Category Archives: 4. Fellowship Groups

Bar Corallini, a Special Niche for Recent Culinary Arts Fellowship Dinner

submitted by Sharyn Alden; photos by Ellen Carlson & Rebecca Prochaska


Walking into Bar Corallini, in the Schenk’s Corners neighborhood on October 9, I had the feeling this warm, welcoming venue, with its strong Mediterranean vibes, could eventually be a go-to place where everyone would know your name.

The new restaurant, which opened in the same space where Chocolaterian used to be, has a glorious new look and robust feel and energy. The name, which means “little coral” in Italian, is also the nickname for those who live in Torre del Greco, the hometown of Corallini’s chef, Giovanni Novella.

Our five-course dinner, which included a glass of red or white wine, started with an enormous antipasti platter of items such as Prosciutto di Parma, and grilled eggplant and zucchini, which we passed around family-style. Next up, a heaping salad plate with seasonal garden veggies dressed with aged balsamic vinaigrette.

The third course, the pasta course, arrived in a large dish to be shared with all. The rigatoni alla Bolognese, created with house-made beef and pork Bolognese sauce was seasoned with fresh ricotta. The veggie choice- Pennoni alla Norma was highlighted with tomato and eggplant.

The fourth course, the entrée, was also served family style, a nice idea for giving many guests a wide number of dishes to sample. That gave us the option of having ‘seconds’ if we liked. The Pollo marsala, a breaded chicken dish and scene stealer, arrived in a creamy marsala sauce, and won high praise.

We paused then, waiting for a finale that would finish off the hand-crafted Italian dining.

So it was fitting to end the dinner with a deeply satisfying taste of dark chocolate.

The dessert course, dark chocolate sorbet, whipped up from the creative talents of Baron’s Gelato in Sheboygan, had a glistening, unique velvety texture with a super-sized taste. Accompanied by mini-cannolis, the dessert course had just the right about of sweetness that deserved to be considered the finale to this new restaurant’s line-up of featured dishes.

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Then it was time to raise our glasses in toast to event organizer and Fellowship Chair, Rebecca Prochaska.

I heard many say it was delightful dinner in a beautifully re-defined space. It was also a good choice for catching up with old friends and initiating new friendships.

Wine Fellowship Gathering on April 8

–photos and summary submitted by Mike Wilson

Wine Event 6 April 2019

On Monday, the 8th of April, our club’s Wine Fellowship Group met at Mike Wilson’s home to compare six wines with a wine-cocktail counterpart.  Two of the wine cocktails we tried were similar to some I had tried at local restaurants that were similar promoting these and another was recently published in the Wisconsin State Journal.

Wine Event 1 April 2019We started with a Manzanilla from one of the corners of the Sherry triangle in Spain.  This was La Guita (about $10 per half bottle) – a famous one.  It was a very agreeable Dry Sherry.  The cocktail contained the same wine plus Cointreau, Tequila and lime juice for a wine version of a Margarita.  We next had a red fortified wine, Kopkes’s Fine Red Ruby Port, which was excellent and reasonably priced ($9.99 + tax per half bottle).  This was compared to a Port Manhattan that was made with this Port and Maker’s Mark Bourbon and a couple of dashes of Angostura bitters.  The wine became the vermouth substitute.  In both these comparisons, the wine cocktail was preferred.

Next we had two white wines: a 95 pointer Doisey Daene 2014 Barsac – botrytis (noble rot) infected grapes that result in a honeyed wine.  This was the most expensive wine ($45 + tax) tasted and was excellent.  With this we had an Ice Wine Martini (Ice Wines are from Niagara and Germany, but French Sauternes and Barsac can be used interchangeably).  We added Vodka to make the wine a martini.  Next was a 92-93 Pointer Moscatini where we made a martini with Moscato (frizzante white wine from the Piedmonte region of Italy) with Plymouth Gin (least aromatic gin).  The wine alone was preferred – but experimentation made the wine cocktail much better.  Tasters added a little more of the wine to the cocktail from their wine sample and it significantly improved.

Lastly we tried two inexpensive Italian red wines – a Valpolicella (from the Veneto) and an Aglianico (from Campania), two favorites of the host.  The Italian Red Wine Cocktail was Valpolicella with half the volume of Maker’s Mark Bourbon added.  The other was an Aglianico Sour where copious amounts of simple syrup and lemon juice were added to Mile High Rye from Utah, and then the red wine was layered on top of the cocktail components which made for an interestingly layered visual appearance and the sensation of drinking the cocktail portion through the thin layer of red wine.  Both the cocktail versions were preferred by the attendees.

