When in Door County, WI, act like a Bier Zot

A what?

from B.C., Johnny Hart

No, not that Zot.

Translated from the Flemish: Bier = Beer   Zot = Idiot or Crazy :  To be a Beer Idiot or someone Crazy for Beer who goes to the Bier Zot Beer Cafe in Sister Bay, Door County, Wisconsin.

Bier Zot front door ( that space in the right side of picture is Wild Tomato 2 Restaurant) , Menu pic

We discovered this fun place last Friday but it has been there since 2014. We’re a bit slow sometimes. The Bier Zot is a Belgian style Beer Cafe that serves 11 drafts, one cask and 100 bottles of craft and Belgian beers. Couple this with a “European inspired” menu and you’ve got a tasty combination. The restaurant has casual pub style decor with outdoor seating as well.

Now the only way we found this place was through another restaurant, Wild Tomato, owned by the same people, Britt & Sara Unkefer. That restaurant in Fish Creek (further down on the peninsula) serves really great wood fired pizza. We did a short post on it in 2010. Last year the owners decided to open Wild Tomato 2 alongside their Bier Zot so while stopping for pizza at the new location we discovered it (the entrances share a hallway.) On this latest trip our destination was definitely Bier Zot, no pizza distraction.

Once seated the Beer Board offered an interesting selection. The waitress helped us navigate through it. There were full descriptions of the beers in the menu as well.

Curt went with the Ommegang Rosetta, a sour beer that I find hard to take by itself but it goes very well with food. I wanted something in the pale ale range and she suggested Boulevard Tropical Pale (half pour please). On both of these we were allowed a sample before committing to a glass. Our friend Carol was with us and she went with the Ommegang as well.

Ommegang Rosetta and Boulevard Tropical Pale

Next up, food. Now Bier Zot describes itself as a European inspired cafe and for the most part that is true. I saw a lot of German influence ( Thursday night was actually German Night) but there was French influence and some just creative cuisine as well. Find their menu here.

I went with the Chicken Schnitzel Sandwich. Schnitzel is just a pounded, seasoned and breaded meat that is fried. I am sure you are familiar with Wiener Schnitzel which is a breaded veal cutlet. My Chicken Schnitzel was served on a pretzel bun with greens, a yellow heirloom tomato and Dijon horseradish sauce. I liked it.Carol chose the Bier Zot Bratwurst. This was their house recipe brat on pretzel bun accompanied by sauerkraut and Dijon mustard. We can only assume they make these on the premises because it was extra long and it fit the bun, sort of. It had a taste and found it milder than many Wisconsin brats, more like a veal sausage.  I am ordering that next time. Finally Curt started out with a half-dozen Washington State oysters, which seems to be a new addition to the menu, pending availability. He followed that with the Aubergine Zacusca. This was grilled eggplant with tomato, greens, shallots, basil chevré and ground cumin on Naan. Our server told us this was concocted by a former staff member who is Muslim and had a hard time finding anything Halal in the kitchen.  It was a success and  found a permanent home on the menu.  It was excellent.

You can tell we passed our dishes around so everyone could get a taste. Hmm, maybe I’ll have this one next time.All in all it was a very enjoyable lunch and we will return.

One more thing. It took us a minute to figure out what the wooden tables were constructed from…..can you see it? Bleachers. Sturdy and a good reuse. In case you don’t feel like an idiot, Zot can also be translated from Albanian as “god”.  Beer idiot?  Beer god?  Maybe there’s not much difference between the two.

Another Turn of the Page: June Reads

“I’ve always loved joining clubs–although,
in truth, they’re usually book clubs.”
Gitty Daneshveri

reading program

I really hate to do two book posts back to back but I’ve been having a writing dry spell.  All my creative juices have been going into bookmaking, gardening, embroidery and travel. So you are stuck with another reading post. Now that shouldn’t be too bad. Summer reading programs at libraries across the country are in full swing so I am betting that some of you are looking for a great read to get to that next prize level. Or not. After I retired from the library I joined the reading club every year. When I was a Librarian I wasn’t allowed to participate because it wouldn’t look right, I guess, for the worker bees to win prizes. For adults this usually amounted to free coffee certificates at a local cafe or a cool bookmark, not exactly trips or flat screen TVs. But I understand. So after I retired I participated for about 5 years. Never won anything and frankly I didn’t need an incentive to read, so last year I didn’t join. Now I am not saying you shouldn’t sign up. If you have kids or grandkids it is a great way to read along with them. Or maybe you do need that extra push to open up more than one book in the summer. Reading Programs are right for you.

