Hamilton’s On The Square

By Mia ShehadiIMG_4821_(1)

This modern industrial-style restaurant is the perfect place for your next date night. Located right in between the Children’s Museum and the Bartell Theater, this spot is an intimate space perfect for candle-lit conversation. Walking into the restaurant, I was stunned to see that it isn’t terribly big. A large wooden bar area is stowed on the back left wall, while two to four person tables are placed across and towards the front of the restaurant. The decor is very lovely with a warm industrial feel; large cream colored stones lined the walls accented by grey fixtures and large windows. The small wooden tables seem to be designed for a more conversation-oriented dinner, perfect for business negotiations or a sweet date night.

I invited my dad to join me for dinner; even with family living not 20 minutes from downtown, it’s hard to find time to sit down and spend some quality time with them. After looking at the menu online, I decided the food would be right up his alley. Hamilton’s offers a small specialized menu that features dishes like Grilled Octopus and Lamb Chops. Their unique ingredients, along with their incredible execution, merits a pricier meal. However, there is no doubt that the food, as well as the service and ambience, makes a visit to Hamilton’s incredibly worthwhile.

Hamilton’s does not take reservations, they operate on more of a first-come-first-serve basis, on account of the small dining space they work with. I found this out over the phone, a very nice gentleman explained with the utmost kindness that although he would like to save a spot for two, it’s just not how the system is coordinated. He apologetically finished the conversation and encouraged our party to come around 8 p.m. With a pleasant goodbye I ended the call and let my dad know about the time. This was the first in many of great service experiences I had while dining at Hamilton’s.

I walked into an obviously-packed restaurant, with two parties of two waiting in line ahead of me and about three other tables of four already seated, I added our party of two to the queue mentioning that a table by the window would be greatly appreciated. The hostess was a young woman with a bright smile, even amongst the pressure of trying to accommodate everyone, that didn’t waver. When my dad arrived about five minutes after me, I had already sat and was waving at him from the window.

Our server, Emily, was delightful. She cheerfully introduced herself and brought over water, which was infused in house with cucumbers. All of a sudden, my dad gets a call from a family friend who said that he and his family would be joining us for dessert. We mention the fact to Emily, asking if we could move from a two to a five-person table. She was more than happy to accommodate our large party, and enlisting the help from the hostess, moved us over. She was terribly gracious throughout the night, listing the specials and inviting good conversation along with helpful suggestions on what to order.

Because the other three people who joined us had only come for good conversation and dessert, my dad and I were free to pick whatever item caught our eye. We started the meal with the Ricotta Gnudi, a suggestion by Emily. The gnudi looks like a combination of a ravioli and a rice ball. Made in house from start-to-finish, the ball sits for three days while the flavors meld together creating a rich mouthful. With a semi-sweet taste, the vibrant broth cut the creamy ricotta elegantly. A mix of the bright bell pepper and the soft full pasta leaves your tongue asking for more.

The second appetizer we ordered was the Smoked Mushroom Salad. As a self-proclaimed connoisseur of salads and a great admirer of mushrooms, this dish was calling my name. It was fantastic; the smoky flavor was very prominent and paired nicely with the sherry vinegar. I wouldn’t suggest this dish for the faint of heart, the flavors are very bold, this would not be the introductory dish for those who’ve never tried smoked foods. The sour vinegar soaked well into the spinach and lentils, making for the perfect soft bed to rest the mushrooms and their assertive smoky flavor.


For our next course we tried the Grilled Octopus and the special, which was a grilled trout over spaghetti squash and braised spinach. Octopus is surprisingly easy to overcook, and once overcooked it becomes rubbery and tough to eat. My octopus cut very nicely, the charred exterior was a nice touch and didn’t overpower the taste of the tentacles. I appreciated how the pea shoot pesto sauce was placed in the middle for the customer to indulge in as they please. The potato salad and shaved fennel were good as well, but paled in comparison to the star of the dish. Octopus doesn’t have a fishy taste and is easily approachable for those wanting to branch out from average meats.IMG_4825

The special melted in your mouth. The trout fillet was cooked to perfection, also sporting a charred exterior with a creamy center. The trout was caught in Lake Superior and freshness really shone through the flavors of the dish. The natural fish taste was highlighted by the sauce, which was also placed on the side. Both dishes were very engaging and brought attention to the food’s natural flavor rather than overwhelming them with extravagant sides and thick sauces. Before ordering, we asked Emily what the chef would recommend, what struck me was the confidence in the specials. The chef stood by his food and his specials, encouraging us to try them.


