Agriculture has long served as the defining business of Southern Idaho, but recent farming trends are reshaping how the area produces its food and what local foodies are seeing on their menus. Twin Falls hasn't eaten fresher and closer to the source in a long time.
You couldn't find a better example than Cloverleaf Creamery, a small farm in Buhl, only about 20 minutes outside Twin Falls. If you want to get a taste of the old days when men in trucks delivered milk straight from the cow to your doorstep, pick up some glass bottles of Cloverleaf's milk for the breakfast table at Local Dish Market and CafÃ© in Twin Falls (more on them later).
Cloverleaf's small footprint is somewhat reminiscent of how Gossner Foods got its start. Though the cheese maker in Heyburn is a large company now, its founder, Edward Gossner Sr., emigrated from Switzerland in the 1930s and built his Swiss cheese business from the ground up.
Kauffman Farm and Lava Lake
Specializing in grains, corn and pumpkins, Kauffman Farm takes great efforts to stay in contact with the community. While their food is available at local stores, they also invite locals to the farm to buy directly "“ don't pass up the opportunity to purchase some of their Hearty Barley soup mix.
Based near the southern edge of Sawtooth National Forest, Lava Lake ranch raises organic, grass-fed lamb. The company's staff, which is led by a biologist rather than a traditional farmer, consider themselves to be shepherds of the land as well as the flock. The organization is involved in land conservation and restoration efforts in Southern Idaho, believing that healthier grazing lands make for better lamb.
Not too far away in Hagerman, another group of biologists hope to restore natural order by raising sturgeon. Since the United States forbade the importation of Caspian caviar, demand for the delicacy has increased "“ leading scientists at University of Idaho's Aquaculture Research Department to study processes that would allow caviar to be farmed in Southern Idaho. Having worked with the university's team for a many years now, local business like Fish Breeders Inc. and Blind Canyon Aquaranch should start delivering ethically produced sturgeon caviar to the market very soon. For now though, sturgeon meat has already joined trout on local menus.
As diners grow to appreciate knowing where their food comes from, they're also looking to develop that same connection with locally owned eateries and groceries. The cozy new Local Dish Market and CafÃ© puts all the area's best gourmet ingredients from nearby farms and food producers "“ including cheeses, meats, veggies and baked goods "“ onto visitors' plates. Grab a Sloppy Brat at lunch to sample a little of everything Southern Idaho offers. The formidable sandwich includes a bratwurst served with melted cheese and cole slaw on a fresh-baked sourdough roll "“ all fresh from local sources.
More Local Farm to Table Restaurants
Local Dish joins a wave of independent eateries in Twin Falls that are adding a local touch to their menus.
Anchor Bistro, which offers an extensive list of all-American favorite entrees like burgers, steaks and salads, recently began sourcing some of its meats locally.
Ketchum restaurateur Tom Nickel's future new offering, the fine dining eatery Mesa, is set to open in 2011 on the Snake River Canyon near Twin Falls Center for the Arts, also heavily featuring locally produced ingredients.
And if you're looking for live music and craft beers, don't miss Von Scheidt Brewing Company in downtown Twin Falls. In addition to a small but inventive menu, the hip pub features a constant rotation of house beers, from its classic IPA to more experimental brews "“ just another form of the area's many inventive local flavors.
Read about more places to eat in Twin Falls, ID.