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Thursday, January 29, 2015 |  Madison, WI: 33.0° F  Overcast
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Madison eats agenda: Mardi Gras, American Distilling, chili in Evansville, The Big Eat

This coming week, in events that get to your heart through your stomach.

Tuesday, February 16

Vinter Peter Botham will discuss the history and idiosyncrasies of viticulture and winemaking in a cold weather terroir in "Wisconsin's Best: Grapes & Wine", the latest presentation in the UW College of Agriculture and Life Sciences lecture series focusing on key foods produced in the Badger State. The founder of Botham Vinyards & Winery in Barneveld, Botham will give a producer's view of oenology from vine to bottle. Attendees who are 21 and older are invited to partake in a complimentary tasting, and light hors d'oeuvres and other beverages will also be served. Ebling Symposium Center, UW Microbial Sciences Bldg., 1550 Linden Dr., 4:45 p.m., free. RSVP online and call 829-2999 for more info.

Liquid libations are generally at the heart of any raucous Mardi Gras celebration, but they go better with generous portions of Cajun and Creole eats. Restaurants in and around Madison offering the makings of a very Fat Tuesday include The Bayou, the Bourbon Street Grille, the Essen Haus, all three local locations (downtown, Fitchburg, and Hilldale) of the Great Dane, Liliana's, Lousianne's, Etc., and both the east and west outposts of New Orleans Take-Out, all good options if you're fixin' to feast big tonight.

Wednesday, February 17

Melted cheese is on the midday menu once again at the third in a series of traditional fondue lunches hosted by Fromagination this month. The prix fixe menu includes Wisconsin Alpine-style cheeses and bread for dipping, which are accompanied by fingerling potatoes, roasted carrots, summer sausage, cornichons, salad, and dessert. Fromagination, 12 S. Carroll St., seatings at 11 a.m. and 1 p.m., $22.50. Call 255-2430 for reservations.

Chef Derek Rowe of Harvest and Chef Robert Miller of The Old Fashioned are teaming up for a special craft beer dinner this evening, featuring the creations of O'so Brewing of Plover. The Mercredi des Cendres menu features a first course of fried mussels with jalapeno remoulade paired with The Big "O, a second course of chicken and andoullie gumbo paired with Hopdinger, a third course of slow roasted pork with grits and smothered collards paired with Rusty Red, and a cheese course of Holland Farm Fenugreek Gouda paired with Black Scotch Ale. O'so brewmaster Marc Buttera will be attending the meal and will discuss his beers. Harvest, 21 N. Pinckney St., 6 p.m., $45. Call 255-6075 for reservations.

Thursday, February 18

As the Worthington Park Neighborhood Association works to develop a revitalized Darbo Community Garden at the Salvation Army Community Center on the east side, it is hosting a series of workshops addressing urban farming, the agricultural traditions of African American communities, and gardening practices. The first workshop, which is titled "Land is Power: The Black Nation, Reparations & the African American Agricultural Tradition," will explore how to support the city's black community and youth to embrace and engage in urban farming. Hawthorne Library, 2707 E. Washington Ave., 6 p.m., free. Call 332-1493 for more info.

Loyola University Chicago sociologist Kelly Moore will explore the intersection of socioeconomic disparities and the expectations of consumer culture when it comes to choosing what to eat in her lecture titled "Making a National Body: Neoliberalism & U.S. Federal Nutrition Policy" on the UW campus this afternoon. This talk is part of the what is human? biopolitics symposium series organized by the Center for the Humanities. University Club, Rm. 313, 803 State St., 4 p.m., free. Call 263-3412 for more info.

The Madison Malt Society is holding its second annual A Celebration of American Distilling this evening, an artisanal spirits tasting that will feature more than two dozen craft distilleries from around the nation. As detailed by organizers, the response to the inaugural event last year "reinforced the belief that distilling is at the beginning of a boom time very much like the pioneers of craft brewing experienced in the mid 1980s." Several Wisconsin-based distilleries both returning and new to the tasting are among those scheduled to appear, including Spirits of Madison, Travis Haase's Original Pie Liquers, Death's Door Spirits, AEppelTreow Distilling, Great Lakes Distillery, and 45th Parallel Spirits. Isthmus is a sponsor of the tasting, which is also a benefit for WORT 89.9 FM, with proceeds going to the community radio station. Additionally, Union Cab will be offering discounted rides from the event for all attendees. Edgewater Hotel, 666 Wisconsin Ave., 7 p.m., $55 or $65 for VIP access. Call 255-8041 for more info.

