By Mary Boyle
For the fifth year, Port Washington's farm-to-table restaurant, Twisted Willow, hosted their Harvest Dinner, a six-course extravaganza featuring food from local producers, as well as Twisted Willow's own farm, benefiting the Ozaukee Family Sharing Food Pantry.
The restaurant was closed on Saturday, October 21st, to accommodate this special meal, which has grown so much in popularity that two seatings were offered: one at 5 p.m. and one at 7:45 p.m. The dinner is served over a leisurely pace, and guests may choose whether to include a pairing.
The First Course was a Gorgonzola Dome; a blend of gorgonzola and mascarpone cheeses served with pears, Little Mountain Apiaries honey, crushed hazelnuts, dried cherries, and a housemade rosemary cracker paired with Cynar Spritz, a bitter Italian liqueur made from artichokes that was complex, but still light and refreshing.
The Second Course was an excellent Wild Mushroom Chowder, featuring locally foraged wild mushrooms and TW Farm's rainbow chard, as well as fingerling potatoes, brandy cream, and a topping of walnut gremolata paired with a Pozi Willamette Valley Pinot Noir.
A Grilled Plum Salad with frisee, arugula, baby spinach, local dried honey crisp apples, roasted pecans with a sherry vinaigrette and topped with local Marieke young gouda, from Thorpe, WI, made for a sweet and delicious Third Course, paired with a New Glarus Staghorn Octoberfest.
A seared Alaskan halibut was served with TW Farm's roasted poblano creamed corn and delicata squash puree, carrot top, parsley oil, local bacon, and micro-cilantro, and paired with an Alain Normand Macon La Roche Vineuse for the Fourth Course.
A refreshing Palette Cleanser of Lemon Italian Ice with lavender and orange zest was made by The Amazing Ice Cream Co. in Port Washington, which is a recent venture by the owners of the Chocolate Chisel.
The Fifth Course was a roasted red deer loin, served with parsnip and yukon potato puree and a lingonberry demi-glaze. A little formed mound of locally foraged miatake mushroom bread pudding, which was reminiscent of turkey stuffing, and brown sugar baby carrots were served alongside, and this dish was paired with M. Chapoulier Petite Ruche - a sharp, peppery red.
Finally, the dessert: a warm TW Farm kabocha squash and olive oil cake, which was similar to a pumpkin bread, topped with The Amazing Ice Cream Co.'s Ginger Ice Cream and candied pumpkin seeds - the combination of which can only be described as "amazing." This was paired with a Mocha Manhattan, which had a wonderful chocolaty scent, but was quite strong.
As usual, Chef Dan Wiken and the team are masters at combining flavors, and the attention to detail - from food to drinks to decor - is outstanding. The staff are so inviting, and the restaurant has such a warm, indulgent ambiance, particularly with these large community dinners. If you missed your chance at the Harvest Dinner this year, I strongly encourage you to make your reservations for the next one. My advice: arrive hungry, or you will definitely run out of room before you hit dessert!
After a successful first run under new management last year, the Port Washington Pirate Festival will return this first weekend in June to Port's lakefront, with some reliable favorites, as well as some new additions.
The free Festival kicks off on Friday, June 2nd, at 5 p.m. with the Buccaneer Bash in the beer tent, where there will be live music from the Celtic rock band, Hearthfire, from 7-11 p.m. Happy Hour is from 7-9 p.m. Meet and greet pirates, get something to eat at the Gruel Galley from 5-11 p.m., and do some early shopping at the Thieves Marketplace from 5-10 p.m., with a variety of vendors, including: Andrea Jones - author of the Hook & Jill saga, DaSue Dragon, Sea Ratt Pirate Booty, Aurora's Apothecary, and Captain Kut's Pirate Ware, as well as some modern vendors, such as LuLaRoe, Tastefully Simple, and L'Bri.
On Saturday, June 3rd, you can start the day off early with the ever-popular Breakfast with the Pirates at Newport Shores from 8-11:30 a.m. Reservations are suggested, and can be made by calling (262) 284-6838, but walk-ins will be seated as available. Newport Shores and the PW Pirate Festival cannot be responsible for the manners of the pirates, and it is strongly recommended that you do not touch their plates.
