Black Pepper and Leek Tofu

By Libby Geboy

Photo by Libby Geboy

Photo by Libby Geboy

This spicy dish is surprisingly easy to make, and can be altered for your level of liking for spicy food. Though the whole idea is to keep it fiery, so keep it sharp! The recipe is deliciously vegetarian, and can be made gluten-free by the use of gluten-free soy sauce.

Recipe adapted from London’s Ottolenghi chef Yotam Ottolenghi
Serves 3-4

1 block organic, extra firm tofu
cornstarch to dust the tofu
olive oil
1 medium leek
knob chopped fresh ginger
7 tablespoons soy sauce
2 tablespoons sugar
1-2 teaspoons chopped fresh or dried red chili
1 tablespoon coarsely ground black peppercorns
Steamed white or brown rice

Pour enough oil to cover the bottom of a large saute pan and have a depth of about a 1/4 inch. Cut tofu into 1 x 1 inch blocks, and toss them in cornstarch; shake off the excess. Add the tofu to the hot oil, turning when they get crispy on a side. (Chances are you’ll need to fry in batches, so the tofu gets crispy and doesn’t just stew in the oil.) When golden on all sides, transfer to paper towel to cool.

Turn the heat down to medium low. Thinly slice all of the white of the leek, and add to the oil in the pan, dropping in the ginger and chilies, too. Saute until all the leeks are soft and cooked down. Add the soy sauce and the sugar, then the black pepper. Stir until the sauce gently bubbles around the edges.

Add the tofu back to the pan, tossing in the the sauce to coat and rewarm. Serve hot, over steamed rice.

Rising Sons Deli

By Mia Shehadi

Photo by Meghan Horvath

Photo by Meghan Horvath

Rising Son’s Deli is a terrific place to get satisfy those Thai food cravings. Located at the end of State Street near campus, authentic and inexpensive cuisine is made easy and convenient. Rising Sons is open between 11am and 9pm seven days a week, so time is seldom a barrier to trying something new. The bright red awning coupled with the incredible smell wafting to the outdoors makes Rising Son’s Deli hard to miss.

An embodiment of Matryoshka dolls, the restaurant is one pleasant surprise inside another. The extensive menu offers many combinations of Lao and Thai cuisine and various flavors to satisfy even the pickiest of eaters. Walking into the restaurant for the first time was grand. The modest-sized space is decorated with memorabilia from the owners’ home countries. A handful of tables are placed against the wall right by the door, and a small set of steps lead to a large bar that stretches to extra seating in the back. The bar is a nice space for anyone going in alone for a quick bite to eat. A small mirror wall is attached to the edge of the bar facing customers.  This wall creates an element of comfort and privacy when eating not-so-cute mouthfuls of noodles and spring rolls.

Opposite the bar are large windows leading to an outdoor courtyard. This. Space. Is. Unbelievable.  Incredibly intimate and romantic, the courtyard is a great escape to take your significant other.  The quiet space is therapeutic and a sanctuary in the middle of the city.  Big brick walls belonging to different buildings surround this little rectangular garden. Four delicate tables of two are pushed against one of the walls, while hanging plants and statues complete the movie-like scene. The large walled-off and ceiling-less space filled with plants invites open-air honesty, good laughs and unfiltered conversation.

The large menu can make it difficult to decide what to order, but looking at suggestions online by previous customers can be helpful to narrow down the selection.  Just be aware that their actual website doesn’t work and the restaurant only accepts cash.

I ordered two appetizers and one noodle dish. Vegetable spring rolls were the first appetizer I tried.  Rather than frying these rolls, they are prepared by wrapping the veggies in rice paper, a clear and chewy noodle casing with a fun texture.  The rolls have no overpowering oily flavor like that of fried spring rolls.  The colorful array of vegetables adds to the appeal. Two rolls come in an order, each one filled with squishy noodles, lettuce, mint and cilantro. A sweet and sour dipping sauce accompanies the rolls, adding an extra depth to the layers of fresh vegetables.

The other appetizer I tried is called the Kalapao, a steamed bun filled with pork, black mushrooms, onions and half a boiled egg. A single bun comes out on a nice little plate and fits perfectly in one hand, deceiving your eyes into how much food the bun actually contains. Because it is steamed the texture is very thick and sticky.  The center of the bun has a nice cohesive flavor, adding a little salt and sweetness to the bun. Each mouthful presents a glorious mixture of flavors.  The natural taste of the boiled egg, couple with savory sauce, cut the taste of mushrooms and dough in just the right way.

