Ari's Top 5

All that you touch you Change. All that you Change Changes you.
 The only lasting truth
 is Change. God 
Is Change. 
—Octavia Butler


Honor Juneteenth at the Roadhouse with guest speaker Stephen Satterfield

A look into an important, and little discussed, piece of American history


The late Grace Lee Boggs, the longtime Detroit-based activist, once said, “If you don’t deal seriously with your history, you have nothing.” I agree. Her words rang true for me on a personal level—until I went back and really examined my own background, I had a very hard time making peace with myself. And, I believe, Ms. Boggs is correct on a national level, too. Getting to a positive, shared vision of the future depends, in great part, on having a deep, shared vision of the past. (For more on this see Secret #8 in Building a Great Business.) Until we make a universal effort to truly understand what happened, it’s almost impossible to take ourselves, collectively, to the next level.

Juneteenth isn’t yet a national holiday. If my vote matters, I’ll offer that I believe it ought to be. It seems to be a hugely important piece of national history, and also a telling one at many levels, yet the reality is that only a small minority of Americans have even heard of it. It seems to be a hugely important piece of national history, and also a telling one at many levels. As P.R. Lockhart writes, “In many ways, Juneteenth represents how freedom and justice in the United States has always been delayed for black people.” Another time when enforcement took years to follow enactment.

What is Juneteenth? Literally, it’s the 19th of June. What’s the significance? It’s the day, in the spring of 1865, that enslaved people in Texas discovered what most of the rest of the country—including the rest of the Confederacy—had already known for a couple of years. That on January 1, 1863, President Abraham Lincoln’s Emancipation Proclamation had freed all previously enslaved people living in the United States. The news took nearly two and a half years to reach west to Texas. And then, on June 19th of 1865, at the order of Union General Granger, all previously enslaved people gained the freedom that had already been legally given by Lincoln 2 ½ years earlier.

How did that happen? Texas was the far southwest corner of what had been the Confederacy. In the last months of the Civil War, many slaveholders had literally walked their slaves from the east coast all the way to Texas in the hopes that the Union Army would never arrive. When they did, nearly thirty months later, the Army began to enforce (the actual enforcement, in some Texas counties, took another two or three years still) the Emancipation Proclamation.

The first Juneteenth was celebrated on June 19th, 1866. On June 19th, the Roadhouse will celebrate the 163rd Juneteenth by bringing in one of the country’s and culinary world’s most dynamic, insightful, and intelligent speakers to share thoughts with the community in Washtenaw County. Stephen Satterfield calls himself an “Origin Forager”—he’s a nationally-recognized author, a multimedia producer, and founder of Whetstone Magazine, the beautifully designed, well-written, marvelously myth-breaking journal with articles about old foodways, culinary cultures, and anthropology. Closer to home, Stephen has served as our wine consultant at the Roadhouse for the last few years. I met Stephen about 15 years ago—each time we see each other he impresses me anew with his intellectual insight, frank and caring thoughtfulness, and the power of his public speaking. As a friend, a food writer, a researcher, and a creator, he’s great to be around. Every time he walks into a room, the energy improves. As the Roadhouse’s Marcy Harris writes, “Stephen is that rare food expert who is able to use the themes of food and drink as an entry point into an exploration of the human condition.”

Seats are limited for the special Roadhouse “Evening Engagement,” so book soon. I guarantee you will leave thinking long and hard about what you’ve heard.

Book seats for this special dinner
Grand Reserve Costa Rica from Zingerman's Coffee Company in bag

Grand Reserve Costa Rica from Zingerman’s Coffee Company

Honey processing yields a wonderful cup

Costa Rica means “rich coast.” From the coffee standpoint, maybe they should have called it Taza Rica—or rich cup? All the green Costa Rica coffees we’ve been getting from Hacienda Miramonte have been great, and the Coffee Company crew’s roasting work brings out the best in each. The Coffee Company crew’s roasting work brings out the best in each. I can think of three or four that have been particularly special, but this new arrival takes the cake. Super smooth, full-bodied without being heavy, sweet and savory. Come by the Coffee Company and give it a try (I love it brewed in a syphon), or sip some at the Roadhouse, Roadshow, or Next Door Café (you can also order a bag of these special beans online!).

