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Friday, June 29, 2012

An Intoxicating Visit to Madison, Wisconsin

Those who know me also know that I love to travel.  And when traveling, I'm a huge proponent of exploring cultures through, well, bite and booze of course.  On a recent journey to rural Wisconsin for a great friend's wedding, I had the pleasure of swinging through Madison, Wisconsin with a couple of buddies.  We napped, we ate, we drank.  We saw the town.  And we drank some more.  Then apparently I ate more and still managed to snap some pictures of it!  I impress myself sometimes.  Here were my findings:

Madison Wisconsin Bite and Booze

My first mission when traveling is to drink as the locals do.  Or at least how the locals should.  I explored the craft beers available to me in Wisconsin that I can't get back home in Louisiana.  Beer number one at a place on State Street came from Madison.  The Hopalicious from Ale Asylum carried a very nice hop balance that impressed me.  I followed that up with a Maibock from the Capital Brewery.  I declared it to be "pretty standard, really..."  Name the movie.  Free koozie if you finish the quote.  Leave it in the comments.


At the same bar, where they did have Abita Purple Haze on tap, our trio of Brent, Bret, and myself from Louisiana quizzed the bartender about the merits of the beer.  He passed the test.  Then we told him where we were from and that we didn't want any Purple Haze (nothing against it, it truly is one of the best raspberry beers out there, but I drink local).  I took the liberty of ordering a Left Hand Milk Stout Nitro.  Okay, so I lied.  I failed to drink locally already.  However, the Left Hand Brewing Company is in Longmont, Colorado, and we can can't get it in Louisiana.  So I drank two pints.  And it is a sweet nectar from another land.  Stunning.  Delicious.  I could live on that stuff.  Dear Left Hand, please send me a case!


After we left that bar we continued our walk down State Street from the capitol to the UW campus.  Forever LSU, but the University of Wisconsin certainly attempted to compete in beauty.  I will definitely give them that they win the battle of the lakes.  I wish we could sail on ours.  After a couple more stops on a stroll back down State we landed at a bar called Mondays.  That's where things get hazy.  We drank copious amounts of booze as well as some local shot liqueur that tasted like apple pies.  We met many groups of people, ladies of course, some friends from Louisiana who also made a pit stop in Madison, and the bottom of quite a few pitchers.  On the left above is the Fat Squirrel Ale from New Glarus.  More on them later.  On the right is Sconnie.  They call it their local micro macro brew.  Basically an adjunct lager that is local (though to them I guess Miller is local).  It... was... drinkable.  And the pitchers were $4.  Win.



I stumbled out Mondays and to another bar sometime after midnight.  Mondays got to crowded for me so I left to find a different watering hole.  After one beer I realized that I had a hunger inside of me that could only be cured by the Madison food scene, so I set out to find some late-night snacks.  I came across a couple food carts nearby and went to check them out.  "Fried and Fabulous" read one cart.  I knew that was had my name on it.  I squinted to read the special on the glass in my drunken vision.  Deep fried banana pudding?  How could that be bad?  I somehow managed to talk to the owner for a bit, though I don't recall much of what he said.  I do, however, remember that banana pudding being inventive, fried, and indeed, fabulous.


Maybe I got confused about which order you're supposed to eat in.  Or perhaps intoxication got the best of me as I wandered down the street back towards my hotel.  Regardless, I came across a pizza joint called Ian's and knew I had to devour some pie.  This place has been featured on Bizarre Foods for their unique topping creations, so I stepped inside to see what caught my eye.  Behold: the BBQ Steak and French Fry Pizza.  I asked for a slice from the line.  The staff scooped it up and slid it into an oven to crisp the crust one final time.  I've had steak and potatoes before.  I've had barbecue pizza before.  But this... a whole new level. The crust had a firm, crisp texture while not being brittle.  The fries could have used a little more seasoning, but the sauce and the steak easily made up for it.  I ate my slice and then found my way home to find Brent and Bret already passed out in the room.  My night in Madison had come to an end, and what a glorious gastronomic night it proved to be.


As for the wedding, congrats again to Kevin and Julie!  And one last thing: they love their Spotted Cow from New Glarus in Wisconsin.  There's a local beer with some serious clout.  That stuff got consumed EVERYWHERE.  So I definitely drank my fair share.


Ian's Pizza on State on Urbanspoon