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

Em’s Food Journal: Food Science is a Real Thing!

By Emily Yee

Illinois: where soda is called pop, where hot dogs are eaten with mustard (no ketchup) and where our protagonist’s story (me) begins. It’s here, during her last year of high school, where she signed up for this thing called “Food Science” (whatever that is…) snidely telling herself, “Eh, I’ll learn about vitamins and how to not burn stuff on the stove. An easy-A.”

But as the semester continued, complex discussions and neat factoids had reached into her head and popped her inflated ego. She suddenly yearned to understand GMOs, to figure out what all the fuss over kale was, and to appreciate a network of scientists having the ambition to innovate the eating and drinking experience. Her curiosities in high school had driven her to search for answers in the vastness of college.

The year is 2013 and our protagonist managed to charm her way into UW-Madison despite lackluster ACT scores. She maneuvered her way through Babcock Hall, where this utopia of food and academics became tangible. Her professors described magical creatures producing lactic acid, and they told tales of mystical beings—food engineers, I believe—that call the frying process “wet drying” because they’re engineers and they’re obnoxious (okay, calm down, I only kid).

When she convinced her slightly antisocial self to mingle with other Food Science majors, she thought, “ermahgerd, I’mma geek out with these folks about why it’s important to understand crystalline structures in ice cream, and we’ll even eat the ice cream too!” And so she did. She befriended her classmates and even made conscious efforts to stay awake during Food Science lectures. Being a Food Scientist would be a hell of a time.

But alas, tragedy struck!

Her parents strongly disapproved. Like, a lot. They kept asking her if she was into radiology and if she was 100% sure about not going pre-med. She stumbled through the year with mounting pressure, thinking, “oh crap, how am I gonna prove myself and what am I gonna do with my life?! WAAAH!”

So what did she do?

She worked as a café development intern back home, then returned to campus hoping that learning about Salmonella outbreaks wouldn’t crush her fondness for peanut butter. She also found tons of intriguing articles and videos regarding food policy and tirelessly opened up conversations.

TL;DR*: things got real.

Months passed, as did her parents’ skepticism about her major, and our protagonist was approached with an opportunity: to blog for The Dish, and she took it. It’s a thrill to toss around ideas for an open-diary-sorta-thing because it’s about damn time that a Food Science student was given a platform to assertively (yet tastefully and humorously…well, hopefully it turns out that way) alert everyone that FOOD SCIENCE MAJORS ARE NOT DIETETICS MAJORS SO STOP ASKING ME HOW MUCH QUINOA YOU SHOULD EAT EVERYDAY.

Hi. I’m Emily Yee and I enjoy sass, quirky cuisines, and detailed sagas of the lactose-intolerance struggle. Welcome to a new kind of food journal.

*Too long; didn’t read

Ha Long Bay Brings Tastes of Thailand, Laos and Vietnam to Madison

IMG_9610By Annaleigh Wetzel

Snagging one of the last open tables, my brother and I slid into a window booth at the local favorite Thai restaurant better known as Ha Long Bay. As its name suggests, Ha Long Bay specializes in Vietnamese, Laotian and Thai food. While Madison is home to a wealth of ethnic Asian restaurants, few capture the complexities of those food cultures as well as Ha Long Bay.

Traditional décor, including wood-carved sculptures and sweeping green curtains create an authentic, yet understated atmosphere. The menu sprawls over more than 10 pages; each page is filled with dishes titled in Asian vernacular and IMG_6783 accompanied by English descriptions in parenthesis—helpful to those of us not fluent enough to know that Goỉ Cuốn Chả Giò is a Vietnamese spring roll.

Better known to locals as “Willy” Street, Williamson Street has fostered a hip, artsy aesthetic that allows it to effortlessly act as home to many small businesses of a similar avant-garde nature, making it the perfect setting for exotic restaurants like Ha Long Bay.

On this Monday afternoon, the space was packed with eaters from all walks of life. Students with IMG_0620backpacks were seated next to a mother with two kids, a job interview was taking place over bowls of pho and some pals came together for a reunion diagonally from a business lunch meeting, all within one cozy dining room.

