Dining & Drink

The Passing of an Old Friend

Last week began with rumors that would soon dump at least three of its magazines.  A popular gossip blog held a contest for its readers to predict which publications would get the ax. I was taken aback that one of the most popular nominees for extinction was . Surely, not, I thought.  When the news came, I was dumbfounded. How could a magazine I've literally been reading all my life—subscribed to since the early 70's—just cease to exist overnight?  Most dispiriting of all was seeing pictures the next day of the Gourmet offices, already empty cubicles with packed boxes waiting to be taken away.

Bittersweet Disposition

I love aperitifs. , , Byrrh, —the list is a long one. Oddly for me, it all began with vermouth, something most of identify as a minor ingredient in a martini or Manhattan.  As with so many things I discover that I like, it was by accident.

Lotsa Pasta

When I was a kid there were two kinds of pasta, spaghetti and mac ‘n' cheese. Except for ravioli, of course, that seemingly only came in a can.Sauce was inevitably red and meatballs about as exotic as it ever got. It was only on a trip to Italy more than a decade later that I learned that pasta came in every shape under the sun—from bowties to cartwheels—could be fresh or dried, stuffed or even flavored. (I still have a problem with the black stuff made from squid ink.)

Food Fighter

Michael Pollan is the sage of the local food movement.

Hot Is Hot

Ha Long Bay's menu is a multipage tome of tempting Southeast Asian dishes.

We Are What We Eat

The path from farm to table has never been direct, or as simple, as it sounds.

Fall Fresh

he mornings are crisp and clear. There is the rustle of leaves underfoot as we walk the dog. All signs point to the presence of autumn. And while we turn to heartier recipes, lightening up on calories is a yearlong goal. With that in mind, I turn once again to the Junior League of Madison's Mad About Food.

Julia Mania

A couple of weeks ago, Katie Vaughn, a writer at Madison Magazine, sent me an email with the tidbit that one of the chefs at was related to Judith Jones, Julia Child's former editor.Actually, is a culinary icon in her own right, but frankly I was amused that Julia's celebrity status is now such that even an association la 6 Degrees of Kevin Bacon is worth touting.Of course, this is all because of the current hit movie, "Julie and Julia."I've been utterly astounded at friends of mine who have gone to see the movie and are now rushing out to buy Mastering the Art of French Cooking, a book that has been around since 1961.Obviously this is a national phenomenon since the book now tops various best-seller lists, a feat it never accomplished while Julia Childs was alive.

More Tomatoes

It doesn't get any fresher than this!Jim and Jenny Schiavo, owners of The Continental Fitchburgare growing their own tomatoes, peppers and basil in a garden right behind the restaurant.The Continental also features a special summer menu of home-grown tomato specials, including bruschetta, panzanella and a polenta-crusted pizza.

Portrait of a Bellini

For the most part, arriving at any new destination is unremarkable, since airports and freeways have a generic sameness no matter where they are. For me, traveling to Venice for the first time was an exception. Even the name of the train I was on was impressive, the Direct Orient Express. Leaving Santa Lucia Station, I boarded a water taxi—the No. 1 vaporetto—that would transport me up the Grand Canal and into another world. It was a warm August evening and the gothic marble palazzos that edged the water—just like in a Canaletto painting—were tinted pink and gold by the setting sun. I can still hear the diesel engine of the boat, churning up waves, and the squawk of the sea gulls. The air had the scent of salt from the Adriatic and the underlying musk of mildew and antiquity. I watched openmouthed as famous landmarks like the Rialto Bridge and the basilica of passed me by, headed toward my destination, the Piazza San Marco.  Critics of the city will say it is moldering, expensive and full of tourists. Undeniably it is one of the most sensual and beautiful manmade places on earth. 

Slow Money

alking about getting people to use money differently is hard." Yet that is exactly the task Woody Tasch has taken on. He is the chairman and president of Slow Money, and he was in Madison recently for the fifth in a series of Slow Money Institutes across the country attended by invited guests, farmers, producers, educators, community activists and others involved in building healthy, sustainable food systems.

Chardonnay Changes

hardonnay remains the best selling white varietal in the U.S. Yet changes are afoot. Whether that's good or bad depends on your taste. The buttery, creamy style is falling out of favor with winemakers, who are replacing it with styles that emphasize acidity and fruit. One unequivocally positive change is that the quality of lesser-priced Chardonnays has increased dramatically.

Local Flavor

The Door County Cherry Drop is a thoroughly Wisconsin sip

Taste of Tradition

ittle more than memories remain of our own Little Italy, the " 'Bush." The Italian Workmen's Club still stands, and in its cellar, the Greenbush Bar. Named for the neighborhood that nurtured so much of our city's vibrant Italian-American community, it is a cozy and lively rendezvous. Owner and chef Anna Alberici crafts pizzas with crisp and crunchy crusts, baked in her mother's oven and famous all over town. Peasant bread, Italian sausage, pasta and antipasto celebrate her Sicilian heritage. Don't leave without one of Anna's homespun desserts. The old 'Bush may be gone, but you can still taste it at the Greenbush Bar.

French Connection

magination is a powerful tool. You can go any way, visit any place. Sometimes, on a gloomy day, I take myself for a stroll down a Paris street in search of a patisserie.

Radical Sandwiches

A PB&J or grilled cheese is comforting, but sometimes I crave a little more titillation