Midwest Living - - Contents - WRITER Han­nah Agran RECIPES Matt Steiger­wald and Maggie Har­ris PHO­TOG­RA­PHERS Adam Albright and Andy Lyons

PLATED Take a fresh look at ap­ples at an Iowa or­chard where the hard cider flows and a chef puts a global twist on au­tumn cook­ing.

Perched above an Iowa AP­PLE or­chard, Rapid Creek Cidery prom­ises farm­stead li­ba­tions and SEA­SONAL dishes that are as Amer­i­can as, well, you know—with a few GLOBAL twists.

A round 4:30 ev­ery af­ter­noon, chef Matt Steiger­wald steps out­side. A val­ley drapes be­fore him, fringed by oaks, striped with ap­ple trees and carved down the mid­dle by Rapid Creek, his restau­rant’s name­sake. Matt lis­tens for a pair of wood­peck­ers that have hung around since the or­chard was dap­pled in bloom. And he breathes.

“That’s not some­thing ev­ery chef gets,” he ex­plains. “So many kitchens that I have worked in have more ur­ban set­tings. Some don’t even have win­dows. Here, we are in this beau­ti­ful or­chard, and when I look up from my cut­ting board, I can see the pa­tio. The space, the out­doors … it’s just more calm­ing. We’re here to make peo­ple happy. And that all trans­lates to the plate.”

Matt has a long his­tory of mak­ing eastern Iowans happy. About 17 years ago, his Lin­coln Cafe brought fine din­ing to the town of Mount Ver­non. He earned three James Beard nom­i­na­tions there (and launched the ca­reers of sev­eral area chefs). When the cafe shut­tered in 2013, peo­ple missed driv­ing into the coun­try­side for a mem­o­rable meal. Matt worked next at a nearby co-op mar­ket, qui­etly plug­ging more deeply into the lo­cal agri­cul­tural scene. Then, in 2016, he re­ceived an of­fer to helm a new restau­rant at Wil­son’s Or­chard on the out­skirts of Iowa City. The chef agreed—as long as he could keep cook­ing cre­atively.

Katie Go­er­ing, whose par­ents own the or­chard, wanted noth­ing less. In fact, her dad al­ready had a few culi­nary pas­sion pro­jects. In ad­di­tion to sell­ing the usual pies and dough­nuts, Paul Rasch bot­tles top-qual­ity raw cider vine­gar. In 2015, he launched a knock­out line of hard cider. And he’s us­ing the nu­tri­ent-rich waste left af­ter press­ing ap­ples to feed a herd of sheep and his neigh­bor’s cat­tle. Katie wanted her baby, a new restau­rant called Rapid Creek Cidery, to show­case all of that. Housed in a mod­ern, cathe­dral-like barn, it ties Wil­son’s Or­chard and its prod­ucts to other Iowa farms, with a menu fea­tur­ing lo­cal veg­eta­bles, cheeses, meats and even tofu.

Chef Matt Steiger­wald, Rapid Creek Cidery

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