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I knew people were passionate about football, burgers and politics, but salad greens?
Last week's Dining A La King raised the question of where people could get salads with greens, not iceberg. I offered a few answers, but when the answers weren't good enough, I heard about it.
One reader asked if I was daft or if the Elkhart restaurants just hadn't kissed up enough. While I mentioned one, I didn't mention others. And apparently that upset more than just this guy.
Monday afternoon -- and I will point out that it was well after lunch -- a server from 523 Tap & Grill showed up in the lobby of The Truth offices bearing a bag with two salads -- Caesar and spinach. Neither had iceberg. Jeffrey Few, a regular customer and missionary on behalf of 523, sent them over to make sure I was aware that 523 served salads without iceberg.
Point taken. And the lunch with Few on Friday at 523 resulted in a spinach salad topped with a medium-rare New York strip steak. Salads are nearly always better when topped with well-prepared meat. Bunnies may be vegetarians, but I'm not, and flavorful protein on top of a salad takes it from bunny food to something fit for this King.
Where else? Downtown Elkhart restaurants are a veritable garden patch. Mad Anthony's uses romaine and other non-iceberg greens. So does The Vine. Tanya Bleiler, owner of The Daily Grind, e-mailed to say they've never used iceberg and use romaine. Spinach salads are also popular. At Stirred, the sushi/fine dining spot next door, they use an organic green blend for the salads.
Unique Blend and Adam's Bistro use green leaf lettuce and romaine lettuce. Adam's, at the corner of Beardsley and West in Elkhart, has a Brazilian salad with fresh fruit, nuts, dried cranberries and raspberry vinaigrette made from scratch. The Lion Iverson salad at both locations also uses romaine or green leaf lettuce and not the bagged stuff, according to Suzy Gushwa, who works at the two places.
Marilee Nixon, president of Dutch Maid Bakery at Linway Plaza, Goshen, e-mailed to say that they offer field greens and spinach. "I personally prefer interesting greens and that is the reason we serve them," she said.
One of my favorite salads at the moment is at Antonio's. The arugula salad is big enough for a crowd to share and has a sweet vinaigrette topping the slightly bitter greens, mushrooms and tomatoes. It's pretty amazing.
Customers sending food to promote their favorite restaurant isn't a common occurrence. "I'm proud of Elkhart. I'm proud of the fact that these two brothers invested half a million dollars in downtown Elkhart," Few said of George and Tony Anagnos's 523. "This is a little project and it's a big world. But without little projects there is no big world."
Few, whose company PolyDyn3 is a recreational vehicle supplier, said repeatedly, "I don't cook. And I love restaurants."
He weaves tales of eating with a former wife when she was restaurant critic and they operated "Southern California Guide" magazine. He once spent 41/2 weeks on a BMW motorcycle trip with a friend searching for the best sushi in Japan. Same thing searching for haggis in Ireland.
He loves pho, a Vietnamese soup, and liver and onions. There is no place to get the former in Elkhart County, and the good places to get the latter are Bulldog Crossing and Maplecrest Country Club, he said.
He used to live above, and practically at, Flytrap's. He's a steak guy. But he touts the salads.
Thanks to Few and others, I have a better sense of where to get a good one. I'm going to seek out the one he said Michael's at Cobblestone Crossing serves with mushrooms shaved over the spinach and topped with hot bacon dressing.
I'm not daft. Just hungry. Let's eat.
* "Diet" update: A few weeks ago I wrote about "eating clean." The week prior to that column, I was Mr. Clean. My diet had been scrubbed. Starting the day the column ran, I started eating more normally. Even throughout a month-long Boot Camp with trainer Lori Harris, I mostly avoided grains and dairy, but ate some of that as I continued to work out. My goal is to exercise so that I can eat more of what I want. But in just shy of four weeks, I lost 6.4 pounds and a chunk of body fat. On Saturday, I hope to be one of the crazy runners participating in Dances With Dirt in Hell, Mich. I still "owe" Harris three days of vegan and raw eating. I'll pay up eventually.
* Chalet Party Shoppe's annual charity event in July raised $5,000 each for Goshen Care at Home Hospice and the Middlebury Boys & Girls Club. The money is being presented to both programs. The C.R. 17 location is planning an Oktoberfest dinner on Wednesday. Tickets are $25. A beer tasting is planned for Sept. 18. Tickets/information: 296-9704.
* Culinary Treasures, 204 S. Main St., Middlebury, will celebrate fall with a new menu, including a sandwich called "The Apple" with apple-infused pork, grilled apple and a soft ciabatta roll, according to owner Tami Osborn. New desserts, flavored coffee and entrees are part of the new menu as well and the restaurant will have baked oatmeal to take home. The new items will be available during Middlebury's Fall Festival Sept. 18-19.
* This is "Going Local" week according to the Indiana State Department of Agriculture. The department is challenging people to eat at least one locally grown or produced food at each meal this week. For more information on eating local in Indiana, see www.goinglocal-info.com.
* Dairy Queen has an Oreo Cookie Jar Blizzard and a special offer to anyone who joins the Blizzard Fan Club at www.BlizzardFanClub.com.