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Photo 1: Jennifer & Bob Winding; Photo 2: Tim Muldowney & Jackie Hank; Photo 3: Keith Baumgartner & Peggy Lescrenier

Currently there is a real surge in Cocktails in the beverage industry while wine drinking has stalled. In 5 of the wine/cocktail comparisons the wine cocktail was preferred by our serious Rotary Wine Fellowshipper wine drinkers. The tasting provided excellent means of showing everyone how enjoyable these wine cocktails are, and minimal changes in the formulation of additional wine to the cocktail significantly modified the wine cocktail enjoyment to many attendees.  There is room for considerable experimentation in this exploration of wine cocktails so that every wine drinker can enjoy them.

The tasting provided everyone with the drink formulas so the attendees could replicate them at home.  It was of noted that the Wine Fellowshippers preferred the wine cocktail over the wine in 5 of the 6 pairings.

A great time was had by all, and excellent Fellowship resulted.

Russia — Up Close & Personal

submitted by Sharyn Alden; photo by Mark Moody

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From left: Helen Bryan (chef of the Russian cuisine), Al Bryan, Majid Sarmadi, UW-Madison Professor Polina Levchenko & UW-Madison Professor Yoshiko Herrera

On March 28, Rotarians were treated to a bountiful buffet and an evening of programs when the Cultural Awareness Fellowship Group met at Heritage Oaks, Oakwood to explore Russian culture.

The marvelous buffet, prepared by Al Bryan’s wife, Helen, included such Russian specialties as borsch, chicken and beef in bread crumbs (otbivnaya) and Russian cabbage stuffed with ground beef in tomato sauce (golubtsy). After enjoying plates of pasties, the programs began.

Travel Highlights

The first portion of the evening, “Russia from a Tourist Point of View,” was presented by UW-Professor Polina Levchenko.  Before viewing a variety of hand-picked places of interest, we gained an overview of this vast country’s history, and a window into its art, architecture, culture and fascinating facts.

For example, the Russian Federation is comprised of a dizzying mix of 190 ethnicities, 21 national republics and nine time zones.

Levchenko’s tour was introduced as some of Russia’s most important places to visit. Yet these spots are often overlooked, off the beaten path or simply not available to those traveling via a guided tour.

We started with Moscow’s subway system. You could hear the audible gasp in the room when Levchenko’s photos showed what you might miss if you don’t journey underground. I can attest to the extraordinary sights seen below –massive paintings, sparkly chandeliers and art abound when you reach tunnels below.

First, we journeyed to the Veliky neighborhood Novgorod, the birthplace of literacy, Levchenko noted. We saw a setting where the Eternal Flame was the focus. Levchenko pointed out an Eternal Flame is found in every town in Russia so people can pay gratitude for the peace of today.

Before dinner I shared a few photos of my visit to mystical Kizhi Island in northern Russia with its rare collection of massive, onion-domed wooden churches and buildings. The story goes that one man with an ax created these masterpieces. Continuing the tour of memorable, offbeat places, it was wonderful to see Levchenko include this magical place in her itinerary.

Continuing the magic, we moved on to Lake Baikal in Siberia north of the Mongolian border. The massive, crystal clear lake, circled by hiking trails, is considered to be the deepest lake in the world.

Trending -Russian-U.S. Relations

Next, our evening transitioned to political science with UW-Madison Professor, Yoshiko Herrera, presenting the timely topic, “US-Russia Relations –Challenges and Opportunities.” She provided insight into political relations between Russia and the U.S.

In response to the question, “Are we seeing a new Cold War?, Herrera noted, “We no longer have a bi-polar world, and in fact, the threat of nuclear war is probably lower today.” Yet she went on to explain that distrust between the two super powers –U.S and Russia is very high.

As an example she noted that since 2014, the Department of Defense does not allow students to study abroad in Russia, which is especially discouraging for students including those at UW-Madison who have spent years learning to speak Russian and honing their knowledge about the country.

In conjunction with this point, Herrera said, “About 25% of offices at the Department of Defense are unfilled and this has been a factor in the breakdown of relationships between the two countries.”

Other areas of interest Herrera referred to as “underappreciated facts” is this one. Unlike what some may think, “Putin does not reside over a seamless, well-oiled regime.”  She went on to say there is a fragility in the region (Russia), economic decline, and an anti-Americanism sentiment.

Still, she ended the program on a positive note when she said, “There are opportunities to improve U.S.-Russian relations.”

A Wintry Hike at Donald County Park

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


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.