NPR ran a story recently, on a piece of music they referred to as "The Riff." You know it. Dee dee dee dee doot doo doot doot doo. The "Asian" music. That story was on my mind when I started reading this week's reviews, featuring a lot of food from various Asian cuisines, decoding those cultural references, and borrowing from them (and others). This is, how you say, Flyover Friday.Read More
Calendar a mess? Got some time to burn but no idea where to burn it? We're in the opening weeks of the early fall festival season here in Madison, and I've rounded up a few that are happening in the next four weeks or so, all for you.
Saturday, 9/6: Karben4's second annual Dilly Dally, at the brewery located on Kinsman Boulevard in Madison
Last year's inaugural Dilly Dally was a good event, with great brewer representation and some really exceptional fry-to-order work being done by Tipsy Cow. To be able to get a fresh, hot, crisp PBR-battered fish taco A) on a day other than Thursday, B) outdoors, and C) surrounded by beers that even Tipsy Cow doesn't serve on tap is a beautiful thing. A slightly steep price tag at $35, but the pours flow freely. Food is extra.
Sunday, 9/7: Yum Yum Fest, put on by the Madison Area Chefs Network, at Madison's Central Park
At first glance, it seems like an odd ticket. $15 for a food festival ticket that gets you no food directly? Ah, but then you look at the lineup of chefs, from Madison's best restaurants, and the one-off stuff they're cooking, and it starts to make sense. And then you see that some great beer is pouring, including Goose Island's Bourbon County Stout (maybe not the ideal late summer/early fall sunny afternoon beer, but who's complaining?), and things really come into focus. And THEN you see the musical lineup, which should be a pretty fun set, and really, why haven't you bought a ticket yet? $15 for general admission is all that's left (VIP and earlybird tickets sold out).
Friday, 9/12: Wurst Oktoberfest, Isthmus' new fall festival, at Madison's Central Park
Starting to see a theme here? Central Park is already the go-to destination for food and entertainment events, just weeks after its grand opening. Isthmus is rolling out the barrels as well as a lot of hearty Germanic food (okay, and some sweet corn) for its first Oktoberfest, plus a little oompah to cure what ails ya. $25 gets you unlimited food sampling. Beer is extra.
This used to happen right in front of my house when I lived on Willy, and it's a pretty great vibe. Lots of food, lots of music, lots of weird. Just show up, man.
Friday, 9/19 though Sunday, 9/21: Green County Cheese Days, in downtown Monroe
A little bit of a drive, but for this every-other-year event, it's probably worth it. Show the state, the nation, and the world that you still appreciate great Old World-style cheeses even if the regulatory climate is wonky as hell these days.
Friday, 9/26: Crackle Fire and Froth, at the Olbrich Botanical Gardens in Madison
This event always seems to sell out quickly, so grab your $25 non-member ticket ($20 for members) before it's too late and you have to wait another year. If you love fall, this should be your kind of gig. Music, bonfire, food and drink, all in the incredibly lovely surroundings of the botanical gardens. Plus the Conservatory has those nifty color-shifting lights now, which should provide a cool backdrop.
Saturday, 10/4: Stalzy's Oktoberfest, in the parking lot at Stalzy's Deli on Atwood Avenue in Madison
This has turned into a neighborhood winner, a must-visit for those who live on the east side. Just a plain old parking lot party, with a stage, and a beer tent, and sausage. It goes all day, and into the night, and if the weather's good or bad, it seems to always be just the right level of crowded. Start your day with a coffee at Victory across the street, maybe a pastry or something, and you've got a perfect fall Saturday.
I find it amusing that the weekends I most often miss a Flyover Friday post are the weekends when I myself am traveling somewhere in the Midwest. Last weekend, I was in Minneapolis for the second Beersball outing of the summer -- more on that later this week -- and as a result, you didn't get a post. This weekend, I was all over the Madison metro area, so it's not a skipped week, only a late, Labor Day Monday edition of Flyover Friday.Read More
As our nation celebrates the annual television spectacle that is Summerslam, I thought I'd catch up with last week's Great Taste-caused miss and run this week's Flyover Friday as a head-to-head matchup when possible. Some papers didn't run a review last week, some didn't run a review this week, but for those that did, a little friendly competition is in order.Read More
The day the NCAA tournament bracket is announced has nothing on Great Taste program day. Workplaces across the country discovered about 60 pages missing from their printers on Wednesday afternoon, highlighters suspiciously low on fluid, and employees leaving with a mysterious bundle of paper under their arms.
