Madison Wisconsin with Sub-Zero and Wolf

In Travel

Madison Wisconsin with Sub-Zero and Wolf | A Couple Cooks

Madison Wisconsin with Sub-Zero and Wolf | A Couple Cooks

This post was created in partnership with Sub-Zero and Wolf. All opinions are our own.

Wandering around a massive garden affectionately named “Harvest Haven” with a storybook white barn is the last thing I’d imagine at an appliance manufacturer’s corporate HQ. But that’s where I found myself in Madison, Wisconsin. There were waving rows of purple kale, dozens of orange squashes, fruit trees, and hives buzzing with bees. Inside the barn, a spread of local cheeses awaited, with pickled garden vegetables and fresh honey from the bees. The resident chef guided us around the rows, letting us sample bites of tart blackberries and bitter fennel seeds as we went. Was I really at a manufacturer’s corporate HQ? Why would appliance brands like Sub-Zero and Wolf invest in such an idyllic setting?

While in Madison, I had some incredible food and spirited conversation about the value of cooking with fresh, nourishing produce. It’s not just for the eco-nerd or the yuppie or the foodie. It’s for everyone, and that’s part of what we were there to discover. Here’s a short recap of my trip to Sub-Zero and Wolf ‘s HQ and the extra day I spent exploring Madison, Wisconsin. My travel buddies were dear friends of the best kind: Jack and Jeanine of Love & Lemons, Melissa of The Fauxmartha, and Elizabeth of Brooklyn Supper.

The unique thing about Sub-Zero and Wolf is that beyond just making top-of-the-line refrigerators and cooking appliances, they’re committed to inspiring everyday people to cook more using fresh ingredients. This, you may know, is also the mission behind why Alex and I started A Couple Cooks over seven years ago! Due to our similar missions, we’ve paired with the brand to create several recipes and a few podcasts to highlight our shared love of the value of cooking and eating the freshest ingredients. Last year, we created this Italian Gnocchi Soup and this year our popular Raw Falafel Buddha Bowls. We also recorded this this podcast from the kitchen of Love & Lemons where Jeanine and I cooked up a meal from what was on hand in her refrigerator. So I was thrilled to have the chance to see where all the magic happens.

Madison Wisconsin with Sub-Zero and Wolf | A Couple Cooks

From the left Elizabeth (Brooklyn Supper), Jack and Jeanine (Love & Lemons), Melissa and Kevin (The Fauxmartha), Chef Joel

Maybe it’s because I grew up watching Mr. Rodgers, but I love factory tours! Learning about the way things are made is endlessly fascinating to me, be it at a local honey maker or a car manufacturer. Our group toured the factory floors for both Sub-Zero refrigerators (swoon) and Wolf ranges (major swoon), and it was incredible to see the amount of detail and precision that goes into each appliance. I was impressed by the rigor and emphasis on quality, with many different quality assurance steps during the manufacturing process. After hearing I toured the plant, a friend of mine told me she has a Sub-Zero refrigerator that has lasted for 20 years with no service calls! It’s a testament to the quality and care put into the manufacturing.

Madison Wisconsin with Sub-Zero and Wolf | A Couple Cooks

A Wolf range (kitchen goals, right?)

Another highlight was spending time with the resident chef and getting our hands dirty in the demo kitchens. Chef Joel is a walking encyclopedia of food science tidbits, and he spews recipe ideas left and right. For lunch, he made us a top notch spread: seared scallops with crispy lentils and preserved lemon, locally-raised beef tenderloin with chimichurri, and cream puffs with caramel sauce. (In case you’re wondering, as a flexitarian I had one bite of the beef and it was quite possibly the most tender, delicious beef I’ve tasted.) Along the way, I was surprised to learn he relies heavily on produce from the garden when he feeds guests that are at the Westye F. Bakke Center for training and other events. He uses the honey from his bees, herbs, and several veggies in his menus. The flowers on our dining tables were grown in the garden, and they even make hot sauce onsite.

Madison Wisconsin with Sub-Zero and Wolf | A Couple Cooks

Chef Joel in his element

This is not at all what I expected from a corporate center, and that’s another thing that differentiates Sub-Zero and Wolf. They truly care about good food, which is why they built the farm and gardens. They’re practicing their values and investing in things that they believe in, even if it might not have an immediate return.

Of course, one of the best parts was spending time on the farm surrounded by beautiful, local-as-it-gets produce! Here’s a selection of photos from the space.

Madison Wisconsin with Sub-Zero and Wolf | A Couple Cooks

The farm, complete with vineyard

Madison Wisconsin with Sub-Zero and Wolf | A Couple Cooks

Hoop house tomatoes

Madison Wisconsin with Sub-Zero and Wolf | A Couple Cooks

Melissa, always documenting

Madison Wisconsin with Sub-Zero and Wolf | A Couple Cooks

Madison Wisconsin with Sub-Zero and Wolf | A Couple Cooks

The flower of an okra plant

Madison Wisconsin with Sub-Zero and Wolf | A Couple Cooks

The lovely barn interior

Madison Wisconsin with Sub-Zero and Wolf | A Couple Cooks

And the spread that awaited! Pickled garden veg of all kinds

Madison Wisconsin with Sub-Zero and Wolf | A Couple Cooks

A special Pisco sour, one of my favorite drinks

After bidding Sub-Zero and Wolf goodbye, I spent the following day exploring their hometown, Madison with my parents and our son Larson! We were pleasantly surprised: the town is charming, with lovely historic buildings and lots of good food. It’s right on the water, so this was the view from my hotel (the Edgewater), which almost felt like the ocean.

