Category: events

Stakeholders (steakholders?) convene for New England Meat Conference

Concord, New Hampshire recently played host to the inaugural New England Meat Conference. Here’s a bit of the description from their website:

The goal of the New England Meat Conference is to enhance the production, processing, and marketing of sustainable, nutritious, humanely-raised, and delicious meat from New England farms by providing educational and networking opportunities for meat producers, processors and consumers….

As the first conference ever to focus specifically on meat production in New England, it will bring together those involved in meat production from field to table, including farmers, processors, distributors, chefs, technical assistance providers, members of our state and federal governments, and many others.

I learned about the event from a nice post by Caroline Abels (of who was in attendance. She writes,

The first (and hopefully now annual) gathering of New England meat producers and processors was, as someone said, a fantastic “peek behind the curtain” at all the moving parts that make local meat happen. When we eat humanely raised meat, do we ever think of the guy who sells poultry processing equipment, the bookkeeper at the rendering plant, the slaughterhouse operator, the trucking distributor, the health inspector, the artisan butcher, the farm auditor, or the animal science researcher?  It truly takes a village to serve a steak, and members of this village were well represented at the conference.

For Abels’s full post, including great links and a brief video, head here. And, check out the conference’s website for PDFs of the slides from more than a dozen presentations, including “Producing and Marketing Heritage Breed Pigs” and “Raising Small Ruminants with an Eye to Finance and Sustainability.”

Highlights from the 2013 Isthmus Beer and Cheese Fest

Mozzarella by Pizza Brutta at the 2013 Isthmus Beer & Cheese Fest. Photo by patrickkuhl via Flickr (CC BY 2.0)

Although I didn’t attend the recent Isthmus Beer & Cheese Fest, I was happy to read about some highlights from Robin Shepard at (where else?) the Isthmus website. J will be glad to hear that Shepard’s “Hoppy Favorite” was Silk Scorpion Black IPA from Karben4 Brewing: “With lots of citrus hoppiness and deep dark malty flavor, this brew it lives up to the name with a silky-smooth mouth feel and very dark black color. This is worth a trip to the new Madison brewery for another taste.” For more of Shepard’s “best of the best,” head here for the full piece: lovers of Wisconsin beer (and cheese) will find a list of great things to seek out this year.

In a short, light-hearted piece from John Waters (also at — where else? — the Isthmus website), I learned that some cows dine on spent grain from one of Madison’s most productive breweries: “Ale Asylum vice president Otto Dilba tells us the cows come running for the Hopalicious grain during a special beer and cheese pairing with Sarah Hill.” It was cool to see in the photo accompanying Waters’ post that one of the pairings included Ale Asylum’s limited-release Blood Red Ale, which J and I and some friends also got to try at a recent special event dinner at The Coopers Tavern. (I liked it a lot. Thanks, M!) Waters also gives a second thumbs up to Karben4’s Black IPA.

For one more look at the fest, check out this post from The Brews Bros website.

Coopers Tavern offers limited-release brews from Founders Brewing Co.

Breakfast Stout and the full Founders tap lineup. Photo by The Conscientious Omnivore (CC BY-NC-ND 3.0)

J and I dined at The Coopers Tavern last night so that we could partake of their night of three limited-release taps (plus two more readily available beers) from Founders Brewing Company, a highly rated brewery out of Grand Rapids, Michigan.

J was eager to try the Backwoods Bastard, which the Founders website describes this way: “Expect lovely, warm smells of single malt scotch, oaky bourbon barrels, smoke, sweet caramel and roasted malts, a bit of earthy spice, and a scintilla of dark fruit. It’s a kick-back sipper made to excite the palate.” The high alcohol content (10.2% ABV) made it a little too much like drinking a scotch or bourbon for it to really strike his fancy. I had a taste, and while it’s not one of my usual styles of beer, I thought it was really quite good. Scotch ale lover that he is, J also had the Dirty Bastard, which he liked a lot but found to be a bit too smoky to become a favorite.

As winter sets in, I’ve been branching out from my usual wheat beers and Flemish red ales to try heftier stuff. With a recommendation from our server, I ordered the Breakfast Stout. Here’s the Founders beer bio: “The coffee lover’s consummate beer. Brewed with an abundance of flaked oats, bitter and imported chocolates, and Sumatra and Kona coffee, this stout has an intense fresh-roasted java nose topped with a frothy, cinnamon-colored head that goes forever.” I thought this was pretty fantastic. I am really looking forward to picking up some bottles of this to make stout floats at home with some Sassy Cow vanilla ice cream.

Signs at Coopers said the beer will be available until the kegs run dry, so hurry in if you want to get a taste of some great seasonal and specialty brews. Even if you aren’t in the area, check out the video below for what I thought was some utterly charming, beer-smitten propaganda from Founders.

Mark your calendar: 2012 Wisconsin Book Festival

This week’s print edition of Isthmus includes an insert with the program of the 2012 Wisconsin Book Festival, which you can also access online. For Madison-area foodies and thoughtful eaters, I thought I’d highlight five programs that may be of particular interest. All WBF events are free.

