Janet and I were gone over the weekend, visiting her sister and brother-in-law near Milwaukee. We had a very good time, quiet and low-key but lots of fun.
Janet took a half-day off on Friday so we could have some fun together (and so she and her sister could get together that much sooner). As her friends and acquaintances in Maquoketa who work at her company have fallen off to nil over the years, she had to have me drive her to work. I then drove back to Maquoketa, washed the truck — I had a car wash expiring before the weekend was out — and do a few chores around the house, including a quick but abortive check of the e-mail and blog site — our ISP has gotten no better than it ever was, if anything worse, going out ten times a week ago Saturday and at least thrice each day always — before loading up the car and heading back up to buy gas at Samʼs Club, cheaper by nearly a dime than everywhere else around, and pick her up. We bought sub sandwiches at Hy-Vee, along with a tube of lowfat Pringles and some water, to consume as she drove us into Wisconsin. Although the traffic was heavy around Madison and on 94 (irritatingly so with slowpokes hogging the left lane and backing up huge trains of speedier cars, including Janet, behind them), we made our way to the little suburban community north of the big city where Steve and Diane have lived for many years now (and seen their once brand-new neighborhood turn into a huge subdivision from what was once cornfields).
Arriving about three, we let ourselves in barely minutes before first nephew Ryan and then Diane arrived home from their respective work sites. It didnʼt take long for the wine and beer to begin to slake our thirsts, as the conversation flowed. And kept flowing with lots of laughter until supper time (once Steve had arrived from his job and food was made). We enjoyed their take on Indian food, preceded by guacamole and salsa, and the meal was totally delicious (I ate seconds). Whatever brand of frozen naan they buy was so good that I wanted fifths on my servings of that.
Steve likes to play a kind of “game” with the girls when they get together up there. Former disc jokey that he is, he uses the computer as his mix box to play a wide and varying selection of oldies, which they try to guess about from a few notes (or, as he did on Friday night with us, give us some lyrics to see if we can determine the song) or name the group that sang, or provide some piece of trivia about the song or group. Sometimes he just plays the tunes they like/know so the two sisters can simply sing along, which they love to do (and are actually good at, unlike me and my siblings). I sat in on Friday evening, but Saturday night I retired early, reading for about an hour and then going to sleep (I like to get in lots of sleep on the weekends to compensate for my early arising to run — which I have done for days just without the run part as the heat and/or rain have kept me inside).
Saturday we loafed around the place during the morning, before heading off toward Milwaukee for lunch at a newly found restaurant, highly recommended — Café Manna in Brookfield. Itʼs wholeheartedly and certifiably “green” and vegetarian, and I had some of the best-tasting food I have eaten in years there. Steve had located it, looking for something interesting as a middle-eastern place in Milwaukee, Tulip, where the other three had eaten on a previous trip without me, was not open for lunch on Saturdays. Itʼs worth a visit to the mall where Café Manna is located — one of those newfangled suburban malls that seems to combine about a dozen different yellowish (pseudo-adobe) or brick high-end strip-mall buildings around a green space (or at least a tangle of not-parking-lot and trees). Definitely click the link (here it is again) and check out their menu.
I had the Savory Sandwich, which was fantastically delicious and huge with dark and complex tastes, and I also got to finish Janetʼs Vegetable Torte (and I wonder why I am fat these days), which was also wonderful — lightly airy and filled with many flavors. Dianeʼs falafel was baked (so she missed the crunch of frying the falafels), but she and Steve both liked it a lot (and she had one whole half to take home). I almost ordered the Café Manna burger, as Steve did, but I went through a phase back in the Nineties when I nearly turned vegetarian, trying to lose weight and pill-lessly lower my cholesterol (I did succeed in dropping about forty pounds for maybe five years; I have them back and more now), and ate meatless “burgers” almost as often I went for the most minimalist salads. He liked his so well that I almost wish I had given the “burger” a try. Anyway, major approval for that place.
Afterward, we visited the farmerʼs market in West Allis and the Indian food store that Steve and Diane favor (a fun and funkily Indian place, where they never have been sure just how welcome their Western selves actually are, as I am sure the place was opened to cater to Indian immigrants). I bought some boxed foods because Janet and I like Indian food, but in restaurants we are never sure just what we are eating — usually having chosen the “dinner for two” or the “combination platter.” Now we can learn what, for instance, paneer actually is. Maybe (I doubt it).
Sunday we were going to get up a little early to go to a huge flea market on a county fairgrounds somewhere down near Lake Geneva, but when my watch alarm went off at 7:30, the thunder was rumbling and rain a-falling, so we all slept for a few more hours. Once we got up, over coffee, they all discussed possible plans while I loaded our luggage and whatnot back into the car. With the flea market a definite washout, Steve suggested taking us to Cambridge, Wisconsin, for their antiques and pottery stores and a nice restaurant they liked. The restaurant had failed (like far too many places Janet and I have loved to eat), but the pub across the street provided. Separating about three, Janet got us home not long after five to have time to prepare for the week ahead (which was not supposed to be so darned hot and hideously humid!) before we sat down to watch two episodes of I, Claudius.
Café Manna, 3815 N. Brookfirld Road, Brookfield, WI 53205