Food/Drink

Hayward food diversity: Jimmie’s BBQ, farm-to-table cafe, excellent pie

When Dave Anderson opened a little barbecue shack in 1994 on Sawyer County’s Round Lake, the waterfront business gained a quick and strong following. In two decades, those efforts grew into a web of almost 200 down-home restaurants in 34 states, Puerto Rico and Canada. Now Famous Dave’s and the founding father are going through(…)

Rural chefs redefine country cooking, farm-to-table dining

Farmers used to pitch in as a neighborhood to rebuild a barn or harvest grain, one humid acre after another. Their end-of-day reward was a hearty spread of homemade pickles to pies, enough to feed a threshing crew, as my father used to say. That obsolete reference to the communal meals of threshing crews, whose(…)

Take Ten: Fun farmers markets in Wisconsin

When trees bud and bulbs blossom, the arrival of fresh asparagus and morels can’t be far behind. Hoop houses and greenhouses hike the likelihood that locally grown spinach, tomatoes and more will ripen all year, but now is the time for farmers markets to move outdoors, rain or shine. Count these among my favorites. Dane(…)

Kentucky bourbon trails big on distillery diversity

During a much younger life, I was introduced to horse race wagering, earthy bluegrass music and long-simmering stews called burgoo while living in western Kentucky. So when Wisconsin met Kentucky in the NCAA Final Four this spring, I could not resist the urge to place a bet on the outcome with former work colleagues Chuck(…)

National pie champs have rural roots

Twenty years ago, Caroline Imig’s world started crashing. Her husband was killed in a farm equipment accident, leaving her as a single mother with five children. She tried to sell 350 acres and a herd of 120 cows, only to have a land contract buyer abandon the property without her knowledge. “They left me in(…)

Food truck cuisine: sammies, pizza, ethnic specialties

Maybe we should count the return of food trucks and food carts right up there with robins as sure signs of spring. “Mobile food is not a new concept in the United States,” notes PasteMagazine.com. “From the chuck wagons of the Old West to the hot dog stands of New York City, quick, inexpensive food(…)

New in Wisconsin food: Got2HavPie, Sartori, Nueske’s products

Much of what happens during the annual Midwest Foodservice Expo is insider advice and networking for the hospitality industry and others whose work involves the preparation and delivery of good food. Vendors hawk food trucks to chef uniforms, digital advertising systems to slush machines. Also in the mix at this Wisconsin Restaurant Association event are(…)

Cooking with beer, brandy at Schlitz campus, Appleton brewery

Cooking with alcohol used to mean little beyond a splash of beer in a crock of cheese soup or tub of simmering brats. Now ales, stouts and spirits show up in almost all courses, if you know where to look. — The Brown Bottle, a tasting room and tavern for Milwaukee’s Schlitz Brewing Co. since(…)

Chicago Restaurant Week: From the Farmhouse and beyond

Downtown Chicago might seem about as far away as you can get from rural America, but think again. At Farmhouse Chicago restaurant, an antique tractor grill covers the hostess stand, steel pipes are stairway handrails and simple cotton kitchen towels are napkins. On display are collectible toy tractors, walls are whitewashed and accouterments include a(…)

Major Nuremberg brat exhibit opens in Germany

You say you love bratwurst? Germany’s Bavaria is centuries ahead of us in that regard, and now a new exhibit in Nuremberg’s local history museum is devoted to the sausage. The show about Nuremberg Rostbratwurst fills the first level of Stadtmuseum Fembohaus and is a first step toward deciding whether the city should open a(…)

Green Fountain B&B in Waupaca serves other meals, too

Booking a bed and breakfast at the Green Fountain Inn could mean lunch or dinner, too, if you time it right. Accommodations at the Waupaca B&B, a roomy Victorian-style house built in 1908, are more about comfort and affordability than excess and luxury. Room rates stay well under $100, which includes a continental breakfast with(…)

New Midwest cookbooks with wassail, apple, locavore recipes

With colder weather comes the inclination to cook more, if for no other reason than to add warmth to the kitchen. This new trio of cookbooks, each associated with a destination to visit, just might add ideas for holiday gift lists or inspiration to your own recipe repertoire. — Lake Superior Port Cities Inc. recently(…)

