A Visit with Purple Door Ice Cream

P1070562 My earliest memories of eating ice cream are with Bubby, sitting at the kitchen table in our one bedroom, third floor walk up in West Rogers Park.   Chocolate was her favorite flavor evident by her all too often stained house coats and pockets plump with tissue.  Deliberately she would place each spoonful of ice cream into her mouth as she closed her eyes and swallowed.  When the bowl was close to being finished, Bubby would etch the spoon around the bowl as it collected the very last bits of melted chocolate ice cream.  She wasted nothing and savored every mouthful.

During those years, our apartment where we lived with Bubby would often become chaotic and if there were any quiet at all, it usually drifted into the back of the apartment, into our kitchen. There we would sit, among the burnt orange teapots dotting the wallpaper, the lamp above the table whose painted stars we lit for Papa Jack on night’s like his birthday, among the towels which draped from cabinet handles, and the canned fruits and vegetables strategically placed so her blindness would not stop her from knowing what was in her own pantry.   It was there where we sat and munched and slurped and scooped, licked our fingers and wiped ourselves clean.  The simplicity of those moments has never been lost on me, and  with the winter in Chicago being so brutal coupled with working long days and not seeing my Olive as often as I’d like, I have found great joy in the simple moments myself, always highly aware and savoring every moment.

When I was invited by Lauren and Steve Schultz of Purple Door Ice Cream to visit their new build-out, set to open in mid-March, I was thrilled.  I had first heard of their ice cream on an episode of Wisconsin Foodies.  At that time they were working out of Clock Shadow Creamery, a cheese purveyor  down the street.  Now, with their grand opening around the corner, Lauren and her husband Steve are expanding the team at Purple Door Ice Cream to include a part-time ice cream maker.  “Up until now it was me and Steve making every batch by hand.”  When I asked Lauren about the inspiration behind her store, she said “It had been a dream of mine since middle school.”   It was that same imagination and tenacity that helped bring Lauren’s dream to fruition. What sets Purple Door apart from other ice creams is the simplicity and boldness of its flavor.  Using local ingredients and hand crafting every batch, Purple Door Ice Cream keeps its taste simple, its texture rich, and does not disappoint in flavor.  “We have eleven base flavors, but we hand swirl all of our mix-ins.  We want to keep the integrity of the ice cream.”   The fourteen percent butterfat uses milk and cream from Wisconsin dairy farms while their quality ingredients are carefully selected from local artisans including Anodyne coffee beans, Rishi tea leaves, chocolate and even liqueurs to name a few.   “Sourcing locally provides a lot of inspiration”, Lauren tell us as she pulls pints for Matt and I to sample.  With the expansion of their store, Purple Door Ice Cream will also branch out into local restaurants and stores in Wisconsin and the Chicagoland area including Whole Foods, Mariano’s and Southport Grocery.

Chicago has seen dreary weather for many months now, and although I find myself longing for the sun’s affection, I try to acknowledge the small moments that are my own bit of sunlight; Olive’s infectious smile in the morning, Matt’s grasp as he helps me hurdle the snow, tastes of rich ice cream on a blustery February afternoon.  Our visit to Purple Door Ice Cream reminded me that summer isn’t so far away, and in the meantime I have much to celebrate.  For Lauren and Steve, they are growing their company while staying close to their Midwestern roots.  For Bubby, she celebrated hugs from me and my sister and bowls of chocolate ice cream.  Former Olympic runner and noted author, Don Kardong once said “Without ice cream, there would be darkness and chaos.”  Lauren’s invitation (and the many, indulgent helpings of ice cream) helped bring light to this forever winter, evoking memories with Bubby, who in a time of uncertainty and confusion was always my forever light. 2060_771183305330_3658_n

Love Story

If you had told me a year ago that Matt and I would be driving 2 hours to Sheboygan for an afternoon pizza on our first anniversary, I would have laughed in your face..for a long time.  Who drives to Sheboygan to celebrate their first anniversary?  We do.  We do because one: we love our road trips, two: we love good food, and three: we love a good food find even better.  Before I get into any of this, I should admit that Matt thoroughly surprised me last month when he revealed his email confirmation to Next for their Sicily menu.  THAT folks was our real celebration.  You will have to stay tuned for a post from Matt about our experience at Next, but what I can tell you is that the restaurant was closed on Tuesday (our actual anniversary) which is why we attended dinner there on Sunday.  However, we both wanted to do something special on the 3rd and for Matt and I there is no better way to spend a day together than packing up the car and heading out of the city to discover new food, reacquaint ourselves with some old favorites, and simply spend the day together.

