was a nice match for the duck.)

Course #2: Chicken consomme flavored with parsley, chervil, tarragon, and chives poured table side over carrot, turnip, truffle, and spring pea garnish. (The tarragon really came through the most of all of the herbs that were infused in this broth.)

Course #3: Tomato gelee with crayfish salad. Paired with a Traminette (Indiana's grape) from Easley Winery in Indianapolis. (I think this dish was an adventure for both the chefs and diners. The jellied tomato pyramid, which acted as the salad dressing, was hiding the crayfish inside.)

Course #4: Black ravioli stuffed with seafood mousseline on saffron cream sauce. Paired with a 2008 Louis Jadot Pouilly Fuisse from Burgundy, France. (When this dish came out, a distinct ocean-y smell filled the air. I was surprised on how much I liked the ravioli, but I think the pasta could have been cooked a bit longer - still slightly doughy.)

Course #5: Citrus sorbet. (An obvious hit. The only complaint was that it wasn't a big enough scoop.)

Course #6: Grilled local bison, lamb, and rabbit stuffed with tapenade; each with its own sauce, risotto and green beans. Paired with a 2006 Chateau Belair, Grand Cru from Saint-Emillion of Bordeaux, France. (This bison was amazing, so tender. The attention to detail really shined through in this dish. I loved how each meat had it's own sauce. The lamb had some sort of mint sauce, and the rabbit had a carrot sauce. I didn't catch what sauce the bison had.)

Course #7: Almond carrot cake with raspberry and strawberry jellies and vanilla-maple Bavarian creme with white chocolate sauce. Paired with a Lafayette Blush Catawba from Wildcat Creek Winery in Lafayette, IN. (I could have eaten the whole cake, and this wine was my favorite; very sweet.)

Between the silent auction and the generous out-of-pocket donations from guests who attended, around $45,000 was raised in just a few hours. Click here to learn more or to donate to the cause of education, financial independence, and a life-long career.

Friday, April 23, 2010

Last Day for Indy Winter Farmers' Market

It's Friday! Congrats! You made it through another work week. How about celebrating your leisurely Saturday by hitting up the last Indy Winter Farmers' Market of the season. Yes, the winter is behind us now, and summer is close ahead. This is the last time to have all of these wonderful vendors together until next Winter market season. Get here early to get the best pick of the ultra fresh, just cut spinach and mixed greens; starter plants for your garden, like tomato, cucumber, and various herbs; and assorted flowers for your window boxes.

Pick up other necessities like fresh farm eggs, oven baked breads, cheese, milk, yogurt, honey, maple syrup, and coffee. Bring your cooler to store locally raised meats: pork, beef, and chicken.

There are also fine inedible items offered at the market: handmade soaps, exquisitely crafted cutting boards, wheel-thrown pottery, and an array of lavender products that would make great Mother's Day gifts. Hint hint.

Come hungry! While you are browsing the market, munch on a just-off-the-griddle breakfast sandwich from Skillington Farms, a hand-rolled and steamed tamale (above) from Feast Catering, a flaky spinach pastry from Lena's Mediterranean Kitchen, and a chocolate croissant from Rene's Bakery. Sip on hot Harvest Cafe Coffee or a nutrient packed juice from Natural Born Juicers.

The Indy Winter Farmers Market is open for the last time this Saturday from 9:00am-12:30pm at 901 N East Street. (Until next winter at least.) Check them out at

Thursday, April 22, 2010

Drive on Up to Gene's Root Beer Stand

Let's step back in time to the days of car hops, drive-ins, poodle skirts, and saddle shoes. Gene's Root Beer is the real deal, just without the cheesy skirts and shoes.

Root beer and hot dogs are king at Gene's, but the tenderloins are a close second. Fried mushrooms, corn dogs, and onion rings are among the items on the menu. Get your fill for easily under $10.

Lord, I don't know how to make a Chili/Coney dog look good, but that's beside the point. These puny looking hot dogs are marvelous inside their soft, steamed buns. (At Gene's they are called Spanish Dogs. Their slogan is actually, "Home of the Spanish Dogs." So there you have it.) Gene's is the only place I'll eat a hot dog or chili sauce. Why have another one if I've already had the best? Right? Right.

And to wash down the dogs, a frosty mug of made-in-house root beer. Buy it in a mug, in a to-go cup, or in a gallon jug to take home. The best way to have it is in root beer float form. Ooo, so refreshing on a hot summer day. Sticky, syrupy goodness down to the last drop. If a float isn't your fancy, try an ice cream cone dipped in a chocolate shell.

Gene's Root Beer Stand is very low key. Just pull up and wait to be greeted by your lovely server. Don't forget to roll your window up just a bit, so that she can attach your tray of tastiness.

Here is some other drive-in etiquette tips:
  • Pull into a parking spot and turn off your car.
  • Leave your lights on until you have spoken with your waitress.
  • Turn your lights on any time you need to get your server's attention.
  • Never, NEVER honk your horn to get her attention. This could cause trays to go flying due to unexpected excitement and will cause cranky-waitress-syndrome.
  • When you are ready to leave, you may either turn your lights on or start your car.
  • Although most places (Gene's included) take credit/debit cards, bring cash just in case.
Gene's Root Beer is only open during the warm months; depending on when Autumn shows up. They open Mon-Sat at 10:30 until around 9. Sundays they open at 11.
Gene's Root Beer
640 S. Scatterfield Rd.
Anderson, IN

Wednesday, April 21, 2010

Celebrate Earth Day at Noah Grant's

Brush off the dirt from your tree-planting, hop into your car, and head to Noah Grant's Grill House and Oyster Bar in Zionsville. This evening, Noah Grant's is honoring Mother Earth with a special Earth Day Wine Dinner. Wines farmed from sustainable agriculture will be featured along with a four course paired dinner. Taste and savor five different wines. This earth friendly feast is $45 and one time only.
Call for reservations (317-732-2233) or reserve your table online at

Tuesday, April 20, 2010

Get German-y at the Heidelberg Haus

It's places like the Heidelberg Haus that give Indianapolis character. Just off of Pendleton Pike in Lawrence, this German general store has been a quirky part of the community for over 40 years. Polka music livens up the parking lot as you pull up. The staff is adorned in Bavarian clothing and happily answers questions about the menu. The menu is full of wursts, sausages, brats, potato salad, and rye bread and butter. Real southern Deutschland cuisine made right here in Indy.

