–submitted by Robyn Kitson
“It’s a secret spot we hope no one ever finds.”
So we won’t tell you where we hiked, at least not right now.
Saturday, September 22, was one of the few days in recent history that started as chilly, windy and threatening rain. Yet, there were 13 of us who braved the elements and showed up to hike.
As we waited in the parking lot for all to arrive, we hopped around to keep warm. Deb Raupp huddled in her car, wrapped in a blanket. We layered clothing. And finally, headed out from the trailhead.
This beautiful park in the driftless area that was never covered by glaciers – 15 miles southwest of Madison between Mt. Vernon and Mt. Horeb – unfolded for us with beautiful trails and a variety of scenery. Dave Schreiber is a member of the “Friends of Donald Park” (shhhh….now you know the name of the park) and we made him our park “docent” for the day.
Dave shared with us the stories behind the restoration of the “Foye Cabin” dating back to the 1850s. He explained how the cold water in “Little Spring” and “Big Spring” is an excellent habitat for fish and had been a popular gathering spot for hundreds of years. Clovis points, dating back 13,000 years, have been found in this area. We heard the stories of the two women – Delma Donald Woodburn and Pat Hitchcock – who made their family land available to the county for this scenic park we now enjoy.
As we hiked, the clouds broke and the sun warmed things up…a lot. Kurt Hochfeld claims he heard Patty Franson say, “We take clothes off. We put clothes on.” Although, Patty denies it and feels the quote all by itself is quite out of context. Regardless, it turned out to be a beautiful day.
We concluded our two-hour hike with lunch at the Grumpy Troll in Mt. Horeb.
–submitted by Rich Leffler
On Thursday evening, October 4, twenty lucky people, members of the Wine Fellowship and guests, enjoyed an excellent dinner consisting of sirloin steak and Wisconsin artisanal cheeses, followed by a delicious selection of reasonably priced wines. Our wine master, as usual, was Mike Wilson, chair of the Fellowship, and our sommelier was Kelly Gilboy. The location may surprise you: it was at UW Provision’s “The Meat Market.” (UW Provision has no relationship with the university.) Kelly, formerly the owner of Middleton’s Wine Boutique, has joined UW Provision as a wine buyer for their Meat Market, which is open to the public. Needless to say, they have very good wines at reasonable prices, and they can order whatever they don’t have in stock.
The evening began at 6:00 with a bit of the bubbly, a very tasty California rosé from Laetitia ($24.99); there was just a hint of sweetness to this non-vintage Brut, Arroyo Grande. We then tasted eleven wines from different wine growing regions in California: Lake County, Russian River, and Napa Valley. We compared the same varietals from the different regions. The varietals were chardonnay, petite syrah, merlot, zinfandel, two red blends, and cabernet sauvignon.
All of the wines were pleasing to palate and nose. Wines at the low “price-point” were a Castle Rock Russian River Chardonnay ($7.99), which my wife Joan and our wine master liked very much (also true for a $15.99 LaFond Santa Rita Hills Chardonnay), and an $8.99 Line 39 North Coast Petite Syrah that was quite good. The most expensive wine was a really delicious Hanna Winery, Alexander Valley Cabernet Sauvignon at $29.99. If that is more than you want to spend, the Josh North Coast Cabernet was $12.99, and it was very close to the Hanna. In the mid-range in price were two merlots worth considering: a Wente Livermore Valley Merlot at $13.99, which actually had a better nose than the very similar Rutherford Napa Valley Merlot at $18.99. Also worth mentioning (because, again, Joan and the wine master liked them more than I did), were the two red blends: an Epiphany Santa Barbara Red Blend at $15.99, and, though not mid-range, a Markham Cellars Napa Valley Red Blend at $22.99. If you like Zinfandels, we tasted two good ones: a Zynthesis Lodi Red Zinfandel at $11.99, and a better Frank Family Napa Valley Zinfandel at $22.99.
