‘Madison’ Category


Saturday’s Scene

29 aged cheddar wrappedLinda Burton posting from Madison, Wisconsin – Cave Aged Bandaged Cheddar from Bleu Mont Dairy in Blue Mounds, Wisconsin sells for twenty-five dollars a pound. I bought $8.50 worth; yes, I finally found that Wisconsin cheese I’ve been looking for. I discovered it at the Dane County Farmers’ Market last Saturday, on Capitol Square, right in the heart of downtown. I can state with almost a certainty that you’ve never been to a Farmers’ Market like this one; it claims to be the largest producers-only farmers’ market in the United States. And all those open-air tents against the background of the capitol make it without doubt the prettiest farmers’ market in the country. The DCFM has been happening since the 70’s; blue tents and white shelter as many as 300 vendors selling everything from cheeses and meats to vegetables and flowers. It happens every Saturday during the 29 fm postersummer from 6:30 AM to 2 PM; Wednesdays too, although the weekday market doesn’t draw as many vendors, or crowds. There are just a few strict Do’s and Don’ts – it always happens, regardless of weather, that’s a Do; and all items must be produced locally by the vendor. No resale is allowed, and no pets are allowed at the market. Any vendor you see waited a long time for an invite to sell at the DCFM; the average wait is five years. The best chefs want to buy at the market, and the 27 onionsbest producers want to sell there; DCFM producers regularly receive national and international recognition for the quality of their products. I could see that as I walked around the square; red torpedo onions shining like a work of art; bundles of garlic rowed up like pretty girls at a party; lemon scones plump with blueberries; fresh sweet corn. And award-winning cheese. » read more


Just Talking

27 mf posterLinda Burton posting from Madison, Wisconsin – “It’s like melted cheese stuck to a gold-plated toaster,” said the voice coming out of the speaker. The voice was that of Mark Leibovich, guest interviewee on today’s talk show, Whad’Ya Know; broadcast Saturday mornings via Wisconsin Public Radio (WPR) and distributed by Public Radio International (PRI). I normally catch it on whatever National Public Radio (NPR) station serves wherever I happen to be, but today I’m in the thick of it, sitting “live” in the studio audience in downtown Madison’s Monona Terrace Center. Full of pre-show sugar-drizzled donuts and logger’s coffee, I watched host Michael Feldman wander around the stage and out into the audience, shirttail loose, aiming for casual; aiming to put us at ease. We were prompted before the “On Air” flashed; “I ask whad’ya know,” he said; “then you answer ‘Not much! You?’” We practiced a few times; “You need the gesture,” he chided, 27 mf musiciansflinging arms back and chest forward. “That makes it more….you know.” He chided announcer Sara Nics on her retro-chic outfit, totally wasted on a radio show – jeans split at the knees, spiked-heel leather boots; a plaid 70’s jacket. “I wouldn’t let my daughter go out like that,” he said. She did a little Charleston before she took her seat; we laughed, warming up to the process. Whad’Ya Know has been on since 1985; Wall Street Journal has dubbed Feldman “King of Small Talk Radio.” His show is meant to be silly; even 27 wk logoserious subjects get the low-key voice (think Groucho Marx). Today’s interview with Leibovich followed that path, as the author discussed his ire-arousing new book, This Town. Two Parties and a Funeral – plus plenty of valet parking in America’s Gilded Capital. “Washington DC,” Leibovich said, “is the place people go to get famous.” Feldman dug for “whys.” » read more


The Town Square

27 capitol 11 cheeseLinda Burton posting from Madison, Wisconsin – My favorite thing about the Wisconsin State Capitol is its “town squareness.” You know, like the courthouse square in most of small-town America; the village green; the gathering place. Make no mistake; the building is massive, and elegant; and still serves all three branches of state government. The governor’s office is on the first floor; visitors are welcome in the adjoining conference room, a Venetian palace look-alike with fancy-dancy paintings on every wall; the ceiling too, look up, for sure. The Senate and the Assembly each have chambers on the second floor, as does the Supreme Court; the fourth wing is the North Hearing Room. Everything has a glamorous look; there are marbles and woods from Germany, and Italy, and France; and, to stay true to its roots, Wisconsin, of course. But it shares its elegance; it’s 27 capitol 7 openan open-door capitol. Every entrance is available, on every side; walk in and look around, or take a tour, or express your opinion, seven days a week. Visit on a Saturday, when the Farmers Market tents surround the square. People come in to be dazzled; posing for pictures on the balcony as they wave at their photographer down below; arms filled with 27 capitol 6 picture takingparcels of cheese, or farm-fresh kohlrabi, from the stands outside. The setting is magnificent; where else could you find a background like that? Where else such history, or such art? Where else such a forum for being heard? I had a conversation with the Capitol Police, whose desk fronts the Governor’s Office. And I had a conversation with one of the Solidarity Singers, who has been arrested by the Capitol Police at least five times during the last few weeks. They share a difficult problem; I listened to their conundrum. » read more


