Sweet Potato Project
Slow Food Madison is working with the UW Extension, Community Action Coalition, and Equinox Farms to launch the Madison Sweet Potato Project.
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Saturday, March 10th we had an urban market forage to the Chocolaterian on Madison’s east side.
Chocolaterian is the newly established home base of Leanne Cordisco, the creator of Christine’s Toffee and Caramels. The café lives in the historic Schenk-Huegel building on 2004 Atwood Avenue, which was remodeled from its retail origins into a café and candy-making haven. Chocolaterian features decadent desserts like macaroons, crème puffs, ugly cookies (cocoa, pistachios, and toffee) and a rich Parisian hot chocolate, but the showcase pieces are the toffee and caramel. A large glass window gives visitors a view into the kitchen where they can see the shop’s treats being made. For most of the day, Leanne and co-owner Kimberly Vrubley are in there working on making their candy.
Leanne brought us behind the glass to give us a toffee-making demonstration, taking us from the initial heating of the large vat all the way to the cooling, cutting, and chocolate coating. Whether it was the infrared gun at her hip or a simple dangling stick above the pot, she kept a thermometer nearby throughout the process. Making the candy is all about precision—the main difference between toffee and caramel is temperature—and Leanne tells us that being off by even just a few degrees is the difference between candy and garbage. Leanne and Kimberly are comfortable with the science however: both spent most of their life at a company that worked with medical devices. The transition from corporate to chocolate has been a dream fulfilled for both women.
After snacking on bits of toffee and chocolate, many of us reached for the bacon toffee next. The famous concoction, which has starred in Emmy Awards goodie bags, has been a hit for Christine’s. The flavors trigger all five of your taste buds, producing an experience that is both overwhelming and immensely pleasing. It’s the secret, she tells us, to making an irresistible piece of candy.
This coming Sunday is the CSA Open House at the Monona Terrace.
Attend free workshops and learn how to best use your share and choose the right farm for your family. Children’s activities, a raffle to benefit Partner Shares, which helps low-income families to join farms, and recipe samples!
Approximately 1,000 people typically attend this annual event. It’s free and open to all.
There’s a new CSA that we’re particularly interested in. The Spring Rose Growers Co-op has started a CSA this year. Spring Rose is comprised of Latino and Hmong farmers. Here’s a blurb from their site:
We have grown beyond the Farley Center to six farm members, both Hmong and Latino. Since November 2010 we have been working under a USDA Small Socially Disadvantaged Producer Grant to design and implement technical assistance programming targetd specifically at farmers like ourselves.
If you’re not familiar with the CSA model, the CSA Coalition has some great information on their site.
On Sunday, February 10th, a small, by necessity, group went to the tiny and delightful Oriental Shop on South Park Street. Though in operation since 1979, the little white house with red trim is easy to miss.
Our visit was off to a good start as we were all greeted with a cup of hot tea that was a combination of green tea and toasted brown rice.
Despite the name, the shop is primarily geared towards Japanese foods given that its lovely owner, Tamaki, is from Japan. Her husband is Taiwanese, so some Chinese items dot the shelves and a few Korean canned and frozen foods are available too.
Fresh baked goods are delivered every Wednesday. There are many products in the coolers and freezer. There is no real room for produce, so that is limited to a couple of types of fruit and a couple of vegetables varieties in small bins.
One of the greatest draws, however, is sushi grade fish, which is delivered every other Saturday. Their loyal clientele often order in advance because it is highly coveted. The next delivery will be on March 30th.
We ended our visit with a type of mochi (glutinous rice cake) called Sakura Mochi. It is filled with sweet red bean paste and wrapped in a lightly salt-pickled cherry blossom leaf. These are traditional eaten for Girls’ Day, March 3rd. They sell various types of mochi including Sasa Dango, which is wrapped in bamboo leaves and tied in bunches.
Go to Park Street, meet Tamaki, and marvel at how many intriguing and delicious things you can find in the little white house with red trim.
We kicked off our seasonal French Cooking Class series at Chez Nanou on Monday, January 21st, 2013. Students arrived at 5 pm and after introductions and an orientation to the restaurant, class began promptly. An apron, hand towel, and packet of the recipes for the evening were provided to each student. In keeping with our small class size, each student had their own work station in the kitchen.
Dee & Nanou were so perfectly organized in their preparations, class went smoothly and everyone was able to enjoy their time in a relaxed and fun fashion. We started things off by putting together the Salmon & Leek Pie, our main course. Students helped mix together the pastry dough, clean and prep leeks, skin and dice fresh salmon, and make a Béchamel sauce. After the pie was in the oven we got started on the French Onion Soup. Nanou shared her secret for slicing onions without tears! Students sliced onions and got them sautéing. While the soup simmered, we moved on to dessert…Crêpe Suzette! Everyone got to take a turn making crepes. There is definitely a technique to getting it right and the correct pan is a must! Finally, Nanou demonstrated making the Suzette sauce which was then set aside until assembly time.
Now that the work was done, it was time for dinner. The soup bowls were assembled with herbed croutons made at the beginning of class, topped with the delicious onion soup, and finally with grated Swiss cheese. The bowls were place under the broiler to melt the cheese until slightly golden. Wine was poured and it was time to eat! The students, guests, and chefs sat around a convivial table to enjoy the home cooked food and engage in conversation. The way a Slow Food meal is meant to be. The soup was delicious. Savory and warm with some sweetness from the onions. Thick and hearty from the croutons and cheese. I think I could eat this all winter long!
Moving on to our second course, the pie was golden and gorgeous with perfectly flaky crust. Filled with creamy salmon and leeks, it was the definition of comfort food! The fresh salmon had been mixed with smoked salmon to give the pie some depth of flavor. Nanou taught the students how to make an emulsified mustard vinaigrette from scratch. With this dressing, an arugula salad accompanied each slice of pie. It made a beautiful plate.
Last but not least was dessert. We went brief back to the kitchen where each student was able to create their own authentic Crêpe Suzette, complete with flambéed Grand Marnier. There was a lot of excitement in the kitchen! The crêpes were light and tangy. The perfect end to a lovely meal.
Everyone had a nice time cooking, learning, and eating together. We are so excited to offer this series of classes and are working on an April date for the Spring session! We look forward to having you join us. Bon Apetit!