Since Joan was driving, I had no hesitation about dutifully re-tasting wines just to make absolutely certain that I was reporting accurately for this blog and for those Rotarians not present. I can truly say that there was not a bad wine in the group, and that several of them were really delicious. With Kelly at UW Provision, it has now become a place worth our while to peruse when searching for good wine at a good price.
–submitted by Jeff Bartell
The Rotary Motorcycle Fellowship Group, pictured here (L to R: Jeff and Angie Bartell, Baraboo Rotarian Tom Plager, John Bonsett-Veal and Pete Cavi), had lunch Sunday in Middleton followed by a fall colors ride on the back roads of Dane and Columbia Counties, through Prairie du Sac and Sauk City, along the Wisconsin River to Mazomanie, and back to Middleton. What a great way to spend a beautiful, sunny October afternoon!
–submitted by Wendy Wink
Fantastique; superb; incroyable!!! With few discernible French accents present Monday, other than sighs of delight, that is, the Rotary Culinary Arts Fellowship Group reveled in an astounding evening of a French Fall Harvest menu and wines at the Madison Club. Phil Levy, our hallowed leader, coordinated this marvelous networking event crowned by the creativity of Chef Andrew Wilson, and cheered on by drooling Rotarians and the guiding hand of Mary Gaffney-Ward of the Madison Club.
Jazz music wafting through the Club Room, a tinkling of glasses, and greetings among Rotarians wove fellowship with hors d’oeuvres of bite-sized gougeres puff pastry filled with gruyere cheese, crispy oysters with lemon and herbs (an amazing thing, by the way), and lamb with pepper jelly. The fellowship was launched.
The group then formed (shorter folks in front, taller in back) in the kitchen to watch Chef Wilson lead us through the vagaries of handling, shaping and cooking foie gras. Who knew that there is a legendary duck farm “over the river” in Minnesota; who knew about grade A (some did); who knew all the steps in preparation? Now most of us know that one of the useful purposes for those handy vacuum-bag contraption thingies is in the preparation of foie gras. In addition to this marvelous means of cooking duck livers, one could have leapt to a new solution to making cookie logs (but, this blogger digresses).
Following instructions and laughter in the kitchen, the first course, “soupe de poitron et poireaux au fois gras” – remember the foie gras lesson? – was consumed au table (white clothed, candle-lit, and muffled networking) This pumpkin soup (served in “baby pumpkins”) with leeks, foie gras, and crispy duck confit was indescribable—amazing, luscious, velvety—well, you had to be there! Second course, “ouefs en muerette,” followed—that’s poached eggs to most of us, but such poached eggs—in red wine sauce with wild mushrooms, bacon lardon (bacon, bacon), and baby onions. Why don’t we eat this stuff all the time, you might ask? Because it’s not acceptable to lick your plate, except among fellow Rotarians. My, oh, my, this was delicious.
The third course (yes, we kept eating), “daube de bouef provencal,” braised beef short ribs with ratatouille, was literally fork-tender beef mellowed with a ratatouille of fall vegetables in a reduction sauce. Why we had steak knives, no one knew. One might gather that this is the way the French display their dinner ware while managing always to keep knives clean. One simply didn’t need a knife. Licking the plate was allowed, but secret and hidden at each table.
Four? Yes. “Apple tarte tatin,” is not your father’s apple pie unless your father’s cooks a butter-luscious crust topped with thinly sliced apples and a brandy caramel sauce, nestled up to vanilla iced cream. How is it the French invented this sinful dessert and not have it taste too sweet? One can only wonder and revel in heavenly bliss.
The Chef couldn’t have been more delightful, instructive, and “on his game.” The Madison Club servers and assistant chefs played key roles in ensuring the evening was fit for queens and kings of culinary delight (and gluttony, but who’s going to tell on us?). Networking—telling stories, listening to old and new friends, giggling, laughing, sharing fellowship—all had a glorious time because of the handiwork of Phil Levy. Thank you, Phil, Andrew, and Mary.