I went to the Taste of Madison Sunday and my suspicions were confirmed: People aren't fighting traffic for the food, but for the music. They certainly aren't braving the abominable parking for Caramel Apple Nachos.
Is the Taste of Madison becoming Irish Fest?
No, and the parking is a lot worse. But there's been a marked shift in the quality of music vs the quality of food since I flung black bottom pie for the Memorial Union in the eighties.
Sure, there will be calories, but sound beat smell. And with four free music stages, the line up, crowd size, and diversity has become impressive. I also like the free Pepsi samples.
This group of country western fans spread out from the New Q stage on Wisconsin Avenue to perching like pigeons along the Capitol steps and railings. If anything is going to jam my radar, it's "new" country, but the local band, Madison County, was not without their charm and have a rabid fan base. I'd see them again on purpose rather than just on the way back to the car because it was raining.
I was surprised that most of my photos will go on the Curtain rather than here considering the Taste of Madison colorfully maps out 92 food booths, but no. Let's look at some of the food anyway, shall we?
From the first booth as you come up State, these Gotham Bagel sandwiches seemed made to travel in the crowd and mild rain, but weren't tempting or unique enough to try.
This is the Athens Gryros stand which means I could have hopped on my bike and gotten the same thing at the Shell station down the street. Not to say I'm not a fan, look at their menu. The Shell station, seriously. The spanakopita is good, if not a little bland. My favorite is the combo gyro platter with fries, souvlaki, and extra pita—good for three plus meals. They literally shove as much food as they can into a large take out container which barely closes.
I should call this photo from the Daisy Cafe booth "Late to the Party" since the Daisy Cafe & Cupcakery opened in May of 2009. But then again, I never did trust good buzz. They are on the top of my list of things on which to dish.
|If you're going to eat fries why not add gravy?|
|"Yo, where's das Brat und Brau?"|
Although the pet ban has kicked in, at least one of our well intentioned pals got through on a technicality. I only saw one non-working dog, a nervous little Chihuahua (is there any other kind) looking for a Teddywedger as I made my only food purchase of the day, six bags of popcorn at Clary's.
You have to give it to Clary's for their staying power on upper State, especially being such a tiny shop.
These bags got eaten up quickly by family members and a homeless guy who likes the white corn with a little salt and half butter in the middle.
I don't care for Clary's cheese corn, but knowing that the RR1 outlet in Montfort has some of the best cheese popcorn around and that I'm due to fill up some empty buckets, didn't really care. Especially since the Clary's caramel corn was delicious without being sugary and balances crunch and chew quite well. The Badger corn managed to be distinctively cherry and vanilla without being either too sweet or overwhelming.
In sum, go for the promise of food, stay for the free Pepsi samples and music, leave with several bags of Clary's popcorn.