In 1719, Costa Rica was described by one of Spain’s colonial governors as “the poorest and most miserable Spanish colony in all America." Three hundred years later it’s a total turnaround—from a socio-economic standpoint, Costa Rica is probably the most “successful” of all the former Spanish colonies. Costa Rica became an independent republic in 1847. It eliminated its army in 1949—it’s at times referred to as the Switzerland of Central America. The country has committed to being carbon neutral by 2021. 

Steve Mangigian, managing partner at the Coffee Company, has been making the trip there regularly over the last five years to connect with Don Ricardo and Vivianna of Hacienda Miramonte, from whom we buy all our Costa Rican beans. He shared that: “Some roasters tout their model of ‘direct trade.’ We prefer the notion of ‘direct IMPACT’—making a difference beyond just trade! This Grand Reserve Costa Rica is a project we embarked on many years ago with the Hacienda Miramonte. One of the larger benefits is the trust it creates between the roaster and the producer. Producers are wary of embarking on long-term projects because they are afraid of being abandoned in the process to price-conscious roasters. The unfortunate reality is that one can never really understand the full potential of a coffee due to the risk of it not being purchased. At Zingerman’s Coffee Company we created an environment that allows this experimentation to take place—we made the commitment to buy from the Hacienda Miramonte over the long term. Which means we get to discover different ways of harvesting and processing each year.” 

The idea of the project is to work with the Hacienda Miramonte each year to bring forward something that’s super special from each year’s harvest. This year Steve and the ZCC crew decided to make the June 2019 Grand Reserve using a “honey process”—it’s a method in which the coffee cherry (fruit) is left intact (with the “bean” inside) and allowed to dry some in the sun. Steve shared, “The coffee has a very sweet taste with a lovely hint of acidity.  It’s medium bodied, with nice cocoa and fruit notes." It’s a bit sweet, exceptionally smooth, a hint of that “honey,” in a way like a really rich, hot cocoa, a bit of an undertone that reminds of a good Oloroso sherry. A peaceful and flavorfully progressive cup from one of Costa Rica’s most wonderful farms.

A honey of a coffee

Planeta Olive Oil from Sicily

A peppery green oil from Italy’s southernmost island


Last month I spent some time in Turin, in the Italian province of Piedmont, to learn about and look for great tasting traditional foods to bring back to the Zingerman’s Community of Businesses. My first visit was all the way back in 2004. I’d gone in order to attend the Salone del Gusto, Slow Food’s now bi-annual gathering of traditional food, food producers, and food lovers. On my list of products to explore when I returned was the singularly good, peppery olive oil from Sicily that was so terrifically tasty I couldn’t get it out of my mind for months. It took us about five years to get the Planeta oil here from Sicily, and it’s been a staple on our shelves ever since! One of the boldest oils in our selection, it remains one of my favorites 15 years later.

Although it's so green and bold that it seems like it could well come from another planet, the oil is actually named for the Planeta family who produce it. They farm in southwest Sicily, near the town of Menfi, and are probably better known internationally for their award-winning wines. The family has been farming the area for many generations. The olives are primarily a blend of the three main varieties of Sicily: Cerasuola, Biancolilla, and Nocellara de Belice. The Nocellara are the biggest portion of the blend, and also the biggest in flavor. There's a small bit of three other varietals in the mix: Giarraffa, Santagatese, and Ogliarola Messinese. All the olives are handpicked, usually a couple of weeks before others in the area are bringing their olives in—the extremely early harvest is a big factor in the boldness of the flavor, but keeps yields small. The oil is a certified DOP (a Protected Denomination of Origin), which means that it must pass rigorous testing before it can be bottled and sold. The color is bright green and so is the flavor with notable hints of fresh cut grass, green tomato, green peppercorn, maybe a hint of citrus. I love it on toast, beans, beef, or on a simple bowl of pasta topped with nothing more than salt, pepper, Planeta oil, and a bit of Parmigiano Reggiano cheese. 

Rocket on over to the Deli for a bottle of Planeta

Beautiful Bouquets of Broccolini at Miss Kim

A trio of terrific Korean dishes takes on this tasty spring vegetable


Among the many things for which Ji Hye and crew are winning kudos at Miss Kim is her work with vegetables. Each week it seems like we have more and more vegetarians coming in to eat! One of the things that’s caught my attention on the spring menus is this trio of great tasting preparations of spring broccolini!