A short selection of bottled beer and wine is available, but drinks take a back seat to the extensive list of food offerings. Savory and rich flavors amoIMG_5460ng a wide variety of options is the theme at Ha Long Bay, and fried rice, noodle dishes, pho soups and curries score 10s across the board. If you asked me what to order, I’d say without hesitation to get it all.

My brother and I, eager to taste all we could stomach, shared beef pho, Panang curry, Ha Long Bay chicken eggrolls, chicken satay and pork dumplings. We ate in total silence, focused only on the food before us—a true testament to how delicious everything was.

Although the portions are massive, if you can taste a bit of as much as possible, do so. I suggest bringing a few of your foodie friends along and ordering family style. That way you’ll be able to split both the enormous amount of eats and the cost, albeit very reasonable, into manageable portions.

In sharing Asian culture through its exceptional food, Ha Long Bay has cultivated a sense of community between itself and its patrons. Ha Long Bay has succeeded in bringing Ha Long Bay, Vietnam, to Madison, and it tastes better than ever.

Alternative Meat Eating with Bartlett Durand

By Liz Schnee

When Bartlett Durand attended UW-Madison, he was a Ramen and Prego sauce connoisseur, just like your typical college student. Years later he’s the owner of the Conscious Carnivore, a nearby butcher shop that prides itself on its socially-just practices and quality meat. To paint an image of the store, one of the first sights you see when walking in is a sign that states, “What you eat shouldn’t eat at you.”

I interviewed Bartlett to discuss eating consciously and why the origins of our food matter. Although the majority of students agree that they would prefer to have their meat sourced locally, free of chemicals, and with gainfully employed workers behind the product, many would be surprised to know that this reality is not so far out of reach. We have this belief that food should be quick and convenient; marketers constantly tell us that we don’t have time for cooking. The hidden truth is that cooking from scratch is not an unattainable task, even for busy college students, and it comes with numerous benefits.

1. Your health: As mom said, the frequent frozen dinners are a surefire way to gain the Freshman 15.

2. Your wallet: When Bartlett started cooking from scratch, he admitted he was amazed by how much less he spent on fresh ingredients than he spent on prepared meals and processed snacks. Plus, with cooking, you can get more meals out of each ingredient so your dollar stretches further.

3. Unifying the community: Shopping at the farmers market or purchasing from a local producer means community members directly receive more profit.

4. The environment: Supporting Wisconsin meat and dairy producers means that products have not been shipped internationally, so less carbon emissions are emitted to transport the products and less chemical additives are used to preserve them.

Fortunately, deciding to eat consciously is not a fad that requires a bunch of new kitchen gadgets or a commitment to never eat out again. According to the Journal of Consumer Culture, “This discourse valorizes the personal shopping choices that are directed toward improving the public good alongside individual well-being.”* Simply speaking, eating consciously entails selecting foods with pronounceable ingredient lists from trusted sources. Being conscious of your food means acknowledging its origins and being mindful of the work it took to bring it to the table.

Bartlett emphasizes the importance of putting your dollar where your beliefs lie. So if we, as a campus, want practices to change, we need to shop wisely and speak up for quality food.

Bartlett is optimistic, “Between making conscious buying decisions, the impact student dining employees have on campus, and the enthusiasm from engaged citizens, students can come together and great things can come out of it.”

Many positive changes are already in motion, like the community support of the Conscious Carnivore and the beginning of grass-fed beef being served through UW-Housing. Knowing what you’re eating and where it came from is empowering and opens up a realm of dining possibilities.

For those interested in making steps towards more conscious consumption, you may consider simply taking a few extra minutes to plan your daily meals so that hunger doesn’t drive you to convenience food.

Another suggestion is to check out the Conscious Carnivore for sustainable meat and free recipes. Also, try shopping at the farmer’s market, Trader Joe’s, or even the local products section at Fresh Market.

