The weather has been gorgeous. We left the windows open overnight. I was woken up by birds chirping and a cool breeze at around 6AM. I felt very energetic and decided to head over to the Merry Christmas Mine Hill for a short hike. As I stepped outside, I was met with a heavy scent of apple blossoms. I put my headphones on for some Verdi. Over the top and romantic. Perfect, I thought. So I walk down Spruce St. where Thomas the Old English Sheepdog never forgets to say hello. I saw some lilac bushes (more appropriate, trees!) starting to bloom. The town is full of them. Some bleeding hearts and globe hyacinths. A short stop at the bridge between the two old willows where Brewery Creek runs where I observed some small plump clouds and blue sky through the curtains of yellow green. White flowers, yellow flowers, and trumpet flowers. At the top of the hill, there was a parade of apple trees with fat, white and light pink blooms. The arched wild raspberry vines made my mouth water at what’s to come later in the summer. The lush blades of grass were covered in dew drops and the wetness had permeated my shoes. Time to sprint back home for some tea. Spring, you show off!
If you are a spring lover, come celebrate with my friends and I this Saturday night at the Mineral Point Opera House for the “Winter Is Over” program.
Continue reading Spring Notes
Please bear with me, I’m afraid I’m going to go a little RadioLab on you today. I’d like you to take a moment to listen the the recording embedded below (courtesy of rhubarb, rhubarb, rhubarb):
Continue reading Bebop-a-rebop
Last Saturday we got to attend one of my favorite things in the spring. Joe and Christy Cole’s first kiln firing party at Windy Ridge Pottery. We were like moths drawn to flames toward the giant 3 chambered kiln dubbed “the camel” by my friend Claire. Thank goodness there is always lot of scrumptious food and beer before you get too close! Joe Cole has singed his eyebrows a couple of times but it is understandable because he is the master of the kiln (meaning, we let him do most of the work). It is quite a difficult job because the fire has to be fed for 2 whole nights. Christy, the mistress of the kiln, had to stay up the second night (after most of us have gone home to bed). The kiln was finally opened yesterday. After a bit of inspection and cleaning, they will be ready for Clay in May this weekend.
Continue reading Feast, Fire, & Friendship at Windy Ridge Pottery
The Red Rooster is a little diner on the High Street in Mineral Point. Whenever I walk past it at night, the way it is lit up reminds me of my favorite painting, Nighthawks:
As much as it reminds me of the Hopper painting though, the Red Rooster is much more of a morning place. When we go there at 10 o’clock on a Saturday morning, they’ve already been open for 5 hours, serving coffee and hardy breakfast to farmers, milk truck drivers, and other early risers. We are practically their dinner crowd.
Continue reading Red Rooster Cafe
Sjolinds (pronounced “shoo-linds”) makes me think about the scrumptious cottage in the forest in Hansel & Gretel minus the evil witch and minus the forest. Sitting along Main St. in Mt. Horeb (known for their troll statues), it is a friendly and bright space. The best part of the chocolate house are the many drawers filled with chocolate bars! I remember going there for the first time a few years ago and opening every single one. There are the classic Toblerones, Milka, Kinder, as well as some of Sjolinds own brand. I was pleasantly surprised to see a single origin bar from Davao City in the Philippines. My grandparents in the Philippines actually have several cacao trees. Whenever the come to the states they smuggle in some chocolate tablets for the family. So you could say we have our own single origin brand as well.
Continue reading Sjolinds Chocolate House
The other night, Keith and I attended the opening of the 3rd annual Driftless Film Festival. We saw Beasts of the Southern Wild, winner of the Grand Jury Prize at the 2012 Sundance Film Festival. The movie centered on a single father and his young daughter and the trials of raising her amidst the uncontrollable turmoil that surrounded them. It was so good that after it was over I just wanted to go home, drink some hot cocoa, and cry some more. I did.
