Layla's Persian Food

Layla'sIn a word: Makin' it.

The specs: #00941   
141 S. Butler St., 53703
Details at Yelp, Layla's Persian Food on Urbanspoon
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Latest Layla's Persian Food news and reviews at del.icio.us

JM ate the lamb kebab.
Nichole ate the fesenjoon with a soup.
The bill was $25, or $12.50/person, plus tip.
JM gave Layla's Persian Food a B; Nichole gave Layla's Persian Food an A- (see our grading rubric).

Layla's Persian Food sits in the drafty basement formerly occupied by Café Costa Rica.  There's room for maybe six tables, yet the one bathroom is larger than both combined at Irish Pub. The front door doesn't really close all the way, and in January this can make a bit of a difference. 

Though the cold air made it feel like a tiny Kollege Klub, the similarities ended there. The meal itself was the opposite of bleak. The server/chef/owner was friendly. Indeed, perhaps too much so. Certain that she'd seen us before, she engaged us to find out where she may have known us from. We don't think it was from here. Along with the food and a free pot of tea on account of the frigid temperature, she provided us with small handfuls of her life story, which led us to consider if this wasn't all meant to be part of the experience in a place this size. Intimate space leads to intimate sharing, even from the owner whose 'dining room' we were sitting in.  That said, she was affable and friendly and we were never uncomfortable, just a little agog.

SoupDown to the food itself, Nichole started with a dark green vegetable and lentil soup in a teacup. Very tasty! She also loved the fesenjoon - chicken, walnut and pomegranate stew - which was such a hot commodity that another, later-arriving table could not get enough orders to go around. The chicken was tender yet kept together, and the yellow rice, while cool-ish, was good too.

JM's lamb kebab was tasty with nicely prepared vegetables and tender meat, but was served over some of the coldest rice he'd ever eaten. It was especially difficult given how cold the room was, but it is probably served that way intentionally, so he's stuck just thinking it is not his favorite. His plate was garnished with a dusting of sumac and some pickled carrots and beets, which Nichole stole. His loss!

KebabFesenjoon

For dessert, we picked up some baklava for JM's dad, who enjoyed it.

Layla's also participated in "MACN Week," which was a big deal. With the warmth of spring around the corner, we'd probably recommend Layla's just because it is so singular an experience.

Edible Book Festival 2015

The Edible Book Festival is coming to Memorial Library on April 13! Come see and vote for your favorites - and if so inclined, make your own edible book! The entry deadline is Friday, April 10. More details are on the event's website.

You can check out our reports of previous years here - 2014, 2013, 2012, 2011 - and below, enjoy a brief history of the event that we wrote up for our book, but that sadly just didn't fit.

The Edible Book Festival is a free public event put on each April by UW-Madison Memorial Library in celebration of National Library Week and the International Edible Book Festival.

The Edible Book Festival first came to UW-Madison in 2006 for the centennial celebration of the University's School of Library & Information Studies. Two years later, Memorial Humanities & Social Sciences Library began hosting the event. Anyone can submit an entry, and past edible books have been made by a diverse assembly of community members, organizations, and University faculty, staff and students. The public is encouraged to attend and vote for their favorite entries. Figures from the Madison food community are also invited as guest judges to award prizes in categories such as "Most creative use of ingredients," "Best entry based on a children's/teen book," and “Funniest/punniest.”

Entries celebrate some aspect of books and reading. Some interpret the plot, characters, settings or themes from books in ingenious ways with fruits and vegetables, bread, pretzels, cookies, and candy. Others take the concept literally, crafting book-like objects from cake (a common format) or even using phyllo dough, matzoh, or custom-made bologna as "pages." Even ebook readers have appeared in recent years. Humor is often a part of the best entries, from the highbrow to groan-inducing wordplay.

The history of the "edible book" festival goes back to Thanksgiving 1999, when librarian Judith A. Hoffberg was at a dinner with some artists. Their common interest in book art fired their imaginations, and they started talking about making books out of real food. The themes of eating words, playing with food, and sharing stories inspired the idea of a loosely-organized festival, which grew into an international event. Edible books have been celebrated annually around April 1st since 2000; the date is both a wink at April Fool's Day and a nod to French gastronome and wit Jean-Anthelme Brillat-Savarin. Béatrice Coron, a cut paper artist, was instrumental in creating an online home for sharing in the "ephemeral global banquet." Today edible books are created in dozens of countries and shared on the Books2Eat website and Facebook page.

Bonus content

A couple things we wrote recently ran elsewhere. Recollection Wisconsin, the digital library portal, hosted an online exhibit on the history of McDonald's in our state. And today Isthmus ran Catching up with the Eating in Madison A to Z bloggers, in which we spill the beans about a book we wrote.

So welcome and/or welcome back, and thanks for reading!

Madison's with capitol


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