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 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(…)

Dream Dance chef wins pork recipe contest

Meat lovers crave thick and juicy steaks, right? Let’s say “part right,” because pork during the past two years has been the food-service industry’s fastest-growing protein. That means cutting-edge restaurant chefs are giving pork entrées more than a perfunctory nod on their menus. The Wisconsin Pork Producers Association helps this along with the annual Taste(…)

Wisconsin wines: Fast-growing industry ready for global exposure?

Seems like everybody makes predictions during this time of year. We assign odds to football championships and celebrity romances. We speculate which quirks and changes will turn into trends or cultural shifts. Those who guess right become experts and visionaries. Those who guess wrong risk their credibility. So it pays to have a clear crystal(…)

Germany at Christmas: marzipan, stollen, gingerbread go global

The world’s courts protect foods and beverages that are unique because of where they are produced. True Parmesan cheese comes from Parma, Italy. Champagne, a French product, is a specific type of sparkling wine. Sweet onions from only a precise part of Georgia can be branded Vidalia. In Germany, more than 100 items are deemed(…)

Soup to nuts: recipes to ward off autumn’s chill

Chilly outdoor temps motivate me to turn on the oven or experiment in the kitchen through other means. A spa’s new recipe book, an event’s contest results and a hotel’s bold challenge provide just what I need to proceed. — Sundara Inn and Spa, Wisconsin Dells, celebrates its 10th anniversary with publication of the cookbook(…)

Appleton T-Mac BBQ team wins big at American Royal

In the thick sea of luxury RVs, scrappy trailers, tent awnings and dwindling daylight, I found Tom McIntosh of Appleton. The flapping Green Bay Packer flag at his base camp was a dead giveaway on these 20 acres of concrete in Kansas City. Tom was here to cook this month but didn’t expect to smoke(…)

Farm-to-table work a natural fit at The Black Sheep, Whitewater

Tyler Sailsbery is plowing a career path based on solutions to his own frustrations. When it wasn’t easy for him to find appropriate student housing in Whitewater, he successfully established The award-winning 2010 class project continues as an online guide to off-campus housing in Whitewater and Madison. And when Tyler couldn’t find “food cooked(…)

Hidden Springs Creamery: top cheeses, remote B&B

Two batches of cheese per day, twice a week: That is Brenda Jensen’s work routine during this time of year, on a remote farm in southwest Wisconsin’s Driftless Area. The cheeses have earned her at least 50 awards, and that includes six ribbons from this month’s American Cheese Society competition. Wisconsin is home to hundreds(…)

Great places to eat along the Great River Road

The Great River Road, a National Scenic Byway that hugs the Mississippi River, is 75 years old. It’s a route of great rural flavors as well as beautiful scenery. The byway meanders through 10 states for almost 3,000 miles and includes about 250 miles in Wisconsin, where small towns and farms nourish visitors in sometimes(…)

Little Wisco spirit creates NYC restaurant empire

No U.S. metropolis is larger than New York City, a land of many choices, easy anonymity and ever-wary strangers. Around 4,200 restaurants help nourish the population of 8.2 million. Two miles south of Midtown skyscrapers and the commotion of Times Square is the West Village, where attitude and streetscape mutate quite a bit. Side streets(…)

Two new books pay homage to supper club sizzle

Unusual ingredients, recipes, meals and food traditions are at the core of what defines culture all around the globe. That includes what we take for granted about Wisconsin cooking and customs. Everybody eats, a lot of us enjoy talking about food and online sites such as hint at the passion we have to photograph(…)

Wollersheim’s first brandy sells out quickly

Grounds to Wollersheim Winery, across the Wisconsin River from Prairie du Sac, open at 8 a.m. April 13, and winemaker Philippe Coquard expects a crowd before doors open 90 minutes later. Making a debut that morning: 5,000 bottles of Coquard Brandy, an all-Wisconsin product, right down to the barrels of Wisconsin oak that the liquor(…)