In a city who’s food landscape at first glance mistakenly seems to be dictated by fast casual chains, it’s the experience of food created by Chef Kevin and Karen Shinn in their restaurants bread&cup and Piedmont Bistro that truly highlight and elevate the experience of local in Lincoln.
With Spring bringing the first weeks of farmer’s market season, in turn it also brings the anxiously awaited first Market Meal at the Shinn’s new spot Piedmont Bistro. If there were ever a reason to power through the work day, a menu crafted from ingredients sourced a day prior at the Old Cheney Road Farmer’s Market is my idea of Monday Motivation !
Seated at the community table in great company brought together for this inaugural event by the Shinns, the stage was set to see what made it’s way into the green wagon Sunday at market.
Beginning with drinks and the literal breaking of fresh bread baguettes with oil and vinegar, the experience began and it felt like home. As I’m working my way through Dan Barber’s The Third Plate this bread reminds me, as he touches on, that we must relearn how to eat wheat, and loaves like this handmade, fresh and warm make it easy. Conversations of weather, growing seasons and the markets affirm that the company this evening is all-in on food. It’s a wonderful thing when you talk so deeply about the food your indulging in with the Chef as well as those you’re sharing the meal with. Kevin is excited about the market fare and what he’s crafted to share with us. After perusing the menu it’s easy to see why and I’m stoked!
The first course after breaking bread and settling in is tempura asparagus paired with a rhubarb aioli. Lightly battered and quite frankly fresh and delicious it was the perfect starter to the meal.
Following the asparagus I was highly anticipating the soup course, and without fail it delivered! The cream of asparagus soup with roasted tips, apple chutney, and a touch smoky flavor thanks to a gouda hit the spot. The soup itself was creamy, smoky and savory, topped with the scrumptious chutney made with roasted apples not quite ripe for raw eating.
Everyone at the table was reeled in, absolutely indulged in the flavors highlighting the flourishing local food system we’re privileged to have. To touch on the conversation for a moment, this food system tapped to create this meal is rich, diverse, strong, but often overlooked. It’s excellent motivation to continue discussing how we can champion these producers as Kevin has done while enjoying the literal fruits of his labors.
As Chef began to bring out the main course it became a family style affair. This fresh spelt pasta with local suateéd asparagus, carrots, cilantro and green onion paired with housemade apple sausage creates a beautiful plate.
After running a marathon the previous morning this plate was a dream come true! The sausage was sweet with a hint of spice that blended well together with the fresh vegetables and cilantro tossed in the pasta.(Needless to say the offer of take home portion was gladly accepted). If there were a dish in the meal that highlights Piedmont’s tag of “Meat + Greens+Grains” this is it, and has it all! It truly highlights the diversity in the local food system here in Nebraska as well, with an ancient grain (not corn) delicious handmade sausage, and fresh herbs and vegetables.
Taking some time to pause before dessert, I dare say the meal could’ve ended here and left little to nothing to be desired. The market’s are back in full swing and Chef’s wheels are turning full strength, and we get to enjoy the spoils. With the promise of dessert coming to the table, spoiled was indeed the precise emotion felt as it was placed in front of me.
In all it’s glory, this slice of rhubarb & apple cobbler without certainty left nothing to be desired. The pictures above do no justice to the flavor and experience of this meal start to finish. So while it’s easy to fall into the fast-casual rut, that is actually the fad that will fail. The growing trend and movement of local food championed and highlighted impeccably by the Shinns is sure to never fall short.
It’s right under your nose if you look for it, and if you’d like a taste stop in. Do yourself a favor on a Monday night grab a seat at the market meal, and let them be your culinary guides to experience true farm to table food!