Sake hammered

Okay, so I didn’t get hammered on sake last night. But while eating at what is probably my new favorite restaurant in Madison, Umami, Dan and I decided that sake hammered would be a good name for a band. Or, at the very least, a post (considerably better, said Dan, than my original name for it, U-yum-i).

If you haven’t been to Umami yet, I think you should go. The dumplings with smoked tofu and boky choy are delightful and cooked to perfection and last night we splurged and also had the special- vegetarian buns, a spin on their popular pork buns. The spongy ‘mantou’ (steamed) buns were filled with hoisin sauce, pickled cucumbers and crisp tofu (“the best ever” said Dan-the-meat-eater). I hope these find their way on to the permanent menu. This was all before the main entree, a bowl of veggie ramen that is the epitome of comfort food. I don’t know how they make the earthy mushroom/ seawood broth, but I could eat it morning, noon and night (with a spicy bomb on the side). Interestingly enough, the locally-made (3 blocks away) ramen comes from RP’s pasta where I once worked as a waitress when there was still a restaurant associated with the pasta factory. It’s also home to one of my favorite moments in waitressing history when one of the cooks, fed up with habitually being yelled at by another cook, washed his hands at the sink, declared “No more work,” and walked out the door as I stood by, cheering him on for fulfilling one of my waitressing fantasies. It was brillant. While the restaurant end at RP’s had its issues, they produce wonderful pastas and the fresh ramen noodles employed by Umami are delectable (to think that I once thought ramen came in a brown and orange package with a packet of msg powder… I’m glad my definition has changed).

In addition to the consistenly-delicious food at Umami, I love the ambiance.

Sit in the bar area and pretend you are on vacation. Somewhere where the word ‘recall’ still means, “Hey Dan, do you recall the time B.J. Raji intercepted that ball during the playoff game against the Bears, ran it back for a touchdown and then shook his buns in the endzone?”

In other awesome news, tonight I disovered that one of my furry roomates, we’ll call him ‘Tuff Puff,’ loves kale. This came to my attention during dinner when he dug his claws into my leg as he swiped a piece of the nutrition-packed leafy green that had fallen on my lap and then devoured it (pepper flakes and all). Also, yesterday Dan came home with a bunch of new (to us) records, including Van Morrison, The Band and this one:

And finally, I made the peanut sauce from this, one of my new favorite blogs, tonight again for dinner and oh yum, is it tasty. I hope your week is off to as banner of a start… Cheers.

Umami Ramen & Dumpling Bar on Urbanspoon

Tis the season

Happy one-year anniversary to Wisconsin Fun Next Exit.

It was a year ago this weekend that I was seeking spinach and scones and deciding to follow the advice of Orangette’s Molly Wizenberg and create my own little corner of the internet universe. I have been feeling nostalgic for the giddiness that I felt when I sat down with a bottle of wine to write that first post late on a Saturday night one year ago. I have truly enjoyed writing this and I’ve been thinking about how nice it is of you to join me here. So, thank you.

This past year has been a memorable one marked by an uprising,

a (temporary) job teaching third grade, a Packers super bowl victory, the Brewers in the playoffs, a train trip to Seattle,

road trips, old friends, new friends, an honest effort at really loving yoga (although my triangle pose is still a disaster), a new-found love of cats, specifically the two 10-year-olds who became my roomates in June,

moving to the east side, an attempt at growing a vegetable garden and cooking. Lots and lots of cooking.

Oh have I got some recipes for you. There’s an incredibly easy and delicious one for whole wheat pasta with a sauce made of butter, cream and blue cheese (go for a run first!) and tonight (while talking to my dear friend Jenn who lives in D.C. but aspires to move back to Madison) I made a vegetarian version of french onion soup with toasts and melted swiss cheese that tasted rich and hearty on this blustery day in Wisconsin. I plan on telling you all about these and more but for now it’s off to bed. Tomorrow I’ve got a date with Lambeau Field and Tuesday marks the first day of the campaign against Walker. I’ll provide the soup recipes and you provide the signatures. Tis the season for a recall. Let’s do this, Wisconsin.

Sweet dreams.

