I left westside Madison this Fall. And I was happy to do it. I have lived in the deep countryside of Poland, I have lived in cities on both sides of the ocean, but I never came to understand the suburbs and so it was inevitable that I should leave.
I rarely go back. My distaste for malls is significant and there is little else that will draw me to these parts. Suburban friends, I am certain, will travel downtown to see me. It hasn’t happened much yet, but I am sure they will one day leave their orbit of four blocks and connect down here, where the view of the Capitol, from my writing desk, is stupendous.
But I do go back to the far far west side once a month, just to see my man Jason.
Jason cuts and colors at the Aniu Salon. Jason is so good at what he does that I feel I should not ever share the secret of his existence. As it is, I have to make appointments six months in advance to get a time and day I want and I tip the man to high heaven. I do not want you, reader, discovering the Jason touch.
Today I was once again under his sheers and, as usual, we talked food. I wanted to eat well after the cut and I wanted to eat close by.
Eno Vino? – he asked.
Eno Vino. The location of this place is worse than hell, especially if you hate strip malls and live downtown. Oh, but the food!
I sat at the bar, that part that faces the kitchen. I love watching the weathered arms of chefs moving food between stove and plate.
When asked what I’d like, I say – two dishes (Eno V does food in the style of Crave and Cocoliquot and Nina Camic dinner parties: many small courses, so that you can sample stuff. In the case of Nina Camic dinner parties it is a strategy that permits failure. You make eight courses, one fails, it is outnumbered; people do not remember the burned or underdone something or other, because by then they are so full of good stuff and, well, wine, that it hardly matters). I clarify my request: two dishes that are visually pleasing.
And a Black Cherry Effen Vodka with a splash of white cranberry and lemonade. Because Jason said so.
(Just fyi, I so love the Cosmos at Eno V that I threw one in as well. But don’t tell Jason. I mean, they dribble pureed cranberries down your martini glass. How fresh and honest is that.)
I had what I always have here – the crab and cabbage spring rolls with sweet chili sauce (with a chive-garlic-lime dipping soy sauce).
After that I succumbed to the chef’s recommendation: a seared sea bass with jumbo dive scallops. But there’s more there on my plate – basil verjus butter sauce and a tomato jam. Bet you don’t know what a verjus is. In spite of my previous restaurant employment, I didn’t either until I looked it up tonight: juice of unripe fruit. Verjus, the real thing, verily presented to you without mask or cover, in its bare essence.
Anyway, the staff got into my picture taking obsession. They brought dishes for me to photograph and I did just that, but truthfully I am an egotistical blogger/photographer. I enjoy writing about and shooting down dishes that I myself ingest. Ah, the benefits of having your very own blog.