Category Archives: 4. Fellowship Groups

A Wintry Hike at Donald County Park

submitted by Roberta Sladky; photos by Jason Beren & Jeff Tews

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Fifteen Rotarians and guests plus two canines (James and Park) hiked Donald Park, a Dane County Park located in the Driftless Area of southwest Dane County. Two inches of snow fell overnight — enough to create a lovely wintry scene but not enough to require snowshoes. The group met at the Pop’s Knoll entrance near Mt Vernon and hiked south and east on the Woodland Trail, Prairie Edge Trail and Springs Trail. The Mt Vernon Overlook Trail was practically a rock climb – all enjoyed the vista and made it down without incident. Records show that the group hiked 4.1 miles and went up and down 25 floors in elevation!

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Donald Park is testament to the philanthropy of Dane County. Two women, Delma Donald Woodburn and Pat Hitchcock, became neighbors and then partners in providing the land and vision that formed Donald County Park. It’s impossible to describe the history of this 800 acre piece of land in this ‘brief write-up’, except to say that there is evidence that ice age PaleoIndians once hunted this land and many more residents and visitors since have enjoyed the terrain with its rocky outcrops. Most of the group enjoyed lunch and conversation following at Verona’s Boulder Brew Pub. A great start to the weekend!

Our thanks to Rotarian Andrea Kaminski for organizing this hike for the group.

Sauk Prairie State Rec Area–A Wisconsin Treasure!

submitted by Andrea Kaminski; photos by Karl Gutknecht, Norm Lenburg & Danika Riehemann

A group of 20 Rotarians and guests spent a balmy Saturday morning learning about a true victory for our Wisconsin environment. We visited the Sauk Prairie State Recreation Area, which was created through the commitment of local residents, state and federal governments and the Ho Chunk Nation.

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We gathered at the Museum of Badger Army Ammunition, off US Hwy 12 between Sauk City & Baraboo.  Verlyn Mueller, museum curator and archivist, told us about the history of the Badger Ammunition Plant based on his considerable research and more than 20 years as an employee. Over a period of several months in 1941, 74 local families were forced to move off their farmsteads to make way for the plant, which remained active through the Vietnam War. The plant was built on land the U.S. government had acquired through the 1837 treaty with the Ho Chunk Nation.

In 1997 the Army announced that the 7,354-acre plant would be decommissioned, and the future of the land was uncertain. Our second tour guide, Curt Meine from the Sauk Prairie Conservation Alliance, noted that the land could have been converted to anything, for example a factory or a race track. Instead, it was converted to the conservations area divided among several landowners.

In 2014 a portion of the Badger Lands were returned to the Ho Chunk Nation, which has already begun to convert much of the parcel to native prairie. That is no small feat. There were 1,400 buildings across the Badger Lands that needed to be removed. Most had lead paint and asbestos siding, requiring special handling and safe disposal.

Sauk Prairie Hike 6 23 2018 DOther parts of the property belong to the Wisconsin Department of Natural Resources and the USDA Dairy Forage Research Center. Meine took us to sites on the DNR land, where there is public access. Volunteers have put in trails, and they are working on prairie restoration. One section is a beautiful hillside of lightly forested grassland. Meine said it took 15-20 volunteers, mostly working with hand tools, about three hours to beat back the thicket of invasive shrubs to expose this native Wisconsin oak savanna.

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The transformation of the Badger Lands from a decommissioned ammunition plant to a state recreation area that will be restored to native flora and fauna was not a simple task. It involved community action by disparate groups who came to consensus on certain shared goals and values. Tammy Baldwin, first as a U.S. House Representative and then as a U.S. Senator, supported the project by connecting the group with federal grants. The project required years of negotiation and compromise, not to mention untold hours of volunteer planning and labor. The nonprofit Sauk Prairie Conservation Alliance continues to raise funds to carry the work forward.

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Following the tour, Meine joined us for a delicious lunch at Vintage Brewing Company in Sauk City. We are grateful to Rotarian Karl Gutknecht for arranging this educational and enjoyable outing.

For more photos, visit our club’s Facebook page.

