Thursday, June 26, 2008

looking for fresh and honest

Longtime readers may associate the phrase with my favorite eating places. Today, it has double meaning here, on Ocean.

I left my office to take a look at the Union Terrace by the lake. Rumor had it that the lake stank (from a build up of algae for all the known high water reasons). So much so, that biking along its shore (my route home) would be down there with driving through New Jersey.

Imagine my surprise then when I found the Terrace by the lake chock full of people. And they weren’t choking. They were eating and drinking – a lovely scene that puts the Terrace up there with your favorite café-brasserie. Outdoor tables, mildly alcoholic beverages, lunch foods, by the fairly fresh waters of Lake Mendota…

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But the food! Chips? Buns with an unpleasant surprise? I’ll forgive the honey toned beverage – I know it to be yummy Wisconsin beer, with a hint of hop and touch of malt, etc. And I guess I understand the love of brats. It is an acquired taste and people do acquire it.

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You could argue that brats in white buns (and they are very white, once you get past the paper thin outside "crust") are no more grossly fatty than a baguette with Brie de Mieux, butter, tomato and arugula.

Still, I crave the latter.

But hey, let’s get some can do spirit here! You want that sandwich, woman, go make it!

I try. No Brie Mieux at Whole Foods, but a nice goat milk cousin of it is equally pleasing. No shortage of tomatoes or arugula. Let’s skip the butter. And finally… oh! Where is the good bread??

I remind myself that Ed takes pleasure in such uninspired things as tortillas and powdered refried beans. With raw onion. And so we take my dream-wiches, such as they are, to our ever friendly and accommodating café and settle in.

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A few steps away, we come across yet another Dane County market – this one in wild little Fitchburg. (Truthfully, Fitchburg is not wild. Fitchburg is a no-town. A satellite of Madison, it has no core, no center, no downtown, no personality. But is does have a market. And it is the postal address of Ed’s farmette.) Nice! Tomatoes, peas, berries...

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Max, the owner of Stella’s Bakery is also there.

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Stella’s is the winner of the best vendor award at Madison’s Captiol Square farmers market. Max grins when I congratulate him. If I am the number one vendor of the number one market in the US, that makes me the number one vendor in the US, right?
Oh! I see baguettes! They’re warm, too. And they look promising: crusty on the outside, not too rotund...

Too late. Still… Tomorrow, can I get these at your store?
I no longer operate a store. Just farmers market sales and some wholesale stuff.
Okay. You sell at my Westside Community Market. I’ve seen you. Can I get your baguette there next Saturday?
No, I don’t bring baguettes there. Too much demand for other stuff.
Fine, then at the downtown market?

No, not there either.
Okay. I’ll get them here in Fitchburg.
Can’t guarantee it. Sometimes.
Next week, please?
Alright. Next week.

Bottom line: lake’s okay, Terrace is business as usual, and good baguettes continue to be elusive on this side of the ocean.