Food on the farm: Restaurant ingredients truly local

Lots of chefs develop farm-to-table menus to showcase local ingredients, but these restaurants go one step further. Each is on a Wisconsin farm and open all year. North Star Homestead Farms, 11077N Fullington Rd., Hayward: A trio of women – Ann Berlage with daughters Laura and Kara – operate a café, market and creamery on(…)

Fermentation Fest: making beer, kraut, yogurt, bread, art-farm bonds

What, besides corn and cows, might you find in farm fields near Reedsburg in October? A. A woodwind quintet and ballet dancers. B. A place to paint silage bags. C. Sock puppets pondering morals and logic. Hah! The correct answer is all of the above. When you talk about culture in this part of south(…)

Danish kringle bakeries: who makes the best, most?

In the world of pastry production, Danish kringle ranks among the most difficult and time-consuming of challenges. To do it right takes three days from start to finish. That’s because of the number of times dough is rolled, folded with butter and set aside to rest. “The best quality kringle require patience,” notes a Food(…)

Pizza farms: Drive in, dine out, stay til sunset

Pizza.com declares 93 percent of Americans ate pizza in the last month, and each of us averages 46 slices per year. Dustin Booth and Emily Fradenburgh are among a growing number of rural Wisconsinites who smelled opportunity because of conclusions like these. They live on Polk County farmland with a former sawmill that his parents(…)

New cooking contest for Native American cuisine

Wild rice and cranberry dishes show up on many restaurant menus, especially in autumn, but rare is the restaurant that regularly serves fry bread or venison in Wisconsin. I dine at many types of ethnic and specialty restaurants but have yet to see one devoted to Native American cuisine. Is this a gaping hole in(…)

June Dairy Month: a prime time to mark 4-H centennial

My first bank deposit was winnings from county fair entries in the 1960s. I was a kid who accumulated many more pink ribbons than blue, but that never – for long – dulled my enthusiasm to keep trying. As I recall, even a plate of pathetic brownies was worth a quarter in prize money back(…)

Chicago’s Eataly: easy immersion into all things Italian

On the last day of our first trip to Italy, in 2008, my priority was a two-hour bus ride from Milan to Turin and the birthplace of Slow Food International, whose worldwide efforts protect food heritage. That visit was a couple of weeks before the area’s Terra Madre and Salone del Gusto – the massive,(…)

Upper Mississippi jewels: good food, wine, retreats

I am always learning something new about roads that I’ve already traveled. Sometimes it’s just a matter of doing a little homework or sharing the miles with curious friends who are on the lookout for something new. Here are favorite discoveries from a recent road trip that looped the Upper Mississippi River for at least(…)

Maple sap tapping: open houses, recipes

The quaint notion of sap dripping from tree to bucket is a quickly fading snapshot for some maple syrup producers, and this is the time of year to better understand how the business is thriving and changing at some farms in Wisconsin. Drewry Farms in Sheboygan County produced about 2,700 gallons of sap from 4,500(…)

Milwaukee: new Blue Ribbon City emerging on Pabst campus

Two things make this Milwaukee brewery tour atypical: Your free pint is tapped before the sightseeing begins, and five minutes – tops – are spent talking about how beer is made. What visitors learn will pertain much more to advertising, architecture, relationships and rebirth than hops, lagers, filters and fermentation. The 90-minute tour at Best(…)

Whipping up lots of suds in Madison with craft beer

Nowhere in Wisconsin does the craft of contemporary brewing seem more contagious than Madison and Dane County. The area is filling growlers and opening new breweries at an appreciable rate. It’s not any one place’s level of production that raises eyebrows, but the proliferation of like-minded businesses, neighborhood brewpubs to production plants with ambitious goals.(…)

Mennonite Relief Sale: quilts, bakery, ‘Menno food’

Less than 200 miles separate Wisconsin from Bloomington, Ill., but what a potential difference in buffet lines: Red beet eggs. Ham loaf. Vareniky (stuffed dumplings). Turnip slaw. Suet pudding. Shoofly pie. This is “Menno food” and some of the recipes – like the suet pudding, palatable because of molasses or sorghum, plus whipped cream topping(…)