Grazing on Life

by Holly on October 12, 2010

in dinner,eating out,seriousness

If someone would have told me five years ago I would be living in Madison, working the full-time job I am now and blogging about food in my spare time, I probably would have laughed in my obnoxious, slightly manly way and said, “That’s funny. But seriously, what am I really doing?”

Life has a tendency to do that.

Doesn’t the Woody Allen saying go something like, “If you want to make God laugh, tell him all about your plans?” I mean, when was the last time you envisioned the next five years of your life only to have found things go exactly as you had planned five years later?

The world works in mysterious and wonderful ways. I firmly believe that. Things happen for very specific reasons, even if you can’t quite see the clarity of the situation as it whirls around your head like one of those pesky buzzing flies taunting you to swat them.

If I wasn’t living in Madison, I wouldn’t have had the chance to eat at Graze.

Madison’s fantastically talented Chef Tory Miller opened this chic gastropub several months ago, which focuses on locally-made, organically-grown and grass-fed food.

The point is to graze throughout your meal – trying a variety of small plates and simply enjoying the experience of eating delicious food with friends, family or a loved one.

I’m more of a food hoarder myself, but I thought this “graze” concept was worth a try.

Naturally, grazing (or really, any sort of good eating) should start with a locally-made beer.

This one was Moon Man by New Glarus.

Before I proceed, I should tell you that if it wasn’t for a very special blogger guest of mine, I may not have gone to Graze at all Monday night. The stars would have never aligned, that beer would never have been ordered and a half basket of cheese curds lovingly fried in a vodka batter would not have been eaten.

It would have been a travesty.

Thanks be to Danielle.

And Wisconsin Cheese.

If I hadn’t started working as an administrative assistant at an accounting firm in Minnesota, where I was bored one day and happened upon Kath’s blog, I probably never would have even started my own blog. That means I definitely would have never met Danielle or even perhaps been interested in dining at Graze.

My foodie soul would have never been nurtured, and I may have never ventured off to try a Beet Salad with pepitas, goat cheese and a honey-balsamic vinaigrette…

…or a Warm Farro Salad with brussel sprouts, sweet potato and a curry vinaigrette.

Heck, without blogging, I would have no idea what farro is.

If it hadn’t been for a two-year relationship full of struggles and hardship, I may have never had the inner strength to take care of myself. To get healthy. To treat my body right. To treat myself right.

Without the crappy relationship, administrative assistant job, food blogging + blog friends, moving to Madison and truly being on my own, I don’t know if I would have gotten to the point of realizing dessert is an essential part of a healthy life.

Specifically, peach + raspberry crisp with vanilla ice cream.

You can swoon. It was by far the best course of the whole dinner.

Really, there are no mistakes in life. One thing leads to the next which leads to the next…kind of like grazing, I suppose. You can be a cow in a field of alfalfa who wants to move into a field of clover really, really badly. You can try to lead the herd to said field of clover as much as you want, but when your cow friends all start gravitating to the big hay pile by the barn, hay it is.

I may plan to be married to a stunning Argentinean tango dancer, living in Buenos Aires and becoming a writer in five years. But things change.

When I find myself married to a Wisconsin-born farm boy, living in the middle of Nowhere and whittling canes for the local Amish community, please remind me of this.

{ 44 comments }

katie October 12, 2010 at 9:49 pm

I love how open you are to whatever the future may hold!!!! thats such a great way to be! Life is a roller coaster.. gota love it!

glidingcalm October 12, 2010 at 9:55 pm

I told her to eat some cheese for me……..and she did!!!!!!!!! LOVEEEEEEEEEE YOU BOTH!!

Danielle October 12, 2010 at 9:58 pm

What an attractive picture of I.

All insecurities and grammar mistakes aside, OLIVE EWE! Like really, really love. So much so that you might have to get not one, but two restraining orders (maybe more) for the number of stalkers you keep attracting.

You are fabulous. Life, as unpredictable as it is, is incredible. And, so are cheese curds.

P.S. My apologies to any commented who is freaked out by my crazies. You kinda had to be there ;) Holly, I miss you already.

Jessica @ How Sweet It Is October 12, 2010 at 10:01 pm

I couldn’t agree more – if there is anything I learned this year, it is that one thing leads to the next!

claire October 12, 2010 at 10:06 pm

Ahhh, amazing post lady! I also would never have thought I’d be doing any of the things I’m doing now five years ago…pretty splendid, isn’t it?!

Oh, and guess who I am seeing tomorrow, miss danielle! so excited.

hippierunner October 12, 2010 at 10:07 pm

This was a great, honest post! And I loooove the new look of your page!

Lindsay @ Pinch of Yum October 12, 2010 at 10:25 pm

Am i going to drive to Madison just to visit that restaurant? Maybe.

Averie (LoveVeggiesAndYoga) October 12, 2010 at 11:01 pm

“cheese curds lovingly fried in a vodka batter”—I would gladly unveganize and give myself a horrible food allergy reaction just to eat one more WI cheese curd in my life. Oh, how i want to. Badly.

