Food, Food Artisans

Help Us Celebrate Ypsi-Arbor Beer Week!

Stop by Zingerman’s Creamery for samples of great local beers!

Since we started selling beer, wine and mead at our shop at the Zingerman’s Creamery, we’ve met a lot of Michigan’s amazing brewers and tasted a lot of great Michigan beer! We are incredibly lucky to have so many great homegrown brews here in the mitten!

So, we’re helping celebrate the great craft beer culture in Michigan by hosting a series of tastings in conjunction with Ypsi-Arbor Beer Week!

The brewfest lasts August 1-9, and we’ll be giving out samples of great Michigan beer, along with samples of of great cheeses to go with that beer! Stop in for the cheese, stay for the beer!

See you soon! 

Food, ZingLife

The Gardens at Cornman Farms


A chat with Farm Manager Mark Baerwolf

Mark Baerwolf is one of the original Roadhouse employees. Since 2005, Mark has divided his time between cooking at the Roadhouse and managing the agricultural operations at Cornman Farms. He helped open the restaurant, and soon found himself enamored of Executive Chef Alex Young’s dream of bringing fresh, pesticide-free produce to the dinner plate. When the opportunity to work on the farm came along, Mark jumped at the chance.

These days Mark spends his summers outside tending the crops growing on the farm and his winters poring through seed and farm equipment catalogs and planning for the next year’s harvest. You’ll still find him in the Roadhouse kitchen occasionally though now he’s more than likely preparing food that he raised.

This season has brought some big changes to Cornman. With the opening of the event barn at the farm house, we have also created a new garden space on the property. I toured the gardens with Mark out at the farm to learn a bit more about Zingerman’s work to bring the farm to the table.

“Heirloom vegetables are like a step back in time. They’re history on display.” Mark is talking about the new garden beds at Cornman Farms. The beds lie on the low ground near the restored barn, and Mark and his crew are busy planting herbs in the hot sun. His face is flushed, and he’s holding a handful of chive plants. “But heirlooms and such are not just about history, they’re also about connections to family and friends.”

Take the chives, for example. “They came from a friend of mine. They’re just chives, but they represent something deeper. They have a history that’s not really heirloom, but it’s important.” The plants, it turns out, are direct descendants of chives that were brought to Michigan nearly 70 years ago by Polish immigrants who’d originally arrived in Philadelphia in the early 20th century. When they decided to move to the Mitten in the late 40′s, the chives, and a bunch of other herbs and vegetables, traveled with them. “Like a lot of people who lived through that time,” says Mark, “they always had a little Depression survival garden going.”

“These are walking onions.” Mark goes on to describe the plant’s ability to spread by “walking.” When the onion stalks reach a certain height, they develop a tiny onion bulb at the top of the plant. As the bulb grows larger, it pulls the long stalk over to the ground, where it roots in. As the new bulb matures, it grows its own stalk and tiny bulb, and the process is repeated. This is how the plant “walks” itself over open ground to proliferate. “I got the walking onions from a server at the Roadhouse,” he says.

The gardens don’t really have an official name yet, but Cornman staff have been calling them the “Educational Garden” to differentiate them from the vast expanse of rows known as the “Production Garden,” which supplies the Roadhouse. “What you see here,” he says, gesturing to the new beds in front of the barn, “is a reflection of what’s happening out in the production areas. We wanted people to see a sample of the varieties of heirlooms we’re growing out here.” The garden integrates the ideas of traditional, beneficial, and sustainable farming practices they’ve been using at Cornman Farms for the past eight years.

Back inside the farmhouse, Mark shows me a website run by Slow Food USA called the Ark of Taste. The site is a knowledge repository of our collective food heritage here in the US. Listed within are all manner of heirloom fruits and vegetables, animal breeds, forgotten and “lost” foods, and even traditional and heirloom recipes. “I encourage the chefs at the Roadhouse to look here for inspiration. There’s so much great stuff here.”

Mark goes on to tell me that when it comes to the many varieties of heirloom tomatoes, squash, and peppers listed on the Ark of Taste, most are currently grown on the farm. The exceptions are the varietals more suited to southern climes, unable to handle our northern winters. “This year, we’ve got 40-45 different types of heirloom tomatoes growing out there,” says Mark. “Many of these heirloom breeds have documentation going back to the Civil War, some back nearly 200 years!” He also makes the point that the very oldest heirlooms were shared with European settlers by indigenous peoples who had likely been cultivating them for thousands of years.

