Thanks everybody for all the PMs!
here's a summation of the trip:
Kim and I just returned from a marvelous roadtrip through parts of the country we had never seen before. In order to research my forthcoming book, "Slow Food in the Heartland: A Cook's Tour," we drove through Nebraska, The Dakotas, and Minnesota seeking stories of people who are living Slow Food's ideals (whether they are actual members of the Movement or not). This was the last leg of my 13 state tour finding subjects for the book. For my purposes, the "Heartland" is defined as the 13-state triangle that runs from Ohio to Oklahoma to North Dakota.
We found treasures along the way, met wonderful people, and truly had a delightful time. Kim says I have to keep it short, so here's an overview (if you want more, well, you'll have to buy the book).
In Nebraska, we had a great lunch at Maggie's Vegetarian Vittles, a tiny place that sells lots of local, organic food. Maggie is a Slow Food member. We met Ingrid Kirst, who runs a gardening program for immigrants and refugees called Community CROPS. Paul Rohrbaugh of the Nebraska Sustainable Agriculture Society introduced us to Doug Dittman at Branched Oak Farm where they raise grass-fed Angus beef and Jersey dairy cows.
Over yonder in Rapid City, SD, which we visited after touring the Badlands (everybody should do that at least once), we met Zita Kwartek, an organic farmer who raises vegetables for MJ Adams restaurant, The Corn Exchange. MJ is another Slow Food member.
From there, it was up through some of the prettiest grassland you can imagine, one of the last places in America to still have absolutely no cellular service, and then back east to Fargo, ND. Here we found, I swear to you, one of the best hotels I've ever had the pleasure to visit. You may not ever have a reason to go to Fargo, but the Hotel Donaldson is worth the drive all by itself. It's 100 years old, totally and completely remodeled, full of fantastic art, and has a great restaurant called HoDo. HoDo was started by Andrea Baumgartner (another Slow Food member) and is now quite ably run by Chef Eric Inscho.
A short drive from Fargo is the barely-on-the-map town of Ponsford, MN, home of the White Earth Land Recovery Project, brainchild of Winona LaDuke. WELRP is working to reclaim native land according to the original treaty that formed the White Earth Reservation, a vast majority of which has been usurped. Ms. LaDuke, besides running this massive project, running a store, a coffee roasterie, a horse farm, writing several books and occasionally running for Vice President of the United States (yep, Nader's running mate twice), is also a Terra Madre Delegate and winner of the 2003 Slow Food Award.
The we went to Duluth Minnesota, and were hosted by local Slow Food members Jim & Sharon Postance. We enjoyed a coffee "cupping" at the Red Mug, across the bridge in Superior, WI. We then went on to meet Steve Dahl, who makes his living fishing Lake Superior for herring and ciscoes in a 17-foot open boat. He introduced us to Russ Kendall's Smoked Fish in Knife River, where I tasted the most amazing sugared lake trout you can imagine.
Not finished yet, we drove down to the twin cities to visit our friend (and last year's Field to Family guest chef) Lucia Watson. Her legendary restaurant on 31st is about to expand to include a bakery, called simply "Go." Slow Food member? Yes.
We also had the pleasure of spending our afternoon with Lynn Rossetto Kasper, Host of Public Radio's "The Splendid Table" and another former F2F guest. The 3 of us enjoyed some tasty Thai food on University Avenue, then had coffee and great gelato at Cafe Crema. Yep, you guessed it, she's a Slow Food member too.
On the way home, one last stop in Strawberry Point, IA, for a visit with Kevin Powell. Kevin is one of the last growers of a very rare breed of hog called the Mulefoot. Wanna know more? You'll just have to buy the book.
As we left, Kevin told me he was joining Slow Food.
Why haven't you joined yet?