Wisconsin: A Farm-Lover's Trip Through the Midwest
This is the great American Midwest with a bracing dash of weird: Where else will you find an albino muskrat, world-class waterslides, and a truly foul cheese?
Village Inn Motel701 Springdale St., Mount Horeb, 608/437-3350, littlebedder.com, from $43
David W. Heiney's 1221 Mills St., Black Earth, 608/767-2501, heineysdining.com, fish fry $12
ForevertronHwy. 12 (park at Delaney's Surplus), North Freedom
Taliesin 5607 County Rd. C, Spring Green, 608/588-7900, taliesinpreservation.org
Mustard Museum, 7477 Hubbard ave , Middleton, 800/438-6878, mustardmuseum.com
Sjölinds Chocolate House is a bakery as well as a chocolate shop; the Thompson family serves excellent coffee, quiches, and Swedish morning buns with lingonberry jam. I fall in love with the place.
We typically avoid cities, with their traffic and limited parking, but we want to say hi to John and Dorothy Priske, who sell their beef at theDane County Farmers' Marketin Madison. The market, which has a wonderful location around the state capitol building, may be even more of a yuppie-fest than the market I go to in New York City—one stand touts its mint as being "great for mojitos."
Everything I know about Limburger cheese I learned from Warner Brothers cartoons—it stinks. I've come to admire a strong cheese, however, and I wonder if Limburger is so different from a nice Époisses. Monroe is the place to find out: The sole remaining U.S. producer of Limburger is a co-op in town, and you can try it atBaumgartner's Cheese Store & Tavern.
At a communal table, we sit next to eight ex-Monrovians having a reunion. Limburger is similar to a typical French cheese, but while a little on a cracker is one thing, a big bite of it in a sandwich made with soft rye bread is overpowering. (The traditional raw onion would add texture, but at no small cost.) Shawnda and I wish we could try it with a baguette and an apple.
Baumgartner's sells shirts with a drawing of a waiter bearing a reeking Limburger sandwich; the text says "Pull my finger." I may be a schlemiel, but I learned long ago to decline that particular request.
Sjölinds Chocolate House219 E. Main St., Mount Horeb, 608/437-0233, quiche $4
Baumgartner's1023 16th Ave., Monroe, 608/325-6157, sandwich $3
Dane County Farmers' Market Madison, 608/455-1999, dcfm.org
Finding your way
Shawnda and I met up at Chicago's Midway airport, but Milwaukee would be easier. The Illinois turnpike gives little warning when a toll is coming, and at least one stop requires that you have change on hand. In Wisconsin, many county roads have letters for names, and we were never able to make sense of them, even with a map.
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