“We really wanted to tap into this, to use heirloom breeds and recipes. A great example is the pepper vinegar we serve at the Roadhouse.” The recipe comes from an old Pennsylvania Dutch Civil War-era cookbook called Die Geschickte Hausfrau (“The Handy Housewife”) that used a spicy hinkelhatz pepper. Mark and Alex stared growing the hinkelhatz at the farm, added it to a good cider vinegar, and it has become a staple at the restaurant. “We used the heirloom pepper, the heirloom recipe. It was great way of carrying this food forward to the 21st century.”

When fully planted, the new garden will be a sort of microcosm of the larger farm. Guests will be able to stroll between the beds and see heirloom varieties of squash, peppers, tomatoes, potatoes, beans, and herbs of all types. And even though some might be “just chives,” they’ll all have a story. And whether it’s a tale of deep history from the early days of North American civilization, a connection to generations who came before, or just a great flavor, Mark is sure to know the story. And if you have a few minutes, he’d be happy to share it with you.

Want to learn more? Sign up for a tour of Cornman Farms and hear it from the people who work there! More information here. 

Food, Food Artisans

This Week at Zingerman’s 7/29/14


Summer Harvest Dinner at Zingerman’s Roadhouse Tonight!

Join us on Tonight, July 29, 7pm, for the first Cornman Farms dinner of the year at the Roadhouse. This summer harvest menu will be filled with fresh summer vegetables and meats from the farm. Radishes, cucumbers, squash, squash blossom, tomatoes, spinach and potatoes will all be harvested hours before the dinner. Chef Alex has prepared a menu that showcases the vegetables, beef, and pork, but also cooks with each of them in ways you wouldn’t expect. Celebrate the summer harvest with Cornman Farms and Zingerman’s Roadhouse!

reserve your seat here


A Summer Dinner with Central Provisions at Zingerman’s Deli Tomorrow!

Two seatings!
On Wednesday, July 30, Zingerman’s Delicatessen hosts another special evening with Central Provisions with guest chefs Abby Olitzky and Steve Hall. Central Provisions is an upcoming restaurant that has been active in the Ann Arbor community the past few years hosting pop-up dinners, teaching cheese classes, and putting on special events. For this summer meal, they will delve into our unique pantry again to feature favorite American foods as well as the seasonal bounty of their favorite local farms. Each dish will be paired with wine that complements and elevates each bite. Please join us for this wonderful dinner celebrating summer flavors and great eating! Sign up now—these dinners sell out fast! (There will be a vegetarian option available, just let us know)

reserve a seat for 6:00pm seating

reserve a seat for 8:30pm seating

Summer Sales end this week at Zingerman’s Mail Order and Zingerman’s Deli!

This strong>Thursday, July 31st is the last day for our annual Summer Sale at the Deli and Mail Order! This is serious business! Just once a year we take a few dozen of our favorite pantry staples and put them at deeply discounted prices for a few short weeks. Don’t miss your chance to stock up and save a bundle!

Great Lakes Brewery tasting at Zingerman’s Creamery

Join us this Friday, August 1, 6pm, for a night of spirits and fun as our friends at Great Lakes Brewing Company and the cheesemongers at Zingermans Creamery guide you through delicious beer and cheese pairings that will send you to the moon and back! Still seats available!

reserve your seat here

1st Sunday Tour at Zingerman’s Creamery

Join our cheese and gelato makers on Sunday, August 3, 2pm for an hour-long adventure as we transform local milk into delicious cheese and gelato. You’ll watch our fresh mozzarella stretched into shape, taste our cow’s and goat’s milk cheeses while our staff explain the cheesemaking process, and sample our delicious fresh gelato. After the tour, make time for tasting our selection of American cheeses and provisions, as well as house made gelatos and sorbets in our cheese shop.

reserve your seat here


The Art of Growing Great Vegetables at Cornman Farms

On Tuesday, August 5, 530pm, take a deeper look at our farming practices. Spend some time with Mark who takes care of all the fruits and vegetables we grow, and learn about the ins and outs of sustainable, responsible agriculture and honoring the local farming community. Take home a bag of something seasonally grown.

reserve your seat here


Summer Pies at Zingerman’s Bakehouse

These summertime favorites are here for a limited time.  Get a taste while you can…

  • Michigan Rhubarb Pie
    Enjoy this sweet tart summer treat for a limited time! We lovingly craft this pie with our flaky all-butter crust and simple filling of fresh Michigan rhubarb and a bit of sugar. When the local rhubarb runs out, this pie will go on vacation.
  • Country Peach Pie
    Just as summery and precious as you imagine- lots of fresh peaches with a bit of sugar and real vanilla bean packed into an all butter crust, topped with a flavorful streusel we make with organic brown sugar, organic rolled oats and browned butter. A staff favorite!
  • Fresh Fruit Tarts
    Fresh berries arranged over vanilla bean pastry cream and a crisp, buttery tart shell made with a hint of fresh citrus. This is what summer tastes like! Each tart is one serving.
  • Sweet Cream Biscuits
    We hand-mix these biscuits so they are moist and fluffy to hold a heap of delicious fruits. Perfect for farmer’s market days. Available individually or in a family six pack.
  • Key Lime Pie
    A creamy tangy filling made with real Key Lime juice and a bit of local sour cream in a graham crust. Try topping it with a bit of of sweetened whipped cream to really put it over the top. Available in small and large sizes.

