My wife and I have had season tickets to the American Players Theater for many years. In mid-November we were heading to Spring Green to catch one of the plays and decided to stop on the way at Arcadia Books for an author reading from The Mad Feast: An Ecstatic Tour Through America’s Food.
Here’s how the event was billed:
“Following his critically acclaimed Preparing the Ghost, renowned essayist Matthew Gavin Frank takes on America’s food in a richly illustrated culinary tour of the United States through fifty signature dishes, and a radical exploration of our gastronomic heritage.”
Some of the state dishes that are profiled in the book include deep-dish pizza (Illinois), hummingbird cake (Alabama) and, of course, bratwurst (Wisconsin). Frank was a passionate and engaging speaker and we enjoyed his quirky writing style (the passage read was on the Minnesota hotdish). We were treated to a sample of hummingbird cake prepared by The Kitchen (the bookstore’s café). All in all, the afternoon was a delightful prequel to another lovely evening at APT.
- Learn more about the author at his website
- Check out this interview with the author from the Joy Cardin Show on Wisconsin Public Radio
One doesn’t need to venture far from Madison to escape the self-created, always plugged in, move to the next scheduled activity, and “What else do I need to get done today?” world. In less than 40 miles, you slip from LTE to 4G to Edge service (and frequently NO service). Perhaps not everyone sees Edge service as a bad thing.
The weekend before last, we escaped to the Little Sugar River Farm in Albany for our second visit this year. This time, I traveled there by bike. What a great transition from the hustle bustle of daily life to a serene getaway – 2.5 hours of solitude. The ride was glorious (see picture). The weather, scenery, and nature along the way—birds, smells of spring, scurrying rabbits, squirrels, and turkeys—reconnected my senses to the natural world.
A stop in Monticello brought back connections to times past. A grandmother and her granddaughter were selling VFW “Buddy” Poppies. The granddaughter was delighted to be the “Poppy Princess,” which she enthusiastically explained as, “You sell poppies, ride in the parade, and get your picture in the paper.” It was a pleasure to donate my two dollars.
Owner Frank Goodman met my arrival at the farm with a wave from the seat of his International Harvester tractor/mower. He was tending to what referred to as his “prairie restoration in progress” just inside the gate. The weekend was off to a good start.
While the weather wasn’t great, the skies did clear for a bit of biking. Unfortunately, the Sugar River State Trail was soft due to the recent rain and not conducive to skinny bike tires like it is when dry and more heavily traveled. Instead, we went off to New Glarus for a short local ride.
An expected highlight was the lunch we had at Cow & Quince in New Glarus. The food was exceptional, a true farm-to-table experience that included local asparagus, morel mushrooms, pork, gouda, and more. They are raising funds from local backers with a Kickstarter-style “Community Supported Restaurant” campaign. Good stuff—this Isthmus review captures it well.
Along the way to and from, we saw boys fishing in a creek, children biking to downtown Monticello, and a local bike rodeo event in New Glarus, as well as much local farming activity. The weekend connected me back to some of the simpler things in life I so enjoy.
When Monday dawned, it was back to my busy, plugged-in, LTE network world.