Thanks to Matt’s dad, we have recently been turned out to Wisconsin Foodie.  This is a show on PBS that highlights Wisconsin’s local and growing food scene.  You can check them out here: http://wisconsinfoodie.com/.   For Matt and I, the best part about this show are the stories behind the old and new generations of food purveyors in Wisconsin.  Makes sense that we would be into this.  Besides our love for food, Matt’s family has strong connections to Wisconsin as many of the Temkin clan is from there or went to school there.  They know Wisconsin in a way that we do not, and they have the stories to prove it.  Stories are important to us.  Matt’s interest in sports and sports culture stems from his father’s roots as a high school sports writer for the Tribune.  If you told me I would be married to a man who is a HUGE college sports fan (Go Badgers!) I would have also laughed in your face, but what I love about Matt’s involvement in sports are the stories he knows.  He can tell you about a player from the time he was playing basketball in elementary school to how and why he came up and who his family was…how all of these dynamics really shape the player he is today.   I really respect this about Matt and it deepened my appreciation for his nearly obsessive knowledge of everything Badgers.  For me, I can compare it to art history, something I have always been passionate about.  Learning about the artist and why they chose to express themselves this way or that way in a particular time is fascinating to me.  You cannot walk into a museum and see a canvas that appears to have been painted with one color without first understanding the artist and their technique….in my opinion.  In addition, my background in theatre and now a drama teacher,  is based in the art of storytelling.  My mother, who always encouraged writing and creative expression brought this out of me as a young child and I will always be appreciative of that.  I know now as an adult that sharing stories is important for they teach us about ourselves and the world around us.  Stories create understanding and respect for all people.  For Matt and I, our story is just beginning.  And as we discover who we are, we find ourselves immersed in the stories of food and the people who make them.  For us, those stories are inspiring.

Stefano Viglietti and his wife Whitney traveled to Europe nearly 20 years ago and when they returned they opened up the first of three restaurants in Sheboygan…all on the same street.  They went from living upstairs from their first restaurant to opening two other establishments that focus on local and organic food.  You can even shop for the same products they believe in and often use in the market located between Field to Fork and Il Ritrovo.  Stefano, who graciously chatted with us as he ran from restaurant to restaurant donned in his chef’s attire, has truly brought a sense of local and quality food to the Sheboygan area.  For that, we were truly impressed. Il Ritrovo makes wood fired Neopolitan style pizza.  There is a reason people travel from everyhwere for his pizza…its the oven.  His wood fired pizza oven is legit.  “Verace Pizza Napoletana Association as it meets all the requirements and proudly serves the true Neopolitan style pizza”.  This a statement from their website that confirms the authenticity of their oven.  And it shows in their pizza!  We are from Chicago; we know pizza…all kinds of pizza.  But at Il Ritrovo, we had a different kind of pizza experience.  It is worth the drive.  Thanks Herb for entertaining us at the bar!  We really enjoyed the sample of an iced coffee concoction that Stefano just brought back from Italy!  We cannot wait to come back.

After Il Ritrovo, we shopped around.  We scooped up some organic dates, olive oil, and a few chocolates before heading back to Milwaukee.  There, we made our usual stop for oysters at the Public Market, picked up some Pleasant Ridge Reserve (check out their story on Wisconsin Foodie here: http://wisconsinfoodie.com/2012/01/30/uplands-cheese-la-merenda/ ) and some cheese curds for our friend Noah ;-).   We did a bit of walking around near the market, headed to Alterra for some coffee and treats, and then back on the road to Chicago where we laughed about Matt’s fear of roller-coasters, sang along to random 90’s alternative rock, and discussed how we need to finalize our plans for Europe.  This is our love story, and I would not have it any other way.

