The Underground Food Collective, a lunch meeting over shrimp & grits + Wisconsin Cheese.
Last day in Madison today – so I head over to Williamson st, or ‘Willy’ st as the locals call it, to check out some of the food businesses that supply all the top restaurants. I had tried a number of Underground Meats at Merchant last night, and a number of restaurants use Madison Sourdough as their house bread.
But first up was a stop into Fromagination on Capitol Square, a one-stop cheeseshop that stocks local cheeses, meats and food products, runs cheese classes and events, and stocks local beers, wines and spirits.
Next I went into the Underground Butcher, part of the Underground Food Collective, a collection of businesses that work together and supply each other. There was a huge range of house cured charcuterie items, one of my favourite being the goat salami.
The butchers bench is right there in the store, so you can watch the artisans at work, and also buy a range of local food products.
Over the road to Madison Sourdough, they have a cute little storefront with floor to ceiling glass windows that let the sun shine through in the morning. I got a little almond crust pie filled with lemon curd.
I head back to the hotel, to meet with Judy Frankel from Visit Madison and Joey Connaughty from the Food Fight restaurant group for lunch at the new Bassett Street Brunch Club. We had a great, interesting discussion about the future of food in Madison (and internationally), and local food movements and philosophies.
Our discussion was accompanied by a great meal, I went for the Shrimp & Grits as featured on the Madison morning news, Judy had the delicious looking eggs benedict.
We finished up with some of their great in house donuts: maple-bacon, chocolate-vanilla, and thin mint.
Next up was a stop into Bradburys Coffee to meet with Otehlia Cassidy of Madison Eats. We talked about her marvelous local food tours, farms, dairies, restaurants and local food producers. She told me that there is a local farm that grows spinach in the winter and it is prized for its sweetness in the dead of winter. There are two places they supply – L’etoile, one of the cities top James Beard restaurants, and Bradburys. A third wave coffee joint, you can sit in the window in the sunny corner and look out at the snow. The roast itself was quite sweet, and they have heaps of options available.
Dinner was at Forequarter, the woodland styled restaurant that is a part of the Underground Food Collective.
Supplied by the Underground butcher and local farms, I tried a cold-smoked swordfish with kumquat, and a rainbow trout chowder with bacon.
Finally it was back to the hotel to pack up – we are leaving early in the morning to head to Westby, to tour a maple farm!