Busy day. On a hot, sunny morning, the farmers market around the state capital building in downtown Madison was packed with people all walking the same direction in a slow circle past asparagus, morels, spinach, cheeses, lots of cheese and bread. We picked up some famous bandaged cheddar at the Bleu Mont Dairy stand and met our Airbnb host there. (She was selling cheeses.) also bought some very solid 8 grain bread at cress spring bakery.
Onto the first place I tried a brat (I think) while visiting my sister who went to U of Wisconsin – State Street Brats. We shared a table on the patio with a nice retired couple who moved from Brooklyn to Madison 30 years ago. After window shopping on State, we walked to the union and ate rapidly melting ice cream bones on the busy patio overlooking the lake. The place was packed with visitors also eating brats and ice cream and looking out at the boaters and sunbathers. Suddenly it is summer.
Onto the pretty rural town of Mount Horeb, 30 miles west of Madison where we are staying in a remarkable 1860 stone farmhouse tucked into a lush green valley with horses grazing and a pristine red barn with a cupola in the distance. The house is so hidden from the road that we had to call the owner from a nearby Apple orchard. Our gps said we were there. But there was no house in sight. Turns out we had to drive down an even narrower gravel road, park by the pasture in the woods and walk a few seconds and there was the lovely two story limestone house, with cool contemporary touches – a wood deck and overhang, a copper colored wrought iron railing. Inside the house is fanciful and bohemian, filled with artwork, old photos, big brass horse adornments. Our room on the second floor landing is all Beatles, with aYellow submarine mural covering one wall and photos of John, Paul,George and Ringo on the other. Our host is a former professional juggler who used to perform with her former husband all over, including on Caribbean cruise ships. Than you Airbnb.
In cheerful Mount Horeb, we visited a few shops, most notably the Pop Place, with soda pop from all over (yes, Vernors from Detroit) and Artisan Woods, a gallery with work by 70 wood artists (beautiful inlaid wood paintings, cutting boards, nightlights, wood purses and wood earrings. Nearby, in Blue Mounds, we cooled off in a chilly and very cool Cave of the Mounds. Not too claustrophobia inducing except for a few very narrow low passages where we had to walk single file. And no bats. And awe-inspiring stalagmites and stalactites.
Dinner was at the small and superb Forequarter, which is almost hidden in a quiet residential neighborhood east of the capital, unnamed on the storefront awning. We sat at the bar and promptly received free glasses of sparkling wine, in hour of our 28th anniversary (I don’t remember mentioning this when I made the reservation online but must have.) We had house made charcuterie, some amazing crispy fried mushrooms, herb and ricotta dumplings in a broth with greens, mushrooms and aspagus, rhubarb sorbet with “parsnip crumble” and a very moist and solid lemon marmalade layer cake with lemon frosting and pink peppercorns. (we took most of this home).