Dining

Say ‘cheese’ when holiday entertaining

Written by Michael Muckian,
Contributing writer
Thursday, 11 December 2014 12:57

In Wisconsin, cheese isn’t merely a food — it’s part of the lifestyle. As such, a well-considered cheese platter should be a staple of your holiday entertaining.

California may produce more milk than America’s Dairyland, but Wisconsin still outpaces it in cheese production. In 2013, Wisconsin produced 2.8 billion pounds of cheese, or about 25 percent of total U.S. production, according to the Wisconsin Milk Marketing Board. Wisconsin also is home to the largest number of artisan cheese makers in the United States.

Here a few guidelines to help you design the perfect cheese board for holiday entertaining. 

French vs. American wines? Vive la différence!

Written by Michael Muckian,
Contributing writer
Thursday, 11 December 2014 21:52

In 1976, a handful of California winemakers entered a wine competition in Paris hoping to gain attention from the elites who governed the European wine trade. No one was more shocked than the French judges themselves when the series of blind tastings resulted in overwhelming wins for American viticulture.

The so-called “Judgment of Paris” had immediate and enormous ramifications for the global wine industry. American producers continue to win awards worldwide and have never looked back.

As you schedule your parties this holiday season, consider hosting your own “judgment,” pairing U.S. wines with their French counterparts. Your goal should not be to find one wine better than the other, but to look for complementary pairings that expand your tasting horizons as well as those of your guests.

Pot-dining in Colorado pits chefs against law

Written by Kristen Wyatt,
Associated Press writer
Friday, 12 December 2014 17:49

Acclaimed chef Chris Lanter is talking a crowd of eager foodies through a demo on cooking with marijuana. As he prepares steak au poivre, he describes how to deglaze the pan with pot-infused brandy. How to pair marijuana with fine foods. How to make marijuana’s skunky tang work for a dish, not ruin it.

One catch — there’s no actual weed at his demonstration.

Marijuana aficionados paid $250 for a weekend-long celebration of marijuana and food, yet state and city regulations prohibit any “open and public” use of the drug, even at licensed businesses holding private events.

Woodman’s spirits department rising

Written by Michael Muckian,
Contributing writer
Thursday, 27 November 2014 11:58

The selection at Woodman's. — PHOTO: Courtesy

The assignment seemed simple: Sample and report on organic beers. In Madison, that should be as easy as falling off a barstool, right?

But despite the city’s locavore overload and love for all things organic, the anticipated organic-grain tipple proved elusive. Organic ingredients are expensive and those used in making beer — especially hops — are not easily available.

At Willy Street Co-op, I was only able to find a six-pack of Organic E.S.B. from Milwaukee’s Lakefront Brewery. (Lakefront has since discontinued the brand.) At Madison’s Whole Foods outlet, the organic selection was limited to a single brand of organic from U.K. brewer Samuel Smith, sold in individual bottles.

Pairing holiday foods and wine

Written by Michael Muckian,
Contributing writer
Wednesday, 26 November 2014 11:57

Pairing, a holiday gift.

When pairing wine with food, most hosts and hostesses know that red goes with red meat and white pairs with fish.

But what if you’re serving an appetizer of oysters, a plate of porcini risotto or a cache of special chocolates? How do you choose the best pairings when there’s no deceased animal flesh to guide you?

Pairing wine and food is a lot like pairing different dishes, or ingredients in a recipe. Look for contrasts and complements, so the wine and food work together to enhance each other and hide shortfalls.

Following are some suggestions to guide you:

Narragansett launching beer for H.P. Lovecraft

Written by The AP Monday, 24 November 2014 11:03

Providence native son and horror writer H.P. Lovecraft is getting his own beer.

Narragansett Beer President Mark Hellendrung told WPRO-AM this weekend that the company is launching a Lovecraft Honey Ale to celebrate the late writer's literary work. It's being launched on Jan. 19, the birthday of Edgar Allan Poe, whom Lovecraft admired.

