Oktoberfest - Starting off right

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Happy October, folks! Although I don't know how happy things can be when the high temperature so far has been about 50.000F! The past few mornings have been especially chilly - during one run earlier this week, the thermometer said 34F. Nice!

Work has been busy - my projects are in full tilt mode; phase one of one of the projects is due to launch next week and there's still a ton of things to take care of, so I kept my head down most of the week and focused on getting as much done as possible. We sent nearly 2700 "grid cards" out on Tuesday alone - that was an interesting day!

So, when Friday came and the opportunity to eat two - yep, you heard right - two fish frys came about, I jumped at the chance. First stop was to the local watering hole - Paul's Neighborhood Bar. We had heard the fish at Paul's was phenomenal, so we stopped in for lunch to check it out.

Unfortunately, the fish fry at Paul's doesn't start until 4:30pm... so, we were "stuck" with having to find an alternative. I spied a baked cod special for $6 and decided to give it a try. The fish was great - but the plate was doused in butter... argh.

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And as if covering the fish, the potatoes, and the beans in butter wasn't enough, they serve it all with a side of butter. You have to love Wisconsin.

The good news is that the fish was quite good. I sandwiched it between a few napkins in an attempt to soak up as much butter as possible, skimmed as much butter off the potatoes as possible, and enjoyed the lunch.

For dinner, the crew hit Norm's Hideaway Bar and Grill, which is located on Lake Koshkonog, just outside of Fort Atkinson and not too far from Busseyville.

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Some coworkers had told us about Norm's, and after checking with a few other sources, Norm's earned a shot at being reviewed/rated by The Friday Night Fish Fry Fanatics.

The place sits literally "on the lake" and has a great northwoods/rustic feel to it. The only downside is that they allow smoking inside, but thankfully it wasn't terribly busy and therefore it wasn't terribly smokey.

Here's a shot of the bar area - we sat here for a bit while waiting for a table to open up (it's first come, first served for seating, and you order all of your food/drinks/etc at the bar).

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The bartenders were friendly, fast, and helpful. We chatted with one of them for quite a bit - she gave us some tips about the food, and later shared some appetizers with us.

While waiting for our table, we ordered some appetizers - white cheese curds and mini corndogs. They were pretty tasty - the curds were good; not homemade, but good.

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A table opened up, and we ordered fish - I was the only one to go with baked fish, and decided to try the Fiesta Poached Cod. It was three pieces of poached cod, topped with a roasted garlic salsa and served with potato pancakes. It looks odd in the photo, but trust me when I say it was absolutely delicious. The fish was light, flaky, flavorful, and tender. The salsa and potato pancakes were great as well. The potato pancakes weren't as good as the ones from Palmyra, but they were a close second!

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Other fish orders included Walleye, which earned rave reviews (no photo, sorry!) and the deep fried cod, which was extremely tasty. The fried cod was served nice and hot; it was lightly battered, moist, delicately flavored, and not the slightest bit greasy - not even after it sat for a while, which is a great indicator of a well-fried piece of fish. And, it was $9 to boot - talk about a bargain!

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We'd highly recommend Norm's Hideaway - great fish, great location, friendly service, and outstanding value. It's definitely worth the 25-30 minute drive from Madison.

I woke up this morning to weather that was, well, not so great - low 40's and raining. So, it was time to break out the dreaded trainer. I don't hate the trainer at all; in fact, I really like it, but I don't enjoy riding on the trainer because it's quite boring. Nothing like riding on a bike treadmill for an hour or so.

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The other thing that scares me about the trainer is that I'm still not convinced that it's OK to use a carbon fiber bike on the trainer... the bike's bottom bracket seems to "flex" a lot while riding, and that makes me nervous - I'm afraid it's going to crack or become damaged. I really need to get a second bike for trainer/commuter use.

After riding for 70 minutes, I hit the road for a run, then went over to Oktoberfest at Quivey's Grove. Quivey's Oktoberfest is quite an event - they invite 35 microbreweries to their grounds (Quivey's is a restaurant) and for $30 you get a small tasting glass and the chance to sample as many of the microbrews as you wish.

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The event is quite popular - it sells out months in advance, and people arrive early to get in line - this is the line, nearly 30 minutes before the event was due to open, and with the weather not being real friendly (rainy and cold).

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Once inside, it was a madhouse. People everywhere, all eager to try the different microbrews. Tried a bunch of different offerings - some were really good, others not so much. Quivey's did a great job of thinking of just about everything - they had this ingenious little "washing station" where you could rinse your glass between tastings. So simple, yet so effective - a horse trough, some PVC pipe, and a garden hose.

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There was even a band that played a nice variety of music; mostly "rockabilly" type music, but they were pretty decent. The funny part of it was they kept stopping the band so that the Badger football game could be played over the PA (the Badgers won, by the way).

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Quivey's also had food offerings that included bratwurst, soft pretzels, pulled pork, chicken sandwiches, and cheese curds. Tried the pulled pork sandwich (absolutely phenomenal) and a brat (decent, but not amazing). But perhaps the coolest thing at the event were these pretzel necklaces. Here's Jed showing off his edible neck ornament:

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With nearly 1000 people crowded into the tent, a belly full of pork, brats, and microbrew, and the weather not giving any sign of getting any warmer, it was time to call it a day. Headed back to the apartment and am sitting on the couch, watching some football. Hope you're all having a good weekend - we'll see you next week.

Here's one final shot of the people inside the tent at Quivey's. If you look really closely, you can see some of the breweries around the perimeter of the tent.

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