Monthly Archives: April 2011

April 26, 2011

Edible Enlightenment in Wisconsin

These purveyors prove that socially-responsible cooking can have delicious results

Are you hungry for something new?

Bloom Bake Shop, Middleton WI

Photo: Bloom Bakery

These three Wisconsin businesses transform the ordinary into something truly special by using innovative ideas and locally- and sustainably- grown ingredients. What they create is far more than simply a socially-responsible product—they’re making some of the most interesting and best tasting food in the Midwest. If you’re planning a trip to Wisconsin, you need to check out these one-of-a-kind opportunities for unforgettable food.

Delicious Pastys in Rhinelander

Photo: Joe's Pasty Shop

A Pie to Die For
Joe’s Pasty Shop in Rhinelander is in a class all its own.

A pasty (pronounced “pass-tee”) is a small pie, generally filled with potatoes, onions and beef. Originally a food eaten by miners in Cornwall, England, the pasty spread around the world as Cornish miners settled in places such as the Upper Peninsula of Michigan. From the U.P., the pasty made its way down to Rhinelander, where diners visiting Joe’s Pasty Shop can partake in what is one of Wisconsin’s most satisfying meals.

The flaky crust of the pasties contains more than just a long tradition. Inside each pasty, you’ll find the finest ingredients. Joe’s Pasty Shop uses naturally-raised, grass-fed beef and pork from Futility Farms of Gilman, Wisconsin. The cattle and hogs are raised with no hormones, steroids or antibiotics. Joe’s Pasty Shop also offers pasties made with whole wheat crusts, containing only flour, canola oil and sea salt. And each day, the pasties are made fresh.

What’s the result of all this close attention to quality? A highly satisfying meal. Next time you’re in Rhinelander, make Joe’s Pasty Shop one of your stops.

Hmmm, cupcakes at Bloom Bakery in Middleton, WI

Photo: Bloom Bakery

Local, Local, Local
In the culinary world, there is a growing trend toward using local ingredients. By using locally grown or prepared ingredients, restaurateurs and specialty food makers help to keep more money in the local economy. Additionally, local ingredients are often fresher and of higher quality, which translates into more flavorful food.

Bloom Bake Shop in Middleton is dedicated to using products from farmers around the Middleton area. What can’t be purchased locally—tea, chocolate and coffee—Bloom Bakery buys from farm co-operatives that ensure fair trade and ecologically-sound growing practices.

But the commitment to ingredients goes beyond the food. Bloom Bake Shop uses 100% post-consumer waste recycled paper for all their business cards, box tags and discount cards. Many non-food items sold in the store, from water bottles to travel mugs, are made from recycled materials as well. You can even buy Bloom Bake Shop T-shirts made of organic or recycled cotton and water based inks.

But all that careful commitment to responsible ingredients would be useless if the baked goods weren’t good. Bloom Bake Shop shines here too, serving up a huge array of treats, from cupcakes and brownies to cookies and whoopie pies. There’s even a selection of vegan and gluten-free items.

On your next Middleton getaway, be sure to visit Bloom Bake Shop.

Stop for a Walnut Burger along the Great River Road

Photo: Susan Parenti & The Trempealeau Hotel

A Surprising Burger
One of the most popular stops along the Wisconsin Great River Road is the Historic Trempealeau Hotel, built in 1871. Well-informed travelers come to this restaurant for a burger with a remarkable shortage of beef: the one-and-only Trempealeau Hotel Walnut Burger.

Originally designed by the restaurant’s owners as a vegetarian option, the Walnut Burger (always capitalized) has been wowing vegetarians and non-vegetarians alike since 1986. In fact, the Walnut Burger is the restaurant’s top-selling menu item. The burger caught on so much that they started selling frozen Walnut Burgers at the restaurant and later in area grocery stores.

But the Walnut Burger is best enjoyed right in the place where it was born. Next time you’re driving the Wisconsin Great River Road, be sure to stop at the Trempealeau Hotel for what is arguably the finest veggie burger in America.

This entry was posted in Article, Enews on Tuesday, April 26, 2011.

April 20, 2011

Ten Tips For Fishing With Kids

How to make a youngster’s first fishing trip a success

Dad and Kid FishingFishing is one of the best ways to get a kid excited about the outdoors. With a little planning and some basic knowledge, you can help any kid learn how to catch fish—and have fun doing it. Here are ten tips for making that first trip to the lake a memorable one.

