Have a recommendation? We'd LOVE to hear it!
Salutations Readers!

Kalamazoo has good food.
Great food, in fact. We have made it our mission to check out all the local eateries one at a time - and more for our own poor memories than any other reason, we'll be chronicling our adventures in food here. And some places float our boats way more than others, which is why we have developed the very scientific
five golden forks rating scale. Ok. It is not scientific at all. It is actually quite unscientific. But, it is something. And now, you can search all of our reviews by the forks rating. YAY!

But, wait! There's more!
Kalamazoo Foodies no longer just eat at restaurants then review them. There are recipes posted, some easy, some less easy, all delicious. There are, or will be, book reviews, the new
Foodie Movie Review-y which will focus on movies about food or ones that have a lot of beautiful food in them. There are other food musings, and hopefully soon contests and so much more. But, Foodie Friends, it is all about food. Because we love it!
And, we want to hear from you!

We want to hear your comments on our recipes and reviews. We want to know where you love to eat. And, we are looking for GUEST bloggers to broaden our horizons a bit. And, if you haven't found us on Facebook, you should do that too. Like our page for other fun Foodies stuff like photos, polls, and more.

SO KALAMAZOO PATRONS - where do YOU love to eat? Because we'd love to check it out and share our thoughts here. Give us a comment below, and quickly! Our tummies are grumbling in anticipation.

A Note from the Foodies about our typical fair:
So, you may notice as you read our blog that we often order the same thing wherever we go. OK, maybe not quite, but we do often order similar things. Kristin has her caprese salads and mushroom dishes. Kate has her baked goat cheese and things with tofu. Well, readers, we wanted to let you know that this is absolutely intentional. A) We love those things, so why not order what you love? And, B) It is a lot easier to compare apples to apples than it is to compare apples to comquats. So, we like to order similar things to have a good sense of how to compare them. Just wanted to let you in on that little secret. Bon appetit!

Saturday, December 10, 2011

Salt of the Earth (Fennville, MI)

Kate: Wood Oven Triple Cream Cheddar, Aged Cheddar Pierogies, Chicken Bolognese with Fried Brussels, and Wood Fired Toasted S'more

Paul and I just celebrated our first wedding anniversary. Hard to believe it has been a year already. And, we decided we needed to treat ourselves to a special night out. So, we fretted for a few days on where we would go for this special night. And, at the last minute, we landed on Salt of the Earth in Fennville, MI. We have been wanting to try this place for months. We had heard from some friends that it was incredible, AND, it was featured on the Food Network (I can't recall which show) which intrigued us even more.

So, we got dressed up (and were kind of overdressed, we realized) and hit the road for the 50ish minute drive to Fennville.

QUICK NOTE: I do not have any photos from this meal. I am very sorry. Since it was a special night for us, I did not want to interrupt it with photo taking. Plus, I think it drives Paul crazy when I take photos of food in the restaurants. So, you will have to use your imagination. Sorry!

Fennville is a small Michigan town. And, Paul and I were both surprised to learn that this eatery had opened there. In all fairness, we don't know a whole lot about Fennville, other than what we have learned driving through on our way to Saugatuck. The downtown area is charming. It was all decorated for the holidays when we were there this weekend. And, Salt of the Earth is nestled in the heart of downtown.

We entered the waiting and counter area (it is a bakery as well, and they sell bread from the front of the restaurant) and were seated right away. We arrived around 7 pm on a Saturday. And, it was just in time.

The decor is rustic. Beautiful exposed brick walls. Simple, Americana type artwork sparingly spaced throughout the space. And, a warm cozy feeling inside. The playlist has a rotation of mostly Michigan musicians with great sounds, including one of our favorites, The Ragbirds! The serving staff dresses casually in jeans and flannel shirts. Which actually mirrors what a lot of the diners were wearing. Again, we were a bit overdressed in this scenario.

As you can see by our menu above. We went all out. Two appetizers. Entrees. And, dessert. And, honestly, I was full, comfortably full, not food baby full. The portions are generous but not huge, other than the dessert, which was gigantic and took us TWO sittings to eat.

So, the meal...

The appetizers arrived at our table, and my first bite of triple cream cheddar was like a dream. The cheddar is melted over a piece of housemade sourdough bread and served with apple pieces and caramelized onions. The cheddar was probably the best I have ever had. It was perfectly complex and still creamy and light. This was a perfect starter.

We also had the pierogies. Which were also amazing. I preferred the other starter over this one a bit, while Paul was smitten with the pierogies. They were filled with potato and aged cheddar (but not an overwhelming amount to make it seem like we were about to cheddar ourselves out!). Served with sour cream, scallions, and buttered cabbage. Actually, I thought there was a bit too much sour cream. It really overwhelmed my first bite of this dish. The cabbage was wonderful. And, once I was able to spread out the sour cream, I was really pleased with this dish.

And, then came our entrees. Paul ordered the Grilled Hanger Steak, so sadly, I didn't get to sample his dish. But, that was alright, because my dish was really pretty incredible. My dish had homemade pappardelle pasta with free-range chicken, house bacon, local pork shoulder, fresh tomato, basil, and romano cheese. The smokey flavor made this dish a bit richer than I was expecting, but not in a bad way at all. The noodles were cooked to the perfect texture. And, the basil was hidden throughout and provided a nice surprise when found in a bite. Again, the meat was rich and smokey and made this a delectable treat. Though I would like to try something else on their menu on the next visit, I would absolutely order this again!

But, the star of the entree was the side. The fried brussels. Um. Oh my gosh! This was, I think, one of the best things I have ever eaten. Fried brussels sprouts with house bacon and balsamic. This dish was perfection. Every bite was incredible. Even those that don't like brussels sprouts (our server included) will fall for this dish. It is their house specialty, and you can easily see why. The sweet sharpness of the balsamic pairs with the bitterness of the sprouts, and the bacon is just hidden in, hardly detected. But, you know it is important in this dish. I really could have ordered three dishes of these, and just eaten those for dinner. They were absolutely incredible. The fried brussels were the star of this meal! No doubt!

And them came dessert. Holy cow! What a dessert. Also their specialty, the Wood Fired Toasted S'mores are a masterpiece. The base of the dessert is a graham cracker crumb cake that, on its own, would be incredible. Serve that with milk chocolate pudding, salted caramel sauce, and a giant housemade marshmallow, and you have perfection. Every bite was a little different as you found different layers of the dessert, and every bite made you want to go back for more. We really had to force ourselves to stop, because we didn't want to be uncomfortable on our drive home. So, we have our server pack it up to go. And, actually, thought it was even better the next day, re-heated in the microwave. Really!

Our server, Janet, was super friendly. Super helpful. And, really made this experience incredibly memorable. She made fantastic recommendations, and even put a candle in our dessert and wished us a 'happy anniversary' when she brought it to our table!

I don't think either of us are kidding when we say this might be the single best restaurant meal and experience we've ever had. And, honestly, for the price tag (which wasn't that bad, especially for a special occasion) it could not have been more worth it.

Stop what you are doing now, and go to Salt of the Earth. You will thank me!


This one is OFF the FORKS CHARTS!

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