One of the greatest decisions I ever made was to start taking Great Taste Eve off from work. Practically, it makes sense; there are frequently visitors coming to our house this time of year -- this specific weekend, I mean -- so there's cleaning to do. Then there's the fun stuff. The beer stuff. And it doesn't wait for the whistle at the end of the shift, man. Be there or be square.Read More
MobCraft may be pulling up stakes for its new Milwaukee digs soon (-ish), but the creative team behind the crowdsourced brewery hasn't packed up yet, and the night before the Great Taste of the Midwest is as good a night as any to party. I sat down to discuss this year's Mob the House with Henry Schwartz of MobCraft and Page Buchanan of House of Brews, and sampled most of the MobCraft beers that'll be on offer.Read More
Hot dogs are on the Mount Rushmore of traditionally "American" foods, and for good reason. They're a product -- well, byproduct, maybe -- but definitely a triumph of the very fraught American industrial food system. They're meant to be eaten with one's hands, ideal in a country as obsessed with (or at with least the appearance of) get-up-and-go. And they're a glorious palette of meat, salt, and snap on which to paint any number of culinary or cultural flourishes.Read More
Hey, everybody remember April? Feels like a hundred years ago, and yesterday. I scheduled the Month of New project for April hoping for the least disruption, the fewest moments of "Aw, man, we can't go and do [some awesome-sounding event or one-off dinner] because we've been there before!" -- and I think it was the right call. But it was still hard.Read More
Maybe it's the improved website, which really enables cross-referencing and event-tagging better than ever before, but it sure feels like this year's Madison Craft Beer Week has gotten awfully smart. Tap releases, bottle releases, crossovers, brewing science, food pairings, lectures -- all of these things have been part of MCBWs Past, but I don't know. Sure looks like a hell of a fest this year.Read More
Well, I survived not having a Magic Coffee during the first outdoor farmers' market, and more importantly, I survived my wife not having one; she's very attached to Magic Coffee. We made our rounds of the Capitol Square, bought some veggies and cheese, and then jumped west of the Capitol and never looked back. All of this week's Month of New map pins are to the left of downtown.Read More
I tried to pick a month for this project with the fewest food temptations, and April's a really good month for that -- but man, try reminding my wife that we can't grab some Dumpling Haus dumplings before a Film Fest show at Sundance. It's not pretty. Hell, it's not pretty for me either. I love those things.
There have been some slightly absurd discussions between me and my wife about how we're going to handle various peculiarities of the month of new. Does a pour from a big batch of Graze's Magic Coffee really have to count as a made-to-order menu item if grocery store ready-to-eat sandwiches made in big batches don't? What's the policy on out-of-town venues like the smelt fry at the North Bristol Sports Club, or Mikey's in Plover? Would going to a new place more than once this month violate the rule if we'd never been to it prior to this month?Read More
I've been pestering my wife with the idea for a month and a half, and she has gamely agreed to play along. We've got a list, and whether it's a coffee and a scone or a proper sit-down dinner, we'll be visiting only restaurants/cafes/bars that at least one of us has never been to before.
This is actually a post I'd been procrastinating on since March, when New York Times contributor and self-confessed joyless grump David Tanis wrote an article espousing anti-brunch, pro-lunch sentiments.Read More
Maybe I'm a glutton for punishment, or maybe just a straight-up glutton, but I've gone and done it again. I've gathered a group of friends to do a full-immersion tour of one of Madison's food ecosystems. Last March, it was fried cheese curd and Bloody Mary research on the Capitol Square and State Street. This year? A Lenten assault on Friday fish fry and old fashioneds down the Monroe Street corridor: the Laurel Tavern, jacs Dining and Tap House, and Gates and Brovi. We called it Glutwalk 2: Fishpocalypse, and the results are in.Read More
I've got the briefest of posts for you -- while I work up a couple for the weekend -- to announce that the Strange Brews podcast I appear on has just gone live on Soundcloud and iTunes. Hooray!
Click whichever link suits your needs, and check out my very enjoyable day and a half showing Tim Akimoff, Alison Cuddy, and Andrew Gill of Chicago's WBEZ all around Madison. (Or at least as much of it as we could reasonably fit into that window.)
The end of the year is all about family -- giving gifts, traveling to visit, sending cards -- and so much so that by the time January rolls around, I'm ready for a break. Indeed, the traditional New Year's Eve celebration in my house is a night in with my wife, some takeout sushi, and beer/champagne. (I'm sure I've talked about this before.) No parties, no crowds, just us.
This year, the post-holiday shut-in phase seemed to run its course a little faster than usual. By the end of the month, we were jammed in to breweries and restaurants with friends and strangers alike, eating, drinking and celebrating. The world of food and beer is a whole different kind of family.Read More
As an inveterate fan of a good pun -- the writerly love that dare not speak its name -- I fully expected Chef Tory Miller (Graze, L'Etoile) to dip into that well in naming his forthcoming restaurant in the Constellation building on East Washington and Livingston. L'Etoile means 'the star,' Constellation: It was too obvious. So props to Miller for sticking to what the restaurant itself will be about, and not just the building.Read More
Today marked the final outdoor edition of the Dane County Farmers' Market on the Square, and it reminds me that the standard vegetable CSA season -- my first as a subscriber -- ended a few weeks ago. It's the kind of thing my wife and I had always wanted to do, but had never gotten our shit together enough to actually make happen.
Consider the following. 1) My exposure to neat booze is low, but if there's one that I've got any experience with at all, it's bourbon. 2) My Tuesday work shift starts at noon. 3) When am I going to have access to that many Pappy vintages? 4) My wife offered her blessing as well as taxi services.
You can guess the rest. I put on some pants and we hit the road.Read More
When DLUX opened last year, it felt like a slightly different direction: slicked up rather than folksified. Glammy and a little boozy. Food Fight managing partner Caitlyn Suemnicht designed DLUX, and her latest creation, Bassett Street Brunch Club, continues in that evolution while managing to swing back around to diner fare. It's a minor stumper, but I think it ends up working.Read More
Like a ghostly voice on the wind, Kyle Ate Here returns to haunt your late October. Here are the clattering marrow bones and scraps of delicious flesh from my June, July, and August dining notes.
I've been trying to think, over the last 24 hours, of an experience that equals -- or at least resembles -- the feeling of walking into an exhibition hall and seeing at most two dozen people and over 1,700 cheeses and knowing you can eat any of them. Maybe being the first freshman in line signing up for classes in high school, and all of the classes are, like, astronomy or something cool like that.
There's really no way to do the American Cheese Society's Festival of Cheese justice except to experience it. Not everyone liked astronomy as much as I did, anyway.Read More