A Casual Spread

Kick at-home snacking up a notch with these delectable, local goodies.

Jam Session
➸ Tastamara jams are a side project of a group of friends including Milwaukee chef Gregory León, who co-owns the Spanish-Portuguese restaurant Amilinda. These bold, small-batch jams make sophisticated toppings for meats, cheeses and breads. The flavor combos can be piquant and zesty, with unexpected nuances (such as the Door County cherry with Sichuan peppercorns). The company’s slightly bitter but solid orange marmalade makes an extra-special PB&J. Jams available at tastamara.com and Amilinda (315 E. Wisconsin Ave.).

This and No Udder
➸ The masters of curd at Emmi Roth USA recommend eating the Monroe, Wis., cheesemaker’s Grand Cru Surchoix in fondue, panini or onion soup. When melted, this heady, alpine-style cheese – which won top honors in the 2016 World Championship Cheese Contest – leaves an earthy sensation on the tongue. Assertive but not overpowering. Emmi Roth’s serving suggestions are solid, 0516_Snacks_KOMI3620_WiscoPopbut the Surchoix’s robust, mushroom-like attributes are even better appreciated when the cheese is eaten, at room temp, on an hors d’oeuvres plate. We love it with crackers or sliced baguette spread with Tastamara jam.

Pop-ular Theme
➸ When we were kids, our cousins from northern Illinois ribbed us for calling soda, well, soda. “Pop” was their lingo. But “pop” has a place in the Wisconsin vernacular, as the design-minded Viroqua, Wis,, creators of Wisco Pop! illustrate. Their bottled sodas are packaged with vintage-y labels that highlight the requisite local sourcing (Door County cherries, Wisconsin honey and maple syrup). Of the company’s three flavors – cherry, ginger and root beer – cherry crosses the finish line first, with its juicy tartness and vanilla bean aroma. In second place is ginger soda, which, like its siblings, has a short list of ingredients, including lemon, lime, organic ginger root and honey. On the spectrum of unusual tastes is Wisco’s root beer, a bold, spicy fusion of wintergreen, sarsaparilla root and anise. Sold at Outpost Natural Foods, Kickapoo Cafe and Beans & Barley, among other shops.

Photos by Laura Dierbeck.
Photos by Laura Dierbeck.

Crunch Time
➸ Cookie Friday brought spring a bit early to the Third Ward this year. A spring in our step, that is. Sarah Marx Feldner, who has been making small-batch spiced nuts under the name Treat Bake Shop since 2011, started her weekly cookie pop-up earlier this year in the headquarters of her nut business (Marshall Building, 207 E. Buffalo St., Suite 212). There, the professed cookie devotee offers at least two kinds of fresh-baked goodies, for $2 each (10 a.m.-3 p.m., or until the cookies are gone!). Her staple flavor is the wantonly rich chocolate chunk sprinkled with sea salt. Also regularly in attendance is the flourless peanut butter cookie, a thick mound of buttery gluttony. More flavors will appear on a limited-time basis, she says. TGIF, indeed.

‘A Casual Spread’ appears in the May 2016 issue of Milwaukee Magazine.

Find the May issue on newsstands beginning May 2, or buy a copy at milwaukeemag.com/shop.

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Ann Christenson has covered dining for Milwaukee Magazine since 1997. She was raised on a diet of casseroles that started with a pound of ground beef and a can of Campbell's soup. Feel free to share any casserole recipes with her.