Menu For President Obama’s Last State Dinner

Last evening President Obama held his last state dinner with the honor going to Italy’s Prime Minister Renzi.  The menu for the event follows.

Sweet Potato Agnolotti with Butter and Sage … Warm Butternut Squash Salad with Frisee and Pecorino di New York … Beef Braciole Pinwheel with Horseradish Gremolata and Broccoli Rabe … Green Apple Crostata with Thyme Caramel and Buttermilk Gelato … Petits Four Display: Sweet Corn Crema and Blackberry Cup … Concord Grape Bittersweet Chocolate Leaf … Orange Fig Slice … Pumpkin Cranberry Tart Tiramisu.

Sounds perfectly divine!

The Supreme Court’s Food Traditions

Whoever created the DVR is near the top of my list for those deserving high praise.  With ease I can record anything I desire, watch without needing to rewind tapes as in the VCR days, and speed through the commercials that simply are the too many for the body to absorb.  I love the ability to wade through the collected recordings and select one that meets the feel of the moment.  That is how James and came to watch another amazing broadcast from C-SPAN late on night last week.

Justices Ruth Bader Ginsburg and Sonia Sotomayor shared stories about the Supreme Court’s food traditions, including the justices’ food preferences and topics of conversation at shared meals. Supreme Court curator Catherine Fitts also spoke about customs dating to the 19th and 20th centuries.

If you like geeky and nerdy knowledge and aim for something that is not the path taken by the vast majority in the nation this broadcast is designed for you.  We loved it!

Super Tuesday Election Menu With Predictions

Each presidential election year James and I gather small groups of different people together for some food as we watch the political events take place around the nation.  For now it is the primary elections, with convention season in the summer,  debates in the fall, concluding with the Super Bowl of politics the first Tuesday in November.   I can not think of a better evening than to have great food, stimulating conversation, and a strong dose of national politics so to allow everyone to have a nice time.

Tuesday night it gets really percolating with eleven states in play.  But to what degree any state will produce a surprise for either party or for any campaign is hard to imagine.  Yet there is every reason to be excited.  What will the spread be between candidates?  What types of voters aligned themselves to support candidates from state to state?  How will events at the polls impact the deep divisions within the Republican Party?   Will the GOP field shrink?  Will Democrats feel it is time for the nomination fight to stop?    Can those who want it to continue find a realistic roadmap for such an outcome?  How will victory and concession speeches be presented?

Sadly, for the GOP and the nation, Donald Trump wins everywhere except in Texas.  In the Lone Star State Ted Cruz will win his only contest of the night.  While Marco Rubio has made recent headlines he has also hurt his image.  Getting into the sewer with Trump was not my idea of what it meant to take on the orange-skinned man.  I wanted Rubio to rise to the debate but do so with intellect and lifting words.  Talking about the size of Trump’s whatever is just beneath the level of discourse that this country needs–or expects.  For a whole number of reasons Rubio will not win a single state.

Ben Carson will be the man staying in the race regardless of how shabby he does as his whole purpose for campaigning is to see how much money he can take from the pockets of Christians in this nation.  When it comes to who will exit the race following Tuesday it would seem Cruz is the most logical choice as the establishment does not like or have an interest in him.  Rubio seems stuck in the mud but at this point he and John Kasich are the only real chances to stop Trump.  If there is even a realistic chance of that still happening.

Democrats will feel the heat of the night in Colorado where I predict Bernie Sanders will win.   I also know Vermont will go to his column.  But everything else–and that means many delegates–are all in Clinton’s column.   That includes, as our friend Rolf asked, also in American Samoa.

For dinner James is making a green salad, homemade Savory Pumpkin Soup with sausage, Pasta Raphael with artichokes, and dessert bars.

