Chef Profile: Peter SandroniThis is the second in a series of mini profiles focused on chefs who are participating in our 3rd Annual Farm Fresh Breakfast on April 14. Peter Sandroni graduated from Marquette with a BA degree (political science) followed five years later with a culinary arts degree from the esteemed Kendall College in Chicago. After working at restaurants in Atlanta, Chicago, and Milwaukee (Eagan’s, Dream Dance), Peter helped develop a dining renaissance in Walkers’ Point, undertaking renovation of a woodworking shop that now houses his own restaurant. In Italian, La Merenda means "early snack" and refers to an Italian custom of early evening socializing and gathering to share food and drink among friends and family. Friends, family and finely prepared food are the hallmarks of Milwaukee’s very own La Merenda.
“Do well by doing good” is a particularly appropriate quote when referring to Peter. This 60 seat popular restaurant features small plates (tapas) from around the world, but Chef Sandroni buys from local farmers whenever possible – 32 at last count. He is exceedingly generous with his time and talent, supporting all sorts of community organizations: his alma mater, the Hunger Task Force, Alliance Française, the Farm Fresh Atlas of SE Wisconsin as well as MCWFM. Last year Marquette University helped Peter evaluate water and energy usage at the restaurant, suggesting a checklist of best practices to enhance the building’s green profile. Here is a YouTube video that gives you a sense of Peter and his “La Merenda”.
Breakfast of Local ChampionsLook for flyers at the market information table detailing next Saturday’s delicious breakfast menu. Sourcing ingredients from over a dozen MCWFM farmers, the prix fixe menu includes:
Warm Brioche French Toast
with caramelized apples and maple syrup
Sauté of Winter Greens,
crimini mushrooms and red shallots
Oven Roasted Root Vegetables
with Polonaise* topping
Handmade Country Sausage
*Toasted breadcrumbs, parsley and chopped hardboiled eggs
Comings and GoingsJeff-Leen Farm suffered a significant loss of chickens last week due to a freezer outage at their farm, so for the next two weeks Dominion Valley will bring chickens from their farm (whole, cut-up, breasts, legs/thighs) to make up for the market shortfall. Brightonwoods Orchard returns this week with apples and cider and the Ovens of Gracie O’Malley will have their resplendent Easter cookies. After her appearance for St Patrick’s Day, we are fortunate to have Ann Marie Craig from Century Farmhouse Soaps in West Bend back for a second holiday visit. LaClare Farms alternates weeks with Decatur Dairy and this week we will have goat milk, cheese and (perhaps) butter. Amaranth Bakery has concluded their season with us; don’t overlook visiting their nearby Washington Heights location and reading Carol Deptolla’s nice feature article from last week’s Milwaukee Journal Sentinel.
We like to say ‘expect the unexpected’ at our market and we hope you will be pleasantly surprised this week (and next) with several new vendors. I met Emily Watson of Stems Cut Flowers last October at the Tosa Farmers’ Market and was immediately impressed, wondering if there was some way for a winter market to have such lovely locally grown flowers. Well, thanks to the early onset of spring, the answer is YES. Just in time for Easter and Passover you can enjoy narcissus, tulips and lilacs from an earth-friendly flower farm in East Troy. Here is a testimonial from one of Tosa’s key organizers: “We LOVE Emily and her flowers! I have personally bought her bouquets and they are so beautiful and unique and last for so much longer than other bouquets.”
This Week’s Vendor Listing:If there is something you particularly want, don’t overlook the option of preordering by contacting farmers and food producers directly.