In addition, student orgs like UW Slow Food or FH King can provide resources and education. Slow Food offers sustainable meals and internship opportunities, and FH King provides students with free harvest vegetables on Fridays and opportunities for gardening, composting, and learning about sustainability.

For more information about these resources, visit:
Conscious Carnivore: http://conscious-carnivore.com/
UW Slow Food: http://slowfooduw.com/
FH King: http://fhkingstudents.wix.com/fhking

*Cairns, Kate, Josee Johnston, and Norah MacKendrick. “Feeding the “organic Child”; Mothering through Ethical Consumption.” Journal of Consumer Culture 13.2 (2013): 97-118. Print.

Cento: A new cornerstone of Italian cuisine

By Erica Perlmutter

Cento is one of the latest additions to Madison’s growing Italian food scene, but with its upscale atmosphere and Chef’s Table offering, it is quickly becoming one of the most popular.

Walking into Cento, one almost immediately notices its modern yet inviting ambiance. Most people wait by the predominantly grey-hued and steel casted bar area before being seated in the comfortable booths downstairs or smaller seating space upstairs. Either way, the staff is both extremely attentive and knowledgeable, particularly with wine pairings.

Photo courtesy of Chris Hynes Photography

Photo courtesy of Chris Hynes Photography

Now onto the important stuff—the food.

While Cento does offer a brunch and lunch menu, the dinner selections are the true standouts.

Appetizers range from bacon-wrapped dates and burrata, to olio verde and beef tartare with quail egg. You might be able to tell from this short list alone that Cento is definitely not a restaurant for the conservative eater.
This establishment also offers wood-fired pizzas from a traditional cheese pie to a variant which consists of more involved vegetable and meat toppings.

While a pizza topped with porchetta, Brussels sprouts and pesto does sound mouth-watering, the consistency as far as quality of pizza is a tad suspect.

No one knows better than a pizza enthusiastic like me that a burnt or overdone pizza is a true tragedy and Cento may have a few kinks to work out in that department.

One of the highlights of the pasta offerings, however, is the choice between an appetizer or entrée-sized portion. If you’re looking to truly sample the menu, I would recommend the appetizer size. This way, you’re able to experience the same great flavors at less of an expense for your wallet and waistline.

Pizza and pasta aside, my absolute favorite dish at Cento would without a doubt be the roasted chicken. Served with salsa verde, arugula and lemon, this dish is the perfect balance between savory and roasted flavors, yet remains a lighter entrée option. It is a pure masterpiece.

While Cento can be a pricier restaurant to begin with, they also offer a Chef’s Table option. For $125 per person, famed chef Michael Pruett will prepare a seasonal seven-course dinner for a maximum of six patrons. While it does seem like an exorbitant amount of money to spend on a single dinner, I’m sure each diner leaves satiated.

Another great perk of Cento is its central location to the Capitol and Overture Center. To truly capitalize on this, Cento now offers a theatre menu before select performances. For $35, one can get a night filled with creative culinary options at Cento and artful performances at the Overture Center.

These diverse offerings and extensive menu choices are just some of the reasons Cento has quickly become a Madison highlight. Blending traditional Italian recipes with modern techniques results in a menu unique to even the most dedicated Italian diners.

Although the menu may seem somewhat overwhelming, most dishes provide the delicious flavors that have enabled Chef Pruett to recently be named one of the Best Chefs in America.

I encourage both the most cautious and critical eaters to enjoy the ambiance, wine selection and food offerings that Cento has crafted. I have never left without a full, satisfied belly and a slightly emptier wallet that was well worth every bite.

Strawberry Chocolate Chip Cake

Strawberry Chocolate Chip Cake


Noelle Lebow

Nothing initiates the true beginning of summer like strawberry picking at Berry Hill Farm in Middleton, Wisconsin.

Now that you actually have free time to spend without homework or exams in the back of your mind, picking strawberries is a great way to enjoy nature. If you have gone strawberry picking before, then you are familiar with the hard, but rewarding, labor that goes into picking pounds of strawberries.

