Tag Archives: Salt of the Earth

Pig. Farmer. Chef. Guest.

We were all there in the kitchen at the same time.

Salt of the Earth restaurant

Chef Matthew demonstrates how to butcher a pig as farmer Darrell and a class attendee observe.

I recently had the opportunity to learn more about butchering. And what could be a better place than one of Bill’s and my favorite local restaurants?

Salt of the Earth, in Fennville, Michigan, offers cooking classes throughout the year. What I liked about “The Whole Hog: Butchering 101” was how it brings me (Guest) closer to the animal (Pig) through the direction of the butcher (Chef Matthew Pietsch). And Darrell (Farmer) is a critical part of the experience, too.

The Berkshire hogs came from local farmers Darrell and Conni at Coach Stop Farm. So while Chef Matthew explained the various cuts of the animal and how to “break down a hog,” Darrell talked about the breed and how his happy, pastured pigs differ from those confined in factory farms.

Bill and I already buy only happy meat from local farmers but I enjoyed the discussion during the demonstration that night, along with the wine….and did I mention dinner followed? Pork, of course! Thank you, Salt of the Earth, for providing this educational venue to help us all–pig, farmer, chef, guest–develop more understand about how we are all so connected and dependent upon each other.

This slideshow requires JavaScript.

The only question I forgot to ask is: What is the photo of Christopher Walken doing on the walk-in door?

P.S. – Check out this post over on EatGR.com, which included Life Is Fare in its Monday Mingle (Blogger Link Up) on July 14, 2014.



What to Do with Rhubarb?

As I mentioned earlier this week, the Holland Farmers’ Market is open! Every Saturday from May through September, area chefs are demonstrating how to use fresh, seasonal, and locally grown ingredients in the Chef Series at 10:00 a.m. This is a unique feature for a farmers’ market and a great way to learn some basic cooking techniques, get adventurous with produce you don’t usually prepare, and find new recipes.

This morning it was standing room only when Jesse Hahn from Salt of the Earth demonstrated three recipes for rhubarb: Rhubarb Martini, Pickled Rhubarb, and Rhubarb Sorbet.

Below are the video clips from the event. Listen for references to many of our local farmers and businesses from which Jesse procures his ingredients: Visser Farms for rhubarb, Mud Lake Farm for watercress, and New Holland Brewery for the gin. This is what buying locally–and eating locally–is all about.

The Restaurant Dilemma: When Grilled Hanger Steak Rears Its Head


Everyone’s talking about Salt of the Earth in Fennville, Michigan, where The Journeyman used to be. So tonight I went for dinner with Bill to try it out.

My review is mixed. I’m not here to judge the place like a restaurant reviewer would. I’ll leave that up to the pros. Instead, I focused only on the food.

Again, it’s the dilemma of eating out. Peruse the menu and you’ll notice lots of meat but minimal descriptions indicating its origin or whether it was grassfed. So I asked our server for more details and was told that the restaurant procures local “natural” meats, meaning no antibiotics or hormones. That’s not bad, but I’d sure love to see grassfed options.

You might ask, “Why don’t you have one of their vegetarian or fish dishes?”, which is what I usually do when I go out because it’s rare to find grassfed meat on a menu in West Michigan. In this case, the veggie dishes were either cheese-heavy or mushroom-heavy. I just can’t eat a ton of cheese, like what’s in their Three Cheese Cavatappi pasta. As for mushrooms, please read The Year of Food, which explains my somewhat persnickety palate. There was a salmon steak on the menu but it had bacon in it (grassfed, I doubt).

I began to lean toward the meat, ironically, because of the side dishes: root vegetables with the Braised Pork Shoulder or oven roasted shallot brown butter potato puree with the Grilled Hanger Steak. The Wood Fired All Natural Chicken was another option I toiled over.

In the end, I went for the Grilled Hanger Steak and Bill got the Braised Pork Shoulder.

Grilled Hanger Steak and Seasonal Vegetables

Grilled Hanger Steak and Seasonal Vegetables

Braised Pork Shoulder

Braised Pork Shoulder

The produce, I was told, is from local farmers, including Eaters’ Guild. Since you get to choose a side dish with your meal, we got the Fried Brussel Sprouts (also with bacon, according to the menu but not visible in the dish) and Seasonal Vegetables. I have to say the Fried Brussel Sprouts were the best thing we ordered.

So here’s my synopsis: Salt of the Earth is definitely a decent restaurant with a nice variety of options on the menu. I was swayed to eat “natural” beef, which still means from the feedlot, which goes against my principles. See how hard this is? My hope is that restaurants everywhere, including Salt of the Earth, start seeing the value of grassfed meats, eggs, and dairy products and then proudly display this information on their menus.