On Sunday, Oct. 30, a "celebration of heritage pigs and the people who drive the movement" called Slow Pig will take place at the Madison Club from 4 to 10 p.m. It's a lot to squeeze into six hours.
The "whole hog" competition is likely to draw the most attention. Tory Miller of L'Etoile, Francesco Mangano of Osteria Papavero, Justin Aprahamian of Sanford in Milwaukee, and Paul Zerkel of Roots, also in Milwaukee, have each been given a whole heritage breed hog sustainably raised in Wisconsin. Each will prepare five to seven small dishes; attendees and professional judges will pick a winner. Alongside that competition will be a battle for the best craft punch cocktail to accompany said pork dishes, with bartenders from L'Etoile, Merchant, Osteria Papavero, and Roots and Distil from Milwaukee.
Chef Dan Fox of the Madison Club started the idea for Slow Pig. "I wanted to build more awareness and appreciation for heritage pigs and the people who support [these breeds]," says Fox. "We need people to understand why the product is a touch more expensive, what goes into it. I want people to get excited about fat again and realize it won't kill you, if the animal is raised sustainably, on great feed, pasture and open air."
Craft brewers and cheesemakers will be on hand in the tasting room; Bolzano Artisan Meats will be holding a charcuterie school; and the film Pig Business: Food From Farms Not Factories will be shown every 45 minutes.
Two kinds of tickets are available: general admission (limited to 250 at $100) and VIP (limited to 50 at $150). More info at slowpig.org.
From Oct. 23 to 30, Osteria Papavero will be holding Offal Week, focusing on dishes made with animals' internal organs like brain, kidney and liver. With the popularity of head-to-toe eating, offal is now more widely seen on menus nationwide, although the trend has yet to really infiltrate Madison.
Chef/owner Francesco Mangano says he'd been wanting to do a specials week like this for some time. While some dishes feature cuts and recipes that the restaurant has served occasionally, others are one-time-only. Most of the offal is sourced locally from Fountain Prairie Farms, Black Earth Meats or the Dick Cates farm, says Mangano.
On the specials board, expect to see grilled livers wrapped in lardo, grilled beef heart with a salsa verde, kidney stew with local wild mushrooms, veal brains sauteed with capers and shallots, and popcorn sweetbreads - breaded and fried. "All the dishes will be available every night," says Mangano, "or until we run out of them." Osteria Papavero accepts reservations only for parties of six or more.
Now open: Bison Jack's, 8310 Greenway Blvd., Middleton, serving hot dogs, with build-your-own specialty dogs, burgers, salads and sides. Six different buns and some 45 hot and cold toppings.