Specialty Food Producers: Cocina DeLeon, Aleka’s Kitchen, River Valley Ranch, Wisconsin Soup Company, Thymely Herbals, Eden’s Market, Becky’s Blissful Bakery (caramels) introducing the salted Margarita this week, Mia Famiglia
Bakery: Water House Foods, The Ovens of Gracie O’Malley (Easter butter cookies)
Produce: JenEhr Family Farm, Witte’s Vegetable Market, Springdale Farm, Brightonwoods Orchard
Honey, Maple Syrup, Sorghum: Rolling Meadows Sorghum Mill
Dairy: Saxon Homestead Creamery, LaClare Farms*
Meat: Dominion Valley Farm (pork, beef), Jeff-Leen Farm (beef) Bolzano Artisan Meats (dry-cured sausage), Pinn-Oak Ridge Farms (lamb), BSW Farm (goat)
Game: Golden Bear Monarchs Elk Farm; Lakeview Buffalo Farm
Fish: Rushing Waters Fisheries
Poultry: Jeff-Leen Farm, JenEhr Family Farm, Lakeview Buffalo Farm (smoked chicken), Dominion Valley Farm chicken (whole, cut-up, legs/thighs, breasts) this week and next
Eggs: Jeff-Leen Farm, Lakeview Buffalo Farm, BSW Farm
Oats: Oly’s Oats
Soap: Century Farmhouse*
Flowers: Stems Cut Flowers
Coffee: Valentine Coffee Roasters
*Returning this week
Field Notes: Last week JenEhr Farm had French Breakfast radishes in addition to their spring greens! Springdale Farm plans to bring Sungold and Beefsteak tomato plants this Saturday.
Comings and GoingsJill Thomson is bringing back a nice selection of cheese from Decatur Dairy, this is the week for Glen Rock Farms’ once a month journey to MCWFM with 100% grass fed lamb and Springdale Farm will have a plethora of spinach. Substituting for Ney’s Big Sky, SauveTerre Farm is making an inaugural guest appearance with 100% grass fed beef from their 80 acre certified organic family farm in West Bend. Once again, we extend our appreciation to another farm for their vendor recommendation; in this case, Kath Vogelmann of HighCross Farm who met Joe Mantoan of SauveTerre (‘Saved Earth’) at the Whitefish Bay Farmers’ Market last year.
Gift Certificate DrawingsEnter a drawing on Saturday morning for multiple MCWFM gift certificates that can be redeemed and used at our last market of the season, April 30 (outdoors). Remember there is a one week holiday pause in our schedule for friends and family on April 23 (no market).
Aleka’s KitchenEaster is the most important holiday of the year in Greece, and in 2011 the date (April 24) for celebrations by members of the Catholic, Protestant and Greek Orthodox denominations coincide. Aleka Tsioulos produces the most splendid food in her eponymous kitchen, using treasured recipes passed down from her mother, grandmother and great grandmother. In addition to the baked goods listed on her website, Aleka brings several different feta based spreads, a garlic walnut spread, lentil soup and individual Greek style pizzas (pita topped with feta, green peppers, tomatoes, olives, red onions and oregano). And where else will you see organic grapefruit peel preserved in honey/sugar with cinnamon and toasted almonds?
Easter Parade of delicacies
· Eggs (Jeff-Leen Farm, Lakeview Buffalo Farm, Farmhouse Bakery)
· Grass Fed Lamb (Glen Rock Farms)
· Easter Themed Cookies (Ovens of Gracie O’Malley) Photos on our Facebook page
· Caramels (Becky’s Blissful Bakery)
· Hot Cross Buns (Amaranth Bakery)
· Greek Easter Eggs and Bread (Aleka’s Kitchen)
· Set your table with Beeswax Candles (Viola’s Honey)
Spinach Quiche(see attached PDF file) We had a delectable vegetarian quiche option for our market breakfast on March 26th and Chef Jack Kaestner shared this Oconomowoc Lake Club (OLC) classic recipe for our customers. I had to smile when I saw his streamlined restaurant-style instructions; all the ingredients are there, but the assumption is that you know the necessary culinary techniques (e.g. pie dough). Note the use of more than one variety of cheese for an enhanced flavor profile. MCWFM shopping suggestions: Saxony cheese from Saxon Homestead Creamery, Gouda from Decatur Dairy and spinach from Springdale Farm.
The Farmer Chef ConnectionTo see an expanded display of locally owned Milwaukee restaurants that source Wisconsin ingredients on their menus, come to the information table on Saturday. Your local food options when dining out continue to expand, from fine dining venues with white tablecloths to more casual concepts.