The entrée I tried is a crowd favorite, voted #1 on a handful of review websites.  I can understand why. The Drunken Noodles, served with or without meat, is a stir fry of thick noodles, eggs, onion, carrot, bok choy and mint in a rich dark soy sauce.  The noodles certainly are thick. Shaped as large rectangles, a single noodle is a mouthful of gooey, creamy deliciousness. The vegetables are excellent too.  They are well-cooked but not overdone and are evenly coated in the soy sauce. Small but plentiful tofu triangles are mixed into every bite, lightly fried while still squishy on the inside.  The sauce is perhaps the best part: a combination of creamy and salty; I imagine they whisk the soy sauce with butter and some thickening agent on a stove. Each element of the stir fry had a healthy coating of the stellar sauce, keeping with the meals’ theme of “no boring bites.”

I will definitely be returning with friends and family to Rising Son’s Deli to indulge in these dishes and new ones, as each dish seems to be as savory and satisfying as the last.

Osaka House

Photo by Annaleigh Wetzel

Photo by Annaleigh Wetzel

By Annaleigh Wetzel

Drake’s “Back to Back” buzzed from an iPhone plugged into speakers at Osaka House’s makeshift server station, where the restaurant’s only front-of-house employee danced and rapped along. For this, plus its endearing, hole-in-the-wall atmosphere, I want so badly to like it here and say I’ll be back. Unfortunately, even an especially on point music selection isn’t enough for me to give Osaka House another try.

Photo by Annaleigh Wetzel

Photo by Annaleigh Wetzel

The restaurant is tiny, with only enough room for about eight tables. The sushi selection is extensive, and listed on a large menu hung from the wall that’s visible immediately upon walking in. It’s riddled with names of rolls like Lady Gaga, Godzilla Roll and Happy Combo. The rest of the menu is just as long, with tempura and noodle dishes galore. Its overwhelming amount of choices led me to order the pork yakisoba, beef fried rice and the sweet potato tempura roll, decisions I came to with the help of the server’s recommendations. He was extremely attentive and friendly, but if these dishes are what he thinks are “the best,” I fear the rest of the menu.

Photo by Annaleigh Wetzel

Photo by Annaleigh Wetzel

Photo by Annaleigh Wetzel

Photo by Annaleigh Wetzel

The yakisoba, rice and sushi meals all had one common thread: no flavor. Onions and thin strips of overdone pork was all the yakisoba had to offer, similar to the greasy fried rice, with tough pieces of beef, plus tasteless peas and carrots. Albeit still bland, the sushi was improved immensely with the help of pickled ginger, wasabi and soy sauce. Another aspect of my Osaka House experience that trigged an eyebrow raise was the sheer ten minutes it took to receive my food. The speed between placing my order and taking my first bite was so quick; it caused me wonder about the food’s freshness.

If you’d like to see what Osaka House is all about for yourself, I encourage it. Perhaps you’ll find the hidden gem menu item I couldn’t. Or maybe you’ll be perceptive enough to ask for extra chili paste. Either way, please get in touch, and we’ll chat about it over a Dynasty Roll or two.

Photo by Annaleigh Wetzel

Photo by Annaleigh Wetzel

The Madison Blind keeps it simple, yet satisfying

By Claire Hornacek

Photo by Claire Hornacek

Photo by Claire Hornacek

Located on the rooftop of the Graduate Hotel, the new Madison Blind rooftop restaurant and bar offers breathtaking views of downtown Madison and simple yet flavorful dishes that capture the essence of the local food culture.

The clean, natural décor of light wooden chairs, white walls and long windows provides a comfortable, classy atmosphere.  The picturesque views on all sides of the Madison Blind are the center of attention and include sights of the Capitol, State Street and Lake Mendota.  A bar runs along one wall, and the adjacent patio is open for the summer months.

The chef buys as many ingredients as possible from local vendors and changes the menu periodically to highlight the produce of the season. The menu features Wisconsin favorites including fried cheese curds, sausage and breaded whitefish. They also offer new twists on old classics such as the elk poutine and the duck fat fries.

Photo by Claire Hornacek

Photo by Claire Hornacek

The cheese curds rival some of the best in town. They are served in a miniature mock frying basket with a creamy chipotle sauce. A light, crispy batter encases the gooey cheese.  Unlike some other fried curds, these cheesy bites are not excessively greasy. The chipotle sauce adds just the right amount of smoky, spicy flavor to bring the cheese curds to the next level.

