Sunday, June 5, 2011

Badger State

My apologies again for the lack of blogging recently.  We keep resolving to do better, but the follow through has been lax.

Last week we spent the holiday weekend jetsetting our way to visit Becky's family in Wisconsin.  I am told that Wisconsin is not everyone's dream weekend getaway, but for us it's always fun to go to the Midwest.  Sunday was Becky's dad's final Sunday as choir director at his church, after many many years in the position.  Becky's mom threw a party for him and invited several surprise guests - including us!  If our traveling had gone as planned we would have arrived at Becky's parents' home just after 10pm.  However, due to "weather" (definitely not holiday traffic or airline or air traffic control error!) our plane didn't even take off from New York until around 11:30pm.  We surprised a very sleepy pajama-clad Becky's dad at 2am.

But we are not ones to let a short vacation go to waste!  Despite our exhaustion we hauled ourselves out of bed early Saturday morning in order to drive to Madison.  Motivation: fresh local cheese curds!   The only place we've found in the tristate area to get cheese curds is Trader Joe's, and while decent, they cannot compare to the fresh local variety.  Madison has the largest farmer's market I have ever seen, which covers the entire block around the state capital building.  Like any farmer's market there are fresh local vegetables and organic crafts.  There is also an over representation of delicious baked goods.  Unique to Wisconsin though are the dozens of cheese shops, most with plentiful sampling options. 

On the way in we stopped at Michelangelo's Coffee House.  I got fair trade coffee; Becky ogled baked goods (but chose to save space for the market).  Yay for cute little independent coffee shops!  My friends and I used to frequent several of these in the Twin Cities back in high school and breaks home from college, but I haven't found (admittedly nor have I looked very hard) around here to love. 
Bad photo of me in front of the capital
We ate and bought an excessive amount of cheese curds and toasting cheese.  Becky's coworkers have fallen for them, so now whenever she (or her fellow Wisconsinite coworker) goes home cheese curds must be brought to work.  By the time we made it around to Stella's we were already quite full.  The crowd/line around the stand was enormous, and we debated skipping the spicy cheese bread.  But the power of the crowd overcame me and I declared that whatever that many people were willing to wait for must be good.  Miraculously, soon after we joined the crowd, a truck full of fresh steaming spicy cheese bread arrived.  This bread is magical.  It is like challah and cheese curds all rolled together in one doughy amazing ball.  I declared it the best thing I have ever eaten, and I think I might stand by that.  
Doughy insides of mostly consumed hot & spicy cheese bread.
Madison still felt alive with the memory of the recent protests.  There were signs plastered in the windows of the capital, people passing out leaflets, "union thug" organic onesies for sale, and a People's Brat Fest in opposition to the usual Brat Fest sponsored by Johnsonville (a supporter of Scott Walker).  I think it renewed Becky's sadness that she wasn't able to be in Madison for the protests, but it was fun to see the spirit is still alive.  Hopefully this will translate into some political change.

On the way back to Becky's parents' home we stopped at a favorite non-farmer's market bakery, Greenbush, to pick up chocolate sour cream donuts.  Yum.  We were too full to eat them immediately, but they were as heavenly as ever when we got to them. 
After our whirlwind trip to Madison we headed back to Becky's family.  We helped a bit with the party preparation and lounged around with her family.  Saturday night we ate at an Italian restaurant and were able to order Chicago style pizza - another of the very few foods we have found to be unavailable in New York. 

Sunday we had a lovely time hanging out with Becky's family and family friends, celebrating the final choir Sunday.  Becky joined the choir, as she usually does on Christmas Eve (I guess this is a benefit to being related to the choir director!).  After church Becky's mom hosted a potluck party for the choir and all of the special surprise guests.  That night Becky and one of her sisters and I played ping pong, which gave me a splendid opportunity to show off my spectacular lack of coordination.  Monday we packed up, said our goodbyes, and jetted ourselves back to life in the big city. 


  1. You were going to pass up cheesy bread? I don't believe it. Glad you had fun with Becky's family. We missed you too!

  2. Very happy that you got to spend the weekend with us. Always goes way too quick :-(