While thrilled about replenishing your strawberry stock, panic might start to sink in as you wonder what exactly you are going to do with all of those strawberries. Some can be stored in the freezer, some (or a lot) can be eaten right away, and some can be set aside for recipes.

Fruit smoothies, vanilla ice cream and waffles are all great matches for strawberries. However, if you’re having a graduation party or a brunch with friends and family, these pairings can be difficult party foods.

Cue the strawberry chocolate chip cake. That’s right, strawberries and chocolate. This cake deliciously combines two great foods into an easy-to-eat fruitcake that can be consumed warm or cold.

To be honest, I was hesitant when I first came across this recipe because my previous fruitcake experiences have not been positive. All too many times, the cake has been too wet and soggy from the fruit. While this recipe does make a moist cake, baking at a low temperature for a longer time greatly reduces the amount of water in the fruit.


Prep time: 30 minutes

Cook time: 1 hour

Servings: 9



  • 1 cup all-purpose flour
  • ½ cup wheat flour
  • 1 and 1/2 teaspoons baking powder
  • 1/8 teaspoon salt
  • 3 tablespoons unsalted butter, softened
  • 3 tablespoons Greek yogurt
  • 1 cup sugar
  • 1 large egg
  • 1/2 cup milk
  • 1 teaspoon pure vanilla extract
  • 1/3 cup chocolate chips plus more for sprinkling the top of cake
  • 1 pound strawberries, hulled and quartered



  1. Heat oven to 350 degrees. Line the bottom of a pan with parchment paper. Grease sides of 8×8-inch square pan or 9×3-inch springform pan with butter or cooking spray.
  2. Sift flour, baking powder and salt together into a medium bowl.
  3. In a separate large bowl, combine butter, Greek yogurt, sugar. Mix until light and fluffy, but try not to over mix.
  4. Beat in the egg, milk and vanilla until light and fluffy.
  5. Stir in the flour mixture, gradually, just until combined. Do not over mix.
  6. Fold in chocolate chips into the batter and transfer batter to pan.
  7. Arrange strawberries on top of the cake by placing the cut sides down and close together. Place chocolate chips in spaces in between.
  8. Bake cake for about 50 minutes until the top is golden brown and the tester comes out clean. In the last 5-10 minutes of baking, you can take the cake out of the oven and sprinkle some more chocolate chips on top, pressing them lightly into the top of the cake (the top of the cake will already be baked and a bit crusty) – it will make for a nice presentation. Return to the oven for 5-10 more minutes, to allow chocolate to melt a bit and look even nicer.
  9. When the cake is done baking, let it cool (still in the baking pan) on a wire rack. After cake has cooled for about 40 minutes, release the cake from the pan if springform pan was used.


Storage tips: Because strawberries tend to make any desserts overly moist, this cake is best kept refrigerated. When refrigerated, it keeps very well for at least one week and tastes just as fresh. It tastes pretty good cold, and you can also microwave it for about 10 seconds to melt the chocolate chips.

Freezing tips: This cake freezes very well. Cool the cake completely. Tightly wrap the cake in plastic wrap, make sure it is airtight. Freeze up to one month.

[Recipe adapted from Julia at http://juliasalbum.com]

Madison’s OSS on Regent Street

By Bri Moritz10920116_366360776870297_3433607600784950462_o

There is no shortage of fantastic dining options in this city. From international cuisine, comfort food and Sconnie favorites, the list is infinite.

Recently, Madison Magazine came out with the ‘Best of 2015’, which announced OSS on Regent Street as the Best New Restaurant.

OSS opened in 2014 and has since proven to be a very successful sausage shop. What makes it so unique in this restaurant-filled town is the niche concept: locally crafted sausages often with an international twist. While Wisconsin is already famous for beer brats and all-beef dogs, this restaurant transforms these classics into something much more gourmet and creative.