The Quinoa Veggie Burger takes an interesting spin on the traditional veggie burger. Rather than a typical base made of soy, quinoa and potatoes are the main ingredients along with tomatoes, corn and beans. Southwest-inspired seasonings, fresh tomato and a smooth, cool avocado spread boost the flavor. The only downside to the burger’s potato base is that the patty easily falls apart. This burger requires both hands to stay held together when eating. The burger is also served with a generous side of the Portage Salad, which is also available as a meal; it is made with kale, spinach, peppers, onions, tomatoes, cucumbers and balsamic vinaigrette. This light, fresh salad is an excellent complement to the Quinoa Veggie Burger, and it stands out as a colorful, healthy alternative to the usual restaurant pairing of a burger and french fries.

The Banana S’more Pi à la Mode is the perfect end to the meal. The rich and decadent Pi looks similar to an empanada and is filled with chocolate, marshmallows and fresh bananas. The chocolate and marshmallows form a velvety smooth mixture, and a crispy, delicate crust gives the Pi an extra layer of texture.  The Pi alone is satisfying, but when paired with a big scoop of Sassy Cow Creamery ice cream, it comes close to perfection.

The Madison Blind’s sophisticated atmosphere, beautiful views, and simple, crowd-pleasing menu make it the perfect spot to bring visiting relatives, a date or a group of friends. The fresh local ingredients and alternating menu items keep guests coming back for more.


CHEW on This: Culinary History Enthusiasts of Wisconsin

By Liz Schnee

Photo by Meghan Horvath

Photo by Meghan Horvath

For the last 15 years, the Culinary History Enthusiasts of Wisconsin have gathered together once a month to explore various historic aspects of food. Basically, meetings are a way for interested Madisonians to become educated foodies. I was lucky enough to attend their December meeting, where Julia Wong gave a presentation on the evolution of restaurant menus.

Before the meeting, I chatted with the CHEW vice president and co-founder Terese Allen, who shared some of her favorite parts of being in the organization. She described the group as, “Nutty people who are fascinated with the roles that food play in our culture and what food means to us.” Allen also plays a dominant role in food culture in Madison, having written a cookbook and long-running columns in Edible Madison, Edible Door magazine, and the Isthmus.

Every meeting has a different topic, and their relationship with the Wisconsin Historical Society and UW-Madison enables them to attract a wide range of guests. The December meeting hosted Julia Wang, who works at the Wisconsin Historical Society and processes collections in the Organic and Sustainable Agriculture Collection. She gave a presentation chock-full of Madison references and pictures. For me, one of the highlights was seeing a picture from 1908 of a bake shop on State Street, now the home of Ian’s Pizza. Another was a menu from the 1980s of the restaurant L’Etoile on the Capitol Square, documenting their constant emphasis on regional procurement. There was even a binder of collected menus showing a lobster dinner for 50 cents with gold-embossed lettering as the font. Julia explained that studying menus serves as a “reminder of a communal experience,” which resonated with me because going out to eat is a shared tradition that has marked special occasions and important life events for many generations.

Anyone looking to impress friends by dropping some culinary knowledge can attend a meeting. They’re open to the public, and take place at 7:15 on the first Wednesday of each month in the bustling and friendly Goodman Center on the East side of Madison.

The next meeting will be presented by Nichole Fromme and Jonmichael Rasmus on the history of the Madison restaurant scene, and February’s presentation will be about food deserts and their origins.

CHEW believes that exploring the culinary past brings about the same joy as traveling; getting to discover exotic dishes otherwise unknown to daily life.

For more information, check out:

Far from Home and Full of Food

By Daniella Byck

Photo by Talia Byck ~taken in Madrid, Spain at the Madreat food cart festival

Photo by Talia Byck ~Madrid, Spain at the Madreat food cart festival


For some students, campus is a car ride away. For others, the journey to college spans time zones and states. But for the brave and adventurous, a university experience can traverse oceans and cultures. Studying abroad—be it for a semester or the time it takes to get a degree—provides students with insights and newfound knowledge that can only be gained through travel and exploration.

In the spring of 2015, Whitney Johnson left life in the midwest to spend a semester in Sevilla, Spain. Eating served as a cultural lesson, providing Johnson with great insight into the history of her new Spanish home. When her host mother prepared dishes, she would also verse Johnson in the meal’s origins. “Spain has a lot of influence from the Moors,” Johnson shares. “She would talk to us about dishes from Morocco because it’s so close, so we would kind of learn about the history of Spain through the dishes and what they represented.” Johnson also experienced cultural differences in the way food was consumed. “A lot more emphasis on not just eating and being done with it but just being together,” she noticed.

