Linda Falkenstein of Isthmus has some great news, Madison lovers of Pelmeni (aka Pel”meni):
Pel’meni, the Russian dumpling shop that operated out of 505 State Street in the mid-’00s, is coming back to downtown in mid-June at 201 W. Gorham St., a space next to AJ Bombers.
After the State Street storefront closed, Paul Schwoerer started serving his handmade pelmeni out of the Oasis Café, his coffee shop in at 2690 Research Park Dr. in Fitchburg. In the in-between time when the dumplings were not available at all, what might reasonably be called a cult following only deepened. And after the re-appearance, not all devotees could make the trek out to Fitchburg.
My earlier post about rediscovering the delicious dumplings (now featuring local produce) in Fitchburg has garnered hundreds and hundreds of hits, so I think Schwoerer will find continued success when he makes his triumphant return to the State Street neighborhood. Check out Falkenstein’s full piece for all the details.
As Linda Falkenstein reported for Isthmus earlier this week,
An ordinance will be introduced at [Tuesday, February 26th's] Common Council meeting making it easier for residents to plant edible landscaping on city land….
Right now, it’s not practically possible for people to plant edible perennials on city land, due to the high cost of insurance. A similar plan was okayed for master gardeners doing work in parks and for those who take care of neighborhood signs; they’re covered on the city’s insurance as volunteers.
Head here for Falkenstein’s full piece, which also mentions another proposed change that would “make it possible for residents to plant gardens in their terraces,” by which she means that patch of land between the curb and sidewalk—what my family in Cleveland, Ohio called the “tree lawn” when I was growing up.
In case you missed the 2010 brouhaha when the initial master-gardener plan was proposed (and eventually approved), head to the Madison Fruits and Nuts simple but informative website, which has lots of great links to local press coverage at the time.
FYI, according to the city’s website, the latest proposal was introduced at the Common Council meeting as expected and has been referred to various committees and such (like the Sustainable Madison Committee and the Board of Public Works) for their review.
Roast Public House is a welcome change on Madison’s State Street. As I noted previously, they’ve moved into the location formerly occupied by an underwhelming chicken-wing chain that moved to University Ave., giving us instead a lovely, locavore sandwich shop with a nice beer selection that doubles as a college bar on the weekends.
As Nick Brown writes for MadTable,
Co-owners Doug Hamaker and Henry Aschauer actually met six years ago at a fraternity event as incoming freshmen, and after graduation both were working in sales in the recycled metals industry when they began brainstorming.
“We just started talking every day about the idea of opening a sandwich shop,” says 24-year-old Hamaker, a New Jersey native (Aschauer is from Maine), adding that the original vision was more of a hole-in-the-wall-type take-out spot rather than a restaurant with a full bar. “But we found this space and we thought maybe we can find more of a mix.” The two enlisted the help of Hamaker’s father for the business end, and they signed on a childhood friend, Andrew Greenberg, to run the kitchen.
Isthmus hasn’t posted a review yet, but Lindsay Christians of 77 Square has had her say:
Among chef Andrew Greenberg’s 15-sandwich lineup are cult-worthy options like the turkey spinach dip panini ($8), made with juicy turkey and a generous layer of cheesy spinach dip on toasted sourdough. A succulent white cap roast beef ($9), topped with melted mozzarella and caramelized onions, needed no au jus to keep it juicy.
On both the roast beef and a hearty chicken francese ($8), crunchy/chewy baguette added texture and helped the sandwich travel well.
The California avocado ($8) with Swiss was creamy and filling enough to make even a devoted meat-eater forget it’s vegetarian. And salads, including the parmesan-topped Roast Caesar ($2 side/$3.50 small/$5 full), tasted fresh and well-dressed.
Ben Munson of The Onion’s AV Club Madison (not available online) also had lots of good things to say:
Aside from the extra TLC Roast instills into its food, the restaurant prides itself on sourcing locally whenever possible…
The “Roast” Beef and the Guiness Stout Beef Brisket were both elegant and tasty enough, but the Giambotta—with slow-roasted pork shoulder and cherry pepper pork gravy—really stood out. But all paled in presentation to the fantastic Grilled Chicken “BLT.” As beautiful as it looked, it tasted even better, representing the “B” with a bacon jam, a heavenly sauce sent to this planet to reward mere mortals with maximum bacon flavor.
