Henry Ford Museum

Henry ford logo

I was heading to the Henry Ford Museum strictly as a tourist until I chatted with Kate Lawson, Food Writer for The Detroit News. She suggested that I reach out to Jesse Eisenhuth, the Director of food and catering for the museum. When I got to the museum Jesse sat down and shared the vision he and Head Chef Mike Trombley have for the culinary program.

The museum is committed to its “Local Roots” program which has them working with neighboring Michigan farms and communities to procure their food products. Their commitment goes beyond just trying to find the best ingredients, they are dedicated to working locally to help support and stimulate the local economy. When I asked Jesse what “Local” meant to him he said they focus on purchasing products that are grown in their natural state, take chickens as an example, they only purchase free range chickens raised in the way that they were intended. You can look around the food venues and see local everywhere, they even moved to local coffee and bottled water.

This commitment to food has taken pre-packed and pre-made foods or “freezer pleasers” off of their menu and replaced them with food made from scratch as often as possible. The food has gone from canned and boxed foods to soups made from homemade stock and mac n’ cheese made with real Michigan milk and cheese. There are always healthier options offered but even the more caloric meals are still made with the best ingredients possible, while not making it necessarily healthy it definitely is a benefit to consume real cheese vs. a powdered cheese substitute.

Both Jesse and Chef Mike have their work cut out for them. They are providing food not only for the guests of the museum but they are also responsible for feeding high schoolers at the onsite college prep charter school the Henry Ford Academy as well as employees of the museum. They both believe that it is important to provide all on their grounds access to quality healthy food.

We hopped on a four wheeler to tour Greenfield Village, the 80 acres that are set behind the main museum. What started as Henry Ford’s personal collection has turned into a small town where you can step into the past and tour unique buildings like Thomas Edison’s Shop. The commitment to Local Roots and quality food continues on the streets of this village. Just outside of one of the high school buildings there is a herb garden that is harvested by volunteers for use in the food program at the museum, additionally there is a working farm in the village that produces even more food.

Jesse and I stepped into the Eagle Tavern, the actual original tavern from back in the 1800’s which was purchased by Ford, taken apart and rebuilt within the village.  The year was 1850, we were greeted by staff wearing period clothing and were presented with a menu filled with meals created with ingredients found in Michigan during that time. I am not one for LARP (Live Action Role Play) but this was done quite well, and let’s be honest I am a child of the 80’s, I have forever dreamed of taking a stroll through the small town of Walnut Grove, the location of the books and television show “Little House on the Prairie” as Laura Ingalls Wilder or “Half-Pint” as some of you know her. We sat down to a table lit with a candle and were handed an extensive menu. We dined on chicken corn chowder and pan seared trout, and finished our meal with a strawberry shortcake, it was all absolutely amazing! Perhaps this is why “Losing Weight Off the Interstate” has proven to be so difficult.

Jesse told me that The Eagle Tavern has consistently been chosen as one of the top restaurants in the area which is an even bigger feat when you realize that you must pay the entrance fee to the museum to dine there.

One of the most interesting things to me was that while the costs to prepare high quality food were higher than the other canned variety the museum was serving previously the costs weren’t necessarily passed on to the consumer. The price point for a warm lunch at the Michigan Cafe hovered right around $7.00, to me this was an incredible deal. Jesse indicated that they weren’t looking to make money off the food program, they wanted to keep the price points low enough that the visiting families could afford to eat onsite. Remembering a $25 meal the last time I ate a cold burger and fries at Disney World I was shocked, and pleased.

It is really refreshing to meet people who are really passionate about providing quality food and economic opportunity to their customers and community.

My wonderful tour guides Jesse & Chef Mike

My wonderful tour guides Jesse & Chef Mike

Henry Ford Local Roots

Henry Ford Michigan Cafe

CORNy Art

CORNy Art

Original building: Eagle Tavern

Original building: Eagle Tavern

Henry Ford Eagle Tavern

Onsite garden

Onsite garden

Five on Black, Missoula MT


Logo five on black small

I was famished, I had just finished the first leg of a hot road trip, TRX strength training and a new dance class; Oula.  My friend Erin took me to a restaurant called Five on Black (http://fiveonblack.com/) located in downtown Missoula.

What I found interesting about this restaurant was the owner, Tom Snyder had won the John Ruffatto Business Plan Competition at the University of Montana and was given money to aid in the opening of his concept.  He developed restaurant idea after a trip to Brazil in 2011 where he had fallen for their simple ingredients and amazing food.

