When I was young, all I wanted to do was move to “the city” any big city would have worked, I just wanted out of my sleepy small town. Now older and hopefully wiser, I look forward to vacations back in my home state of Wisconsin. I embrace my smaller sleepy town and slower pace of everyday life, but especially I embrace the regional uniqueness of what the entire state of Wisconsin offers.
It is after all the land of cheese– aka cheese heads, beer – craft brewers that have taken brewing beer to a new level and summer sausage– the variety and amount on Wisconsin grocery store shelves can boggle the mind! This year, on one of my trips home I discovered a pit smoked summer sausage. It would leave my hands smelling like my grandparent’s meat locker, they owned a meat processing facility. Even my daughters who attend school in the Midwest can’t get enough of this new found college student staple.
And then there is cheese, the dairy state lives up to its reputation. I like tasting my way around small artisan cheese producers at local farmers markets. My highlights are goat cheese curds and seasonal goat cheese specialties. Not to mention all the cheese made from cow’s milk.
And then…there is the beer! I grew up with the song, “…in heaven there is no beer that’s why we drink it here….” truth be told, I never liked beer as a “young adult,” it was when I moved to Germany that I discovered the nuances of beer. The craft beer movement has been a powerful force in the quality and selection of beer in the United States. A Wisconsin brewery that my German husband put on the map for me is New Glarus Brewery. New Glarus Brewery takes its beer quality so serious, they only sell their beer in Wisconsin. The brewery is located outside of New Glarus, Wisconsin, about 45 minutes from Madison in a charming Swiss influenced “village” surrounded by farms – heaven on earth! Check out their website New Glarus Brewery
So back to the “wiser me” and some life advice. Discover local regional specialties, seek them out! Go to the farmers markets, small stand alone restaurants or diners and hit the back roads….stop at that road side farm stand.
My Top 10 Wisconsin Favorites ~
1. Cheese. One of my next trips to Wisconsin will include a cheese tour to meet Wisconsin’s master cheesemakers. I purchased “The Master Cheesemakers of Wisconsin” by James Norton and Becca Dilley to use as my guide.
2. Beer. New Glarus Brewery is a slice of heaven on earth and so is their beer. Another book I found was “Dinner in the Beer Garden” by Lucy Saunders Great ideas for food pairings with beer!
3. Summer Sausage. It is a Wisconsin culture and I enjoy it most with some Wisconsin cheese, a glass of New Glarus beer, a lake view, family and friends.
4. The back country roads with big red barns.
5. Farmers Markets. Madison, Wisconsin has the largest producer only farmers market in the country.
6. My favorite farm truck vendor that parks on main street and has the best sweet corn, green beans and melon.
8. Organic grocery store. Prepares the best soup and sandwiches and carries local food finds.
9. Supper Clubs. Because when in Wisconsin you must have an Old Fashioned.
10. Flowers. Black Eyed Susans to Lilacs to Cat Tails, all childhood memories.