SIOUX CITY, Iowa (KCAU) – Blue Café is not your traditional dining establishment, in fact, the food is never the same every day. Although the dish may be similar, there might be a few more touches to the food on your next visit.
Blue Café owner Gia Emory said part of what makes her establishment unique is that there is no menu and she is always looking for ways to improve dishes, tweaking a little each time they are prepared. She said she cooks based on her feelings and includes a daily special. For “Dishing Siouxland,” Emory showcased their white barbecue pizza, penne pasta, apple chicken salad, and a small wine tasting platter.
The pizza is made with a thin crust fresh daily, homemade alfredo sauce also fresh daily, barbecue sauce, roasted garlic, onion, basil, spinach, roasted chicken and fresh vegetables of spring. Emory said the secret to her White Barbeque Pizza is how she cooks it.
Among the Blue Café’s daily specials, there will often be one of Emory’s penne pastas. Emory made penne pasta with olive oil, sun-dried tomatoes, roasted garlic, herbs, basil and onion, all lightly bathed in an alfredo of white wine. She described the flavor as robust with a slight kick from the herbs.
For a lighter lunch, Siouxlanders can enjoy Emory’s Apple Chicken Salad, made with white meat roast chicken, caramelized apples, lemon pepper, dill, mint, spinach, spring greens and a homemade cracker. Emory said the flavor might be reminiscent of apple pie over spring greens.
The Blue Café organizes wine tastings from time to time, which usually include a small dish to complement the taste of the wine. The salad dish described in the paragraph above would be accompanied by white wine and it is made with garden vegetables such as tomato slices, cucumber slices and roasted pepper. Emory typically adds lemon pepper, fresh ginger, olive oil, goat cheese, and oregano.
Emory described the flavor of the wine dish as Italian because of the oregano and ginger. She added that Blue Café used to hold wine tastings every week, but unspecified circumstances reduced the events to once a week. She said she hopes to bring them back to a weekly schedule as soon as possible.
Blue Café has been serving Siouxland for six years, but Emory has been serving Siouxland for much longer. Emory is the founder of the Sioux City Conservatory of Musicand she said part of what inspired her to start Blue Café was the children who hung around the Conservatory after school until the Conservatory closed at 9 p.m.
“They wanted to eat, so we actually had our little kitchen in the first building of our Conservatory and I cooked [the white alfredo pizza] for them, and I just thought, ‘Wow, I should probably expand that,'” Emory said, “The Blue Café is expanded now where we have a stage for little recitals. We’re going to open and have live music again and serve food that they liked, so that’s a good thing.
The Conservatory of Music is a non-profit organization, according to Emory, so she takes $5 from every meal purchased and donates it to the Conservatory’s outreach program called the Harmony Project“So you help me sponsor kids who need a place to go for inspiration and support.”
Emory added that part of the inspiration for the Café was his mother, who suffered from cancer and was fueled by food. Emory said caring for her mother taught her a lot about what foods are good for the body and what foods are bad for physical health.
“I learned that we’re supposed to eat almost a handful of parsley a day as humans,” Emory said, “Herbs have so much more [antioxidants] than vegetables, which is interesting. There are some things you can eat to help fight the breakdown of cancer cells and parsley was one of them.
Part of Blue Café’s health consideration is where each dish’s ingredients come from. Emory said she not only buys fresh produce every day, but even grows some of the ingredients she uses. She added that Blue Café is meant to be all-inclusive, so there are more than just vegan and vegetarian options.
“I’m really happy to be able to serve my customers who may have special needs with their palettes,” Emory said, “So if that’s the case, I can do it for them.”