For our final course the five of us split everything. We ordered and finished every dessert they offered that night. The first was a Pumpkin Cheesecake with a caramel sauce and brandy cream. This was the all-around favorite dessert at the table. Without a crust, the pumpkin and cinnamon were allowed to strut with the caramel. The nuts brought an element of crunch without adding an extra taste that would have detracted from the cheesecake.



The second dessert was a Chocolate Orange Cake with chocolate ganache and candied orange peel over a drizzle of the Jim Beam caramel sauce. The flavor of this cake was great, although the cake itself was a little dry, the orange was very bright and helped move the dark chocolate. The candied peel, roasted hazelnut, and thick chocolate ganache were rich and crunchy, adding a rich depth to IMG_4834the cake.  

The final two desserts were the embodiment of fall. A homemade apple cinnamon cake paired with homemade cinnamon brown sugar ice cream. The cake was moist and warm, you could see the layers of fresh apples nestled inside. The brown sugar ice cream was sweet but far from overwhelming. Swirls of brown sugar cinnamon could be seen in each scoop, and the dessert was elegantly presented in a martini glass.IMG_4833

As we slowly but surely dug through our desserts and our dinner conversation lasted past the bussing of our plates, Emily was still smiling and everyone was very kind even if we might have overstayed our welcome. The check definitely took a toll on my dad’s wallet; however, considering we ordered two appetizers, two entrees and four desserts along with a few drinks, it wasn’t terrible. With an intimate atmosphere and unique menu, I would suggest Hamilton’s as a good restaurant for getting to know someone while impressing them with an all-around wonderful dining experience.

Cafe Hollander: Hilldale

By Annaleigh Wetzel

Lowlands Group is a popular restaurant group in Milwaukee that owns European-style Grand Cafes including Cafe Central, Benelux and Cafe Hollander. All modeled after the lowlands region of Europe, these restaurants are large in size to reflect their regard for good company, yet warm and welcoming to pair with their comforting menus. Lowlands Group has made quite a name for itself in Milwaukee, and as of recently, Madisonians are beginning to take notice.Screen_Shot_2015-11-06_at_10.59.23_AM

In early October, Hilldale Mall welcomed many new shopping stores and restaurants, including Madison’s first Lowland cafe: Cafe Hollander. For months, the much-anticipated opening of Cafe Hollander has filled the Madison food community with buzz; the hype has yet to die down.

The restaurant is large; almost two times the size of the Cafe Hollander in Milwaukee’s Bay View neighborhood. It includes two bars, one in a separate room dubbed the “Bier Den,” as well as first floor and upstairs dining areas. With a ceiling of skylights and operational garage door walls, the restaurant is filled with natural sun during the day and string lights by night. Bike paraphernalia, with wheels, sprockets and full cycles, is a prominent feature of the décor that highlights the restaurant’s Belgium roots.

Belgium, the Netherlands and Luxembourg are represented in more than just the ambience; Cafe Hollander’s menu is brimming with an American take on “low country” cuisine. From the extensive beer list to the mussels and frites, the offerings at Cafe Hollander allow diners to experiment without completely stepping outside their comfort zones.

Cafe Hollander is a great spot to share drinks and appetizers among friends. The menu contains items that may be familiar to many but offer a European twist. The Belgian Big Board is true to its name, as the board takes up more than half of a small table. It is filled with generous portions of crostini, two charcuterie meats, and marinated local cow feta, deviled eggs, olives, beer cheese spread, pickled Brussels sprouts and gherkins. The feta is salty and herbaceous, and it is the absolute standout of the board.Screen_Shot_2015-11-06_at_11.00.09_AM

The Dutch Bitterballen is another appetizer that embodies the restaurant’s lowlands atmosphere. These croquettes are fried and filled with leeks, red pepper, parsley, Hook’s cheddar chive mashed potatoes and house-recipe spiced sausage. Fresh combines with rich tastes and flavor abounds. The house-made curry ketchup trumps the garlic aioli that comes with it.

