Madison is a great city in that it has something for everyone. Since we've been here, My Dearest O and I have found a number of events, such as Souper Bowl, Great Taste of the Midwest and Taste of Madison, in which attendance has become or is becoming an annual tradition. (Most--if not all--of these events revolve around food and/or wine or beer. Hmmm.) Today, we attended the Madison Food & Wine Show for the second year in a row. It was a great day out, so I suspect we'll be adding this to our growing list of traditions.
We arrived just before the doors opened at 12:00 and left about 1/2 hour before the doors closed at 7:00. That's 6-1/2 hours of eating and drinking. Boy, can you do a lot of eating and drinking in 6-1/2 hours.
This might not surprise you, seeing as how this is Wisconsin: There's a lot of cheese at the MF&WS. Really, a lot. And it's all very good, from what I can tell. I love cheese--soft cheese, hard cheese, mild cheese, sharp cheese, cow cheese, sheep cheese, goat cheese... I thought I was in Heaven, and I tried my best to sample as much of it as I could. I'm sure that I tried at least 30 and as many as 50 different kinds of cheese. (Lest I sound like a total glutton, I'd like to point out that the samples weren't more than a nibble, just a sliver or a small cube.) I probably sampled at least a dozen blue or gorgonzola cheeses, for which I have a particular fondness. The most interesting cheeses of the day were a fenugreek cheese, with a pleasant sweet, nutty, taste, and a stinging nettle cheese called Burning Melange, both Marieke Gouda cheese made by a family in Thorp, Wisconsin. I'll be going out of my way to look for their cheese from now on.
As for wine, I have no idea how many I tried. Most of the wine was from the U.S., Argentina, Chile, and Australia. There were a few Italian wines, but I don't recall seeing anything from France or the rest of Europe. There were a few outstanding wines; most were good but rather ordinary. I think I only tried one that I really didn't like. Oh, I also tried a cherry beer that was way too fruity for me. And the hard stuff, like rum and brandy? Let's just say I'm getting too old for that nonsense.
The grand finale was My Dearest O's idea of Heaven--a demonstration by Gail Ambrosius (her real name--I'm not making that up) and Ale Asylum pairing beer and chocolate. My favorite pairing was shitake chocolate--shitake, I kid you not--and Diablo Belgian dubbel. I'm impressed by anyone that can make me enjoy ANYTHING with mushrooms in it; Gail must really know her stuff. Unlike my sweetie, I've not got much of a sweet tooth, but I'd sell my soul for one Gail's caramel and sea salt chocolates. Wow. (I didn't think much of the hoppy Satisfaction Jackson served with it; My Dearest O was delighted to get my portion as well as his own.)
Cheers for now,