I’m in love. In love with Wisconsin. In between the World’s Biggest M, the trolls of Mt. Horeb, the National Mustard Museum, and the shops of Door County, I was a happy little vegemite just soaking up the beauty and tranquility of the countryside. Lush green fields, rolling hills, and picture-book farms. One thing we didn’t explore, but which will be on my list for ‘next time’ is the effigy mounds. There is a fascinating bit of archeology to chase when I return. I’d always just assumed they were of Indian origin, but it appears that may not be the case. Mary suggested perhaps they were built by trolls. I don’t know about that, but it’s possible. Check it out!
I tried to take photos as we whizzed past the lovely little farms (well, not all of them were little; in fact most of them were pretty big), but I only ever managed to catch either the house or the barn. I’m not as quick as I used to be. Nevermind.
You see my problem… But however tardy I was at getting my camera out, I didn’t fail to appreciate them all. And the little towns were just as charming as the farms were. It would be a huge mistake to bypass them all by racing through the state on freeways. I wish I could recall the names of some of them, but it really doesn’t matter; we didn’t see any that weren’t charming. As you can tell, I’m hooked on Wisconsin. I’m even prepared to take my chances with the trolls. We have some pretty nasty snakes in Australia–including some in Tasmania–but of course they are no match for trolls. Even so, I think I would be willing to try to make peace with the trolls, just for the privilege of being in Wisconsin.
We did manage to visit some cheeseries. Indeed, we made cheese and wine (and chocolate–oh, the chocolate!) the mainstay of our diet. It was a bit disappointing to learn that almost all of the wine made in Wisconsin was made from California grapes. Indeed, California grape juice. But why should we be surprised? In Tassie we make wonderful cool-climate wines, but Wisconsin’s “cool climate” is several orders of magnitude ‘cooler’ than ours. Mind you, the knowledge of where the grapes were grown didn’t put us off the wine; we still made an effort to sample as much as we could, in the time allotted to us. There was one particular…what shall I call it? a novelty wine…that we all screwed our noses up at the mere thought of, but which, when tasted, resulted in purchases. It was a chocolate wine. Ieiewe, I hear you say, through pursed lips. Hah! It was yummy! A blend of red wine and chocolate, tasting rather like Baileys Irish Creme. Let’s face it; nothing goes better with red wine than chocolate, and nothing goes better with chocolate than red wine, so some enterprising soul found a way to blend them. Bless his heart.
Back to the cheeses. It turns out some of my travelmates had never tried curds. We got to one cheesery where the white curds were just freshly made. We bought some of those, along with some yellow curds, and my-oh-my did they disappear in a hurry. For a few minutes there, I thought we were going to have fisticuffs in the car. Now the hunt is on for a source of curds in the Kansas City area. Any help will be appreciated.
Why should we be surprised to find that chocolate is particularly plentiful and delicious in a dairy state? Duh. The quest for the perfect fudge had not been a part of our original planning, but being ever-resourceful and ever-flexible, we found a way to include it: wherever we saw it, we tried it; and wherever we tried it, we bought it. That worked for us. Except in one case: some luscious-looking chocolates, with peanutbutter filling, appealed to everyone. But it was only when we got them home (as in, back to our hotel room) that we discovered that their proximity to the chocolates-with-mint-filling in the display case left them tasting very minty. Mint and peanutbutter are not good confection-fellows.
By now you have worked out that we did our level-best to do justice to the special things Wisconsin had to offer. Once we had acquired so much cheese, wine, chocolate, strawberries, and summer sausage, there seemed little else to do but make that our evening meal(s). So we spread out all of our plunder on the table and grazed as we played Hearts. (Mary, by the way, is the Official Queen of Spades.)
Golly, I haven’t even mentioned Door County. We stayed two nights in Sturgeon Bay, but I think that will be a post for another day. Right now I think I need some chocolate. MM