So, looking for a book to take on vacation? Will one more book get you to the Star Reader level? Try one of these:

july17

  1. Spirit of Steamboat by Craig Johnson (2013) 146p A short sweet novella featuring Walt Longmire. Very much like the Christmas books many other authors release once a year, so don’t expect an involved plot. However if you enjoy the Longmire series this is an added treat.
  2. My Salinger Year by Joanna Rakoff (2014) 252p A memoir about literary New York in the late nineties where a young woman finds herself entangled with one of the last great figures of the century, J.D. Salinger.

  3. A Piece of the World by Christina Baker Kline (2017) 320p  Andrew Wyeth’s painting, Christina’s World, is based on a real woman named Christina, who is restricted by a crippling disease she was born with that only worsens as she gets older. This novel examines both her life on a farming ranch in Maine and the painting.

  4. Beartown by Fredrik Backman (2017) 432p Beartown is a small town in Sweden that is slowly but surely fading away. It is a hockey town (think ‘Friday Night Lights’ in Texas) and too many of the residents financial futures are tied to this sport.  Hockey is the business of Beartown. Winning is everything.
    But when a tragic event occurs the people of this small community are unsure where to place their faith anymore.  It is an inner look at how people, families, and teams in communities respond in the face of adversity. You don’t even have to like hockey to love this book.

  5. News of the World by Paulette Jiles (2016) 209p  In the aftermath of the American Civil War, an aging itinerant news reader agrees to transport a young captive of the Kiowa back to her people.

  6. A Gentleman in Moscow by Amor Towles (2016) 462p  In 1922, Count Alexander Rostov, an aristocrat who has written seditious poetry, is sentenced to house arrest at the Metropol Hotel in Moscow. He is removed from his suite of rooms there to a dusty attic room. His life might appear to be over, but you will be surprised at the life he eventually lives.
    .
  7. The Drifter by Nicholas Petrie (2016) 384p  Peter Ash returns from two stints in Iraq with a severe case of claustrophobia. Once you learn how this affects his daily life you get tossed into a mystery thriller full of former military tough guys, a surprising discovery under an old rotted porch, and a mean, smelly 150 pound dog named Charles Mingus. First in a projected series featuring Peter Ash.

  8. Spy Sinker by Len Deighton (1992) 400p  The final volume of the second trilogy featuring British agent Bernard Samson. If you like British spy thrillers, at the very least, read Spy Hook and Spy Line before even thinking about this one.

  9. A Beautiful Mind by Sylvia Nasar (2002) 464p  The book is about the life story of John Forbes Nash – a mathematical genius and inventor of a theory of rational behaviour for which he was awarded a Nobel Prize in 1994.

  10. Don’t Go by Lisa Scottoline (2013) 374p  While Mike Scalon is serving in Afghanistan, his wife dies in an apparant household accident, leaving his baby daughter motherless. He has only 10 days back home to take care of business so he places his daughter temporarily with his brother and sister-in-law.  After he returns from overseas, he begins to find out that things are what they seem.

  11. And Then Life Happens: A Memoir by Auma Obama (2012) 342p   A moving account by Auma Obama about of her life in Africa and Europe, and her relationship with her brother, Barack Obama.

  12. A Wolf called Romeo by Nick Jans (2014) 288p The unlikely true story of a six-year friendship between a wild, oddly gentle black wolf and the people and dogs of Juneau, Alaska.

     
  13. The Selected Letters of Laura Ingalls Wilder by William Anderson (2016) 432p This book contains several hundred of the letters written by Laura Ingalls Wilder that have been maintained in public and private collections.

 

Another Turn of the Page: The Summer Reading List

Remember when you looked forward to summer because you were out of school, you were free to sleep late, do nothing and read whatever you wanted to read. That was me. I loved to read and still do. However now I don’t have to look forward to summer to read whatever and whenever I want.

