Monday, March 27, 2006

road food

He’s lived more than thirty years in Madison and has never poked around the northern parts of Wisconsin. My travel companion (what did I call him several posts back? Ed?) is clearly blind to the splendid scenery of forests lakes and farmland. Time to fill in the gaps.

So long as we’re all the way up north to see the maple syrup operation, let’s poke around Turtle Lake some…
Turtle Lake is another three hours worth of driving… five hours, if you take the backroads!

Ed always takes the backroads.

So what. I want to see Turtle Lake. I want to experience a b&b that has won awards for its proximity to nature, wildlife and the Wisconsin way.

There is, however, the food situation. I call the Canyon Road Inn.
So… where can you get some decent local food for dinner?
There’s the steak house…
My travel companion doesn’t do steak.
Well, there’s the supper club some twenty miles north.

I google the supper club. More steaks. And an international menu of (meat) lasagna and chow mein. I haven’t seen chow mein on a menu since I was a little girl living in NYC and they had it as a regular feature in my school cafeteria.

Anything else?
How about the Main Street Café in Bloomer? People from the city go there to eat.

And what city is that? Bloomer is in the middle of nowhere. A few miles north of Chippewa Falls - Leinenkugel beer land. They come here from Chippewa Falls? Well then, it’s a must.

The MSCafe is on…Main Street. It has foods sold in baskets. You know, fried shrimp and fries in a basket. Grilled chicken sandwich in a basket. Cod in a basket. Grilled or fried.

How’s the grilled cod?
Don’t know. No one orders it that way. People take it fried.
And how’s your pizza?
Great! It’s our specialty!

So we order pizza.

Madison Mar 06 486
pizza and a Linie

If you can forgive the canned pickled mushrooms and the gobs of Wisconsin cheese, and the canned tomato paste, it’s okay. Especially since it comes with a Linienkugel and offers views of the counter, where the old boys (and I mean old) are chewin the fat. Or the fried.

Dressed to kill (with low slung jeans, just like they’re wearing on State Street), sipping a beer with their baskets of food and their plates of pie, they appear to not mind the weather up here, the state of the world.

Madison Mar 06 482
saturday dinner up north

Madison Mar 06 484
just like the young folk

Pie, can I get you some pie?
What do you have?
(Fitting for a place that has every patriotic symbol in the world scattered about, including American flag paper napkins and framed dedications to the heroes of 9/11 at each booth.)

Apple it is. Not great apple, but regular old apple pie, just like you have eaten a million times before in every road-side dining place in America.

Madison Mar 06 487
as american as


  1. I love Northern Wisconsin. It is like another world. The tall trees are spectacular. My wife and I did a road trip two years ago around this time up to Bayfield. It's a great time to go because it is kind of in between seasons.

  2. Bloomer is Northern Wisconsin?

    There's a good two or three more hours of driving before you get truly "up north".

  3. I'm sorry, Nina. Normally your photography makes my mouth water, but I prefer a little less crack with my apple pie. Just saying... :)

  4. Ha! Did he know you took that picture?

  5. me and anon: my comment on north Wisconsin will appear later tonight, in my next post;

    jenny and sarah: I have this annoying laser in my camera that beams red light on the place of focus. In horror, I noted that as I was focusing on the, um, pair of jeans, the whole backside became illuminated in red. He didn't notice, but it could be that the entire cafe did.

  6. Please tell me that the old guys Up North are not also wearing halter tops. Please . . .

    That would be too much to bear.

  7. Norther Wisconsin is only part of 'Up Nort'. There is the whole Upper Peninsula of (Michigan?) where the real frontier still lies. Wisconsin's got a long history of Progressiveness and communication. Da U.P. has a long history of immigrants that were sent down mines and into forests and forgotten. Not different economy or scenery, but a strange place to live.

  8. P.S. No bits of conversation from the old guys? No sniping at their conservative 'values'? What kind of Madisonite are you? Ah yes, the kind that hangs out with people who can't tolerate breakfast or meat. No smokestacks in Madison, and the cows are locked away in institutions. Where does all that lawyering money come from, ya think?

  9. Isn't it a WI state law that all apple pie must be served with a scoop of ice cream or a slice of cheese?

    You have to get your dairy in there with that symbol of America!

  10. auntigrav: why are you assuming that the guys engaged in conservative speak? Actually they were discussing whether a siting of robins was a first this spring or whether some had been seen earlier.

    anon: I preempted the question by saying no thanks to the dairy stuff on top. I was a little shocked at how much cheese had been dumped on the pizza and that there had been an option to add "extra cheese." We had visited Colby, Wisconsin just a few hours back and had worked wonders with a pound of the stuff, purchased at a quick visit to (a rather depressing) a cheese store.

