The other piece of inspiration went by the name of PS23. I didn't go to Wisconsin expecting to find farm to table dining opportunities, but that's life for you. I asked what we were doing for dinner one night and they said "PS23. It stands for Public School 23." I thought, "that doesn't answer my question", and some amount of confusion ensued. It turns out the restaurant is called Park Side 23. Anyway, let's get to the point. They claim they're the only restaurant in the area to grow much of the produce they serve on the premise. There's a large garden off to one side where they not only plant vegetables and fruits, but also host Farm Suppers. It was pretty incredible. And the food was amazing. Meat, as you know, is not my main focus when it comes to food, but I'm so, so glad that I stepped out of my range and ordered the Pork Osso Bucco. I'd never had the dish before, but I'm not sure I'll order it again after this experience as nothing will be able to compare. It was flavorful and juicy and fall-off-the-bone tender. Served over creamy polenta with a colorful arrangement of glazed radishes and apples, it was the best thing I could have asked for.
Then I discovered a book by the name of Whole Larder Love by Rohan Anderson (he also runs a blog) at the library. I'm notorious for flagging recipes in beautiful cookbooks and then never finding time to make the dishes themselves. This time I actually had the opportunity to make a soup and sauce, and furthermore, they were in the spirit of the book: as home-sourced as possible. It's worth getting the cookbook (either purchasing it or renting it from the library), if only to read his page-long commentaries on the different ways to produce and gather food.
If you have the means, I highly recommend getting your ingredients as locally and freshly as possible. You'll find the taste is outrageously good. All of the produce came from the Farmer's Market and the meat from Angelina's Deli, a small, family-run Italian market.
|I'm not sure how much of a difference this really makes, but I got |
non-imported prosciutto to try to cut down on fuel impacts.
Prosciutto Zucchini Soup
The original recipe for this soup prescribed 2 tablespoons of sour cream to add some richness. First of all, I didn't have any. Second of all, and most importantly, the finished soup was quite thick and smooth, even without the added dairy. One other note made by Rohan is that the prosciutto can simply be omitted if you're cooking for a vegetarian audience.
- 4 1/2 - 5 ounces prosciutto
- 3 large zucchini, roughly diced
- 1 large onion, diced
- 5 cloves garlic, diced
- 3 cups water
- 1 cup hot water + 1 teaspoon chicken bouillon
- 1/2 - 1 teaspoon 21 Seasoning Salute (from Trader Joe's, or any other spice mix you like)
- olive oil
|THIS IS NOT THE FINAL PRODUCT!|
I forgot to take a picture of the pureed soup at the end.
- 5 pounds fresh tomatoes
- 10 cloves garlic
- 1 large bunch basil
- olive oil
This summer there was a new (to me) vendor present. Her stall was called Aleka's Kitchen. The first Saturday I bought tyropita, a feta cheese-filled triangle and the second Saturday of my visit I purchased a square of flaky spanakopita. While at her stand, I tried a garlicky raw walnut dip called skordalia, which was delicious. When I was presented a few days later with some rather sad-looking eggplants, I decided to make a dip that incorporated those walnuts I had so enjoyed. I also added feta cheese, as you will see below in the picture, but it was rather unappetizing after it had been sitting in the dip overnight and didn't end up adding that much flavor.
- 3 large Japanese eggplants
- 1 heaping cup button mushrooms, stemmed and brushed clean
- 1 teaspoon cumin, ground
- 1 teaspoon coriander, ground
- 2 heaping teaspoons Hungarian sweet paprika, divided
- 1/4 heaping cup walnuts, lightly crushed/chopped (you probably could use more, I couldn't taste them very much)
- broth, to thin out the dip a bit
2) Heat a splash of olive oil in a small saute pan. Slice the mushrooms into thick slices. Saute with the cumin and coriander until tender. Remove from heat.
3) Place the walnuts in the bowl of a food processor and grind until only small pieces remain. Add the eggplant and mushrooms and continue to blend until it has reached your desired consistency. I was using a blender, which was much more difficult for pureeing something this thick, so I had to constantly add more broth to keep it from clogging. If you're looking for a more spread-like consistency (like a loose veggie pate), don't add broth and see how it goes. Overall, I probably added between 1/4 and 1/3 cups of broth, which was not my original intention, but it turned out well anyway.
4) Place in a serving bowl and stir in the paprika, garnishing the top with another sprinkle of paprika for color.
- Wisconsin State Fair - the only place worth eating a solid meal is in the Wisconsin Product building. Plus the Cream Puff Pavilion, obviously.
|My grandfather's favorite place to eat.|
|Just an example of why America is overweight.|
|Sky glider provides a great view of fallen flipflops.|
|A must-drink at the Fair. More in the vein of shake than milk.|
|The Starry Night as interpreted by a talented icing worker.|
|I can only see the oxymoron here.|
- Mulberries - my grandmother has a mulberry tree on the side of the house that gives up just the right amount of fruit to make one batch of jam. This year I was lucky in that there were some berries leftover that I got to sample.
- Pizza - we took a whirlwind trip to Chicago for one night in the middle of our stay and ate at Roots for dinner. This is probably my favorite pizza place in the world. Not that I've been to Italy or anything. What makes this place so unique is that it defies tradition, throwing out decades of labels that now define the Chicago deep dish vs thin crust rivalry. Instead, it's a medium-thick MALT crust with various specialty themes, such as cheeseburger, taco and BLT. Oh, and don't forget the mozzarella stick appetizer. No pictures. It was too delicious to wait.