Finally, frites. Hollander’s Frites Cone is not to be forgotten, as the fries are extra crispy and golden yellow. The cone is served with two signature homemade sauces.  There are seven to choose from, including zingy sriracha ginger barbeque, spicy curry ketchup, and creamy basil aioli.  Luckily, extras cost just $0.75 more, and each is well-worth the three quarters. Another fun feature of the menu is the listed beer pairing that accompanies each dish.  This helps to make sharing small plates and libations simple and satisfying.Screen_Shot_2015-11-06_at_10.59.15_AMScreen_Shot_2015-11-06_at_10.59.58_AM

Despite its relatively odd mall location and less-than-intimate size, Cafe Hollander at Hilldale knows how to please. It is warm and inviting, its menu contains flavorful taste combinations, and the list of rare Belgian biers is extensive.  The place is hopping most nights, giving Madison residents another bar-eatery to frequent alongside the other Euro-inspired haunts in town.




Em’s Food Journal: How NOT to Take a Microbio Exam

By Emily Yee

Hi friends. Remember when I told you guys in my last post that I had two midterms that week? Well I had another one. It was about stomachaches and contaminated potato salad, not to mention possible kidney failure. It was nonchalantly named, “Food Microbio Exam #2”. Here’s how my damaged sleep schedule and inability to pronounce Listeria monocytogenes affected my cognitive skills — or rather, lack thereof — during the exam:


Microbial Sciences Building

  1. I think I’m going to sit in the first row so that I can’t see my classmates crushing this test while I struggle to remember what a prion is. My self-esteem is important.
  2. Oh my god, the professor is handing out the scantron sheets now.



  2. Crap, there’s a question about prions.
  3. Ugh, I should have studied more about the immune system in addition to the foodborne pathogens.
  4. … I should have studied more in general.
  5. It’s a good thing this is multiple choice because that’s my only saving grace right now.
  6. This can’t be right, why am I getting so many of the same letters in a row as my answers? Maybe I should read over the questions again …
  7. They all look right, though … ugh, now I’m paranoid. And tired. And this is only the first page. *SIGH*
  9. I want to use my freakin’ chart that I spent all freakin’ night making in preparation for this exam.
  11. I hope the next question asks for the definition of gastroenteritis. I, at least, know that
  12. Oh, it’s not about gastroenteritis. Bummer.
  13. This test is making me paranoid about eating seafood and sliced turkey.
  14. Oh great, time to figure out why seafood and sliced turkey made someone vomit.
  15. … I hope I never end up like the people in my exam. I probably just jinxed myself.


  2. Um, uh … SALMONELLA! THE ANSWER TO EVERYTHING IS SALMONELLA! Or is it coliSalmonellaE. coliS. aureus? That other microbe that I know only one thing about? THERE ARE TOO MANY OPTIONS AND SUCH LITTLE TIME LEFT.


  1. Alright, I’m done, this is fine, time to hand it in and walk out of here like a boss.
  2. … Do bosses typically leave exam rooms with the urgency to flee campus and remind themselves that Cs get degrees?
  3. Hmm, Engineering class starts at 11:00, better make my way there.

Babcock Hall

  1. Oh, we’re learning more about heat transfer today. Maybe calculating the time it takes to completely freeze a steak will make the pain from that exam go away.
  2. … I demand a medium-rare steak for what I’ve achieved so far this morning.

Nontraditional Thanksgiving

By Amelia Chen

It seems blasphemous to celebrate Thanksgiving without a stuffed and roasted turkey centerpiece, but growing up, turkey was sort of an afterthought for my family during the holidays. Unless someone’s ambitious parents were hosting a fusion celebration where the turkey and cornbread stuffing ends up surrounded by colorful plates of braised meats and stir-fried veggies, I never saw turkey meat on my plate. One year my uncle tried his hand at brining and roasting one.  He even brought along a giant soup pot and roasting pan.  And as if we were a sitcom family for just one night, dinner ended with my dog pulling down the pan with the turkey carcass. That was the last time we cared to prepare a turkey.

What I look forward to most when I’m home for the entire holiday centered around food indulgence is the one night we squeeze extra chairs around the dining room table so my entire visiting family can sit down together to Hot Pot.

Almost like fondue without the cheese, Hot Pot is the quintessential Chinese family dinner.  Everyone is shouting over the continuously bubbling broth. Parents are fervently spooning their catch of tangled meat and veggies onto the plates of the most precious children who are also the most picky eaters. It’s a communal meal where everyone cooks the raw ingredients together and then fishes them out of the pot, which usually features two different flavors of broth. It’s a “DIY” meal experience where there are no limitations to what can be dunked into the broth—my favorite things being all the greens, enoki mushrooms, cellophane noodles, fish balls, tripe, sliced beef, tofu puffs and bean curd sticks. For more ideas for the raw ingredients, Serious Eats has a great, comprehensive guide that also includes equipment and set up.