  1. Go where the fish are. Make sure you’re fishing where the fish are! Nothing sours a kid’s first fishing experience more than not catching any fish. Be sure to pick a fishing spot where you’ve caught fish in the past. There’s nothing that’ll make a kid want to go back to their video games faster than a fishless day on the water.
  2. Go for variety. Fish in places where there’s a variety of fish species. Bluegill are certainly the most abundant and easiest to catch of all Wisconsin fish. Yellow perch and crappie are eager biters too. Throw in a few bass, a couple catfish and some pike and you have an exciting array of fish for the new angler to identify.
  3. Nightcrawlers rule. There’s no single bait more versatile than a nightcrawler. Many anglers make the mistake of being stingy with the worm, using only a small piece or hooking the worm in such a way that no fish could take it off the hook. The key is to use smaller sized worms and hook them once or twice in the midsection so that they can squirm in a way that fish can’t resist.
  4. Cane poles are cool. Sometimes even simple spincast reels can be hard for some kids to operate on their first outing. Consider saving everyone some frustration and just use good old fashioned cane poles. Cane poles are not only excellent for catching panfish—they’re inexpensive and virtually unbreakable.
  5. Kids FishingThe bobber is your friend. Nothing is more exciting than watching a bobber get pulled to the right, then the left, then straight down under the waves. When the bobber disappears, you set the hook—it’s as simple as that.
  6. Consider staying on shore. Boats are nice, but they can add too many challenges for a youngster’s first time fishing. A proven shorefishing spot or pier is ideal for teaching kids the basics of fishing.
  7. Take a break. The biggest mistake we can make is turning fishing into work. Kids get bored more easily than the average adult. Be sure to take some time to eat lunch, catch frogs or tell a few fish tales.
  8. Be prepared. Bring sunscreen, mosquito repellent, a wide-brimmed hat, sunglasses, a dry set of clothes, extra nightcrawlers, extra fishing rods, snacks, water and whatever else you think would make everyone’s fishing outing more comfortable.
  9. Young Boy with FishKnow how to unhook a fish. Every grown-up knows how to unhook a fish, right? Actually, no. So, before you take a kid out fishing, be sure you know how grab hold of a fish, remove the hook and safely return it to the lake, all without hurting yourself or the fish. If you’re not sure about your fish unhooking skills, bring another more experienced angler along (it shouldn’t be hard to find someone—most anglers love sharing their knowledge and teaching others basic fishing skills).
  10. Bring a camera. This might be the most important item of all. You will regret it if you don’t take a picture of your youngster with their first fish. Everyone remembers their first day fishing and the grown-up who cared enough to take them. So, why not have a photograph?
This entry was posted in Enews on Wednesday, April 20, 2011.

April 12, 2011

Wisconsin’s Best Bass Fishing Lakes and Rivers

Your best bests for bass fishing in the Badger State

There are few outdoor pursuits as exciting as bass fishing. Wisconsin is home to both largemouth and smallmouth bass, and you’ll find one or both species in nearly every lake in the state. But bass are not just ubiquitous—they’re also some of the most aggressive predators in the water. Bass don’t have teeth like a musky or pike, but they do have a giant and powerful mouth with which they swallow up small fish, worms, frogs, insects and pretty much anything they can catch. When a bass hits your bait or lure, there’s no doubt about it.

Almost every Wisconsin River or lake holds bass. But some Wisconsin bass fishing opportunities are in a class all their own. In no particular order, here are four of Wisconsin’s top bass fishing destinations.

Fish along the Wisconsin Great River RoadMississippi River – Wisconsin Great River Road
On Wisconsin’s western border, you will find a 250-mile-long bass fishing playground. Both largemouth and smallmouth bass are abundant in the Mississippi River. Largemouth tend to be found in the sprawling backwaters, which offer abundant forage, lush plant life and numerous places for a big bass to hide. Smallmouth, on the other hand, tend to be found in protected areas close to current. Look for fish near structures such as wing dams, small islands and deeper holes.

The Mississippi River is huge. For the bass angler, that means nearly endless fishing opportunities. In some of the wider pools, it could take a lifetime to fish all the winding backwaters. If other boats start appearing all around you and it starts feeling a little bit crowded, you only need to go a mile or two up or down the river and you’ll find some peace and quiet again.

You’ll find dozens of excellent boat launches all along the Wisconsin Great River Road National Scenic Byway, which follows the river from Prescott to Kieler. Bass fishing is open all year on the Mississippi River. Find information about lodging and dining along the river at

Bass fishing in Rusk County, WisconsinFlambeau River – Rusk County
For smallmouth bass fishing, there are few destinations as good as the Flambeau River in Rusk County. Smallmouth in the Flambeau River grow big and beefy, with wonderful color and markings.

The smallmouth lurk in both the narrow, fast-moving sections of river as well as the wide, slow-moving flowages. Successful fishing in the narrow sections means finding deeper holes and places where swift current meets slack water.

