Dining A La King: This years quest will search for salad?!
Posted: 03/04/2013 at 7:15 am
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This is a homemade salad with chicken, pecans, candied figs, carrots and mixed greens.
Truth Photo By Marshall V. King
Pad Thai salad is on the menu at Constant Spring, 219 S. Main St., Goshen. (Truth Photo By Marshall V. King)
The steak salad at Miles Lab, 3763 E. Jackson Blvd., Elkhart, harkens back to CaseyŪs in downtown Elkhart. (Truth Photo By Marshall V. King)
Will a tomato salad, such as the one shown here from AntonioŪs, count in Salad Quest? Only time will tell. (Truth Photo By Marshall V. King)
Dining A La King
Not in a get-me-a-defibrillator kind of way. But I never imagined that if I asked 200 people that the next quest ó the next search for the best of an Elkhart County restaurant dish ó would involve lettuce.
Welcome to Salad Quest. Iím going to be eating a lot of bunny food in the comings months.
In 2003, an editor suggested I search for the best pie in Elkhart County. More than 100 pieces of pie later, I picked the winner as lemon meringue at South Side Soda Shop.
Since then, usually once or twice a year, I do a search for the best of something you can eat.
Readers suggest places to find their favorites. I eat them. Others try them too. And after trying a bunch of them, I say which I think is best and readers vote for their favorites.
The reader vote didnít happen in all 10 previous quests. And this is really the first time I surveyed readers about what the quest should be.
In a blog post on Feb. 20, I suggested some options for the next quest and asked readers what theyíd suggest.
About 135 people responded. And though more than a few suggested biscuits and gravy, I just couldnít face plate after plate of that at this point.
On Thursday, Feb. 28, I posted a new survey on the blog with eight options. And I fully expected that readers would pick fried fish.
I was wrong. And Iím glad I was wrong.
Hereís how 202 people voted on the blog in just more than 24 hours:
1. Salad, 51 (25 percent)
2. Fried chicken, 39 (19 percent)
3. Fish, other than fried, 30 (15 percent)
4. Tenderloin sandwich, 26 (13 percent)
5. Lasagna, 15 (7 percent)
6. Pancakes, fried fish, tied at 14 (7 percent)
8. Omelets, 13 (6 percent)
My lovely wife, Bethany, has been suggesting Salad Quest for a number of years. Sheís seen me down pounds of pizza, burritos and steak for the sake of this job and thought that something healthy would be a good idea. I donít disagree with her. About that or a lot of other things.
Years ago, I was dismissive of salads. I was asked to bring them to potlucks. I think friends thought that was funny to ask me to bring bunny food. But itís how I learned to appreciate a good salad.
There are a zillion kinds of salad. I happen to like ham salad. Thatís what you get when you mince ham with mayonnaise and pickles to make a sandwich spread. But I donít think you can compare ham salad to lettuce salad. So ham, chicken and tuna salad wonít be part of this search. But the question that Iíll have to answer is whether tomato salad could be considered.
You donít need to be a chef to make a good salad.
You need some greens. Iím not a huge fan of iceberg because I donít think it has enough flavor.
You need something that adds some crunch. I like toasted nuts and carrots.
Fruit helps. The classic pear/nut/bleu cheese salad has appeared on menus in Elkhart. There are some good versions. Iím not crazy about craisins, but I donít pick them out.
Protein, such as fish, chicken or steak, works well on a salad. My mouth waters at the thought of the steak trimmings from Miles Lab going on a bed of greens with a good Italian vinaigrette.
Which brings me to the dressing. You can buy some decent dressings. But a well-made vinaigrette makes a salad sing. So does bleu cheese dressing.
So Iím on the hunt for the best salad. You tell me where your favorites are. Contact me at any of the ways below and Iíll put a form on the blog for people to make suggestions as well.
Iím looking forward to the quest. Iíll need your help.
As for that defibrillator, my heart will be a lot healthier not eating months worth of fried food. Salad Quest it is.
Iím hungry. Letís eat.
Marshall V. King is news/multimedia editor and food columns for The Elkhart Truth. You can reach him at email@example.com, 574-296-5805, on Twitter or Instagram @hungrymarshall and via the Dining A La King Facebook page.