Wednesday, August 8, 2012

My first year in the state of bikes, cycles, brews and moos.

The title has become my muse for a new blog feature, we'll see if I stick with it or not. There are a lot of things I've learned since my move to Madison, and a whole lot more I need to learn, if not just discover.

Case in point, there is a city zoo, free of charge. I have yet to visit there. It may be on my 2012 Madison bucket list. Along with the arbortereum. And the bike trails. OH, the bike trails that line, cross, intercept, encompass and any other synonym of the like, through Madison!

To say that Madison is a bike-friendly community may be an understatement. There are bike lanes in nearly every main street in town; bike traffic lights as you get downtown and near campus. And let's not forget about the miles and MILES of bike trails in and around the city. Unfortunately, these I cannot tell you about as I haven't gotten my lazy ass on them yet (finding a pattern here yet?). I do feel a little "Wisconsin-ie" though, as I own a Trek bike. There are a lot of Trek bikes around, so I feel like I sorta fit in.

This (the population, not my fitting it) is because they are headquartered merely 15 miles outside of Madison in Waterloo, WI.  I grew up with a dad who loved Trek bikes. He had three, my mom had one with shocks (oh yeah, she was/is a cool mom!), my sister and I each had one. I thought I was pretty cool, but my Huffy-sporting friends didn't understand why I needed to lock mine up at the city pool. 

Trek has always been the staple of consistency, reliability, and strength in the makes of mountain bikes. The one I'm sporting now, yes, may be a few years old, but was the hybrid of bikes when my dad bought it back in the day. A pair of new tires, a good tune-up after years of moonlighting as a cobweb structure, and we're back in action!

Maybe it's the fit physiques gracing tv and media outlets with the Olympics in full action, but I really pine to get my glutes in gear and toe-trip my Trek around the great town of Madison.

A list of the miles of trails can be found here:

As for the bikes, brews and moos, I guess you'll just have to stay interested to see where I visit next!

Friday, March 2, 2012

A family and their kids

I saw the epitome of from farm to table while talking with Katie of LeClare Farms. I arrived at the farm in Chilton , WI this morning to the "doorbell" barking a me; a gorgeous black lab who alerts the family of visitors at their goat farm. Katie brought me into their house and we sat down at their kitchen table, which doubles as the office desk during the day. Or at least until their creamery is built and details for that will be forthcoming. On the table, sat samples of cheese from the LaClare Farmstead; our topic of meeting for the day.

I got a sense of how down-home Katie was as she opened the fridge and poured maple syrup into her coffee. The syrup was distilled just down the road, of course! We proceeded onto our meeting.

LeClare Farms has come a long way in the past few years. While they have been farming goats for thirty years, they got into the cheese-making business a few years ago when Katie came back to join the family business as cheese-maker upon receiving her degree in marketing.  Since then they have produced 7 types of goat cheese as well as winning the 2011 US Championships with their Evalon cheese; a delectable aged goat cheese, similar to Gouda with a hint of Asiago flavoring. In trying, I can see how this cheese would be excellent on a cheese board accompanied with a glass of wine, or shredded and served atop a mix of greens with balsamic dressing.

In the midst of our meeting, Katie's dad, leader of the pack, head of the farm, care-taker to the 30 kids, came in to chatted with us a bit. This is the family farm in its truest sense. Other members of the family taking care of the herd are a brother who oversees the business side, a sister helping with Dad with the herd, and Mom being Mom, covering all other aspects of the farm while also educating area students on the farmstead life.

It's days like this, getting to meet the cheese makers, their families, their products, and having the shining smile while talking about the new ventures of opening their new creamery with store-front space in the next few months that gives me the satisfaction of promoting Wisconsin cheeses. LeClare cheese; goat in specialty, tasty in your mouth.

Holiday planning

I admit, I've come a long way since my days as a server in the small town in which I went to high school. The nostalgia of its specialty strawberry and rhubarb pie; the locals who come in for their coffee breaks daily at 9 am; the company tours that started arriving from the plant across the street at 11:30; and the memories keep on. Alas, following years of college, numerous tests, and continuing my "education" of the restaurant business while exploring other aspects of the PR/Marketing world, I have landed myself back in the restaurant world. This time, however, it's different. I have the luxury of meeting with local creameries, sampling excellent steaks and chops, and bringing the background of event planning with me along the way.

One would think "how do those all go together?" Two words: chef's dinner.