Co-manager and recipe creator Josh Boll explains how this special restaurant came to fruition with OSS owners Tyler and Chris Soukup.10869640_360036587502716_7013001119248399584_o

“The concept for this sausage shop was the combining of our two loves of local [Wisconsin] comfort food and all those other [flavors] in the world that exist, and putting them together in a sausage,” Boll explains.

The co-owners began in Monroe, Wisconsin with the mother restaurant Baumgartner’s Cheese Store & Tavern, which specializes in the best Wisconsin comfort foods.

International cuisine also has a major influence on this sausage shop, with flavors like the Veal Brat, the Glarner, and the Korean BBQ, all essentially made as a ‘dish on a bun’.

An healthy amount of ingredients are locally made, especially those used in OSS’s specialty sausages. OSS prides itself on creating new recipes with local shops Hosley’s and Zuber’s, two great Green County kitchens.

Boll explains that with each new sausage idea, OSS collaborates with the kitchens by testing and perfecting the ingredients with local meats. The combinations are always different, giving each sausage its own identity.

But meat isn’t the only local ingredient OSS uses. Boll lists several local cheese shops for their feature dishes, from places like Baumgartner Cheese, Forgotten Valley and Maple Leaf for their curds. It’s impossible not to use local cheese in a state like Wisconsin, and OSS definitely commits to all of their local sources for quality ingredients.

One of the most outstanding highlights of OSS is its “Open Source Sausage” concept. Customers, chefs, and foodies alike, can contribute to the list of sausages with ideas as vague as a flavor, or as intricate as a full recipe, to be featured on rotation at the shop. The most popular open source recipe to date is the Tikka Masala, created by a regular customer with a full-recipe plan.11049503_379659115540463_767133627623701250_o

Some regulars have simply asked for ideas like the Lamb Merguez, which is now a sausage created by OSS and used in collaboration with chefs from Madison’s Brasserie V restaurant.

Working with other customers and even other restaurants is definitely the focal point of OSS’s brand.

“[Open Source Sausages] is the fun part: We deconstruct meals to create new sausages, and then we reconstruct them with other restaurants so they can make a dish with them,” Boll said. “It makes our experience, and especially the customer’s experience, deeper and richer with the restaurant.”

OSS on Regent Street is a wonderful place where everyone can enjoy something on the menu.

“You can have really ardent foodies…and then you can have picky eaters, sitting right next to each other, both eating really gourmet sausages, and they’re all eating with their hands,” Boll said. “I think the sausage can become this great equalizer amongst all of us, whether you can like a plain Jane hot dog or a Braunschweiger Limburger sausage.”

Be sure to check out OSS, and dine outside in their brand new beer garden, complete with seasonal tap beers and a rotating menu. Also, make sure to add them on Facebook and follow their newest Open Source options, among other fun promos!

Feast on Nepali-style comfort at Himal Chuli

By Talia Malkin

With snow covering my boots and the wind whipping at my face, I trudged along with my friends, determined to reach Himal Chuli, State Street’s authentic Nepali restaurant.  Little did I know that Himal Chuli has been around since 1984 and originated as a food cart.

None of us had eaten Nepali cuisine before, let alone experienced any aspect of Nepali culture. A trip to Himal Chuli was a great way to start.Himal_Chuli_Tarkari_Cauli

Jamuna Shrestha and her sister both work at the restaurant and are originally from Nepal. Jamuna explained that she and her sister were simply cooking in their kitchen and realized they were actually pretty good at crafting delicious Nepali food.

Food-nepal.com is a website that reviews Nepali cuisine for those looking to experience tasty, authentic Nepali cuisine. According to this website, “Himal Chuli” means “summit of the Himalayas.” Even the name is exotic.

The space reflects this and is decorated with Buddhas and other symbols representing the cultures of Buddhism and Hinduism. Interestingly, the symbol on the front of the restaurant and also on the menu showcases Buddha’s eyes, a common symbol seen in Nepal.

We were the only ones in the restaurant, as our determined (and hungry) natures led us to an early dinner. The waitress was friendly and very understanding that we were first-timers. She suggested that we try the Himal’s combination platter.

