Saturday, November 21, 2009


If you want to understand a city, there are a number of ways you can approach it. You could look at the hard statistics.

latitude/longitude: 43.13/89.33
population: 231,916 (as of July 2008)
median household income: $53,516

You could go on flickr and browse through images:

(photos by Allie Oop Photography)
You could google recent news stories about it.
DNR Deer Debate
17 Inches of Snow in Wisconsin
Madison Residents Must Recycle Plastic Bags

Or you could do what I do.
You could eat your way through a city.

Whenever I visit a place, there is nothing I like better than eating anything or at any place that is quintessentially---that place. The things I remember most about vacations are rarely exceptional vistas or or excellent theater, but instead things like really good bumbleberry pie and breakfast scramblers.Needless to say, in the 26 years that I have lived in Madison, I have eaten my way around it pretty respectably. I have strong opinions on the best places for burgers, fruity mixed drinks and sushi, as well as the preferred grocery stores for produce and spices. If you've lived anywhere for long enough, its probably impossible to NOT develop preferences, if not prejudices.

And I'll admit, I have some prejudices.

There are plenty of places in the midwest to find excellent food. What sets Madison apart, I think is the sheer concentration of restaurants and food based businesses per square mile. Madisonites love local, independent establishments--the more eclectic, and unlikely the location, the better.

Recently, there has been trend towards turning formerly skeezy dive bars into Euro-inspired pubs, with full organic and locally sourced food menus--available into the wee hours of the morning.

The Brasserie V on Monroe Street. This didn't used to look so nice.

Because of course, Madison not only loves her food, she also loves her fine beverages. On State Street leading up to the capitol building, one can barely walk 20 feet without running into either a coffee shop, bar, or on the very best of occasions, both at the same time. Whoever first thought to merge a coffee shop and a wine bar was a GENIUS as far as I am concerned.

Mmm delicious market strawberries. (photo by Allie Opp Photography)

Naturally, one cannot eat out all the time, and Madison also boasts its fair share of grocery stores, smaller specialty markets and a thriving network of organic farm food shares. Its very rare that somewhere between the Farmer's Market and Maharani's Indian Grocery Store , I can't in some way find what I am looking for.

I love the food here, I really do.

And now, I am moving.