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

Curds

08/22/10

Curds

This is not a dissertation about my family tree, though I think it would be a reasonable assumption that I had distant ancestors who were cheese makers.  Curds are produced when milk is curdled with rennet, the first step in cheese making.  After being separated from the liquid portion— whey—curds are then used to make cheese.  How they are handled and salted determines the type and shape of cheese they ultimately become. Cottage cheese is nothing more than curds and whey.  However, any other form of fresh cheese curd is rarely found outside of regions where cheese is actually manufactured. Hence the popularity of this delicacy in the upper Midwest where deep frying is the most popular way to enjoy it. Cheese curds have to be the only food whose...

Posted at 01:50 PM | Permalink | Comments

Weekend in Madison

07/25/10

Weekend in Madison

Out of town guests? New to the city?  Routine in a rut? Or, just need a reminder why this place is truly special, even more so during the summer and fall. Here’s my itinerary for the perfect stay-at-home weekend. Friday 6:30 p.m.Fish Fry at the Old Fashioned.  They don’t take reservations and almost always there’s a wait, but rubbing elbows at the long bar is part of the experience. Relax, enjoy one of its namesake cocktails (made with brandy, of course), or the state’s other revered libation, an ice-cold brewski.  An order of fried cheese curds or one of their Lazy Susan appetizer assortments will help pass the time and enhance the quintessential Wisconsin dining experience. 8:00 p.m.Nightcap at the Edgewater Pier.  It’s...

Posted at 01:43 PM | Permalink | Comments

The Best of Restaurant Week

07/16/10

The Best of Restaurant Week

It’s now a much anticipated event observed twice a year: Restaurant Week.  It’s also a genuine bargain and opportunity to sample food at some of the city’s most popular eateries.  Participants offer three-course dinner menus for $25; some offer $15 luncheon menus as well. This promotion held in January and July next takes place in one week—July 25 – 30. In years past, many restaurants—fully booked for the official six days—have added on extra nights in order to accommodate customers. Another sign of its success is, many places around town now offer similar, reduced-price menus on a regular if not weekly basis.     As part of my own personal indulgence this past January, I put together a fantasy dining itinerary for...

Posted at 06:01 PM | Permalink | Comments

My Two Cents

07/11/10

My Two Cents

Lists have been around seemingly forever. I’m not talking about the mundane to-do or to-buy lists we make out everyday; I’m referring to the popularity lists—like Billboard’s Top 100 Songs and the Fortune 500. As the internet has become the primary source of news for many, rating anything and everything has exploded. I have to admit, like so many other people, I’m addicted to these compellations. In the past 24 hours, I’ve checked out the Top Ten U.S. Hotels, the Seven Healthiest Breakfast Cereals and Twenty-Five Novels You Can Read on the Beach Without Embarrassing Yourself. Of course, I’m curious to see how the choices—whether by experts or public poll—stack up against my own. They rarely do of course. Madison...

Posted at 12:41 PM | Permalink | Comments: 1

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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