For most people, Thanksgiving is a gustatory romp that revolves around a plump, steaming turkey with all the trimmings. But we’ve found that side dishes are bountiful in and of themselves. Add a touch of creativity and you will never even miss the overgrown Butterball.
If you’re one of the growing number of health-conscious and merciful people crying “fowl” over factory-farmed turkeys, there are many meatless alternatives for your feast.
Thanksgiving was first celebrated in fall of 1621 by the English settlers of Plymouth Colony in what is now Massachusetts and the neighboring Wampanoag Indians as a way to celebrate the harvest before the cold winter set in. A three-day affair, that first Thanksgiving did not list turkey as the main attraction. Instead, the menu included deer, seal, swan and lobster – all of which were locally available.
President Barack Obama and contender Mitt Romney are going hammer and tongs in their race for chief executive of the United States. The heat, as they say, is on. As food writers we felt it also was time to turn up the temperature in the First Kitchen.
It’s difficult to picture Michelle Obama, after a day of First Lady duties, or Ann Romney, fresh from dressage practice, strapping on an apron and heading into the kitchen. But both have come forward with widely touted recipes they say are family favorites. In light of next month’s presidential election, we tested several to see what we might expect from the head of the next, ahem, Kitchen Cabinet.
Mark your calendars and ready your palates. At one minute past midnight on Nov. 15, the 2012 Beaujolais Nouveau will begin making its way to thirsty wine lovers around the world.
The third Thursday of each November is set aside for the ceremonial release of the new wine from France’s Beaujolais region. Pressed from grapes picked a scant eight weeks before, the wine is light, fruity and intended to be drunk young. Enthusiastic imbibers around the world will race for the first taste.
The Alliance Française de Milwaukee will host its 15th annual Fête du Beaujolais Nouveau on Nov. 15 from 6 to 9 p.m. at the Intercontinental Hotel, 139 E. Kilbourn Ave. At Chez Jacques, 1022 S. First St., the bottles will uncork at 5 p.m., and the wine will be accompanied by a complete dinner with entrée choices that include Beef Bourguignon, Coq au Vin and Moules Marinieres.
Owner and executive chef Brian Zarletti’s seven-year-old enterprise specializes in northern Italian cuisine. It has one of Milwaukee’s finest kitchens. The intimate L-shaped dining room and its commanding view of the Milwaukee and Mason streets intersection has made it a mecca of sorts for diners in search of a very special evening.
We arrived 10 minutes early for our 8:30 p.m. reservation on a recent Saturday and found the urban-chic dining room filled and the staff moving briskly through the maze of tables. We sat at the bar and ordered a glass of the evening’s featured wine, a 2008 Speri Sant’Urbano Valpoilicella D.o.c. Classico Superiore ($13, or $52 for a bottle), a wine grown in the Veneto region north of Verona.
When Milwaukee’s Braise was named one of America’s 50 best new restaurants in the September issue of “Bon Appetit,” it came as little surprise to those familiar with the Walkers Point eatery. The magazine’s brief mention of its only Wisconsin entry brushed across many of the restaurant’s unique features, but it failed to paint a complete picture of the Braise model, which is focused on supporting sustainable agriculture, and how it’s poised to change the way we think about food.
Braise chef/owner David Swanson is one of Wisconsin’s foremost “locavores,” a term that describes people who prefer eating locally produced foods. Rather than court passive consumption, as most restaurants do, Braise has the potential to serve as an active bridge between diners and farmers, endowing consumers with the capacity to act as partners with food providers to offer healthy nutrition with a fine-dining flare.
It might not feel like fall yet, but now is the time to fill your jack-o’-lantern with ice and brews.
The popularity of pumpkin beer is increasing, as witnessed in both selection and consumption. The Wall Street Journal Market Watch predicts the seasonal favorite will make its best showing yet in terms of sales this fall. That means by the time you’re ready to shop for your Halloween party, the brew might be in ghastly short supply on store shelves.
The existentialist Jean-Paul Sartre once said that to do is to be (and of course he would.) Chances are that were he alive today, the French philosopher-author would have appreciated Chef Jason Gorman’s approach to cooking, as well as his culinary talents.