About twelve years ago, Nicholas Langhoff (one of the founders of the DFF) came to the town of Mineral Point. Let me first explain that Mineral Point is no ordinary town. Most of the people I’ve met who have moved here were simply overcome with the feeling that this place was something special and that it would be a nice place to live. Keith and I were going to buy a house in Madison five years ago. On a whim, in the middle of winter, we drove around and ended up in Mineral Point on High Street. The historic buildings made me feel as if I were in a story book. I remember being taken by the display window at the Bohlin Gallery. There were large hand blown glass ornaments hanging and twirling, showing off their various swirly colors. Next to it, the crumbling brick walls of what used to be an old gas station, now it is the Set in Stone Wine Bar. Then there was the pig on Bruce Howdle’s roof. For Nick, what sealed the deal was watching a very unique movie at the Mineral Point Opera House in the middle of the afternoon. There he met Phil Mrozinski, now the executive and artistic director of the festival, and an instrumental part of the house’s restoration efforts. That experience for Nick and later living in Mineral Point ignited the idea of the film festival, in an unknown town, in this place called the Driftless Region. His good friend Darren Burrows (founder) came on board as well as area resident Jeremy Patnaude (founder), the general manager of State Theaters, a movie cinema chain in Southwest Wisconsin.
Fast forward to the fall of 2010, it finally happened. Now in its third year, participating movies are being shown in six theaters and in six different towns in the area. People are excited and are inspired to create. Young film-makers Will Crotz and Eve Studnicka (festival coordinator) are hard at work on a documentary capturing the essence of Mineral Point. New restaurants have opened up, buildings are being restored, and more and more people are starting to call this place home. I believe that the Driftless Film Festival is one of the reasons for the recent revitalization along with the many intelligent and creative citizens who care about this area. We’re happy that the Driftless Film Festival has made its roots and is now part of the cultural identity of this place called the “Driftless Region”.
How is it that something that isn’t even really a restaurant could be the best restaurant in Wisconsin? Well I don’t know how…but I think it just might be.
Continue reading They are making it hard to be unhappy
Hello all, let me tell you about our idea of a well spent Saturday in the Driftless Area. Our first ”must do” was a walk over to Cafe Ellie to get a cup of latte (a pumpkin spice one for me) made with Kickapoo coffee. Then we made quick stop at a Little Free Library to drop off a book then a walk up High St. toward the farmers’ market. At the market, we spent a good couple of hours chatting with friends and even meeting some new ones (Denise and her husband Doug of the Digging in the Driftless blog). Ollie dog was smothered with hugs and kisses from several little girls. He also made a couple of new furry friends (Ziggy and Emma).
Continue reading A Fine Day in the Driftless Area
Great news there is now a Japanese restaurant in Mineral Point. Hiroko and Chris Messer have recently opened Kusaka, meaning “under the sun”, named after Hiroko’s grandmother. The couple made a big move from Sendai, Japan (where an earthquake triggered tsunami caused much devastation last year) to Dodgeville. Now closer to Chris’ side of the family, they are slowly but surely adjusting to life in the states. The food industry is nothing new to Chris and Hiroko. Hiroko had been working in food even before the couple met. Teaching English as a Second Language brought Chris from Cuba City to Japan. Hiroko worked as a waitress in the same building where he taught. They met, fell in love, and eventually operated a hamburger joint; no doubt to share some American love to the Japanese. Now they are here sharing Hiroko’s Japanese home cooking.
Hiroko & Chris
Continue reading Kusaka: Under the Sun
The other night, we were invited to a campfire dinner by our friends JM & Nichole at Gov. Dodge State Park. That was just perfect because for me, there are only three good things about camping: the fire, some good company, and the s’mores! Nichole suggested that we start off dinner with some s’mores, my kinda girl. Why wait until the end of dinner for dessert anyway? The meal included chicken breast with blueberry sauce cooked on a wood plank, buttery roasted fingerling potatoes, tomato tarts with mustard, buttered sweet corn with grains of paradise and parmigiano. To drink we had orange soda, Capri Sun, and rootbeer. JM and Nichole brought 4 top mustards they loved from judging at the World-Wide Mustard Competition. I couldn’t get enough of the Earth & Vine Chipotle Honey Lime Mustard (pictured at the bottom of the collage). It was just perfect mixed with the sweet corn.
There was rain and thunderstorm a couple of hours before our dinner but thankfully it stopped. The sun came out just in time for sunset, the trees were dewy and you could smell the wet earth, we laughed a lot, my pants were sticky with marshmallow, and Kiko the dog “sang her fine soprano”. We drove home, happy to spend a sweet summer evening with friends.