Friday, February 19

Chef Neeta Saluja is back at Whole Foods this evening with an Indian cooking lesson. The menu for this class includes chicken biryani, spinach raita, and a hot and spicy tomato soup with fresh ginger and curry leaves. Whole Foods Market, 3313 University Ave., 6-8:30 p.m., $25. Call 233-9566 for more info.

Saturday, February 20

Students from the Nutritional Sciences program at UW-Madison will be joined by Chef David McKerchner from Mermaid Cafe in preparing the Taste of the Market breakfast at the Dane County Farmers' Market this morning. The menu will include: hashbrown cakes with trout and bacon or with braised mushrooms and garlic, topped with poached eggs and Mermaid hollandaise sauce atop a slice of sourdough bread; a salad of maple roasted carrots and fresh spinach; cinnamon baked apples, mini berry scones with preserves; and, organic fair trade Just Coffee and tea, Ela Orchard apple cider, cranberry juice, and milk. Brian Schwellinger will perform Quebecois fiddle tunes through the meal. Madison Senior Center, 330 W. Mifflin St., 8 a.m.-noon, $7.50 adults and $3.75 kids. Call 424-3296 for more details about the breakfast and 455-1999 for info about the market.

A broad array of spicy concoctions will be found at the 10th annual chili cook-off put on by the Evansville Community Partnership. Attendees will get to sample the contending chili dishes, gorge in an all-you-can chili-and-spaghetti dinner, bid in a silent auction, win raffle and door prizes, and let the kids loose upon a variety of activities. The registration fee for contestants is $25, which includes a voucher for $10 of ingredients from the Evansville Piggly Wiggly, admission for two, and a hand-thrown chilli bowl created by Matthias James Pottery of Allen Creek Gallery. The first 400 paid ticketholders will likewise receive a hand-thrown bowl made by James. There's a one-of-a-kind trophy bowl for the grand champion of the cook-off, though, along with a prize of $50. The honorable mention dish winner will receive $40, while $25 will be awarded to the recipients of the "People's Choice," "Best Theme," "Most Unique," and "No Sweat Mild Best" chili titles. The Grove Campus, 320 Fair St., Evansville, 5-8 p.m., $17 in advance and $22 at the door with kids 13 and under free. Call 608-882-0598 for more info.

Sunday, February 21

Liliana's is hosting the second annual Mad City Mardi Gras today as a benefit for the Henry Vilas Zoo. Half of the proceeds from brunch between 10 a.m.-2:30 p.m., and all of the proceeds from dinner between 5-9 p.m. will be going to the zoo, and a special Creole menu will be served from 2:30 p.m.-11 p.m. Along with the food, this daylong celebration features 12 hours of live music, with sets by Cliff Frederiksen and Friends, Hanson Family Jazz, Harris Lemberg with Johnny Widdicombe and Rick Becker, Midtown Jazz, Blues by 5, and Rand Moore Jazz. Families can also enjoy magic by Wayne the Wizard, the stilt-walking Jolly Giants, and Funny Faces Children's Entertainment. Liliana's Restaurant, 2951 Triverton Pike, Fitchburg, 10 a.m.-11 p.m. Call 258-9490 for more info.

Monday, February 22

Cornelia Flora, a professor at Iowa State University and specialist in rural development, is giving a pair of lectures on the UW campus today that will touch on the rise of the local food movement. The first talk is titled "Good Food as a Social Movement", which will be given in Agricultural Hall, 1450 Linden Dr., at 12-1:15 p.m. The main event, though, is her lecture in the Distinguished Lecture Series presented by the Wisconsin Union, which is titled "Entrepreneurial Social Infrastructure: Linking Local to Global." UW Memorial Union, 800 Langdon St., 7:30 p.m., free but tickets are required. Call 262-2216 for more info.