  • Popcorn Broccolini: Lightly battered and fried bits of broccolini tossed in a sweet soy glaze and served with cucumber slices
  • Crisp Broccolini in Fish Caramel: Broccolini with housemade anchovy sauce caramel served with fried onions, almonds, and cilantro
  • Broccolini Twigim: Lightly battered and fried florets served with housemade Sriracha mayo and jalapeno vinaigrette

Broccolini first came on the market in the late ’90s. My friend Molly O’Neill announced its arrival in The New York Times: “A NEW sprout in the enchanted broccoli forest is causing semantic chaos in specialty produce markets and leaving adventuresome retailers and cooks searching for words.” Writing in Bon Apetit, Alex Durant said, “Broccolini is definitely cute. That’s not up for debate. It has little florets and leaves and comes packaged in adorable little bunches.” But still, where did it come from? The answer is . . . broccolini is a hybrid of old school broccoli with gai lan, aka, Chinese kale, or Chinese broccoli. It has the longer stems of the latter, and a good bit of the little flowers for which the former is rightly famous. Unlike regular broccoli, which is harvested but once a year, broccolini is clipped and brought in four or five times per season, which keeps its shoots and stalks more tender. 

But all that technical info aside, the main thing about broccolini is that it tastes great! And with Ji Hye’s deft culinary hand it goes from solidly good to seriously sublime. Come in and take a taste of any of the three!

Embrace broccolini at Miss Kim!
View of Red Barn and Tent from Cornman Farms' chef's garden

Celebrate the Arrival of Summer with a Stroll at Cornman Farms

A chance to see the farm on a late June evening


I meet many a man or woman who’s exceptionally curious about what goes on at Cornman Farms. They know there’s some hip happenings—but they’ve yet to be invited to a wedding there, and their organization hasn’t (yet) opted to host a picnic or learning activity out there. This “summer stroll” is a fun way to spend an evening on the farm. The early session on the 20th is already sold out, but there are still spots in the 8pm “seating” (or I guess I should say, “strolling”).

What will you do when you get there? Managing partners Kieron Hales and Tabitha Mason will be hosting a relaxing summer night of food, drinks, and games. You can see the historic 1834 farmhouse and the award-winning 1837 barn. It’s worth going just to see the lovely gardens that Stephen Lamberti has been skillfully growing—an incredible, beautifully-bent, living-willow arch that invites you in a series of raised beds of organic heirloom vegetables. Watch the sunset while playing a round of lawn games, or simply wander through the garden as you sip one of our farm-fresh cocktails. In addition to British fish and chips by Cornman Farms, local food truck partners will include Zingerman’s Roadhouse, Imperial Taco Truck, and Bigalora.

I encourage your to buy your tickets in advance (there are no seats to be sold at the door). $1 of every ticket will be donated to Food Gatherers! Each ticket includes a drink (alcoholic or non-alcoholic) and all the strolling you can stand. And we'll be making the farm fresh cocktail 24 Carrot Gold Punch, inspired by the Food Gatherers 'icon, the carrot! Other food and beverages are an additional cost to the $20 cover fee. And, just as an FYI, there’s no assigned seating for this event. 

Take a summer stroll at Cornman Farms
P.S. For years before the Emancipation Proclamation, escaped slaves sought to get to freedom on what came to be called the Underground Railroad into Canada. The house across the road from what is now Cornman Farms was very likely a stop on the escape route. Judge Samuel Dexter lived in what is now known as Gordon Hall, built in the early 1840s. He was an outspoken abolitionist. Samuel Dexter died on January 6th, 1863, 5 days after Lincoln announced the Emancipation Proclamation. When you stroll the beautiful grounds at Cornman on the evening after Juneteenth, take a moment and imagine what it would have been like to have been a slave in the South, traveling mostly at night, having made it all the way to Michigan (always at the risk of being arrested at any minute and forcibly returned), now crossing the farm a half mile west of Gordon Hall, where you could find a safe haven to spend a few days before traveling the last 55 miles to Canada.

In memoriam. Mrs. Leah Chase.

Last week, the food world lost a great woman: Leah Chase, who I had the honor and pleasure of meeting and eating with more than once at her classic New Orleans restaurant Dooky Chase. It was the first upscale restaurant in the city to serve African Americans. Author Jessica Harris said of Mrs. Chase: “She [was] of a generation of African-American women who set their faces against the wind without looking back.” Mrs. Chase was born Jan. 6th, 1923. Sixty years to the day after Judge Dexter died. She died on Sunday, June 2nd, at the age of 96. If you have a few minutes, read up online about Leah Chase. She was an inspiration to me and many others in so many ways.


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