For the undergrad view of this addition to the campus end of State, check out Niko Ivanovic’s take in Moda, the student-run UW style magazine. (And yes, the photo there is an uncredited lift from the MadTable page…. Kids these days and their loosey-goosey media habits.)
J and I have been there a few times and really enjoyed our meals, even though they were still sorting out minor kinks, e.g., upon entry as a novice, it’s not entirely clear what to do or where to go to get food. (Hint: head to the back for the counter that’s opposite the bar.) Chef Andrew spoke to us the first time about the delicious special we each had, a pork-belly reuben, comprised of Black Earth braised and crispy pork belly topped by bacon-and-sauerkraut Russian dressing. (Yes, it was as drippingly good as it sounds.) He then remembered and warmly greeted us when we made a repeat appearance the following week. The food is clearly made with love and care, and with ingredients as good as these, the prices seem quite fair. I’m looking forward to continued visits to explore the rest of the menu, along with the tasty and ever-changing specials.
Check out the MadTable and 77 Square links above for some nice pics, and take a look at Roast’s menu here.
In Isthmus this week, former Madison mayor Dave Cieslewicz lays out in detail why he thinks Madison needs a year-round public market, and why it doesn’t have one yet. “Why not just go to Whole Foods or Metcalfe’s or Willy Street or another co-op?” he asks. “Because a public market is about the public. It’s not just a privately owned space in which to conduct commerce. It’s a publicly controlled space in which to conduct community.” That sounds lovely (and lofty), but he’s also very realistic about the need for a market to be economically viable. The piece is worth reading and thinking about, so check it out here.
After the “Customer Comments” section (which I absolutely adore), I think my favorite part of the Willy Street Co-op newsletter is the producer profiles.
This month the Willy Street Co-op Reader features Cesar’s Cheese, which turns local Sassy Cow milk into wondrous cheeses like Queso Oaxaca, Manchego, and Queso Fresco right on the farm. Check out the full article, which includes details about when you can watch Cesar and Heydi Luis work their magic.
For more, check out posts from Jeanne Carpenter at the Cheese Underground blog, including this really great one (with photos, too!) in which Jeanne and her daughter get a hands-on cheese-making experience with Cesar himself.
This past weekend J and I finally had a chance to try the new Calliope ice cream being served at Weary Traveler on Madison’s east side. I first learned about it from Stephanie Bedford’s nice story at madison.com a couple weeks ago.
Last Friday, Weary posted this pic on Facebook listing the currently featured flavors. As you can see in J’s pic at left, by Sunday night a couple flavors had disappeared but another one had been squeezed in at the bottom. After our delicious dinner (Walleye sandwich for J, bowl of vegan chili for me with half as leftovers for lunch the next day), I let J choose our flavor. He picked Peanut Butter Bacon. Seriously, how could you could wrong with that one? We were not disappointed.
As you can see in the photo below, the ice cream is served without much muss or fuss, though the cup of hot water for the spoons was a nice touch (even if we didn’t find the hot water necessary). As Bedford describes the presentation, “The ice cream is served by the pint ($5 each) and brought to your table in the container, as if to say, ‘Let’s not lie to each other. This is how you would eat it at home, possibly in front of a marathon of “Ally McBeal” reruns.’ A pint easily serves two.” I can’t argue with that, though I’d suggest that it might also easily serve three or four. After our filling meal, J and I ended up only eating half the pint at the restaurant and took the rest home for later … which was just fine by us! I definitely recommend leaving some room for dessert the next time you’re at the Weary.
P.S. For more on Calliope, its mastermind Jason Borgmann, and his expansion plans, check out this great piece from Kyle Nabilcy at Isthmus.
The University of Wisconsin is celebrating Family Gardening Day today. According to UW Communications, “Experts from UW-Madison and UW-Extension, along with master gardeners and other volunteers, will be on hand from 10 a.m. until 2 p.m. at the D.C. Smith Greenhouses and the Allen Centennial Gardens, hosting a wide variety demonstrations and displays, answering questions and offering advice and free samples. The event is free and open to the public.”
