A Marriage of Friendship and Flavor at Fountain Prairie Inn and Farms
By Susan Gloss | Photo By Jim Klousia 0
Brasserie V in Madison features a savory flank steak from Fountain Prairie as a special, and it is delicious when eaten with a paper cone of the restaurant’s highly addictive frites. Patrons at Graze, Bluephie’s, and several other Madison establishments can enjoy burgers made from the Priskes’ ground beef. At Roman Candle, seasoned Highland beef is even available as a pizza topping. These restaurants continue to buy dry-aged beef from Fountain Prairie because, as Dorothy says, “it just tastes good.”
At Home on the Farm
The Priskes’ other home, their farm in Fall River, is an island of biological diversity in an area of Wisconsin dominated by endless fields of corn. Beyond John and Dorothy’s blue and white farmhouse shimmer wetlands where waterfowl nest and fish. Next to the wetlands, a golden prairie provides a refuge for migratory birds and other wildlife.
It didn’t always look like this, however. In their shift from conventional to sustainable farming, the Priskes did more than alter the way they raised livestock. They also changed the lay of the land, re-creating habitats for native plants and animals that had been driven out through decades of industrial farming. John and Dorothy see themselves as land stewards and follow Aldo Leopold’s philosophy that the farm is a portrait of the farmer. A new addition to Fountain Prairie is the 140-foot wind turbine towering over the traditional red barn. The turbine has the ability to generate 50 percent more power than the farm consumes—another example of the Priskes’ commitment to sustainability.
The Priskes believe that their farm is meant to be shared, and they often host chef-created tasting menus on site. Outstanding in the Field—a traveling organization that coordinates farm-to-table dinners across the country—hosted their first Wisconsin event in 2008 at Fountain Prairie with a seasonal, five-course meal created by Chef Tory Miller of Madison’s famed L’Etoile restaurant. (Miller is not only one of Fountain Prairie’s loyal customers, but he and his wife, Lili were married at Fountain Prairie.) Whenever possible, the Priskes promote the restaurants they supply. Chef Dan Fox of the Madison Club raises pigs, sheep and goats at Fountain Prairie. Chef Jack Kaestner of Oconomowoc Lake Club has taught cooking classes featuring Highland beef for the club’s members.