On Saturday, October 4, we braved the cold and were treated to a tour of one of Madison’s newer Asian markets, A Mart in the Whitney Square Shopping Center. Our tour guide, Vu, took us down every aisle and explained what many of the products are used for, and pointed out many of his favorite brands. I was curious what brand of fish sauce he recommended—his personal preference is for the Squid brand—but said that many choose the Three Crabs brand as well.
Vu himself drives down to Chicago early Friday morning to bring back a wide variety of produce, including Thai bananas, purple yams, durian, and green mangos. Fresh seafood comes in on Tuesdays and Fridays.
Not only does A Mart have a wide assortment of Asian groceries, but also a good selection of kitchen and housewares, and well stocked African and Middle Eastern sections.
If you make it to A Mart, don’t leave without visiting the dessert and deli section—just past the checkout counters on the front wall—where they keep a stack of freshly made Bahn Mi sandwiches everyday, and several house-made desserts on weekends. The sandwiches are not quite ready to eat however; they should be warmed in an oven until crisp and warm throughout.
If you missed the tour, don’t despair. Vu and his co-workers are on hand and willing to answer questions about products and how to cook with them.
On March 9th, Urban Market Forage participants were treated to a hands-on queso fresco making afternoon with Dave Potter and his daughter Kate, of Get Culture/The Dairy Connection. www.GetCulture.com
The afternoon started with a quick look around the store and the cheese making classroom. Get Culture is the retail location of Dairy Connection, a mail order supplier that works with amateur and professional cheese makers all over the country.
After making the queso fresco, participants were treated to a variety of cheeses, including an unusual (and very tasty) canned cheddar from Washington State!
Dave teaches a several classes around Madison and loves to share his knowledge, including the science behind the making of different cheese types. If you have ever been curious about making yogurt or cheese at home, this is the place to go!
On February 9th, 14 people gathered at the Conscious Carnivore (http://www.conscious-carnivore.com/) on University Avenue in Madison to learn about the history and practices of the business from owner Bartlett Durand.
We were greeted at the large community table, next to a sunny window, with fruit, croissants, coffee, and seasonal cheddar cheese (Spring and Winter) from Otter Creek Organic Farm (http://www.ottercreekorganicfarm.com/).
The cheeses started off the discussion. Otter Creek is owned and operated by Bartlett’s father-in-law, Gary Zimmer. It is a sustainable, organic, pastured dairy farm. We discussed the nuances of flavor that change with the seasons, the grasses, the fat content of the milk.
The philosophy behind Conscious Carnivore is “Respect for every animal, on four feet or two”. CC sources meat from small Wisconsin and Iowa farms. They are rated as Organic, Grass fed, or Grandpa’s Way—relating back to how family farms were run before industrialization. Bartlett doesn’t shy away from any questions or discussions. Many regular customers stopped in during our visit. It is a convivial atmosphere that harkens back to when shopkeepers knew all their customers by name. The large table serves as a gathering space as well. Beer and wine are available, as is coffee. You can sit and sip and talk with friends. There are baskets of toys and coloring books for children as well.
Another tenet of the business is that nothing goes to waste. A popular sausage from Black Earth Meats (http://www.blackearthmeats.com/), the Offal Tasty is also available at the shop. There are meats brined and ready for crockpots as well, but no prepared foods. The shop offers a variety of classes, and always has recipes on hand or advice on how to prepare the different cuts of meat.
On Saturday, January 11th, Urban Market Forage visited The African and American Market on East Johnson Street. Madison Eats founder and African dance teacher Otehlia Cassidy was our guide for this wonderful outing.
The shop seems smaller from the outside, but inside, 2 rooms are filled to the brim: canned goods from several African countries, beans, pulses, grains, pots and pans, halal meats, imported snacks and sodas, beauty products, woven bags, traditional African clothing, colorful shoes and jewelry.
Owner Miriam Diallo hails from Guinea, West Africa, but ran a shop in Brooklyn, NY for many years before settling in Madison about a decade ago. She and her equally charming husband, Mohammad, have customers from all over the African continent, but also others who have traveled in Africa and are looking to reconnect. For anyone with no connection, but an interest in learning more, they are more than happy to share their knowledge with all who walk through the door. P.S. fight off that dry Wisconsin winter skin with a tub of pure shea butter!
Thank you to Otehlia for her time and experience, and also for providing us with this classic West African recipe. Enjoy!
This month's trip was to 4 & 20 Bakery & Cafe, 4and20bakery.com, located
at 305 N. 4th Street, for a special class in crust and pie making.
This wonderful small cafe is located across the street from East High School
next to Milio's. It has served delicious coffee, breakfasts and lunches
for the past 2 years and has become somewhat of a neighborhood center with
its relaxed atmosphere and tasty food. The cafe has been a site for several
students from the Work-Learn program at East.
We were warmly greeted by Evan and Mandy, two of the three owners of
the cafe, (Scott is the 3rd). Evan's previous experience includes being
sous chef for L'Etoile and Mandy was bakery manager for Monty's Blue Plate
Diner. They told us about their business and general philosophy.
Besides using seasonal and locally grown foods, they also do some foraging
for wild edibles, do some of their own curing of meats and make all of their
After providing the participants with cups of tea, Mandy began her
demonstration. Afterwards she cut into a pie that she had made earlier and
shared it with us. Yum!!
Pie Crust Recipe for 1 Double Crust Pie:
3 C. Flour
1 t. salt
1 t. sugar
1 stick of unsalted butter, cut into cubes
1/2 C. vegetable shortening
Put dry ingredients in food processor. Add butter and shortening and
pulse until consistency of coarse cornmeal
3/4 C. ice water
1 T. apple cider vinegar
Process until mixture comes together in ball.