Felix Nguyen, a student from Vietnam shares the same sentiments on how meals can go beyond just what is on the plate. “Because we all need to eat, bonding over food is an interesting way to make new friends,” Nguyen writes in an electronic correspondence. “As an international student who is willing to experience dissimilar cultures, I am willing to try an array of dishes that I might not think of trying in Vietnam.” He contrasts Vietnamese dishes as having a more watery, soup-type base than a typical Madison meal.

Traditions related to food go beyond flavor—the appearance of the food is a cultural indicator in itself. Rui Zhou, a senior from mainland China began his studies in Seattle before transferring to Madison. A lover of China’s spicier cuisine, Zhou is quick to spot the differences between the presentations of food in the two countries he has called home. “Something really different in China is when we have fish we serve the whole body of fish,” Zhou says. “But people here, when they see a body they think of a body, it’s a scary thing. It’s something really different.” The presentation of food can also provide links between modern food norms. Nguyen shares how Vietnam’s cultural focus on street food has led to the development of “unique flavors and simplicity in food presentation.” Not unlike the beloved food truck trend that has permeated Madison’s own campus.

Although the newness of dishes and meal customs might leave some feeling out of place, these students represent experiences where food can be grounding as well. Far from familiarity, connections forged by food remain uniting while on adventures spanning the map. Johnson’s go-to meeting spot in Sevilla was the churro cart, and even back in Madison, whenever she sees fellow students from her program Johnson says that they “always joke to meet at the churro stand in ten minutes.” Zhou enjoys the quintessentially American cheeseburger as the meal he most identifies with his home in Madison. As for Nguyen, the center of his culinary community is a campus favorite: Buffalo Wild Wings. “To be honest,” Nguyen writes, “most of my close friendships developed at Bdubs.”

Food Fads with Angela: Five Days of the Paleo Diet

Credit -

By Angela Wolter

In this day and age, hundreds of fad diets are constantly thrown into our faces by popular media. It seems that almost every magazine or talk show is advocating for some kind of diet that will revolutionize our lives in one way or another. A nearly endless list can be made: no-carb, gluten-free, juice cleanses; the list goes on and on. I’ve always wanted to try one of these diets for myself, so I began to peruse through the various websites exclaiming the incredible benefits of each food plan. Finally, upon surveying all of my options, I chose my poison:

The Paleo Diet. Or, how I like to refer to it, My Five Days of Hell.

For five consecutive days, my diet followed the strict rules and regulations of the Paleo Diet, a food plan which attempts to emulate the way ancient humans ate. Paleo experts exclaim the benefits of “eating like a caveman,” declaring that the modern human diet cannot properly nourish our bodies. According to Loren Cordain, Ph.D. and founder of the Paleo movement, our society has progressed rapidly with agriculture, processed foods, and GMOs, but our human bodies have not yet evolved enough to benefit from these new foods. Claiming that our ancient diet of purely meats, nuts, vegetables, and fruits improve our overall health and well-being, Paleo experts denounce grains, starches, processed foods, legumes, dairy, and refined sugars, since these foods were not included in the diet of ancient humans. Sounds doable, right?

Easier said than done, my friends.

My first day started with a hearty breakfast of eggs and fruit. Sounds pretty normal, right? At this point, I was still delusional to the supposed simplicity of this diet. I. Was. Wrong.

That same day, lunch provided much more opposition, since I could not eat my typical meal of a peanut butter and jelly sandwich and skim milk. Oh no, no, no! Remember friends, I could not eat grains, legumes, processed sugars, or dairy. So, I ate a plain stir fry of vegetables, beef, and chicken. Now, I was starting to feel the struggles of the diet, but I truly believed I could persevere with minimal problems as long as I stayed focused and determined. Then, dinner came. Amongst the arrays of delicious pizza, delectable curry rice, and sumptuous chicken noodle soup dinners at Gordon’s, I ate yet another bowl of vegetables and meat.

After an entire day of pure Paleo Diet, I was exhausted, cranky and ill-tempered. I am convinced that my indigestion, headache, and sour mood were due to withdrawals from the processed foods and sugar I am used to consuming, and it was brutal. I would recommend to anyone thinking about starting this diet to do so in stages because quitting cold turkey is a severe and uncomfortable change to your diet and overall well-being.

The next few days progressed in a blur of passionate chocolate cravings, long-lost dreams of pizza, and an unsatisfied hunger for bread and peanut butter. The hardest part of the Paleo Diet, however, is when going out to eat with friends. Hamburgers must be eaten without buns, mustard, ketchup, or fries, and salads must remain undressed and without the refined sugars and processed flavors of salad dressing. Coffee is a big no-no, so all you Starbuck’s fans can kiss your pumpkin spice lattes goodbye and opt for an unsweetened, all-natural green tea. Oh, and those little trips on State Street to get ice cream with friends? Those are just another fond memory of what eating once was.

