Winter in Madison, WI
Every year this weekend, us girls try and find a Midwest city to go explore for the weekend. See past weekends here. Usually one or the other of us can't make it, so this year Nadia, Del, Court, and I headed north(east)!
I haven't spent any time in Madison! The drive up from Des Moines is really scenic, actually! You get on and off highways and weave through tiny towns.
When you get into the city, the capital building is pretty much the focal point of the city-kind of like Europe! There are four square streets enclosing the building - all lined with shops and restaurants. Then there are little one ways here and there that go diagonally out from the square - all packed with restaurants and bars. There are college kids mixed in everywhere which is interesting for a capital city.
We may have gotten the best friend tattoos that we have been talking about for years.
The city is cold! The downtown strip sits between Lake Menona and Lake Mendoda. We woke up to ice fisherman out on the lakes. The city is great because it's cold all the winters there, so the locals just bundle up and deal with it and enjoy going out. Either to brunch or out on a run or bike ride along the lake. So many people!! Even at night! Des Monies should be inspired by that.
We bundled real casual and walked everywhere all day! Miles in snowflakes and it was wonderful!
CREPES. And good coffee! Mine was Ham + Arugula + Smoked Gouda + Cracked Egg + Whole Grain Mustard.
This place looked good for cocktails, dinner, and brunch. We tried a bit of everything and it was perfect. It sits right on the lake so beautiful morning light tops every table. We started with in house pastries - mine was an orange paste brioche that they warm up in the fire oven.
We kept the morning going with coffee and omlettes - mine was smoked trout + capers + onions.
Walk and Move
I am all about walking whenever you have the time to do it. Madison is well set up for this! We went through the capital to get back to our hotel. It is beautiful!!
Trek has a huge presence here in Madison, so this bike shop was full of Trek. I want to get a better bike to ride to work on this summer, so a good jaunt around a bike shop has me daydreaming :)
This is a long street past downtown that runs parallel to the lakes. It's like walking through a residential neighborhood with more foot traffic going into shops and eats next to the houses...
This is on Willy St. a great mix of plants and potters and garden tools to get you (okay, get me) excited for seed growing this spring and my garden!
I am so glad we happened upon this place. A tiny cavern of deli cases and old cellar style shelves of great gins, whiskeys, and provisions. We walked away with a little salami + gruyere + dijon + aioli on a demi baguette. Sandwich love.
With Nadia on the trip, this stop was a must. She is our friend group cold pressed juice follower. I enjoy trying a good blend. Since Zach and I make good green smoothies every day, I went for the Serenity - grapefruit juice + cayenne pepper + lavender + honey - it is a good spice!
We walked a few blocks to this tea place and it was a great experience! First, there were women drinking tea and knitting #madison.
The staff was so friendly and answered my questions above and beyond! I have enjoyed my fair share of matcha lattes, and wanted to know more about the real deal matcha. And he told me everything about usucha and koicha styles of matcha - traditionally with a sweet cookie to offset the bitterness. It was a wonderful experience and I got a little whisk and some starter matcha.
They also sell tea blends and serve sake and spirits!
This place is super old school and they make bread and pastries by hand every morning in the back. We got a little cherry + almond coffee cake!
The chef was nominated for a James Beard Award. It's in this tiny cozy setting, the table settings are perfect and kind of UK traditional Parliament looking.
The cocktails were beautiful and seasonal. We shared a ton of little plates and charcuterie board. Court got the white fish plate and it was sooooo good. I had to google search one out of four ingredients in every dish, that's how I knew it was good. Sauces, vegetables, and grains that are not that common.
Post Dinner Drinks
In an old bank building, the ground floor and mezzanine are for diners - their wood fired pizzas looked amazingggggg. GO there for dinner. The ground floor is a large sized bar - which makes sense for their focus on their seasonal cocktail list.
Mine had bourbon + chili liqueur + honey + lemon
Downstairs is a little bar in the old bank vault. There was a mix of a semi - swanky party going on and a lot of college students coming in and out.
Late Night Food
We had to have a Spotted Cow before we left the city. And then we remembered we needed to have cheese cureds before we left as well! Old Fashioned has really good ones from what I hear. We got take out from Tipsy Cow and uh, they were good. It wouldn't be my go to food at home, but when in the land of great cheese, YES.
And with cheese curds and New Glarius, we left Madison and came home. A great little getaway for the weekend! I am sure the city is at its prime in the summer (as is any Midwest City), but for now, we will keep walking miles in the snow and eating at award winning restarants.
Cheers to weekend roadtrips!