Written by Lauren Lamothe, Social Media Director.
What first popped into your head when you read that? Not having a significant other? Boycotting the holiday with your girls? An excuse to eat extra chocolate? Most likely, those are the first things you think about, but not me.
I’m the Hallmark clichè: I live for Valentine’s and Galentine’s Day. What better way to show the people you love how much they truly mean to you and bring some sunshine back to them that they’ve so effortlessly given to you. That’s why this year I rallied up my girls and I celebrated my love for them the best way I knew how: food.
So my list that I mentioned in my Madison Ride or Die article came in handy for this occasion. I wanted to go somewhere a bit fancier than the norm and I wanted to go somewhere I hadn’t been before. We all know, adore, and trust our steeds of Graze, Red Sushi, Cento and Eno Vino, but I was craving something different. I had heard consistently through random people that Forequarter, tucked into East Johnson, hands down was the best underrated dinner in Madison so obviously this turned out to be my pick.
As students, we don’t get to venture outside our little bubble often. Stepping out of the car and into the restaurant I felt like I was transported to a whole new world. It was a smaller space; dim, intimate lighting, only about eight tables plus the bar and dark wood accents. This was the ideal space to take time to enjoy my ladies and be grateful that places, and days like this exist.
The cocktail list was a perfect length, covering a quarter of the page with an array of alcohols that wasn’t too intimidating to decipher. I would definitely go back again and would try a cocktail but for this occasion we all stuck with wine. Two of us ordered a glass of Sparkling Rosè, one got a glass of Chardonnay, and the other got a glass of the Merlot. An effortless addition to the night.
My friend group is known for an obsession with cheese boards. I’m not kidding when I say we have one at least every night and we consistently have an array of about five cheeses handy at any moment (but we must always have the Merlot cheese from Whole Foods). So, we kicked off our meal staying true to ourselves: “carr valley pente cream, orange marmalade, candied pecans, crackers” with an addition of the potted cheddar from another appetizer and a “charcuterie board of fiocco (similar to prosciutto) with pickles, olives, mustard, bread.” When I say all of our mouths dropped to the floor, I truly mean all of our mouths dropped to the floor. The orange marmalade was to die for; not overly sweet like most jams you know and love for your PB&J sandwiches with a lot of citrus flare from the orange. I probably could eat the candied pecans every single day for the rest of my life, they were the perfect crunchy counterpart to the soft cheese.
We approached our meal from unique angles. Four of us got the parsnip fries (the women at the table next to us told us it was a must-have). We added in a side order of fingerling potatoes with three orders of gnocchi and one poached whitefish filet. We could’ve branched out more but I think we for sure hit the highlights.
The recommendation for the parsnip fries was most certainly the most on-parr recommendation I’ve ever received; they weren’t heavy like a normal french fry and the jerk spice sprinkled on top paired with the sweetness of the aioli on the side was a match made in heaven. As for the potatoes, they were broiled to perfection; while biting into them they were soft, but not too mushy, and the goat’s milk butter on top melted in my mouth. As for the gnocchi, my girls said it had a “zesty” sauce similar to the taste of pesto, which we now know was fennel soubise.
The addition of the breadcrumbs with the pillow-like gnocchi was unlike any gnocchi any of them had ever had. Sometimes gnocchi can be heavy and feel like it sits in your stomach for hours afterwards, but the light sauce paired with the fluffy potato covering made this dish shine. It took a classic italian dish to new heights. My thoughts on the whitefish fliet was that it was one of the lightest, most elegant fish dishes I’ve ever indulged in. Usually I am not a fan of olives, but the olive relish that coated the bottom of the dish brought a sour and salty accent that tied the fine flavor of the fish, the fatty chorizo braised lentils and the crispy sweet potatoes on top all together into a perfect profile.
Now for my favorite course: dessert. Forequarter definitely outdid themselves in this area. Usually we are used to seeing the same dessert menu items such as flourless chocolate cake, lava cake, cheesecake, key lime pie, etc. Those are the American staples that we know and love. But, Forequarter went above and beyond by taking a totally different direction. We ordered two Wedding Cake slices and two Thin-Mints. The Wedding Cake was parsnip-flavored with a brown-butter buttercream and hazelnuts. Talk about the fluffiest, most versatile cake I’ve ever tasted. The Thin-Mint was a play between the Girl-Scout cookie we all know and love combined with a Peppermint Patty. This was an explosion of my favorite chocolate-flavor combo. The peppermint filling was not overpowering and the cookie had the ideal amount of crunch. Don’t even get me started on the outer chocolate glaze because my mouth is seriously watering while writing this.
This Galentine’s Day not only was filled with some of the best food I’ve treated myself too but also the company I had the pleasure of sharing it with. To me, food isn’t food without the people; it’s the experience as a whole that you remember, cherish, and hold close to your heart (and stomach).