Nostrano – restaurant review

In case you haven’t kept up with Madison news, the protests are still running strong. Saturday saw the largest numbers yet turn out with some estimating close to 100,000 people in attendance. Yesterday there was a bit of grumbling as the governor’s office supposedly wanted the building cleared out of protesters so cleaning could occur. Well, apparently he is capable of playing some cards close to his chest, because today they blocked anyone from coming back into the building. Even one of the elected representatives to the State Assembly had problems getting into the building.

In other sneaky moves, the head of the senate has now declared that all staff for the ‘missing’ senators must now go through him for time card approval. And no one can freely make photo copies. Seriously? Is this what this shit is coming to? I hope those people rot in hell (and get recalled and called up on corruption charges, which just might happen to Walker based on some of the stuff he’s said and done).

In more pleasant news, a restaurant review.

Last week I have the pleasure of dining at Nostrano here in Madison. They pride themselves with serving local seasonal foods, something that I’m sure is a bit more challenging, it being winter and all here in Wisconsin.

I was a bit early (and most of the rest of my dining party, late) so I joined a coworker at the bar, which had some interesting drinks to offer. As I was pumped full of sudafed due to a sinus infection, I chose to stick with water. But if I’m ever back (on someone else’s tab) I’ll be sure to try at least a few of their creative concoctions.

Once we were seated, our waitress did a great job making sure we were well taken care of. She did a great job answering my questions as to what was gluten free (the vast majority of the menu). Unfortunately they were out of the rabbit that night, which is what I would likely have ordered had they had it. If you’re looking for a place with a large offering, this isn’t your kind of place. They only had one vegetarian option, not that the rest of the menu was extensive either.

I ended up with the: Grilled Sturgeon
Chickpea Aioli | Roasted Artichoke | Nocellara Olives | Salsa Verde
which the waitress seemed to think was one of their best items. Quite a few in my dining party opted for the pork shoulder. No one complained on any level about the food, though a few of us commented on quantity. My dish was quite tasty and well presented. And small. While I don’t consider $19 a lot for a dish, I did leave still hungry (no one else was ordering dessert, but they weren’t exactly large enough to be filling either). But perhaps more important here, I didn’t get glutened.

My impression of Nostrano is that if you want to eat well, you’re going to need to shell out quite a bit of money. You’ll want an appetizer, and you’ll likely still have room for dessert. It could add up fast.

But the atmosphere was great, the waitstaff all were friendly and helpful. The food was well prepared. This is a place I’d happily let someone else pay for to have me eat at, but as I told the ManBeast, there is no need for it to be on our ‘to eat at’ list. The food wasn’t so amazing that I think he needs to try it, and for the price and size of the dishes, I’d rather try another place neither of us have been to.


BAS – big ass salad, the lunch of champions

About a month ago I switched to having salad for lunch every work day. A Big Ass Salad. Nothing low fat or low cal here, just lots of veggies and some healthy fats. I was interested to see how this worked out money wise so I took the time to collect all the prices I’ve been paying and how much I use of each thing. We usually do our food shopping Sunday night, and after we get home I spend about 30-45 minutes chopping everything up and divvying it out. If I was good and bought home all my containers from the previous week, I can simply divide everything by 5 and have my lunch set for the entire week.

My big salad mix always includes:
$0.29 1/2 lb carrots (5lb for $2.89)
$2.49 12 oz cherry tomatoes
$2.07 3 small red bell peppers
$2.25 1.25 heads of lettuce
$1.49 8oz mushrooms
$2.80-3.73 1/4c-1/3c pecans

So this puts me at $11.39-12.32 for the week, depending on how heavy handed I am with the pecans. For arguments sake, we’ll just say I spend $12 for all of my salad ingredients for the week. That puts it at $2.40 a day.

I’ve been making my usual dressing; a batch usually lasts me the week:
$0.72 1/2 c olive oil ($8.99 on sale for 50 oz)
$0.54 1/2 c balsamic vinegar ($4.49 for 34oz)
$0.17 1/4 c honey mustard ($0.99 for 12oz)
$0.50? 1/4 c honey (we don’t go through honey very fast, and I can’t find my last receipt for it, so this is a WAG).

So that’s $1.93 for dressing, for a total of $13.93 for the week, and $2.79 a day.

Now, even for me, this sometimes isn’t enough, or I want some additional flavors. I usually add in cheese of some sort. Sometimes sardines. Occasionally salmon.