Where houses probably differ the most is in the broth. For my family, we favor a spicier Sichuan-style soup base. Pre-prepared packages can be found at any Asian grocer, but just like stocks, there’s no comparison to homemade.

Sichuan Hot Pot Broth

Several pork neck bones (can also use chicken, beef or combination)
1 large tomato, cut into wedges
2 scallions, sectioned
1 small piece ginger, sliced, divided
2 tablespoon vegetable or peanut oil
Half a head garlic cloves, sliced
*1 tablespoon Doubanjiang (optional, found at any Asian grocer)
*1 teaspoon Sichuan peppercorns
*1 tablespoon dried chili peppers
*4-5 star anise


In large pot, bring water to a boil. Add in bones, and cook over medium heat for about 5 minutes to remove any impurities. Transfer bones out and rinse with warm water. Clean and fill pot with fresh water.

Return bones to pot with tomato, scallions, and half the ginger slices. Bring to a boil. Then reduce heat to simmer for 1 hour.**

In wok, heat oil. Add remaining ginger slices and garlic to stir fry a couple minutes. Add Doubanjiang if using and stir fry until fragrant. Add in peppercorns, chili peppers, and star anise. Pour soup base over spices and simmer for 30-40 minutes.

*These ingredients can be omitted if not preparing a spicy broth.

**If not preparing a spicy broth, then it’s ready to go at this point.

Shakes and Sides at DLUX

By Claire Hornacek

A trendy restaurant off Capitol Square, DLUX provides a luxurious ambience and exceptional food at affordable prices. Comfy boot
hs surround the modern bar at the center of the restaurant. Cool red lights set the mood and funky paintings scatter the walls. DLUX is best known for its specialty burgers and brunch featuring bottomless mimosas, but their fries and milkshakes are not to be missed.IMG_2046

The salty fries and signature shakes, made with local Sassy Cow Creamery ice cream, are the perfect addition to any burger. DLUX’s signature shakes are all made with a solid ingredient blended into the ice cream. The Chocolate Peanut Butter Pretzel milkshake, for example, has actual pretzels mixed in. This crunchy drink tastes like the milkshake version of a Take 5 candy bar. The pretzels give the shake a new and interesting texture. While the flavor is fantastic, the sweetness can be a bit overpowering to drink alongside a meal.

Their Vanilla Coconut milkshake will transport you right to the tropics. It is sprinkled with toasted coconut flakes for a light textured touch. The sweet, nutty coconut flavor is mouthwatering. This shake is not too heavy and would make a great “boozy” milkshake, an option DLUX offers for just three extra dollars.

The Red Velvet milkshake has real red velvet cake blended in. Though it may be the least rich of the three, this shake still packs in flavor. The texture of the cake in the milkshake is intriguing, and the lessened degree of sweetness in this shake makes it the perfect accompaniment to a burger.

Fries at DLUX are the salty supplement to the sweet sips of Dlux shakes.  They are cooked to a perfect crisp. The Sweet Potato Fries, served with sriracha
mayo, are the best in town. They are light and fluffy, yet somehow still manage to retain their rich potato texture. Lightly seasoned with the perfect amount of salt, these fries are a winner.IMG_2051

The Parmesan & Truffle Cream Fries are fries topped with a salty, rich cream sauce and dusted with Parmesan cheese. This side is a garlic-lover’s dream.
The savory sauce has a light, earthy mushroom taste that compliments the potato and garlic-herb flavor.

The Sharp Cheddar & Green Onion Fries taste like the fry version of a loaded baked potato. Bold in flavor and oh so crave-worthy. These fries come smothered in creamy cheese and would make an easy-to-share appetizer.

The one downside of the Parmesan & Truffle Cream and the Sharp Cheddar & Green Onion Fries is that their sauces can make the fries at the bottom of the plates soggy and they lose their appealing crispness. Asking for the sauce on the side would solve this problem and help the fries maintain their satisfying texture.

DLUX’s cool ambience and unique flavors keep customers coming back again and again. It’s  the perfect place to celebrate a birthday or to treat oneself after a long week; anyone can find their new favorite at DLUX.

