Critiques, Cravings and Conundrums From the Madison Food and Dining Scene
Small Dishes
Stuffing or Dressing?

11/14/10

Stuffing or Dressing?

 To begin with, I’m talking turkey.  Technically, stuffing goes inside the bird and dressing is baked separately.  The two terms are often used interchangeably—it has more to do with where you live than grammar, since “dressing” is favored in the South and “stuffing” elsewhere.    Seemingly the idea of stuffing poultry has been around forever.  It’s as much a part of our thanksgiving feast as turkey.  In this country, bread and sage stuffing has always been the most popular, though cornbread is nearly always added in the South, and the Pennsylvania Dutch are very fond of what they call potato stuffing.  Depending upon your taste and heritage, sausage, rice and fruit may be familiar...

Posted at 10:39 AM | Permalink | Comments

Dueling Chefs 2010

10/24/10

Dueling Chefs 2010

Congratulation to this year's Culinary Conqueror, Chef Bee Khang from Sushi Muramoto.  In the final round at the Madison Food & Wine Show, Sunday, October 24  Khang cooked off against Chef Jesse Matz from Bunky's.  The secret ingredient was tomatoes and each chef prepared two dishes for the judges.  Scorring was on flavor, presentation and use of the secret ingredient.  Sushi Muramoto Dish #1Bunky's Dish #1Sushi Muramoto Dish #2Bunky's Dish #2

Posted at 04:53 PM | Permalink | Comments

Fire and Smoke

10/17/10

Fire and Smoke

For me at least, outdoor barbecuing season is over.  I know there’s a cult in Wisconsin that likes to grill out when the snow blows and it’s 20 below.  But when I can no longer tend the Weber in my shorts and flipflops or light the charcoal because of the howling wind (No, I don’t use gas!), it’s time to hang up my tongs for the year.  Furthermore, the directions that came with my smoker say it should only be used when the outside temperature is 50 degrees or above.  That doesn’t mean I intend to forsake grilled and smoked foods until next spring.  I have thought about buying a stovetop smoker—a clever smoking device that works indoors.  As a gadget it fascinates me, but ultimately seems like a make do effort....

Posted at 04:29 PM | Permalink | Comments

Apple of My Eye

10/10/10

Apple of My Eye

Apples are probably the most common fruit of all.  They’re always available at the grocery, but can come from as far away as New Zealand. Too often they’ve been held in cold storage way past their prime. In this country, most come from Washington—about 55%, but are commercially grown in 35 other states including Wisconsin which ranks 12th in production. Regardless, locally grown apples are best and now is the time to enjoy them! The number of varieties is staggering—more than 7,500. In the United States, though, only about 50 are seriously marketed.   They all start out green, but when ripe, their skin can turn red, pink, yellow, orange, brown or just remain green. Apples vary enormously in tartness, sweetness and flavor from one species to...

Posted at 08:50 AM | Permalink | Comments

The Great Pumpkin

10/03/10

The Great Pumpkin

Big, round and flamboyantly orange, it’s hard not to like a pumpkin.  It’s an iconic symbol of fall, Halloween and Thanksgiving.  For a long time, I thought they were just great as Jack O’Lanterns or in a Norman Rockwell vision; just so long as they didn’t end up on my plate.  Like many children, I loathed mushy foods and a pumpkin is after all nothing more than a big squash. It’s actually a remarkable vegetable since the flesh, seeds (pepitas), leaves and flowers are all edible. Green pumpkin can be treated like zucchini, but it’s rarely done so in this country. Pumpkin is found on the table in almost every culture. Perhaps if Harry Potter and his pumpkin juice had been around then, I’d have been more motivated to try...

Posted at 12:30 PM | Permalink | Comments

Hail Kale!

09/19/10

Hail Kale!

I just returned from a trip to Cape Cod, Land of the Lobster Roll; specifically, Provincetown.  Like so many former fishing ports in the area, P’town has a significant population descended from immigrants from Portugal.   Its Portuguese heritage shows up on local menus from time to time, most often as kale soup (recipe follows).  For me, this hearty chowder is a harbinger of a change in weather. Kale is a form of green cabbage with curly leaves that don’t form a head. Since it actually tastes sweeter if exposed to frost, it’s a popular fall and winter green vegetable, though it’s available at most markets year round.  Probably because it’s relatively cheap and often prepared badly (boiled), it’s dismissed by some as...

Posted at 12:20 PM | Permalink | Comments: 1

Big News on King Street

09/07/10

Big News on King Street

Cafe Continental, a King Street landmark will close and in it's place a new restaurant, 43 North.  The new venture with Executive Chef Justin Carlisle (Restaurant Muramoto) will feature an upscale, modern American menu.  The restaurant's name is the lattitude forf Madison.The Continental in Fitchburg, owned by Jim and Jenny Schiavo is not affected by this change.

Posted at 11:32 AM | Permalink | Comments

A Perfect Ten

09/05/10

A Perfect Ten

I’ve always liked Lombardino’s, even as a kid when the miniature Trevi Fountain captivated me.  I like it even better as an adult because of the food. But that wasn’t always the case; not until Patrick O’Halloran took over its ownership ten years ago.  Lombardino’s will celebrate this milestone on September 13 with five course dinner (you need to book in advance).Tuscan Feast Anniversary Dinner MenuAntipastiTuscan pecorino, Finocchiona salami, wild boar prosciutto, chicken liver mousse, market melon & wood grilled bruschettaCanella Prosecco NVFirst CoursePanzanellaGarden to Be tomatoes, Primrose Farm red onion, cucumber, olive oil croutons, basil oil & balsamicTerrabianca Chianti Classico Scassino 2005Second CourseCandy Onion & Thyme...

Posted at 09:42 AM | Permalink | Comments

Taste of Madison 2010

08/28/10

Taste of Madison 2010

More information on bands, restaurants, etc. can be found at http://www.tasteofmadison.com

Posted at 03:58 PM | Permalink | Comments: 1

Dueling Ribs

08/22/10

Dueling Ribs

I was invited by Shinji Muramoto to a rib tasting at his downtown restaurant, The Haze.  His purpose was not to secure bragging rights for his own product, but to better understand what people look for in a good rack of ribs.  His hope is that the tasters’ comments will help The Haze refine the art of barbecue. And, I personally know, it is an art that requires much trial and error before one achieves success. In Wisconsin, the word “barbecue” covers a multitude of sins.  Properly speaking, it refers to meat that is slowly smoked over hardwood rather than grilled over a flame. These were the type of barbecued ribs we critiqued at The Haze, acquired as carryouts from seven of the top BBQ joints in town.  All of the ribs were spareribs except for...

Posted at 01:50 PM | Permalink | Comments

About This Blog

Dan CurdI found my interest in writing by accident. My training and first job was as a graphic designer. Unemployed, the only employment I could find in advertising at that time was as a copywriter. Somehow, I convinced Richard Newman & Associates to hire me. Later I learned they were desperate. Madison has been my home off and on since 1957 (nonstop for the past 31 years). I write about food, which I love. – Dan Curd

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