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room JUNE 2012 45The name Salt Fork Farms comes from a place in Illinois. "I farmed at two locations that were both along a tributary of the Vermillion River called the Salt Fork," Eric said. "The name and logo and business concept were all so fitting, that I kept the name when I moved back to Iowa."Having a few urban chickens years ago led to his choice of poultry farming.Today they raise 600 hens each year: Delawares, Speckled Sussex, Barred Plymouth Rocks and New Hampshire Reds. Eric is up at 5 a.m. every day to check on the baby chicks and then heads down the road to a neighbor's property where he milks their Jersey cow, Maple, and feeds the chickens. "It's peaceful but there's always a lot of work to do," he says of rural life. While most people come home to relax after a long day, it's just the opposite for the Menzels. "When I'm home, I'm working."They established a CSA - Community Supported Agriculture - that includes 40 members. "We do it a little different in that we offer members a line of credit that allows them to pick and choose produce throughout the growing season," Eric said. "It saves us from boxing up food and saves them from getting a box of kohlrabi" when they really prefer something else.Salt Fork Farms is starting a new venture this season: Pasture-raised turkeys."We are starting off with 75 turkeys that we will raise through the summer and fall and they'll be ready by Thanksgiving," Eric said. "They take a lot of care. It takes about three months before you can kind of relax." nFor more information about the Menzels' farm, go to http://saltforkfarms.com.

By STEPHANIE WISEPhotos BENJAMIN ROBERTSWant a taste of some of the best culinary creations the Iowa City area has to offer? This list has you covered. From delicious drinks to decadent dessert, we've concocted what might be considered the perfect Iowa City progressive dinner. Dig in.BlAckSTONE, 503 WESTBuRy DRIvE, IOWA cITyBlackStone owner Erik Shewmaker has said the thing about their mojitos is, once you taste one of their signature flavors, "a classic mojito just can't compare." Their pear mojito ($6) is no exception - made with Absolut Pears, Bacardi Limon and pineapple juice with fresh mint leaves and limes, it's a refreshing way to kick off a fabulous night on the town.DrinksGRAzE RESTAuRANT, 115 E. cOllEGE ST., IOWA cITyStart your meal off right with a platter of Graze's world-famous chicken lips ($1.89 each). Generous pieces of boneless chicken breast are hand-breaded, dipped in Hot Lip sauce and served with Budweiser blue cheese. Like the rest of owner Peter Harman's menu, they fit into his "sharing is caring" philosophy - "When the last bite is as good as the first, and the flavor changes with every bite, that's amazing food," Harman has said. "Appetizers give us the opportunity to do that."AppetizervESTA, 849 QuARRy ROAD, SuITE 100, cORAlvIllE Who says soup and salad have to be the most boring part of the meal? Vesta's variety of soups and salads won't leave you just wishing for the next course. Enjoy a cup of the creamy tomato bisque ($4) and chase it with a spinach salad ($7) with almonds, capicola, dried cherries, beer-battered onion rings and a Bing cherry vinaigrette.ATlAS, 127 IOWA AvE., IOWA cITyHope you've saved room for the main course, because Atlas' Iowa Pork Tenderloin ($19) is good to the last bite. Ancho chili-rubbed pork tenderloin is snuggled alongside crispy bacon and pepper jack potato fritters, sugar snap peas and sweet mango chutney. Mildly spicy and full of flavor, it's a dinner for kings and queens - or anyone craving a delicious entrée.cHEz GRAcE FRENcH RESTAuRANT, 89 SEcOND ST., cORAlvIllEThere's a lot of preparation that goes into the only dessert on Chef David Zaghloul's menu - crème brulee ($8). But it's worth it, he says, for the crowd-pleasing reactions he gets when any customer cracks the caramelized sugar top with a spoon. "I have tried different desserts, but every year it's the same thing - everyone likes the crème brulee," he said. In the summer, look for variations with fresh figs or Grand Marnier, but "the most popular is the pure vanilla," he said. n12345Soup & SaladMain CourseDessertDigin.cHIckEN lIPSSPINAcH SAlADIOWA PORk TENDERlOIN46 roomJUNE 2012