June 03, 2012

Wisconsin Cheese Tour: The Madison Club & Graze

In addition to eating wonderful cheeses during our tour, we also had meals at both The Madison Club and Graze in Madison.  I had never been to either, and would definitely recommend both.  Although you need to be a member of The Madison Club to dine there.

I lived in Madison for 22 years, but had never dined at The Madison Club until having dinner there with this tour.  Chef Dan Fox was kind enough to provide a separate four-course vegetarian menu for the 5 of us in our group who requested vegetarian meals.

As any good meal should start, we had a choice of two different cocktails or champagne.  While sipping our drinks, we had the opportunity to hear both Sid Cook of Carr Valley Cheese and Bob Wills of Cedar Grove Cheese speak.

I really liked hearing Chef Dan Fox speak about his commitment to using local ingredients.

Our first course consisted of roasted market beets, macerated rhubarb, fermented black garlic, slow roasted strawberries, toasted hickory nut and wasabi whipped cream. 

This is the only course I was able to capture before it got too dark to photograph, but the first three courses all had edible flowers which made for excellent presentation.

Each course was paired with a different wine, and many of the courses in both the meat and vegetarian options featured Wisconsin cheeses.

The last meal of our tour was at Graze, which is Chef Tory Miller's newest restaurant.  I was really excited about the opportunity to meet Tory Miller because he is a legend.  He took over L'Etoile from Odessa Piper who many sustainable chefs have looked up to.

Photo: Joe Laedtke, EatingMilwaukee.com

Both Graze and L'Etoile have a strong farm-to-restaurant connection.  Graze opened in 2007 as a gastropub addition to L'Etoile and they now share space in a new location just a block down from the original L'Etoile location.

We also had the opportunity to meet Kyle, who is the host of Wisconsin Foodie.  He's pictured below talking to Lisa and I.  Thanks to Joe Laedtke for sharing his photos with me.

Photo: Joe Laedtke, EatingMilwaukee.com

Just to give you an idea as to Graze's commitment to using local ingredients, the opposite side of the menu listed the source of their ingredients.

Is it wrong to say that Graze's fried cheese curds were my favorite menu item?  It seems wrong Chef because Tory Miller presented us with amazing menu options, but the cheese curds were definitely my favorite.

Disclaimer: The expenses associated with the Wisconsin Cheese Tour were covered by the Wisconsin Milk Marketing Board (WMMB).

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