Saturday, January 10, 2009

Roadtripmania - Wisconsin Fish Fry

I promised last week to provide many roadtrip ideas in 2009. The road allows you to explore regional cuisines, and it allows you to find foodstuffs to take home. A prime part of the regional cuisine end of the equation is to go north of Chicago for the Wisconsin fish fry. This local family, like many a cheesehead, is never unable to eat fish on a Friday. There's many sites out there dedicated to Wisconsin fish fries. I've highlighted some of these sites before. Today in some, it's Saturday, I don't have to be the least bit productive combination Internet noodling-online poker playing, I ran across this site, on Classic Wisconsin Fish Fries.

All I had to do was go to one entry, to find this bit of blog on Jim & Linda's Supper Club, that's already got me dreaming of perch:
Jim & Linda cared enough to post a hand-painted sign shaped like an arrow along the highway. The sign said, “Jim & Linda’s.” This touched classicwisconsin deeply, as hand painted signs for supper clubs often do. Nothing says, “Eat our fish, fisheaters, and drink our drinks, drinking fisheaters” than a homemade sign shaped like an arrow inviting you into (insert name here) & (insert name here) Supper Club. You just know the drinks will be served in buckets, the décor will be Menards chic, and the waitstaff will be slinging fish like Favre throws pigskin.

What classicwisconsin did not anticipate was seeing a middle-aged woman in a sleeveless shirt casually sniffing her armpits while she sat at the bar.

I cannot speak to the palate of this blogger nor to the overall veracity of the information provided on Classicwisconsin. I also warn that the organization of the data is, well, limited. This is a blog that requires browsing; you do not get pin-pointed research results. Still, it is exactly the kinda of randomness that makes the 'net so damn addicting.

I fully expect to have a few new fish fries under the gullet in 2009. I hope you all find some good ones as well.

Thursday, January 08, 2009

And What's Local, Caputo's

I did not want to go to Caputo's. My wife and I needed Caffe Italia, both for a reprieve from the cold Bungalow and for a new pound of morning coffee. But my wife cannot be on that stretch of Harlem without going to Caputo's, and no matter how much I want to "get going" can I resist the need to see what's available local.

There was.

Michigan empire apples at 69 cents/lb and Mr. Tasty russet potatoes at some unknown price, I could only barely resist anything called Mr. Tasty because I have so many potatoes now in the attic.

Note to readers: heater on the fritz is good for the upstairs root cellar.

Tuesday, January 06, 2009

What's Local at...

It'll be another week until Green City Market re-convenes, and then will there be anything but pork? Eat local fans may think their options limited, but a bit of out and about finds plenty of options. Here's some of the things you can find locat at...

...Cassie's Green Grocer is always all things local. She's picked up the contract to sell interesting small producer cheeses from the Monroe, Wisconsin area, especially the fine cheeses from Edleweiss Creamery--about the only local guys to make a true large wheel Ementhaler. Her city farm sources send her arugula and sunchokes, and other city farms should shortly be providing her greens and roots.

...Robin, don't call them her, winter markets, Saturday in Chicago and Sunday in Deerfield. Robin and I just got the most gorgeous baby vegetables from Farmer Vicki's Genesis Growers. Come get yours at the markets.

...Jewel (Roosevelt and State, Chicago) - Jewel is good for two things these days, yartzheit candles and BelGioioso American Grana cheese. While shopping for those things, I espied Wisconsin onions and Michigan apples.

...Marion Street Cheese, Oak Park - Joining La Quercia in their collection of fine Midwestern pork products is a Spanish style, dry ham, from pastured, acorn fed, pigs raised by Crawford Farm in Wisconsin. Quite pricey but quite decadent too.

If you cannot get off your keester to any of these fine places, Irv and Shelly will bring it to you. New this week, they have ravioli made by Local Folks Foods in Indiana.

What else are you all seeing?

Monday, January 05, 2009

Eat Local Arnold's Meat

For those interested in eating local meats, Arnold Farms will be at the forthcoming winter markets (details some other time). I've copied below, their latest e-mail. If you want ordering info or price sheets you can contact them at or contact me.

[Passed along as a courtesy]

Hi, Folks:

I hope everyone has had a wonderful Christmas season. I’m sure you are looking forward to a bright New Year. All of us have many things to be thankful for and to build upon as we move ahead. 2009 will be a positive beginning to the rest of our lives!!