The Festival, itself, opens at 10 a.m., with favorite acts such as Cutlass Cooking, Knotty Bits, River Valley Colonial Fife & Drum Corps, Stellamani Caravan, and Pyrates of Portabello. There will be roaming pirates, and a bounce house for the kids, as well as a children's and adult's Costume Contest. The Tall Ship Denis Sullivan will be in the harbor for deck tours and sails, as well.
New to the Festival this year, but not new to Port, is the Cardboard Boat Regatta, which will begin at 2 p.m. on Saturday. This popular event, which was once a part of Port's Maritime Heritage Festival, takes place in the harbor and features boats made from corrugated cardboard, sailing in both youth and adult divisions, with prizes for best design and construction, best theme and costumes, most spectacular sinking, and a people's choice award. Should Saturday get rained out, the Regatta will happen on Sunday.
On Sunday, the Festival opens for the final time at 10 a.m., with a Pirate Invasion on Scoundrel's Mound at 10:30, and a Parade at noon.
The Port Washington Pirate Festival is a fun, family-friendly event. Costumes are encouraged, and there is plenty to see and do for all ages, so swab the decks of your galleon, put on your eye patch, and be prepared to sail the seven seas in the city of seven hills!
By Mary Boyle
To say that Mequon resident Steve Shapson is a fan of mushrooms is an understatement: he loves them so much that he is the President of the Wisconsin Mycological Society, a group that provides education in identification of edible and poisonous mushrooms, and an outlet for fungal-focused hobbies, including cooking and preservation, home cultivation, artistic endeavors, and more.
Dan Wiken, Executive Chef and Owner at the Twisted Willow restaurant in Port Washington, is also a fan of fungus, and has bartered mushrooms with Shapson on several occasions. This mutual appreciation led to their collaboration on the 5 Course Mushroom Dinner, held at the Twisted Willow on March 5th, which served to illustrate the versatility of this forage-able food, as well as the ability for Ozaukee's favorite farm-to-table restaurant to show what could be done with them.
Over 60 people attended the dinner, where nearly everything -- from the drinks to the dessert -- was graced with mushrooms, beginning with a Sweet Potato Waffle. This take on a Southern dish utilized fried oyster mushrooms, instead of chicken. A bourbon sorghum syrup and roasted hazelnuts tied the dish together beautifully.
Each course was paired with a drink, created by Twisted Willow Bar Manager, Joe Buth, beginning with a Porcini Manhattan. This was an adventurous concoction for a true mushroom lover, but it did pair well with the dish.
The Shaved Mushroom Salad was my favorite of the evening, not only for the beautiful presentation, but for the amazing combination of flavors. A variety of exotic mushrooms, including crimini, lion's mane, king trumpet, and enoki, were utilized in this dish, which was served over a smear of honey mascarpone. This was paired with a Mushroom Flip; a fizzy, sweet beverage with a delicious head of foam.
Paired with an interesting Portabella Shrub, the third course was Seared Scallop over a forest mushroom whole wheat couscous, and oyster, crimini, and shiitake mushroom raisin goulash with baby greens, which was simply delicious.
The main course featured Porcini-Crusted Veal Loin with kabocha squash and shiitake mushroom ravioli and broccolini. The Rioja Bordón" Gran Reserva 2005 paired with this dish was also used in the demi glace on the veal, which made a lovely combination.
Yes, even the dessert featured mushrooms: in this case, a Maitake & Nameko Forest Mushroom Bread Pudding served with vanilla bean ice cream and saffron milk cap salted caramel, which was crispy on the outside and soft on the inside, and just the right amount of sweetness. This was paired with a Wild Mushroom Cortado; a warm espresso and milk beverage that went quite well with the dessert.
Near the end of the evening, Shapson presented Chef Wiken, Buth, and Chef James Flatley with a Lifetime Membership to the Wisconsin Mycological Society. "The folks at Twister Willow are so nice," Shapson said, "and we wanted to support them by starting the mushroom dinner."