Go For the Food: Hole in the Wall in Des Moines

Written by BARBARA RODRIGUEZ,
Associated Press writer
Thursday, 20 November 2014 07:10

There’s a hole in the wall in Des Moines that’s just that: a food joint called Hole in the Wall.

A small room inside a bar a few blocks from downtown, Hole in the Wall is the kind of place you could easily miss if you walked by. It’s less than a mile from my apartment, yet for months I didn’t know it existed. But it’s there, with food for both indoor patrons at the Gas Lamp bar and customers ordering outside a window. A few plastic chairs lined up against an exterior wall are about all you’ll get if you ask for a reservation.

Wisconsin ranks No. 2 … in love for the green-bean casserole

Written by The Wisconsin Gazette Monday, 24 November 2014 15:57

Wisconsin ranks No. 2 on a survey of love for the green-bean casserole, that apparent favorite of Thanksgiving Day side dishes.

Del Monte conducted the survey, which it called the Del Monte Green Bean Index, and released it just days before the holiday, when an estimated 30 million green-bean casseroles will be set upon U.S. tables. To conduct this study, bean counters at Del Monte asked 1,500 Americans to rate their fondness for the classic green-bean casserole side dish.

Taste tradition in red wines of the Old World

Written by Michael Muckian,
Contributing writer
Thursday, 13 November 2014 16:45

Next time you pour a glass of wine, consider how long the nectar of the grape has been filling drinking vessels around the world.

The first evidence of wine dates back to 6000 B.C. in the Middle East, and its progeny has been pouring forth ever since. Only during the past several hundred years, however, has a geographically-based wine industry created a spirited competition among winemakers worldwide.

Chef Tory Miller: Cook authentically this Thanksgiving

Written by Michael Muckian,
Contributing writer
Thursday, 13 November 2014 16:39

Madison chef Tory Miller plans Thanksgiving dinner around the same main dish as most families — the turkey.

But the James Beard winner, who owns the Madison restaurants L’Etoile, Graze and Sujeo, a pan-Asian eatery that opened last summer, raises the bar on his holiday feast, preparing birds that are worth their calories. He says Thanksgiving provides a unique opportunity for chefs of all capabilities to step up their game.

10 Things: 10 fresh ways to improve a mug of cocoa

Written by The AP Tuesday, 11 November 2014 19:05

We can’t help it. Once the cooler weather arrives, we crave hot cocoa with the same intensity that we crave a cold beer during barbecue season.

There is, after all, something intensely comforting about drinking a warm mug of nature’s most perfect food — chocolate! Add a dollop of freshly whipped and lightly sweetened cream and it doesn’t get much better.

Or maybe it can. To help take our hot cocoa game to the next level, we decided to see how many deliciously fresh ways we could doctor a mug of basic cocoa. Turns out, the possibilities are pretty inspiring (and tempting). So we picked our top 10 to share. Here are 10 fresh combinations to consider adding to your hot cocoa.

A 16-year vegan, Alicia Silverstone talks about her plant-based diet

Written by KELLI KENNEDY,
Associated Press writer
Tuesday, 04 November 2014 17:29

Alicia Silverstone may have made her acting mark as a “Clueless” valley girl, but these days she’d rather be known as someone so very clued in about diet and health.

It was more than 16 years ago that Silverstone switched to a vegan diet, ditching animal products such as dairy and meat. Since then, she’s become an outspoken advocate for what she considers a cleaner, leaner and healthier way to eat, and written a book — “The Kind Diet” — so others can follow along.

The 38-year-old recently spoke with The Associated Press during Miami’s vegan Seed Food and Wine Festival. She dished about her favorite indulgences, Thanksgiving menu plans, and how perceptions of vegan diets have changed.

Pumpkins are for more than carving

Written by Michael Muckian,
Contributing writer
Friday, 31 October 2014 02:21

Those who like to play with their food need look no further than the pumpkin, the most familiar and fun member of the gourd family.

Ranging from softball-sized “pie pumpkins” to the mammoth 2,032-pound, record-breaking gourd raised last year in California, pumpkins come in all sizes — as well as shapes and colors. You can carve them into jack-o-lanterns or simply let them sit around as part of your fall décor.