One of great things about the end-of-the-summer sloth-gluttony circuit is when my city helps me facilitate these sins.  This weekend is the Taste of Madison–which is an outdoor food festival probably similar to ones held in other cities.  Here, 75 local food vendors surround the perimeter of the State Capitol and serve up small portions of their food for under $5.

It’s generally hot and crowded and full of drunk people listening to meager live music offerings.  Yesterday was great, however, because it was nice and cool, which makes everything: crowds, greasy food, drunks, bad music all so much better.

Below are some of the favorite foods I sampled yesterday.  Sadly, this is not all I ate.

1.  Pan Fried Corn Patty – Bandung Indonesian Restaurant, Madison

Similar to the State Fair, much of what’s served at the Taste of Madison is greasy or fried or both.  There is a nice mix of local, international places and places that serve mid-range American food.  This corn patty from Bandung was the first thing I tried.  The patty itself was made up of sweet corn kernels, egg and sweet onion.  On top was a savory garlic sauce which has a little bit of kick, but was still very mild.  The patty itself was amazing.  Generally, these things are like mush patties, probably because the restaurants rely on canned corned.  This was nice and firm.  When I pulled apart the patty I could see the firm corn kernels.  The sweetness of the corn and onion was delicious against the more savory garlic sauce.  It wasn’t that greasy and the crisp lettuce on the bottom seemed to help the dish from feeling soggy.

2.  Watermelon Popsicle – Chicago-area Mexican restaurant

I didn’t quite catch the name of the Mexican-food vendor that served me this watermelon popsicle (I will try to catch it today–Blogger Purgatory for me!), but I thank him for introducing me to the joy of Mexican Popsicles.  This tasted like someone had juiced a watermelon added just a little sugar and frozen it in a popsicle mold.  It did not taste artificial at all.  So, so yummy–probably even better on a hot summer day.

2. Beer Battered Deep Fried Cheese Curds – The Old Fashioned, Madison

Over the last 5 years of so, gourmet cheese curds have become something of a Madison-area delicacy–with just about every mid-to-high range “food pub” in Madison serving its own version for upwards of $10 a basket.  Much of this craze likely traces back to the opening of the Old Fashioned.  The Old Fashioned is a “Wisconsin-themed” mid-ranged restaurant right across the street from the State Capitol.  It features an extensive Wisconsin beer menu and better-tasting versions of the greasy specialties featured in the supper clubs spread across the state.  These cheese curds are a great example.  The breading is light and crisp and the beer gives it a nice, deep flavor that compliments the cheese.  The cheese inside is flavorful (my guess is some kind of colby) but not so strong that it’s overbearing on the taste buds after a certain point (as is the case with some of the sharp cheddar cheese curds that appear in other restaurants).  The sauce is a zingy mayo/mustard/light pepper combination and it really compliments the heaviness of the cheese curds.  This is one of those dishes that makes me so, so proud that I’m from Wisconsin.  I actually eat and think to myself: “my people”.

4. Cookie Dough Egg Roll – Bluephies, Madison

Chocolate-chip cookie dough wrapped in a light egg roll shell. Deep fried. The cookie dough becomes moist and gooey and stays hot inside the crisp egg roll shell. Do I really need to explain why this is delicious?

More food coming my way today!

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