Three cheers for friends in cold places.
Kelli & Piercen recently relocated to the Frozen North, giving Holly and I a grand opportunity to uproot our Midwestern selves and go forth to über liberal and devastatingly awesome Madison, Wisconsin.
A five hour schlep from Springfield, IL the directions are simple (as ever): turn left, keep driving, arrive at your destination. Sure enough after traveling on flat, straight, Illinois roads we arrived at the state line and Beef-a-Roo. Don’t worry, we opted for the Subway instead. Upon arrival we dined on homemade pizza and caught up on life, having not seen each other for several months.
Saturday dawned cloudy and cold, but the thrifting team of Kelli and Holly was not to be deterred. We saw two huge thrift stores – organized, clean, gigantic. The most stunning find was a wooden house from the Moravian College collection out of dear old Bethlehem, Pennsylvania. Holly snapped it up for her office for less than $1 and we smiled about the coincidence.
We toured the University of Wisconsin – Madison campus, which is widespread and beautiful. A quiet weekend for students, the cold driving them indoors. After sifting through bright red Badger wear in the University bookstore, we stepped out onto State Street and I lost my mind.
Between the Urban Outfitters, American Apparel and the Gap sit tiny ethnic eateries, various pubs and independent bookshops. After being stranded with Walmart in Charleston, I was wide eyed and eager for some city living. State Street, as you would expect, leads directly to the Capitol building – dome and all. We dipped into a sweet shoppe, with insulting sweets (see photo) and gourmet cupcakes. We marveled at the outrageous amount of popcorn produced in several stores advertising toppings on their windows: WARM CHEESE! I tweeted a wonderful quote from the door of a bookshop: “Where is human nature so weak as in the bookstore?” H. W. Beecher
After the required photo in front of the capital, we detoured to a coffeeshop: Michelangelo’s – reportedly one of “the oldest coffeehouses in the Midwest.” We didn’t know this at the time, but our desire to be in a warm place with a cup of coffee steered us in the right direction. Black Forest Mocha Cherry Magic Something or Other really hit the spot.
A specific store shouted to us from it’s perch on State Street, and with all the paper goods visible from the window, I could not ignore the call. Anthology is a small but mighty shop brimming with colorful pieces: handcrafted art, posters, jewelry, paper, you name it. From Great Lakes art to political posters – this shop is #1 in my book. I also made the great / grave discovery of the owner’s Pinterest page .. and only recently emerged from the depths.
Of course I have food recommendations for you from this beautiful city: a Himalayan / Nepalese restaurant, a local vo-tech community cafe and a perfectly delicious ice cream stop.
- Chautara is a restaurant promising Himalayan / Nepalese cuisine, located on State Street. We went all out and made our way through appetizers (fried this, battered that, vegetable something) and came to the realization that dahl is soup, and not bread (we were thinking of naan). Everyone had an equally delectable entree and we could barely move by the time the last diner had surrendered their fork. Lamb, pork, fish .. you will not be disappointed.
- Ironworks Cafe, located at the Goodman Community Center, is run entirely by teenagers. I understand that this might induce panic, but restrain yourself. As a function of the local high school’s vocational-technical program, a group of teens works to bring fresh, local goods to the table and learn about the restaurant business in the meantime. We had breakfast here .. scones, tea, a ham & gruyere sandwich that I’m still thinking about, and huevos rancheros that dominated an 8″ plate.
Arguably the most important in “America’s Dairy Land” is The Chocolate Shoppe – home to Wisconsin-Made Ice Cream. Why I like them? Mainly for their straight forward nutrition facts, pictured here. A hand scooped pint of Hailey’s Comet (chocolate, vanilla, caramel, happiness and joy) was approximately $4. The next time I’m in town, I plan to high-five a cow, as I hear they are marginally responsible for the magic that is this ice cream.
For a breath of fresh air, brilliant company and some civilization – Madison really takes the cake. I am already plotting my return (you know, when it’s warm.)