Collaborative restaurant reviews to be created by food beat
To avoid restaurants knowing what we're up to, but still have fun as a community creating collaborative restaurant reviews, the food beat will be working together to go incognito, organizing visits to local restaurants. Beat members will take notes, compare ideas and opinions, and work together to create restaurant reviews to be published on The Rapidian. Of course, individuals can always create reviews and other articles on their own-but going as a group is a great way to work together to provide valuable information for our readers.
Interested in joining them? Join the Food Beat's Facebook page.
Don't have Facebook, or have other questions? Contact Holly, Rapidian managing editor and food beat member!
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Tuesday night, The Rapidian's own food beat reporters sat down next to local food truck The Silver Spork to talk about upcoming meetups and restaurant reviews. The beat's meetup included a discussion and informational review of both the ingredients and the ethics of a good review.
Owner Molly Clauhs generously offered to provide some samples during our meetup, and this provided a chance for the food beat to also learn about what goes into running a business like a food truck. Stealing away from the truck for a few minutes, Clauhs talked to the food beat not only about the ingredients in her dishes but the strong emphasis on where they came from. Visser Farms, Melody Bee Farms, Dancing Goat Creamery, S&S Lamb and many other local farmers and producers were listed off as she explained the plates we were trying.
"We try to avoid GMO corn. We don't avoid it totally, but we do our best," Clauhs explains when talking about the date sauce used in the lamb sandwich.
Another sandwich sampled, the lampredotto, is modeled after a traditional Italian street food.
"Lampredotto is an Italian barbecue with intestines. But ours is pork butt, cooked for about 14 hours with root vegetables and onions and cloves and spices," says Clauhs.
Food beat reporter Chris Freeman approves.
"I'm glad you chose the pork butt by the way," he says. "I'm sure intestines are great but.."
Having just learned that an important part of a thorough food review includes providing information about where to find a restaurant, we made sure to get that information as well. The Silver Spork is regularly at the Ada Farmers Market on Tuesdays and the Healthy Street Farmers Market at Saint Mary's Hospital on Thursdays. She's at the Fulton Street Farmers Market every other Friday and every Saturday.
For other appearances, Clauhs keeps her fans up to date on the Silver Spork's Facebook page.
"I'm all about the Facebook," says Clauhs.
Clauhs' business not only pays attention to where she gets her food and where it's being served, but also what she does with food that is unused.
"We make crostini with our leftover baguette; we make pita chips with our leftover pita…we have a full cycle. We waste nothing. Our kitchen's so small that waste is so rare. We do compost," explains Clauhs. "My mom has a cooking school, and she sends all her [compost] with her helper who owns chickens, and I wish I could do that. I don't have chickens, and nobody that works for me does…"
"But they've made it harder to have chickens in Grand Rapids now," notes new food beat reporter Melissa Williams-Freeman.
Distracted by the outdoor music in the background, Chris Freeman mistook one city ordinance discussion for another. "Are we talking about food trucks now?"
"I don't want to talk about it. I'm so tired of talking about it. You can quote me on that: Don't ask Molly any questions about [the city ordinance]," says Clauhs.
Little did we know, the city commission was voting on the very ordinance that Clauhs is tired of talking about.
Instead, we were enjoying the outdoors, sitting in the grass with live bluegrass music in the background, talking food with fellow food lovers and planning how to share our love of food with the rest of the Grand Rapids community. The food beat, like all beats on The Rapidian, is designed to support and create a community for reporters passionate about a specific topic. Others gather to discuss how to inform fellow residents about politics, music, art... the food beat talks about and then writes about the local food culture. And eats the results along the way.
Disclosure: Several selections from the menu were generously provided by The Silver Spork to our food beat members.
the red penner, ink slinger, storyteller, page changer. when not working as the managing editor at The Rapidian, holly is typically found scribbling in her journal, playing in her studio, getting muddy in the garden, or experimenting in the kitchen. she has a not-so-tiny boy for a son and a very patient man for a husband.