Arnold’s Farm January deliveries will be coordinated again around the Harvest of Hope Indoor Winter Farmer’s Markets. I’ve attached an updated market schedule. I plan to participate in those listed and encourage you to check out the ones nearby. There have been up to 15 other vendors attending. A café or brunch is often offered featuring products from some of the vendors with our sandwich ham and breakfast links frequently used. Strong attendance at most markets have made the atmosphere quite festive. Not only do these markets give vendors an outlet for their products and an opportunity for potential customers to check them out, but 10% of each vendor’s gross sales goes to the Harvest of Hope Fund to benefit farmers who may be experiencing tough times. Maybe crops were damaged by flooding this past year or an accident affected a farmer’s ability to get work done when needed. Up to $1000.00 per farm can be requested from the fund to help defray expenses they may be struggling with. This truly is a win, win, win situation for all participating!

Our January delivery schedule will be as follows:

*** CHICAGO AND NORTH. Saturday, January 10th: St. Benedict Parish, 2210 W. Irving Park Rd., Chicago, (just east of Western). 9:00 am – 1:00 pm. This will be the downtown stop for January. Anyone ordering from Chicago and the northwest side are welcome to meet me here. Stops after the market would be Rogers Park, 2:15 pm; Des Plaines, 3:30; Arlington Heights, 4:30; Round Lake Beach, 6:00.

*** NORTH. Sunday, January 11th: North Shore Unitarian Church, 2100 Half Day Rd (Rt. 22), Deerfield. 10:00 am – 1:30 pm. If this date, time, and place work better to meet me, please consider it.

*** WEST & SOUTH. Wednesday, January 14: Stops for this day would be Elgin, 8:15; Bartlett, 9:00am; North Aurora, 10:00; Downer’s Grove, 11:00; Villa Park, 12:00; Lockport, 2:00 pm.

*** OAK PARK / RIVER FOREST. Sunday, January 18th: Grace Lutheran Church, 7300 W. Division, River Forest. 9:30 am - 1:30 pm.

Sides of beef and pork can be ordered for these deliveries. Due to the holiday season, weather, and the lateness of this newsletter, I have already processed animals to the specifications we use for our “Individual Cuts” and “Packages” lists. If these cutting specs work for you, and you are still interested in sides delivered this month, let me know. I will work with you on getting the items you need from what I have on hand, and you will save money per lb. of meat over buying packages or individual cuts. If you are thinking of sides for March delivery or any for the Farmer’s Markets in February, let me know so I can reserve processing for you.

SAVE!! All grass fed beef is still 5% off September prices!! This includes sides, 25# packages, and all cuts in stock!! Check out the “January Specials” attachment for all grass fed beef roasts at an even greater discount as well as turkey, all grain fed beef roasts, and pork items. A few limited quantity items are also listed there, first ordered, first served.

We have plenty of whole and whole cut chickens! Average weights are 4.5# - 5.0# with some as small as 3.5#. Cost: $2.75/#. Add $0.75 per bird for cut-up. I also have some “wingless birds” available at $0.10/# off. (These are chickens that may have had wings damaged in processing. USDA inspection requires any damaged area be removed at the next joint, leaving these birds with a wing(s) missing but otherwise in perfect condition.)

Upcoming regular Delivery Months are January, March and May.

Please have your order e-mailed or called in by Wednesday, January 7th. If you do not receive a confirmation on your order within 3 days, please e-mail again or call 815-858-2407. For those who have not placed an order recently or are thinking of ordering for the first time, do not hesitate to contact me by email or phone with product questions, where the closest stop to you may be, or to set up a stop in your area ($600.00 of orders minimum required to generate a stop to an area not already serviced). A delivery fee of $0.30/# is added to all orders.

Thank you for supporting a local food system and sustainable farming!

Tom Arnold

Eat Indiana Local

The VI family spends a fair amount of time in Wisconsin. While we never tire of Madison, and have much of the state to explore still (whitefish livers in Bayfield here we come!), I am also ready to move on to a new state. As my post of the other day indicated, I'm game for Bloomington. I am very keen on Goosing the Market in Indianapolis, and I have at least two gristmills to try. On top of that I'd love to hit the South Bend market one day during the winter, and also try (again) America's near Elkhart.

I have found some good resources for this new vector of eating local. There's this web site; this book as well as this book and this book. Looking forward to using it all.

Eat Local Nationwide

This is not exactly a fresh piece of article, but when doing some research in Indiana last week, I did happen to come across this listing of some grocery stores around the US that specialize in local food. The post mentions Lionette in Boston. I have to say, I liked that store. but was much more impressed (as of last winter) with Plum Produce in Boston. Of course, what kinda person does locavore groceries and fails to mention Cassie's Green Grocer!

(Not So) Deep Thought

Is there anything more frustratingly annoying than turning on a computer that's been idle for two weeks? The 100's of e-mails loading, the thousandth new MS patch, virus scans, finding the annoying AOL files lurking in RAM.