Dog-eared and dog tired? Take a break. You've mapped out your book fest sessions, but you must have sustenance between venues.
It's the Wisconsin Book Festival, after all (Oct. 15-19), and the fest's "Land & Home" series sessions focus on celebrating the Dairy State. So does Fromagination, the cheese and sandwich shop on the Capitol Square that spotlights state-made artisanal cheese. Choose from the "Wisconsin Original," made with Nueske's ham and fontina cheese; the "Fromagination Signature," with smoked turkey breast, Camembert and cranberry relish; the hummus and eggplant with cheddar; or the Italian salami with provolone. There's also an artisanal Sandwich of the Month, which for October happens to be prosciutto, pepper and onion relish with Pleasant Ridge cheese on rosemary bread. Fromagination has a pleasant sidewalk cafe area, too, if it's warm enough for outdoor snacking. Pairs nicely with: Jerry Apps' Old Farm (noon Sunday, Overture Center).
The Old Fashioned is a lively, 21st-century take on the traditional Wisconsin tavern. Picks: the Door County cherry, buttermilk blue cheese and toasted almond salad; Friday night's fish fry (cod, walleye or perch) or, barring that, the walleye sandwich, served any time. If there's a nip in the air, the Green Bay chili will take the edge off. (So will a Schlitz.) Practically speaking, there are few Wisconsin taverns that serve fare as delicious and as varied as the O.F. If you're looking for something a little more echt traditional, try The Plaza, where you'll revel in the booths, wildlife murals and the Plazaburger (with its famed secret sauce). Either will pair nicely with Wisco dudes C.J. Hribal, David Wroblewski and Michael Perry (2 p.m. Sunday, Orpheum).
Henry James famously declared that "There are few hours in life more agreeable than the hour dedicated to the ceremony known as afternoon tea," in Portrait of a Lady. Dobra Tea, a new tea shop on Gilman Street, brews a proper pot of Earl Grey. Or branch out into the world of green, white or pu-erh teas. All are sold by the pot, so sit down, take your shoes off and relax while reading a new novel. Pairs nicely with: Ann Beattie (7 p.m. Friday, Wisconsin Historical Society), Rachel Pastan (10 a.m. Saturday, A Room of One's Own), Elizabeth Strout (4 p.m. Saturday, Wisconsin Historical Society) or Marilynne Robinson (7 p.m. Saturday, Wisconsin Historical Society).
An obvious cultural matchup: sessions surrounding the Mami Wata exhibit at the Chazen and West African food from Buraka. The restaurant is even catering the Mami Wata reception at the museum Friday night, but if you can't make that, drop by the source, where the chicken and peanut stew is always a favorite dish.
Fans of Milwaukee novelist Daphne Beal's debut novel, In the Land of No Right Angles, about a young American photographer's continuing romance with Nepal, will appreciate Nepalese home-cooking within a block of Beal's reading (noon Saturday, A Room of One's Own) at Himal Chuli. It's difficult to pass up the mellow momocha, steamed veggie dumplings with peanuts and a tomato-cilantro dipping sauce. Or branch out - try the khichadi, a stew of mung beans, ginger, cilantro, tomatoes and peas that's rumored to nip colds in the bud; or the tuck-pa, a spicy Tibetan herder's soup. Also goes well with: Extraordinary Travel Writing (noon Sunday, A Room of One's Own.)
Taking the kids to one of the many events for younger readers? Michelangelo's Coffee House and Ian's Pizza and Salad are used to serving pint-sized customers, due to their proximity to the Madison Children's Museum. So is the House of Wisconsin Cheese. A ham and cheese panini at Michelangelo's should please even a finicky eater. Or have kids pick their own wacky flavor combo of pizza slice from the many arrayed at Ian's, and top it off with a side of Organic Valley chocolate milk. Babcock Hall Ice Cream from Wisconsin House of Cheese for dessert should satisfy your hungry young 'un.
Face it, dessert goes with any and all kinds of books. End any and every day of booking it with a fabulous tart, cake or torte from Sucre, the Square's moderne patisserie.
Just don't get ganache glaze on the pages.