The Month of New in review - Week 4, and closing thoughts

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.

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The Month of New in review - Week 3

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.

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The Month of New in review - Week 1

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?

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The Hunger Danes: District 25 - Spring Garden Restaurant

The Hunger Danes: District 25 - Spring Garden Restaurant

We've witnessed at least one verifiable dining desert in the Hunger Danes so far (District 18), but friend of the column John Kovalic insists that he lives in another -- and by luck, we've drawn his district from the Very Official Brown Paper Bag of Numbers. It's District 25 -- Waunakee, Madison's neighbor to the northwest -- and we've visited the mysterious Spring Garden Restaurant.

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Madison: No appetite for Chow

The majority of the Chowhound forums are divided geographically, and Wisconsin falls into the Great Lakes section. This lumps Madison in with cities from Illinois (excluding Chicago), Indiana, Michigan, Minnesota (excluding the Twin Cities), Ohio, and the rest of Wisconsin. Madison is the ninth largest city in the mix, while Milwaukee is the fourth.

Of course, you'd never know that by looking at the traffic in the Great Lakes section.

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2014, a Beersball retrospective - Two cities, one ball, and a hell of a lot of beers

The Major League Baseball winter meetings just wrapped up in December, as did the second annual Beersball Christmas bottle exchange (I got a Mobcraft Arabian Date Night, pretty excited tbqh*), and it's the end of the year -- okay, technically the start of a new one -- so what better time than now to look back on Beersball 2014? We hit two cities this year, and recommendations? We've got 'em.
 

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The Hunger Danes: District 10 - Lombardino's

The Hunger Danes: District 10 - Lombardino's

Jenni and I started this project back in 2012, and we harbored notions of completing it before the end of her first term. Well, here we are in Season Two, and she's already been re-elected to a second term. We're happy to return to the Hunger Danes with a time-honored restaurant that neither of us, truth be told, had ever visited: Lombardino's.

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My fascination with OREO

Yesterday (March 14) was the 102nd anniversary of OREO's first trademark. The product name was first used back on March 6th of 1912, and it's been around ever since, a burr in Hydrox's saddle but a joy in everyone else's hearts.

Sure, I'm waxing rhapsodic over these sandwich cookies with waxy creme filling, but come on. There's something for everyone. Chocolate, frosting, crunch, sweet, guilt, indulgence, and now: collectibility. Yes, in the last few years, OREO has followed (some might say "led") the trend of variant flavors, seasonal flavors, weird-ass limited edition flavors. I've become something of a connoisseur.

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Tory Miller's third act: The award-winning chef's new restaurant comes into focus with name, format

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.

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Flyover Friday - Welcome to the middle

The food website Serious Eats does the occasional review of a hot restaurant, or posts a report from a city's dining scene. It's almost always New York, or somewhere in California, or maybe Chicago. Eater.com (as much as I love 'em for their affiliate and mini-affiliate local sites) does a weekly roundup of restaurant reviews from the past week or so (or did, anyway; Associate Editor Paula Forbes reminds me that Eater hasn't posted one in over a year), and it's all Wells and Sietsema and Gold and the occasional Vettel. Fat chance you'll see a restaurant critic from Minneapolis or Milwaukee or Madison -- and it's not that they all start with M. It's that they're in the middle.

Okay, that starts with an M, too, but that's really not my point.

The point is that they're all in the area of the country that sites like Serious Eats mysteriously fail to cover. There's still a food crit blind spot for the Midwest. But you guys travel, whether it's for work or fun, and if you didn't like to read about food, you wouldn't be here. So here it is, my Midwest-centric roundup of restaurant criticism, because yes, there is restaurant criticism here. Welcome to Flyover Friday.

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Old business/new business

Here we are at the end of another year, and changes are afoot behind the scenes at Irony or Mayo. There might even be a new look to the site in 2014, but I'm still hashing that out.

Starting in January, I'll be launching that roundup of Midwestern restaurant criticism I mentioned a while back. It'll run every week as a feature I'm calling Flyover Friday. (It'll run on Fridays, oddly enough.)

Before we get there, though, I'll have some closing out to do on 2013 items, including a little Kyle Ate Here action and my 2013 in review post.

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First look - Bassett Street Brunch Club

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.

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Festival of Cheese is too small a name

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.

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