Love this post, how one thing in life always leads to other things. My entire life, the major things, my child, my spouse, where we live is ALL BASED on random happenstance stuff that had the dice rolled the other way, so to speak, none of my life as i know it would have happened.

See you soon. Omg. Thrilled!!!!!!!

Lynn @ The Actors Diet October 12, 2010 at 11:02 pm

i love any post that starts off with a woody allen quote!

if i hadn’t stumbled upon kath’s blog, i proabably wouldn’t have started my own either. which means i wouldn’t have gotten 2 free sandwiches like i did tonight. hallelujah!

Madeline - Greens and Jeans October 12, 2010 at 11:08 pm

I hear you girlfriend. I have to keep reminding myself of all of this as I freak the heck out over my move! Things always fall into place, as crazy and unexpected as that place may be.

Amanda (Eating Up) October 12, 2010 at 11:28 pm

This may be one of my favorite posts of yours. And I’ve been reading for a long time, girl. I relate so much to most of your posts, but this one in particular for sure!

Katie October 13, 2010 at 1:10 am

You are truly a talented writer. I think you’ve summed up what so many of us think in a succinct and elegant way. And you still managed to bring cheese curds into the discussion, for which I will forever love you.

Adam October 13, 2010 at 1:34 am

I think you should write children’s books. You are so honest/humorous… it would just fit! :) Not to mention most of your posts always have life lessons that are essential for everyone to realize/learn! I always find myself deep in thought after reading TheHealthyE. This rocks! And you could not be more correct about life not always turning out the way you planned. I would never have thought that i would attend undergrad school in Ontario, but living here has shown me that i need both mountains and ocean in my life. ;) Respectful farms are cool too, but there aren’t many like those that you have been visiting around here!

Matt October 13, 2010 at 5:25 am

The next time I am in Madison, we are eating there. That is that.

Lauren October 13, 2010 at 5:56 am

Truer words have never been spoken!! You constantly remind me that life is so much more than I make of it most days. I love you and I love you for reminding me that everything that happens in life is teaching me and preparing me for the next step.
Oh and by the way, that dinner looks out of this world!!!!

chelsey @ clean eating chelsey October 13, 2010 at 6:05 am

This was a good post – it was EXACTLY what I needed to read. God works in crazy ways, huh?

I am a planner – I plan EVERYTHING. I freak out when things don’t go my way. I guess I just have to relax and enjoy the ride.

Erica October 13, 2010 at 6:44 am

A restaurant called Graze just opened in my town! Must be a popular name. The food looks great. I want the goat cheese on your salad and that dessert. Deliciousness. Always fun to try new places with great blogger friends

Crunchy Granola Gal October 13, 2010 at 7:33 am

I LOVE this post. Truly. It’s wonderful to look back on everything – good, bad, cheese curds – and remember how we got here today. I’m not sure if I do think that everything happens for a reason, or if it’s just random luck and then we do our best to make our situations work for us, but it sure is fun rolling with the punches (and homies).

oh yeah – i too am a food hoarder, not grazer, but this restaurant looks fab!

Sami October 13, 2010 at 7:42 am

mmmm.. this just may prove the theory that you should always eat dessert first? :)

Special K October 13, 2010 at 7:47 am

I am a GRAZER…and people say “how come you’re so skinny and you’re always eating?” GENETICS and a tendency to burn during 100% anxiety type a blodd pressuring personality type…but I also like to eat a lot of little things.
I love this concept. And is that fried goat cheese up there?

Nicole @ Geek Turned Athlete October 13, 2010 at 7:50 am

haha. Please don’t end up the last way! All your eats seriously look amazing, and if the cheese didn’t make me break out so much I would be enjoying some with you! Cheers!

P.S. It is funny how life turns out, isn’t it?

Alex @ IEatAsphalt October 13, 2010 at 7:57 am

I am begging you to please send some of those cheese curds to the Northeast. If I am ever in Wisconsin, I will be calling you to take me to Graze. Your meal is beyond words.

Lindsey @ Eat, Read, Run October 13, 2010 at 8:12 am

Haha – you are too funny. I am forever trying to plan and my husband is forever trying to get me not to. I’ve had a plan in my head for the past 4 years of what will happen in the next year and it’s never happenes. Time to let go I guess…

brandi October 13, 2010 at 8:28 am

Love this, love you, love it all!

PS: If I ever get to visit you, I want cheese curds!

Jenna October 13, 2010 at 8:58 am

You are always so full of wisdom and positivity my friend, thank you for that. We’ve just got to roll with the punches and go where life takes us, while eating cheese curds, of course. ;)

Christine October 13, 2010 at 9:02 am

It’s such a comforting way to think of things, isn’t it? That everything you do (good and bad) is leading you to whatever is next. I just like to think that there is really no WRONG decision to make when it comes to these huge, life altering choices. No pressure… that’s what I try to tell myself.