Christmas Dinners Across the Globe

By Daniella Byck

Any mention of the holiday that made Santa Claus a celebrity brings spinning visions of glimmering roasts and cloying cranberry sauce. A Christmas meal is a memory that sticks to the arteries as much as to the mind. However, the rest of the globe has its own culinary traditions when it comes to the wintry holiday.

In Italy, the celebration veers away from the heavy grub notorious in the United States. Rather, the Italian’s consume the “Feast of Seven Fishes” in which they swap out a meat main dish for dishes such as calamari, cod, clams and even some seafood pasta. According to the International Business Times, the symbolism of the custom is believed to represent either the sacraments or the number of days for creation.

Meanwhile, in the West African country of Ghana, the holiday’s fare is more plant based, turning to corn, okra and plantain. These staples are transformed into porridge, stew and Fufu. The latter is a traditional dish native to the Caribbean as well as the national dish of Ghana.

The Christmas meal in the United Kingdom is far more similar to that in the United States, perhaps thanks to a shared history. With a waistband-stretching meal of holiday favorites such as mashed potatoes, meat, gravy and stuffing, the UK’s take on the snowy night meal is familiar. However, the British bring new meaning to the phrase, “Christmas lights” by dousing their famed figgy pudding with brandy and lighting it on fire.

While the pudding may be fiery in the UK, the real heat is down in Australia, where Christmas is celebrated during the summer. It’s no myth-Aussies really do put “shrimp on the barbie,” firing up their grills for the perfect warm weather barbeque. Meanwhile, in an equally sweltering hemisphere, Brazil forgoes the grill for Ceia de Natal, a turkey banquet honoring the holiday.

In India, a nation in which Christians are the minority, the night’s meal is rooted in traditional Indian cuisine. The mixed rice dish of biryani is often combined with lamb or chicken. The feast is truly a journey for the palate, as the dinner ebbs and flows from tangy curries to the sweetness of kheer pudding.

The meals may be unique the celebrations diverse, but across the map winter festivities share the same common thread of family, friends and feast. Come the holiday season, try swapping out a honeyed ham for seven fishes or mashed potatoes for biryani, and revel in the knowledge that no matter the country or even the religion, the world is united in a season of celebration.

Rhubarb Cake

By Delaney JacobsonDSC01230

Meet rhubarb cake, the delightfully decadent rhubarb pie/coffee cake hybrid. I have very fond memories of helping my mom bake her famous rhubarb cake when I was a kid. This cake is versatile, easy to make and absolutely irresistible. Did I mention it is guaranteed to make any mother proud?

With tangy bursts of juicy rhubarb to contrast the sweet, crispy streusel topping, this unique dessert is a definite crowd-pleaser; my dorm friends can attest to this. This is a very moist cake that can be enjoyed with a cup of coffee in the morning, alongside a glass of milk at bedtime, or warm out of the oven (à la mode, of course).

Rhubarb directly from the garden can’t be beat. However, because rhubarb is currently out of season, you will most likely end up using frozen rhubarb, which is nonetheless delicious. That said, be sure to thoroughly thaw and drain the rhubarb, or else your cake will wind up soggy.

What’s more, the recipe is adaptable to suit your tastes. Craving a little crunch? Add some chopped walnuts to the topping. Need a cake that is slightly more guilt-free? Substitute applesauce for the oil and cut the amount of topping in half. Extra rhubarb? Throw it in!


1 ½ cups brown sugar
1 egg
2/3 cups canola oil
1 teaspoon vanilla
1 cup buttermilk
2 ½ cups flour
1 teaspoon salt
1 teaspoon baking soda
2 cups chopped rhubarb, fresh or frozen (when using frozen, thaw & drain well)
2 tablespoons slightly-thawed butter
1 teaspoon cinnamon
¼ cup sugar
½ cup chopped walnuts, optional



Preheat oven to 350F.

In medium bowl, combine brown sugar, egg, oil, vanilla, and buttermilk. Stir until oil is no longer separated.

Add flour, salt, and baking soda. Stir until smooth. Fold in rhubarb.

Spread the batter evenly into a greased 9×13-inch pan.

For the topping, combine butter, cinnamon, and sugar and mash with a fork. (Topping should be crumbly, not smooth.)

Sprinkle topping generously over cake batter. Dust with additional cinnamon if desired.

Bake for about 40-45 minutes, or until golden brown. A toothpick inserted in the center of the cake should come out clean.

