Fall is in the air. Cool breezes, colorful landscapes, and leaves crunching underfoot signal the end of summer. Just as the seasons change in the Tri States, so do our appetites.
Just walking into Pepper Sprout on Main Street is a treat. Multi-colored glass bottles and vases reflect a rainbow of color while the brick walls and tile ceiling take the diner back in time. Beautiful glass light fixtures at each booth add an intimacy for diners. Then there is the food!
Pepper Sprout owner/chef Kim Wolff has a long held commitment to using locally produced food in her recipes. Childhood memories of her grandparents’ gardens, kitchens overflowing with homemade goodness, and large family gatherings that always featured cooking inspired her. She continues to use local producers, Farmers’ Market, and some of Iowa’s best products. Christy’s Produce, Fincels, and Breitbach’s garden supply the restaurant during the growing season. She continues her family’s heritage by freezing and canning Iowa’s summer abundance as well.
Her signature Iowa grown bison tenderloin grilled with roasted garlic, bacon and bleu cheese served with chipotle, bourbon, brown sugar, and sweet potatoes is a crowd favorite. Perhaps the slow roasted veal osso buco with a pea and rosemary risotto finished with a tomato and red wine demi-glace is more to your liking.
In the Mill Work District Kevin Scharph launched Brazen Open Kitchen/Bar a year and half ago with a passionate commitment to using local ingredients. The more unique items such as mushrooms, chard, and collard greens must be local according to Scharph as the taste is superior. Stone Hollow and Tree of Life Farms are only two of his local suppliers. His beef comes from a processor in Tama, Iowa that only uses beef produced within 100 miles.
This year Brazen planted its own garden at Four Mounds under the direction of Paul Goldstein who also supplies the restaurant’s honey. The garden produced turnips, tomatoes, collard greens, beets, and other vegetables. To fully appreciate the deliciousness of quality ingredients, try Brazen’s Roasted Beet Salad: roast cleaned beets in 350-degree oven with olive oil, salt and pepper until tender. Blanch arugula and puree with yogurt. Place this mixture under the beets. Toss fresh arugula with salt and olive oil – place on beets. Top with almond brittle. Enjoy!
The Food Store on Iowa Street is owned by husband and wife team Maple Breitbach and Richard Estafen. They specialize in locally grown and organic food items. Their beef originates in Bellevue, their blueberries in Galena, their mushrooms from Stone Hollow Farm, and their vegetables from their family hoop greenhouse/garden.
Each weekday the Food Store features a special item. Tuesday is Indian Day, Wednesday is for burritos, Thursdays provides hungry patrons with falafel, and on Friday grass fed beef burgers are on the menu. One of the unique fruits they offer is the aronia berry. It is often referred to as a super fruit since according to Breitbach it contains 10x the anti-oxidants of other berries. In the fall, David’s special hot sauce is the item of choice for many customers.
Farm to community/table is a self-sustaining goal that Dubuque is working to meet. It is a work in progress but certainly has its benefits – taste being paramount!