She first presented us with a hot cup of dal, a vegan mixed bean soup. It was delicious; the perfect combination of broth and cream, with a little kick to it.

Next, the waitress brought out the rest of the platter. The first element I decided to explore was the momocha, which sat on a bed of tomato coriander sauce. These little steamed veggie dumplings are stuffed with peanut paste, then married with an assortment of Nepali herbs and spices.

By the time I tasted the dumplings, they were slightly cold, so unfortunately I wasn’t able to appreciate the taste whole-heartedly, and my friend felt the same. The sauce was meant to be cold however, and I definitely enjoyed that. I made sure to make it rain tomato and Himal_Chuli_soupcoriander sauce all over my momochas.

To the right of the platter was a samosa. I’ve actually had samosas before, and this one did not disappoint. Filled with peas, potatoes and onions, along with Nepali herbs and spices, the samosa was scrumptious. It was perfectly crispy and fried on the outside, yet still soft and stuffed with mentioned goodness on the inside.

There to absorb every crumb and drop falling from either the momochas or the samosa was my loyal friend roti. Roti is the pita-like bread that was served in the center of the platter we had ordered. It was buttery, fluffy and so tasty. You can expect this quality in every visit because Himal Chuli makes their roti fresh every day.

My friend went a different route in her selection and ordered the special of the night: Tarkari Cauli. This flavorful vegetable stew combined with garlic, ginger, cumin, turmeric, coriander, and of course, cauliflower, gave my friend a truly authentic feel for the cuisine. She also used the roti to clean the delicious remnants off her plate.Himal_Chuli_Platter

And so went another freezing day in Madison. The next time you’re walking down State Street and want to warm up and add a little spice to your life, make a pit stop at Himal Chuli and prepare for authenticity at a whole new level.

P.S. Make sure to bring cash—they don’t accept credit cards.


Sources: Speaking with Jamuna Shrestha, http://www.yelp.com/menu/himal-chuli-madison, http://www.food-nepal.com/restaurant/rt009.htm, http://www.viewonbuddhism.org/general_symbols_buddhism.html

The Ultimate Food Market Guide

By Ali Castriano

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Before coming to London, I had been to a handful of farmer’s markets and food carts, but nothing had prepared me for the chaos and excitement of the street food markets in Europe. So far, I have been to five different markets in London and two in Copenhagen, and all have pleasantly surprised me!

Going to a market and buying food may seem fairly obvious, but based on the experiences I have had abroad, I now know there is a systematic way to go about it.

Sure, you could just walk around and find a food tent that looks good, order your food and leave; but doing this won’t allow you to get the best possible experience.

Whether you are trying international cuisines abroad or enjoying food carts and the farmer’s market back in Madison, this guide will help you get the most out of any food market experience.

First, I think venturing to the markets with a friend or two is the best way to go. You don’t want too big of a group because it’s easy to get split up in the crowd and want to go your separate ways. However, it’s important to go with at least one other person so you can optimize the variety of food you eat.

Every time I go, a friend and I each pick a food tent of our choice and share the meals with each other. We’ve made three trips to the same market, but with this technique we have tried over seven different food tents there!

My second piece of advice is to always try the samples first. Most of the time there will be samples out in plain view, but for some you have to look harder because the vendors don’t want everyone mooching from their station.

So, make sure you keep an eye out for those sneaky ones. Unfortunately, there are some vendors who don’t ever have samples, but don’t let this hold you back. Simply go up and ask if you can try whatever they are selling. Most of the time, they will allow you to have a sample because they want you to buy their food. Worst-case scenario is they say no, so don’t shy away from the possibility of free food!

Once you have gone through the whole market and sampled everything possible (yes, you may already be full, but you can’t stop here), it’s time to evaluate what you have tried and walk back through the market to make a decision. This is the hardest part; I can never make a quick decision, but going with a friend and splitting meals helps make things easier.

When deciding what to eat, I think it’s important to take a risk on one of the meals.

