Saturday, October 17, 2009

List of Publications - Isthmus 2009

Oliva is a new bright spot in west-side dining
When the nomadic, horse-riding Seljuq Turks migrated from their ancestral homeland of Central Asia and crossed the Volga into the Black Sea steppes circa 1300 A.D., they brought a highly distinctive philosophy towards food with them: In austerity is great beauty. The Turks have long employed a deep restraint in their arts, a design esthetic that cuts through the opulence of Western Europe like a scythe through a hunk of warm çökelek.
Bucatini Trattoria: Basta pasta in Middleton
In a college town, serving spaghetti and meatballs to carousing students is a solid business plan. It doesn't have to be high art. Nonetheless, I was hopeful that Enzo Amodeo's new Bucatini Trattoria in Middleton might be a step up from the plate-o'-bland-pasta approach.
Ironworks Cafe shines at breakfast and lunch at Goodman
The Goodman Community Center's new Ironworks Café -- a gorgeously retrofitted space well suited to breakfast or lunch lounging -- is an asset to the Schenk-Atwood neighborhood.
Chew on this!
In the past couple of decades, the act of dining out has achieved a central focus in our popular culture. It's the meal as theater, classic art or sporting event. Or perhaps it's more mundane than that; we're busier and we eat more meals out of the house. Regardless, we know you like to read about it.
Wine with your meal?
There are real differences between wines, but there are no absolute standards. Once you realize this, wine tasting becomes a lot more fun. For once, it really is all about you!
12 months of meals in Madison and beyond
We kept up with the openings (and closings), menu revamps, and special event dinners in the pages of Isthmus and on If you've been meaning to try out some of the newest kitchens in town, or revisit old favorites that have tweaked their menus, this compilation is a good place to start.
Tagging along with Tory Miller
"The most important thing is the relationships." It's 6:45 on a sunny Saturday morning, and I'm walking around the Capitol Square discussing how fresh food from Wisconsin farms gets to Tory Miller's kitchen -- and finally to your plate.
Ha Long Bay Bistro serves Viet, Thai and Lao cuisines
Bright neon green curtains enhance the comfortable new space for Ha Long Bay Bistro, previously occupied by Bab's French Quarter Kitchen. Bamboo pagoda lamps, rice paddy hats and nautical and floral images create a pleasing visual flow. Tiny bamboo plants in faux-jade baby elephant planters rest on each table. Cuisine is derived from Vietnamese, Thai and Laotian recipes.
BLT Pick, Pot stickers, Summer beer

The bacon, lettuce, tomato and avocado sandwich is rough but sublime, or "messy, but worth it!" as my date put it. The sandwich is a welcome inversion of a typical BLT: Fresh avocado dominates; the crunch of the bacon just provides support to the tangy tomato and lettuce. "We get our bacon from Fountain Prairie Farm and Pecatonica Valley Farm," general manager Ben Hunter told me. The fresh baguette provides chewy substance, and roasted red bell peppers frame the plate.

Purist's delight, Quality pho, Have a drink, help a marten
In Vietnamese cuisine, a tureen of quality pho is the critical benchmark. Here, Ha Long Bay really makes good. Thinly shaved beef is perched atop a tower of noodles in an intoxicating broth of white and green onions. Freshly cut limes, jalapeños and raw bean sprouts are provided on the side to accent your soup to taste; a squeeze of lime is transformative.
New deal, End of summer fest, Beer here
The best deal for lunch is the buffet (which has recently dropped to $8). Beef dopiaza is terrific: chunks of tender, seasoned beef in a succulent preparation of tomatoes, onions and thick gravy. Karhi pakora is made by rolling balls made of chickpea flour and frying them in vegetable oil, then serving in yogurt sauce. This classic north Indian interplay between savory and sour is an excellent example of the regional style Flavor of India showcases.
Jovian Taphaus tries to integrate beer hall and fine dining
The Jovian Taphaus tries to mash sports bar, beer hall and upscale restaurant into one entity and succeed as a community watering hole for the Grandview Commons neighborhood. Plus, the place needs to whisk away memories of its predecessor, Cloud 9 Grille, which flamed out last March. It's a tall order.
Hüsnü's daughters bring premium Turkish olive oil to Madison
The clan of Hüsnü Atis is deeply interwoven into the fabric of the Madison community. The name probably sounds familiar to any Madison resident on the strength of Hüsnü's restaurant: this State Street institution opened in 1979 and has served Turkish, Middle Eastern, and Mediterranean food to a receptive Madison since.
Madison New Year's feasts to ring out 2009
Sure, you can go to the local tavern in boots and flannel to drink beer, eat peanuts, and sing "Auld Lang Syne" with your pals. But if you'd rather deck out in spectacular evening wear for New Year's Eve, many of Madison's finest restaurants are putting on ritzy dinners to anchor your evening and provide a stage to show off that finery.

'The best thing I ate all year'
Lombardino's took advantage of its wood-burning grill to lightly toast shiitake, white button and oyster mushrooms. Tossed with black truffle vinaigrette, strewn over an earthy, dense cornmeal paste imported from Anson Mills (one of the oldest polenta makers in Italy) and finished in a porcini mushroom broth with braised kale, this entree was spectacular.

List of Publications - The Onion A.V. Club 2009

feature Let's get tropical: A guide to alcoholic island hopping

Hurl yourself into summer, emboldened by fruit- and booze-saturated concoctions like the wiki waki woo.

May 23, 2009 | 6:00am 2

feature Subtle, spicy, smooth, and chunky: The finer points of salsa

Decider delves into the details of this taken-for-granted condiment.

June 5, 2009 | 6:00am 4

Blog What the hell is a bistro?

