A recent trip to Door County, Wisconsin, has thus far provided fodder for two blog posts. Please indulge me as I eke out just a few more culinary musings from the four days I spent with a good friend in this picturesque and tasty paradise. We’ve already covered sweet treats and liquid refreshment, which of course leaves us only now to explore the savory side.
Once over the border into Wisconsin, we saw cheese shop after cheese shop dotting the roads to Door County. (Wisconsin isn’t known as America’s Dairyland for nothing.) Renard’s Cheese Shop, then, was a must-stop on our first day of culinary touring.
After sampling a number of flavored Cheddars, I bought my favorites to take home: salsa, olive, Door County cherry (!), and maple syrup. I also found smoked mozzarella string cheese, ultra-thin mozzarella string, colby, and cheese curds–none of which I could leave behind. A bag of Butterfinger Crunch popcorn also made it into my basket. Besides being an intoxicating flavor, it was made by Guth’s End of the Trail Candy Shop, a company owned by the family of one of my daughters’ school teachers. What a fun find!The curds were a special treat as they were fresh enough to “squeak” when chewed. A strange phenomenon for sure, but if you’ve enjoyed fresh cheese curds before, you know of what I write. If no, you might just want to hunt some down.
My favorite cheese shop, though, was Door County Creamery in Sister Bay. Posh and elegant, it was at the same time simple and homespun. The owners were a hardworking young family working a herd of goats for amazing cheese. I bought a small package of homemade crackers along with Brie, taleggio, and ricotta and a few slices of prosciutto. This made for a lovely impromptu picnic (along with the hard cider I’d just purchased at last week’s Island Orchard Cider) that served as an appetizer to the big meal of the evening: The Door County Fish Boil.We’d been told that the fish boil was an important part of a stay in Door County, so my partner-in-culinary-crime, Mary, hunted down the boil at the Viking.
Viking claims the original fish boil, dating back to 1961. My photo of the fire pit didn’t do it justice as I missed the part where the flames leap ten or so feet into the air. (you can get a feel for those flames here) But the resulting meal appears at the top of this post and it was as hearty as they come. Shuffling through the cafeteria-style line with a cafeteria-style tray gave the experience a church basement feeling and the plastic floral tablecloth sealed the deal.
The white fish, cooked in those crazy-hot flames, was excellent–flaky and moist. I also enjoyed the coleslaw, but the bread was just sandwich bread and the pie didn’t rate more than meh. (Though my being too full to appreciate it might have played into it as well.) And while the coffee wouldn’t have stood a chance at an upscale coffee shop, it was hot and it balanced this spread quite nicely.
Another memorable meal was had at Shipwrecked in Egg Harbor. Rumored to be haunted (though we didn’t notice any ghosts floating around the patio umbrellas), this restaurant was mentioned last week as the source of my fun and fruity raspberry gin fizz. Since this was lunch, not cocktail hour, a hearty lunch seemed in order. Crab cakes were used creatively throughout the menu as evidenced by my order of a main-dish salad topped with two large, warm, flaky crab cakes. As tasty as my meal was, it was Mary’s crab cake sandwich that was the more photo-worthy of the two.
If you’ve read all three of these Door County posts (and I thank you if you did!), you know that Mary and I didn’t go hungry. As well, I brought home edible souvenirs to keep the vacation magic going. These memories should hold me for a while, which is what a good vacation will do. So I thank you once again for reading along and I thank Mary for a fun and deliciously filling trip!