Just for fun I asked my book group members to each compose the list of books they were hoping to read this summer. I had no restrictions. It could be anything. Maybe it was the next new book coming out in the next three months by an author they love. It could be one book or 20.

Well, I wasn’t sure I’d get anything but many indulged me and put together a list. Some said they really didn’t have any plans. Once they finished the current book they would start looking for the next. Others remarked that when they were in high school summer meant required reading lists for the fall semester and that was no fun. They didn’t want to revive bad memories.  So if you are looking for the next book in your reading life, or you are just curious,for better or worse, here is our:

SUMMER READING LIST. Sorry, no annotations but you have Amazon. Look them up. Also if you want to see the list larger just click on it.

 

Wow! It Suddenly got Quite Fragrant Here

I’ve been upstairs in the office working on various projects.

Catching up on emails, monitoring the weather, drafting a blog post (not this one) and working on a woodblock design, when what to my wondering nose should appear the smell of onions closely followed by curry and other smells I couldn’t identify.

My husband is downstairs experimenting in the kitchen.

I immediately had to investigate the source of all this olfactory stimulus. It was Vadouvan, a spice blend recipe. So what I was smelling was a combination of onions, shallots, garlic, fenugreek, curry, cumin, cardamom, brown mustard seed, turmeric, nutmeg, cloves, red pepper flakes and vegetable oil. By the time I arrived it had all been ground and combined and placed on parchment paper and was now in the oven browning.

Curt had seen one of the home cooks on the Masterchef television show use it and Mr. Curiosity had to know more. Basically it is, or will be, a ready-to-use blend of spices that is a French derivative of a masala. A masala is a South Asian spice mix. If it is a success we will be enjoying it on our chicken thighs tonight with a side of cilantro/vinegar/oil dressed potatoes.

For now, with the house closed up because of the heat and the impending storms, I feel like I am living in a spice market somewhere between France and South Vietnam.

Where Does the Time Go?

End of May we got together with an old friend. He lives in Maryland but was going to be in Wisconsin for a funeral. I estimate it has been over 30 years since we have all seen each other face to face.

We met Jon, and at that time, his wife Molly, when we were in graduate school at Northern Illinois University. Curt was a Graduate student in Ceramics and Jon was one of his ceramics professors. The unusual part was Jon and Curt were the same age, separated by 25 days, Curt being the older. A friendship and a mutual respect developed between the two of them. I got to know Molly better and the four of us became friends. Once we graduated, we left Illinois. There was no email then, no Facebook so  but kept in contact with each other through letters and Christmas cards. Jon and Molly visited us once in Green Bay and we visited them once in Maryland.

Then: Curt and Jon

But over the years the cards and letters got fewer, life happened, as it does, and we lost track of each other. A few years ago I found Jon (or he found me) on Facebook. Our mutual interest in birds, love of food and Jon’s connection to Wisconsin (he was born here) brought us together. He was going to be in LaCrosse in May and then planned on doing some camping in Door County, so we knew this was the time to rekindle an old friendship. In the intervening years there has been homes in 5 states, 3 children raised (He-2, Us-1), careers built, a divorce, less hair, gray acquired and a couple of retirements. But here we were again eating and talking and laughing.

Now: Curt and Jon

Funny thing with good friends, the conversation picked up like we just saw each other yesterday. And with that many years gone by we had a lot of catching up to do.

Peru comes to NE Wisconsin: Pisco Mar

Back in November, our friend Carol shared a newspaper clipping with us about a new Peruvian restaurant opening in Appleton (WI), a nearby city. Always on the lookout for new culinary adventures this was a possible contender. My first impression was that there was lots of fish, not my favorite. But we all agreed that maybe we should give it a chance sometime. Then the article got shuffled into a pile of papers and was moved and kicked around until last week when we and our friend planned a trip down to Appleton (about 45 minutes away) for a museum exhibit. Carol said, Why don’t we go later in the afternoon and then try that Peruvian restaurant for dinner? So destination ‘Pisco Mar’ was on.

