August’s First Bite
Bloomington’s new cafe, a sushi teaching kitchen, and more.
Bread Winner — Road Trip
Tracy Gates, head baker at The Inkwell (105 N. College Ave., 812-822-2925) in downtown Bloomington, never intended to open a restaurant. She just wanted to make pop tarts. Among the toaster pastry’s early adapters, the former general manager of Scholars Inn Bakehouse and cofounder of UGo Bars (which she sold in 2016) had been tinkering with ways to mass-produce gourmet hand pies when an irresistible location on the town’s square became available. She opened the cafe in September and gradually rolled out a menu of coffees and butter-laden baked goods—including a jumbo, rainbow-sprinkled Nutella pop tart with a tender crust and rich hazelnut core. A breakfast-to-lunch menu came next, featuring a few salads and a knife-and-fork broken-yolk sandwich on a housemade English muffin that sells nearly as wildly as the sweets. Gates plans to eventually make one over-the-top sandwich daily, with some direction from one of her food muses, Craig Sanders of Wildwood Market. Expect something along the lines of Wildwood’s capicola on focaccia with blueberry mustard to make an appearance at The Inkwell. Just don’t get antsy about it. “I absolutely am not brilliant at baking,” says Gates. “I am very good at perfecting something.” — Julia Spalding
Pinch of Wisdom — Mark Henrichs, Chef/Owner of Revery
“Dust off that juicer. Vegetable juices and purées can replace butter and cream in soups and risotto, and they enhance rather than mask other ingredients. You won’t miss the richness, and you’ll love the depth of flavor they add.”
Discovery — Chop Shtick
Mori Willhite grew up prepping veggies and filling dumplings by the dozen for her Japanese mother in San Diego. Now, she shares her extensive knowledge of preparing sushi rice, rolling maki, and making authentic Japanese standards at Katsumi’s Teaching Kitchen (6446 W. Washington St., 317-431-4153), housed in a former deli on West Washington Street. Don’t expect to sit and watch. Willhite, who is as much comedian as culinary instructor, gets her students fully involved, from rinsing rice to cutting scallions to garnishing colorful onigiri, artful spheres of rice that are easy to replicate at home. And with so many tasty tidbits to snack on, as well as a magic finale of an ethereal cake steamed in a rice cooker, a class at Katsumi’s easily makes a meal. Choose “Intro to Sushi” for an overview of the basics, but come back for teriyaki or tempura classes that will be the inspiration for your next interactive, Asian-themed dinner party. — Terry Kirts