Here are some great new meal ideas you won’t want to pass up
Embraced for its eclectic range of dishes and outdoor seating overlooking the Fox River’s powerful beauty, it’s hard to believe that Water Street mainstay River Tyme Bistro only just opened last June. As the snow gives way to spring, it’s the perfect time to visit and try something new. Chef Grace Wenger says the Jamaican hand pies have been a hit since River Tyme opened and are worth a try. This pastry, filled with ground beef with potatoes, is paired with a carrot slaw and a mint dipping sauce. “We mix turmeric in the dough and it gives the hand pies that bright yellow color and gives off that mild orange and ginger fragrance when warm,” says Wenger, who describes the spice profile, a mixture of 12 Jamaican-inspired spices, as “warm, but not too hot.”
The COVID-19 pandemic means more and more people are staying home than ever, but that doesn’t mean they don’t want great food any less. From take-out to meal prep, local food businesses are finding new and creative ways to get restaurant-quality food to your door, with little to no contact required.
Family-style take-out has been a Fox Valley tradition since the start of COVID when restaurant dining rooms were closed throughout the state. Nowadays while restaurants allow limited occupancy seating, many are keeping quarantine for maximum safety. So, restaurants like Zuppas Café and Catering are keeping up the tradition with new meals every day ready for take and bake. “Everybody’s home, but people still wanted to purchase food because they don’t want to actually take the time to cook a big meal, but still want to have restaurant quality,” Zuppas owner Peter Kuenzi says.
Since last April, Zuppas in Neenah has offered a rotating menu of take-and-bake meals designed to serve two to four people. Each week, Zuppas announces the week’s dinner packages, and each day offers something new. Dishes like beef stroganoff, chicken marsala and haddock au gratin, among many others, have appeared on the Zuppas takeout menu.
Many others have found that being at home more often brings more opportunities for cooking. Usually a fun escape, lots of prep can quickly turn cooking from serene to stressful, but that’s where new meal kit company Relish and Roots comes in.
Founders Lyssa Schmidt and Rhonda Mesko explain that Relish and Roots subscribers mix and match five dishes from a menu which changes weekly. The Relish and Roots team does all the shopping from local grocers, all the measuring, chopping and slicing, and then delivers all the ingredients and recipes. “Because your prep is all done, everything is chopped, everything is portioned, you just follow a simple recipe that we provide that tells you how to put that meal together quickly for your family,” Mesko says.
Mesko sees Relish and Roots as a way of making cooking easier. “It’s for people who enjoy cooking, and this just gives you the opportunity to focus on putting the meal together rather than putting the time into peeling 15 carrots and dicing the onions. I like that hominess that you get when you are cooking and your house smells like the food.” In February, Mesko says Relish and Roots expanded its operations by offering select meal prep kits on EatStreet for delivery, and February 4 marked the start of beta tests for their Relish Ready meal plans, a subscription service for four weekly tested recipes with premade shopping lists, a pre-loaded Instacart, and prep guides to simplify the process for Relish and Roots subscribers who also want to do their own prep.