First impressions were good. It was nicely decorated, warm colors, Peruvian art on the walls. Good variety of seating and even some outdoor tables.

Pisco Mar, outside and inside

After ordering drinks (pisco sours) we perused the menu. Lots of appetizers, small plates and main courses. In order to maximize our first time here we all decided it was going to be a dinner of sharing from the first two sections. If all was good we would try main entrees on the next visit.

So first choices were Crab Cakes w/baby arugula aji aioli, rocoto sauce and Beef Carpaccio w/ lemon vinaigrette, baby arugula capers, shaved Parmesan.
Both were excellent. The two Crab Cakes were softer than I like but the flavor was very good. Rocoto is a red chili pepper that is a staple in Peruvian cuisine. The sauce is a combination of a paste from these peppers combined with mayo, lime, vinegar and dry mustard. I loved the Carpaccio, beef sliced super thin. Frankly I was sorry I had to share this one.

While we were enjoying these and deciding what to order next our waitress brought a complimentary bowl of crispy homemade potato chips with a chili mayo dip to the table. She said they were from blue potatoes that are white inside. Really good.
Feeling the need for some greens we ordered a Kale Salad. Quite nice with radishes, cherry tomatoes, avocado, shaved Parmesan and pine nuts tossed in a lemon vinaigrette. It was a pretty large bowl, easily shared by three, or four. Pictured is just a serving on my plate.After more discussion we decided to go with two more dishes, Peruvian Ceviche Mixto (fish, shrimp, octopus, scallops) and Empanadas Criollas. The Ceviche came with plaintain chips (very tasty) and large corn (interesting). This was a huge plate of food and could have served as a main. Maybe all three of us could have finished it but since I am not a fan of octopus or fish there was some leftover. Carol and Curt liked it, there was just too much after already having four previous small plates. Empanadas are a puff pastry with a filling; we went with ground beef. These came with a chimichurri sauce. The pastry was a bit soft but at the same time very flaky. with very nice preparation and an interesting combination of flavors.

By now we were pretty full so when our waitress arrived with the dessert menu I was ready to pass. Just coffee please. But Carol wanted to try it all and thought we should have dessert just so we could make a full report on the dining experience. One order of Doughnuts please.

Ping pong ball sized doughnut holes, light and fluffy inside, vanilla sugar coated on the outside and served with Peruvian sweet cream.

There were six and yes, I ate two and loved the sweet cream as well. My advice, leave room for dessert.

Before I end, just a little background on the co-owners. Laura Saintgoers has previously operated restaurants for 11 years in Appleton and Miami. While in Miami she met and joined up with Hugo Torres, a native of Honduras, who spent five years learning and cooking Peruvian cuisine under a chef from Peru. Lucky for us they decided to come up to Wisconsin instead of trying to insert themselves into the overcrowded restaurant scene in Miami.

Here is a peek at the main entrees on the menu. We definitely want to go back. Want to join us?

 

Another Turn of the Page: Books, Books, and more Books

“Books to the ceiling, Books to the sky,
My pile of books is a mile high.
How I love them! How I need them!
I’ll have a long beard by the time I read them.”
Arnold Lobel

Hello Dear Reader, reader of books and reader of my blog. I have been remiss in my posting of the books my Attic Book Group has been reading. A little vacation here, a little road trip there. House guests, a Birdathon, gardening..that, and more, has taken priority over my blogging. Have the book posts been missed? Maybe not but I still feel like it is important to report on actual books being read by serious people. Not matter if the book is a history of WWII or heart-warming family saga, they are all important to the life of the reader.

Now the problem I run into is two sessions are a lot of books and if I reported on them all this post would go on for days..or it may seem that way, so I have chosen to publish the most recent meeting, May, and just post pictures of April’s list. Hope that works for those of you ( probably 2 or 3) who enjoy the book posts. I promise June will be on time and awesome.1. The Other Einstein by Marie Benedict (2016) 304 pages. This fictional biography is the story of Einstein‘s wife, a brilliant physicist in her own right, whose contribution to the Theory of Relativity is hotly debated. She may have inspired his discovery by her very personal insight but her contribution has been lost in Einstein’s enormous shadow.