Allow cake to cool for 10 minutes and enjoy!

Apple Crisp

By Annie McGrailDSC00371

As fall comes to an end and winter rolls around again, it is not too late to finish the season off with a traditional fall dessert. The kitchen will be filled with an aroma of cinnamon and apples, but without the crunch of an apple pie crust. Apple crisp has turned into a favorite fall dessert because of its simplicity and how it embodies the warmth and comfort of fall. There is no longer a need to find a chunk of time to make the perfect apple treat. Just as delicious as apple pie, but simpler and faster to create, apple crisp is a dessert that embodies the feeling of fall and the approaching winter.

Recipe by Martha Stewart

¾ cup all-purpose flour, spooned and leveledDSC00388
¼ cup packed brown sugar
½ teaspoon salt
½ cup plus 2 tablespoons granulated sugar
8 tablespoons (1 stick) unsalted butter, cold, cut into small cubes
1 cup old-fashioned rolled oats (not quick-cooking)
3 pounds apples, peeled, cored and cut into ½-inch chunks
2 tablespoons fresh lemon juice
½ teaspoon ground cinnamon


Preheat oven to 375F.

In a large bowl, mix together flour, brown sugar, salt and 2 tablespoons granulated sugar.

Cut butter into flour, using pastry blender or two knives, until mixture is the texture of coarse mean.

Add oats, and use your hands to toss and squeeze mixture until large, moist clumps form. Transfer to freezer to chill while you prepare apples.

In another large bowl, toss apples with lemon juice, cinnamon, and remaining ½ cup granulated sugar.

Transfer to a shallow 2-quart baking dish, and sprinkle with topping mixture.

Place baking dish on a rimmed baking sheet, and bake until golden and bubbling, 55 to 65 minutes.

Let cool 10 minutes before serving.

East Meets West: Meet Jenn!

By Jenn Sun

Hey, I’m Jenn, a freshman at UW-Madison who plans on majoring in Food Science.

I was born and raised in Shanghai, a cosmopolitan city where skyscrapers tower into the clouds. Shanghai is an affable and austere place that’s also home to many traditional foods I have grown to love.

Growing up, my passion for food only increased. All of my expectations for traditional Chinese festivals were based on quality festival treats. Besides food from my home country, I also enjoy digging into other foreign tastes, like Italian pizzas and pastas, Japanese sushi and sashimi, Indian curries, American burgers and fries, and a lot more.

When I was in high school, I cooked on the weekends despite a very busy and tense student life. My mom didn’t seem to like my cooking, so I had to devour all my homemade cupcakes or cookies by myself…

My love for food has helped me gain 15 pounds over these recent years, and the number has continued to rise, especially now that I’m in America. Nonetheless, I continue to repeat the cooking and eating process.

When I first watched Julie & Julia, I became attracted to beef bourguignon. I searched for the recipe online and decided to recreate the dish myself. I remember the day I woke up so early to prepare the beef and to chop the onions. Since there were so many steps and a long cook time, I started cooking in the morning and I served at dinner.

Surprisingly, my mom was awed to see me doing one activity so conscientiously, and she even made a compliment about the attempt at a French meal. This was a huge encouragement to me, so I kept investing in my hobby. I bought the hardbound desserts recipe of Pierre Hermé in English edition, and even tried to translate it into Chinese so that it was easier to follow. But when I completely translated a recipe, I found that the recipe was so fancy and high-end that there was no way I could put together all the ingredients and make a gorgeous and stunning cake or anything like that. Finally I had to put this beautiful book, which is not very practical for me, in my bookshelf and told myself to begin a recipe collection of my own.

There are so many stories about me and my food, and I hope I can get the chance to tell you these stories in the future. I want to share my joy of food, get more people to know traditional Chinese food (not stuff like orange chicken!), and share my adventures in foods foreign to me.

Em’s Food Journal: Junior Year is Hard

By Emily Yee

Gallons of caffeinated drinks and piles of sandwiches are the reason why I’ve been surviving this semester so far, because holy crud, did you know that first semester of junior year for a Food Science major is packed with lectures on water, proteins, fluids and food-borne illnesses? And actually, that’s not even the entire semester, that’s just been the first month of the semester. I look back at the date of my first post and feel kind of awkward for such a late follow-up, but I can explain! I found myself lucky to catch even the slightest breath in between calculating viscosities of purées and figuring out why mishandled deli meats can cause diarrhea.

