We braved the unfriendly skies to visit my family in Indiana over the holidays, and while we were there we had the opportunity to visit part of the Joseph Decuis empire of farm-to-table enterprises. Situated in the tiny and picturesque town of Roanoke, Indiana, the “Joseph Decuis Experience” includes a fine dining restaurant, a casual eatery and storefront, a picturesque farm and event venue, a farmstead bed-and-breakfast, and an inn located in town. Owners Pete and Alice Eshelman were at The Emporium when we stopped by for lunch, where I sampled the Southern Fried Chicken Salad and Harrison had one of their Wagyu beef burgers. The Eshelmans raise both Wagyu and Wagyu/Angus hybrids at their farm, using traditional Japanese husbandry methods. The resulting beef is highly marbled, with an excellent texture and flavor.
The Emporium also has a range of local products for sale, as well as a freezer full of Wagyu beef. I bought a package of the Wagyu bacon and cooked it up the next day. We all thought the flavor was great, sort of a savory blend of bacon and pastrami. The fat does not render in quite the same way as pork, but it does crisp up nicely.
After leaving the Emporium we headed to the Farmstead Inn, which is a restored 1884 farm house with a barn and carriage house. It’s quite lovely, and the barn is full of friendly animals, including one of the most impressive pigs I have encountered.
We then headed over to the farm and event center, which is a sprawling complex of barns, gardens, and a really impressive array of antique cars and farm equipment. There is an outdoor kitchen facility that looked like a lot of fun, equipped with both modern and antique cooking implements.
We also paid a visit to the draft horses:
When my brother Vince first told me about Joseph Decuis I knew that I had to check it out, as it exemplifies the kind of agri-business that I would love to see more of in Indiana. The key thing that sets Indiana apart from other states is its rich agricultural heritage (and its rich soil), and over the years there has been little effort from the state to capitalize on those assets in ways that could increase agri-tourism, rather than driving people away via the side effects of intensive farming methods. That apathy seems to be changing, and there are several farm-to-table restaurants of note that are located throughout the state. The new Indiana Grown initiative is also a big step in the right direction.
If you are in Northern Indiana you should really check out Joseph Decuis. I want to try the fine dining restaurant the next time I am in town (they are open in the evening, only), but the Emporium is a great place to get a sense of what they are doing and to sample some of their beef. Note that I was in no way compensated for this post, I was just eager to check it all out and I was fortunate in that I had the skilled tour-guidance of my brother and my cowgirl niece, Chloe.
Thanks for reading,