Cheese on sushi? We must be in Wisconsin!

I’ve been on and off the sushi train a couple times — In college I ate sushi weekly with a group of friends, but I hadn’t had sushi in a couple years because of some unfortunate food poisoning. Luckily, my lunch at Takara 88 in Middleton with Michelle was the perfect transition back onto the sushi train.

Takara house salad

Takara house salad

We started with the traditional sushi restaurant house salad with ginger dressing. I forgot how much I loved ginger dressing. Each sushi restaurant has it’s own version of the orange dressing, and Takara 88’s was just as good as all of the other versions I’ve had.

Shrimp and veggie tempura

Shrimp and veggie tempura

After the salad we tried their tempura with shrimp and bigs chunks of vegetables. The shrimp and the vegetables were perfectly cooked and the tempura was light and crispy. Sometimes tempura can be heavy and greasy, but Takara 88’s wasn’t.

Now on to the sushi. We got to try two of their special rolls and both of them were good, but I preferred the BMW roll.

BMW roll

BMW roll

BMW roll

BMW roll

The BMW roll comes with tempura shrimp and avocado and is topped with seared salmon, cheese, caviar and a special sauce. This was the perfect roll to ease back onto the sushi train. The cooked shrimp and avocado went great with the seared salmon. The BMW roll was my first introduction to sushi caviar. I could barely tell it was on the roll, but it did add a good salty flavor. The cheese is what made this roll a lot more interesting. I’ve never seen cheese on a sushi roll before, and I don’t think Michelle had either. The ingredients in the BMW roll sounded like everything and the kitchen sink, but they ended up working really well together.

"V" roll

“V” roll

"V" roll

“V” roll presentation

"V" roll

“V” roll

"V" roll presentation

“V” roll martini glass

The second roll we tried was the “V” roll, which is spicy tuna and crab, lettuce, avocado and asparagus wrapped in rice paper and topped with a spicy sauce. The presentation of the “V” roll was crazy pretty and used a martini glass. The “V” roll was good and the lettuce added a much-needed crunch.

FOOD NOTES: Sushi will probably never be my first choice, but Takara 88 in Middleton has some great special sushi rolls. The tempura is a great substitute for sushi, but if you’re OK with raw fish, the BMW roll is the way to go.

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Bakery’s lunch just as impressive as sweet treats

Rolling Pin Bake Shop, Fitchburg

Rolling Pin Bake Shop, Fitchburg

Bakeries are great, but bakeries that also serve food are even better. I’ve never eaten lunch at my favorite bakery, Scott’s, so I don’t have much to compare it to, but Rolling Pin Bake Shop‘s lunch impressed me. Based on my first visit with a friend and her daughter, I would totally recommend this place for a casual lunch or some fun baked goodies.

cake and cupcake case

cake and cupcake case

decorated cookie case

decorated cookie case

cookie case

cookie case

The day we went they had three full bakery cases plus a rack of bread and a spinning case full of treats. They had four different types of quiche on special, plus a homemade soup on top of their regular menu. One case was full of different types of cookies, another one had cakes and cupcakes, and a third had decorated sugar cookies. The spinning case was filled with chocolate-dipped treats and other specialty items.

apple puff

apple pastry

It took me about 15 minutes to settle on the apple pastry and a molasses cookie. The apple pastry smelled so good I definitely didn’t wait until after my sandwich was even delivered to devour it. The flaky pastry crust was super buttery, and the filling was your basic apple pie filling. I liked that the filling wasn’t too sweet and had a good cinnamon flavor. Since I ate the pastry there, I would have liked it warmed up but I forgot to ask before I finished it off. The molasses cookie (sorry…I ate it before remembering to take a picture) was perfect, but only if you like your molasses cookies soft. Some people like them crispy, but I like them chewy in the middle and just slightly crispy on the edges. Rolling Pin’s version was just that, plus it was topped with granulated sugar that helped cut the slight bitterness of the molasses. It was definitely one of the best (still not better than grandma’s though!) molasses cookies I’ve had.

turkey club

turkey club

For lunch I went with what I thought was going to be a simple turkey club sandwich, but the sourdough bread, applewood smoked bacon and other fresh ingredients elevated the sandwich above what I was expecting. The sandwich was also surprisingly large for the price ($8).

FOOD NOTES: Don’t let the strip mall or facade of a bakery fool you — the lunch at Rolling Pin Bake Shop is super good. Don’t get me wrong — they’re baked goods were great (I will totally be back for a molasses cookie), but their lunch is what stood out as surprisingly tasty for a great price. Everyone working and eating there (including a pair of cops on their lunch break — I love it when you can tell they’re regulars!) were super nice. There aren’t a ton of good restaurant options in Fitchburg (there are a decent amount of chains, but not a lot of local places)…so if you’re in Fitchburg and in need a good lunch spot, I recommend Rolling Pin.

Harry Potter 7

>I had to write a short blog post about the Harry Potter 7 opening because I got to see it at a very nice theater. The Sundance Theater has a full service bar and restaurant in addition to the regular popcorn and soda. For the Harry Potter 7 release they had special smoothie flavors for each Harry Potter house, and HP themed appetizers and mixed drinks.