The official program for the Great Taste of the Midwest is a beast, only 60 pages long if office beer fans graciously printed it two-sided. It takes a good bit of time to skim through the whole thing, and then the app comes out and you've got to do it all over again to mark favorites breweries and to-drink beers, and check for additions.Read More
They're coming. The beer drinkers are coming. Great Taste of the Midwest is almost upon us, and so are the thirsty festival attendees coming from out of state, looking to stock up on the best of Wisconsin's brewed goodness. Let me give you, Madison locals, advice on which beers you shouldn't count on being around post-GTMW.Read More
Something a little new this week. Previously, I've captured reviews from Midwestern newspapers published from Friday through Thursday. I'm shifting that a little, since it feels more useful to publish a Friday review on a Friday considering weekend travel, rather than sitting on it for a week. This means you'll see two reviews from a couple papers this week. This will also eliminate pre-noon Friday posts (unless the Reader stops putting up new reviews at 5:30 PM...guys), but that's a change we'll all learn to grow into here at Flyover Friday.Read More
I've been listening to The X-Files Files podcast pretty well non-stop lately. The show triggered the same gene in me that comic books do; I love a long story, a mythology. I like references that pay off in three seasons. And thus, for its weaknesses, I like the podcast, too. Haven't been happy with the Wisconsin/Midwest references so far (dismissive and a little snide) but hey, we live with that every day. Not just on Flyover Fridays.Read More
The second half of every year starts with a big summery Independence Day holiday kickoff -- Memorial Day may be the "official" start of the season, but it's always rainy that day and that's a total bummer for summer mood-setting. On top of the usual Fourth festivities this year, we had the World Cup to fill our afternoons. So in recognition of one half being in the books, I've got a few highlights of 2014 in dining so far.Read More
There's no sneaky theme to this week's post, no subtle through-line. There's just a relative shitload of Middle Eastern joints getting reviewed this week, including the same one twice by different papers. The area's one of my genealogical home teams, so it feels right to come back to Flyover Friday on this note. Flyover Friday on three...break!Read More
Not every city can support full-time, full-effort food criticism. Not every paper can afford to put the proper inches underneath a critic's name. Madison's a lucky town. St. Louis is a lucky town. The Twin Cities would be flush, too, if their critics didn't take so many weeks off. Other cities don't have the talent in the lineup, or the budget, to really dig into a restaurant review. Flyover Friday is a reference that implies altitude; let's measure from surface to core this week.Read More
As you may have noticed, Flyover Friday disappeared for a couple weeks. I've been taking a little writing break, but break's over. A few glorious late-spring days -- I've taken to referring to that kind of day as "Wisconolulu" -- have me daydreaming about writing more, untethered by any office or desk, clacking away on my deck. Until then, Irony or Mayo continues apace. Flyover Friday is back.Read More
This is actually a post I'd been procrastinating on since March, when New York Times contributor and self-confessed joyless grump David Tanis wrote an article espousing anti-brunch, pro-lunch sentiments.Read More
This week's column touches on themes we've discussed before, like authenticity and cultural appropriation. I was thinking of these subjects again recently with the release of the trailer for Eddie Huang's new TV series; Eddie Huang, you may remember, is a fairly fierce defender of cultural culinary authenticity. His show, on the other hand, is airing on the very white, Disney-owned ABC network, is written by a second-generation Iranian, and has turned his Taiwanese family into a Chinese one. But: cultural culinary integrity, y'all. You ask me, culture is meant to be shared; there wouldn't be a point to noting our differences otherwise. Pass some more mile markers for cultural distinctions in this week's Flyover Friday.Read More
I was talking to a dude at a bar recently, and the subject swung around to Chinese food. He was blown away by the concept of the secret Chinese-only menu, and that Madison had at least one joint doing it. Or used to -- I seemed to recall hearing that the split menu was no more (to mixed reviews, if Yelp is to be believed). In the same conversation, Fugu was mentioned, a restaurant that'll be spinning off into a second, more sushi-centric restaurant in Waunakee. There's always something new to figure out, new to experience, or old to re-enliven, especially in this week's Flyover Friday.Read More
I decided when I started this column that I'd basically keep the coverage limited to print media. And while it hasn't always worked out that way, I select reviews that are reviews in the truest sense: multiple visits, four-week delay, etc. Sometimes these papers don't hold to the "rules" of the trade, but exposing people to the genre of writing is even more important to me than whether or not a reviewer sticks to the guidelines. And sometimes, it's as illustrative to see what gets into the review as what filter the review goes through before publication. Come, see how the sausage is made in this edition of Flyover Friday.Read More
There are a few weeks on Madison’s social calendar that demand attention. Restaurant Week shows up a couple times a year; it’s okay. The Wisconsin Film Festival is worthy of its fanfare. Even the generally excellent neighborhood festival La Fete de Marquette eats up the majority of a week. But for my money, there’s just no better time than Madison Craft Beer Week.Read More
This one's a pretty self-centered edition. In addition to taking my sweet time posting it, I'm apparently all "it seems to me" this and "I guess" that, and while some of the reviews are decidedly negative, I felt as I was writing my commentary that I was deploying more sass than usual myself. But in the words of the judge on Futurama, I'm going to allow this. It's my Flyover Friday.Read More
Well, it's Dark Lord Day here in the upper Midwest, a day when the lucky chosen who made it through the opaque online ticketing process line up in Munster, Indiana, to stock up on a very big, very sweet Russian imperial stout from 3 Floyds called Dark Lord. My wife and I gave it a shot this year, but the ticket site stymied our efforts.Read More
Well, as you probably noticed, I had to take a week off last week. It's been some kind of spring, with kinds of stress I didn't think I'd ever have coming. Gotta look out for number one sometimes, though, and I'm glad to say I'm back and feeling ready to review some reviews. This week, consider how we -- writers, restaurants, just, y'know, we -- go about being ourselves. Welcome back to Flyover Friday.Read More