With 200 stores worldwide, Vom Fass is hardly the new kid on the foodie block. This German seller of liquid delicacies - from specialty oils and vinegars to exceptional wines and cognac - is well known for its quality and close relationships with producers.
But the new University Avenue storefront is the first Vom Fass on U.S. soil, to the delight of winos and gastronomes alike. Think Madison was a curious choice for breaking American ground? General manager Dave Eisner-Kleyle begs to differ. "It's a great demographic," he says. "There are farmers' markets, a slow food movement, and cuisine from around the world."
Though a large stash of liqueurs (grappa and absinthe lovers, take note) stuck in U.S. Customs will be missing until February, there are plenty of other nectars to tickle all the senses. Each is priced per 100 milliliter, and once you purchase one of the myriad glass bottles, you're able to endlessly refill it.
If you're looking for something exotic to spice up your winter cooking, there are plenty of rare seed oils and variations on the traditional balsamic that guarantee to enliven the taste buds. The tasty, stone-ground almond oil ($10/100 ml) blends well with grape balsam, while the natural honey balsam ($4/100 ml) is sweet enough to sip on its own.
Also worth trying for its syrupy quality is the artfully packaged Mission Hill Riesling ($19.49), a dessert wine with a divine finish. But if heat is what you're looking for during these chilly days, some 34-year-old Calvados ($20/100 ml), a traditional Normandy cider, is smooth and warming all over.
Vom Fass 3236 University Ave., 608-204-0300 Mon.-Sat. 9:30 am-8 pm, Sun. 10 am-5 pm