Cookies greet you upon entering through the double door. This is perhaps the sweetest way to say "Hello".

Authentic German breads are baked fresh daily. This includes REAL Laugen soft pretzels! We've got Germany to thank for literally hundreds of different types of bread. Learn more about these goodies here.

Get all of the knickknack and pattywacks you'll ever need in a lifetime. Gnomes, steins, Hummel figurines, nesting dolls, beer coasters, post cards, wood carvings, and so much more can be found here. Museum should be added to the long list of Heidelberg titles: bakery, coffee bar, restaurant, German language library, grocery store, etc.
Where else could you find the superb tunes of Christin & Charly Betz? (I actually have no idea who these folks are. They are just fantastically outdated and fabulous!)

Here's the German grocery section. They have a nice selection of pickles, jams, spreads, sauce mixes, teas, and coffees to name a few.

Comment ModerationThe search is over for that true, leather lederhosen you've been hunting for.

Being a cookie baker myself, my heart melts for these springerle molds. The Heidleberg is known for their fantastic springerle cookies. Unfortunately, they are a seasonal, Christmas time item. They've been featured on the Food Network more than once. Now that says something!

Candy! Chocolates! Flavors ranging from hazelnut to licorice to cola. Chewy, crunchy, melt-y: a texture for every tongue.

This is the German movie library section. You can also find resources for learning and practicing German here. You might have to dust off the ol' VCR, though.

Everywhere you look, even down the hall to the bathroom, there are things to see. Every visit, spy something new.

Before you leave, you must buy a pastry to go. You will not find doughnuts, pies, or muffins at Heidelberg. Only the sweet treats like the ones in the bakeries of Germany will be found behind the glass cases here. Creme cakes, nut cakes, danishes, cookies - so many things to try! No worries, you'll just have to try them all.

Heidelberg Haus is open M-F 8:30 to 7, Sat 8:30 to 5, Sun 11 to 5.

Monday, April 19, 2010

Well Rounded Menu at Rusty Bucket Corner Tavern and Restaurant

The Rusty Bucket Corner Tavern and Restaurant, a Midwest chain, sets up shop on Indy's North side.
The menu is well rounded featuring curious, non typical appetizers: pork pot stickers and hummus among the standard chicken fingers, nachos, and mini burgers. Rusty Bucket has a nice variety of salads including their Double Nickle Salad: mixed greens, bacon, blue cheese, tomato, red onion, and special salad dressing. Sandwiches range from Asian Tuna Wraps to Reubens to Rusty Bucket Chili Dogs. Steaks and burgers are king as well as the Daily Blue Plate Specials. (Above - terrible picture of the Chicken Parmesan: seasoned panko crusted chicken breast topped with marinara sauce, provolone cheese & served with Alfredo pasta for $12.95.)

The beverage options are vast as well. Wine, micro brews, drafts, imports, and daily cocktail specials make choosing a task. Try a Bucket Infusion (above right.) Pick between a vodka soaked pineapple or rum soaked pineapple shaken with brown sugar and vanilla beans.

The Rusty Bucket Corner Tavern: moderately priced, low-key place to dine and drink on the North side.

Friday, April 16, 2010

Lowery's Candies: Muncie's Sweetest Specialty Store

In the little ol' city of Muncie, there is one of the sweetest places on earth: Lowery's Candies. Upon entering this humble shop, a wave of delicious scent hits like brick, like a brick of chocolate to be exact. Lowery's Candies is a family run company and has been in business for 69 years. It has been a cornerstone for the Muncie and Yorktown communities for decades. Every single piece of candy has been handmade and hand-dipped the old fashioned way. Their love and effort shines through in their delectable chocolates.

Having grown up in the area, Lowery's was a big part of gift giving and receiving in my family.

Inside, peer through the glass and pick out your favorites. Assorted boxes are available to satisfy all tastes: Nuts & Chewies, Assorted Cremes, or both.

I used to get one of these giant chocolate eggs from my grandma every year at Easter. They were always filled with chocolate covered toffee, my favorite.

I love sending these Indiana shaped chocolates to my friends from afar. Lowery's was one of the first places I would show off to foreign exchange students. They became immediate fans.

I cannot leave Lowery's without a Tiger Paw (you might know them as a turtle.) What could possibly be better than chocolate, caramel, and pecans? That's right, nothing! The little item on top was a new discovery for me. (I was shocked myself; having been around Lowery's all of my life.) It's called a Dark Secret. Dark, obviously because it's covered with dark chocolate, and secret because the thick creme's recipe is unknown to most of the staff. Those sneaky chocolatiers!

I know you're drooling because I am, too, but please know that Lowery's Candies close up shop or the summer. The heat and humidity are very unkind to the candies. Lowery's is open for Mother's Day and then usually shut their doors soon after. They reopen sometime in September. Give them a call if you're wondering. It truly depends on the weather. Lowery's will ship all over the US, and you can order online! Hooray for the internet! Hooray for Lowery's Candies in the mail!