2. Orphan Number Eight by Kim van Alkemade (2015) 416 pages.This historical novel, inspired by true events, is the story of a woman who must choose between revenge and mercy when she encounters the doctor who subjected her to dangerous medical experiments in a New York City Jewish orphanage years before.

3. Rosebud: The Story of Orson Welles by David Thomson (1996) 463 pages. An intriguing no-holds-barred biography of Orson Welles, who produced, co-wrote, directed and starred in Citizen Kane at the young age of 26.

4. Rogue Heroes: The History of the SAS, Britain’s Secret Special Forces Unit That Sabotaged the Nazis and Changed the Nature of War by Ben Macintyre (2016) 400 pages. According to the author, much of this book has been held in secrecy for 70 years. He had full access to the WWII archives of the Special Air Service, better known as the SAS.

5. Last Bus for Wisdom by Ivan Doig (2016) 480 pages. This is a coming of age novel and the story of a journey, in more ways than one. It’s 1951 on a ranch in Montana, an orphan boy gets sent to his grand-aunt and uncle in Wisconsin while his beloved grandmother is having an operation.
During the bus trip across Montana, North Dakota, and Minnesota on his way to Manitowoc, eleven year old Donny, decides to ask his fellow passengers to sign his memory book in the hope of making the world record for the largest collection of autographs and ditties. Note: Ivan Doig died shortly after this book was published.

6. Bad-Ass Librarians of Timbuktu: And Their Race to Save the World’s Most Precious Manuscripts by Joshua Hammer (2016) 288 pages. True story. To save precious centuries-old Arabic texts from Al Qaeda, a band of librarians in Timbuktu pulls off a brazen heist worthy of Ocean’s Eleven. ” Librarians are the secret masters of the universe.” – Spider Robinson

7. A Curious Mind: The Secret of a Bigger Life by Brian Grazier (2015) 320 pages. ‘Grazer has been holding what he calls “Curiosity Conversations” for much of his life with people he finds interesting. What he presents in this book are chapters praising the various virtues of curiosity mixed with stories about trying to meet people for these conversations.’ -Goodreads  Reviews of this book are definitely mixed.

8. Where the Wind Leads: A Refugee Family’s Miraculous Story of Loss, Rescue and Redemption by Vinh Chung (2014) 368 pages. This is a true story of the author’s life in South Vietnam. His family was wealthy, controlling a rice-milling empire worth millions; but within months of the communist takeover in 1975 they lost everything and were reduced to abject poverty.

9. Vinegar Girl by Anne Tyler (2016) 240 pages. A contemporary version of Shakespeare’s Taming of the Shrew.

10. Dead Lands by Benjamin Percy (2015) 416 pages. A post-apocalyptic re-imagining of the Lewis and Clark saga. Years after a devastating super flu and a resulting nuclear fallout from unattended power plants, Lewis Meriwether and Mina Clark leave the failing St. Louis Sanctuary in search of hopefully an uncontaminated area. Expect monsters and unexplained science.

11. Orphan’s Tale by Pam Jenoff (2017) 368 pages. Set in WWII, this is the story of Astrid, a Jewish woman hiding and sheltered in a traveling circus, and Noa, a younger Dutch woman who was cast out from her home when she became pregnant by a Nazi soldier. When Noa stumbles into the care of the circus the two women forge a special relationship.

12. Norwegian by Night by Derek B. Miller (2014) 304 pages. When 82-year-old American widower, Sheldon Horowitz goes to live with his granddaughter, Rhea and her Norwegian husband, Lars, in Olso, the last thing he expects is to find himself on the run from the police with a small boy in tow. But the ex-Marine, suffering dementia, has witnessed the murder of the boy’s mother and feels compelled to keep the boy safe.

 Below find April’s books. Sorry, no annotations but you know how to use Google. Click on picture for larger view of covers.

