Critiques, Cravings and Conundrums From the Madison Food and Dining Scene
Small Dishes

December 2009

An Old Start to a New Year


An Old Start to a New Year

It’s difficult to think about New Year’s without champagne.  There was a time, though, when punch was the drink of choice for most celebrations.  Champagne wasn’t as readily available or as affordable as it is today—at least in this country.  In the U.S., there is a much older tradition of making whiskey—whether legally or illegally.  No matter the quality or proof, diluted with fruit juice and sugar it became very palatable. The origin of punch goes back to India, and from there, came to England in the early 17th Century.  Originally it contained no booze but was tea-based.  Obviously it didn’t take long for someone to figure out how to give it a little more punch. In the guise of the Wassail bowl, it become part of...

Posted at 12:13 PM | Permalink | Comments

Comings and Goings 2009


Comings and Goings 2009

 Making my annual list of restaurants that closed during the past year, I decided to also include a list of restaurants that premiered as well.  I make no pretense that this is the definitive list. I find it interesting that the list of new restaurants is almost as long as the list of those that closed.  I hope this is a good sign for 2010.  Closed in 2009 Morels Babs French Quarter Kitchen J.T. Whtiney’s Cloud 9 Tony Roma’s LMNO Pies Maza Porta Alba (moved to new location) Taste of Asia Kipp’s Down Home Cookin’ Madeleine's Patisserie Pavlov’s Pizza Café Montmartre Peppino’s Out Restaurant and Nightclub Cardinal Bar (reopened) Monroe...

Posted at 06:31 PM | Permalink | Comments

Chili Today


Chili Today

And still cold tomorrow.  Come winter, this diverse and spicy dish—often more a stew than a soup—moves to the front burner. Perhaps Mexican in inspiration, what we know as chili today evolved in Texas. Some claim that the “Chili Queens” first ladled it up on the streets of San Antonio in the late 1800s. Women would come to the plaza in that city at the crack of down, set up their makeshift stalls, and cook the thick beef and pepper soup over open fires.  Others insist it was chuck wagon fare born on cattle drives as early as the 1850s. Regardless, chili con carne is the official dish of the Lone Star State.  Purists there assert that the real thing contains exclusively meat and chile peppers and never beans or tomatoes. Worlds Fairs in Chicago...

Posted at 09:09 AM | Permalink | Comments

Gloria in Excelsis Brownies!


Gloria in Excelsis Brownies!

Forget the frumpy Christmas cookies—you’ll get more than your fill at the office anyway. This time of year, glitter and glitz run rampant. It’s time for brownies.  Homely they may be but they never fail to satisfy. First and foremost, they are chocolate.  I was one of those people who liked chocolate even before the medical community began touting its health benefits. I always feel better knowing that something I crave is good for me, but of course I would eat it anyway.Neither a cake nor a cookie, brownies launched a type of baked goods—bar cookies—that today come in endless flavors and renderings.  But the brownie will always reign supreme.  All-American to be sure, a claim is that they premiered at the 1893 Columbian Exhibition in...

Posted at 12:08 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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