Next week and Beyond:

Intro to Cornman Farms Tour

Enjoy a fascinating introduction to Cornman Farms’ rich history, agricultural projects and humane raising of animals. We’ll even throw in a taste of one of our seasonal vegetables! Wednesday, August 13, 6 pm.

reserve your seat here

Retro Cocktails Class at Cornman Farms

You can see it now: New York, Madison Avenue, the 1960′s. When a man was a guy, a woman was a doll, and everyone knew how to make a decent Manhattan. Delicious cocktails were a mainstay of mid-century entertaining, as seen on the AMC series, Mad Men. This class will focus on applying today’s standards for quality in cocktails to classics like the Old Fashioned, Tom Collins and Manhattan. Along the way, you’ll learn about garnishing and glassware to make your drink look as good as it tastes. There will be appetizers based on the creations of the 50′s and 60′s, but with a bit of farm fresh polish. This is a hands-on class, with lots of tasting opportunities! Prizes will be awarded to everyone who comes dressed in period attire!

reserve your seat here

Farm Feasts at Cornman Farms

You can see it all in your mind. The beautifully restored farmhouse and barn in the verdant setting of a traditional working farm. The classic cocktails and wine. The skilled chef and kitchen staff. The vibrant courses made from fresh produce picked mere hours earlier in the fields a few hundred feet away. Sound like a slice of heaven to you? You’re in luck. Zingerman’s Cornman Farms is celebrating our inaugural event season with a tantalizing schedule of farm dinners. As a guest at our farm dinners, you’ll have to opportunity to enjoy the farm’s produce as it comes into full ripe readiness throughout the summer and autumn. Each dinner will follow the cycle of the crop season, spotlighting the freshest farm ingredients in harvest at that time. If you want to an experience that truly represents the very essence of the “farm-to-table” ideal, these dinners are for you! More information here.

Don’t miss these very special dinners!

See you soon!

Featured, ZingLife

Chef Alex Hits the Road to Eliminate Childhood Hunger


Last week, Zingerman’s Roadhouse Executive Chef Alex Young took a mini-tour of Baltimore and Washington D.C. with an organization called Share Our Strength, a group dedicated to ending childhood hunger. We recently caught up with Alex for more details:

Tell us about your tour…
I toured Baltimore with the folks from Share Our Strength and eleven other chefs from around the country. They took us to these vast areas of the city where there are no food stores, there is no work, and there is no nothing. It is just unbelievable. But in Baltimore, they’ve created some really fantastic systems to get food to these kids. The Share Our Strength/No Kid Hungry organization has looked at each of these individual areas, each of these individual schools, and has come up with really creative solutions to get these people food. They’ve really done a lot of wonderful things. 

What can you tell us about Share Our Strength?
Share Our Strength was founded by Billy and Debbie Shore in 1984 in response to the famine in Ethiopia. Since that time, they’ve transitioned to spending more and more resources in this country. More recently their goal has been shifted to “ending childhood hunger by 2015.

There are a lot of kids pre-K thru 12 who are on free and reduced cost lunch programs at school who currently receive food, but there are lots of kids eligible for these programs who do not receive food. There are many reasons why a child eligible for these programs does not receive food, and much of it has to do with stigma and peer pressure. Variables like the school environment, how the food is delivered, how it’s made available, what time it’s made available, all of these things play into whether or not a child elects to receive food even if they are hungry.

In Michigan, for example, only about 53% of eligible kids actually receive lunches. And just 13% of those kids receive lunch or breakfast in the summertime. And you can bet if you are poor and live in a food desert in places like Detroit, or many other parts of our state, or even say an isolated trailer park or home in a rural areas of the state, you can’t get to the where the free and reduced food is being distributed and most of these kids sit there hungry all summer long.  They either live too far with no transportation, or the area isn’t safe…they just can’t get to the food. In these areas, there are no grocery stores within 2-3 miles of these people, which fits the definition of a food dessert. *

Michigan is truly in great need. Michigan is economically suffering, and the children are really the key to the future. If you start with kids and educate them, there is hope. And the reality is that for many of these kids, the only real square meal they get each day is the school lunch. And kids simply cannot learn if they’re hungry. There are many, many studies that show the negative effects of lack of nutrition on one’s ability to learn.