If it isn’t clear by now, Food Science courses have come at me like a wrecking ball — not the kind of wrecking ball that Miley Cyrus sings about, because instead of shattering emotional defense mechanisms, this one is trying to pulverize my GPA.

Photo by Emily Yee

Photo by Emily Yee

It’s a lot, guys. Let’s launch into a winded explanation, shall we?

In Food Science, your tub of ice cream isn’t just a cure for a rough day, nor is that strawberry pop-tart just a quick breakfast option. Nope, they are formulations of carbs, proteins and lipids that are carefully crafted so that you can indulge in edible novelties without approaching Death’s door.

No really, I don’t exaggerate; this is what we food science majors have learned so far:

  1. Food Engineering: water is a big deal.
  2. Food Chemistry: protein is a big deal.
  3. Food Microbiology: bacteria, pathogens, intoxications and infections are all big deals.
  4. A combined understanding of #1-3 is necessary to keep the consumer alive.

This is going to make a dent in the romantic view of food most people have, but a food product is the manifestation of engineers, chemists and microbiologists concerned not only for the consumer’s experience, but also the consumer’s safety. Sure it’s fun to learn about the chemical reactions that cause favorable sensory characteristics, such as the browning that gives bread its crust, or gelatinization that gives tofu its bounce, but how do we balance food quality and food safety?

According to my classes, the answer lies within equations used to solve for nutrient retention and bacteria reduction. The math behind protein folding and denaturation might have something to do with it too. I’ve got two midterms this week, so I guess I’ll let you guys know after I get those test scores back … wish me luck.



East Meets West: Meet Louis!

By Louis Che

Since this is my debut on The Dish‘s blog (actually, it’s also the first time I’ve ever blogged,) I think it is better to preface myself:

As a student from China, my taste might be a little bit quirky to you, but DON’T BE SCARED! Though I consider myself an epicure who is willing to try new, adventurous or even seemingly gross food, just read this blog and I assure you that you can find many interesting recommendations and introductions to various kinds of treats!

And now, here comes the formal introduction:
I am Louis, a UW- Madison freshman who is fighting against the attractions of high-calorie but heavenly-tasting food (that’s a battle that I’m doomed to fail, right? >.<). Since I am Chinese and Korean, I will draw connections between typical American food to prevalent Chinese and Korean food.

So forget about General Tso’s Chicken and fortune cookies! It’s time to explore authentic Chinese cuisines that are much more delicate than usual fast-food-like dishes you’ve eaten before. Forgive me if my descriptions make Chinese cuisine mysterious to you, I just can’t help praising these more authentic dishes — I really have to prepare some napkins while I am writing blogs next time … I’m salivating as we speak.

Photo by Louis Che

Photo by Louis Che

Unfortunately, since I just spent my last few weeks preparing and taking midterms, you may have to wait ‘til my next post if you are curious about fabulous, real, Chinese food. As compensation, I prepared some secret recommendations for you (Do not tell anyone else, or you will end up in a long queue before you can even taste it!)

Excited? Let’s begin!

The first recommendation is Chinese noodles from Four Lakes. Who doesn’t love Chinese noodles? Unlike Italian spaghetti, which gives me a feeling of delicate, high-end decadence, noodles render me a feeling of home as well as warmth. Although the noodles provided at Four Lakes are not exactly the same as genuine Chinese noodles, it offers you an opportunity to have a preview of what Chinese noodles are. In fact, it doesn’t taste half bad, so if you live near Dejope and are interested in Chinese culture, come and try it! But once there, here’s the most important decision — what should I choose from so many options?

You get a choice of either Lo Mein or rice noodles, but be careful here: DO NOT choose fried noodles! Then as we move on to ingredients, you can choose literally anything since they don’t affect the flavor much. And lastly, for the broth, you may want to choose miso because the other two choices are pretty sour … almost as sour as lemons.

Photo by Louis Che

Photo by Louis Che

Now that I have recommended Chinese food, it is time to have some dessert! If you are a fan of cupcakes, you definitely don’t want to miss Madison Sweets! When I walked into the shop for the first time, every cell in my body was shouting, “I want this, I want that, I want every flavor!” And from that point on, my only dream was to try every cupcake flavor in the bakery. My favorite flavor is red velvet because I really love the cream cheese frosting on top, which reaches a perfect balance between the sweetness of sugar cream with the sourness of cheese. Is there anything in the world that tastes better than that? Probably not.