With any luck, this will become one of Twisted Willow's annual dinners, as it exemplifies their ability to showcase local ingredients, as well as their mastery of flavor combinations. In the meantime, learn how to forage for, and even grow your own, mushrooms, as well as how to identify the poisonous ones, by attending one of the many lectures, workshops and forays hosted by the WMS. Learn more at their website: http://www.wisconsinmycologicalsociety.org/
Port Washington and Mequon are two of five principle cities involved in supporting a Lake Michigan National Marine Sanctuary
By Mary Boyle
Over a year ago, the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA) announced their plans to create a new Lake Michigan National Marine Sanctuary in Wisconsin, in order to conserve shipwrecks and other maritime heritage resources along the shores of Ozaukee, Sheboygan, and Manitowoc Counties. The proposed sanctuary will cover 1,075 miles and protect 37 known shipwrecks with significant historic, archaeological, and recreational significance, as well as a potential 80 more that have yet to be discovered.
A report published in January measuring the economic and environmental impact of the sanctuary showed a positive impact on the counties bordering the sanctuary; however, that does not mean that the proposal will be approved, and the public still has their opportunity to comment, which citizens of the affected communities are being encouraged to do -- particularly in regard to where the headquarters for the Lake Michigan sanctuary might be located: Port Washington, Mequon, Manitowoc, Two Rivers, or Sheboygan.
Russ Green, the Regional Coordinator for the NOAA, insists that the process isn't competitive among communities: "It's been very collaborative, from Two Rivers to Mequon; it's very regional, so the sanctuary will benefit all of the communities."
A national marine sanctuary essentially creates an underwater museum or park, which will not only protect and conserve shipwrecks, which are an important part of our state and national maritime history, but will also allow public access. Mooring buoys would be installed over shipwrecks and other areas of significance, allowing divers to find and explore the sites far more easily, while alerting other water traffic to its existence. Furthermore, the research involved in creating the sanctuary, such as lake bottom mapping to search out more shipwrecks, will serve both historical and biological purposes, as the findings will also be used to examine the health of the Lake.
A public meeting will be held in Port Washington on Thursday, March 16th, from 6:30-8:30 p.m. in the Lakeview Community Room (formerly the Wilson House), located at 206 N. Franklin St. Citizens will be given the opportunity to look at the proposal, which offers two different options for the borders of the sanctuary, and to ask questions about how the sanctuary will affect them.
If you are unable to attend the meeting, comments can also be made online at: http://sanctuaries.noaa.gov/wisconsin/ through March 31st, or you can sign the NOAA form here. For more information, contact Russ Green, Regional Coordinator, at 920-459-4425 or email@example.com.
Around Port Washington and beyond, John Reichert is known for the beautiful and decadent chocolate art that he creates for The Chocolate Chisel, which he owns with his wife, Elizabeth MacCrimmon. Long before he worked with chocolate, though, John worked with pewter.
"I'm a sculpture artist, but sculptures take a long time," John laughed. In 1988, he paid for all of the machinery he needed with his first pewter order from Usingers, and a business was born. John has made dozens of pewter ornaments for the holidays over the years, many of which can be purchased in the store, as well as other custum pewter orders.
In addition to art, John is also passionate about his hometown, so when the city took responsibility for its iconic, art deco lighthouse earlier this year, John jumped at the chance to use his skills to help raise money for the repairs and maintenance needed for Port's most photographed and recognized structure.
The pewter ornament that John created, which is for sale at The Chocolate Chisel, as well as various other Port Washington businesses, sells for $20, and all of the proceeds will go to Port's Lighthouse. Unlike John's other ornaments, the lighthouse can stand on its own.
"Not everybody wants an ornament, and this is something I think will sell year round," John explained. "Tourists will buy it as a momento."
John is no stranger to donating his art for fundraising; in fact, he's done it dozens of times with pewter ornaments, and also with custum designed chocolate bars. In fact, he has already designed a lighthouse chocolate bar, which may also be used for fundraising ongoing fundraising efforts.
