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Lucy Saunders
4230 N. Oakland #178
Shorewood WI
53211 USA
@ site name

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Tasters Guide to Wisconsin -
Tour of Lake Winnebago

Think of Wisconsin's most famous colors, and probably green and gold-the Green Bay Packers and Cheddar cheese-spring to mind. But visitors from all around the Great Lakes know that Wisconsin is famed for its fiery fall foliage and rustic roads.

A new map, the Tasters Guide to Wisconsin, showcases the best spots for tours and tastings of craft beers, specialty cheeses, and wineries throughout the state.

(To get a free copy, send a self-addressed, stamped #10 size envelope to:
WMMB-Tasters Guide, PO Box 1012, LaCrosse, Wisconsin 54602.)

Take in the blazing colors of sugar maples, stately oaks, silver birch and golden tamaracks with a drive around Lake Winnebago, an excellent weekend jaunt from Madison, Milwaukee or Green Bay.

Several cities line the shores of this gorgeous fresh-water lake, the largest in-land body of water in the state: Appleton to the north, Oshkosh to the west, and Fond du Lac (literally, "far end of the lake") to the south.

Kayaks along the Fox River in Oshkosh

Start from Milwaukee, and wind up I-43 northbound, along the Lake Michigan Circle Drive.

Glimpse the deep blue waters of the great lake to the right as you glide past Port Washington, home of the Harbor City Brewing Co. and Port Washington Brewery.

Just west of Kohler, pick up highway 23 west and about 10 miles later, turn right on highway 57 North, passing scenic barns and reflecting pools such as Mueller's Pond. Daylilies on a Wisconsin farmPast the Rhine Center, highway 57 changes into 57/32, which heads both north and west, through the picturesque towns of Kiel and New Holstein. As expected, dairy barns and silos decked in red and white paint dot the countryside here.

Continue north on 57/32 through Chilton, home of the specialty maltings company called Briess. Its fine malt is used in beer, and as an ingredient to flavor sauces, prepared foods, and yes, even chocolate malted milk balls. If you're in the mood for a beer, pull over for a pint at Rowland's Calumet Brewery, 25 North Madison Street (920) 849-2534...

At Forest Junction, a tiny town with the credible civic slogan, "you can get there from here," turn left on highway 10 and trek to County Road 55 north to Kaukana, then west to Appleton on Highway 41.

Wax-clad cheddars in the shape of steinsAt exit N, you'll find Simon's Specialty Cheese Store, famed for its aged white cheddar cheese, gift shop and ice cream parlor. If a group wishes to get a factory tour during weekdays, call ahead for reservations.

Likewise, Mossholder Farm in Appleton, which produces a unique and delicious brick-style semisoft cow's-milk cheese, offers tastings and tours during the week (in nice weather, you can see the family's own herd of cows grazing in the pasture). Try their brick cheese, available at four levels of aging, at the farm retail store or by mail.

There are wonderful hiking trails along the Highcliff preserve. For a different kind of hike, stroll through the Fox River Mall, and sample the ales of the Fox River Brewing Co. Or stop at the Dos Bandidos, for mexican fare washed down with Adler Brau beer at the Appleton Brewing Co., 1004 S. Olde Oneida (920) 735-0507..

Oshkosh is best known for the "EAA Air Adventure Fly-in" for enthusiasts of amateur aviation. But I like the aviation museum, with Wright Brothers memorabilia.

Upon leaving Oshkosh, follow the southwest shore of Lake Winnebago on Highway 45, staying close to the shore for views of the lake and wetlands. Located at the base of Lake Winnebago, Fond du Lac (French for "at the far end of the lake") goes out of its way to introduce visitors to its many charms.

Gilles Frozen Custard is practically an icon in Fond du LacBe sure to stop at the Gilles Frozen Custard Stand on Main Street in "Fondy," as locals call the city. It's a classic drive-in, where attendants serve those vehicles that leave their lights on.

Another scenic route circles the Horicon Marsh and the northern unit of the Kettle Moraine State Forest, less than an hour from Fond du Lac. A remnant of the marsh outlines the outskirts of Theresa, the next stop for cheese. Stay on WI-175 south from Fond du Lac, to 175/28/67, through to the village of Theresa, where the Widmer Cheese Cellars produces some of the finest specialty cheese in Wisconsin.

At Widmer's, learn the history of the real "brick cheese," cheese that was pressed with a brick to get a firm, aged cheese dotted with tiny pinholes and veins, resembling the porous texture of a brick. Wisconsin Master Cheesemaker Joe Widmer preserves his grandfather's traditions. The Widmer Cheese Shop in tiny Theresa, WI

Almost a century later, Joe Widmer still uses several hundred bricks to weigh down the cheese molds, pressing the curds gently and slowly. A surface-ripened, washed-rind cheese, Widmer's Aged Brick is aromatic, rich, earthy to the nose, with a creamy, full flavor followed by a nice note of tanginess.

From Theresa, follow 28/67 to Mayville, just east of the Horicon Marsh. Mayville's Main Street is full of specialty shops and antique stores. Its jewel is the Audubon Inn, a lovely spot to dine.

Wild geese on a barn mural outside Mayville

Here's a wonderful aerial view of Lake Winnebago, courtesy of NASA, with the circle tour superimposed upon it. Thanks!

www.beercook.com, Copyright © 2012-2002, by Lucy Saunders. All rights reserved. Note copyright of authors and recipe contributors in bylines and prefaces. Fee required for reprints in any commercial media.

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