By Lori Fredrich Senior Writer Published Mar 04, 2013 at 9:09 AM

Even if you're paying close attention, it's sometimes difficult to keep up with the latest in food news here in Milwaukee. So here's a taste of what's new and notable.

Kickstart Spring with the Farmer Open House
Is this the year you have resolved to eat healthier? Joining a Community Supported Agriculture (CSA) program is one of the easiest ways to keep your resolution. Fresh and healthy vegetables can be delivered right to your door or picked up at a convenient location during the growing season.

What is a CSA? Head over to the Urban Ecology Center and find out.

The Urban Ecology Center will host its annual Local Farmer Open House on March 9 from 11 a.m. to 4 p.m. at its Riverside Park location, 1500 E. Park Pl. Attendees at this free event will have an opportunity to gather resources about local farms, sign up for CSA shares, purchase locally grown and produced products and participate in a variety of helpful workshops.

Workshops include:

  • Intro to CSAs: Jamie Ferschinger of the Urban Ecology Center will explain how CSA programs work. 1 or 2:45 p.m.

  • Cooking From Your CSA Box: Annie Wegner LeFort, Chef and Master Food Preserver, will share ideas for using the contents of a weekly CSA box more efficiently to prepare quick healthy meals. Recipes, tips and resources for cooking seasonally from scratch will be provided. 12:15 or 2 p.m.
  • Multiple Biological Effects from Low Level Pesticides in Foods: Warren Porter of UW-Madison will share how and why to avoid pesticides in food. 11:30 a.m.

Steak Accolades
Milwaukee’s iconic Five O’Clock Steakhouse has been named one of the "Best Steakhouses in the U.S. " this week by Travel and Leisure.

The site, which also publishes Travel + Leisure Magazine, culled 30 of the top steakhouses from across the country, including popular destinations such as New York, Chicago, Miami, Houston, Kansas City, Washington D.C. and Las Vegas.  Five O’Clock was the only Milwaukee steakhouse to make the list.

Celebrating its 65th Anniversary this year, Five O’Clock Steakhouse’s menu focuses on marbled cuts such as the bone-in ribeye, fresh seafood and classic cocktails. Described as "This supper club with a Mad Men vibe…" the Milwaukee staple is known for its retro décor, loyal clientele and uncompromising standard of service.

Taste of Milwaukee
The 31st Annual Taste of Milwaukee takes place Thursday, March 7 from 5:30 to 8:30 p.m. at the Hilton Milwaukee, 509 West Wisconsin Ave. Featuring delicious dishes from more than 20 local restaurants and live entertainment by The Kevin Hayden Trio. 

 Guests will have the opportunity to meet the chefs and experience flavors from some of Milwaukee’s unique restaurants including Joey Gerard’s Supper Club, Maxie’s Southern Comfort, Kil@wat, Mason Street Grill, Blues Egg, Indulge, among others. Entertainment will include live music from The Kevin Hayden Trio, a photo booth, raffle and silent auction will complete the night’s festivities.

 Tickets to Taste of Milwaukee can be purchased in advance for $75 online, or at the door for $100. Visit www.ucpsew.org for more information.

SloPig. Going Fast.
Rumor has it there are still tickets to SloPig in Madison on March 10. But, they are going fast. Root for Milwaukee chefs Justin Aprahamian of Sanford and Dan Van Rite of Hinterland Erie Street Gastropub as they go head to head with chefs from Madison and Chicago in a whole hog competition. Sample punch from area mixologists, including talent from Hotel Foster and Boone and Crocket. And taste delights from Bolzano Artisan Meats, Sassy Cow Creamery, and more.

Tickets are $100 for general admission, and $150 for VIP tickets, which include early admission and demonstrations from Chef Dan Jacobs of Wolf Peach and Thi Cao of Buckley’s, guest bartender demonstrations and private spirit, wine and beer tastings. Buy tickets online.

Coffee Classes
Love Central American Coffee?  Did you know that crop yields in regions from Mexico to Columbia have been threatened by disease? Join Stone Creek for a free seminar on the topic of coffee rust, an increasingly important issue affecting coffee in Central America.

Come and learn more about this issue, the challenges producers face and what to expect from Central American coffee for the next few years. Class takes place on Sunday, March 17 at 1 p.m. in the Stone Creek Factory Tasting Room. RSVP online

Or maybe you’re dying to be a coffee brewing expert?  On Sunday, March 24, at 1 p.m. take the home brewing methods class, which covers coffee brewing fundamentals including water quality, water to coffee ratio, grind size, grind type and coffee freshness. This class is a hands-on workshop covering home brewing machines and manual brewing methods (pour over, french press, and chemex). Cost is $35 per person, with a class limit of 3 people. Purchase tickets online.

It's Okay To Be Shellfish
It’s time to sign up for the next cooking class with Harbor House Chef Zach Espinosa. The course, "It’s Okay to be Shellfish" takes place on Saturday, April 6 from 3:30 to 4:30 p.m.  Learn how to choose the best seafood, how to tell the difference between shrimp and prawns, and what pairings work best at the seafood table. Class includes sampling of crab leg, shrimp cocktail, peel and eat shrimp, mini lobster roll and chardonnay. Price is $25 per person plus tax. Call (414) 395-4900 for details.

Lori Fredrich Senior Writer

Lori Fredrich (Lo) is an eater, writer, wonderer, bon vivante, traveler, cook, gardener and girlwonder. Born and raised in the Milwaukee area, she has tried to leave many times, but seems to be drawn to this quirky city that smells of beer and alewives.

Some might say that she is a little obsessed with food. Lo would say she is A LOT obsessed with food. After all, she has been cooking, eating and enjoying food for decades and has no plans to retire anytime soon. 

Lo's recipes and writing have been featured in a variety of publications including GO: Airtran Inflight Magazine, Cheese Connoisseur, Cooking Light, Edible Milwaukee, Milwaukee Magazine and the Milwaukee Journal Sentinel, as well as on the blog Go Bold with Butter, the web site Wisconsin Cheese Talk, and in the quarterly online magazine Grate. Pair. Share.