Showing posts from January, 2011

A taste of summer...

Now, in the middle of winter, we're staying well-fed by mostly local foods, thanks in part to some food preservation projects that we took on last summer, when the harvest was still in full swing.  In the hopes of invoking some summertime flavors, here's an account of canning some tomatoes, which we're currently enjoying in their jarred form.

We were lucky enough to score 25 pounds of ripe roma tomatoes from the farm from whom we buy our CSA (Community Supported Agriculture) share, Harmony Valley Farm, in Viroqua, WI, less than 100 miles from Madison.
We'd hoped to be able to grow enough of our own tomatoes in our garden to have extra for canning, but due to the fact that (1) tomatoes are delicious, and eminently eat-able straight off the vine, and (2) that this is what our garden looked like for most of the summer (with a few tomato plants in front being largely overtaken by runaway squash that grew uninvited due to a little worm compost mishap):
So, instead we turned…

Root Cafe

Last time, I wrote about the sense of community that Madison's Restaurant Week builds among those who love food in this fair city. But a trip to Sardine or any other restaurant like it in this city doesn't mean that much, in some sense, because there are so many places that support a local food infrastructure in Southwestern Wisconsin.  This town is filled with restaurants, chefs, and eaters who want to "nourish the links between land and table," as the motto of the REAP food group goes.

In Arkansas, where I grew up, however, such a food infrastructure is much less firmly rooted (pun intended).  Although the south has the longest growing season and some of the best soil in the country, it also has very few farmers who are growing food organically, as this 2009 map from the New York Times shows:
This puzzling mismatch of climate and presence of organic agriculture has a deep historical legacy, which I may get in to in a later post, but suffice it to say that there'…

Restaurant week: Sardine

Last week, Justin and I ventured out with a couple of friends to sample one of Madison's finest restaurants, Sardine, during the semi-annual Restaurant Week.  During this week, many of the city's favorite haunts pull out a prix fixe menu, and for $25 you can get a first course, entree, and dessert. It's not necessarily the best deal (especially since you can get dinner for two, including tax and tip, at most of our favorite places), but it feels good to take part in this community-wide (or at least the part of the community that can afford fine dining) event that honors our city's diverse foodscape.

Over my dinner of:
Salad of mixed greens and bibb lettuce, shaved shallots, crispy chickpeas, beets and sieved egg in a champagne tarragon vinaigretteCamembert crouquettes, sauté of winter greens, crimini mushrooms, butternut squash, brandied cherries and a coarse mustard-cider sauce (oh how that list of flavorful accompaniments get me!); andLemon meringue tart

...we discus…

Making an entrance

This week, Mark Bittman, who had written his column The Minimalist for the last 13 years for the New York Times’s Dining section, announced the end of an era.
He is no longer going to be writing his Dining column, which focused on simple dishes with complex flavors.  Instead, he’s moving to the Op-Ed* section of the Times. And although he’ll still be writing about food, he’s shifting gears a little from just sharing recipes to, as he says, “advocat[ing], essentially, for eaters’ rights” because of his “growing conviction that the meat-heavy American diet and our increasing dependence on prepared and processed foods is detrimental not only to our personal health but to that of the planet.” So, he is going to taking up this political issue, helping cooks and food writers “continue to look for ways to bring real food to all of our tables.”
Bravo, Mark Bittman.
I was so heartened to read this announcement, to see this very prominent and well-known food writer devote attention to the very r…