Farm-Fresh Fare at Roots
The next destination on our trek westward was Milwaukee, Wisconsin to see my grandmother who lives there. It was just an overnight stay so we wanted to search out an interesting place to have to dinner. My mom stumbled upon an article about Roots in an old Gourmet magazine (that I can’t bear to part with since it stopped being published) and it sounded right up my alley. John Raymond is the chef-farmer who owns a farm and sources much of the produce from his farm. The restaurant is in an up-and-coming part of downtown Milwaukee, near the river, and is housed in a beautiful renovated stone building with tiered outdoor terraces and many wrought-iron embellishments. We started our meal with the trio of nibbles that they brought out: maple sea-salt popcorn, pickled veggies, and smoked crunchy garbanzo beans. This trio sounds like an unlikely combination but the flavors and textures were quite pleasing together. We started with some delicious farm greens with a verjus vinagrette. I had a raw corn salad with zucchini ribbons and red onions accompanied by an allepo pepper aioli that was sweet, crunchy and tasted of summer. We drank a Gruet Sparkling Blanc de Rouge to celebrate the closing of my Brooklyn apartment, which had happened earlier that day. We ordered a special appetizer of chorizo-stuffed squid served with mizuna salad with shitake mushroom confit and fried calamari tentacles. It was succulent and rich. Our entrees were San Francisco Cioppino, an aromatic saffron tomato-fennel stew stuffed with shrimp, salmon and scallops; soy-glazed tilapia served on a cashew coconut rice with sweet peas shoots, and a sausage-stuffed trout with a mushroom-farro salad on the side. We were all very satisfied with our choices. We drank a Spanish 2008 Albarino that had a medium body and a rich stone fruit on the front end, and finished with lovely citrus notes. With satisfied bellies, we headed back to the hotel to plan our drive “Up North” to northern Wisconsin the next day.