It wasn’t all bad, though. By far, my favorite part of the Paleo Diet was when it was over. Oh, what a beautiful day it was, my friends. Finally, I could eat all of the chocolate, sugar, grains, and dairy I wanted! Before this diet, I never realized how easy it was for me to find food, and how absolutely delicious these paleo-prohibited foods were. Granted, I may have gone a bit overboard on my first day off the diet, but it was a glorious day nonetheless.

Perhaps it was because I was not on the diet long enough, but all I felt while eating Paleo was increased tiredness, headaches, and general crankiness. I do agree with Paleo Diet experts that eating all natural foods and cutting down on grains and refined sugars is healthy, but it seems excessive to cut them out entirely. Perhaps the diet of the past should stay there.

Farewell for now,

Angela Wolter

*Disclaimer – the findings and opinions of this article are those of those of the blogger from her experience. For more information on this diet, visit The Pros and Cons of the Paleo Diet.

Chocolate Peppermint Cookies

By Delaney Jacobson

Photo by Delaney Jacobson

Photo by Delaney Jacobson

With the holidays just around the corner, you may find yourself frantically scrambling to find the perfect seasonal treat. Have no fear—peppermint chocolate cookies, topped with a melted Andes thin mint, are just the thing to suit your holiday needs. This fun twist on the popular after-dinner mint will be the first to go at any Christmas cookie exchange.

I adapted this recipe from a family friend and ever since, these cookies have been a family favorite. They are easy to make, and most of the ingredients can be found at your neighborhood grocery store—Trader Joe’s is your friend!

Decadently crisp around the edges, with smooth, melty chocolate in the middle, Santa’s favorite cookies are unique, festive and refreshing, making them perfect for holiday parties, family dinners and cookie exchanges. These melt-in-your-mouth morsels are best served with a cold glass of milk or egg nog. Even the Grinch can’t resist!

These cookies also freeze very well, so they can be made ahead of time and gifted later.

Whether you’re soothing wintertime woes or spreading Christmas cheer, these scrumptious cookies aim to please. You won’t be able to eat just one!

¾ cup butter
1 ½ cups brown sugar
2 tablespoons water
2 cups semisweet chocolate chips
½ teaspoon peppermint extract
2 eggs
2 ½ cups all-purpose flour
1 ¼ teaspoons baking soda
½ teaspoon salt
2 packages Andes thin mints

In a large saucepan over low heat, heat butter, sugar, and water until butter is melted. Add chocolate chips and peppermint extract. Stir until partially melted. Remove from heat and continue to stir until chocolate is completely melted. Pour into a large bowl and set aside to cool for 10 minutes.

At high speed, beat in eggs one at a time into chocolate mixture. Reduce speed to low and gradually add dry ingredients, beating until blended. Cover and refrigerate dough for 1 hour.

Preheat oven to 350°.

Roll dough into walnut-sized balls and place on ungreased cookie sheet about 2-inches apart. Bake 8 to 11 minutes. A caution: These cookies are easy to over-bake. Trust your timer and do not cook with your eyes!

While cookies are baking, unwrap Andes mints and break each in half. When cookies are out of the oven, put half of a mint on top of each cookie. Let the mint sit on the cookie until melted, then using the back of a spoon, spread the melted mint on top of the cookie. Allow to cool and enjoy!

Yields approximately 5 dozen cookies.

Food Carts on Library Mall

By Madison Fortman


It’s just as lunchtime rolls around that the lingering burn in my stomach begins to make weird noises. Anxiety slowly sets in as everyone sitting near me in lecture glances over at my growling stomach. It is safe to say that I need to get a hold of this hunger situation. Operation: Need Lunch Now, is in full swing. As a student, it’s often not possible to return to a dorm, apartment or house during a short lunch break between classes. I live on Langdon Street, and it’s rare that I make it back home to eat within my allotted lunchtime. So where to go?Banzo

Most students have walked through Library Mall at the end of State Street on a weekday to find a plethora of food carts. If any of them are like me and need to tackle Operation: Need Lunch Now, this little strip of food carts will become a new best friend. The array of food options is enormous, from Thai to Peruvian to Mexican. No matter what you are in the mood for, taste buds will be satisfied. These carts are a great option as there is always something new to try.

