Category Archives: Wisconsin

Mineral Point and Potosi, WI; Eagle Point Park in Dubuque

Potosi, WIIt was still too blazing hot to ride bikes or even hike on Memorial Day so we drove backroads from our lovely airbnb in Mount Horeb through southwest Wisconsin into Dubuque. We arrived in the pretty town of Mineral Point, WI just in time to catch the annual Memorial Day parade marching down High Street, which is lined with beautifully preserved old stone buildings.  Classic Americana.

Mineral Point looked different from when I last visited (about 9 years ago) in part because we went to Cornwall, England last summer — Mineral Point claims to be the most Cornish town in the U.S. — and because the town seems to have spruced up and is now full of more galleries, vintage shops and newcomers (a new shopkeeper said the latest residents include people from Palm Springs, CA and South Africa).  We ended up doing some shopping — at the new shopkeeper’s furniture/housegoods shop (The Board Shoppe) and at a Main Street store that sells “rescued home good from the early 1900s to the 1960s” (Retromantic Emporium).

We drove on to the Mississippi river town of  Potosi, WI (the shopkeeper suggested) which has a popular National Brewery Museum that we didn’t visit but a lot of bikers did. The rest of the town looked pretty worn. We drove  to a lowlying area/boat launch on the Mississippi that is famous for birding. It was very windy. Felt like we were almost in the river.  From there we drove along the Great River Road briefly until crossing over the bridge to Dubuque where we picnicked at Eagle Point State Park — high on a bluff overlooking Dam and Lock #11. Very dramatic scenery and we couldn’t remember if we’d been there before. We also marveled at the Frank Lloyd Wright-inspired park shelters — lots of cool old stone and wood buildings.

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Sjolinds, Driftless Historium, Military Ridge State Trail biking, Grumpy troll, Blue Mounds, Stewart Lake, Marcine’s — in and around Mt. Horeb, WI

Stone House airbnb

Playing catch up.  On Sunday, we met our friend Jane for breakfast at Sjolinds (“shoe” linds)  in downtown Mount Horeb – cheerful Scandinavia fare (tried the Scandinavian fruit soup, bit too gelatinous for me and certainly for Dirck). We got a sneak peak at the very impressive Driftless Historium, a new local history museum (that I’m writing a story about) and then attempted to ride bikes in 94 degree heat on the Military Ridge State Trail. The trail is packed dirt and stone but really lovely. But the heat kept us from going far. We went a few miles east, which was all downhill (we barely peddled) but, of course, uphill on the return; Then we went a few more miles west which was more level but less shady and closer to the highway.

Mount Horeb’s Grumpy Troll brewpub was packed with hot sweaty people like us — including several motorcyclists.  We ended up on the second floor, eating newly introduced nachos. Pleasant place. And cool temps! To really cool off, we went to the local swimming hole — Stewart Lake County Park — which reminded me a bit of Ithaca.  Small body of water, murky and warm on top, colder toward the bottom, lined with woods including the occasional white birch (my favorite). Across from the sandy beach, some kids took turns climbing up a sagging pine tree and jumping when they reached the top. Dangerous but looked like fun. We drove to nearby Blue Mounds and spotted people eating ice cream cones on the porch of the local convenience store so we joined them. (The one employee was very busy scooping cones and working the cash register.) Onto Blue Mound State Park where we climbed up a high old wooden observation tower (I got a splinter holding onto the railing) for a stupendous view of rolling green Wisconsin dairyland – with pristine red wood/stone foundation barns, century farms with white farmhouses, the occasional golden limestone house like the stunner we airbnbed in. As our friend Jane suggested, we drove from the park along Ryan Road (near Highway F) for more glorious views from high on a ridge. We also drove past  Campo Di Bella Winery which also offers farm-to-table meals and farm stays. Looks promising!

Dinner was classic townie – Marcine’s, a tavern in the small town of Mount Vernon, that Jane took us to. Fortunately we just missed the band (which could have been very loud) but sat at high top tables and drank beer and ate very good burgers. Place was packed.  Later, we finally could really enjoy the porch at our airbnb (cooler temps, fewer bugs), where we sat on a quiet night and chatted with our airbnb host Nina, a former professional juggler who does various jobs now (including helping out at the famous Bleu Mont Dairy in Blue Mounds).

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Filed under bike trails, biking, Madison

Farmers market, State street brats, chocolate ice cream at the memorial union, Forequarter—Madison/ also Mount Horeb and Blue Mounds, WI

The view from our Airbnb

Another Airbnb view

Busy day. On a hot, sunny morning, the farmers market around the state capital building in downtown Madison was packed with people all walking the same direction in a slow circle past asparagus, morels, spinach, cheeses, lots of cheese and bread. We picked up some famous bandaged cheddar at the Bleu Mont Dairy stand and met our Airbnb host there. (She was selling cheeses.) also bought some very solid 8 grain bread at cress spring bakery.

Onto the first place I tried a brat (I think) while visiting my sister who went to U of Wisconsin – State Street Brats. We shared a table on the patio with a nice retired couple who moved from Brooklyn to Madison 30 years ago. After window shopping on State, we walked to the union and ate rapidly melting ice cream bones on the busy patio overlooking the lake. The place was packed with visitors also eating brats and ice cream and looking out at the boaters and sunbathers. Suddenly it is summer.

