In August (2006) I journeyed to Wisconsin. On the way, with a tip from Road Food, I stopped in West Layfayette, IN (Perdue University) to eat at the Triple XXX Restaurant. The place is a university landmark. It is named for a root beer company that is basically gone now. They still serve Triple XXX rootbeer and a hamburger with peanut butter on it. Yep – peanut butter. The food was average and I pressed on.
Next stop was Madison, WI (well, after a Tornado Warning, check engine warning light, and 100’s of miles). I sampled several New Glarus Beers - including the popular Spotted Cow and Fat Squirrel. New Glarus is a small town southwest of Madison. The New Glarus beer has won many awards but their desire to maintain the quality of their beer and lower production keeps it mostly in Wisconsin. My Madison hosts, the Parrantos, were big fans and so was I after a few. I was even prompted to liberate a New Glarus pint glass from a local watering hole. My other Madison food adventures included Babcock Hall for a taste of the famous ice cream the University of Wisconsin churns out – it was good. I also took a quick tour the production facility. I had kosher old fashioned donuts hot out of the oven from Greenbush Bakery - SO YUMMY. The Great Dane Brewing Company (123 E. Doty St.) was a great dinner destination for a bison burger, African stew, and a taste of brats. And afterwards, I sadly had to smell, but not eat the great Ethiopan food from Baraka (State St.) near the UW campus. My only disappointment was Ella’s Deli - a well known spot in Madison, famous for ice cream and it’s eclectic decor. The place is very kid friendly with all types of trinkets, gadets, and knick knacks to keep grandparents and kids entertained – but the food was distinctly average and more than moderately priced.
In Mt Horeb, Wisconsin, I visited the Mustard Museum
The Mustard Museum has over 4000 mustards on display and about 500 available for sale, including 3 that are made by the museum. In addition to plenty of free samples, there are interesting posters, momentos, and displays about the history of mustard, mustard pop culture as well as many mustard related items that one would never imagine. The place is well worth the visit.
I met the CMO (Chief Mustard Officer) Barry Levenson . I really enjoyed speaking with him. The seed for the Mustard Museum was planted when the Red Sox lost the World Series in the 80’s. As he wandered around in despair, he decided he needed something to do as a hobby and picked up a new mustard in a store – then the collection started to grow. Barry is also a lawyer and he has written a very good book about Food and the Law called Habeas Codfish, which he was nice enough to sign for me. Mt. Horeb also has a great bike trail, a good brew pub and also happens to be the troll capital of the world. There are carved wooden trolls everywhere.
However, the reason for my Wisconsin adventure was farther north in the little town of Princeton. I went to the Burning Down the Fox BBQ Championship where I was doing my first gig as a Kansas City BBQ Society certifed BBQ judge. It was great fun and a very good festival. I stayed the night at the Ellison Gray Lion Inn (no relation – but they offered to adopt me) where I had great company and really good Strawberry French Toast.
And I forgot my whirlwind Custard tour of the Milwaukee surburbs with Shannon Jackson Arnold – Churnologist for Breyer’s Ice Cream and my writing good fairy. In about one hour we hit Le Ducs in Wales, WI, Divino Gelato Cafe (excellent gelato and very nice owner) in Waukesha, Oscars - near Waukesha, and Kopps Frozen Custard. Many feel Kopps is the best in Wisconsin – so far I agree. I did not have enough room in my belly to go the Michaels Custard in Madison, but by report – they are in the top five as well.