When J and I attended the Isthmus Green Day expo a couple weeks ago to hear Mark Bittman give the keynote address, I spotted this great poster promoting Bike the Barns here in South-central Wisconsin.
As the FairShare CSA Coalition website describes, the event is “a spectacular fundraising bicycle ride that features local farms and local food prepared by Underground Food Collective. When you participate in Bike the Barns, you not only enjoy a day biking to local farms and eating artisan delicacies, but you also support our community’s health – the health of our neighbors, our land, our farmers, and our local economies. Proceeds from this event benefit FairShare’s Partner Shares Program which helps low-income families purchase fresh, local, organic vegetables and have a direct connection with their food and farm through community supported agriculture.”
I’ve never done it before, but it looks and sounds like a lot of fun in support of a great cause. (For a few more photos, check out pics from the 2010 event thanks to Emily Mills, AKA Lost Albatross, via Flickr.)
The 2012 event, the sixth annual, is scheduled for Sunday, September 16. Registration opens June 15 and is anticipated to fill up by mid-August. Get the details here.
J and I got our Madison Craft Beer Week adventures off to a great start last night when we stopped by The Malt House during “Red Eye Happy Hour.” We even managed to score a bit of swag in the form of a Red Eye pint sporting their cool logo, despite our arriving after the glasses had all but disappeared. (A few early-bird patrons left theirs behind, and happily I was able to trade in the orphaned dirty glass in the pic for one that had been sent through the dishwasher.) The place was really busy, with a mix of Malt House regulars, first-timers like us, active members of the local craft beer scene, and even a few families and tourists. It made for a lively atmosphere, with the hard-working bar staff scrambling to keep up with orders and glassware shortages.
J ended up sampling two non-Red-Eye brews on tap. He started with Common Thread (on the left in the photo), which we both agreed was good but too lager-y for our individual taste preferences. For his second round he had Raven Black IPA (a style he’s really been enjoying lately) from Thornbridge.
I had two of the four featured beers from Wausau’s Red Eye Brewing Company. The two I didn’t sample were their Thrust IPA and A Cart Ride to Mexico Maibock. I started with the Anniversary Sour, which I was happy to see was selling extremely well. (As a sour fan myself, it’s nice to know that I’m not the only one with some beer tastes that are far outside the U.S. mainstream.) The menu described it as “Belgian[-style] brown ale aged in French oak with a sour ‘La Folie’ yeast blend.” As Isthmus food writer Kyle Nabilcy tweeted, “Red Eye makes me so happy when I can track it down. This sour is hoppy and unlike any other sour I’ve had. Hooray beer”; and “Definitely less fruity than most sours I’ve tried….” I was very happy to have tried it, but for these exact reasons, it turned out to be not quite my thing. It was really quite sour, which is plenty OK by me, but I missed the complimentary deep fruity notes that you get in something like Duchesse De Bourgogne. Red Eye’s Saison de Fleur, my second round, turned out to be much more to my liking; the menu noted that “floral aromas and a touch of coriander distinguish this saison.” Both beers were also listed as “unknown ABV,” which turned out to mean that one or both were of relatively high alcohol content, since I was quite toasty by the end.
While one of us (me) could sober up for the drive home, we walked up Winnebago from the Malt House to Alchemy for dinner. To tide us over during our wait for a table, we sat outside at The Green Owl and shared a slice of vegan coconut cream pie that’s consistently yummy. Alchemy’s amazing buffalo wings haven’t made it back on the menu just yet, but as always we both had delicious locavorian and conscientious-omnivore-friendly meals that left us very happy campers.
We’re looking forward to the rest of Craft Beer Week!
FairShare CSA Coalition, with a host of University and community collaborators, is sponsoring a series of talks as they celebrate the “Year of CSA,” honoring their 20 years of work to promote community supported agriculture in Wisconsin. I just learned about the series today, too late to attend the inaugural event, but I’m looking forward to the others. See their poster below for details, as well as the following links for each speaker.
- Melinda Hemmelgarn, MS, RD
- Jeff Metoxen, Oneida Nation
- John Torgrimson, Seed Savers Exchange
- Ken Meter, Crossroads Center
Hope to see you at the upcoming events!