Culinary Arts Fellowship Enjoys a Spanish-Inspired Feast

submitted by Annette Hellmer; photos by Charles McLimans & Steve Wallman

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Chef Tory Miller’s latest restaurant, Estrellon, opened its doors to the Culinary Arts Fellowship on Monday April 23rd.  Nearly 40 Rotarians enjoyed an array of Spanish-influenced dishes made with an abundance of locally-sourced ingredients accented by delicacies imported from Spain.

The restaurant is stylish and sophisticated with a white interior and dark exposed beams.  The open kitchen allows guests to watch as the chefs masterfully prepare the food.

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Chef Miller was unable to join us because he and his wife are expecting a new baby imminently.  Not to worry…the rest of the Estrellon team, led by Executive Sous Chef Kyle Thomas, had things covered.  The preparation and presentation of our meal was flawless.  We enjoyed a wide assortment of tapas, all of which were served family-style.

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Words cannot do the flavors justice.  The feast included tastings of 4 flavorful small plates, 5 delicious large plates, 2 varieties of Paella, and was capped off by the restaurant’s signature Basque cake.  The flavors ranged from delicate to bold, from simple to complex.  The meal, which featured twelve separate dishes in total, was downright amazing.

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Thank you to Glenda Noel-Ney and Loretta Himmelsbach who planned this great event.  We hope to see even more Rotarians join us for the next outing!

Visit our club’s Facebook page for more photos.

Korean Culture Night for Rotarians & Guests

submitted by Sharyn Alden; photos by Donna Beestman

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On March 22nd, Rotarians convened at the beautifully appointed Gathering Room at Nolen Shore Condos for “Korean Night,” a Cultural Awareness Fellowship event. Cocktails were served, complements of our hosts, Soyeon Shim, Dean of UW School of Human Ecology, and Christopher Choi, UW Professor, Biological Systems Engineering.

We were treated to a bountiful buffet of Korean dishes catered by Sol’s on the Square. The challenge was not to overload each plate as the choices were intriguing and many. When Soyeon gave us a preview of the menu, she noted table-top cooking is common in Korea. I heard diners rave about the sweet potato noodles, a seafood, pancake-like presentation with soy sauce, bean sprouts and spinach steamed with sesame oil, and a wonderful surprise –potato salad with cucumbers.

Not surprising, but equally inviting, was the dish that most of us knew at least by name –kimchi a traditional, somewhat spicy Korean dish of fermented vegetables, often including cabbage and daikon radish.

At the end of the meal, another surprise:  a plate full of delicious cream puffs, made by our event organizer, Majid Sarmadi, was the perfect touch!

The after dinner program was a thoughtful, insightful “storyboard” culled from about 80 slides highlighting Korean culture. It was presented by our hosts who met in the U.S., but each was born and raised in Korea.

We learned that South Korea, about 30 minutes by air from Japan, is surrounded by “big power.” Soyeon’s mother lives within about 20 miles from North Korea, but the hosts said people in South Korea, for the most part, go about their daily lives without constantly looking over their shoulder.

The country which is about the size of Indiana has the 11th largest economy in the world. “We don’t have any natural resources,” Soyeon said. “Our resources are human resources.”

She illustrated that by noting that 80 percent of high school grads go on to college. “The country is obsessed with education,” she said. But that level of stress comes with a price. Of the 35 member countries of the Organization for Economic Co-operation and Development (OECD), South Korea is No. 1 in suicides.

For those thinking of visiting South Korea, photos of the country’s beautiful landscape were stunning, magical and alluring.  First-time visitors might also see people bowing to each other. “This is one way we show respect for each other; in business and in personal relationships,” said Soyeon.

So much to learn in an evening, but it was a great start to discovering the intricacies of Korean culture.

Culinary Arts Takes a Tour on the Spice Route

–submitted by Joyce Bromley; photos by Keith Baumgartner & Steve Wallman

IMG_0192Instead of following the yellow brick road to get to a magical destination, we drove through some beautiful Dane County roads on February 5 that led us to Vignette where a candle-lighted long table filled the length of the room.  The house was soon filled by Rotarians and that means the sounds of conversation and laughter everywhere.  Chef Mark Wroczynski prepared us for a journey with him along the ancient spice route sampling various spices and surprising us with a variety of techniques he used to make each morsel seem one mile further on the path.

