Sunday, November 23, 2008
mad about madison!
photo of Wisconsin State Capital, Madison, taken by Darin ten Bruggencate, courtesy of wikipedia, and licensed by GFDL
"Well, if there's a long wait at the Nepali restaurant, then we could go to the Greek place," so said M as he, D, and I walked up and down State Street in Madison deciding where to eat.
Now that's a sentence you don't often utter when considering places to dine on a remarkably chilly evening. Or any other evening, for that matter.
Lucky for us, there was an open table by the window in the tiny restaurant, and we settled in for our very first Nepali meal at Himal Chuli. Or anywhere else, for that matter. I selected the Roti, Dal, and Takari, and I further chose the Chana Takari with chickpeas, potatoes, and carrots. The food was delicious--utterly familiar and vastly different than any other food I've ever eaten because of the spice and herb combinations binding together favorite foods. A gentle heat underscored the dal and the takari, and the mild soft, buttery bread was a perfect accompaniment.
We headed back out into the cold, in search of a basement bar where D and M could drink Strongbow hard cider and I would sip a Bombay Sapphire G & T as we talked about the conference on Liberal Education that had brought us all together from various corners of the state to the Capital city.
The next afternoon, after attending more sessions and parting ways from new and old friends, I bundled up in an extra layer, slung my messenger bag across my shoulder, and walked up State street to the Capital Square. I made it to Cafe Soleil just before they stopped serving lunch, and enjoyed a Dairyland classic: grilled cheese. This one melded together several artisan cheeses and caramelized onions and thinly sliced tomatoes. I stopped by fromagination on the recommendation of several fellow bloggers, and selected a cheese to bring to Michigan for Thanksgiving, dried cranberries, local chocolate, and local crackers. One more stop: Barriques Coffee Trader, a brilliant coffeeshop cum wine shop, stocked with reasonable bottles of wine and an espresso bar. I purchased a French pinot noir and an Argentinian torrontes. Loaded down, I walked back down State Street, past the hippie shops and fair trade coffee shops, smelling nag champa incense whirling on the air and mingling with a thousand cuisines.
And then it was back to my car and a long drive across the state, past a graceful field of wind turbines and rolling farmland, and back home.