Tuesday, November 16, 2010


Madison, Wisconsin, November 15, 2010—
WE FLY EARLY tomorrow; let's skip dinner tonight, since we're in a questionable airport hotel, and have a nice late lunch instead. So we stopped in Madison at a restaurant known to be good — or suspected to be, in any case, since we'd eaten there before, and respected its "values."

Odessa Piper opened her Etoile a number of years ago, soon after Chez Panisse opened I believe, with a similar dedication to local and organic; and though she sold her restaurant quite a while ago the new owner was her chef. Since then he's opened a brasserie-style place next door — across the street from the state capitol, near the original location. The restaurant alas does not serve lunch, but the brasserie, Graze, should do.

I had a favorite dish hereby promoted to the Hundred Plates: mussels cooked in white wine, flavored with butter, minced parsley, and tarragon. With them, a nice little mini-baguette made in house, and an enormous basket of perfect French fries, with a generous serving of excellent aïoli. You can't do much better.
Monferrato bianco, Canelli, "Villa Giada", 2009

Graze, 1 South Pinckney St., Madison

1 comment:

Curtis Faville said...

I had gotten quite enamored of big mussels cooked in wine and served with the long toasts. Then, about two years ago, the local restaurants began serving larger and larger ones, until one night at Lalime's, I was brought a platter of perhaps 30 black mussels, whose size and fatness and fattiness was overwhelming. I was only able to eat half of them before calling a halt. It wasn't so much a matter of taste, but of absolute surfeit! Each one was about twice or three times the size of a "normal" one, about the mass of a double peanut-shell. Clearly, something had been done to make these mussels expand like geese. Three Mile Island mussels!

I've since not been able to appreciate them as much, after that slightly unpleasant experience.

But for one of the hundred, absolutely!