We came to love the succulent descriptions along with the food and Chef Mark’s principle of beginning and ending each meal with a dessert.  His method of blending sweet with savory in each course made each initial taste a springboard of surprises.  Loretta Himmelsbach worked with Chef Mark to perfect the 4-course meal and mother nature perfected the ambiance.  Through the windows that extended along the entire dining hall wall, we enjoyed the snow reflecting light from the ground and the sparkle of diamonds in the air.  The best party is the one anyone who did not attend would regret, and this was that kind of party.

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Photo 1: from left: Haley Saalsaa, Ted Ballweg & Joan Ballweg; Photo 2: from left: Al Goedken, Brian Hellmer, Annete Hellmer, Carol Goedken & Loretta Himmelsbach; Photo 3: Betsy & Charles Wallman

IMG_2849We began with a red wine & star anise poached pear, orange coriander chocolate sauce, brandied caramel cream and for the savory—pepper candied almonds.  Course 2:  We were served a Szechuan pepper marshmallow wrapped in a crispy wonton in a bowl and then the soup was added—sweet  potato bisque with 5-spice roasted pumpkin seeds.  He warned us that it would numb our lips, but not interfere with our further enjoyment.   Course 3:  resting on orange gastrique was a roll of beef wrapped around roasted Chinese broccoli, roasted ginger sesame carrots, with the star of the evening—cashew fried rice arancini (ball) made from creamy risotto rice with mixed vegetables, formed into balls, breaded, and fried.  Course 4: Our last stop on the spice route was Key lime & matcha mousse torte with raspberry sauce.  The pretzel and ginger snaps crust as promised made it both sweet and savory.

Thank you Loretta, Chef Mark, and his sous-chef Brian for giving us such a memorable evening!

 

A “Different” Wine Tasting on Feb 1

–submitted by Mike Wilson; photo by Pete Christianson 

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The Wine Fellowship met at Mike and Patty Wilson’s for a “different” tasting.  We tried fortified wines and added three Single Malt Scotches to show the effect of a REAL aftertaste.  I love the aftertaste of wine and I score it very highly on my rating assessment of individual wines.  A 20-second aftertaste is superb in wine, but Scotches and Cognacs have aftertastes that last all night, and welcome you the next morning.

We first tried Sherries from that small triangle in Southern Spain right at the Straights of Gibraltar. These fortified wines were at their popularity peak in the 70’s when I left NZ and I had often drunk Tio Pepe and Harveys Bristol Cream – bone dry and sweet examples – aperitif and dessert wines.  This time we tried the Tio Pepe Fino and a Lustau Oloroso – the latter a more complex wine.  The latter was the preferred wine  but I warned everyone the Fino is great as an aperitif.  These wines are aged in the Solera system

Next we tried two Ports – the nearest thing to usual dinner wines among those tasted.  Here we tried two styles that are the best bargains – a Kopke Tawny 10 year old port and an unfiltered Late Bottled Vintage (LBV) from Quinta do Noval.  The Kopke is the longest family run Porto in Portugal dating to 1638.  Both were very good and were well liked by most tasters.

These 4 wines averaged about $25 and are all available from Steve’s on University.

Next I tried to make a case for Marsala not being relegated to a cooking wine.  Here there was an interesting tale about this old wine being confined to the Trapini region near the NW corner of Sicily.  When Englishman John Woodhouse in 1773 was forced by a storm to land in Marsala, he fell in love with the wine and recognized the similarity to the popular Port in England, and decided not to collect the load he was to pickup in Sicily and rather filled his ship with Marsala. He came back in 1796 and set up a winery.  In 1806 he was followed by fellow Englishman Benjamin Ingham who even built the first Anglican Church (Church of England), the only church of the Diocese of Europe, across the road from his mansion. These wines use the Perpetuum system – similar in concept to the Sherry Solera system.  We tried a Florio Dry wine (the oldest Sicilian producer of Marsala -established 1833) fino (Aged 1 year), and Marco de Bartoli Vigna La Miccia 5 year riserva which is medium-dry,.  These two represent the range of Sicilian Marsala’s – the first a “post-English” and oldest Sicilian Marsala winery and the latest a very serious wine maker Marco de Bartoli producing what he describes as a “pre-English” Marsala – predating Woodhouse’s arrival.  What drama!  These wines were not favorites of the tasters but Mike had fun reliving his trip to Palermo where he and Patty stayed in the Bingham residence, now the Grand Hotel de Palmes in Palermo, Sicily.

