We could run down our top ten fried-cheese-curd devouring experiences, or whatever, from the last twelve months -- but instead we decided to look back at the year in Madison and Wisconsin food news.
These are the food stories that really defined 2011 for us:
- Ian's Pizza feeds the protests
Through it all, Ian's kept its crust crisp.
"Every day for the past week, the two Ian's Pizza shops in town have fed the hungry masses, delivering hundreds of free pies to the Capitol. The owners of Ian's boasted that supporters from all 50 states -- as well as Bosnia, China, Egypt, France and 20 other countries -- had donated thousands of dollars each day so they could give protesters the calories they needed to keep going." - The New York Times
- The Frugal Traveler pedals to Madison
Frugal Traveler Seth Kugel stays in McFarland, and bikes in the rest of the way. The story is a little heavy on the cheese curds, but nice all the same.
"Two weeks ago, I left my travel plans up to a reader vote that just as easily could have had me staying at a chain motel in Nashville and touring city parks by public bus. But Madison and food and drink and bikes won, and I spent last weekend reveling in a cyclist-friendly city of 230,000 with a restaurant and bar scene that punches well above its demographic weight." - The New York Times
- Fond du Lac's Don Gorske eats his 25,000th Big Mac
File under, "What the rest of the nation thinks of when you say 'Wisconsin.'"
"Don Gorske was honored after reaching the meaty milestone during a ceremony at a McDonald's in his hometown of Fond du Lac. Surely McDonald's most loyal customer, Guinness World Records recognized Gorske's feat three years and 2,000 Big Macs ago, and the 57-year-old says he has no desire to stop." - Milwaukee Journal Sentinel
- A tale of four brat fests
Madison has long been home of the "World's Largest Bratfest" on Memorial Day weekend, but this year the charity fundraiser came under scrutiny because wurst provider Johnsonville was under fire from anti-Walker folks for donating money to Governor Walker's campaign. Hence, not one but three competing brat fests sprang up, highlighting different aspects of local food, politics, and bratwurst. Ultimately, The Daily Page actually published a live blog chronicling the four fests. Which now, seven months on, seems like a rather odd thing for us to have done. - Isthmus
- A raw deal for raw milk
The fight for the right to drink raw milk continues in the Dairy State.
"Wisconsin dairy farmers are appealing a state judge's ruling that they do not have the right to own a dairy cow or drink the unprocessed milk from their own cows." - Center for Media and Democracy
- The leftist cocktail party
Speaking of Wisconsin judges, Dane County Judge Maryann Sumi came under fire from the Dane County Republican Party in a statement that accused Sumi of being "a leftist" who "goes to cocktail parties held by leftists" and "shops at organic gourmet food shops run by leftists." The GOP statement drew mention on The Colbert Report and spawned a Leftist Cocktail Party group on Facebook. What a year. - Isthmus
- Ale Asylum expands
Months of speculation on where Ale Asylum would choose to expand were finally settled in early October.
"The building is planned for the corner of International Lane and Packers Avenue, one of the primary gateways to the nearby Dane County Regional Airport. The new location would provide the space typically found in an industrial park." - Wisconsin State Journal
- The inaugural Madison Craft Beer Week
With the annual Great Taste of the Midwest beer festival always hard to get tickets for, it was great to see a more wide-ranging, easier-access celebration of craft beer. - Isthmus
- Gabriel Stulman brings Wisco to NYC
Yes, "Cheers" is one model, he said over breakfast at Joseph Leonard on a chilly Friday in January. But one closer to home was Cafe Montmartre in Madison, a clubby, easy-spirited bistro where he tended bar at night while an undergraduate. - The New York Times
- University Square Food Court closes
The food court at the new University Square was so forgettable that six months later, we'd completely forgotten this even happened.
After opening two and a half years ago, the University Square Food Court on the second floor of the new University Square is closing. "It was a tough decision," says property manager Todd Greenwald. "In a nutshell, it was not performing as forecast. It never took on the life we intended." - Isthmus