Photography by Dave Compton Wolff
Winter doesn’t have to be a drag. In fact, with food like this it can be downright delightful. Colder temps are the perfect excuse to splurge on our favorite comfort foods, so we’ve assembled a bucket list of local bites for you and yours to indulge in this winter.
Down-home cooking is some of the most soul-soothing around. At Appleton’s Cozzy Corner (winner of the 2016 Golden Fork Award for Best Comfort Food), you might just forget about the plunging temps and falling snow outside. For a little southern style indulgence, owner Natasha Banks recommends trying one of their newest menu items: the triple pork grilled cheese sandwich with a side of hush puppies and fries.
It might seem crazy to use the word “whimsical” when describing meatloaf, but when you are talking about the meatloaf cupcakes from Cena in Appleton, there’s just no other way. Their homemade meatloaf is frosted with garlic mashed potatoes and a veal demi glaze, sprinkled with toasted wheat berries and topped with a balsamic cherry. Did we mention that the cupcakes are stuffed with cheese curds? Because, oh yeah, they are.
Pho (pronounced “fuh”) is just the thing when a head cold strikes. Star Anise in Menasha specializes in this Vietnamese soup also know as “the chicken noodle soup of Asian comfort food.” Owner Nkao Vang says the key to pho is in the broth which is simmered for at least eight hours to develop a rich, full flavor. Choose from steak, meatball, chicken, seafood or a combination. While there are many ways to garnish your pho, our favorite is with a handful of bean sprouts, lots of fresh basil and a healthy squeeze of lime.
Sometimes a gargantuan sandwich is the only cure for what ails you. At infi.DELI.ty in De Pere, the classic BLT gets some upgrades – just sub pork jowl bacon for the regular stuff, arugula for the lettuce and add beefsteak tomato and tomato jam for the all important “T.” It’s all packed between two slices of thick, country French bread, a hefty smear of aioli and served alongside a Brooklyn Brine Damn Spicy pickle. Pair this meal with a Netflix binge and it will be spring before you know it.
Cheese-laden pasta may be the comfort food to beat all others, and no one does it better than Zuppas Market Cafe in Neenah. Chef and owner Peter Kuenzi says first he makes a three cheese sauce (cheddar, parmesan and American, to be exact) that is tossed with cavatappi pasta. The pasta is then baked, finished with more cheese, heavy cream and rebaked. A generous topping of parmesan is added upon serving. “Ultimate comfort food to me is something warm, creamy and filling,” Kuenzi says. If that’s the case, this dish will satisfy your deepest comfort food craving.