Madison Eats, part 3

Honestly, I’m surprised I had room for breakfast after eating all the toast at Merchant on our last full day in Madison.  As we walked to breakfast, rubbing the sleep and mild hangovers out of our eyes, Shane teased me about the stack of toast which somehow grew from 3-4 slices of crusty farmhouse bread to a stack of toasts all the way up to the ceiling that I consumed Cookie Monster style.  I don’t deny that I ate all the toasts.  Just not that many.

Breakfast, day 3: Bradbury’s



We’ve traveled a lot this year, and as a result, have spent a lot of time trying to figure out how to interpret Yelp reviews in order to find good coffee. The problem is that definitions of ‘good coffee’ are highly subjective: for some, it’s a 32 oz sugar spectacle from Starbucks; for others, it’s Blue Bottle. The best strategies I’ve found so far involve searching for words like crema, siphon, flat white, ristretto or gibraltar – one of which led us to Bradbury’s.

And Bradbury’s was exactly what we were hoping to find: seriously good coffee made by people who care. Shane had a traditional cappuccino – no more than 8oz, perfect microfoam – and a crepe with Nutella and bananas. I had a piccolo – indistinguishable from a gibraltar or a cortado, but then what do I know – and a scone. We left caffeinated and happy, wishing we’d found Bradbury’s earlier in our stay.

After breakfast, we wandered around the Capitol Square to Fromagination, a cheeseshop on par with Cowgirl Creamery in my book. The store was in a state of minor disarray as a Food Network crew was in the process of filming a spot for a new show focused on cheese, but that didn’t deter us from sampling a number of fancy and delicious Wisconsin cheeses. I especially enjoyed the display of local beers and recommended cheese pairings, and wish we’d had the opportunity to try more of them! Regardless, we left with our dinner in hand – three different cheeses to be paired with co-op takeout – and a recommendation to check out the National Mustard Museum on our way out of town.


Photo by Susie Foodie

Lunch, day 3: Brasserie V

100 World Class Beers

Photo by beautifulcataya

We split a delicious lunch at Brasserie V, located near Camp Randall Stadium amongst a bunch of boutiques on Monroe St. Shane was excited about the Belgian beer list, but I was more into the cool and creamy pea soup that we shared for lunch, along with a half Croque Monsieur and a towering cone of frites. We tried to avert our eyes as a couple at the bar gratuitously made out between sips of their Kwak, served in authentic Kwak glasses. We wished we had more appetite so that we could eat and drink more delicious things.

Off to New Glarus! But first, a stop at the Mustard Museum, which was everything we hoped it would be: weird, esoteric, and full of ridiculous mustard things. What possesses one to make mustard – collecting, not making – one’s life’s work? A question for the ages.

King of Condiments!


1020 Two Attempts at Fries

I promised to bring bread and salad to dinner tonight – but when I went to the store for bread, I neglected to pick up the salad, and so made sweet potato fries instead.

Sweet Potato Fries

That’s a logical progression, right?  It’s obviously easier to peel, slice, season, bake, flip, and salt a giant sweet potato than it is to swing by Plum on the way to dinner, right?  Riiiiight.

I started from this recipe for the sweet potato fries, but in reviewing the steps, I realize I did something completely different, which must mean that I combined 2-3 other recipes into mine, which I have to say is probably the best:

Baked Sweet Potato Fries

1-2 pounds sweet potatoes (I used one GIANT one)
1 teaspoon cinnamon
1/2 teaspoon coriander
1/2 teaspoon chili powder
a generous pinch of kosher salt
olive oil

Preheat the oven to 400, and line a baking sheet or two with tinfoil.  Peel, wash, and dry your sweet potatoes. Slice the sweet potatoes into roughly even pieces. In a bowl – or, better, a big ziploc bag, combine your spices. Working in batches, toss your fry slices in the spice mix, then line up on a cooling rack placed over a baking sheet. I can’t remember why this is exactly important, but I’m guessing it has something to do with the fries not soaking in oil and/or encouraging air circulation.  Drizzle a generous amount of olive oil over the top, then bake for 30 minutes. Flip the fries, drizzle with a bit more oil, then bake for another 20 minutes or until browned and crispy on the edges. Good stuff.

I should note that I’ve tacked on the tinfoil recommendation because my baking sheet is now a sticky mess of burned-on olive oil, and no one wants to deal with that when there are delicious fries to be devoured straight from the oven.

Oh yeah, and the other fries?  Kinda weird.

Celeriac Fries

I was inspired to make fries with the impulse celeriac I bought at the market the other weekend.  They were definitely fries – good texture and all of that – but they were pretty weird otherwise.  The seasoning wasn’t quite what I was going for, and none of us really knew what to expect from the celeriac itself anyway.  Everyone tried one or two, and then I tossed the rest with no regrets.  50% ain’t bad!

0730 Hustin’ to the Roadhouse

I was at happy hour at Dominick’s when I got the message from Jenny – she and Richard were thinking about stopping at  Zingerman’s Roadhouse also en route to Detroit for the Maker Faire.  Was I interested in joining them?  Answer:  Yes please!  The only hitch? I was on campus – nearly 3 miles away – with no vehicle.  Fortunately the 30-45 minute wait gave me just enough time to hustle across town.

While I know I should’ve tried one of the many amazing meat offerings on my first trip to the Roadhouse, I regrettably wasn’t that hungry.  The three of us split a basket of sweet potato fries with a delicious spicy mayo, and I enjoyed a bowl of mussels steamed with white wine and shallots.  I envied Richard’s fried chicken and Jenny’s fancied up mac & cheese, and was thankful that we live just down the street and so can try these and other Roadhouse options at our leisure.  I also look forward to trying more of their cocktails, as my Corpse Reviver No. 2 combined several of my favorite drinkity things: gin, Lillet Blanc, and Absente.  What any of those things have to do with corpses, I’m not sure, but I certainly enjoyed it.

In addition to a great meal, it was fun to catch up with friends that I see quite rarely – and to learn about Henry Ford’s hatred of cows.  I had no idea!  A casual Google search turned up this book, which includes the tantalizing quote:

“In 1919 [Ford] advocated the elimination of horses, cows, and pigs.  ‘The world would be better off without meat,’ he said. ‘It’s 75 percent ashes anyway.  Milk can be manufactured chemically.  Every animal used on the farm these days is a waste of time.'”

He goes on to refer to cows as “the crudest machine on the world” and horses as a “twelve hundred-pound ‘hay motor'”. Thank you, Henry Ford, for the car and for allowing your ridiculous statements to be captured by the press so that they could amuse me 90 years later.  And thank you, Jenny and Richard, for inviting me to dinner!