Tuesday, July 29, 2008

Wisconsin Trip

As you can tell, I've returned from my family trip to Wisconsin! It was a wonderful, quick road trip and we were able to visit my mom's side of the family who we rarely see because they do live so far away. Our first stop was Madison where, after a quick bite at Noodles & Co., we met up with my older cousin who is student at University of Madison and he was so glad to show us around.

We only saw a very small portion of the university campus since we were doing so much walking that day, but the part that we saw was gorgeous! I believe that this is a picture of the outside of the dean's office.

There actually was a statue of Humpty Dumpty in downtown Madison! My cousin (right), sister (middle), and I (left) were so excited to pose with it!

I'm not sure which lake this is since the city is an isthmus and has two similarly named lakes on each side, but the water in both lakes was beautiful and perfectly calm.

This picture doesn't even show how huge the Madison Capitol really is. The inside of the building is equally as stunning as the outside and it was great to be able to see it from the view of our hotel room.

Thankfully, we arrived in Madison on Saturday in time to see the farmer's market, which was less than a block from our hotel. My older cousin (a chef) felt right at home here and I loved seeing all of the fresh produce the city had to offer. I even saw a man carrying a VegNews bag at one of the stands! Too bad I couldn't get a picture of him quick enough...

Our dinner that night was really exciting. My cousin used to work at a seafood restaurant called Ocean Grill when he first moved to this town, so he planned on taking us there. My mom reminded him last week that I may have a trouble finding something to eat at a seafood restaurant, but he told me not to worry because he knows the head chef and would ask him to make me a special vegan dish- yay! The chef didn't tell me or my cousin what my dish would be until we arrived at dinner, so I was looking forward to this dinner all day and I'm glad to say that I was very impressed! My dish consisted of grilled tofu with a sesame ginger sauce served over a salad of pickled vegetables (I'm not exactly sure which vegetables- maybe some cucumber and fennel?) with sliced apples and dried cranberries and topped with micro greens. Not only was the presentation gorgeous (the chef even decorated the plate with edible flowers!), but it tasted great and this chef obviously knows how to cook tofu- he pressed it and everything! I never thought I'd be saying that, as a vegan, I really enjoyed eating at a seafood restaurant!

Mint chocolate chip and strawberry soy ice cream from The Chocolate Shoppe on State St. (right by our hotel!) was the perfect dessert to enjoy the night, especially since it was still about 70 degrees after sunset. It was so hot out that my ice cream started melting within minutes! The ice cream was smooth and creamy and, while both delicious, the strawberry was my favorite because it had big chunks of strawberries throughout the ice cream.

The next morning while my cousin, brother, and sister were still sleeping, my mom and I woke up nice and early to walk a few miles to breakfast at Mother Fool's Coffeehouse, where all of the baked goods are vegan. My mom chose a small cappuccino for her morning dose of caffeine along with a mixed berry bar, while I got a blueberry muffin. My muffin was nice and crumbly, but still moist, and not too sweet for first thing in the morning. I also tried my mom's bar and it was great as well and I think my mom agreed since she ate every last bite!

That afternoon, we all said goodbye to my older cousin and packed into the car for another long drive to Winneconne to visit my aunt and uncle. My grandparents own the house across the street from my aunt and uncle's house, so we stayed there for our stay. The house is right on the lake and it was wonderful to be able to relax looking out into the lake (not that I could stay outside for too long- it was so hot during our stay!).

My aunt has an amazing garden in her yard, so I was in heaven eating and cooking with all of the fresh produce! My aunt roasted some of her peppers and tomatoes with a little olive oil and salt and brought them to dinner one night and they were so good! I also used her vegetables to make a few salads, like the corn salad above which had corn, cherry tomatoes, green bell pepper, salsa, olive oil, lime juice, salt and garlic chives. I had never heard of garlic chives before seeing them in the garden, but they are so cool! Garlic chives are long plants than look like a really large blade of grass, but they smell and taste just like garlic!

So, that's what I was up to these past few days! It was great seeing Madison for the first time and visiting my family but I'm happy to be home, especially after all of that driving and traffic. I'm actually leaving again Thursday to stay with my sister and mom in the city (it's funny how "the city" automatically refers to Chicago in the suburbs) for two days while my mom has some business thing during the day. We'll be staying right on Michigan Ave., so I'm hoping to grab lunch one day at Karyn's Cooked. We'll just have to see how my plans go and I'll be back soon!


VeggieGirl said...

Welcome back!! What a lovely trip you had!!

Ahh, so lucky about your aunt's garden!! Nothing beats homegrown produce :0)


Hannah said...

Welcome home! Looks like you had some really delicious treats along the way, and when you got back too.

Anonymous said...

What a great garden - your AUnt must have a green thumb. The pictures are lovely. The mid-west does get hot in the summer - boy howdy! I lived in Ohio for 8 years and the summers were killers.

Ruby Red Vegan said...

Your grilled tofu dish at the seafood restaurant... Oh my gosh! Everything about it sounds amazing: the fruity part, the sauce, the grill lines, the veggies... And it is so amazing that the chef knew how to work with tofu. Even as a vegan who cooks all the time, it's hard to get tofu just right!

I have my eye on your mint chocolate chip soy ice cream, too. That's my favorite flavor! You certainly had a lot of yumminess in this post. I know just how you felt at your aunt's house -- my grandma is the same way in Arizona, and when I was just there I had so many fruits and veggies, I was in heaven!

You're going to Karyn's Cooked?! I'm so excited for you -- I can't wait for the post!

Vegan_Noodle said...

Your trip sounds like so much fun!! I wouldn't mind eating in that seafood restaurant either. It's so nice when a chef actually puts some effort and thought into a vegan dish.

Mmmm, that ice cream looks delicious.

Enjoy your time in "the city"!

VeggieGirl said...

Saw your comment on my blog - I'm really bad with locations/directions, so I'll just say that we're staying in the same part as we did last year when I blogged about my trip to Chicago (check back to those posts, that I linked to in my current blog post).

Erin said...

Who knew there was so much vegan goodness in Wisconsin? Glad you had a good trip.