A Chicago-style hot dog and a Chicago cocktail bar won top honors at this year’s SloPig, the third annual “celebration of heritage pork” created by Chef Dan Fox and Chad Vogel in 2011.
Tory Miller, the James Beard Award-winning chef at L’Etoile and Graze, won a pig-shaped cast iron pan made by Alisa Toninato, unseating two-time champion Sanford Restaurant in Milwaukee. Miller’s dishes included a sublime Red Wattle porchetta with fennel and citrus, a roasted goat taco and, yes, a Chicago-style all beef hot dog on a mini poppy seed bun.
The Aviary, a cocktail bar in Chicago, served a combination of matcha tea ice, botanical gin and pineapple juice and won the punch competition for the second year in a row. (Ruben Mendez of L’Etoile won in 2011).
In total, six restaurants competed in SloPig this year, including Osteria Papavero and The Madison Club, Sixteen Restaurant in Chicago and Hinterland in Milwaukee. In addition to Aviary and L’Etoile, punches were made by Merchant in Madison, Sable Kitchen and Bar and Masa Azul in Chicago, and the Hotel Foster in Milwaukee.
A story about Texas-style BJ’s Kolaches in the last edition of 77 Square had some readers in a tizzy.
“I was dumbfounded by the review,” wrote John H. Marvin, an “84-year-old of Bohemian heritage” who lives in Madison. “Most of what is being hawked are pasties, dough filled with meat.
“The epicenter of the kolache is not Texas, but right across the river in Iowa. … My favorites are the rhubarb ones baked at Sykora Bakery (in Cedar Rapids), although the prune and apricot are equally good.”
Another reader, a native of Spillville, Iowa, wrote that fruit-filled kolaches “are commonly served at weddings, funerals and family holiday celebrations.”
Meat-filled kolaches were foreign to her. Based on Wikipedia, she decided they might be “a klobasnek or klobasniki.”
“These communities of Czech ancestors, which include my family, have only known a kolache to be a pastry that holds a dollop of fruit or poppy seed,” she wrote.
Jon Carapezza owns BJ’s Kolaches, the food cart near Grainger Hall on the UW-Madison campus. He serves kolache with familiar fillings, like apricot and poppy seed, as well as savory versions filled with sausage jambalaya and spinach artichoke dip.
“I don’t claim they’re traditional,” said Carapezza, who is from Stevens Point and has lived in Madison for five years. (The BJ stands for “Big Jon.”) “It’s my interpretation of what I’ve had.”
Carapezza was introduced to the meat-filled kolache through the Kolache Factory in Houston, where some of his family lives.
“I’ve heard about 20 different names people call them,” Carapezza said, including pasty, calzone and stromboli. “I think once they got Americanized they turned into a whole different thing.
“I know the food is good. If they eat it, they’ll get used to it; they’ll like it.”
Asparagus to Zucchini 2.0
Deciding what to do with a heaping box of beets, cabbage, corn and squash can be daunting for even the most seasoned community supported agriculture (CSA) member.
Fair Share CSA Coalition, a collection of some 48 Wisconsin farms, can help. Fair Share’s new cookbook, “Farm-Fresh and Fast,” will be released in mid-April. It will be available for discounted preorder ($20, shipping included) through April 15.
Madison’s first veggie-share cookbook, “From Asparagus to Zucchini,” was released in 1996 and is currently in its third printing. The new cookbook, which was compiled and tested by a team of staff and volunteers, consists of seven sections based around plant type.
They are: root vegetables; stalks and shoots; kernels, legumes and pods; fruits eaten as vegetables (such as bell peppers, cucumber and tomatoes); sweet fruits; leafy greens; crowns, buds and flowers; aromatic accents (such as garlic, ginger and herbs); and “extra” CSA specialty items like eggs, honey, poultry and maple syrup.
“Farm-Fresh” includes a cocktail section based on classes held at Death’s Door Distillery. There’s a pantry section, a book resource section, theme menus and a glossary of food terms. Each chapter starts with a master recipe — a “recipe outline” with variations on a theme.
“If you already own ‘Asparagus to Zucchini,’ this is a great next level cookbook,” said Fair Share executive director Kiera Mulvey. “It relies on a basic familiarity with ingredients and encourages people to be more flexible.
“It’s still easy to follow recipes and it’s easy to use, but it encourages people to be more experimental. It’s like ‘Asparagus to Zucchini’ 201.”
Find information about how to preorder “Farm-Fresh and Fast” at csacoalition.org/store/farm-fresh-fast-cookbook.
The people’s chef
Food and Wine’s annual audience poll for “The People’s Best New Chef” in 10 areas of the U.S. puts Nostrano chef/owner Tim Dahl among the Midwest’s best.
Dahl worked at Blackbird, Avec and NoMI in Chicago before opening Nostrano on the Capitol Square in 2010. He was also included in last year’s Food and Wine poll. Tim Dahl’s wife and business partner, Elizabeth Dahl, was recently nominated for a 2013 James Beard Award for outstanding pastry chef.
Vote for your favorite chef in each of the 10 regions at foodandwine.com/peoples-best-new-chef.