Nathalie’s kitchen provided the perfect balm for broken strings after breaking hearts at the Bishop with new pals Kam Kama. A smoky-fried tofu bacon with fluffy vegan pancakes and buttery fried pears was a truly inspired menu for a late-night nosh. Nathalie, we will be forever grateful for the hospitality you provided. Huzzah.

In the morning, before disembarking, we struck out for the Owlery, a vegan enclave on the west side of Bloomington. Sumptuous vegan cheesesteaks, heartily breaded tofu cutlets, a delicately curried sweet potato soup, savory grilled tempeh sandwiches, and what approached three gallons of robust black Arabica nursed our bent minds onward. We found the Owlery both pricey and worth it…a strange and rare combination these days.

While the harrowing seven-hour-long drive to Milwaukee bore a yearning to return to the Riverwest Co-op for the most delicious vegan reubens, etc., such was not our fate. Once checked in au chez chandelle brève, we buzzed toward Stonefly. Open late, Stonefly’s got the goods. Five words: beer-battered-fucking-tater-tots. The menu is comfort food, both veg and carne, and the in-house beer is where it’s at.  Go for the Pale Moustache Ride and the catfish po-boy: awesome.

After dominating Quarters Rock Palace with old friends Brief Candles, we settled into their palatial Riverwest maison for a well-deserved bacchanalia. Our wonderful hosts the Dixons provided some amazing Lakefront Fixed Gear Red Ale. This beer immediately captivates: rolling into the palate with a gust of heady hoppy sweetness and boldly finishing with a creamy wash of holy shit, this is craft ale at it’s finest; wanted: a brave local merchant with the nutsack to stock this beauty.

A blear and drear A.M. found us in repast at The Palomino. I gather this place is a bit of an institution in Milwaukee, and with good reason. From their menu: “Missed-Connection Burrito $8.95/Awesome scrambled egg, pico, and cheddar breakfast burrito with hashbrowns on the side. It had sour cream and habanero salsa. It looked good. And you looked good eating it.” None too shabby, The Palomino offers good grub and good pub…you know the drill.

Minneapolis provided us some culture vis a vis The Himalayan. Turns out, yak was the special that night.  Yep… yak. However, availing ourselves of greener and leaner was as simple as Palak Paneer and steamed dumplings. The food had a lovely braised quality that is difficult to find in heavier Indian foods and it was spiced to suit. Our friend and tour-drummer, Joel Madigan (ever in your debt, you killed it), ordered his Gobhi hot. They did not lie. Food highs and rapidly empty dishes made their way round a pleased gathering of culinary tourists that fine autumn evening.

Our gustatory adventures at an end, we were punished for our insolence by the crushing sounds of Minneapolis’ Lungs and the full on assault of local trio Buildings. Good people, good music, coolers becoming lighter by the second, ah yes, the plunder of tour. Would that the weight of work and world would wither…

Of note is our final and bittersweet evening at Rozz Toxx in Rock Island, Illinois. There was this fantatstic red ale in a 16 oz. can. I can’t quite remember it… everything      is     getting    fuzzzy (Great River Brewery-Roller Dam Red Ale). Thanks to Tom and Jamie of Lord Green for the allez-oup, and for playing that completely fucked Bollywood fantasia during Sad Family’s set; what the hell was that?

And last but not least…Sad Family. You were the best of companions, and while not the most gastronomically adventurous folks on the planet, we’d eat you if we could, and you would be delicious.

- Jeffrey Hyde