- Associated Press - Monday, October 13, 2014

MILWAUKEE (AP) - In a story Oct. 11 about the Wisconsin Science Festival, The Associated Press reported erroneously that an event focused on foods served at supper clubs will be Thursday at University of Wisconsin-Madison. The supper club event will be held Friday.

A corrected version of the story is below:

UW explores science behind Wisconsin supper clubs

From relish trays to ice cream drinks, festival looks at science behind meals at supper clubs

By M.L. JOHNSON



Associated Press

MILWAUKEE (AP) - The signature dishes served at supper clubs that long served as Wisconsin’s culinary and social backbone will be under the microscope during next week’s statewide science festival.

The festival kicks off Thursday and includes a free event Friday at University of Wisconsin-Madison focusing on ingredients like the maraschino cherries that garnish drinks and vegetables served before dinner on relish trays.

Private supper clubs started in New York City during Prohibition for members who wanted drinks with their dinner and entertainment, according to Ron Faiola, a Milwaukee-area resident writing his second book on the topic. The format spread across the United States, but took hold in Wisconsin to a greater degree. Many supper clubs struggled or closed during the recent recession, but 300 or more remain, said Faiola, who will be one of the speakers at the “Science of Supper Clubs” event.

Here’s a partial menu of topics to be discussed:

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DRINKS

A quintessential night begins and ends with a brandy Old Fashioned or ice cream drinks at the bar, with dinner and dancing in between, Faiola said.

Tom Klevay, a UW-Madison graduate who is chief executive officer of the California-based Diana Fruit Co., plans to show a video on how maraschino cherries are made and hand out samples.

Maraschino cherries are soaked in brine before being infused with sugar and dyed red. The infusion takes several weeks, and manufacturers maintain a certain level of acidity and keep fluid circulating to deter the growth of mold and yeast.

Participants 21 and older can buy tickets to sample Old Fashioneds, which are typically garnished with cherries.

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DINNER

Supper club menus tend to be heavy on steak, and nearly all serve prime rib on Saturday night, Faiola said.

With that in mind, UW professor Jeff Sindelar will talk about how research has improved the quality and safety of the meat typically served. As an example, Sindelar said he and his colleagues did a study last year that looked at acidity and moisture in summer sausage, a popular appetizer.

Their goal was to identify specific levels at which summer sausage would be shelf stable, and results will be published in a scientific journal and distributed to meat processors.

Research has helped make food “significantly safer” in recent decades, but more work will always be needed as disease-causing organisms evolve, Sindelar said.

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DESSERT

Boozy, frozen drinks won’t be served, but students who work at UW-Madison’s Babcock Dairy Plant will hand out samples of a cranberry ice cream made to celebrate the College of Agriculture and Life Sciences’ 125th anniversary.

The students will also answer questions about ice cream production, such as the use of gelling agents to create the swirls that add flavor to the dessert. Happy Cranniversary features a cranberry swirl in a cranberry-flavored base, with sweetened, dried cranberries stirred in. It showcases all three ways flavors are added to frozen treats, dairy plant manager Bill Klein said.

Wisconsin is the nation’s top cranberry producer, and Heidi Zoerb, an assistant dean at the university, said one goal for the evening was to highlight local foods. Tickets to sample other dishes are for sale in advance.

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Online:

Wisconsin Science Festival: https://www.wisconsinsciencefest.org/

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