Monday, July 13, 2015

Madison WI

Ivan Arenson, a business school classmate of Pat, joined us for breakfast in Minneapolis. We had planned to go to a local coffee shop but it had rained overnight and was still raining off and on.  So we chose to have a "Brunch" in the hotel.  Pat had the corned beef hash, Bill had an egg sandwich.  

Pat, Ivan and Bill

We headed off on the 4.5 hour drive to Madison around 11:00. Enroute we had 3 intense but short rain storms. Pat was extremely grateful that Bill was driving during those! The drive was mainly through prairie dotted with red farmhouses. Pat tried for a good photo but was disappointed in the results. Her best shot was of one of the few farmhouses that wasn't red. Such is life.

We decided to stop in Madison when we noted it's foodie culture. We chose to stay in a B&B, the Livingston Inn, because of it's convenience and ambience. It was an excellent choice because Peggy, our phenomenal hostess, not only provided excellent recommendations on activities and restaurants, but she connected us with guests from Chicago to assure we were prepared for our stay there.  

Our first stop: Graze, for dinner. Graze serves "a range of comfort foods made from local, sustainable ingredients". We started with popcorn. Yep. Popcorn, baby rice popcorn cooke in black truffle oil and served with SarVecchio cheese (similar to parmigiano). Very nice. A bit more delicate that normal popcorn. We followed this with a "wedge salad", Iceberg lettuce, smoked mushrooms, blue cheese, ranch and sesame "french” dressing. Next up, we shared Grilled Lamb Sausage with roasted baby carrots & turnips, harissa and yogurt (chosen by Bill) and Mac N’ Cheese made with Hook's 10-year cheddar and herbed breadcrumbs (chosen by Pat). 

Popcorn and Salad, the beginnings of a great meal

Tuesday we toured the 16 acre Olbrich Botanical Gardens including the tropical conservatory and the Thai Pavilion with it’s Thai-Style Garden planted with hardy local equivalents of the typical plants in Thailand.
A Cacao Tree. Note the flowers on the trunk.
Nice colors.
Thai Pavilion
Along the drive through Madison toward Middleton (a neighborhood/suburb) for lunch) we passed the University and many shops. Lunch was at Navonta (the word for 90 in Italian), so named because of the way they cook the pizza, 90 seconds at 900 degrees. (Our opinion, it would have been better if they cooked it for 95 seconds.)

After lunch we continued on to Verona (another neighborhood/suburb) and then returned along Monroe St visiting shops and galleries. Dinner was with Elizabeth Barnhill, our home exchange partner in Chicago.  Elizabeth prepared a excellent meal of Walleye, salad and fresh corn on the cob. We enjoyed the food and conversation and only learned later that she had prepared dessert for us. We are sure it was good.

Wednesday AM we explored the capital square area of Madison stopping at Fromagination with it's wide range of cheeses and other delicacies. Then onto the Wednesday market where we picked up some snacks for lunch, a spinach empanada and a savory scone.

Enroute to the Chazen Museum of Art we visited the Museum of Contemporary Art, enjoying some interesting paintings of the farm life by Lois Ireland and black & white photos by Archie Liberman. Their works reminded us of the expanse between cities and national parks that we pass by as quickly as possible getting to our next destination. (No photos allowed at this Museum...)

The Chazen Museum of Art features art and antiquities from around the world. A few examples follow.
Shiva as Lord of the Dance / 19C, India
Wedgewood Ceramics / 18C

Beaded Royal Crown with Bird / Nigerian, Yoruba People, early 20C

Next up: A visit to the Wisconsin University Memorial Union for their renowned Babcock ice cream, made by Ag students on campus. We chose a Chocolate Peanut Butter and a Union Utopia (Vanilla with chocolate, caramel and Peanut butter). Thanks to Ivan and our Innkeeper for directing us to this great treat. We walked along the lake to return to the B&B. 

Later we had a great dinner at Heritage Tavern, starting with Deviled Eggs (with 3 styles, with a variety of stuffings, one topped with a fresh Quail egg yolk, one flavored with soy sauce, and one deep fried. The asparagus risotto was outstanding as was the schnitzel. The profiteroles were too good!


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