Sunday, May 16, 2010

Saturday in Madison

Hi Knitters,
Warning: Long post with lots of photos! I have to share our first farmers' market trip of the season. On a quick side note, I looked up whether or not to use an apostrophe when writing farmers' market. I have seen it written farmers, farmers' and farmer's. On the official website for the market they use farmers' plural with an apostrophe at the end so that is what I will use. I know I have written about our Madison Farmers' Market before but it really is spectacular so I don't mind writing about it again. I have heard it is the largest farmers' market in the country. It circles the Capitol Square and extends out on side streets surrounding the square which makes it enormous. We started out a little late so it was a bit too crowded. It is better to go early to beat the crowds.

My husband and son joined me and we started out at the first booth buying three huge bright red shiny tomatoes. We ate them with dinner last night just sliced with salt and pepper. The. Best. I am going to try to grow tomatoes this year as we have more sun in our yard due to the tree removal of last summer. I can't wait to see if it will work.
The flowers were stunning. My son immediately bought a bag of cheese curds which we shared as we walked around. The test to see if they are good or not? The squeeeeeek! These curds were a good batch.
The oils and potatoes were gorgeous. The variety being sold in the booths always surprises me.
There was quite a bit of popcorn for sale.
I hadn't seen the award winning sheep milk cheese booth before. Did you know about that?
Tulips in buckets were abundant. It is that time of year. My husband told me that every mid-May the Capitol lets people dig up the bulbs in the huge tulip planters that surround the building after the blooming season is done. I want to do that next year.
Scallions were being sold at every turn. It is fun to see what is available so early in the season.
Pansies are the flower of the moment in Madison. People are planting pansies like crazy. I have noticed this on my daily jogs. Even a few weeks ago people were planting pansies in pots and I thought it was too early but my sister told me that these are ice pansies that can withstand the cold temperatures. I am going to try planting pansies this summer because of our new sunlight in the yard. They are one of my favorite flowers. We'll see if it works. I have planted pansies before that didn't survive. Aren't they gorgeous?
That's my son in the red t-shirt and my husband is to the right in the gray carrying our tomatoes. The babies were out in full-force. One woman had teeny-tiny twins that looked maybe one week old. They were screaming and crying as she walked along. I think maybe a little too little for the market, right? It was so crowded that it was impossible to make a fast exit. We were shuffling right behind them for a long while listening to the newborn cries. I kept thinking she needed to pick them up but she left them in the stroller. I felt like picking them up myself. I was saying to my husband, she needs to pick them up and feed them. It's funny how that new mom feeling comes right back when you hear those newborn cries. We stopped at a booth so I don't know how that all ended. I am sure fine. They were really, really cute tiny babies.
Pussy willows and tangled twigs always catch my eye.
There was a cheesecake booth this year that looked fantastic. I am a cheesecake lover but rarely ever eat it. I love the chocolate heart ganache. That looks so good. Yummy booth.
Rhubarb was the other main event. Rhubarb and scallions stole the show. Rhubarb reminds me of my mom and her rhubarb pie. Best ever.
Of course in Madison you have to have your obligatory protest. This one didn't get too much attention. It was about increasing alternative education options. I don't know. There was a lot of yelling and sign holding. No one seemed to give it much attention.
On the other side of the street there was jewelry and a few clothing booths. This woman dyed onesies and then stamped cute little sayings or words on the front. I liked the one that simply said Peanut. Peanut.
Our outing ended at Fromagination. I had been wanting to head over to this shop for a couple of weeks because I heard that Jeni's Ice Cream had made it into this Madison shop. Have you heard of Jeni's? It is famous in the Knitter World because it originates in Columbus, Ohio, the home of the summer TNNA event. Knitters tweet and blog and brag about their daily Jeni's Ice Cream consumption when attending TNNA. I had never tried Jeni's before but had always wanted to.
I hadn't been inside Fromagination before as it is a fairly new shop on the square. It was a treat. My husband used to work on the square and his old office is just a few doors down from Fromagination. The shop has been reviewed in the New York Times and has been named the Best of Madison in 2009. The shop sells an extensive and wide variety of gourmet cheeses and all sorts of other foodie type things as well. These are colored sugars in tiny tins with handwritten labels.
The shop has a strong cheese smell when you walk in the door. Stinky cheese smell. I love stinky cheese. Do you?
Sweet sheep iced cookies wrapped in cellophane looked yummy. There were so many little things tucked here and there. You had to spend some time looking to see everything.
Samples were everywhere. The shop inventory is huge and packed full. Fromagination was very crowded while we were there.
Finally in the back freezer I spied the Jeni's Ice Cream! Pear Sorbet, Wildberry Lavender, Almond Butter.... and there it was Salty Caramel! This is my favorite new flavor. In San Francisco we had Bi-Rite ice cream a couple of times. It was a funky little ice cream shop filled with flavors and characters and we loved it. That was the first time I ever had Salty Caramel ice cream and I fell in love with it. Salty and sweet is a winner every time. We bought a pint of Jeni's Salty Caramel for $10.50 and they packed it in a brown paper sack with handles for us to carry home. You should visit Jeni's Ice Cream site to see all of the fun flavors they have. Every flavor is unusual.
A little scoop of Salty Caramel was our dessert last night after dinner. It was awesome and memorable. What a treat.
Colorful spools of twine line the wall behind the register in Fromagination. They use it to wrap purchases or you can buy the spools as well. I love the look of that shelf.
These little pastel French Macaroons were featured in the shop. They apparently had some big magazine write up that was posted around. The cookies look very sweet and fancy. I love those fat felt-y birds in the window, too.
Our last stop was my favorite place. The Capitol Kettle Corn booth is always the best. They make fresh batches of salty and sweet kettle corn about every 10 minutes or so. You wouldn't believe how good it smells. The man stirs and stirs like crazy when the corn is popped. He must be exhausted at the end of the day. The last thing they do is add the salt. The kettle corn literally melts in your mouth when you eat it. I never leave without a large bag and we all share it for a couple of days at home. This morning I noticed not much was left.
Here I am armed with my salty and sweet treats. I've got my warm kettle corn, Jeni's pint and three juicy tomatoes. I'm a happy girl. Oh, I have to tell you about one other thing my son purchased. At Stella's Bakery he stood in a long line to get a cheese bread. This is about a 9-inch round spicy loaf of bread that is loaded with melted cheese. You buy it hot, right out of the oven, and they pack it in a small clear bag. To eat it you tear off doughy pieces that have melted cheese inside. It is incredible and worth the wait. I held the bag of cheese bread while he waited in line for a smoothie and I swear it weighed about 5 pounds.

Look behind me in that picture above....
That is the Monona Terrace. It is a gorgeous and fairly new building to Madison that was years in the making. It is a Frank Lloyd Wright design that overlooks the beautiful Lake Monona. It really is a beautiful building where conferences, weddings and other events are held. It is also a fun spot to view the lake from the rooftop.

If you are in Madison on a weekend the farmers' market is a must do event. I hope you get to experience it sometime.

Thanks for coming along!
best, susie
p.s. I have one fun and inspiring link for you today. It is a blog called Tree Fall Design. Check it out.