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

May 2010

Rights of Summer


Rights of Summer

It is fitting that summer begin and ends with a holiday.  In Wisconsin, it’s the season where the weather is as close to perfect as it ever gets.  It’s a time to take a trip “Up North” to the lake or just go on vacation from the humdrum. The unofficial kick off is Memorial Day, and appropriately in Madison, the occasion for the World’s Largest Bratfest. Though, I think the argument can be made that summer in Wisconsin is really the World’s Largest Bratfest. Without question, for many it’s the food of choice at backyard cookouts, street fairs and celebratory get-togethers. I think about summer and the Farmer’s Market, Concerts on the Square, State Fair, Taste of Madison—they all come to mind—and food!  For me...

Posted at 01:02 PM | Permalink | Comments

World's First?


World's First?

A new “gastro cantina” right here in Madison called King & Mane just opened. Located downtown at the junction of King and Main Streets, it’s a joint venture by Patrick O’Halloran (Lombardino’s and The Old Fashioned) and Michael Banas (Lombardino’s) who hope to charm this corner that has housed a series of to date unsuccessful restaurants, most recently the Local Tavern. So what exactly is a Gastro Cantina?  Its roots are in the wine bar, a gastronomic institution in Europe.  Most bars everywhere serve some food, but more often than not, sandwiches or snacks.  Some smart person came up with the idea of taking a mainly-for-drinking establishment and adding many wines by the glass and relatively simple but upscale food service:...

Posted at 02:52 PM | Permalink | Comments

My Pet Peeves


My Pet Peeves

This rant is all about me; all about those food-related things that annoy me.  Lily Tomlin says “Man invented language to satisfy his deep need to complain.”  I guess that’s why I write:  I have a lot to complain about.  I once read that complaining was like trying to sweep up feathers: a lot of agitation with little effect.  Regardless it’s a good way to channel anger and frustration—and though tempting— more judicious than the alternative. “Easy Open” or “Resealable” when it isn’t. “New and Improved.” The only conclusion I can draw is that stuff they were selling before must have been crap, so why should I believe them now?  Processing for the sake of processing....

Posted at 11:01 AM | Permalink | Comments

Cult Classics


Cult Classics

What makes a restaurant a cult classic?  Obviously, they must have a loyal, hardcore group of customers, important in the food service industry where repeat business is key to success. But some for no apparent reason make it against all odds while others fail.  They posses a mystique that’s indefinable.  The kind of restaurant I refer to is always local, oozes personality and is a bit quirky. Most are inexpensive and the food served without pomp or circumstances.  They all have a history and rarely advertise. For what it’s worth, here’s my list: Drink the Kool-Aid! Nick’s. I actually remember when this place opened in 1959.  At that time the Formica and vinyl accented décor was the latest thing.  Nick is no longer with us...

Posted at 12:34 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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