The low cost of these foods carts adds to their appeal. With $10 in your pocket, a meal from any food cart is an option.  The last thing we want as college students is to spend money, but the flavor of pita sandwich from the Banzo food cart is well-worth the expense and far more satisfying than the ramen noodles waiting for you at home.

If you have yet to sample the menu at Banzo, it is an absolute must. The Mediterranean-inspired food cart offers different pita sandwiches and platters that are perfect for tackling Operation: Need Lunch Now. If you struggle to make decisions, especially in regard to food selection, I would recommend the F-Bomb platter, as it gives you a taste of everything the cart has to offer.

The platter consists of two falafel, chicken, hummus, pita, rice, salad (a mixture of diced cucumber, onion, tomatoes) and chips. All of that for $9.  Not only is it a deal, it puts typical subs and sandwiches to shame. It is just that good! The falafel is crisp, the hummus is well-flavored with garlic yet not overbearing, and the chicken is tender and well seasoned. After devouring the F-Bomb platter, you may find yourself on the verge of a food coma, but it is absolutely worth it.

For anyone craving south of the border inspired cuisine, there is a food cart to satisfy all taco, burrito, and nacho needs. Cali Fresh is a Mexican food cart with a California twist. The taco platter is a popular item that is reasonably priced at $7 (a single taco is $3).CaliFresh

The platter includes two tacos plus rice and beans. The chicken tacos are garnished with fresh cabbage, cilantro and onion. I recommend adding hot salsa to the tacos if for a spicy kick, though there is a milder option for those with more sensitive taste buds. This meal is savory and filling, not to mention convenient to grab on the way to the library for afternoon studying. I am a big taco lover in general, but Cali Fresh definitely cooks up something amazing. I tried to savor every last bite of the juicy, zesty tacos, and I will definitely be a repeat customer.

While all the carts are satisfying, Fresh Cool Drinks the one I first tried and one of my favorites. Though this cart boasts fresh fruit smoothies, most customers wait in line for the spring rolls. At 12:30 p.m. on the day I tried the food cart, the line was rather long but absolutely worth the wait.

I ordered a chicken avocado spring roll with medium sauce. With a sauce choice of hot, medium or mild, medium is the perfect balance between the two. A chicken avocado spring roll is made up of avocado, chicken, lettuce, cucumber, carrot, cabbage and rice noodle, all wrapped up in a rice paper roll about the size of my head. A giant burrito, but better!

The combination of heat from the sauce, crunch of the cabbage, and cool, refreshing taste of the avocado had my taste buds dancing. It is definitely a messy food to eat, so have napkins handy and accept the fact that there is no attractive way to eat one of these spring rolls.  It is a struggle to take a bite because the average person’s mouth is not physically big enough to wrap around the roll without lettuce and avocado falling all over. But no shame, just bite down and enjoy. To make this lunch victory even sweeter, the price of a spring roll is only $3. Yes, only $3.CaliFresh1

I encourage everyone to head to Library Mall and try Fresh Cool Drinks or any of the many food carts that are available, especially before it gets too cold. Before falling victim to Operation: Need Lunch Now, remember that reasonable, delicious and convenient food carts are only a few steps away.

The Green Owl Café

By Claire Hornacek


Plant-based diets are one of the latest trends in the food world. Not only are plant-based foods better for our health, they are also easier on the environment. While I am not quite ready to make the switch to a completely vegetarian or vegan diet, I am always up for trying something new. I headed over to the Green Owl Café situated at a funky intersection on Atwood Avenue on the east side of Madison. The Green Owl Café specializes in locally sourced vegan and vegetarian dishes.

Earthy green walls, natural wood benches, and bright plastic chairs give the café a hip, modern vibe. Every dish looks delicious, perfect for vegans, vegetarians, and carnivores alike. Still undecided after examining the menu, I took the waiter’s advice.  I ordered the TLT with Avocado Sandwich, a vegan twist on the traditional BL T, and a quinoa salad on the side.

The “T” in the TLT sandwich stands for “tempeh,” a soy protein meat substitute. I was a bit skeptical about substituting soy protein for classic, greasy bacon, but the waiter’s recommendation did not disappoint. Although the tempeh was less crispy than traditional bacon, it was hardly noticeable in the sandwich.  The tempeh even had the signature smoky flavor of bacon. Fresh avocado, juicy tomato, crunchy lettuce and chewy Madison Sourdough bread made for one satisfying tempeh sandwich.