Nobody's splitting hairs anymore about the definition of this word. Except for Decider.

June 24, 2009 | 6:00am 2

feature A fabulous, food-filled Fourth of July

A guide for eating your way through our nation's birthday.

July 2, 2009 | 6:00am 0

feature Thai in miniature: Madison’s finest Southeast Asian appetizers

Can Thai places distinguish themselves with satays and rangoons?

July 23, 2009 | 6:00am 1

feature Slumming in reverse: How to crash fancy restaurants via small plates

The A.V. Club skips right over the entrées and gets a cheap taste of pricey cuisine.

August 6, 2009 | 12:00am 1

feature Before the flood: Local restaurants explore Twitter teasing

With jolly, locally sourced temptations and utilitarian soup updates, Madison establishments are just starting to find their tweeting voices.

August 10, 2009 | 12:00am 1

feature MyMenu's consultant-approved freezer cuisine

A Canadian business invades Madison with sometimes-pleasing, sometimes-off-putting ready-made meals.

August 21, 2009 | 12:00am 0

feature Belly Up: Crawl locally, eat locally

A new locally-grown food crawl in Stoughton re-imagines what a food festival can and should be.

September 10, 2009 | 12:00am 0

feature Fat burger: Three bloody beef monuments to ill health

The hamburger has seen many gourmet revamps around town lately, but it can't escape its incredibly greasy past.

September 10, 2009 | 12:00am 7

feature Belly Up: All hail the carne-less chili cook-off

Stock up on Gas-X before putting your vegan chili-cooking skills to the test at the Goodman Community Center on Saturday.

September 17, 2009 | 12:00am 0

feature Trail Of Beers: Bar-hopping in the West Side wastelands

It's possible to find a charming drinking spot in this part of town, but the going can get weird.

September 22, 2009 | 12:00am 8

feature A Madison food crash course for Michael Pollan

The In Defense Of Food author has powerful insight into how we eat, but has he tried the fries at Brasserie V?

September 23, 2009 | 12:00am 8

feature Belly Up: Pasteurization party

For five days during the World Dairy Expo, Wisconsin becomes even more lactose-drenched than it already is.

September 24, 2009 | 12:00am 0

feature Cheese plates: The elegant dance of dairy and booze

Three local spots' platters of fine cheese from Wisconsin and beyond, and what to drink with them.

September 27, 2009 | 12:00am 0

feature Belly Up: The beauty of brisket

Slow Food Madison's Crawford Farm Celebration will teach you how to cook open-pit brisket, as well as the meaning of words like "fat cap."

October 1, 2009 | 12:00am 4

feature Hot dogs and Madison: A love story

Borrowing heavily from Chicago, Madison attempts to work out its own wiener variations.

October 3, 2009 | 12:00am 1

feature Belly Up: The drinkable meal

Get down and dirty with the down and dirty process of single-malt scotch-making. Then drink some.

October 8, 2009 | 12:00am 2

Belly Up The Madison Food & Wine Show: A three-day eating orgy

Strap on the feed-bag while pretending to be a foodie at the 8th Annual Madison Food & Wine Show.

October 15, 2009 | 12:00am 0

feature Local Tweeps go wing-less, Twitter-driven Buffalo Wild Wings cult revealed

An epic wing-fail at East Towne today, which you may have missed if you're lucky enough to not be on Twitter.

October 15, 2009 | 3:25pm 0

feature Sneeze-guard sojourn: In search of the perfect grocery-store salad bar

Apathy toward buying and preparing veggies doesn't have to preclude eating a kick-ass salad.

October 26, 2009 | 12:00am 0

Just Announced This time, it's gastronomical: Madison to host food-court eating competition

Contestants will presumably jam down tons of Sbarro and Quiznos Feb. 6 at the USquare National Food Court Eating Championship.

October 26, 2009 | 12:00pm 2

feature Continental shift: Three new Madison restaurants' international revamps

Can pan-ethnic barbecue, swanky urban Greek food, and a bland Mexican offering become permanent residents in our dining scene?

November 2, 2009 | 12:00pm 1

feature Brisket heaven in strip-mall hell: Great Madison barbecue in odd places

Madisonians don't have to go South to get good barbecue—they just have to visit some dull parts of town.

November 10, 2009 | 12:00am 0

Belly Up Good giveaways spawn good P.R.: Whole Foods' All Things Good Holiday Tasting

Who cares why they're doing it? Whole Foods Market is giving away free food!

November 12, 2009 | 12:00am 0

feature Mideastwiches: The best of the Mediterranean on bread or pita

Where Madison restaurants jam shawarma, lamb, or feta into sandwiches, we will eat it.

November 19, 2009 | 12:00am 4

Belly Up It's time for a big Norwegian breakfast, hey

If you live in Wisconsin, you should probably be able to tell the difference between a krumkake and a sandbakkel.

November 25, 2009 | 12:00am 1

feature The year in Madison food: The A.V. Club's 2009 tasting tour

We assemble a city-wide menu of this year's prominent trends in Madison food.

December 7, 2009 | 12:00am

Belly Up The many mysteries of chocolate-making

It's not as easy as you think, smart guy.

December 10, 2009 | 12:00am

feature Testing Madison's newest meat facsimiles on little kids at The Green Owl Café

The A.V. Club tests Madison's new all-vegetarian restaurant (and child-labor laws) with help from a panel of meat-loving kids.

December 15, 2009 | 12:00am 2

Belly Up Dayton Street Grille's bountiful, gut-busting brunch

Why should Santa be the only one with a belt-straining gut?

December 24, 2009 | 12:00am 1

feature Trail Of Beers: Monona Drive, Cottage Grove Road, and points in between

Brace yourself for the wonders of Monona Drive and Cottage Grove Road.