The thing I was most looking forward to seeing and possibly tasting was the Butter Beer. I thought it would be like tea or a butterscotch Italian soda but it was much worse than that…it was rootbeer with butterscotch flavoring in it…I didn’t try it because I’m not a fan of rootbeer but for some reason I thought it was going to be warm. Interesting how different people would make food from the same movie! The premiere was great despite the addition of HP themed food and drink!

I’m out of pickles

>I have always been a big fan of combining foods that sound gross when combined but are actually really tasty! Before the double-Lindsay Lohan in Parent Trap told the world about oreos and peanut butter I loved that combination. It is the perfect combination of chocolate, peanut butter, and cookie crunch! However, don’t be fooled by peanut butter oreos in the package. The peanut butter frosting is terrible and the fact that the white frosting isn’t there, I think, is one of the main reasons the weird peanut butter frosting oreos are terrible. I also like to use crunchy peanut butter…it adds some great texture!

The first combination I remember eating was my mother’s doing. She’s not much of a cook so she would use mac and cheese as a means to get me to eat vegetables. Now, I love vegetables but still make boxed mac and cheese with canned peas. It doesn’t sound terrible but it doesn’t seem to be a common combination either. I think the reason I really like it is nostalgia but it is a really good way to get kids to eat vegetables!

I have always been a big fan of my family’s traditional ham-pickle roll-ups. You take a slice of sandwich meat ham, spread cream cheese on it, roll a pickle up in it, and cut it into medallions. I know, it sounds terrible but when the right pickles are used they are epic! Because of the combination I recently tried a new one…pickle slices with cheddar cheese on top. It is really simple and very good, especially when you use sharp cheddar!

I have always liked the traditional combination of bananas and peanut butter but I have never been able to try peaches and cottage cheese, or pickles and peanut butter. Do you have a food combination you think I should try, or do you like one of the combinations I mentioned? Let me know!

What’s your guilty food pleasure?

>Most people have some type of food or specific food that they know is bad for them or too expensive but they eat it anyway because they love it too much! I agree with this philosophy…you have to live your life the way you want and eat what you want because if food can’t be enjoyable then that would really put a damper on my day!

Other than Dr. Pepper (I know, it’s not a food but in my mind it is still a guilty pleasure) and red velvet cupcakes, my guilty pleasure is an entire grocery store. I am secretly addicted to Whole Foods. I have heard they have bad policies and are a not-s0-good corporation but I just don’t care! If you can make organic spinach and black beans look good I give you props! Just walking into Whole Foods I am taken aback by how nice everything is displayed and everything looks good…even some of the more questionably “fancy” organic food that shall go unmentioned.

My guilty pleasures are specifically in four sections of the store. I wish I had the type of money to spend $11.99 per pound on chicken and buy the really prettily displayed seafood but I am a college student with a budget! My first guilty pleasure are the free samples in the produce department! You have to go between 11am and 12:30ish (or until they run out) and usually only on weekends. They give you whole strawberries, half of a banana, chunks of mango, different prepared dips and salsas, and if you really look…there are free cheese samples in the back by the cheese counter. The other secret is that if you really look like your trying to decide between different deli-counter options they will inevitably offer you a sample! LOVE IT!

My second guilty pleasure is the olive bar. At $12 a pound…I usually get 8 or 9 dollars worth and absolutely love it! They have traditional green and black olives but they also have marinated artichoke hearts, marinated feta cheese, spicy green olives, blue cheese stuffed olives (these are kind of nasty!), garlic stuffed olives, and (my favorite) marinated mega white beans! Sometimes you can go on a lucky day and they have toothpicks to try everything…that’s the best! Everything is pretty good on the olive bar even though I stick to the marinated feta, marinated artichokes, spicy and garlic stuffed olives, and the white beans! However, beware of the wrinkly black olive…my mom and I were trying everything when we first went to Whole Foods and I asked her to try that one…she said it tasted like vomit…BEWARE!

My third guilty pleasure is the cheese counter. I (being a true Sconnie!) love the artisan Wisconsin cheese they feature at their cheese counter. I don’t like mushy cheese or goat cheese but for less than $10 I can usually get a pretty decent sized wedge of fancy cheese! There’s nothing better than a fancy cheese to spice up a can of soup or a generic salad!

My fourth guilty pleasure is the deli counter…not only do they give you free samples like I mentioned but they will also give you the recipe if you ask. I don’t like asking for recipes unless I have bought something so after I’ve sample something and I decide I really like it I buy a small container of it and ask for the recipe. I have gotten some of my favorite cold salad recipes from them! It is great to be able to get the recipes off of them because I can make a full batch for the price of 6 ounces at the store! My favorite salad from them has corn, asparagus, artichoke hearts, tomatoes, and random other vegetables if you have them. Then you just toss it in a dressing made from cider vinegar, dijon mustard, garlic, olive oil, and salt and pepper…it is so refreshing!

So my guilty food pleasure is definitely the expensive guilty part but it is totally worth it! Do you have a guilty pleasure?