Having an open mind makes the experience more exciting because you might be trying a cuisine you’ve never had before and you could discover your new favorite food!

Through my experiences I’ve realized I really like Peruvian, Columbian, Turkish, and Indian cuisine; I had never tried any of these before, but going in with an open mind has allowed me to explore all these cultures and really enjoy all of them.

So, after seeing how I work the food market system, I think it is obvious that markets aren’t for those with small appetites. Be fully prepared to eat your heart out and allow plenty of time to fully immerse yourself in everything the market has to offer.

And lastly, I have some advice I got from a friend: get anything with cheese on it. I think this holds true no matter where you are in the world, and it especially holds true in Wisconsin.

An International Comparison of School Lunches

By Liz Schnee


A tender cut of steak served with rice, tomato and corn salad, locally made cheese and baguette, and a ripe kiwi—in a school cafeteria. As shocking as it sounds to fellow public school grads who grew up with tater tot casserole on their trays, the above was a typical lunch at the public high school I attended while studying in France.

Cut to my hometown, where typical lunches included pizza, giant chocolate chip cookies, chips, and sports drinks. Or in the hot lunch line, a plat du jour would have included frozen meat transported to the school from a commercial supplier, canned fruit or veggies, a dessert, and a carton of milk.


By the time lunch even rolled around, many students would have already visited the vending machine to fill up on carbohydrate and sugar laden foods.

Why are these pictures so radically different? The government regulations for school meals in America and France have many commonalities. Both nations require nutritional reviews for every proposed meal, albeit in France this takes place every two weeks and in America only every three years.

There are similar limitations for caloric intake and the amount of starchy vegetables and simple carbs for each country. The reauthorization of the U.S. National School Lunch Act in 2012 tightened the regulations of fat levels, sodium intakes and food group balancing. Yet Wisconsin’s child obesity rate is currently at 28.8 percent, almost double France’s 15 percent.

France’s approach to school lunches may offer some insight. The most noticeable difference is in meal preparation; neither Wisconsin legislature nor the National School Lunch Act include any regulations for food freshness or quality.

Because the five required daily food groups remain the same in both countries—protein, dairy, fruits, vegetables and grains—the hidden inequalities may be laying between the cellophane packaging.

Within preservatives and processed foods lay obesogens, chemicals found in foods that inappropriately alter fat storage and energy balance. UW-Madison assistant professor Jennifer Gaddis believes this “chronic low-dose exposure to processing additives” may be part of the cause for the high obesity rate in the U.S.

Part of French law requires that high school meals be prepared on site, which means local ingredients are more likely to be used. The need for full-time cooks is also a major boost to the local labor force, whereas many food service employees in America work only part-time as servers.

“It seems to be cooking is the exception and not the norm, ” says Gaddis of American school lunch systems.

The underrepresentation of local products and cooks preparing these products is detrimental not only to the health of students missing out on natural foods, but also may have a negative effect on the local employment level.

Another French standard is the intolerance for “zero” foods, or zero nutrient foods, which are unforgivably high in sugar and sodium levels with artificial ingredients that Bill Nye couldn’t even pronounce.

Vending machines have been outlawed in public schools since 2005. In the lunch line, sauces have all been pre-portioned on plates so students can’t douse every item with ranch or cheese sauce, which is a big source of additives and fat for American students.

Of course, I don’t mean to criticize everything Wisconsin is doing in their lunch lines; there are many schools who don’t follow this traditional model and others who are in the process of making meaningful nutritional reforms.

If school food preparation is to change, there needs to be a greater demand for transparency in the origins of our food. For instance, every cut of meat I ate in school abroad was labeled with its area of origin. Additionally, there needs to be a higher priority set for the investment of obtaining fresh, high-quality, wholesome ingredients.

Better tasting food is less likely to be wasted, and we can all agree that less waste is economically and environmentally beneficial. It seems we could all learn a thing or two from our European friends. Bon appétit.

For more information on obesogens, check out the obesogens chapter in Julie Guthman’s book Weighing In.