Babcock Hall Dairy Plant & Store, #1 - "Getting There", Madison, WI

Some time a few months back, I noticed an ice cream brand in the freezer at a local grocer that I hadn't heard of previously. It's called Babcock Ice Cream. I read the label on the package in the freezer and discovered it's a local brand started by the University of Wisconsin.

Now, a dairy operation, even an ice cream operation, is pretty common at universities (at least Big 10 ones). I think it has something to do with the availability of milk and the fact that ice cream is awesome... plus, this is the state of Wisconsin after all, dairy is kinda big. I didn't buy the ice cream that day, but put a mental note in my brain to visit the hall that houses this dairy production on the campus itself. The hall is called Babcock Hall (and Babcock Ice Cream, get it?) and is pretty easy to locate on the campus map. They also have their own store website and you can even check out the ice cream flavors and get your mouth watering and heart a fluttering.

I was able to make this "pilgrimage" in mid-July and, in this first post, I'll show you how it went just getting into the dairy store. I wasn't expecting it to be something to post, but that's how it turns out sometimes.

I found the hall just fine... and then it started to get interesting...

This was the sign on the front door of the main entrance to the hall:

So, I went to the next set of doors (for those that don't know, I'm pretty literal at times, especially with directions). The door looked like this:

Now, knowing this was the next set of doors, being a bit famished, and having a sister who is handicapped... I didn't think much of the handicapped symbol above. I mostly just read "To Babcock Dairy Store", just as the previous sign had told me, and proceeded inside.

That's when the maze began... Which hallway do I go through, which door, which elevator?...

Look, up there on that huge freezer door wall... a new clue... ok, this is kinda fun, but I really just want ice cream now...

It says, "To Babcock Dairy Store - Take elevator to 2nd Floor". Ok, this really is a maze to get some ice cream, but alright... I do as I'm told...

Emergency eye-wash station in case you need it... (where am I?)



Ok, I found a huge freight elevator... but it said take it to the 2nd floor... so I did...

It led straight out into someone's office/dairy plant... which felt really odd, but I kept going as ice cream was near and I wanted it...

And I presume since it was the summer, there weren't many people milling about in any hallway or office that I came upon. There was one guy getting into the elevator after me that pointed me in the right direction, phew.

(I didn't know if that was milk or soap suds on the floor... no time to check now)

Finally... a few more turns and hallways, and then a real clue...

Yes! A store with people and ice cream!!!

I made it...

I realized later, as I exited the store through their main doors, that the entrance I had found was the entrance for someone who was in a wheelchair and couldn't use stairs. Even still, this seemed like an incredible maze of directions, hallways, elevators and turns to take in a wheelchair. I could only imagine my sister and a family member trying to navigate that maze as the rest of the family waited in the store for them to appear (or if we'd all just gone down the rabbit hole as a family, which does happen). And then I thought of handicapped people that aren't in my family. Do they actually figure all this out? Take a freight elevator? make the right turns and see all the signs? Maybe it's easy if it's for ice cream?

In any case, I've now made it to the store! The second post will be all about the food I sampled there, so don't forget to check back in a few days...


Thank You.

I had the distinct (dis)pleasure of moving my apartment recently, so much fun. But, one of the nice things to come out of it was going through some boxes I hadn't been through since I'd moved to WI a year ago. A couple of those boxes came a few months later, having left some things behind in MN. 

I finally got into the one with the marking below and was delighted to find my cheap, innocuous wine glass packed like I've never seen before. We're talking pristine packing. I loved it.

Nicely and clearly labelled individual compartment in a large box...

You gotta use the old divider thingy...

TWO PIECES of padding material PER GLASS!!! One stuffed inside and around the top, the other wrapped around the entire glass and taped down with masking tape. It was all a work of packing art.

Of course, these items were shipped via UPS, so they needed the support. I can say they all made it intact... until I went to put them away. 

Out of all the glasses, I only have sentimental attachment to a pair from a World Cup MTB race in the late 1990 or early 2000's. As luck would have it, having unpackaged them all and placed them on the counter until putting away, I smacked one on the very shelf it was destined to go on, break it into a few pieces. Ah well, at least one still survives.

I wanted to write the words of thanks for this packing care, even if the packer was doing their normal level of wrapping, or never reads or hears about this ending.


Olbrich Biergarten, Madison, WI

If you've ever been to Minneapolis, one thing (among many) the cities do very well is outdoor beer and food options near their lakes and bodies of water - Minnehaha Falls (Sea Salt), Lake Minnetonka (CoV), Lake Calhoun (Tin Fish), etc. They have a culture of being outside in the summer (and winter), gathering when the weather is nicest and enjoying good food and drink with friends and family.

I was a bit surprised to find out, there really wasn't anything like that in the Madison area. Of course, it wasn't long until someone got the great idea to do something about it. Their location happened to be across the street from where I reside too.

The Biergarten at Olbrich Park has opened up this past July and it already seems like it's going well. I was impressed by the organization, size and scale of the establishment. It's not only friendly for adults that like beer, but also families with parents that like beer... they have lawn games and a huge sandbox for the kiddos, plus don't forget it's on Lake Monona, go fishing even.

They also seem to keep a close eye on patrons as they leave the place, not only to protect the boundary of the beer garden and the neighborhood at large, but also to keep an eye on their nice glasses. You can't take them with you and they're watching like hawks to make sure no one leaves the grounds with beer or their steins.

They offer a few small bites, and a couple non-alcoholic items too. It's definitely not the place for a big meal or bring a group of diverse eaters, but perhaps food trucks or local food delivery is already taking note.

I have to get back there after dark and have a beer under the lights.


Chicago Eats!

I thought I'd just post a quick review of a recent 24-hours in Chicago. The city is amazing in the summer and the food matches the big shoulders of the city too.

A refreshing, comp'ed Arnie Palmer as I sat in the lobby of the hotel waiting for friends, thanks, Aloft.

Lunch has begun! Revolution Brewery's restaurant was a fine first stop. 5 samplings, one and a half donuts and a breakfast burger later and I was full.

Espresso-Chocolate, made on-site in their 2nd floor bakery, along with all breads served in the place.

Love an egg on a burger.

A quick afternoon stop at Links on Milwaukee provided us with a great spot to try some new beers. A pretty "connected" bar, they had Untapped reviews streaming live above the beer list, kinda cool.

Though I've missed anything from the dinner that night at Little Goat Diner, I did manage to have enough patience to take some pics of brunch at Beatrix the next morning...

Steak Chimichuri & Eggs, with Shishito peppers - perfectly done, so good.


Aloft Hotel (River North), Chicago, IL

This is a vibrant bustling hotel in the heart of Chicago's River North neighborhood. It's very accommodating, friendly, full of interesting aspects and easily a place I would stay again.

They have a Lettuce Entertain you restaurant attached, called Beatrix. They match the vibe and service of Aloft very well. Like the hotel, I would eat here again in a Chicago minute.


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