Where did we first meet?To the best of my somewhat imperfect memory I met Brandon Dykema of Dominion Valley Farm at the tail end of a meeting at Michael Fields Agricultural Institute (East Troy) in 2003. How appropriate to exchange greetings following a discussion of raising livestock on grass because that is a major component of the diet for pigs, steers, turkeys and chickens from DVM. Adhering to the pasture principle, Brandon and his wife Tammera like to raise heritage breeds that do well on grass; in the case of the pork they bring to MCWFM you will find meat from Tamworth pigs and Large Black hogs.
Here is a special joy of attending famers’ markets – the opportunity you have to watch children who accompany their parents, whether those parents are customers or food producers. One or two of the four adorable Dykema boys (Caleb, Micah, Alek, Gabriel) help manage their family stand every week – look for them at the far right hand corner of the lobby, wearing forest green shirts and very legible name tags. This week Dominion Valley will sample their bratwurst patties at the market.
A deeper understanding of farmingSomewhat naively I thought we would have a bevy of farms with hoophouses in place this, the second winter season of the MCWFM. I was approximately a year off in my calculations because, as I have gradually learned, there is a LOT more involved with extending the growing season in hoophouses and ensuring the availability of produce through cold storage. Producing in a hoophouse doesn't come without a fair share of challenges. “Even those growers who have traditionally grown fruits and vegetables have a significant learning curve. Growers go through inputs more quickly, have to manage weeds differently, must keep a closer eye on soil moisture and deal with different pests.” I also totally overlooked the need for a well designed cold season prep area with heat, water and refrigeration. Oops.
· Ticket Sales – Paula Puntenney, Judith Stone
· MCWFM Information Table – Chris Glowacki, Laura Stevens, Ally Vizanko and her friend Deb
· Dining Room – Jennifer Buchholz, Holly Flechner, Chris and Jim Foris, Kim Vogt, Tracy Wilkins
· Serving Line – Romero Alonzo, Kathy Budda, Mary Kaestner, David Kozlowski, Larry McGinn, Kyle Pett
· Dishwasher – Josue Figueroa
· Table Displays – Amy-Mae Miller from Thymely Herbals
· TTYC event services staff – Mike Wanta, May, Levar, Michelle and Ron
Where did we first meet?In the case of Amy-Mae Miller of Thymely Herbals it was the summer of 2009 at the Thiensville Famers’ Market (Tuesdays) and please note that I will always pause at a stand that features herbs. Does anyone remember Sunshine Herbs & Flowers with Marcia Carmichael at the West Allis Farmers’ Market? Master Gardener Amy-Mae is invariably the first person to set up on Saturdays with her fresh herbs, dried herb blends, infused oils and vinegars, herb infused honey, pestos, herbal teas and, occasionally, herb butters. Looking for ways to use her products once you get home? She has just added over 50 recipes to her website that incorporate Thymely Herbal creations. Two new tea blends arrive this week: Sunshine Blend featuring lemon grass, rosehips, hibiscus and orange with a hint of peppermint as well as Memory Blend, a hibiscus based elixir with orange notes and ginko.
A farmers’ market is filled with interesting stories; here is an article from the Ozaukee Press featuring Amy-Mae’s garden path toward her own business.
Comings and GoingsDo you think we have finally turned the corner for spring? I don’t care about the temperature as long as there is abundant sunshine. Returning this week, we have Aleka’s Kitchen (authentic Greek cuisine and pastries), Viola’s Honey and Century Farmhouse (handcrafted artisan herbal soap). We have received some tremendous food producer recommendations from our current vendors and one of them, the Ovens of Gracie O’Malley will be with us for the next 3 weeks. Nancy Kreil will bring her special Easter themed cookies - an egg with a rabbit, a chick and a rabbit. You can preorder the rabbits if you want them personalized with a name.
“My love for baking came from my mother who baked to support a small Wisconsin dairy farm; this is where I learned my love for fresh ingredients. Our cookie is made with a high grade Wisconsin butter and all the baking is done in small batches to assure quality and taste. No two cookies are identical since they are hand rolled and hand decorated with our special chocolate icing and fondant artwork. Each cookie is then bagged and tied with a bow.”