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!
I must now go in search of lunch. That all looked delicious, Liz!
thanks, Princess. May I suggest the crab cakes? (added a paragraph above as I realized after I published that I had forgot to mention)
Liz I love the blogs on Door Country, my Aunt was there last week for a couple of days, she is not a big foodie so talking to her was like talking to the wall. I loved your blogs on all of this, you and Mary looked like you had a great time!!! Thank you!!! 🙂
Thanks, Amy. I can’t imagine not getting into the food in Door County, though it’s really more about the scenery. Appreciate you coming by for each installment. Note that I forgot a meal (!) when I posted this, so have added a paragraph and picture at the end. Love your enthusiasm. Thank YOU 😀
Crab cakes…YUM and is that potato salad…love good Potato Salad 🙂
I am sure my Aunt ate, she just didn’t present it like you did, made me feel like I was there 🙂
It sounds like you had a very tasty trip with lots of goodies as souvenirs.
Thanks, Karen. I’m sold on edible souvenirs. They keep the vacation going even at home. Have you taken any fun trips this summer?
Yum! All of this food is making me hungry. You are getting some fun culture this summer, huh? When we go up north MI, we used to go to this old general store that sold the best cheese. Sometimes treasures are buried in the oddest areas!
Thanks, Kloe. Not sure I’d define this all as “culture” exactly, but fun absolutely! Your general store sounds amazing. Totally agree that treasure can be buried and what a treat to find it 🙂
What a great lunch! I totally need to do this trip. You’re using some camping skills i see! So fun 🙂
Hadn’t thought of it that way, but you’re right, Amanda. We needed a bottle opener for the cider at the impromptu picnic, so I used the grates of a grill in the park to pop it off. If that’s not roughing it, I don’t know what is 😉
Highly recommend Door County, but I’d bet each state has its own version. Just nice to get away and play like a kid!
Never had cheese curds, though I see them on TV all the time. Just yesterday, Andrew Z was touting them at the Minnesota State Fair. I want to try them! And who could pass on all that cheese, crackers, and prosciutto? Yum. Makes me wish we could get a good crab cake around here.
Would have loved to have seen Andrew Z at the State Fair. It opens tomorrow (second largest in the nation only to Texas!!) and we’re heading over the following Thurs. Do you go to yours?
No good crab cakes in Texas? Well, I never. You could make some, but just don’t use vanilla yogurt 😉
Oh, you!! I won’t make that mistake again. No, I’ve never been to ours. I think it’s in Ft Worth or Dallas, and we never stop there, only drive thru those cities. So it opens tomorrow? This late in summer? I guess it won’t be 101 there. How fun! Cheese curd everywhere.
Guess u had a grt trip. Being a vegetarian I will pick a veggie alternative for some dishes:+)
It was almost a vegetarian trip, save a club sandwich the first night and fish in the form of the boil and also crab cakes. Lots of cheese to be found in Wisconsin! Thanks for coming over 🙂
Ya I saw that cheese pic:-) it was super tempting
Wow, what a divine post! Cherry cheddar cheese? Maple cheddar cheese?? I would definitely gone for those myself. And squeaky cheese curds – so hard to find for some reason, but so delicious! Glad you had such a great trip, and that you were able to make it to the fun-sounding fish boil!
Thanks 🙂 Sounds like we’d be great travel buddies! Thinking you have to go to Wisconsin for fresh cheese curds 😉
I have gotten cheese curds at Whole Foods here in Chicago, but they are disappointingly unsqueaky.
the cheeses and the fish sound amazing and i am late for dinner )
Have you been to Door county, Beth? Can’t be too far for you. Hope your dinner was excellent 🙂
I want crab cakes, food looks great!
Bet you make a mean crab cake, Suzanne 🙂 Thanks for coming with me for these posts!
I have always wanted to visit Door County!
Road trip for you and your husband and/or daughter 🙂
I’m currently researching the logistics of popping to Door County from London on my lunch break to buy some CHEESE.
I don’t think it’s possible.
But anyway, CHEESE.
so you’re saying you like cheese, then? Tell me more. What kinds do you like?
F-U-N! This all looks like a great time–to me, this business of trying the local specialties is one of the best things about travel (unless the local specialties are icky to my very provincial tastes!) If I had fresh cheese curds, I would definitely use them to make poutine–do you know poutine?
thanks, Kerry 🙂 Agree that local specialties are the best way to learn more about a new place. I do indeed know poutine. Had it served over tater tots and was unimpressed. Wondering if I’d like it if it was well prepared (whatever that means). You like?
