Just because it's a salad luncheon doesn't mean there's a lot of lettuce.
The families of St. Thomas the Apostle Catholic Church, 1331 N. Main St., Elkhart, filled tables Wednesday, April 30, with a variety of salads and hundreds of people paid $7 to get a taste. This year's event was the 44th annual.
The featured salad is a hot chicken salad made with chicken and mayonnaise, baked and topped with potato chips. It's more of a casserole, but is called a salad. So the church prepared 27 large pans for this year's luncheon, according to chairwoman Claire Hartman.
A few of the salads had lettuce. One yummy one was made with bok choy, sesame seeds and a sweet vinaigrette. The best salad I tasted had mint, peas and orzo (rice-shaped pasta) with a light dressing.
Jell-O figured into a number of salads. One of the tables had at least five lime Jell-O salads among the several dozen available.
I got to have lunch with Armando Paez, whom often waits on me at local restaurants, but this time we got to sit and talk. His lovely wife, Martha, as also there. The great part about meals like this are getting to spend time with some of the great people in our community.
Because the primary election is Tuesday, May 6, in Elkhart County, several candidates were there talking to those who came.
Hartman said last year's event served 554 people. She said this year's may have been a bit smaller, but she won't know until final numbers are counted.
• Cam Snyder has loved fresh seafood and worked to get more of it into his restaurants.
And now he's hoping to see more of it go home with his customers.
Snyder, owner of Flippin' Cow and Chubby Trout on the north side of Elkhart, was in Florida on a family vacation. "We were eating grouper as much as we could," he said. He found a source willing to ship to Elkhart via Detroit.
He put fresh grouper on the menu at Chubby Trout, 2730 Cassopolis St., on Friday and Saturday, April 25 and 26. The clean fresh taste of the firm fish came through in the grilled preparation, served with a mango salsa. A sandwich and dinner of grouper fried in an Oberon beer batter were also available.
"In Florida, it's everywhere," he said.
He's getting a list of what's available in season from the docks. He can order on a Wednesday and have the fish by Friday noon. And then he'll make available to customers who want to purchase it to cook at home. He was offering fresh black grouper for $22.99 a pound.
Scott Woods of Noa Noa Wood Grill & Sushi Bar, 310 Eastlake Drive, Warsaw, has done the same thing at his restaurant and has put in a case to display what's available on the menu and for purchase.
If you're interested in what's available and potentially order, Snyder said you an email him at firstname.lastname@example.org.
If you're at the restaurant, Snyder may well be working in the kitchen. He's been there more lately. "I love that part of it," he said.
When he first opened Chubby Trout, he helped create the menus. But lately he's been working four or five shifts a week in the Chubby kitchen as well as checking on Flippin' Cow.
He said it's tough to find good people in the current job market. "The culinary industry is starving for talented people in this area," he said.
• A great California winemaker is paying a visit to northern Indiana this week. Clay Mauritson of Mauritson Winery will be at Temper Grille (1213 E. University Drive, Granger) for a wine dinner at 6 p.m. Tuesday, May 6.
The Dining A La King tour group in 2013 visited the Mauritson winery in Dry Creek Valley in Healdsburg, Calif. Since that time, a few of us were part of a wine club and have gotten to taste a lot more of the excellent wines.
Chef Sean Kelley will pair foods with the wines. Here's the lineup:
Reception: 2012 Mauritson Sauvignon Blanc, Dry Creek paired with artisan cheeses and peach tartlets
First Course: 2012 Mauritson Chardonnay, Alexander Valley paired with poached pear and grilled watermelon salad
Second Course: 2011 Rockpile Syrah, Madrone Spring Vineyard paired with coffee-rub smoked chicken thighs
Third Course: 2012 Rockpile Zinfandel, Uncle's Block and 2012 Rockpile Zinfandel, Jack's Cabin paired with cioppino
Fourth Course: 2011 Rockpile Petite Sirah, Madrone Spring Vineyard paired with braised short rib tacos
Fifth Course: 2011 Rockpile Independence, Red Wine (Port) paired with caramelized figs and smoked blue cheese
The menu looks amazing, and I can vouch for the wine. I wish I could go, but as a journalist, I don't think I can leave Election Night behind to go to a wine dinner. If you get there, let me know how it was.
• In case you missed it, there's a bunch of food news on Flavor574.com. You can take in a great report from Taste of Michiana. There's a new outdoor dining guide that's available at a growing number of locations. There will be a digital magazine coming too. Between Monday columns, a lot of food news is going to that site, including a story last week on how Jet's Pizza plans to open a location at 153 C.R. 6, Elkhart, in the vacant strip plaza space next to Jimmy John's, by August, said spokesman Ted Strawbridge.
Reporter Jeff Parrott reported that carry-out/delivery-only store will be operated by franchisee Helena Monroe, of Kalamazoo, Mich.
Jet's is known for its square-shaped deep dish pizza, which is made with dough and sauce that's prepared fresh daily and never frozen, and cheese that is shredded at the store daily, he reported.
• One of the biggest dining holidays is coming up on Sunday, which is Mother's Day. A handful of restaurants have started getting the word out about their buffets. We'd like to put a guide together of where to eat on Sunday, May 11. Let me know if you know of one.
• The bus is slowly filling for the foodie tour of northern Michigan on Oct. 19-21. That's a Sunday through Tuesday that we'll be visiting restaurants, breweries and wineries around Traverse City, Mich. If you want to come along, call Edgerton's Travel Service, 574-294-3651.