Onto the pretty rural town of Mount Horeb, 30 miles west of Madison where we are staying in a remarkable 1860 stone farmhouse tucked into a lush green valley with horses grazing and a pristine red barn with a cupola in the distance. The house is so hidden from the road that we had to call the owner from a nearby Apple orchard. Our gps said we were there. But there was no house in sight. Turns out we had to drive down an even narrower gravel road, park by the pasture in the woods and walk a few seconds and there was the lovely two story limestone house, with cool contemporary touches – a wood deck and overhang, a copper colored wrought iron railing. Inside the house is fanciful and bohemian, filled with artwork, old photos, big brass horse adornments. Our room on the second floor landing is all Beatles, with aYellow submarine mural covering one wall and photos of John, Paul,George and Ringo on the other. Our host is a former professional juggler who used to perform with her former husband all over, including on Caribbean cruise ships. Than you Airbnb.

In cheerful Mount Horeb, we visited a few shops, most notably the Pop Place, with soda pop from all over (yes, Vernors from Detroit) and Artisan Woods, a gallery with work by 70 wood artists (beautiful inlaid wood paintings, cutting boards, nightlights, wood purses and wood earrings. Nearby, in Blue Mounds, we cooled off in a chilly and very cool Cave of the Mounds. Not too claustrophobia inducing except for a few very narrow low passages where we had to walk single file. And no bats. And awe-inspiring stalagmites and stalactites.

Dinner was at the small and superb Forequarter, which is almost hidden in a quiet residential neighborhood east of the capital, unnamed on the storefront awning. We sat at the bar and promptly received free glasses of sparkling wine, in hour of our 28th anniversary (I don’t remember mentioning this when I made the reservation online but must have.) We had house made charcuterie, some amazing crispy fried mushrooms, herb and ricotta dumplings in a broth with greens, mushrooms and aspagus, rhubarb sorbet with “parsnip crumble” and a very moist and solid lemon marmalade layer cake with lemon frosting and pink peppercorns. (we took most of this home).

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2018 James Beard Award Finalist restaurants in Minneapolis and Milwaukee to try.

Best Chef: Midwest (IA, KS, MN, MO, NE, ND, SD, WI)

Karen Bell (Bavette La Boucherie, Milwaukee)

Steven Brown (Tilia, Minneapolis)

Justin Carlisle (Ardent, Milwaukee)

Gavin Kaysen (Spoon and Stable, Minneapolis)  WON

Ann Kim (Young Joni, Minneapolis)

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Filed under DINING, Milwaukee, Minneapolis

good burger at NorthPoint one the Milwaukee Airport

I was sad to learn that usinger’s, the famous sausage maker, no longer has an outpost in the Milwaukee airport but I had a very good burger with cheddar cheese and grilled onions at NorthPoint in the main terminal. I could see the cook flipping the burgers on a grill through a window by my table. good frozen custard too. Best of all my flight left ahead of time. Only wish it was a direct flight to Des Moines, which used to be available a few years ago. Now you have to take two puddle jumpers, via Minneapolis.

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Milwaukee in the snow

Amtrak finally got me to Milwaukee, but three hours late. Our 10:25 am train was delayed and delayed until it merged with the 1:05 pm. Oh well. Much of the ride was thru a white out of snow. In Milwaukee I had to trek through pelting snow up the hill to my hotel, the hilton city center. I was one of the few people on the street at 3 pm and although the snow was so intense I couldn’t look up without pf getting hit in the face with snow, I made it to the Milwaukee public market where I had a very late lunch at a salad/sandwich/juice bar called The Green Kitchen and then wandered thru the snow to explore the Third Ward warehouse district. I had an early dinner at Kiku, a Japanese place near the hotel, and returned to the hilton looking like the abominable snow woman, my boots caked with snow, my jeans wet, snow covering my blue coat. very happy to be in bed watching white and Davis from my home state of Michigan win the gold Olympic medal for ice dancing.

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Milwaukee in February – why not?

Top: Milwaukee Skyline, Center Left Miller Park, Center Right Cathedral of St. John the Evangelist, Lower LeftMilwaukee River, Lower Right Milwaukee City Hall


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It’s hard to get excited about a trip to Milwaukee in February – especially when it’s been so darned cold here in the Upper Midwest. But the NYTimes travel section yesterday had a story about the Walker’s Point area that got me a little psyched. (Granted I’ll be there more for work than pleasure but hope to sneak in a quick walk around town.) Here’s the story:  In Milwaukee a district for a bite or a brew

Of particular interest to moi:

BRAISE

Servers note that 90 percent of ingredients used at the two-year-old restaurant — with the exception of coffee, tea, spices, citrus and chocolate — are sourced from regional farms. Menus change daily, but the cooking by the chef David Swanson is consistently hearty and robust.

1101 South Second Street; 414-212-8843; braiselocalfood.com

CLOCK SHADOW CREAMERY AND PURPLE DOOR ICE CREAM (The cheese appeals more than the ice cream this winter)

A cheesemaker and a separate ice cream business share production and retail space in the newly built, LEED-certified Clock Shadow Building. Tours ($3) offered by the urban creamery (come Wednesday or Friday to see the popular cheese curds being made), culminate in cheese samplings. The popular Purple Door, known for unusual ice cream flavors like whiskey or chai with pink peppercorn, plans to move at the end of the month and reopen nearby in March.

Clock Shadow Creamery, 138 West Bruce Street; 414-273-9711;clockshadowcreamery.com. Purple Door Ice Cream, 205 South Second Street; purpledooricecream.com.

ANTIQUES ON SECOND

The biggest of several antiques stores in the area, this one opened in 2010 in two merged early-19th-century warehouses. Shoppers can ride the operator-manned freight elevator between three floors stuffed with vintage clothes, wood chests, record collections and eclectic finds like a midcentury vinyl living room set.

1039 South Second Street; 414-645-9640; antiquesonsecond.com

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