For details, use the links below:

Mark Your Calendar: Green County Cheese Days, REAP Food for Thought Festival

Last night some friends mentioned that Green County Cheese Days were coming up soon. (Thanks, L & J!) I’d heard of it before but so far haven’t yet made the trip to Monroe for the biennial event. The 2012 Cheese Days takes place September 14-16. By all accounts, it’s a popular festival. Attendance is projected to be well over 100,000, and the cheese curd line is notoriously long. Why? As the FAQ (PDF) states, “The line is so long because the cheese curds are SOOO TASTY! It is worth the wait. It is located on the south side of square on the east corner. Please be aware that there is one line to buy tickets, and then you wait in another line to get the curds. If the ticket line looks short, buy tickets ahead of time and use them later.” Our friends agreed that the Cheese Days curds are some of the best they’ve ever had and well worth the wait. Other activities on the schedule include tours of Minhas Craft Brewery (which produces the house beer for The Old Fashioned in downtown Madison), Swiss music, old-world cheese making demonstrations, and—of course—cheese vendors. Check out this article from Barry Adams previewing the 2010 event, then head to the Cheese Days website for all the details.

Closer to home, REAP Food Group will be holding its annual Food for Thought Festival that same weekend, on Saturday, September 15, in downtown Madison (MLK Blvd just off Capitol Square). There’s no keynote speaker scheduled as in past years; instead, the focus is on a mix of demonstrations and short presentations on a wide range of topics. I just sent in my email to volunteer at the festival, so maybe I’ll see you there! Check out the schedule below and head to the REAP website for all the details.

Mark your calendar: La Fête de Marquette this weekend

Photo by qtouch via Flickr (CC BY-NC-ND 2.0)

The seventh annual Fête de Marquette hits Madison’s east side this weekend. Offering food, free music, the Willy Steet Co-op annual meeting and party (only in Madison can you celebrate Bastille Day with a food co-op meeting!), and much more, there’s lots going on. As the event listing at Isthmus describes,

A truly stellar group of performers who span the globe from Madagascar to Paris will be arrayed for your enjoyment at the intersection of East Washington Ave and South Dickinson Street. In its seventh year, the free music event—which attracts thousands, celebrates French culture and is produced by and benefits the Wil-Mar Neighborhood Center—will be staged from July 12th through the 15th.

Musicians from throughout the French-speaking world including Africa, Quebec, Europe, and an Algerian fronting a South American band will perform throughout the weekend. Artists with roots in the New Orleans, Cajun and Zydeco traditions will also be spread out throughout the weekend, but primarily on Sunday, Le Jour de Louisiane….

[N]ew this year, is Friday night’s Hooray for Heartland Happy Hour. Guests arriving between 4:30 and 6:30 will be treated to FREE hors d’oeuvres prepared by Fete de Marquette Food Vendors, All Beers and Wines specially priced at $2, Vintage Era Ferris Wheel Rides ($2)….

For more info, head to the Wil-Mar Neighborhood Center website, which offers details like a list of food vendors, the event schedule, and performer bios. Vive le 14 juillet!

Mark your calendar: Sassy Cow summer events

Photo by The Conscientious Omnivore (CC BY-NC-ND 3.0)

As reported today at, Sassy Cow Creamery will be celebrating June Dairy Month next weekend on Saturday, June 23:

Visitors can see firsthand how cows produce milk that is either bottled or made into ice cream. They also can meet a baby calf, tour the farmstead, take a hayride and purchase Sassy Cow’s ice cream and other products. The free event takes place from 11 a.m. to 4 p.m. at Sassy Cow, W4192 Bristol Road, Columbus. Brothers James and Robert Baerwolf and their families milk 500 dairy cows there.

Sassy Cow also says there’ll be tastings of “local dairy products from Cesar’s Cheese, Sugar Brook Farms, Sugar River Dairy, Crave Brother’s Cheese, Nordic Creamery, and Noble View Dairy. We will also sample our new low fat chocolate milk at the event.”

If you can’t make it to this event, the Sassy Cow website lists two other upcoming festivities: a “Summer Farm Celebration” on Saturday, July 21, and an “Ice Cream Social” on Saturday, August 25. The latter will include the unveiling of a new ice cream flavor; submit your own idea(s), and the winner will get a year supply of ice cream! Here are the flavor-contest details:

Three dozen or so ice cream flavors simply aren’t enough for us at Sassy Cow Creamery. And while we always enjoy coming up with new seasonal flavors of premium ice cream, this time we are offering our ice-cream-loving fans a chance to get in on the tasty fun, too. That’s why we are sponsoring a contest for a new farmstead-fresh ice cream flavor. Consumers are invited to create their own ice cream flavors for the contest.

The winning flavor will be announced and served on August 25, 2012, at our on-farm Ice Cream Social. The winner will be honored at the unraveling of this new flavor tasting event, and will receive a one-year supply of Sassy Cow Creamery Premium Farmstead Ice Cream. The winning ice cream flavor will have to live up to the creamery’s high standards. Our farmstead ice cream is freshly made using milk produced by cows on our families’ dairy farms and other high-quality ingredients.

Use The Online Form to enter The Contest. Submit as many different flavors as you want (only one flavor per form).