“It is more important to me that I cook, rather than where I cook,” says Gorman, 42, who currently cooks and consults at La Merenda Bar & International Tapas, located at 125 E. National Ave. in Milwaukee’s Walker’s Point neighborhood. “I am happiest when I am creating food.”
Gorman, a native of Chicago’s River Forest suburb, has been a culinary force to be reckoned with since emerging onto the Milwaukee dining scene nearly a decade ago as chef at the original Dream Dance in the Potawatomi Bingo Casino. Behind a nearly anonymous wooden door on the casino’s upper floor across from the bingo hall, Gorman and his staff created culinary marvels that Milwaukee soon discovered. He quickly developed a following, sharing his love of food and talent for creating it through culinary classes around the state.
After enjoying heirloom tomatoes in restaurants for years, my wife and I decided last summer to grow our own. We watched and waited for our Russian Purples to ripen to a lovely, edible shape and size. But we waited too long, and the egg-shaped orbs developed long splits at the stem base, then fell lifelessly into the dirt.
Despite our initial failure as urban farmers, we vowed to try again. This year we planted five different kinds of heirloom tomatoes in our 12’ x 8’ backyard garden.
We don’t expect any of them to ripen to a brilliant grocery-store red. Our 2012 crop includes Black Krim, Orange Oxheart, Lemon Boy, Chocolate Cherries and Mr. Stripey, all heirloom varieties whose colors and patterns are reflected in their whimsical names. We plan to study the plants in our care more closely this year, because our little garden is an exercise in preservation, not for our- selves as much as for the fruit itself.
With apologies to the Bard of Avon, a rosé by any other name would indeed taste as sweet. But it also might be crisp, with a hint of acidity – or dry, leaving the palate cleansed and refreshed.
Shakespeare, of course, was talking about the flower in his oft-quoted line from “Romeo and Juliet.” In this case, however, the subject is rosés, the bright pink wines whose color range and flavor palate fall neatly between straw- colored, acidic whites and inky, robust reds.
The right wine for any season is always the one you enjoy the most, but a chilled rosé, tippled from a delicate stem, is a brighter and often more flavorful alternative to another tired round of chardonnay – oaked or otherwise.
Sami Fgaier’s first experience with outdoor grilling was no different than that of other boys his age on the Kerkennah Islands in his native Tunisia.
“We’d build a fire on the beach, get some mussels from the Mediterranean and throw them into the flames,” said Fgaier, 37, now owner of Madison-based Le personal Chef. “The shells would open up in the heat and the mussels would cook very nicely.”
Mussels still feature prominently in the indoor and outdoor menus Fgaier prepares as a personal chef for clients in southern Wisconsin and northern Illinois. As the weather turns warmer, he says, the demand for outdoor catered affairs heats up.
“I always associate outdoor events with grilling,” says Fgaier, who started Le Personal Chef in 2009 after seven years in the kitchen at the former Le Chardonnay restaurant in Madison. “It helps if the clients have a good grill, but a good chef can make any grill work.”
April is National Grilled Cheese Sandwich Month, and Troy Davis hopes you will celebrate America’s staple dish at The Melthouse Bistro, the new restaurant he owns with his wife Susan M. Davis on Milwaukee’s East Side.
As the name implies, the bistro offers a wide and evolving selection of gourmet grilled cheese sandwiches, the likes of which many fans of the Velveeta-and-white-bread wonders of childhood have never seen before. The message behind Davis’ creative menu is simple: This is not you not your mother’s grilled cheese sandwich.
When Capital Brewery in Madison's Middleton suburb opens it outdoor Bier Garten on Feb. 25 for the annual Bockfest, several thousand revelers will celebrate the coming of spring (no matter what the weather) and the arrival of Capital's Blonde Doppelbock. The popular and potent seasonal brew is steeped in centuries of brewing tradition.
Bock beers have heralded spring's imminent arrival since the 14th century, when brewers in the German town of Einbeck began developing stronger, more robust ales to help local monastic orders survive during the weeks of Lenten fasting. In the 17th century, brewers in Munich adapted the style to the then-new lagering process and, due to their Bavarian accents, pronounced result as "ein bock" (literally "a billy goat"). The name stuck, as did the image of the goat, which now appears frequently on bock beer labels.