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
The Red Rooster is a little diner on the High Street in Mineral Point. Whenever I walk past it at night, the way it is lit up reminds me of my favorite painting, Nighthawks:
As much as it reminds me of the Hopper painting though, the Red Rooster is much more of a morning place. When we go there at 10 o’clock on a Saturday morning, they’ve already been open for 5 hours, serving coffee and hardy breakfast to farmers, milk truck drivers, and other early risers. We are practically their dinner crowd.
Continue reading Red Rooster Cafe
Sjolinds (pronounced “shoo-linds”) makes me think about the scrumptious cottage in the forest in Hansel & Gretel minus the evil witch and minus the forest. Sitting along Main St. in Mt. Horeb (known for their troll statues), it is a friendly and bright space. The best part of the chocolate house are the many drawers filled with chocolate bars! I remember going there for the first time a few years ago and opening every single one. There are the classic Toblerones, Milka, Kinder, as well as some of Sjolinds own brand. I was pleasantly surprised to see a single origin bar from Davao City in the Philippines. My grandparents in the Philippines actually have several cacao trees. Whenever the come to the states they smuggle in some chocolate tablets for the family. So you could say we have our own single origin brand as well.
Continue reading Sjolinds Chocolate House
How is it that something that isn’t even really a restaurant could be the best restaurant in Wisconsin? Well I don’t know how…but I think it just might be.
Continue reading They are making it hard to be unhappy
Hello all, let me tell you about our idea of a well spent Saturday in the Driftless Area. Our first ”must do” was a walk over to Cafe Ellie to get a cup of latte (a pumpkin spice one for me) made with Kickapoo coffee. Then we made quick stop at a Little Free Library to drop off a book then a walk up High St. toward the farmers’ market. At the market, we spent a good couple of hours chatting with friends and even meeting some new ones (Denise and her husband Doug of the Digging in the Driftless blog). Ollie dog was smothered with hugs and kisses from several little girls. He also made a couple of new furry friends (Ziggy and Emma).
Continue reading A Fine Day in the Driftless Area
Great news there is now a Japanese restaurant in Mineral Point. Hiroko and Chris Messer have recently opened Kusaka, meaning “under the sun”, named after Hiroko’s grandmother. The couple made a big move from Sendai, Japan (where an earthquake triggered tsunami caused much devastation last year) to Dodgeville. Now closer to Chris’ side of the family, they are slowly but surely adjusting to life in the states. The food industry is nothing new to Chris and Hiroko. Hiroko had been working in food even before the couple met. Teaching English as a Second Language brought Chris from Cuba City to Japan. Hiroko worked as a waitress in the same building where he taught. They met, fell in love, and eventually operated a hamburger joint; no doubt to share some American love to the Japanese. Now they are here sharing Hiroko’s Japanese home cooking.
Hiroko & Chris
Continue reading Kusaka: Under the Sun
Last weekend, our friend Savatore Di Scala invited us out to eat at Naples 15 (in Madison), his newly opened restaurant. We were not given any menus, Sal said it was going to be a surprise! We ordered a couple glasses of red wine (Cannonau from Sardinia and Sangiovese Grosso from Tuscany) and eagerly awaited the first dish. He presented a cold swordfish and Swiss chard salad. The truffle oil and vinegar dressing was assertive and went well with the fatty swordfish, the uncooked chard refreshing. What a bold start. Next was a colorful antipasto plate with olive oil marinated mushrooms, peppers with capers and black olives, balsamic glazed carrots, and a most excellent version of the eggplant and zucchini parmesan (with layers so thin that we couldn’t tell where the cheese, vegetable, or tomato sauce began). A mouth-watering sausage and mushroom pizza came next, generously topped with truffle oil. After that, the best tasting pasta we’ve had in quite awhile. Spaghetti with clams (a Neapolitan specialty), cherry tomatoes, lots of fried garlic (I counted about 8 or 9 cloves), extra virgin olive oil, and fresh parsley.
Continue reading Salvatore’s Naples 15
A couple of weekends ago, Keith and I went to the opening day of the Spring Green Farmer’s Market. The drive on Highway 23 never ceases to take my breath away, especially whenever we pass by Taliesin and the Wisconsin River. The market was bustling. We spotted our friend Rebecca Claypool of Yellow Barn Farm behind some crisp and colorful veggies. I was taken by the garlic scapes (so freshly picked that the sap was still oozing out of them) and a basketful of beautiful pink turnips which I first thought were radishes. You see, I have been trying to love the radish for awhile now and it hasn’t been working out. Thankfully, Rebecca had some samples because I apparently love turnips! To me, they tasted very close to jicama or singkamas which I ate growing up in the Philippines. We ended up buying some of the pink turnips, shallots, and some Romaine lettuce.
First Market Day in SG
Continue reading Good Morning Spring Green
On December 10th Arcadia (the new book store in Spring Green) hosted a special dinner with Isaac Spicer, the chef of Milkweed. Everything for the 5 course (+ an amuse-bouche) dinner was sourced locally, from within 30 miles of Spring Green (and local is not always an easy task in Wisconsin in December). After the starters (homemade breads with lots of whipped butter) there was a squash soup with micro-greens and pickled radish, followed by a roasted beet and Pleasant Ridge Reserve salad. The main course was Guinea Hog cooked with apple cider, served with wilted spinach and mashed potatoes+celeriac. Finally, for dessert, there was a a choux-style pastry filled with (lightly) carmelized apples and custard and served with more custard as well as raspberry and mint sauces. Given our previous experiences with Milkweed, we expected excellence and we were not disappointed. For me the highlight of the meal was the roasted beet salad, but the whole meal was top drawer.
Continue reading Milkweed @ Arcadia Dinner
I’ve been driving back and forth between Mineral Point and Minnesota a lot for work recently. I tend to leave in the middle of the night so I don’t see much going out, but I like to take the scenic route home. I ended up loving the drive along the Mississippi so much, Leslie and I repeated part of the drive over the weekend–along a stretch of the Great River Road between Prairie du Chien and LaCrosse. We were already fairly familar with the towns along the Mississippi from Prairie du Chien and on down. We have spent time in Marquette, McGregor, Guttenberg, Potosi, Dickeyville and Dubuque. And I’ve spent a fair amount of time further north along the Mississippi around Redwing, but we’d never driven the 50 miles from Prairie du Chien to LaCrosse.
Continue reading The Great River Road – Prairie du Chien to LaCrosse