It is a simple idea, you choose chicken, beef or veggies they put it over rice and beans or lettuce and then add your toppings.  Their website says “Five on Black takes a titillating taste of Brazil and mixes it with a scintillating slice of carnival.  All on a bed of rice and beans it’s happiness in a bowl. Just ask your mouth”

To be honest, as I was ordering my bowl I was pretty unexcited about my upcoming meal.  Little scoops of this and that, I wasn’t going to be satiated or full.  We sat outside and I started stirring my bowl in preparation, I took a bite and bam, I was hit with all sorts of flavors! All those little bits of this and that come together to make a great tasting meal!

My bowl looked something like this:

Step 1: Dish – Chicken lightly marinated with spices and oils and slow rotisserie cooked

Step 2: Base – Crisp Greens

Step 3: Side – ½ Coconut Roasted Sweet Potatoes/½ Steamed Collard Greens

Step 4: Sauce – Spicy Coconut Sauce

Step 5: Toppings – Chunky Tomato Vinaigrette

If you are looking for a healthy and delicious quick meal in Missoula don’t skip Five on Black, it is a sure bet!

Five on Black.  325 N. Higgins.  Missoula, MT.

Five-on-Black-Menu

Lucky Clover

Clover sign

This post takes us back ‘several’ years to when I was stumbling around the Gonzaga University neighborhood looking for a good house party.  This was not a difficult task.  One of the easiest and most convenient houses was the Hico House which acquired its name simply due to its location behind the Hico gas station.  I can’t say I spent much time here but enough to know what the place looked like, which was a dumpy college house that hosted one too many parties.

Fast forward to today.  I had heard that there was an amazing new restaurant in Spokane named Clover (http://cloverspokane.com) that was organic and using local ingredients as often as possible.  The other thing I heard was that it was located in the lovely and charming Hico House.  This I had to see!

We arrived for our dinner reservation and as I walked up to the restaurant I was already impressed with what had transpired.  This place had little resemblance to any place I had ever darkened the doorway of in college.  There was a festive outdoor seating area with both a fire pit and live music to enhance the dining experience.  I proceeded up the stairs and upon entering the restaurant I was mesmerized, this place was transformed, it was gorgeous!

We were seated outside next to a very large bachelorette party, which had the potential to completely ruin our evening, but before we could pass too many judgments our server, Brian Throop approached the table to welcome us and to tell us that the large party would not effect the kitchen’s ability to get our food to us.  With all of our worries tucked away we ordered cocktails and an appetizer and sat back to soak in the wonderful Spokane evening.

Towards the end of our dinner my new friend Brian and I were taking pictures together and I had coerced him into giving us a tour of the property.  We started in a small house on the back of the lot, where they prepared baked items, some gluten free, and all available for purchase to take home.   The bakery produces all the baked goods for Clover and will be also supporting several other upcoming restaurants by the Proprietors, Scott McCandless and Marta and Paul Harrington.

Our tour moved on to the main restaurant where I was able to see even more of the character and transformation.

When I asked Brian what he thought about Clover he said he was proud to work there, he didn’t have to sell it, it sold itself and when you believe in what you are doing it is effortless.  You could see the pride as he spoke of his experience as well as the management and ownership of Clover.

Beyond the wonderful ambiance and the extraordinary service I loved the quality of food.  Clover and Chef Scott Schultz pride themselves on offering its diners quality organic food.  They source locally when possible and get their beef and pork from Snake River Farms and their chicken and eggs from Hangman Valley Farms.  In addition to the produce they grown onsite in the greenhouse tucked out back they also procure from Otis Orchards, which is located just North of Spokane.

I shared a grass-fed organic steak with my friend and it was delicious.  The beef comes to Clover in primal cuts and they dry age them onsite for 14 days.  I asked Brian a little too late what would be the healthiest option from the menu and he indicated that they would be happy to alter anything to make it healthier and that he would have chosen the fresh halibut, made to order without breading and a fresh mango salsa.  After that description I almost wanted to order another meal!

I will definitely be putting Clover on my list of places to revisit in the Spokane area!  I love to see these amazing places popping up around Spokane, offering local and organic food and a quality dining experience.  You should however be prepared to pay a bit more than you would for a college kegger, oh and there are no red solo cups.

Clover is located at 913 East Sharp Avenue in Spokane, WA.  (509) 487.2937

Clover Bakery Montage

Clover Montage