Refrigerate for at least 1 hour or up to 7 days.
4 C. fresh or frozen peaches
2 C. fresh or frozen blackberries
1/2 C. white sugar
1/2 C. brown sugar
1/2 C. cornstarch
1 t. cinnamon
Mix together dry ingredients, add fruit and mix together.
Fill pie crust and add top crust.
Spritz with water and sprinkle top with white sugar
Bake at 350 degrees for about 2 1/2 - 3 hours until bottom crust is cooked.
* Roll pie crust between 2 sheets of plastic wrap.
* Use glass pie plate to monitor browning of bottom crust
* Trim top crust with scissors
* Roll up excess crust before crimping
* Check after 45 minutes to 1 hour and cover top with aluminum foil
when it is properly browned
We'd like to thank Evan and Mandy for their generosity in opening
4 & 20 Bakery Cafe to us for this special event and to Scott for helping
set this up. This was a great opportunity to learn about pie making
before the holiday season!
On September 20th, a baker’s dozen of early birds showed up at Madison Sourdough for our latest Urban Market Forage. David Lohrentz, who is co-owner with baker Andrew Hutchinson, presented us with sweet treats as he discussed the history of MSD and his own personal history that led him to this business.
MSD’s philosophy is Craft. Nourish. Community. All that and more was evident at our visit. A wonderful selection of breads using top grade flours, including heritage wheat varieties being grown again in Wisconsin after a long absence; delightful pastries made by the aptly named Pierre; a bustling café filled with regulars enjoying a delicious breakfast.
Bakers rotate through the bakery from middle of the night to middle of the afternoon. Height and strong arms are important characteristics for successfully loading and unloading the enormous oven. Though the work is precise and demanding, there was a lot of good cheer on display, and it shows in the final product.
On Saturday, June 22, UMF started its field trip at Underground Meats production
facility at 931 Main Street. Both Underground Meats and Underground Butcher are part
of a food collective which also includes a catering service and Forequarters Restaurant
on E. Johnson Street. We met Jerry, a mechanical engineer who learned of sausage-
making and now is a member of the collective. He gave us a butcher’s eye view of
salami and salumi (other cured meats). Jerry told us that the pork they use is from
heirloom hogs that are pastured-raised locally on small family farms. They also use local
lamb and goat as well.
Jerry explained the process of making salami from the pork– mixing it with fat, spice
blends, lactose and a nitrite/nitrate blend to inhibit the growth of harmful bacteria and
mold. The meat is extruded into casings and painted with an edible mold which further
prevents the growth of unwanted organisms. The mold gives the casings a white
Next the sausage is hung in a locker which is controlled for humidity and temperature.
The pH is monitored frequently to assure food safety. The meat is then transferred to
another locker where it is cured. This process can take 4-6 weeks for the salami and up
to 6-9 months for the prosciutto and other cuts.
Underground Meat offers classes on sausage-making, etc. and collaborates with other
aspiring butchers and meat producers. They provide meat to many of Madison’s
restaurants and to their affiliates, Underground Butcher and Forequarters Restaurant.
They are a regular presence at the DOT Farmers Market on Saturday AM’s and venture
down to Chicago to sell their products at a farmer’s markets there.
After sampling some delicious salami and chorizo, we walked to Underground Butcher
at 811 Williamson where we met Michael and Casey who told us about their part of the
collective. Here they offer cuts of locally raised grass-fed beef and other meats. Michael
explained that usually the meat from grass-fed animals looks different with the fat being
more yellow in color. Besides selling the dried and cured meat from Underground Meat,
they also make fresh sausage from rabbit, chicken, pork and beef. Both facilities
welcome special orders and are happy to share information on preparing their delicious
Underground Butcher also sells cheeses, wines, beer and other gourmet foods and
products. They offer a sandwich menu with a daily special.
We’d like to thank the people of Underground Meats and Underground Butcher for
sharing their knowledge and enthusiasm for their craft and their delicious products. We
enjoyed the tours and the wonderful sausage that we brought home with us! Night Train
Sausage made with smoked beer, anyone?
Our eleventh market tour took place on May 5th, a quiet Sunday morning, at The Kitchen Gallery (http://thekitchengallery.biz/) with new owner Katrina Kelly. Kelly recently bought the business with husband Matt Kelly, from former owners Stephanie Kessenich and Tom Christensen. Formerly located on Willy Street, The Kitchen Gallery moved downtown to King Street in 2012. Being near the Saturday morning Dane County Farmers’ Market on the Capitol Square has helped bring in walk-in traffic. A new Saturday lunchtime attraction features knife sharpening demonstrations by former chef and Siglinda (http://siglinda.com/) owner, Josh McEachen.
Emphasizing high-quality, durable goods that given proper care will last a lifetime and in turn become heirloom pieces, The Kitchen Gallery also tries to source regionally and offer items made with natural materials, such as wooden bowls made in Michigan, jute floor mats, and dish brushes with replaceable heads. Katrina considered enrolling in professional cooking school when she lived in Washington, D.C., but instead chose to focus on cooking for family and friends. She enjoys talking with customers about favorite cookware lines (Mauviel, for stainless steel and copper pans; Staub, for enameled cast iron pots; and Kuhn Rikon, for pressure cookers), or favorite foods (Rancho Gordo dried heirloom beans). Knife buyer Steven Weiss discussed the store’s selection of European and Japanese knives, and pointed out brands, features, and materials one might consider in choosing a knife.
Personable, knowledgeable staff and hand-picked, long-lasting kitchen goods: a perfect match for Madison food lovers.
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.
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.