The herbs and spices for the main dish makes Pasta Raphael quite remarkable. (This online version is not the one prepared here, as we replace parsley with cilantro, remove all the onions in favor of shalots, and use tons of Parmesan cheese.)  The original recipe came from the spouse of my best friend, and it continues to amaze those who sit at our table and taste it for the first time.  The fact it is so tasty, I hasten to add, is due to how the ingredients all blend to make a winning combination.  The aroma of the garlic and shallots simmering in olive oil will make every partisan turn to their neighbor and say ‘can’t we just get along?’

Needless to say there will also coffee and teas served.  And James would yell out to me if he knew what I was typing–for Pete’s sake he would demand–let folks know we are civilized and add wine to the menu, too.

Most important, of course, is that Tuesday night is another page in our nation’s long, delightful, and at times unreasonable political narrative.  I always think it best to experience such events with others who feel the passion of the night as I do.

May it always be this way.

What Did They Serve At White House For Thanksgiving?

This is always a fun post to place on the blog during the Thanksgiving holiday.

Yesterday the Obama family dined from a fabulous menu.  We know this news today via White House pool report by Peter Baker:  “First Family Thanksgiving menu, via White House pool report by Peter Baker: “Thyme Roasted Turkey … Garlic Jus and Cranberry-Orange Relish … Honey-Baked Ham with Apricot-Mustard Glaze … Prime Rib and Creamed Horseradish … Cornbread Stuffing with Chorizo and Roasted Peppers … Oyster Stuffing … Braised Winter Greens (Collards, Kale, and Turnip Greens) … Macaroni and Cheese … Sweet Potato Gratin … Yukon Gold Mashed Potatoes … Green Bean Casserole … Fresh Greens … Kale Caesar Salad …“Banana Cream Pie … Coconut Cream Pie … Pumpkin Pie … Apple Pie … Pecan Pie … Cherry Pie.”

Thanksgiving At White House Over The Decades, Menu And Silverware

A perfect read as we head to Thanksgiving.

Theodore Roosevelt’s family dined on turtles, in addition to turkey, in 1903. Franklin Delano Roosevelt’s 1937 menu included curled celery with toast fingers and olives. And in 1909, William Howard Taft and his dining companions dug into a 26-pound Georgia possum. (They had a 30-pound bird, too.)

WKOW-TV Uses News Time To ‘Report’ On Soup Pods!


What aired tonight is simply unexplainable for anyone who has a sense of what constitutes sound news worthiness.

I can not fathom that during the 10:00 P.M. broadcast WKOW-TV in Madison used actual news time to air a ‘report’ about Campbell’s new line of soup pods for Keurig coffee brewers!  They allotted 2 minutes and 12 seconds for this news nugget.  

Did they not know Madison City Council had a meeting and might have found some actual news there?   Are they not mindful that this is the capital city and viewers might have an IQ higher and want substance in their broadcasts?

But the story gets even more ludicrous than just thinking about the inane topic they covered.

Forget the fact that some reporter at WKOW was too (pick your own word) not to know that there is no way to just pour hot water over reconstituted noodles and vegetables and have it taste like anything one would consider putting in their mouth.

But it gets one step better–or worse–as the case may be.

I can not believe it took an actual dietitian to figure out that this product is pure crap! Most of us would just look at the ingredient list and rightly conclude that the product was pure junk.   For one thing the soup pods exceed the recommended amount of sodium to eat at one sitting.    To put that in another way one serving from a pod provides one-third of the sodium you should be consuming all day.

How can anyone at the news department at WKOW look in the mirror and be proud that this took up part of their broadcast?

Julep Opens With Scrumptious Southern Food On Madison’s Near East Side

It is nice to see someone’s dream come true.  For Sarah Kinser that moment happened tonight as Julep, her restaurant idea, opened to a full house of smiles on Madison’s near east-side.

The opening of this restaurant was a long time in coming.  She is originally from southern Kentucky, moving to Madison in 2004.   I came to know her as a server at the Weary Traveler, a great place for food in my neighborhood.  I still recall the night in March 2014 when her idea was presented to the local neighborhood association and as I expected her proposal found favorable nods from the board members.  Tonight after months of uncertainty, which is common for this type of business, a most impressive restaurant opened.  It is located in what was the former Lussier Teen Center on East Washington Avenue.

