This coming week, in events that get to your heart through your stomach.
Saturday, January 21
Wisconsin's leading pair of culinary blessings are both celebrated and savored at the Isthmus Beer & Cheese Fest, returning to warm up the weekend. Now in its third year, the fest is becoming a mid-winter tradition, and one we're proud to be building based on the good times at its first and second editions. It's growing in size, too, with twice as much space available for the more than 30 breweries and nearly two dozen dairies, creameries, and other artisanal food vendors participating in the tasting revelry. We're looking forward to sampling their creations. An early Premium Tasting session, multiple pairing presentations, and free and discounted Union Cab rides to and from the fest round out the program. Alliant Energy Center-Exhibition Hall, 1919 Alliant Energy Way, 2-6 p.m., $45 or $40 advance with $10 pairing session and $75 premium tasting. See Facebook and call 251-5627 for more info.
Sunday, January 22 - Friday, January 27
The cold weather celebration of local culinary offerings continues with the winter 2012 edition of taking part in this biannual event, up by six over last year and a third again as large as two years ago. Participating restaurants serve a $25 prix-fixe three-course dinner, with some also offering a $15 lunch option; drinks, taxes, and gratuity are not included in these prices. Restaurants serving dinner include 43 North, The Blue Marlin, Brocach Irish Pub, Captain Bill's, Daisy Café & Cupcakery, Dayton Street Grill, Delaney's Charcoal Steaks, Eldorado Grill, Fleming's Prime Steakhouse & Wine Bar, Fresco, Graze, Harvest, La Brioche True Food, Lombardino's, Mariner's Inn, The Melting Pot, Quivey's Grove Stone House, Restaurant Muramoto, Ruth's Chris Steak House, Samba Brazilian Grill, Sardine, Smoky's, Tuscany Grill, Villa Dolce, and Vintage Brewing Company. Restaurants serving both dinner and lunch include The Avenue Bar, Biaggi's Ristorante Italiano, Bluephies Restaurant & Vodkatorium, Bonfyre American Grille, Brickhouse BBQ, Capitol Chophouse, The Continental Fitchburg, DeBroux's Diner, Inka Heritage, Johnny Delmonico's, Johnny's Italian Steakhouse, Liliana's Restaurant, Ocean Grill, Osteria Papavero, Quivey's Grove Stable Grill, and Steenbock's on Orchard. Tickets and coupons are not required, but diners are encouraged to make advance reservations in order for seatings. Winter Restaurant Week runs for six days, through Friday, January 27.
More events this week
Tuesday, January 17
Wednesday, January 18
Rooftop Seedlings, a weekly session for kids to explore gardening, composting, and cooking. Madison Children's Museum, 100 N. Hamilton St., 3:30 p.m., free with $8 admission. Call 256-6445 for more info.
Whole Foods Market, 3313 University Ave., 4:30-6 p.m., $10. Call 233-9566 for more info.
Thursday, January 19
In the Kitchen with Cathy: Juice Up Your Life, with instructor Cathy Thomas covering the basics of juicing, and demonstrating how to select juicing equipment and storing juices to lengthen shelf life. Willy Street Co-op West, 6825 University Ave., 6-8 p.m., $15 owners and $25 all others. Call 284-7800 for more info.
Kitchen Organizing Secrets from a Professional Organizer, a talk on how to "organize your kitchen like an expert." Fromages Favorites, a class that covers when a cheese reaches its peak (à point), how a Fromager selects a cheese, and how they can be paired with wine. Fromagination, 12 S. Carroll St., 6:30-8:30 p.m., $55. Call 255-2430 for more info.
Friday, January 20
Saturday, January 21
Markets & Meals for Hope, a farmers' market and breakfast that benefits the Harvest of Hope Fund for Wisconsin farm families facing distress. St. Thomas Aquinas Church, 602 Everglade Dr., 9 a.m.-12:30 p.m., $10 donation for meal. Call 839-4758 for more info.
Seed-Starting, a gardening class covering the basics of starting plants indoors, including containers, soil, lighting, and more. Jung Garden Center-North, 1310 Northport Rd., 10:30 a.m.-noon, non-perishable food item donation requested. Call 249-8120 for more info.
Barrel-Aged Beer & Bourbon Celebration, a tasting featuring hors d'oeuvres, 10-ounce pours of 2011 Founders KBS, 2011 Founders Backwoods Bastard, New Holland Dragon's Milk, and Kentucky Bourbon Ale, along with 1-ounce pours of Evan Williams, Evan Williams Single Barrel, Elijah Craig 12 yr, and Elijah Craig 18 yr. Brickhouse BBQ, 408 W. Gorham St., 7:30-9:30 p.m., $45. Call 257-7675 for more info.
Sunday, January 22
Markets & Meals for Hope, a farmers' market and breakfast that benefits the Harvest of Hope Fund for Wisconsin farm families facing distress. First United Methodist Church, 203 Wisconsin Ave., 8 a.m.-11 a.m., $10 donation for meal. Call 839-4758 for more info.
Robert Burns Dinner, a celebration of the life of Scotland's national poet and benefit for Avenue Bar, 1128 East Washington Ave., 6 p.m. whisky tasting and 7 p.m. dinner, $20 tasting and $40 dinner. Call 221-9319 for more info.
Monday, January 23
Save the date
Tuesday, January 31
Out Professional and Executive Network Dinner, the third annual celebration hosted by UW Union South,. 1308 West Dayton St., 5:30-8:30 p.m., $75. Please RSVP by January 23, and call 358-8680 for more info.
Wednesday, February 1
Full-throttled Reds, a wine tasting in the L'Etolie Oenophile series, with wine director Michael Kwas presenting samples of "big wines of great finesse" and a plates of "raw meat and stinky cheese." L'Etoile, 1 S. Pinckney St., 6:30 p.m., $75. Call 251-0500 for more info.