  11. The best food up there is cooked and served at home dinner tables. For eat outs, you get fried food and convenient foods. I'm glad nobody took your camera away.

  12. Wisconsin needs to take back the UP!!! What claim does Michigan have to it. Wisconsin's border is miles long, whereas lower Michigan just has a slither that is attached.

    Losing the UP to Michigan is one of history's biggest travesties.

  13. I was just chatting with a colleague in my office and he said: "Those are some interesting images on your computer." He was referring, of course, to the butt crack pictures. "Oh no!" I said. "I didn't realize that was on the screen. I was just checking Nina's blog when you walked in." "Oh really," he said. "Is that what I'm missing by not blogging? Guess I'd better never go to a pub with Nina."

    And now I have to go tell him that I blogged our conversation.

    It never ends, does it?

  14. Wisconsin supper clubs - some of them - can have fantastic steak, prime rib and walleye. It's not a wasteland of dining opportunities, in other words. You just have to like what they have to offer.

  15. me: let's settle for splitting the UP in half, like the good neighbors that we are.

    anon 11:08 & paulfrommpls: I do not doubt that there's good food up north. Take a look at my post from today. That has to have been the best damn breakfast I have had in a long time. And I did put in the disclaimer that my travel companion does not eat steak. A pity, from my point of view, but there you have it.

    tonya: you can't fool me. That crack photo is way down on the blog right now. The only way it would be left on your screen is if you were resolutely staring at it. I mean, I know it can get dull in the office late in the afternoon...

  16. Hey Thanks for all the good comments on my restuarant. I had a customer email me this blog. We offer free ice cream with our pie. $ 1.95 for a slice. Over 80 diferant kinds of pie. for menu.And don't forget to leave room for the pie! 1987 Dairy Best Restuarant of Wisconsin. Thanks! Pie Guy

  17. If you can't spell Llyninkugles correctly, don't spell it at all.

  18. And if you can spell it, does that mean you can also pronounce it?

    Sounds like a ho-hum dining experience, especially if the photos are accurate, but a fun over-all experience. There's just so damn much out there! What a frickin' huge country we're in!

  19. pieguy: we actually were happy to have found your place. Things looked fresh and your waitstaff was totally friendly;

    anon 3:59: truth's out. I am the world's laziest corrector of spelling errors. The very first reader pointed out the mistype. That was twenty four hours ago;

    benning 76: it's amazing how little the menus have changed in the last decades in these local places. Fried shrimp. Fried cod. etc. Still, this place was on the up end of comparable establishments. So much to discover out there, you're right.

  20. My God! You strike a memory nerve...I grew up on annual June runs from my hometown in Central Illinois (Pekin) to Tomahawk, WI for a week at "Weggie's Point Resort" on Lake Alice (I swear it's true).

    Memories of docks, actual rowing boats, catching croppie and a few northern pike, and of walking the owner's adopted daughter Mary Jane to the small island reached by a log bridge where we experienced our 1st kisses (well, mine anyway), til owner/father Weggie came walking up unnoticed and sent me walking and Mary Jane marching to a long stick liberally applied to her wonderful backside.

    Thanks for the flashback....& I know, Tomahawk is not Northern WI...but it was nearly so then. Now too developed and overfished.

    Duke DeLand

  21. Duke: When I was married, I used to lived in PEORIA. And my Ex Husband's family used to summer at Tomahawk. Freaky. Small. World.

  22. So I called the guy in Lester Praire MN that we had talked about visiting to chat about metal spraying a crankshaft rod journal and I mentioned that we had been in Turtle Lake, not quite close enough to visit him. Then I started telling the butt crack story, how we were sitting in a booth in the Main St cafe in Bloomer WI and my very good friend who keeps a blog took pictures of the pizza, beer, and apple pie we were served and the butt crack of this guy sitting at the counter who was talking with his buddy about spring and robins and that sort of thing. The Lester Praire guy started laughing pretty good and then I told him that my very good friend has not figured out how to turn off the red light from her digital camera that illuminates whatever she’s taking a picture of, so when I told him that she lit up the guys butt in red I figured that when the patrons in the booth next to ours saw out what was going on we’d catch hell, the Lester Praire guy started howling with laughter.
    I believe peoples butt cracks are like Rorschach inkblot tests, you see what you want to see.


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