I often buy feta, generally in 1/2 lb containers, though I don’t think I always use the full 1/2 lb for salads. That adds another $4.39 for the week, or $0.88 a day if I do indeed use the 1/2 lb up.

The last three cans of sardines I bought ranged from $1.69 to $3.59. And I usually use a full can on the salad since they are a pain to store once you’ve opened a can. At most I do this three times a week, but sometimes not at all. The last can of salmon I bought was $3.49 and I split it between 2 days worth of salad.

We don’t get the greatest avocados up here, but sometimes I buy one and put half on a salad. They’ve been running $1.29 each recently.

So while I can spend as little as $2.79 a day for lunch, if I have say, a chunk of feta, a half an avocado, and a can of sardines, it can run upwards of $6.50. Granted, that $6.50 fills me up and I can’t even always finish it, that still is quite a bit to spend for lunch in my opinion.

All in all I think eating lunch this way has had two positive effects. It’s been saving me money by not eating left overs, this is of course assuming that what we make for dinner is usually more per meal, which I think is safe to say with how we eat. It’s also been cutting down on waste. I know exactly how much to buy for the week and I’ve yet to waste any of it. By trying to coordinate leftovers for lunch, things were often getting pushed to the back of the fridge and forgotten, or I wasn’t in the mood for whatever leftovers we had, so expensive leftovers were getting thrown out.

Overall, I hope this is something I will continue. I probably should mix up the dressing a bit, but otherwise I don’t feel myself getting tired of it. Another added benefit is that it gives me all my vegetables in one meal. We aren’t always the greatest at making sure to serve a veggie with dinner, and I’m not good at remembering to eat fruits and veggies the rest of the day. But since I’m more concerned with having a balanced DIET rather than balanced meals, getting all my veggies in one meal is perfectly okay with me. I’m also hoping that once green plants are back in season here in WI, some of these things will be a bit cheaper and I’ll be able to add a bit more variety. But for now, this suits me just fine.

For your viewing pleasure

As a fan of Jon Stewart, I hate to say it, but he did a shitty job covering whats happening in WI. And who ever does his research needs to do a little better of a job. Our senators left because they CAN’T FILIBUSTER.

Last week the state assembly tried to pull a fast one and vote on the bill not only before the democrats arrived (on time no less) but before any amendments had been discussed. Rep. Baraca did a great job ripping into them. This was before Gordon Hintz ripped state assembly republicans a new one too.

Rachel Maddow, who I had not watched with any seriousness before, has been doing a great job covering whats been happening here. Walker did this all before as Milwaukee Co executive. He FIRED union security guards at County buildings, and then replaced them with a private FOREIGN company. A company that doesn’t have the greatest reputation. You should just watch. I can’t do this one justice:

Riots in Madison ;)

There are a couple of videos up on youtube that I think really speak to what is going on here in Madison.

This passionate plea from Representative Gordon Hintz gives me chills. To hear that the Republicans aren’t even following the rules of democracy makes me sick. Eight Republican senators are currently eligible for recall and I truly hope the voters in those districts will see fit to recall them. These senators have made a mockery of democracy and a mockery of their constituents.

Did you know we’re rioting here in Madison?

The Ed show has also reported live from Madison and does an awesome covering our riots.

Even Jesse Jackson is here.

Finding more info

At this point, I just can’t keep up with the information coming out. So I suggest you check out PolitiFact and Sunshine Review to find more information. And I also highly suggest looking through a few subreddits: r/madisonwi and r/wisconsin. People there have been doing a good job keeping up with the news and pointing out different facets of this whole thing.

Madison public schools are closed for a third day in a row.

And as of last night, our 14 democratic senators were MIA, as a way to block voting on the bill.

Fun in politics

There are 19 Republican senators and 14 Democratic senators that sit in the Wisconsin state senate. In order to vote, there must be 20 senators present. All 14 Democratic senators (and supposedly 2 Republicans) are missing. Rumor has it they may have left the state.

TIL: In ‘the old days’, when representatives wanted to block a bill, they would not show up en masse. The idea behind the filibuster then was to prevent this missing in action. By allowing a filibuster, it meant politicians still showed up. But Wisconsin doesn’t have a filibuster. So the only way to block motion on a bill is to have a large block of representatives simply not show up.

Now the fun part is that Walker has ordered the state police to find the senators (great use of limited resources, right?) and bring them in. If the missing senators have indeed left the state, while they will be in contempt, it also means the state police don’t have jurisdiction.


Mark Pocan is my State representative. He rocks. Even he says Scott Walker is acting kind of like Ballon Boy.