The season of outdoor farmers' markets wound down last weekend, as the vendors of the Dane County Farmers' Market made their last Capitol Square appearance until spring. Starting Saturday, Nov. 10, the market moves indoors, to Monona Terrace.
Also indoors now is the Northside Farmers Market. Last Sunday the three-year-old event moved from the parking lot of the Northside TownCenter to nearby 2935 N. Sherman Ave., site of the old Hancock Fabrics store.
"It was fantastic," says Jim Franck, a manager of the market. "We were terrified because we didn't know if we would get six through the door, or 600." As many as 400 came to the inaugural indoor event, he estimates. They shopped for meat, eggs, preserves and other treats from the winter market's more than 35 vendors.
Not bad, says Franck, "given that it was the first time out of the box."
Unlike the weekly summer market, the winter market is held two Sundays per month. The next scheduled markets are Nov. 18, Dec. 2 and Dec. 16, 10 a.m. to 2 p.m. More markets this season are possible, says Franck, especially given the success of the first event.
The Northside Farmers Market was founded partly to serve the basic food needs of north siders, who were without a full-service supermarket for three years. There is one now in Pierce's, 2817 N. Sherman Ave., but the farmers' market is still thriving.
"I think more and more people are getting interested in sustainable agriculture," says Franck. "And the more markets you have, the more the demographic starts to take notice. I think the whole thing feeds on itself, to make a terrible pun."
Coming soon to Shorewood Hills: the first American franchise of Vom Fass, the German specialty-food chain that - in other nations, at least - sells vinegar, oil and liqueurs straight from the barrel. (Vom fass means "from the cask.") The store is slated to open this month at 3236 University Ave., until lately the site of Chickadee Depot.
"We had to come up with a business model that would work here in the States," says franchiser David Gibson. "You can't decant from a keg into a bottle at the point of sale."
Gibson still plans to display the store's signature kegs of liquids, but he will pre-bottle the goods that are actually for sale. The chain's products, notes Gibson, are selected by Vom Fass founder Johannes Kiderlen, who travels Europe to find artisanal producers of the vinegars, oils and spirits sold under the Vom Fass brand.
"Some people asked me, 'Why not do this on your own?'" says Gibson of his decision to open a franchise. "But I was sold on Johannes Kiderlen himself, and what he does with these products. The costs to go find all this myself would be ridiculous."
The folks in charge are changing, but the name stays the same at Opus Lounge, 116 King St., which has been purchased by the husband-and-wife team of Konrad and Mandy Arnold.
"We'd like to bring it back to what it was a few years ago," says Konrad. "We want to improve on the tapas, change the menu here and there, do a little bit more with the fondues. They seem to be popular. It's a sociable food."
Also here to stay are the lounge's signature cocktails. "Every one of the martinis I've had there is delicious," he says.
All of a sudden, the State Street area has two calzone joints. One is D.P. Dough, 244 W. Gilman St., and the other is LovShack, 555 State St. LovShack is the second of two LovShacks; the other is in West Lafayette, Ind. On Saturday, LovShack marked the opening by producing the Guinness-certified world's largest calzone, which measured 19 feet, 4 inches long.
Why Madison for LovShack number two? "We were looking at other cities," says T.J. O'Malley, LovShack's director of development. "But Madison's got the culture, the vibe, the feel."