Well, I don’t know if you’d like it done the right way but I can say that tater tots is NOT the way poutine was meant to be! It should be hand-cut fries, real cheese curds, and hot beef gravy that makes the cheese all melt-y. Yum.
You have me so hungry now! I really need to go fix lunch, though nothing will compare. Ah, all the Wisconsin cheese…. I did at least get some bacon cheddar at TJs yesterday, melted on a flatbread with fresh tomatoes will have to hold me over I guess.
Bacon cheddar sounds fantastic. On flatbread with fresh tomatoes sounds perfect. Thanks for coming over, Gretchen 🙂
I’m equally enamored by the sound of Butterfinger Crunch popcorn and all those cheeses. The cheese might win out though because I haven’t had a good squeaky cheese curd in a long time and that taleggio looks fantastic. Well done on your trip — looks like you had an amazing time!
Thanks, J. It was great fun, but already seems a very long time ago. Still have a few curds left, but they not longer squeak 😦
Wow am I hungry now. Love the tie in to the Guth’s Popcorn. What a small world.
I know what you mean about cheese curds making your teeth squeak. Isn’t that the best part. 😉
Hi, Fannie! Mary couldn’t stop giggling when she ate the cheese curds–she hadn’t known it would happen, so it was fun to watch her discover. And lol, I never even mentioned the fudge. So. much. food. 😀
I giggled too, the first time I ate cheese curds. They are so much fun.
Now how could you hold out on fudge? Is that even possible?
Well that looks like a fun little trip. I’m eyeballing the CHEESE sign. That’s where I’d have headed straight for!!! Oh, and you won’t believe what I woke straight up listening to early this morning!! Lol. I’m Galvanzing all day long today, too. 🙂
So you woke up to Galvanize randomly? If so, that is bizarre. I’ve only heard the song once on the radio, a few years back, when I first discovered it. Not sure where it’s been–I’d like to think I would have noticed it when it was first released. Certainly a one-of-a-kind tune.
Glad you found the cheese here 😀
Oh no, Liz. I didn’t literally wake up to it. I rolled out of bed and immediately headed straight for the computer and played it on YouTube! It was in my head all night. I basically started dancing as soon as I woke up bright and early! Lol.
Great post about cheese and Door County. Did not know that about cheese curds, will have to try. Sounds like a great trip.
Thank you, Cheri! Can’t wait to find your blog. Appreciate your kind words.
Thank goodness I caught up on your blogs AFTER lunch and well enough before dinner. So good. While I was traveling, and touring a brewery, I might add, one of the other guests in our little group had n a hat embroidered with none other than Door County! I had to say something of course! She was not from there, but had travelled there on a recent trip and is from your part of the country. I failed to get where she is from because I was too focused on telling her where YOU are from! 🙂
And this is why I heart you so much, Bonnie!!! Thanks for catching up with me. What brewery did you tour?
Sierra Nevada Brewing Company and it was so cool!! So interesting to learn about. And tasting the beers after was a nice touch too. I tasted so many that we then HAD to go into the pub and eat before I could drive again. Mmmm. Home made pretzels and beer cheese sauce. Sounds a little Door County-ish, yes?? 🙂
pretzels with beer cheese sauce is served in Heaven, I’d bet.
You bet right! mmmmm!
Honestly did not know it was called door country but I am ALL for it 😀
Sounds like such a fun holiday!
And as for the food? Need to go eat something right now haha
Choc Chip Uru
Door County is on a list of ten top scenic places in the U.S. or some such thing. Definitely a pretty place to visit. And definitely had the food to back up the view! Thanks for coming over, CCU 🙂
Well, if I liked fish, Liz, the Fish Boil would be my kind of place. Mountains of food, in Wisconsin. Wow.
Thanks, Mark. Yep, gotta like fish to attend a fish boil. Though I think you would’ve enjoyed the atmosphere. We chatted up the fish boil guy and he had stories.Crazy sideburns, too.
Appreciate you combing over. Thank you! Went over to find you am wondering if you have multiple identities. Last night found something about beer and also kosher mac and cheese. But today only found the one site. You seem a prolific guy! Glad to have met you.
I write every day here, Liz, twice a week about movies over at syracusenewtimes.com, and once a week about our community on waer.org. And, two months ago, I accepted a 40-hours per and am now also a copywriter for a Syracuse company. There is only one of me, though, I swear.