Wednesday, November 12, 2008

A Bit of Foodie Heaven

Last week we found a bit of "foodie heaven" in Madison, Wisconsin. And as two of the three places we visited sell on the Web, too, I thought I'd post about it.

The Shorewood Hills Shopping Center on West University Avenue has become quite a foodie hot-spot. We stopped off to buy some spice jars at Penzeys Spices. Just walking into the place and smelling the smells is wonderful. And there are samples of everything in jars and bottles -- just open up and sniff. It's amazing to smell the different kinds of cinnamon or vanilla -- such a range of aromas!

While we were there, we walked down a few doors to Wisconsin Cutlery and Cooking Supply. A small place with a surprising array of cooking equipment and a wide array of wonderful chef's knives. Not to mention the impressive array of knife-sharpening equipment behind the counter. If you have a good knife that's been badly treated, this is plainly the place to bring it. (He'll sharpen it while you wait.)

A few more doors down and you come to Vom Fass. This translates more or less as "from the cask." Apparently there are quite a few Vom Fass stores in Europe, but this is the very first one in the USA. They sell all sorts of unusual and high-quality oils and vinegars -- all in bulk, decanted straight from gorgeous glass, pottery and wood containers into a bottle of your choosing. And once again, you can taste everything. We each tried a tiny drop of the most expensive balsamic vinegar. Wow! Amazingly complex, concentrated flavor! Next year, when our home-grown tomatoes are ripe, we're coming back for some of that stuff. For now, we settled for some excellent olive oil and a small bottle of unfiltered hazelnut oil.

Vom Fass plans to sell various wines and spirits from the cask as soon as they can arrange the import and sellers permits. Apparently it's complicated because wine is just not sold this way in the USA, and they're breaking new bureaucratic ground. (We all know how fast bureaucracies move.) In the meantime, they sell a selection of bottled wines. The cool part is that they have a open bottle of each type, so you can sample!

Also in the same shopping center are Lee's Oriental Grocery and Atlanta Bread Company. Whole Foods is right across the street. We didn't stop at any of those places on this trip -- although we did head off to other parts of town to shop at the Willy Street Co-op and Orange Tree Imports.

We feel very fortunate to live near a city where we can buy such a great variety of foods!


Sabrina said...

I love Penzey Spices!!! Isn't it an amazing store!

Di said...

Wow, it sounds like you found all sorts of cool stuff. I'm lucky that the Austin area is also a good place for foodies. I wouldn't mind if they added a Penzey's, though. =)

Anonymous said...

Penzey is fantastic! Thanks for sharing all of your good finds!

dharmagirl said...

I ♥ penzey's too.

Your post is perfectly timed--I'm headed to Madison this week for a conference and may have to fit in a trip to this mecca of foodie goodness:) Thanks for sharing!

April said...

Sounds amazing! I've been wanting to visit Madison.

Carol Peterman/TableFare said...

Vom Fass sounds like an amazingly dangerous store to live near!

Joy @ Joy Of Desserts said...

Sounds good. I'm so glad the Internet is bringing the world to our fingertips!

I tagged you for a fun Thanksgiving Meme. Hope you'll join in.

Happy Thanksgiving!

Anonymous said...

I love Penzey's and have made several trips to their Illinois locations.

I left you an award at my blog. Please feel free to pick from one of the ones I just received. Your blog is deserving of any and all of them!

I really admire your obvious baking talents. You always leave such perceptive and informative comments whenever I see your posts on Tuesdays with Dorie. Baking is an art and you are an artist!