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Iowa’s best Burger? at The Cider House in Fairfield?

That’s the word according to the beef producers, whose criteria appears to include using the most beef possible.

More below on burgers here there and everywhere in Iowa…

Iowa’s Best Burger is at The Cider House in Fairfield
AMES, IOWA – When we say this year’s winner of Iowa’s Best Burger award is using all beef in their 6-1/2-oz. hamburger patties, it’s not an oversimplification. The Cider House in Fairfield buys locally grown cattle, and uses all the meat cuts from them in the grind for their hamburger. So, where others might see chuck, rib, sirloin and round cuts from the beef animal, the owners of The Cider House see a very tasty hamburger.The Iowa Cattlemen’s Association and the Iowa Beef Industry Council announced the winner on Monday, May 4, during a live broadcast in Fairfield. The two organizations have teamed up to sponsor Iowa’s Best Burger contest six times. This year, Iowans submitted more than 4,000 votes nominating 286 restaurants in February and March. Those votes were used to select the Top Ten restaurants. The Top Ten were then independently visited and judged based on the hamburger’s taste, appearance, and proper serving temperature (160 degrees).

The judges found the beefy flavor at The Cider House to be the best. In fact, its hamburger is so good that it inspired one of the owners who was formerly a vegetarian to give meat another try.

The four owners of The Cider House – Clint Stephenson, Hopi James, Cole Fishback and Annalisa Thompson – first thought about their pub-styled restaurant as a way to showcase the hard apple cider they were producing. Many of those discussions occurred while grilling hamburgers at one of their homes.

It was Stephenson, the one-time vegetarian, who declared in 2013 that the group should open “a burger shack to showcase our cider!” By October 2014, they had completely gutted and renovated a former barbershop to make their dream come true.

Stephenson’s return to eating beef came when he returned to Fairfield and re-connected with his friend – and farmer – Tony Adrian. The two had known each other since fourth grade. Adrian convinced his friend to give the beef from his farm a try. “And it was really great,” Stephenson said.

The Cider House exclusively features the beef from Adrian Family Farms. The cattle are raised like so many others in Iowa: pasture-grazed and corn-finished, and cared for with compassion and treated humanely. The Adrians tell their beef story with 4×6-inch cards placed at the tables around the cozy restaurant which seats about 48 inside, and includes an outside patio.

“Tony pays attention to the whole growth cycle and you can tell that in the way the meat tastes,” Fischback said. Fishback has the main responsibility of grilling at the restaurant, with help from Skylar Messer. They use a flat top grill to quickly sear in the juices “because that’s where the flavor is.” The hamburgers they serve are designed to showcase the beefy flavor, so the toppings are simple and very Iowan.

They serve five different burgers, each for $12, and all come with a choice of home-made potato salad or triple cooked fries, and refrigerator pickles.

Stephenson notes that all four owners have traveled extensively, and those experiences make them especially grateful for the food resources they have in Iowa. “We’ve all traveled around the world, but it’s in Iowa you’ll find the best foods,” Stephenson said. “It’s an amazing state.”

Other restaurants that made the Top Ten with The Cider House are (alphabetically): Ankeny Diner, Ankeny; Big City Burgers & Greens, Des Moines; Down Right Delicious, Clarinda; Elm’s Club, Creston; First Street Grille, Keosauqua; Rides Bar & Grill, Fort Dodge; Saucy Focaccia, Cedar Rapids; The Ritz, Arnold’s Park; and Zombie Burger, Des Moines.

 

Previous winners in the contest are: 2014 – Brick City Grill, Ames; 2013—61 Chop House Grille in Mediapolis; 2012—Coon Bowl III in Coon Rapids; 2011—Rusty Duck in Dexter; and 2010—Sac County Cattle Company of Sac City.

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Good eats in New Britain, Fairfield, Monroe Connecticut

Fairfield beach with Myra

Fairfield beach with Myra

Work brought me to the central Connecticut city of New Britain but I arrived hungry and in a hurry after an early morning flight from Iowa. Looking for a place to grab a quick bite before a 2:30 pm meeting, I was prepared for something like Subway. Instead I got lucky and stumbled upon a terrific homey deli called Angelo’s where I had an excellent tuna sub, a safe and dull option given all the other good options (Stromboli sandwiches, loaves of bread slathered with pesto etc) but it did the trick.

In Monroe last night with BFF Myra and her lovely daughter Emma (shout out to Shane, are you reading?) We had a delicious meal on the patio of Tula...good sandwiches, pasta, salads, flat breads.) I had bucatini alla amitriana (sort of a red sauce version of carbonara with out the cream but with the bacon.)

The next night we picked up salads at Chefs Table in Fairfield and had primo seats, on the beach in Fairfield. Perfect night with old friends.

Beach picnic with Myra and David, Fairfield.

Beach picnic with Myra and David, Fairfield.

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Iowa State Fair: deep-fried cheese curds, carnies, funnel cakes

fair4photo(49)We took three visitors to the Iowa State Fair – two from Illinois, one from Israel – so we covered all the bases yesterday – six hours of wandering in and out of ag buildings, eating things we’d normally never eat, checking out the 99 county contestants in the Fair Queen Contest and watching an Iowa National Guard reserves band from Fairfield play that goofy gangham style song (“Do any of you speak Korean?” the lead singer asked before performing? After getting no response from the crowd, he said “Good” and started the song…)

Deep fried cheese curds anyone?

Deep fried cheese curds anyone?

Along the way, we tried deep-fried cheese curds (too salty and greasy for me); funnel cake topped with powered sugar (delicious but you paid for it later with a slightly queasy feeling); pork burgers (too dry); ice cream from the dairy barn and Bauder’s (delicious); lemonade (solid but overpriced.)

Illinois and Israel in the house!

Illinois and Israel in the house!

And we visited the usual suspects – the ag building to see the butter cow, butter Abe Lincoln, rose contest, produce contests, giant pumpkin; the animal barns to see the big boar and the big bull and all the hard-working farm kids; the sheep and horse barns; the varied industries building to see the winning cinnamon roll and winning ugliest cake; the culture building to see the winning photos. We also rode the sky glider, kicking our aching legs in the air high above the Grand Concourse. And we walked through the crowded midway past the carnival rides and games, bombarded by the squeals, screams, neon, flashing lights and tattoos.

Night on the Iowa State Fair Midway!

Night on the Iowa State Fair Midway!

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Filed under Agritourism, Des Moines, DESTINATIONS - Iowa