If you're looking for a gift that says "Port Washington" this holiday season, and a gift that gives back to the community, look no further. Of course, if you're still not sure if it's enough, you could always include a little chocolate.
Pat and Amy Wilborn have a passion for local food -- so much so that they started their very own aquaponics business, PortFish, Ltd., out of their home back in 2009, growing greens in a closed loop system in which fish waste fertilizes the plants, which then clean the water for the fish. While the demand for local food was growing, the availability of it was limited to the Farmers Market season, from June through October. In 2010, Pat and Amy helped to extend the season by starting an indoor Winter Farmers Market.
Now in its 6th year, the Winter Farmers Market will return to the First Congregational Church on Webster Street in Port Washington each Saturday in November and December from 9 a.m. - 12:30 p.m. (except 11/26 and 12/24), with live music and a wide variety of locally grown food and locally produced goods.
Visitors can purchase meat and eggs from Burkel Family Farms in Fredonia, honey from Bethel's Seven Hills Honey or chicken, pork, lamb, turkey or eggs raised right in Port Washington from Lone Rooster Farm. There's delicious food and bakery from Chalkboard Kitchen in Mequon, produce from Wellspring in Newburg, and so much more!
Live music has been a part of the market from the beginning, and Amy Wilborn is often one of the people providing it. Her traditional Irish Band, Green Sails, will help kick off the first Farmers Market on Saturday, November 5th. Amy plays the fiddle and sings, along with band mates Bonnee Beth on percussion, tin whistle, story-telling & dancing, and Sandy Weisto on guitar & vocals.
The Winter Farmers Market is an excellent place to connect with the community, as well as to meet your local food producers. First Congregational Church is located at 131 N. Webster St. in Port Washington. For more information, visit the Winter Farmers Market Facebook Page, email firstname.lastname@example.org, or call (414) 202-7840.
Launched in 2015, the Greater Milwaukee Foundation’s “Gifts to the Community” program aims to provide special opportunities for citizens to connect with the area's positive characteristics. This year, in partnership with the Fund for Lake Michigan, area residents are being offered a special day of free admission to four signature destinations on our region’s shoreline, including two in Ozaukee County: the Port Exploreum and the 1860 Light Station.
On Saturday, October 15th, both the Port Exploreum and the 1860 Light Station will be open to visitors for free, as well as the Betty Brinn Children's Museum, Discovery World, and the Milwaukee Art Museum, all in downtown Milwaukee. Visitors to Port Washington will also find the Farmers Market happening downtown from 8 a.m. -12:30 p.m., and the tall ship Denis Sullivan will be in the harbor for special "Haunted Sullivan" sails.
As part of the Port Washington Historical Society, the 1860 Light Station and Port Exploreum vividly tell the stories of Port Washington from its earliest days to the present. The Light Station, located just east of the historic St. Mary’s Church, has been restored to reflect the life of a Light Keeper in the late 1800s. It will be open from 11 a.m - 4 p.m. The Port Exploreum, located in downtown Port, is a history and maritime museum that uses the latest technologies to interactively tell the stories of Port Washington and Lake Michigan. There are many hands on activities for kids, and the Exploreum's latest exhibit, "Nothing But Nets," which chronicles the history and social impact of commercial fishing on the Port Washington area. The Port Exploreum is open from 10 a.m. - 4 p.m.
For more information about the 2016 Gifts to the Community free access day, including destination information and program notes, visit greatermilwaukeefoundation.org/gifts.
About the Greater Milwaukee Foundation
For more than a century, the Greater Milwaukee Foundation has helped individuals, families and organizations realize their philanthropic goals and make a difference in the community, during their lifetimes and for future generations. The Foundation consists of more than 1,200 individual charitable funds, each created by donors to serve the charitable causes of their choice. The Foundation also deploys both human and financial resources to address the most critical needs of the community and ensure the vitality of the region. Established in 1915, the Foundation was one of the first community foundations in the world and is now among the largest.
