A Tale of Two Cod

24 Feb

I just returned from a weekend in LaCrosse, WI.  I am now convinced that people do not eat in LaCrosse, because we didn’t.  I attended the Organic Farming Conference, held annually in LaCrosse.  The conference itself was interesting enough, as interesting it can be for a city girl who really wants to move to San Francisco or New York.  However, when we attempted to find a decent restaurant to spend our co-op’s per diem money in, we were out of luck.  Defeated and hungry, we returned from a walk around the two blocks of downtown LaCrosse to the hotel bar.

For reasons unbeknownst to me, I decided to try the Lemon Pepper Cod from the menu.  Actually, I know why I chose that dish, it’s because I couldn’t eat anything else except for the Italian Nachos.  Something told me that the ghosts of thousands of Italians would descend on my conscious  if I ate something called Italian Nachos.  I mean, really. So, cod it was.  When the food came, I quickly realized that my cod was very undercooked.  Don’t get me wrong, I love sushi, but not from a hotel bar that serves pizza fries. I sent it back to be finished, and when I attempted to eat the rubbery pieces that resembled someones arthritic old fingers, something told me that I would be better off not consuming this stuff.  I settled for my steamed broccoli (which was my dinner for the second night in a row) and ordered another glass of wine.

After the final presentation of the conference, we decided that rather than attempt to eat in LaCrosse again, we would eat on our way back to the city.  Having struck out all weekend, I was not expecting anything.  We decided to go to The Norton’s, a restaurant in Bay  City, WI owned by the husband and wife team of Greg and Sarah Norton.  Greg also has a claim to fame as the bass player for Husker Du, and currently plays with Gang Font, which also includes Dave King, one of my personal favorite drummers.  So, I had to control my groupie tendencies and attempt to play it cool while I was there. I think I did alright.

We began the meal with two little boats filled with pickled green tomatoes and a plate of Spanish almonds, Manchego cheese topped with quince and andouille sausage.  The tomatoes were SO good. I love quince. I decided that I needed to erase the memory of last night’s cod and ordered cod again from Norton’s.  Granted, there was no where to go but up, but when I had my first bite of the miso and sake marinated black cod with crimini mushrooms, brown rice and a miso sauce, I was in love. The fish was wonderfully light and flakey,  the miso was sweet and delicate and the mushrooms balanced it all with a rich saltiness.  Maybe it was the lack of food all weekend, but I ate every bit of it. I was even a little sad afterwards.  It was one of those meals that you don’t really want to end.  There were very few things that could have been better, mainly that I wished I was there with a hot date instead of my coworkers (sorry guys) but some things can’t be helped.

What’s the moral of this story?  Never eat fish in a hotel bar, unless the hotel is within ten miles of the ocean where it was caught. I’m glad that Norton’s was able to give me something to look back upon my mini-trip with happiness. Go check them out.

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2 Responses to “A Tale of Two Cod”

  1. Elliah Finckleton February 25, 2008 at 7:17 pm #

    The best fame is a writer’s fame and that what i am doing. It’s enough to get a table at a good restaurant, but not enough to get you interrupted when you eat

  2. Liz February 27, 2008 at 6:48 pm #

    The Italian Nachos would have totally kicked that lemon pepper cod’s ass. I can still taste those pickled green tomatoes in my imagination.

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