Last weekend Kirios and I flew out to Wisconsin to visit his friends who live out there. Despite my lingering head cold, I had a lovely time. Madison was a really cute interesting town. (Ok, technically it’s a city, but if the residents call it a town, I can too!) They have lots of interesting architecture, independent stores, and vegetarian/vegan friendly restaurants and cafes. The university community is vibrant, and on game-day the streets were full of red, including the especially amusing “game bibs” – red and white striped overalls. But our hosts assured us that the students weren’t the only thriving community within Madison, and that lots of the city’s events were very family friendly. In fact, Madison reminded me a lot of Seattle, near University of Washington, where my brother and sister-in-law live. Only without the tall buildings!
Kirios and I flew into Milwaukee on Thursday night, and our hosts took us to a German inspired pub for a late-night snack. I ordered beer bread with honey butter, and got a bigger loaf than expected. On Friday, we were on our own for a while, and we took a walk down Madison’s main drag, State Street. We stopped in a feminist book store, and partook in a lot of window shopping and browsing in little shops. We enjoyed tea and a scone in a busy café with a lot of sunlight, and then we toured the state capitol building. The Wisconsin Capitol building is a massive domed structure with a variety of imported marble and other stones and a plethora of allegorical murals. It’s quite the site, and I enjoyed having a tour guide point out fossils captured in the stones and random Wisconsin history. The site from the capitol was nice too, and Kirios and I spent quite a bit of time enjoying the unseasonably warm and sunny day from the dome’s observation deck.
Our friend met up with us at the capitol and we all grabbed a slice of pizza at Ian’s Pizza. Although we stuck to more traditional varieties, their selection of pizzas included mac’n’cheese (their all-time best selling slice) and chicken pot pie. On the way back to the car, we stopped to pick up some popcorn. Kirios had been begging for it since we first saw a cart selling it outside the Capitol. The store we stopped in advertised “Chicago Style” popcorn. The vendor explained that it was a combination of cheddar flavored popcorn and popcorn coated in caramel. It sounded good to me, so we went with that. We weren’t disappointed with the results.
After resting for a couple of hours, we were all excited to go to The Old Fashioned, a popular Wisconsin inspired restaurant and brewery. Unfortunately, it was too popular. Despite being a very large space, there was a two-hour wait by the time we arrived! Damn parents’ weekend. (Though I’m told it’s difficult to get in every weekend.) We wandered around for a while before finding an Indian restaurant with a not-so-long wait. By then, we were starving, so Kirios and I split a vegetarian appetizer sampler. I had baingan bharta, a roasted eggplant dish, our friends had chicken dishes, and Kirios ordered lamb vindaloo – as spicy as they would serve to an Indian. His sinuses were cleared out for a while, despite the mango lassi he ordered to counter the spice, and large basket of garlic naan we all shared.
We made it back to theCapitol/State Street area on Saturday around 11:30 and checked out the last weekend of Madison’s outdoor farmer’s market. And let me just say – it was the most impressive farmer’s market I’ve ever explored. Kirios was extremely satisfied by the endless samples of fresh Wisconsin cheese. I’ll admit it, I enjoyed them too. But I was a little scared by the cheese curds. (Completely unfounded – but as I’ve already mentioned in this blog, cheese can be scary to me sometimes! They taste pretty much like cheese – but with a spongier texture, like the haloumi cheese from Cyprus.)
In addition to cheese, we sampled produce, salsa, and jams. Even bits of cheesecake. We stopped by a popular stand for cheese-y bread, but were told they were sold out already. We settled for spicy cheese empanadas, which weren’t bad. But our friends assured us there was no comparison. We hit up State Street for some sodas to quench our thirst, and then we walked down to the University and visited their Chazen Museum of Art. I love art museums, and enjoyed the collection of Nevelson and Chamberlain sculptures, but we were all pretty exhausted by then.
After the art museum, we had a 3pm lunch/dinner at The Old Fashioned. (We planned ahead this time) I was disappointed that I wasn’t able to sample their beers with my head cold and all, but we enjoyed a large order of beer-battered cheese curds, and I had a very yummy roasted vegetable sandwich. Burgers and fish sandwiches satisfied everyone else.
Despite being incredibly full, we made a stop at Greenbush Bakery – a kosher donut shop! Unfortunately they were out of their signature glazed donuts, but they had plenty of other flavors to drool over. Kirios was disappointed that I didn’t have it in me to share the final donut we bought together. But it was a very full day of eating! That evening, instead of going out for snacks, we went to a vegan friendly coffee shop for lattes, soy chais, and I personally had warm apple cider.
Sunday our friends drove us back to Milwaukee to catch our flight home – but not before stopping at an Indian buffet first!