And MMMMMMMM, that dessert. I honestly haven’t had a crisp/crumble/buckle in at least a year, so I’ll have to either make one for myself or seek one out, pronto.

susan October 13, 2010 at 9:37 am

Love that Woody Allen quote! And I love that you said there are no mistakes in life. What a comforting thought!

Erica D October 13, 2010 at 9:51 am

My Jordanian co-worker (oh yeah, I got an internship at a magazine here!!) taught me the Arabic word for cow yesterday: bahkra!

And it’s funny that you used that analogy, because I took a survey today that asked me all about my plans for the future in relation to studying in the middle east. Sure, proficiency in Arabic would

Erica D October 13, 2010 at 9:58 am

…be great, but I’m mostly here for a unique experience, which will ultimately contribute to my lifelong pursuit of happiness.

Too bad there wasn’t space to write that on the survey!

Hilary October 13, 2010 at 10:20 am

I LIVE by the statement “everything happens for a reason”. I think it is so easy for people to focus on the “bad” when something doesn’t go their way. It’s soooo important to realize that there are no twists and turns in life that cannot have something good come out of it. It’s just what you make of the situation!

Virginia @ YtotheUmmy October 13, 2010 at 10:26 am

“whittling canes for the local Amish community” LMAO. whoo, that was funny. Great post, all very true :)

Megan (Braise the Roof) October 13, 2010 at 11:09 am

Cheese curds = best thing ever. Wise words, Holly. One of my favorite things that my dad always tells me when I’m feeling discouraged or sad is “when God closes a door, he opens a window”. So true.

Ashley S October 13, 2010 at 11:33 am

Are you still an administrative assistant?

Jenny October 13, 2010 at 11:48 am

Guurl, I *love* that you featured Graze on your blog. It’s my new favorite! :)

Ok, let me back up. I’m a newbie reader and was thrilled when I found a fabulous blog by a fabulous writer… living in my own little city! Even more, I’m a 25 year old, single gal, lover of all things food and wellness (and local brew ;) Needless to say, I’ve been relating to many things you’ve posted.

But I have yet to try the curds at Graze (they look ridic)… How do they compare to the Old Fashioned? I haven’t tried everything at Graze, but do recommend the fries (frites) and the potatoes with goat cheese fondue (I die).

emily (a nutritionist eats) October 13, 2010 at 12:56 pm

1. We have Moon Man (and Dancing Man?) in our fridge – I love the names
2. I need to visit Graze and YOU in Madison
3. I have NO idea where/what I’ll be doing in 5 years, but I think that is what makes life exciting!

janetha g. @ meals & moves October 13, 2010 at 4:47 pm

And swoon I did.

Katie October 13, 2010 at 6:55 pm

Oh man, that dessert looks so good it almost makes me want to cry. Is that a weird reaction?? Probably.

Anyway – glad you’re enjoying the unpredictable and embracing what life throws at you. That’s something I’ve been struggling to do for YEARS! I think that’s probably the key to happiness – just being content with where you are and what you have! Thanks for the reminder, Love.

Chelsea (Chelsea's Chew and Run Fun) October 13, 2010 at 7:34 pm

This was just perfect. If someone told me I’d be living in Calfiornia (with my Mom, none the less) again five years ago I would’ve gotten both offended and shocked.

Such a well-written post, my dear!

Laura October 13, 2010 at 9:58 pm

This is a great post! All of this rings true. Life does have a tendency to surprise us, doesn’t it?
I would love to plan out a Wisconsin blogger meetup soon if you’re interested? Keep me posted on any Milwaukee visits you have planned!

elise October 14, 2010 at 12:34 pm

im inviting myself to your amish wedding btw.

so yeah, i definitely agree. if youd told me 5 years ago that i would move to NYC and start my nursing career in manhattan i would have said “youre loco, im a cali girl.” and just 2 years ago, i would never have guessed id peace out of nyc to return to my alma matter for the next step in my career…

people ask where kyle and i want to settle down, where we want to raise children, what he wants to do after business school…so many questions. i firmly believe that if you are open to life, it will unfold in the most amazing way…planning yourself into a corner will only inhibit your life and shut you out of any opportunities that may come your way. expect the unexpected!

Amy October 14, 2010 at 1:10 pm

Hols, I couldn’t agree the quote from Woody Allen more…it’s my life in a nutshell :) I’m very happy the events of the past five years in your life have brought you to Madison. And as long as you are here I’d like to take advantage of the time we can spend together..so with that said, when do you want to have a date again? Jacob and I love food :) ps. you may be one of my only female friends in town that will actually drink beer..so perhaps beer should be involved.

Sarah (Running to Slow Things Down) October 14, 2010 at 4:31 pm

Your awesome attitude never cease to amaze me. :D I think it’s great that you’re willing and up for all the changes that life has to offer. Keep. It. Up! :D

Christina October 14, 2010 at 5:45 pm

i love the new layout…very cute!!!

peach raspberry crisp with vanilla ice cream looks mouth-watering

Pure2raw twins October 14, 2010 at 9:34 pm

I believe things happen for a reason too!!

The food looks awesome!

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