Madison Wisconsin with Sub-Zero and Wolf | A Couple Cooks

Everyone I talked with said when in Madison, get cheese curds! Translation: chow down some warm, fried balls of cheesy goodness. Ours came with a smoked paprika aioli sauce. We got them at The Old Fashioned, but there are several other cheese curd recommendations below.

Madison Wisconsin with Sub-Zero and Wolf | A Couple Cooks

Cheese curds at The Old Fashioned

We strolled around the historic downtown, then trekked over to Madison Sourdough, a restaurant and bakery with some incredible sourdough bread. The eggs diablo was incredible: poached eggs and toasted sourdough in a spicy ancho tomato sauce with cilantro cream. The bakery is located in a sweet neighborhood with some quaint historic buildings.

Madison Wisconsin with Sub-Zero and Wolf | A Couple Cooks

Madison Wisconsin with Sub-Zero and Wolf | A Couple Cooks

Madison Wisconsin with Sub-Zero and Wolf | A Couple Cooks

Eggs diablo at Madison Sourdough

Madison Wisconsin with Sub-Zero and Wolf | A Couple Cooks

From there, we walked back across town to the University. Almost everyone we talked to said to get a beer on the Memorial Union Terrace. When we arrived there, I saw why. It’s incredible, right on the water with a lovely view. We grabbed a beer and popcorn and relaxed by the water; it has almost a European vibe. The walk over to the University is a great neighborhood as well; it’s full of fun restaurants and colorful characters.

Madison Wisconsin with Sub-Zero and Wolf | A Couple Cooks

At Memorial Union Terrace

Since we had Larson out all day, we cooked dinner back at our Airbnb–a bit easier when travelling with a baby! However, we had one more foodie stop: brunch the next day at Short Stack. It’s got a line out the door, which always signifies a tasty spot. I ordered a breakfast sandwich: egg, tomato, caramelized onions, and rhubarb jam on a cheesy roll. It hit the spot, though the pulled pork and grits and huge pancake stack ordered others at my table also looked fabulous. For our meal, we met up with a recipe tester from our Pretty Simple Cooking cookbook who lives in Madison, Rochelle. Where most testers made 2 to 3 items from our book, she’s made 90 so far! It was wonderful to meet in person and thank her for her incredible support of the book.

Madison Wisconsin with Sub-Zero and Wolf | A Couple Cooks

Brunch at Short Stack

All in all, Madison is as charming as it gets. I’d absolutely love to return, especially for some more fall foliage. I’ve included a list of additional recommendations below that we’ve gathered from friends and readers. Let us know if you have any questions or additional recommendations in the comments below!

What to Eat in Madison

  • Cheese curds: The Old Fashioned, Craftsman, The Vintage
  • For dinner: Merchant (farm to table), Heritage Tavern, Estrellon, Coopers Tavern
  • For lunch: Madison Sourdough, Graze
  • For breakfast: Short Stack, Marigold
  • Pizza: Salvatore’s Tomato Pies (also homemade burrata), Granpa’s, Ian’s
  • Cocktails: The Robin Room (near Sal’s), Gibbs (near Granpa’s), Merchant
  • For wine: Square Wine
  • For anytime: beers at the Memorial Union terrace (a must!)
  • Ice cream: Babcock Creamery (also at the Union)
  • Ramen: Umami
  • Tacos: Tex Tubb’s Taco Palace

For more on Sub-Zero and Wolf, head over to their website .

8 Comments

  • Reply
    Erin@WellPlated
    October 18, 2017 at 11:13 pm

    This post brought back so many wonderful memories of when I lived in Madison! You hit up some true gems and favorite spots. I loved learning about Sub-Zero and Wolf too!

    • Reply
      Sonja
      November 5, 2017 at 8:49 pm

      YES! Such a great city. Thanks so much for reading — Sub-Zero and Wolf are incredible!

  • Reply
    Anonymous
    October 19, 2017 at 1:32 pm

    If you were “pleasantly surprised” by Madison, clearly you did not do your home work. Madison is lovely and has always been. Where have you been?

    • Reply
      Sonja
      November 5, 2017 at 8:50 pm

      Haha, that’s a good question, especially since I’m from Minnesota originally! It was an even lovelier city than I expected; clearly my expectations were not high enough! That’s changed now.

  • Reply
    Melissa
    October 23, 2017 at 10:32 am

    Oh my gosh, what a picture stance I have 😂! Loved getting to see you on this fun trip!

    • Reply
      Sonja
      November 5, 2017 at 8:51 pm

      Haha! It was such a pleasure to hang. And I love catching you in the zone!

  • Reply
    Mary Holman
    October 23, 2017 at 5:25 pm

    Next time, stop into Fromagination. The best cheese shop!

    • Reply
      Sonja
      November 5, 2017 at 8:51 pm

      YES! I heard that from a few commenters on Instagram as well. Next time for sure!

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