About Fund for Lake Michigan
The Fund for Lake Michigan, a donor advised fund of the Greater Milwaukee Foundation, was established in 2011 as part of an agreement between We Energies, Madison Gas and Electric, WPPI Energy, Clean Wisconsin and Sierra Club to safeguard the lake and improve water quality in the region. The Fund has awarded more than $15 million in grants over the past five years to restore habitat, improve beaches, clean up rivers and streams, and revitalize waterfronts in the Milwaukee Area.
Since 1964, Port Washington has been home to Fish Day, the "world's largest outdoor fish fry;" a one-day festival that includes a parade, fireworks, carnival rides, helicopter rides, a car show, arts & crafts festival, live music and, of course, fish and chips -- all while raising money for a number of local civic organizations, including the Rotary Club, Kiwanis, and Lions Club.
This year's theme is "Fishmas in July," so bust out your Santa caps and join in the fun! The day begins at 8 a.m. with an 8K Run & 2 mile Fun Run/Walk benefiting Portal, Inc., a not-for-profit human service agency serving adults with disabilities. There are categories for all ages, and registration can be taken the day of the event.
One of the biggest draws to the festival is the parade, which begins at 10 a.m. at Wisconsin and Walters Streets, and runs south on Wisconsin Street to Grand Avenue. Featuring a variety of marching bands and entertainment of all kinds, the parade runs at least an hour long, and vendors sell fish and chips along the route to hungry parade-goers.
While the festival is free, a button is required to enter the Main Stage area, which can be purchased for $5 on the grounds. This year, the Main Stage features several Country Music artists, beginning with the Milwaukee-based band, Road Crew, from 2:15-5:45. From 6:15-6:45, the McMenamin Irish Dancers will take the stage. Then, Nora Collins, a WAMI "Rising Star" will make a special appearance from 7-7:30 p.m. Finally, Josh Thompson will take the stage from 8-9:30 p.m.
The Main Stage isn't the only place to catch live music. The Band Shell at Veteran's Memorial Park will host the acoustic duo, J-Dubz Live, from 11:15 a.m.- 2 p.m.; Bobby Way & The Fabulous Way Outs from 2:30-6:30; and Beatles tribute band, The Britins, from 7-9:30 p.m. The Blues Stage (located near the main gate on Washington St.) will feature Generation Gap from 11:00 a.m.-1:15 p.m., KIC band from 1:45-5:15 p.m., and the Robert Allen Jr. Duo from 5-6:15 p.m. The Lake View Stage (located off of Jackson St. on the lakefront will have Scotch and Soda from 11:30 a.m.-2:30 p.m., Track 6 from 3:15-6:30 p.m., and The Rush Tribute Project from 7-9:30 p.m.
The Classic Car Show, Arts & Crafts Show, and Helicopter Rides all begin at 10 a.m. in Upper Lake Park, where the Family Zone is also located. The Carnival, located across from Veteran's Memorial Park, will also begin at 10 a.m., while the popular Soccer Water Fights begin at 3 p.m. in Veteran's Memorial Park. The annual Smoked Fish Eating Contest will happen at the Lake View Stage from 2:30-3:15.
The grand finale, of course, is an incredible fireworks display, which begins at 9:30 p.m., and closes the event at 10 p.m.
For more, up to date information, visit the Fish Day Facebook Page, or go to www.portfishday.com.
After a three year absence, the Port Washington Pirate Festival is set to invade downtown Port the first weekend in June, under a new crew (pun intended).
As luck would have it, the festival coincides with a visit from the Tall Ship Denis Sullivan, which suits the organizers just fine. In addition, Port Washington will be busy with the City-Wide Rummage Sale, and the first Farmers Market of the year, on Saturday, June 4th, which will bring even more people into town over the course of the event. Many community organizations are getting in on the fun. In fact, to get yourself into a pirate-y-mood, start your Friday evening at the Port Exploreum for their First Friday free movie, which will be (of course) Pirates of the Caribbean, beginning at 6 p.m.