Next we tried two fortified wines being located on distant islands.  First we tried a Madeira from the island of the same name some 600 miles from the home land Portugal, and an Isle di Pantelleria closer to Tunis than Sicily.

The Madeira Islands were discovered in 1419 by Portugese explorers and became the first requisitioning station for travelers/explorers to India, the America’s, and the East Indies.  This was likely the first fortified wine as such, and there the best wine was that that had traveled the “round trip” – vino do roda – to and from the “Hetherlands”.  To simplify production the Madeirans invented the cheaper and more efficient “hothouse” system where the stored wine in large rooms heated by the sun with the wine in large barrels raised on trestles.  They are stored for 20-100 years – and many old wines are still for sale. I personally liked this very much and recounted how a 100 year old sample was brought to a Bring Your Own Wine Rotary Wine Fellowship once.

The other Island DOC is the Moscato/Passito from Isle di Pantelleria. This is made by the new Powerhouse Marco di Bartoli who is restoring Marsala’s name.  He also started this Passito production on the Island, now followed by other major Marsala producers.  This wine is a Passito (slightly raisanated) where the heating of the grapes is done in the field where the grapes are handpicked and left in fields between natural rock walls and allowed to dry out and concentrate sugar and flavors for two weeks before the rest of the grape crop is picked then the Passito is added. This is like brother-sister Italian Passito wines of Valpolicella in the Veneto, and the Montefalco in Umbria.

Last we tried Single malt Scotches.  I selected three of the six regions where Single malts are made.  First we had Auchhentoshen Three Wood from the Lowlands (less than 10 producers) and this example I think of as one of the mildest Malts. Then we tried The Glenlivet as the first legal distillary (1824) after the Excise Act of 1823.  This distillery sued other producers in the valley (Glen) of the Livet river (hence Glenlivet), and the judge determined they could call themselves “The Glenlivit” and the others could include the Glen Livet component as they were also in the Glen of the Livet river – a real Solomon decision that The GlenLivet has exploited since.  This is said to be a light delicate Malt.  Last we tried one of the few Isle of Islay Malts – Laphroaig.  A Smoky blockbuster that was a shock to most of the wine imbibers tastebuds.  A good experience of a Great Long Smoky Aftertaste.

Breads, cheeses, olives, almonds and chocolate covered strawberries were provided.

 

LHS Celebrates 10th Anniversary

–submitted by Founder Moses Altsech; photos by Brian Basken

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Pictured above from left: Phyllis Lovrien, Jed Engeler, Annette Hellmer, Haley Saalsaa, Beth Prochaska & Lew Harned

The Lew Harned Society marked its 10th anniversary on September 18 with a special event hosted by Founder and Dear Leader Moses Altsech.  Founded in 2007, the Scotch Whisky Fellowship was renamed in 2009 in honor of our great friend General Lew Harned, who has been there from the very first meeting.  We enjoyed great homemade food (presumably prepared at the caterer’s home), and music by a barbershop quarter courtesy of Ken Yuska–which coincidentally included someone who had served with Lew in Operation Desert Storm.

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All guests received a gift box of Quintessential single malt Scotch-filled chocolates.  The selection of eight rare single malts included the Mackinlay, a Scotch salvaged from Sir Ernest Shackleton after the wreck of the Endurance, rediscovered in 2007, and faithfully recreated.

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But as much as we like Scotch whisky, the Lew Harned Society is about much more than that.  It’s about Lew: How great a guy do you have to be for your friends to name a group after you?  It’s about friends: Our long-time regulars who are a standard staple, without whom we couldn’t imagine our gatherings, and new friends who want to join a group that’s fun and welcoming to all.  At Rotary we often talk about member engagement–and this is what member engagement is made of.  Goodwill, better friendships and Scotch.  Our group has the best-looking Rotarians, its very own General who’s always in a festive mood, and enough Scotch to keep us alive two weeks past the end of Western civilization.

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If you want to join our second decade, contact the Rotary office at once: Space is probably not limited, but why risk it?