|Autumn in Madison - The Capitol in the background|
|In the midst of change.|
|People dressed in red, getting drunk watching football in the University building.|
I have an issue with farmers market in the States: they are small. Everybody in Chicago seems to be very excited about the Green City Market, which is the largest Chicago outdoor farmers markets. But, truth be told, it is tiny compared to any market in Europe. And when I say tiny I mean tiny, maybe 30 stands. Even extremely small towns in Europe have much larger markets (and a lot more variety) than the ones here. Madison's farmer markets being the largest in the Nation was a regular size by European standards: smaller - much smaller - than the marche' du midi in Brussels, but a decent size. And the location was actually beautiful, because it surrounds the Capitol Building, siege of the State Government.
Being this pumpkin season, there were a lot of pumpkins waiting to be picked up. But we didn't buy any there, because we were headed to a real pumpkin patch the day after.
The pumpkin patch was just plain fun: hundreds and hundreds of pumpkins sitting in a very large field, most of them still attached to the ground through their vines. I had never see one, and I wasn't sure what to expect. I mean, I knew that pumpkins must grow somewhere, but I had always seen them either in supermarkets, or at farm markets. And I wasn't prepared for the sheer dimension of this pumpkin patch.
|A lot of pumpkins.|
I couldn't stop thinking about Charlie Brown and its story of the Big Pumpkin. In the end we took two pumpkins (one very large, 30 pounds/15 kilos) and a smaller one.
|Never too young, never too old for pumpkins.|
And then we headed to New Glarus, which is basically - no joke - Switzerland in the US (and in fact, guess where "old" Glarus is? Yes, in Switzerland).
Swiss flags everywhere, houses built like if there were on the Swiss Alps, a carillon, this little town of 2000 people is mostly famous for the New Glarus Brewery, which attracts quite a number of tourists. The concentration of bikers per/inhabitants must be of 1 to 1: I have never seen so many motorcycles in such a tiny village.
Since we were in Switzerland, we felt that going to a Swiss restaurant and have some Swiss/German food was the appropriate thing to do. So we headed to the Glarner Stube, where we had some Wiener Schintzel, some bratz and a beer. You can see from the photo here that I am not joking when I say that we were in Switzerland.
|New Glarus: Switzerland in Wisconsin|
New Glarus brewery is mainly famous for its spotted cow beer, which is extremely good. But the reason why I love this brewery is because they also make a local version of the Belgian Kriek. The Kriek is a cherry beer. Not a beer to which you add cherry juice, mind you: but a beer which is fermented together with a specific variety of cherries. And it is my favorite beer. New Glarus does a version that they call Wisconsin Belgian Red. They use local cherries, and the taste is slightly different than Kriek's: it is a little more sour. But it is a darn good fruit beer.
They also do a local version of another famous Belgian fruit ale, the Framboise, made with raspberries. This is my second favorite beer...The Wisconsin's version is called Raspberry tart. But if the Wisconsin Belgian Red is as good - albeit different - as the original Kriek, the Raspberry tart doesn't stand a chance compared to the Framboise. Sorry guys.
Since you CANNOT find this beer in Illinois, and the brewery cannot ship, you can only find New Glarus beers in Wisconsin. It is an excellent reason to visit, I am telling you...also because with $3.50 you get a 3 beers to taste, while enjoying a beautiful Swiss - ahem, I mean Wisconsin - landscape...