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.