The TLT sandwich was more appetizing than I had imagined, but the quinoa salad stole the show. If I had only one reason to revisit the Green Owl, it would be for that quinoa salad. Quinoa, scallions, pepitas, and dried cranberries combined with their famous nutty dressing made for a wholesome, savory side dish.  I would recommend that they offer a larger portion of the salad to be sold as full entrée.IMG_4541

After the table next to me ordered the chocolate lava cake, I knew I needed
to try it. A warm piece of cake covered in chocolate sauce and dusted with powered sugar was the perfect way to end the meal. The sauce had a slight hint of sour cherry that perfectly complimented the rich chocolate. I scraped the plate clean.

If you’re looking for something a little different next time you go out, check out the Green Owl Café. The dishes are so creative and delicious, you will not even notice that the meals are vegan and vegetarian. And on Sunday they offer brunch… So I’ll be back!12166715_1085196311493629_2110013673_n

Forage Kitchen

By Alison CastrianoForage7

Madison has always been the land of beer and cheese.  However, with all the new restaurant openings in the area, the city’s food culture is evolving into much more than that. The healthy and sustainable food revolution is at an all-time high, and Doug Hamaker and Henry Aschauer jumped at the opportunity to add to Madison’s food scene.  They opened Forage Kitchen, a place to quickly grab a gourmet salad, veggie-filled wrap, grain-filled bowl or any combination of the sort. All of their ingredients are locally sourced from vendors in Wisconsin and surrounding areas, which adds to the many reasons to try what they have to offer.Forage4

Owners Hamaker and Aschauer were friends and students at the University of Wisconsin-Madison and have continued to make a presence on campus through their restaurants. They opened Roast Public House three years ago, but they wanted to broaden their offerings with a place for healthy lunch and dinner options.  With this idea in mind, they immediately called up lifelong friend and chef Katie Brozen to add her to the team. They flew her in from New York City to discuss their ideas behind Forage Kitchen. She was hooked.

I had the opportunity to talk with Brozen, head chef of Forage Kitchen, to learn more about what the restaurant can provide students and hear the story of the woman behind the menu of this exciting new restaurant.

Brozen has a strong background in healthy cooking; she went to culinary school at the Natural Gourmet Institute, worked in many upscale farm-to-table New York City restaurants and opened her own vegetarian café. She chose to move to Madison to create the menu and cook for Forage Kitchen because she wanted to make a positive impact on our community and campus. Brozen created a menu that offers options for lovers of all cuisines, not just leafy greens and salads. She playfully pointed out that menu items such as proteins, grains and wraps are hearty, comfort-food alternatives that are perfect for harsh winters in Madison.

Brozen explained that although Forage is a fast-casual restaurant, she wanted to provide people with a well-rounded experience. Their goal is for customers not to feel rushed in the restaurant, to always leave feeling great about what they ate and to have a positive experience.Forage5

When I asked Brozen what she would order off the menu on a typical day, she chose the Forbidden Forager, one of Forage Kitchen’s signature salads. This answer came after a long pause because, of course, every item is on the menu for a reason and there are endless combination possibilities. She described the salad as having a perfect balance of ingredients, flavors and textures including black rice, roasted broccoli, crunchy carrots and cucumbers, sunflower sprouts and more. The only thing she thinks it’s missing is avocado. And because she’s in charge of the menu, it is a good bet that avocado will be added to the Forbidden Forager soon.

On a final note, it is important to remember that the food at Forage Kitchen is made for everyone and anyone, not just vegans and vegetarians. I recommend that anyone who is curious try out Forage Kitchen and not shy away because of unfamiliar or unusual organic ingredients.  Go out of your comfort zone of burgers and curds for lunch, and choose an amazing healthy offering that will leave you feeling great and ready to take on the world.Forage2










Madison’s Top Chilly Desserts

By Joshua Bartels


It’s about to get cold outside. Like, really cold. So ask your parents to send you your winter jacket, grab your gloves out of the drawer, shove on your thick boots, and prepare for the worst. While some of us may not survive, it’s sure that our appetite for ice cream will never perish, no matter what the temperature is outside. And who could blame us?

