Saturday, September 1st, 2012

image of One Barrel BrewingFriday night after work: We’re at the far end of the bar, enjoying a frosty cold one at One Barrel Brewing Company.

“Wait, you’re at the end of the bar? Then who’s taking the photo?”

I’ve got a new camera. It’s got legs and even makes me coffee in the morning.

Okay, I’m taking the photo. I got up to use the men’s room and snapped this shot as I was headed back to sit with My Darling B, who’s sitting under the Chinese bicycle. Someday I’m going to find out why there’s a Chinese bicycle hanging from the wall.

image of One Barrel BrewingThis is how I knew I was going to like One Barrel the first time I visited: Any tavern owner that will hang a jackalope on the wall is worth his weight in beer. The fact that the owner serves beer he brewed his own self on the premises is just gravy.

Oddly, we didn’t drink any of his beer last night. B’s current favorite is a spicy beer called Cocoa Mole, made at the New Belgium Brewery, if memory serves. I went with an ESB from local brewer Page Buchanan at the House of Brews, just dark enough to be interesting, but not a heavy beer. And we were happy with that.

After our beers, I said the word “ramen” out loud, which cast its magical spell over My Darling B so that, just minutes later, we found ourselves seated at the bar at Umami, the only place they could find two stools for us to wolf down two big bowls of our favorite food.

There was a plan to go out and listen to some music after that, but with our bellies full of beer and ramen, we made a slight change to our plans and opted for a nap instead. Seemed like the best thing to do.

image of bottles behind the bar at Umami

decompression | 7:31 am CST
Category: beer, daily drivel, food & drink, restaurants | Tags: ,
Comments Off on decompression

Saturday, June 18th, 2011

Umami, the one and only place in this town to eat a delicious bowl of ramen, finally opened the patio they’ve been working on out front of their shop. My Darling B caught the news of this announcement somewhere and we made a date to meet after work yesterday. I hoofed the eight or ten blocks from the office building where I work, she drove over from the west side of town and we met at almost the same time, about five minutes before the doors opened.

The place seems to be doing fairly well; there was a line forming when I walked up and, by the time they opened the door, there were maybe a dozen people waiting to get in. By the time we finished dinner all of the tables on the patio were filled and I think most of the tables inside were, too. The place doesn’t seem to have been hit too hard by the construction along Willy Street, but then the profit margin for restaurants is so narrow that I still worry. It’s a great little restaurant and I do love the ramen they serve. I hope they can hang on through the rest of the summer.

B and I both had the miso ramen and finished every drop. The broth was especially good, with a rich, almost buttery flavor, very smooth. We ordered a garlic bomb and spicy bomb to go with the ramen, which they serve as a side order so you can stir in a little or a lot. And the dumplings were half-price, so we indulged ourselves with a plate. I ended up so full of rameny goodness that I caught myself nodding off while we were watching The Colbert Report later at home, and ended up going to bed early. Miso ramen makes me drowsy.

full | 7:59 am CST
Category: food & drink, My Darling B, O'Folks, play, restaurants | Tags: , ,
Comments Off on full

Sunday, April 10th, 2011

My Darling B spent just about all day in her garden yesterday, happily digging up a four-by-eight plot of ground, then inching her way along on all fours poking holes in the dirt and burying seeds for lettuce and peas and I don’t know what else. When she finally came indoors late in the afternoon to take a shower she was all smiles. Well, mostly smiles. Also aches and pains, but happy ones.

Although we should probably cut back on expenses like eating out every week, we celebrated this first glorious day of summer (or spring, or sprumming, whatever) with a trip into town to eat dinner at Umami, the new noodle shop on Willy Street that reminds us so much of our favorite noodle house in Misawa, Japan, the Familiar Roll Noodle House. The pan-fried dumplings are spot-on, and the ramen is so close as to make no difference. B read somewhere that the noodles come from R&P Pasta, a shop just a few blocks away on Wilson Street. They used to serve the best bowl of spaghetti in town until they closed the dining room, a sad day we are still in mourning over.

The last time we went to Umami I wrote a fond reminiscence of our days slurping up ramen in Japan and thanking the good people at Umami for taking me back to those days. Shortly after, someone from Umami shot a text message to me on my cell phone thanking me for the writeup and inviting me to ask for Mike or Randy the next time we dropped in, so last night as we were being shown to our table I dropped those names, asking if there was any chance I could talk to one of them. “I’m Mike,” he said, so I introduced myself and thanked him once again for such an enjoyable dining experience. After saying thanks he had to run off to seat others waiting for tables, but when he had a bit more time he came back to thank me for writing such a nice review in my blog. If he’d had more time I would have liked to ask him more about the restaurant, but there was a line of people out the door and he had to tend to them, so we cut it short at exchanging thank-yous.

We ordered almost exactly the same dishes we ordered last time: B had been daydreaming about the miso ramen all afternoon, the whole reason we ended up going to Umami in the first place. I ordered the pork ramen, still scrumptious, but I was eyeing B’s miso ramen with a jealous eye all through the meal. We couldn’t visit without ordering a big plate of dumplings, and ate every one of them – no leftovers last night! Just to shake things up, though, we added a plate of pickled veggies: beet, beans, carrots, cukes and mangoes, to add an extra touch of Japanese-ness to the meal.

Once again, we waddled home happily stuffed with good food. If ever we have to cut back on meals eaten out, I don’t know how we’re going to choose which places we go, but Umami will remain high on the list for quite a while.

Umami | 10:53 am CST
Category: food & drink, restaurants | Tags: , ,
8 Comments | Add a comment

Friday, March 18th, 2011

It’s not like Madison needs another restaurant, but we’re pretty happy that Umami opened on Willy Street anyway. We stopped there for dinner after work today and each slurped up a bowl of ramen the likes of which we’ve not enjoyed since we left Japan almost six years ago.

We’ve tried ramen at a few places since we returned to the States but until now we haven’t had any that comes even close to the real thing served hot from a tiny little shop in a Japanese village. The best we ever ate was the kind they served on a cold, snowy day, but really the very best was served right in our own little town of Misawa at a place the gaijin from the air base called Cheese Roll Noodle, because that’s what was etched in the big picture window in the front of the shop. Almost. In point of fact it read “Cheese Rool Noodle.” I still have a photo of that somewhere. [here it is!] I don’t know the Japanese name except in English: Family Familiar Noodle House.

At Umami we each ordered a different bowl: My Darling B tried the miso ramen and I had a bowl of pork ramen. I was very encouraged when the waiter brought it to our table in bowls big enough for us to bathe in, and it just kept getting better from there. Mine had an appropriately fatty slab of pork floating off to one side, a few slices of bamboo and seaweed clustered against the other side, and half an egg floating smack-dab in the middle. B’s was similarly adorned but with tofu instead of pork. The noodles were not quite right – delicious, but not the same kind of noodle served in Japan. But the broth was an orgasm of flavors, if that’s not getting too personal about how wonderful it tasted. I slurped up every bit of it, picking up the bowl and tipping it back in the manner considered proper in all the finer ramen shops.

So a great big thank-you to Umami for taking me back to my Misawa days, when a bowl of ramen was one of the best kinds of dinner you could buy while you were in town. Ita dake masu!

Oishii desu! | 9:17 pm CST
Category: food & drink, restaurants | Tags: , , ,
4 Comments | Add a comment