On a blustery Wisconsin winter morning, with the wind howling and the snow swirling, what could possibly be more inviting than a freshly brewed, steaming mug of coffee and a savory waffle smothered in sausage gravy with cheese curds on top? Nothing!
So off we went to New Glarus to check out Cow & Quince, a restaurant opened just this past fall.
The owners, Lori Stern and LeAnn Powers, were both on hand that morning to greet us, as was their chef, Jared Austin, and their amazing go-to girl wonder Hallie Weintraub. This cozy restaurant was already buzzing when we arrived, so we exchanged brief introductions and then got right down to ordering lunch—which was quite good! My wife had a gorgeous beet salad, and I had the poutine waffle, both of which were extremely pleasing to both the eye and palate.
Stern came and joined us at our table while we ate, and she started off by telling us the daunting story of how they’d brought the restaurant from idea to fruition. She and Powers had truly undertaken a project of a grand scale, but now they were finally seeing the fruits of their labors. There were several other tables occupied with diners, and groups of people filtered in and out to check out their retail market items as well.
The idea behind Cow & Quince was really to bring the relatively new concept of community-supported restaurants to Green County. “We live in an area completely surrounded by farms, yet we see almost none of that food at our grocers or on our tables,” Stern explained. And so Cow & Quince has come along to change all that. Stern and Powers are working directly with local organic producers such as Grassroots Farm (Monroe), Jordandal Farms (Argyle), Scotch Hill Farms (Broadhead), and others to source nearly all of their raw materials for chef’s creations. Not to mention the couple owns their own place, Lucky Dog Farm, where some of the restaurant’s food comes from as well. And if that were not enough to keep them busy, they also own/run the Lucky Dog Farm Stay (www.luckydogfarmstay.com) where you can sleep, eat, and experience life on their farm in beautiful New Glarus.
So community-supported restaurants—what does this mean? Good question! It means you can pre-buy a share of Cow & Quince’s goods (food) and services (classes). Just as when you buy a share in a CSA (community-supported agriculture) farm, and essentially prepay for x amount of produce, meat, cheese or other farm-produced goods, when you buy a CSR share, you’re prepaying for a certain amount of food or services from that restaurant.
The couple has an even broader vision for Cow & Quince, in that they hope to soon be able to offer space in their kitchen to farmers and community members who wish to produce season-extending items (think canning, cheese making, and so on) that can be also sold in the Cow & Quince market space.
Pretty amazing concept, isn’t it? And best of all (in this humble chef’s opinion), the food is locally sourced from organic producers who are committed to sustainable farm practices. To check out the restaurant’s hours, the different shares and products they have, and current menu offerings, just visit the website: www.cowandquince.com.
So, when you’re thinking, “What can we do this weekend that’s fun and different?” just head out to New Glarus and check out Cow & Quince. Have the waffles—seriously. You need to try the waffles.
Jeanne Benink is a Madison chef and the sole owner of Simply Served Personal Chef Service. Her friends often call her the soup guru, and she truly does have passion for exploring soups and stews from all over the world. You can find her online at simplyservedpersonalchef.com