I will be candid with my readers and say from the start I have been thrilled with this concept and have had only the best hopes for its completion.  When there were reports that getting the final financing hurdle needed to be cleared I just knew that something positive would happen as the proposed menu items reached out and yearned to be plated and severed.   My grandmother grew up in the south, and my Mom was born there and spent much of her formative years knowing a certain style of southern eating.  I just knew Madison deserved a place like what was designed by Kinser.

My partner James and I were very happy to be a part of the opening night.

James ordered a mint julep which was served in the traditional steel cup, with a mound of shaved ice, rather like a snow cone.  The bourbon and the mint were lovely compliments to one another.

Once seated the first thing I noticed was the weight of the glasses.  I like a substantive feel to a glass once picked up.  It may be a strange thing to be particular about but it is not often that I find the type of glass that Julep had poured my truly sour and authentic lemonade into.

The mood music was at just the right volume to give ambiance but in no way overshadowed conversations.  The use of wood lathes made for a warm entrance just steps from being allowed to look into the kitchen and see the crew all busy and creative in their own way.  It made for a homey touch that I found very special.

James enjoyed the “Farro Rissoto” made of farro, or hulled emmer wheat grain, winter squash, mascarpone cheese and sunflower seeds with a few Brussels sprouts.  The dish, while small, was unctuously creamy and nicely seasoned; the cheese added the nice Wisconsin touch to the otherwise perfect Tuscan side dish.

I ordered the more substantive and truly spectacular pot roast that was able to be pulled apart with a fork.  Served in a soup plate with pureed potatoes and root vegetables in a bourbon glaze made for simply one of the best restaurant delights I have had in a long time.

I will be honest and say that the meal could have been one better had each entrée been  served with warm cornbread or a to-die-for flaky Southern biscuit.    I am certain the menu items will grow and a couple of those southern niceties will be more a common touch as time passes.

This was the first night of serving food and staff were working out how to make everything operate smoothly.   Since everyone was trying to make for a success we had several waiters stop at our table as they were not sure if anyone else had waited on us.  Each was pleasant, helpful, and conversational.

If I had one disappointment it was when I asked what they served as dessert.  There was only one thing on my mind, that being Sweet Potato Pie.  The woman who is one of the financial backers of the restaurant told me that no such desserts were available yet, but that the previous evening they had tested out the pie and the flaky crust was stunning.  I could even smell the dessert as she detailed it for me.

I understand that opening nights have up and downs.  Even with none of the pie that the south is famous for James and I had a very delightful evening.

I might add that for Kinser, she missed it.  After putting in so many weeks and intense hours to get it so that all of us could enjoy her dream she was under the weather.

I really felt bad about that but also know she can rest contentedly knowing that making a dream come true is never easy.  Few ever get to achieve that ending.   But she did! In a day or two she will see what I did tonight.

A lot of smiling faces dining on the food she knew needed to be prepared and served in Madison.

Life To Get Better On October 6th

I will be the first to admit that my desire for most fast food ranks up there with my disdain for tofu.   I find greasy and industrialized fast food to be a waste of money and awful for the body.  I also find tofu the most gross substance that can enter the mouth.

But I also will readily admit there is one weakness I have when it comes to guilty fast food pleasures–and that is the Egg McMuffin from McDonalds.  And starting next month there will be no time of the day that one can not be enjoyed.

McDonalds announced Tuesday that they will begin serving breakfast all-day nationally on Oct. 6. Restaurant operators approved the move in a vote this week.

James and I buy most of our food from the outer aisles of grocery stores, eat lots of fruits and vegetables and while meat eaters also abide by the smaller portion rules most of the time.  Since James is chef-like in the kitchen there is not a lot of reason to head to fast food places.

But now I know when I feel I need to add a pound or two–and yeah that is a real issue for me at times given my metabolism rate–I can stop and get one fast food item that I actually like.

Life is good and about to get better.