Although organizers are working with a limited budget, they're packing a lot of fun into the Festival, including Breakfast with the Pirates at Newport Shores Restaurant, a Pirate Invasion at Rotary Park, Costume Contests, live music, food and shopping, and a parade on Sunday.
The entertainment list is shaping up nicely, as well. Attendees from previous festivals may recall the impressive Knotty Bits, who will be making a triumphant return to the festival, along with Stellamani Belly Dancers. Renaissance performers, the Wonder Elixir of Life Company, are sure to entertain crowds, along with the Celtic music of HearthFire Band and the Celtic/Nautical music of Bard Jesse Linder. The Midwest Knife and Axe Throwers returns to the festival, while the Gypsy Moon Dancers will make their debut. Pirate storyteller and Anne Bonny impersonator, TS Rhodes, will also be on hand.
A local sax quartet, 4th Dimension, from Port Washington, will entertain crowds, as well as the crowd-pleasing music of Stereotype.
Various period entertainers/reenactors will be at the festival, including GSM Bristol, the River Valley Colonials, LarpCraft of Sheboygan, and the Pyrates of Portabello.
Kids will be thrilled with the hysterical antics of the Cutlass Cooking Show, the Pirate Black Bart, and Lord Drake's Mystic Magic Show, as well as a bouncy house, S.E.A. Hamsters, and more.
Some great vendors, such as Elysium Armory, Creative Fire Pottery, Rogue Maille, Ladies in Scarlet, the Yorkshire Dragon, and DaSue Dragon Designs will also be in attendance at the festival, along with a variety of food vendors and food trucks in the Gruel Galley.
The Port Washington Pirate Festival runs Friday, June 3rd, from 6-10 p.m.; Saturday, June 4th, from 10 a.m.-10 p.m.; and Sunday, June 5th, from 10 a.m.-4 p.m. For a complete schedule of events, click here.
Organizers are still in need of volunteers and donations. If you are interested in helping out, contact (262) 323-6612 or go to their facebook page or the facebook event page.
A year ago today, local author, Sara Dahmen, released her first novel, Doctor Kinney's Housekeeper. A first place winner of the Chanticleer Book Review for Women's Historical Fiction, the story is set in the Dakota Territories in the late 1800's, and nearly everything important in the book takes place in the kitchen. The story, along with a love of cooking and a strong entrepreneurial spirit, inspired Dahmen's latest venture: a line of historically-inspired cookware called Housekeeper Crockery.
"I wanted to go one step beyond the food discussion," said Dahmen. "We're buying organic, local, sustainable food, but when we bring it home, what do we cook it in? Cookware made in China with a bazillion chemicals in it."
Housekeeper Crockery consists of a line of cast iron and copper pots and pans, ceramic bowls, wooden spoons, and cotton towels that are entirely made in America. In fact, the cast iron is poured in Kaukauna, Wisconsin, and the pottery comes from Rowe Pottery in Cambridge, Wisconsin.
Dahmen has been very hands on in the cast iron and copper process, learning traditional methods from tin and copper smiths, and talking shop with anyone she can.
"Cookware is a man's world, but the information sharing has been wonderful. Even competitors share, because they want a really good product; it's more than just making money. These products are meant to last a lifetime."
The venture has created work for small artisans across the country -- in some cases, workers are being re-taught skills in order to make the cookware. When searching for a place where the line of copper cookware could be made, Dahmen learned that copper pots have not been made en masse in the United States for 90 years.
In keeping with her commitment to local, Dahmen is also working with local businesses to sell her products. "I'd rather support mom and pop boutiques, and keep the jobs here. Integrity and transparency are important to me."
Housekeeper Crockery can be found at Blue Heron Artisan's Marketplace in Port Washington, as well as the Rustic Palate in Cedarburg, who will be having a product launch party for the line on May 21st from 11-4.
Interestingly, the book that inspired the cookware line has inspired another book: a request for a non-fiction book about cookware, which will be Dahmen's next project.
Not only is Dahmen a writer and a business owner, she is also a successful event planner and a mother to three children under the age of 6. This begs the question: How does she do it?
Dahmen smiled. "I'm lucky to have a very supportive husband."