What did you learn in Baltimore that might help fix this?
In Baltimore, they figured out a way to get meals delivered to classrooms under the free and reduced cost meals program before the first bell goes off. The kids eat their breakfast, they clean up after themselves, and they go about their lessons, and they are so much more focused. Teachers love it. They are singing the praises of this program because the kids are not hungry and distracted; they’re more focused and they learn better. We spent all day [last] Monday in these areas of Baltimore and hearing from teachers and program administrators.

But that was just the first stop?
Right. So on Tuesday, we got a nice tour of the White House with Sam Kass, chef at the White House. In addition to his duties as chef, he’s Senior Policy Advisor for Nutrition Policy, and he also works very closely with the First Lady on her initiatives to end childhood hunger.

From the White House, we then went to Capitol Hill to meet with U.S. Senators, Representatives, and their staffs. We met with U.S. Sen. Debbie Stabenow’s staff, for example. All twelve chefs on the tour met with these folks to tell them about our tour. We all had bullet points to discuss why this issue is important, what we saw in Baltimore, and what we’d like them to do to help us. We know that many of these folks have [congressional] breaks coming up, and we lobbied them to come and visit some of these food desert sites with us. The Child Nutrition and WIC Reauthorization Act is also coming up for renewal next year. It’s very important that this act is reauthorized, and that we have enough people in congress on the right side of this issue.

We’re not asking for anything new, we’re just asking that we be more creative in getting these kids the food they need. All of these programs already exist; they’re already funded, they’re already paid for, they’re already available. What we need to do is push our elected officials, and folks the private sector, like us, in getting this done. In some instances, you have to get permission from one state department, and then permission from another department to do the very same thing. So, we’re just trying to get past these silly little political roadblocks and get this stuff done.

What’s next?
So, the next steps are to reconvene with Share Our Strength and coordinate our efforts. By many accounts, there will likely be a big turnover in the House of Representatives next year.  Many of the incumbents, such as U.S. Rep. John Dingell for example, have done a tremendous job on this issue in their careers. But he’s retiring, and we need to start working on this now, and hopefully, get it in front of the candidates before the election. It’s an opportunity for the public, with a little bit of information, to make better choices.

These are very important issues, in my opinion. The very basis of our communities is our children, so this has huge economic implications. We need to talk to the people who are running, and help them understand how they can do a better job on these issues. And we also need to enlist more private sector people, make them aware of these issues, and see what they can do to help. Share Our Strength currently doesn’t have many champions in Michigan, and that’s something that I’d like to change.

How would you sum up your tour?
It was very sobering, but it was also very inspiring.

I’m reminded of something that [Zingerman’s co-founder] Paul Saginaw said many years ago that really stuck with me: “All of our lives are diminished when a single kid goes to sleep hungry.”

It’s just a very basic need that we need to do something about…


*Note: According to the US Dept. of Agriculture, food deserts are defined as “…areas that have low levels of access to a grocery store or healthy, affordable food retail outlet…”

Further, “They qualify as ‘low-income communities’” and “They qualify as ‘low-access communities’” with a significant portion of the population living “…more than one mile from a supermarket or large grocery store…”



Z-Pic of the Week

July 25, 2014

Patio dining at Zingerman's Roadhouse

Patio dining at Zingerman’s Roadhouse

Featured, Food, Food Artisans

By Popular Demand: Another Tomato Dinner!

Second Cornman Farms Tomato Dinner at Zingerman’s Roadhouse!

tomatoes_basketYou asked for it! Due to overwhelming demand, we’re adding another Cornman Farms Tomato Dinner on Wednesday, August 27, at 7pm. Here’s your chance to relish the outstanding Cornman Farms succulent heirloom tomato varietals!

This dinner is easily the highlight of the harvest season, and our Cornman Farms Tomato Dinner showcases the best of the farm’s tomato crop. Chef Alex and the farmers have been caring for the tomatoes all through the spring and early summer, and now we get to benefit from their hard work. The tomato bar makes its return: numerous tomatoes varieties, handmade fresh mozzarella, really good olive oil, balsamic vinegar and fresh grown basil. You’ll want to fill your plate as many times as you can! Fresh Cornman Farms beef and pork round out this late summer feast, making it a meal to remember. Spaces for this dinner will likely go as fast as the first, so reserve your seat today!

reserve your seat here

See you soon!