Thirsty Thursday: Campari cocktail

It’s August hot outside, I’ve been in professional development classes all week and I have a job interview tomorrow morning… All of this is making me very thirsty. I’m getting nostalgic for a drink that my mom made for me earlier this summer, and although I won’t be having one this evening, you should. Have another for me.

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Campari Collins

This recipe originally appeared in The New York Times 

2 ounces Campari

3/4 ounce fresh lemon juice

4 ounces chilled seltzer

3/4 ounce simple syrup

Pour the seltzer into a highball glass filled with ice and set aside. Pour the Campari, lemon juice and simple syrup into a cocktail shaker, fill with ice and shake vigorously. Strain into the glass with seltzer.

Yield: 1 drink.

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Cheers.

Ashley’s sayonara breakfast

Happy heat wave.

This afternoon as I sat idling in sweltering contruction traffic on Willy Street my eyes were drawn to the sign posted outside the gas station that stated: “Time flies like an arrow. Fruit flies like a banana.” Pondering this, I decided no truer words have ever been spoken. At least not today.

It’s been a week since Dan and I rolled up in my dusty car after 23 1/2 hours on the road from our trip to Wyoming. I’ve got loads of stories and even more photos, I’m not even sure where to start. So I’ve decided to begin at the end, with Ashley’s breakfast.

Ashley was one of our two lovely hosts when we were in Jackson and she made us a delicious breakfast of egg sandwiches with truffle aioli and arugula the morning that we had to skip town. The truffle aioli made the sandwich and I intend to pick up a bottle of black truffle olive oil as soon as I win the lottery this week (maybe from the aforementioned gas station).

Forgive me for not having the exact recipe, but all great recipes are meant to be experimented with and modified (for example, I asked Ashley to hold the bacon on my sandwich.) Any way you slice it, it’s going to be delicious…

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Ashley’s sayonara egg sandwiches with truffle aioli

Ingredients:

English muffin

egg

arugula

black traffle infused olive oil

mayo

cheese (optional)

Directions:

Fry an egg over medium. Mix together a small amount of truffle olive oil (maybe a tablespoon) and a couple of tablespoons of mayo (to taste). Toast an english muffin. Spread the truffle aioli on both sides of the english muffin. If you feel so inclined, slice a piece of white cheese and place on one side of the muffin. Place the egg and a layer of arugula (the spicer the better, says Ashley) on the muffins. Make into a sandwich and eat. Enjoy.

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I’ve got to run (into a lake), but stay tuned for more stories, recipes and photos from Wyoming… Until then, stay cool.

Wyoming or bust

Greetings from the equality state, where Dan and I have been visiting our dear friends in Cheyenne and letting them spoil us with meals like salmon burgers and spinach naan pizzas (recipes and photos to follow). We celebrated the fourth of July with a traditional meal of paella, lobster tails and sangria (isn’t that what everyone has on America’s birthday?) When we haven’t been watching this fascinating program that Derek introduced us to about looking for sasquatch (‘squatch’ as it’s called in the industry), we have been enjoying our meals and evenings in their lovely backyard.

Backyard Cheyenne

If you are looking for a special way to celebrate something this weekend whip up a batch of Sangria and play the Wisconsin game, which Dan and I invented on I-80 (minus the drinking part) and played last night with our Wisconsin ex-pat hosts: Sit in a circle and name off as many cities/ towns in Wisconsin until you can’t think of anymore, take a drink if you repeat one that has been said. Cheers the person who comes up with Trego, Chicag or Rio. Wisconsin fun this exit.

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Fourth of July Sangria

This recipe comes from the PBS site for Everyday Food

Ingredients:

2 juiced oranges

2 oranges sliced

2 lemons thinly sliced

2 limes thinly sliced

1/3 cup super fine sugar

1/4 cup brandy

1 bottle red wine (we used a Yellow Tail shiraz/ grenache blend)

2 cups club soda

Directions:

In a large pitcher stir together orange juice, sugar and brandy. Stir well. Add wine, fruit slices and club soda. Stir. Fill glasses with ice. Pour, serve, yum.

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Our Wyoming adventures continue to Casper and then my old stomping grounds, Jackson, where I can’t wait to sit outside at Teton Thai and order the chocolate bread pudding at Rendezvous Bistro… Stay tuned.