Father’s Day: A Family Affair with Pizza

Can you believe it is already summer?  My wife is home for three months having the time of her life and I’m sitting at my desk thinking about which beer I’m going to have when I get home. If the temperature hits 100 degrees this week I may call in sick for “heat exhaustion”.  Anyway, I’m back with my second post to Butter&Yolk…extremely pathetic and disappointing. Jenna is a bit down on my involvement and that makes me feel worse than I already do when I keep putting off my contributions to this joint venture. So, here we go. Let’s all hope I’m a regular contributer and not some jerk who wants to talk about a burger or something idiotic that Romney said every three months.

With that, food has been on the brain lately (how shocking) and how in the world I will get to try every restaurant and dish and cocktail and beer I hear about on various blogs, or read about on a number of websites and magazines.  Also, I’ve been thinking a lot about the trials and tribulations of being the owner of a rambunctious and stubborn 1.5 year old puggle named Finley, but most importantly, I’ve been thinking about a tremendous and wonderful milestone approaching quickly…Jenna and my first wedding anniversary on July 3! We’ll be celebrating our anniversary in three places – with a much-anticipated dinner on Sunday at Grant Achatz’s Next restaurant in Chicago (THANKS JAMES!!! We’ll try to sneak in some pics for a post without appearing like food dorks with no tact at this exclusive establishment…oh la la), a trip up to an old favorite, Milwaukee, for food, cocktails and fireworks, and a journey to Amsterdam followed by a road trip through France.

Ok, ok, back to the actual topic of this post. As Jenna will tell you, I can be a bit long-winded (another trait I can thank my dear old dad for, lol, sorry pops!). To celebrate the start of summer, great food and family – three things Jenna and I love – we wanted to showcase  a family affair during an important day in June.  Father’s Day in the Temkin family is usually a pretty low-key but important event (my dad is about as low maintenance and easy to please as it gets); however, this year Jenna and I wanted to spice it up a bit and encourage my dad to do something fun at home that he hasn’t done in years and let us document it for our blog.  Makin’ za pizzah at home!  Za Temkin pizzaaaahhh!

When I was younger my dad used to make his long-held pizza recipe that he tweaked over the years, once a year for the kids.  Besides the grand feelings I had that my dad was a sports columnist for the Chicago Tribune and I had the opportunity to watch a lot of sports with him in person (I have little athletic ability, so I was relegated to spectator), this making pizza at home business was quite intriguing.  As a kid I only knew of pizza from Gigio’s in Evanston and other local establishments or chains – I never knew or fathomed that pizza could be made at home and I get to help!

I watched in amazement as my dad made this pan pizza and also helped along the way. Kneading the dough, letting it rise, punching it down, cutting the peeled tomatoes, spreading the dough to the edges of the pan, layering the cheese, then topping with the tomatoes and other ingredients, and then shortly thereafter pulling a homemade delicious pan pizza from the oven.  There was something different about this pizza, not only was it tasty but there was something more meaningful about it since it my dad and I did it together.  As the years went by and I got older the pizza making went from a once or twice a year thing to something that we kind of forgot about, until recently, when we were we celebrating my dad’s birthday and I brought up his pizza that he hadn’t made in some time.  There was borne the idea of making the pizza again, together with my dad, on Father’s day.

The morning of Father’s day, I woke up excited that this was the day we’d finally make the pizza again, and I get to take pictures with this new camera and post about it on Butter&Yolk.  Jenna and I went into Andersonville with Finley to get some dog food and find some other things to give my dad as a gift. I already got him a bottle of wine from our visit to Round Barn Winery during our beach day in New Buffalo, MI, but I wanted to add a few other treats.  It’s common knowledge in the Temkin family that while my dad is not into material possessions or logos on shirts, he does like his “dough products”, specifically one’s in desert form that he can be eaten late at night or for breakfast/lunch.  Historically, my father has been a muffin aficionado, but recently he’s gotten into scones.  With that in mind, Jenna and I stopped in to First Slice Pie after picking up dog food, hoping they’d have some good bakery.  We picked up a couple delicious looking hand pies (sour cherry and blueberry) and a ridiculous looking chocolate chip cookie (no scones left that day).  We also couldn’t leave empty-handed ourselves and picked up a decadent slice of chocolate-peanut butter pie (we’ll be back soon to try a slice of the Tabasco pie, as weird as it sounds, we’ve heard good things).  We also found out that First Slice serves some of our favorite (and my dad’s) Alterra coffee, which is a fantastic coffee company in Milwaukee that roasts and serves fair trade small batch coffee in direct partnership with coffee growers in Guatemala and other countries (check out one of their many cafes in Milwaukee, that also have some awesome bakery).