Fun and healthy meal ideas for children getting their first exposure to all sorts of fare is the focus of the Feeding the Sprout: The Adventures of Toddler Food class at Whole Foods. The lesson taught by "local mommy" and baby food maker Tara Verma will focus on developing healthy yet exciting dishes for older babies and toddlers. Sample recipes and menu items for tasting will be provided. Whole Foods Market, 3313 University Ave., 6-7:30 p.m., $15. Call 233-9566 for more info.

Chef Sabi challenges aspiring cooks to the goal of Perfect Paella in his latest cooking class exploring Mediterranean cuisine. The menu for the lesson features a trio of paellas, all based on a bed of saffron rice: a Spanish seafood paella, a Wisconsin-raised lamb paella, and a vegetarian paella made with various grilled and roasted vegetables. Willy Street Co-op, 1221 Williamson St., 6-8 p.m., $15 for owners and $25 for all others. Call 251-6776 for more info.

Isthmus invites hungry gourmands to sample an array of food and drinks offered by nearly 20 restaurants and other food providers around the city at The Big Eat, a fundraiser for the Family Centers of Dane County. Participants include Carr Valley Cheese, Madison Fresh Market, Gail Ambrosius Chocolatier, Pedro's Mexican Restaurante, Tutto Pasta - State Street, Liliana's Restaurant, Wollersheim Winery, La Mestiza Mexican Cuisine, Chocolate Shoppe Ice Cream, Pepsi, Whole Foods Market, Marigold Kitchen, Monona Terrace, Willy Street Co-op, Taj Indian Restaurant, Dobra Tea, Las Cazuelas Mexican Restaurant, Cancun Mexican Restaurant, and more! The event will also feature music from the Tony Castaneda Latin Jazz Band, as well as the finals of the Isthmus Dance Contest, in which four couples will go feet-to-feet and show off their best ballroom dancing moves.Tickets can be purchased online, and are also available for sale at Isthmus at 101 King St. and the Family Centers at 2120 Fordem Ave. Monona Terrace, 1 John Nolen Dr., 5:30 p.m., $50 or $500 for a table of 10. Call 843-0134 for more info.

Upcoming eats events

It's worth knowing about some events that require reservations farther in advance

Friday, February 26

Beginning herbalists looking to build their skills can learn a thing or two in the Beyond Chives & Parsley class taught by Lauri Lee of the Madison Herb Society. The curriculum includes information on plant selection and purchasing, "garden recipes" for planting a desired assortment of herbs, their cultivation, and the basics of look, taste, preservation, and use in cuisine. All class participants will also receive the Beyond Chives and Parsley book of recipes. Olbrich Gardens, 3330 Atwood Ave., 6-8:30 p.m., $45. RSVPs must be made by February 18. Call 246-4550 for more info.

Thursday, March 4

Chef Tory Miller of L'Etoile is preparing a special fundraiser dinner for the AIDS Network this evening. A reception with canapes will be followed by a three-course family style meal made with Wisconsin-sourced ingredients. Goodman Community Center, 149 Waubesa St., 6 p.m., $35. RSVPs must be made by March 1. Call 516-398-3299 for more info.

Sunday, March 14

The Underground Food Collective is offering a whole pig butchering class this evening as part of its ongoing work to foster community-oriented agriculture around Wisconsin in the form of delicious pork. This hand-on experience, using a Red Wattle pig raised on pasture in Monroe, will walk students through the complete butchering process. Regular and uncommon cuts will be demonstrated, as will be the basics of preparing sausages, bacon, guanciale, and cured hams. Aprons, towels, and a knife will be provided for students, who will be able to bring home 7-8 pounds of pork they helped butcher in the class. Tickets can be purchased online, and chicharrones, carnitas, and beverages will be served during the class. Ironworks Cafe, 149 Waubesa St., 4:30-730 p.m., $60. Call 320-0017 for more info.

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