Custard and Canard

What is it about people who live in cold climates feeling the need to walk long distances to eat cold foods in winter?

Today was the first above 40 degree day that we’ve seen here in Wisconsin since, well, er… let me think.  I guess my memory doesn’t go back that far.  Frankly, it hasn’t even been above 30 degrees for two months here, so it was kind of a big deal–the first thaw.

Of course, “thaw” is a relative term, considering we have so much snow, it’s piled ten feet high in certain areas.  It’s going to take many a sunshiny afternoon before we can see earth again, but even so, it seemed like everyone was out enjoying one day of freedom from the blistering cold.  In the Atwood neighborhood, where roomie Chris and I reside, the world was out dog walking and baby walking, manoeuvering strollers precariously over deep, black puddles.

I went out solo, meandered up the street with all the shops, up to the beautiful Catholic church about a mile away and back, stopping momentarily at a cafe to crochet and read the Isthmus, our weekly free paper.

When I got back to das apartment, I talked with roomie Chris, who had likewise gone out adventuring in the Atwood neighborhood.  Apparently, he was in the same basic area I was, and while he was out, he remembered that there was a Michael’s Frozen Custard somewhere nearby.

Michael’s Frozen Custard is… well, if you’re reading this blog, you’ve probably had custard.  If you haven’t, I really can’t help you.  Custard is ice cream on crack, on meth, on pcp.  It is so good, so freaking good.  And in Madison, Michael’s is probably the best.  Long have we known and ventured forth toward the Michael’s on the West side.  ‘Twas many the cause for a mid-summer random afternoon adventure, or a late night custard run.  But never, never ever, did either of us suspect that there was a Michael’s also on our side of town.  How it ran below the radar for so long is quite mysterious to me.

So, quite spontaneously and just after dark, roomie Chris and I decided to venture back out and get some late night custard.

Though the afternoon had been a sweltering 48 degrees, by 7:30 the world was once again cold, damp, and dark.  And windy, to boot.  We booked it down Atwood Ave, thinking it was just a few blocks past Glass Nickel Pizza, the last landmark of our collective neighborhood geographical understanding.  But it turns out there was a long, long walk beyond that–a hike, really, considering all the snowbanks we had to climb to avoid seemingly bottomless puddles.   It took us past Olbrich gardens, without a house in sight.  Just dark park and frozen lake forever.

It was only a two-mile walk, but still–it was pretty intense.  But finally we arrived.  Chris got a brownie sunday, and I a turtle.  Any other day we might have scaled down and gotten a scoop in a cone, but such a walk merited ceremonious amounts of chocolate topping covered in delicious ooze.

And so, I accomplished Wisconsin Bucket List item #7: eat Michael’s Frozen Custard.

Truthfully, I had planned to hit up Michael’s sometime in May, maybe on an afternoon after hanging out on Vilas Beach, per some sort of vague tradition.  But Chris and I both decided the adventure was, well, adventuresome enough to skip all those extra parts and count this Michael’s trip as worthy of crossing off the List.

Then there was the walk back, of course.  Much less exciting.  But there was a sense of accomplishment in the air.  Like I said before, there is just something people in cold climates have, some sense of integrity they feel when they hike long distances in cold weather just to eat something frozen.  Ha ha! We say, We are more baller than you.

Of course, as chance would have it, I was extremely late for another bucket list excursion with another friend by the time we  got back sweaty, with damp feet, and riding a major sugar high.   So I changed quickly, hopped in the car this time, and went to go pick her up for Wisconsin Bucket List item #8: Go With Jen to Brasserie V.

Brasserie V is a relatively new bistro of sorts in Madison.  They, unsurprisingly, serve a Frenchified menu with a number of Belgian beer specials.  They are also one of how many Madison restaurants who focus on local, organic cuisine.  Seriously, around here you almost can’t help but eat locally.  Jen and I go there every once in a while to pretend we are adults and to eat at the bar, which reminds us of course, of France.

In France, eating at the bar is like, so cool.  It means you’re a local or something.  Needless to say, I was almost always too terrified to do so when I was actually in Paris, for fear of small talk or something, so I do it as often as I can here in the US.  America, France–in either locale, few things scream I BLEND IN more than eating dinner at the bar in a local restaurant.  We split, you guessed it, a tasty leg of Canard, which is French for duck, la dee dah.

Jen and I talked about life, which is something so silly and important and universal and particular to each person all at once that I won’t really bore you with the details.  Just know that Jen is a good person to talk to because she actually knows some things about government and the world at large, unlike people like me who have grown so flabbergasted by the system they grow vegetables and knit as a defense mechanism, in case the country crumbles around them.

Custard and Canard.  Another silly evening spent conquering my Madison list in the company of friends.



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~ by Rachael on February 13, 2011.

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