So, fast forward to the late afternoon as Jenna and I arrive at my dad’s house ready to resurrect the Temkin Pizza.  My sisters Allie and Jenna (yes, I have a sister named Jenna) are already there and a delicious peach and blueberry pie that sister Jenna and my step-mom Jody made earlier in the day, is sitting on the kitchen table.  After exchanging hellos with everyone, I enter the kitchen to begin this favorite pastime with my dad and recreate the feelings of excitement and joy I had as a kid.  This time around my dad added a few twists to the usual plain cheese pizza, since his children have all pretty much outgrown the hate veggies phase (except celery, I will not mess with that vegetable in any form or fashion!), he decided to add some spinach and mushroom, with a little bit of onion.  More importantly, my dad upgraded to San Marzano tomatoes, which we all know are the primo canned tomatoes on the market (there really is a difference in quality and taste) and some quality hormone-free all natural mozzarella cheese.

As my dad and I started making the pizza and I started to snap pictures as he knead the dough, cut and drained the tomatoes, and crushed the fennel, I started to feel as I did as a child; a sense of family and togetherness and how far we’ve all come over the years.  I was more happy to be sharing this day and this experience with a new addition to the family, my wife, who’s been excited for some time to try the pizza after I talked it up over the past couple years.

Fast forward again (since I can’t keep one stream out thought), the pizza came out a short time later, cooked perfectly, with a nice crisp crust.  The first bite of the surprisingly light pan pizza with a well-balanced flavor of cheese, tomatoes, oregano with a hint of fennel, toppings and crust, brought back all those memories of past pizzas, including the carry-out variety we ordered as us kids grew up (the one pizza my dad made was never enough for us hungry hounds…this year, Lou Malnati’s thin crust was the backer but it was nothing compared to the Temkin pizza!).  I also thought about how great it’s going to be when I have kids and I can share this recipe and experience with them and their grandfather.  That will be a treat.  So, without further ado, check out some pictures below in the slideshow of the pizza-making process and stay tuned for upcoming posts…including the long-awaited guest spot from our friend and culinary expert, Noah, on his trip back to his hometown of Nashville, TN.

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Feeling at home…in Milwaukee.

We were born and raised in the Chicagoland area. Our true nature is city. It’s in the way we walk, the way we drive, even in the way we order food at our favorite restaurants. But our city is different. Our city is a Midwestern city and for as brazen and flashy as Chicago can or cannot be, there has always been an essence of true Midwestern culture. We have always been seduced by the Midwestern touches on our big city…long, warm summer nights, blue skies and cornfields, farmstands. And these are the very elements that enrich Chicago’s style yesterday and today. And because of this, we are privy to a surprising amount of nearby cities and towns that are hosts to interesting, local, hand crafted food and cocktails that could rival any fancy twelve course tasting menu on the Near North side. Milwaukee ranks high on our list of places to visit when we are looking, or perhaps inherently craving, for solidarity in our food and drink. This is a city whose vibe is somewhat industrial, somewhat home-grown yet true to its roots and one can tell this by the food and the people who are producing it. Kinda sounds a little like Chicago, doesn’t it? This trip included visits to the Public Market where we slurped down oysters and dollar Shlitz drafts at Karen Jean’s Oyster Bar and Grill, indulged in heavy cream and espresso at Alterra Coffee, lingered over cocktails at Bryant’s…Milwaukee’s original cocktail house dating back to 1938, and after all of that, lazily drove home…only to bring it full circle with a Chicago style pizza from our favorite neighborhood pizza spot. Check out moments of our trip below. Click on the first photo to take a closer look.