Besides red velvet, you should also try the tiramisu and coconut cupcakes, which can greatly satisfy anyone with a sweet tooth. However, if you don’t like sweet, don’t worry, the bakery also sells caramel and salt cupcakes.

So if you walk down State Street and see the bakery, do not hesitate! Just walk right in, treat yourself to a cupcake and enjoy the magic it brings to make your day better.

Alright, I might have to rethink my blogging because I felt hungry twice while I was writing this post (just kidding, I love what I am doing).

That’s pretty much it for now, see you guys later!


Food Fads with Angela: So, I Ate Crickets…Here’s How it Went

By Angela Wolter

I consider myself an adventurous eater, a rebellious one even. Since I was a child, I’ve never been afraid to eat anything, whether it’s snails, frog legs or squid, and I have always been an avid watcher of exotic food and travel shows. It fascinates me that something a person considers disgusting can be oh-so-delicious to another. When I would see a person chomping on a scorpion tail or slurping the intestines of a cow, I would never squirm like my peers. No, I would want to try it, to see what it tastes like, what it feels like.

Photo by Angela Wolter

Photo by Angela Wolter

Not only have my taste buds been drawn to the unusual, but I have been engrossed in the food fad culture that permeates our society. Perhaps it’s my risk-taking eating habits that reel me in, but every time I see a new food trend, I’ve got to try it. With this thrill-seeking nature, I was pulled into the depths of the up-and-coming trend of insect farming.

Yep, that’s right friends, insects.

With the growing global population and increasing hunger levels around the world, many people are looking to insect farming as the future for sustainable (and some would say delicious), protein. Entomophagy, the consumption of insects as food, is gaining popularity around the world and restaurants are starting to pick up on this surprisingly tasty fad.

With this information as my guide, I decided to take entomophagy head on. I ordered a package of cricket flour, which is a finely milled product made from whole, roasted crickets. I recommend this product to any person trying entomophagy for the first time, for it was extremely easy to incorporate into my everyday cooking. I also found Amazon has an excellent selection of cricket flours and other insect food products from reputable companies, so I suggest exploring there first.

Anyways, while waiting for my order to arrive, I admit that I felt quite a bit of trepidation; I mean, these are insects after all.

Ground-up insects.

But, like most of the strange foods I eat, I tried not to think about it too deeply. I find things work out better that way.

When the flour arrived, I was excited to whip up a fresh batch of chocolate-chip cricket cookies, when I was struck with an idea: have an informal, blind taste test with my dorm floor-mates comparing the cricket-flour cookies with traditional, all-purpose flour cookies.

Brilliant, I know.

Ignoring the possibility of losing a few friends by feeding them insects, I set forward on my quest.

Creating cookies with cricket flour was exceptionally easy. It is completely interchangeable with normal flour, so one cup of cricket flour can be used in exchange of one cup of all-purpose flour. I would not recommend using this much of the product, however, for the flour has a grainy texture and causes the cookies to bake more densely. I found a recipe online that specifically called for cricket flour and only one-half cup of the flour was used in the cookies. For the “control cookies” (cookies without cricket flour,) I just substituted the one-half cup of cricket flour with all-purpose flour and everything still turned out peachy.

With the cookies baked and cooled, it was time for my experiment to begin. I first fed my friends the normal cookies, to prepare their taste buds for comparison with the cricket flour ones.

Then, it was the moment of truth: time for the cricket cookie.

Surprisingly, the results were very positive. Prior to unveiling the secret ingredient, I was told that each cookie tasted fairly similar, though some admitted the cricket flour cookies had an earthier flavor. I found the cricket flour cookie had a coarser, denser texture, and the flavor was comparable to green tea. The cricket flour provided a deeper flavor experience, beginning with a sweetness that slowly developed into a slightly bitter aftertaste. Even after exposing the cricket flour to my friends, they still preferred it to the all-purpose flour cookies.

Overall, my brief brush with the wild world of entomophagy was a positive one. Once I overcame my uneasiness with eating insects and realized the health benefits of the practice, I finally recognized the relative normalcy of it. I mean, think about it, eating insects really isn’t that weird. Millions of people around the world have been eating insects for centuries, millennia even! So I’m eating a cricket — who cares?! I say, try the trend. If entomophagy is the future of sustainable cuisine, we might as well get eating.

Farewell for now,

Angela Wolter