We have some of the coolest ice cream shops and parlors right here in Madison. From the Chocolate Shoppe to Babcock Dairy and beyond, there are enough tastes and flavors to amaze even the strictest food critic. So join me, for a small taste of what Madison has to offer. Starting on campus and moving along State Street, here are some of Madison’s best stops for everyone’s favorite frozen treat.meghan_scoop6

Babcock Hall Dairy Store
(1605 Linden Dr, Madison, WI 53706)

If you’re ever hungry for a quick meal ending with a delicious dessert, then look no further than the Babcock Hall Dairy Store. Located on the UW-Madison campus, this store sells fresh-made ice cream as well as sandwiches, wraps, quesadillas and various cheeses. The Babcock Dairy Store first opened its doors in 1951 and today is the oldest university dairy building in the U.S. Since its creation, the store has been dishing out some of Madison’s favorite ice cream. After several visits, I have to say my top flavor is Caramel Apple, but Chocolate Turtle is a close second. Do not feel limited to just a normal dish of ice cream here, however. The Babcock Hall Dairy Store offers malts, shakes, various sundaes, ice cream sandwiches and even ice cream pies (which are to die for). Ice cream can also be purchased in various sizes, from a small cone to a three gallon tub! Either bring it home and share with friends or dig in by yourself after a tough exam. I won’t judge.

Popular and Unique Flavors:
Fifth Quarter
Berry Alvarez
Cinnamon Snickerdoodle
Caramel Apple
Orange Custard Chocolate Chip
Mocha Macchiato




Chocolate Shoppe Ice Cream
(468 State St, Madison, WI 53703)

One cannot write an article about ice cream in Madison without including the Chocolate Shoppe. Of all the places in this article, the Chocolate Shoppe has by far the largest selection of flavors. There are 81 flavors listed online, not including the Italian ice, no sugar added, sherbet, non-fat Greek yogurt and non-dairy soy flavors. My personal favorite is a toss-up between Cherry Amaretto Fudge, Caramel Chaos and Peanut Butter Cup. But truth be told, every flavor is fantastic. While there is a high variety customers can choose from, the owners take more pride in that they have “Super-Premium” ice cream. What makes their ice cream “Super Premium?” For ice cream to gain such a label, it needs to contain 14% butterfat. This adds to the creamy texture and creates a delicious taste for the enjoyment of the consumer. Nothing takes priority to taste here. As the store’s slogan says, “You want nutrition, eat carrots.” Though it may not be the healthiest option in the world, you can be sure there will always be tons of flavor in each bite, lick or spoonful.

Popular and Unique Flavors:
Pistachio Nut
Zanzibar® Chocolate
Heaps of Love
Green Tea
Sticks & Stones



La Coppa Gelatomeghan_scoop14
(341 State St, Madison, WI 53703)

La Coppa Gelato is the perfect place for any health nut with a sweet tooth or anyone who enjoys ice cream in general. Why? Because the gelato at La Coppa Gelato is not only delicious, it also contains only 6.9% fat, which is significant considering American ice cream can contain up to 18% or more butter fat. What’s more, La Coppa Gelato does not sacrifice any flavor to get these sweet benefits. If anything, it is richer, smoother and tastes even better than ice cream. The owners learned how to create such a delicious treat through connections with an Italian café in Europe. In fact, a good portion of their ingredients still come from Italy in order to obtain the authenticity they hold so dear. Many of their dishes reflect their Italian background and have very artful and awe-inspiring designs. My favorite dish, Spaghetti Pomodore, reflects this especially well. It is a concoction of your favorite flavor, sent through a spaghetti press, poured on top of a small amount of whipped cream and covered with strawberry syrup, white chocolate morsels and a waffle cone wafer. It’s like ice cream but healthier, and it looks like spaghetti: now, what’s not to love about that?

Popular and Unique Flavors:
Pretzel Chocolate Malt
Princess Peach
Bacio (Chocolate Hazelnut Nutella)
Irish Whiskey
White Chocolate Raspberry Mocha
Maple Bourbon Pecan



(208 State St, Madison, WI 53703)

While Kilwins may be located near the top of State Street, it is definitely worth the extra walk. Not only does Kilwins serve ice cream, it also produces many flavors of Mackinac Island-style fudge, large peanut butter cups, caramel apples, brittles, caramel corn and hand-dipped chocolate products sure to satisfy any hungry customer with a sweet tooth. One great aspect of Kilwins is the atmosphere. While exploring the array of various snacks to try, one can simultaneously observe the employees creating the delicious treats right behind the counter.  The employees are good-natured and very helpful when asked any questions about their products. After a tough time deciding on a flavor, they recommended that I try the Salted Caramel ice cream. Seconds later, I understood why! The ice cream was filled with flavor; my taste buds were swimming in a pool of thick caramel sprinkled with a perfect amount of salty surprise. Every other ice cream flavor I have tried at Kilwins since has produced similar sensations. I left Kilwins with a smile on my face and anyone else who tries it will likely do the same. So why not? It may be a few minutes farther from campus, but you will be glad you went.

Popular and Unique Flavors:
Cinnamon Crumb Cake
Heavenly Hash
Salted Caramel
Rum Raisin
Kilwins Tracks