By Lori Fredrich Senior Writer Published Apr 08, 2013 at 9:03 AM Photography: shutterstock.com

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 – with news from the Milwaukee Food Swap, Bartolotta's, Wollersheim, Wine, Bel Air Cantina and the Italian Community Center.

Make, Grow, Bake, Barter:  The Milwaukee Food Swap
Did your urban chickens lay more eggs than you can eat? Are you eager to share the last few jars of the most delicious jam you’ve ever made with the world? Are you excited to see what someone would trade you for a package of your "world famous" brownies? Would you like to barter for some of your groceries, rather than buy them at the store?

If you answered "yes" to any of these questions, you might be a good candidate for the first-ever Milwaukee Food Swap.   But, what in the world is a food swap?  It’s a recurring event where members of the community share homemade, homegrown or foraged foods with one other. Swaps allow direct trades to take place between attendees during a specified period of time.  Trades such as a loaf of home-baked bread for a jar of home-canned pickles or a jar of jam for a half-dozen backyard eggs are common. These events are a delicious way to diversify the homemade foods in your own pantry while getting to know members of your local food community.

The first Milwaukee Food Swap will take place on Sunday, April 16, 2013 from 1-4:00 p.m. at the Urban Ecology Center – Riverside Park, 1500 E. Park Pl. The event is free and open to the public, but spaces are limited.  Get more information at www.mkefoodswap.com

New Umami Moto serving up sushi specials
The newly reopened and remodeled Umami Moto, 718 N. Milwaukee St., is sporting a new sushi bar, as well as a spiffed-up color scheme including black white and celery green.

In addition to some changes to its regular menu, which has been significantly simplified, the restaurant will be offering specials every Thursday and Sunday, including $10 signature rolls, $6 cocktails and martinis and half-off select bottles of wine.

On Sundays, sushi lovers can choose from the spicy crab, crispy shrimp, Milwaukee Street, white tiger, dragon, rainbow, super white, scallop asparagus, seared tuna, spicy tuna, avocado shrimp and shrimp panko rolls.

Bartolotta’s to host Curtis Stone author dinner
On Tuesday, April 16 at 6 p.m. Bartolotta Catering and Events at the Grain Exchange will welcome Curtis Stone, host of the wildly popular "Top Chef Masters" and "Around the World in 80 Plates." He and his team will prepare a four-course dinner featuring recipes from his new book, "What’s for Dinner?"

Stone was named one of People Magazine’s Sexiest Men Alive, is a regular guest on "Today" and "Ellen," and gained popularity on NBC’s "Celebrity Apprentice." Tickets to the event at the Grain Exchange are $85 per person plus tax and gratuity and include a signed copy of Stone’s book. Reservations can be made by calling the Grain Exchange at (414) 727-6980.

Wollersheim Reisling makes a splash as wine of the year
Out of 1,698 wines from 13 countries, the Prairie du Sac winery’s Dry Riesling was named Wine of the Year, Best of Show White and Best of Class Riesling at the 30th annual San Diego International Wine Competition (SDIWC), held March 16 and 17 in San Diego, CA.

With wine prices ranging from $1.99 to $135 at the competition, it just goes to show that quality cannot be judged by a price point.

"I love that the wine which won Wine of the Year was the Riesling from Wollersheim Vineyards in Wisconsin," writes Maurice DiMarino, Sommelier and wine director at the Cohn Restaurant Group who was also a judge at the competition. "I love it when a $9 wine can beat out a Napa Cab which retails for over $100.  Right on!"

This year’s award follows Wollersheim’s remarkable success at last year’s SDIWC, where they received the coveted title of Winery of the Year 2012 along with six Platinum medals, with one being awarded to the Dry Riesling.

Claim your personal bottle of Bel Air Tequila
Did you know that you can claim your own bottle of tequila at either the (soon-to-open) Wauwatosa or East Side BelAir locations? 

It’s true.  Just stop in to the East Side location at 1935 N. Water St. and ask to be put on the "Reserve List."  For $100, you’ll receive a numbered bottle of Bel Air's private-label double reposado tequila, which you can drink from during any visit to the restaurant.

Just imagine. Every time you visit the Bel Air location where your personal bottle of tequila resides, you can sidle up to the bar and say "I'm bottle number 44 (or 26… or whatnot), and I’ll take the Kahuna." The bartender or server will respond by pouring your beverage at no charge to you. 

Of course, if you’d prefer, you can just purchase your own bottle for $80 and take it home with you.

Get a Taste of Italy
You don’t have to wait for Festa Italiana to sample some of the best Italian dishes Milwaukee has to offer. Just head over to the 18th Annual Taste of Italy on Sunday, April 14 at the Italian Community Center. The event, which runs from  11:30-3:30 p.m., will feature Italian appetizers, entrees, desserts, and beverages, along with Italian-style entertainment. Specialty items will include arancini (deep-fried rice balls filled with ground beef, cheese and peas), sfincione (thick crust Sicilian style pizza), manicotti (ricotta-filled crepes), calamari (deep-fried squid), pitted olive salad, Italian sub and panini sandwiches, gelato and spumoni (frozen ice cream-like desserts), cannoli (fried pastry roll with a sweet creamy filling) and pizzelle (Italian wafer cookies). Attendees will also experience pizzelle-making demonstrations, Italian dance from Tradizione Vivente, and music from Charles Evans and The Sicilian Serenaders II. Admission and parking are free. Food and beverage tickets will be available for purchase at seven for $10 or $1.50 for a single ticket.

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.