Friday, July 13, 2012

The Great 888

So in my life there's running and running and running and blah, blah, blah.  It's not that I get sick of it, not at all, it's actually my favorite topic, but there comes a time when I need a break from heel to toe drops and fartleks and and "can I order this in a different color".  So last weekend, I got to take a vacation!
Now normally, I don't like vacations.  I don't really like to be away from work for too long, I get nervous.  But I was really looking forward to this trip.  And so off Gretchen and I went to southwestern Wisconsin for a foodie road trip.
The drive down through the Driftless region was amazing.  Hills and valleys were everywhere, filled with lush green trees and terraced fields of corn and hay and straw.  Cows were spotted against the pastures, leisurely munching on the green fields.
And the idea of "leisurely" was the theme of the weekend.  Our first stop was in Westby, WI.  Westby is a small, Scandinavian town with a nice B&B, a great gift shop and a gentle home town feel.  From there we stopped into nearby Viroqua for dinner at the Driftless Cafe.  The Driftless is a really nice, funky little place with delicious food and a great atmosphere.
Cool pint glass at the Driftless
After spending some time in Viroqua, we continued on, driving through the Kickapoo Valley.  It seemed that everywhere you looked out the car window was another post card view.  It was stunning scenery.  We stopped at the Nordic Creamery to get some real Wisconsin cheese and I have to tell you, it was amazing!
Ellie at the Nordic Creamery
Our next destination was the National Mustard Museum!  Not a local mustard museum, not a state mustard museum but a NATIONAL Mustard Museum!  It was a blast!  The NMM is a place that simultaneously pokes fun at and pays respect to mustard.  It's a place filled with thousands of mustards for sale and you can sample any of them.  Plus a mustard hall of fame and gift shop where you can buy items from the fictional university, Poupon U, bacon frosting and mustards of the world.
National Mustard Museum
Norwegian mustard

Bacon frosting
After spending the night with some friends in Verona, we made our way to New Glarus to spend some time in the very Swiss town.  We ate at a delicious restaurant called the "Glarner Stube", which means "the living room of Glarus".  I had a pork schnitzel sandwich and red cabbage, very Swiss-German!  We also stopped at a delicious Swiss bakery that I would describe as Pastry Heaven!  It was like Christmas in July for a pastry lover like myself!
about 1/3 of the yumminess in the bakery
After downtown New Glarus we took a quick peek at the New Glarus Brewery, which was a very impressive place!  We got there not long before they were closing for the day so we didn't get a chance to tour the grounds but we did get a tasting and I can attest that they do good work there!
Part of the New Glarus Brewery
From there we headed to Albany to stay at a great B&B, the Albany House, and an amazing dinner in this tiny little town called Monticello.  The restaurant, called "The Dining Room at 209 Main" offers incredible chef created dishes that rival anything the New Scenic Cafe has to offer.  I had the barbequed cajun shrimp and andouille sausage with cheddar grits, sauteed greens and a smoky roasted garlic sauce.  Gretchen had pan seared wild caught king samlon filet with tomato and kalamata olive conasse, roasted fingerling potatoes, haircot vert and a light fennel cream sausce.  Our appetizer was crab and avocado on fresh herbs with truffle vinaigrette and a micro green, radish and cucumber salad.  Yeah, it was that kind of place!  The service was wonderful and the food was even better and there's nothing like their famous dessert, the sticky toffee pudding with roasted pecans!
Before driving back to Duluth we stopped at a quaint little town called Paoli, which offers about 2 blocks of wonderful gift shops and outstanding galleries.  
Our round trip mileage was exactly 888 miles for the weekend and we can't wait to go back to such a fun and relaxing area, to re-visit some of the things we loved and to do some of the things we didn't have time for.