And now for everyone's favorite sin: gluttony. Whether it's a post-Thanksgiving, tryptophan-induced haze or your fourth brat at a backyard barbecue, mass consumption of grease is a key component of any social occasion.
In the summer months, Madison has plentiful options for hitting that sweet spot of sugar, fat and salt. There's Brat Fest in May, Taste of Madison in September, and Stella's hot and spicy cheese bread every Saturday at the Farmers' Market. But my favorite bastion of gluttony is REAP Food Group's Burgers & Brew.Burgers & Brew, held this year on June 4 in Capital Brewery's Bier Garten (7734 Terrace Ave., Middleton), is an annual festival of, well, burgers and brew. For $25, you get three small burgers, crafted by Madison's favorite chefs with ingredients from local farms, and three short pours of beer, all from local breweries. If the words "mini" and "short pour" don't conjure up visions of gluttony and excess, there are whoopee pies from Bloom Bake Shop to push you over the edge.
The favorite was Brasserie V's Spring Ridge Burger, made with melt-in-your-mouth beef from Fountain Prairie, topped with Pleasant Ridge Reserve cheese, baby arugula, caramelized spring onion and mushroom aioli, paired with Furthermore Beer's Knotstock. If meat isn't your scene, the veggie options were more than halfhearted afterthoughts. Willy Street Co-op offered a grilled portobello mushroom with smoked blue cheese, caramelized onions and garlic aioli that looked better than some of the burgers.
It rained last year, leaving patrons to slog through the mud with soggy buns. This year the planners were prepared. A massive tent provided welcome shade on a blistering summer day. Once burgers and brews were procured, we found seats at communal picnic tables, packed with families and groups of friends. Blues band the Blue Olives provided the ear-splitting soundtrack, but there were spots in the grass if your ears needed a break.
For further indulgence, check out the Sun Prairie Sweet Corn Festival, Aug. 18-21.