We recently had the pleasure of attending the Black Truffle Dinner at the Lake Park Bistro in Milwaukee. The dinner is an annual tradition of theirs, made all the more special this year because the week after the dinner in Milwaukee, they were recreating the meal for the James Beard House. Even more special (for us, anyway), was that we went with our friends Andy and Caitlin. Food can only make a meal good, it is the company that makes it memorable. Andy had been invited to the dinner because he is the man behind Rush Creek Reserve, which was the centerpiece of the cheese course.
Now, a seven course meal (plus hors d’oeuvres) is a fairly decadent to begin with. Add to that black truffles with every course and you’ve got a meal that would make Beau Brummell blush. Plus, being sensible people of moderation, we took a trip to the Milwaukee Public Market for a couple dozen oysters before dinner.
Despite the pig pictured on the menu, we have it on good authority the truffles were found by dogs.
Continue reading Decadence of the (Mid)West
Leslie has been on a tagine cooking kick recently. Lots of meat, lots of vegetables, not so many carbs. It’s not really working for me though. Keith without carbs is not someone you want to know. At work yesterday the deprivation finally became too much and I was hit with a craving for bagels. Bad. But I couldn’t convince Leslie to go into Madison that night, so we had to make them ourselves. A quick search turned up a nice recipe on Serious Eats (originally from Jo Goldenberg’s by way of Bernard Clayton). We didn’t follow the recipe precisely (that’s not an option when Leslie is involved) but we stuck pretty closely. The biggest differences were that we used molasses instead of malt syrup to boil the bagels, and we boiled them a bit longer and baked a bit less then the recipe calls for. We gave them a minute and a half in the water and 20 minutes in the oven. Next time I would add 5 minutes to our bake time though, as the recipe suggests.
Continue reading Everything Bagel
Congratulations to these fine Wisconsin artisans and producers who are finalists for the Good Food Awards 2013. Wisconsin has been nominated in four categories out of nine. 9 total products. I know we’ll be having some or all of these products at our table during the holidays. Cheers!
Lakefront Brewery, My Turn:Luther & Wisconsinite
Underground Meats, Coppa & Goat Salami
Carr Valley Cheese Company,Cave Aged Marisa
Crave Brothers Farmstead Cheese, Petit Frere
CROPP Cooperative/Organic Valley, CROPP Blue
Uplands Cheese Company, Pleasant Ridge Reserve
Kickapoo Coffee, Organic Ethiopian Yirgacheffe Haru Cooperative
A special treat this week: our first book review. A friend recently lent me a copy of the book Employee of the Month and Other Big Deals by Mary Jo Pehl. You might recognize that name–we’ll come back to that. The book is a collection of essays drawn from some of the more embarassing moments from her life growing up and living in Minnesota, and then moving to New York City and beyond. Dating, jobs, political dynasties, USDA nutrition guidelines…it’s all there.
In some ways, the book reminded me of Michael Perry. Not so much in content or tone, but they both have a certain Midwestern eccentricity, a “Prairie Home Companion“-ness about them. The essays have a plainly evident truthfulness to them (working in both directions– just as she did not spare herself the embarassing details, she did not inflate the stories beyond reality into farce). What struck me about her writing style was the conciseness of it. Stories are trimmed right to the bone. It’s rather like if David Sedaris was the surrogate mother to Strunk & White‘s baby.
Continue reading Employee of the Month and Other Big Deals
April is National Grilled Cheese Month. What better way to celebrate than to attend the first ever Wisconsin Grilled Cheese Championship in Mineral Point on Saturday April 21st. I’m especially excited about the event because my friend Caitlin and I will be competing in the amateur classic category. I think we’ve got a pretty good shot at winning Pictured below is something I concocted for lunch (nothing at all like what we will be making at the event). That is a closely guarded secret!
Sourdough Bread, Brunkow Cheddar, & Abate Fetel Pear
Continue reading Two Words, Grilled Cheese
Care for a bowl of cheddar and fractal soup? No thanks? Just what is that strange, dinosaur-like item below? That my friends is a Romanesco broccoli. A gift from Jenny & Rink of Shooting Star Farm. Something between a standard broccoli and a cauliflower in flavor. The structure is described as fractal because it is built up of one shape that repeats over and over no matter the size. In this case it is self-similarity in spiral pyramid form. Like nature’s matryoshka doll I suppose.
Romanesco Brocolli, Brocoflower, Roman Cauliflower
Continue reading Brunkow Cheddar & Fractal Soup
Two weekends ago, we attended the Kickapoo Country Fair up in LaFarge, WI. It’s an event put on by Organic Valley to highlight local and organic food. We’d actually wanted to attend last year but had been busy. This year they invited us up to cover the event as jounalists–and I love it when people confuse us with the real media, so we just had to go. First impressions of LaFarge were…amazing. It’s a beautiful location. Definitely driftless, but quite different than our part of the state. I want to buy a little vintage British convertible to drive around those country roads on the weekend. The closest we’d been to LaFarge before was Viroqua. It just goes to show how much exploring we have left to do before we really know this area.
Continue reading Driftless Appetite at the Fair
Good morning sunshine! During this time of the year in particular, I start to get a little morning crazy. Just google “annoyingly perky” and you’ll get a picture of me grinning from ear to ear. I like to wake up early (earlier than the time my dog Ollie requires his morning belly rub), go for a jog, take pictures of dewy flowers, and most of all bake! Below is my first attempt at making buttermilk biscuits. They turned out nice and tender, a little moist, with a bit of flakiness. It’s amazing what a lot of butter and buttermilk can do.
Marr’s Bacon, Windy Ridge Eggs, & Hook’s Cheddar Cheese Sandwich
Continue reading Bacon, Egg, & Cheese on Buttermilk Biscuit
The final post in our ‘Cheese Tour’ series see Parts I, II, & III) takes us to L’Etoile in Madison for a memorable meal hosted by chef Tory Miller and with guest cheesemaker Brenda Jensen of Hidden Springs Creamery in Westby, WI. Tory is the finest chef in Wisconsin and Leslie and I both love L’Etoile (if we were in a slightly higher tax bracket, we would probably eat there constantly). Brenda is one of the most respected farmstead sheep’s milk cheesemakers around.
Continue reading Dinner at L’Etoile (Cheese Tour Part IV)