Lake, City, Lake

23 space shotLinda Burton posting from Madison, Wisconsin – Seen from outer space, it’s clear. “Lake, City, Lake” is the trademark for Madison, Wisconsin and that’s just what you see – Lake Mendota, then the city, centered on an isthmus, then Lake Monona. Madison is actually described as the City of Four Lakes; besides those two are Lakes Waubesa and Kegonsa; they are south of the city but part of the four successive lakes of the Yahara River. There is even a fifth, Lake Wingra; connected to the Yahara by Wingra Creek and within the city limits. So what do you do with all that water? Well, you enjoy it. The sight of it enhances everything else; it’s just plain pretty 23 capitol sailboatsto look at, day or night. And of course you play on it, summer, winter, spring and fall. So just how did Madison, Wisconsin, a pleasant city that’s home to 233,209 (US 2010 Census) pleasant residents, have the good fortune of being estabished in such an ideal location, and being selected as the perfect spot for the capital of the state? It all started with a man by the name of James Duane Doty (1799-1865), an ambitious fellow from New York who had some good luck, and some bad. He headed west at a young age, settling in Detroit in 1818, where he began practicing law. In 1820 he participated in an expedition led by Michigan Territory’s 23 frozen chairgovernor, Lewis Cass, to the headwaters of the Mississippi River; that brought him some recognition and gave him a taste of the wilderness further west. President James Monroe appointed him to a federal judgeship; that brought him to Green Bay in 1824. Well aware of the travel hazards between the west and east sides of Lake Michigan, Doty petitioned Congress to split Michigan Territory into two parts. » read more


Eating Out Is A Responsibility

21 madison mapLinda Burton posting from Madison, Wisconsin – “Madison folks are big on Sunday brunch,” I read. Since that’s my idea of a good Sunday too, I searched out the possibilities, settling on the Marigold Kitchen, the #1 Best, according to several reviewers. I liked its location too, right off Capitol Square; I could get my outdoor capitol photos while parked in the same spot. The weather had cooled, at last, to a civilized 73 degrees. The drive was easy, a straight shot towards the capitol down Washington Avenue, onto the isthmus that is Central Madison. This city of lakes, you see, really is; Lake Mendota and Lake Monona are two of the smaller lakes left by those 21 capitol street endfamous glaciers of long ago, separated by a strip that’s just wide enough to build a city on. The capitol sits in the middle with a few blocks in either direction towards the water; possibly the most pleasant spot nature and humankind could have put together for a Sunday morning outing. I parked in a meterless spot right beside the capitol under a shade tree; Marigold Kitchen was just a block down Pinckney Street. Somebody else had read the reviews; the outdoor tables were 21 marigold welcomefull and the line to get inside hung outside; someone passed out menus to study while we stood. The routine was set up for efficiency; order at the counter, pay and get your number; get seated when the next table came open. I’d never thought of adding fresh sweet corn and yellow squash to my scrambled eggs, but that’s what the Scrambler offered and that’s what I chose, along with Marigold Potatoes and Rosemary French Toast. “A table there, near the door,” was offered with a frantic point; I scooted fast and grabbed my spot. Did I mention the noise? » read more


Looking For Cheese

19 wisconsin cheese box2Linda Burton posting from Madison, Wisconsin – It must be true. I’ve always heard that Wisconsin is the place for cheese, and today I looked for signs of that as I drove from Saint Paul to Madison. Signs I saw, all urging me to shop; Cheese Alley, Cheese Chalet, Mousehouse. But I didn’t stop; the heat that’s been sitting on top of the northern states like a steam-pot dome was in its fifth day and I couldn’t leave the cats in the car; even a quick-stop for gas was almost too long to have the cooler off. I parked the car under a tree last night; it was shaded from the 19 trucksearly morning sun as I loaded up this morning but the humidity knew no bounds; by the time I brought the cats out I was soaking wet. “Water!” I said, gulping down half a bottle of Aquafina before hitting the freeway. It wasn’t the best of drives. Since I was headed east, the morning sun was a glare. The windshield was buggy from earlier hits; I hadn’t taken the time to scrub it down before I left. There isn’t much of Minnesota before you get to the St Croix River, a tributary of the Mississippi; and zap, once you’re across you are in Wisconsin. 19 wisconsin entryI snapped a photo of my rather inauspicious entry, but it can never achieve more than “token photo” status; you see the bugs on the windshield and the glaring morning sun; the “Wisconsin Welcomes You” sign was half-hidden in the shade. “You’re Wisconsin cats now,” I announced anyhow; as tanker trucks zoomed by, seemingly oblivious to the orange cones, and the swerving lane changes as we passed through endless construction zones. I settled in the right-hand lane, looking for dairy farms, and looking for cheese. » read more