The Attic Book Group’s April selections

If only…

If only we had seen a pigeon. (we checked every silo and barn in seven counties) +1
If only the peregrine falcon flew into her nest. (They are nesting on the local power plant. One can see them almost every day but we stopped three times this weekend and they were a no-show) +1
If only we had better hearing. ( Birders with good ears and song identification skills have a distinct advantage.) +10
If only we could function on less than 6 hours of sleep. ( Getting into the field at 4:30am is just impossible for us). +10

Yes, If only we were 30 years younger and didn’t have to stop to pee a lot or get something to eat we might have seen over 100 birds. But instead, this past weekend, after 14,000 steps/6 miles walking, 360 miles driving, at 9 locations in 7 counties we saw 83 bird species for the Big Bay Birdathon. Sponsored by our local Audubon chapter, we have competed in 4 of the 6 birdathons and they have all been a challenge in one way or another. Last year the arthritis and bone spurs in my right knee hobbled our team which included my son. Too bad, since Nathan is a great asset with young eyes and ears. This year I had a new knee which worked great, so the walking and exercise was a plus. But there were just some things we couldn’t overcome or plan for. However that’s the nature of birding.

If only they would just stay put or be more predictable.

The Big Bay Birdathon is supposed to be a fun, friendly competition (it is) but also a fundraiser because we are asked to find pledges per bird or people who just pay a flat amount. We regularly come in last in bird numbers, (only missed not being last this year by one bird), however we usually come in first for pledge money. This year we repeated in the most pledge dollars netting over $300 for NE Wisconsin Audubon chapter.

After all is said and done, all the teams get together to share our numbers, get prizes ( bird feeders/bags of seed), eat pizza, drink beer and share our highlights:

•We came upon at least 10 or more Bobolinks zooming around Killsnake NWR.

•One team witnessed hundreds, maybe thousands of tree swallow and barn swallows coming into roost at the end of the day at Mack WR.

•Another team tried calling down a Barred Owl and was really surprised when it worked and he/she flew past.

• I also managed to get a shot of a Black-crowned Night Heron at Horicon Marsh. cool.

Black-crowned Night Heron

It’s a lot of fun…if only…..

 

 

Revuelto, a spring Migas of sorts

This week David Tannis, food writer for the New York Times reprised a recipe for Spanish Asparagus Revuelto from an article originally published in 2014 titled Asparagus, Spanish style.  The inter-web tells me that revuelto is Spanish for scrambled eggs.  So, Spanish asparagus and scrambled eggs.  Sounded good to me.

In reading through the recipe, it struck me that this revuelto sounds a lot like a variation on Migas, which we wrote about several years ago.  A comparison of that Migas to this Revuelto reveals a similar approach in preparation but with more vegetables, without the chickpeas and with eggs scrambled in rather than cooked separately and presented on top of the other ingredients.

I followed Mr. Tannis’ recipe but roughly cut it in half except I used 4 times the amount of pimentón that he called for and double the amount of chorizo.

The end result was very tasty but the eggs didn’t exactly scramble, rather they formed more of a sauce that coated the other ingredients.  I think the asparagus brought a lot more moisture to the dish than I had anticipated, making for the sauciness.  Yummy none the less.

Asparagus Migas

1-1/2 Tbs. olive oil
2 peeled garlic cloves, whole, plus 1 small clove, minced
1 cup day old bread (baguette or ciabatta), torn into 1/2″ pieces
Salt and pepper
2 oz. Spanish chorizo, cut into matchstick pieces
3/4 pound thin asparagus, cut into 1″ – 2″ pieces
1/2 bunch green onions, chopped
4 large eggs, beaten
1 tsp. pimentón (Spanish smoked paprika)
2 Tbs. Italian parsley, roughly chopped

Saute the whole garlic in olive oil until lightly browned, remove and discard.

Saute the bread in the oil until lightly browned and crispy.  Remove from the heat and add a pinch of salt, some pepper and 1/2 tsp of pimentón.  Remove from the saute pan and allow to cool.

Saute the chorizo a minute or two to release some of its oil, add the asparagus and saute for several minutes until the asparagus is tender but still firm.  Add the green onions and saute an additional minute.

Beat the eggs with 1/2 tsp of pimentón and a pinch of salt and some pepper to taste.  Add the eggs to the asparagus mix and cook, stirring until the eggs are just soften and creamy.

Divide the revuelto onto two plates, top with parsley and croutons.  Serve immediately.