In flowages, you’ll want to fish like you’re on a lake. The dark-stained waters of the Flambeau lend themselves to spinner baits, buzz baits and crankbaits that send a vibration out into the water. With the Flambeau’s numerous muskies, don’t be surprised if you hook into a toothier predator than you expected.

The Flambeau River in Rusk County is in the Northern Bass Management Zone, which means a catch-and-release bass fishing season runs from May 7 to June 17. The regular season opens June 18. Get complete trip planning information for Rusk County at

Pelican Lake – Oneida County
There are a lot of good bass lakes in Oneida County. However, Pelican Lake stands out above all the rest. At more than 3,500 acres, it is a big lake. In addition to numerous smallmouth bass, the clean waters of Pelican Lake harbor largemouth bass, perch, bluegill, crappie, northern pike, walleye and musky. Taken as a whole, Pelican Lake offers an outstanding fishery.

If you’re targeting the lake’s beautiful bass, you need to pay attention to the weeds. Start your hunt for bass along the weed edges. Look for variations in the weed line and bottom structure. Another good technique is tying on a plastic worm and slowly fishing along the piers and other shore structures. The reward is a fight with one of Pelican Lake’s well-fed smallies.

Oneida County is in the Northern Bass Management Zone, which means a catch-and-release bass fishing season runs from May 7 to June 17. The regular season opens June 18. Find everything you need for an Oneida County fishing trip at

Trout Lake – Vilas County
Trout Lake is most famous for two types of fish: lake trout and musky. This big, deep, cold lake is home to an outstanding lake trout fishery – something which is unusual in Wisconsin. The gin-clear waters are also home to some of the biggest muskies in the state – and their enormous size is as famous as their elusiveness. Trout Lake even supports an excellent population of whitefish.

But we’re interested in bass, and in that category, Trout Lake doesn’t disappoint. Big smallmouth bass are the rule on this lake. Trout Lake smallies stay close to structure and close to shore. The clarity of the water means you need to approach with more stealth than you would on darker water. The clear water also means you should use baits with a more natural coloration.

One of the best reasons for fishing Trout Lake is the beautiful surroundings. Tall pines line the shores. Bald eagles are often seen overhead. The clean water allows you to see to surprising depths. Catching fish here is just icing on the cake.

Vilas County is in the Northern Bass Management Zone, which means a catch-and-release bass fishing season runs from May 7 to June 17. The regular season opens June 18. Get a list of lodging and dining options in Vilas County at


April 12, 2011

Spring is for Farmers Markets

Find fresh produce and homemade products in every corner of Wisconsin

Greenway Station Farmers Market, Middleton, WisconsinWisconsin has a wealth of farmers markets, offering fresh fruits and vegetables, baked goods and other home-grown and homemade products. Enjoy the flavors of the spring season with a trip to one of these farmers markets.

Black River Falls
Tuesdays 3-6pm
Saturdays 9am-1pm
Scholze Ace Home Center

Eagle River in Vilas County
Wednesdays 8:30am-1pm
Highway 45 north of the bridge
Early June-Early October

Ferryville on the Wisconsin Great River Road
Saturdays 9am-5pm
Sugar Creek Park
May 14-October 29

Holmen near Onalaska
Wednesdays 3-7pm
Festival Foods

Tuesdays – Terrace Ave Parking Lot
Thursdays – T.G.I. Friday’s Parking Lot
May 10-October 29

Sundays 8am-1pm
Festival Foods

Saturdays 8am-Noon
Courtney Street

Rusk County
Wednesdays 3-6pm
Saturdays 8:30am-Noon
Highway 8 and W. Fourth St. N
July-Late October

Tomahawk in Oneida County
Thursdays 7:30am-1pm
Washington Park
June 15-October 27

West Bend
Saturdays 7:30-11am
Old Settler’s Park
June 5-October 30


April 12, 2011

Pack Your Picnic Basket!

Four Great places to go on a picnic in Wisconsin

There’s nothing like a bright spring day to whet your appetite. Going on a picnic is an age-old way to spend an afternoon in the beautiful outdoors. We’ve selected four of the best places to enjoy your lunch al fresco.


Hodag ParkRhinelander
Have lunch on the shores of beautiful Boom Lake at Hodag Park. The park is named for the green woodland creature that is said to lurk in the forests of the Rhinelander area. If you’re lucky, you might catch a glimpse of a Hodag while you’re enjoying your picnic.

In Hodag Park, you’re surrounded with the best of life in the Northwoods. Enjoy waterscapes and fresh air. See boaters and anglers setting out for the day from the park’s boat landing. Plan your trip to Rhinelander at

Greens Coulee ParkOnalaska
Onalaska sits in the middle of Coulee Country, a landscape of deep valleys, crystal clear creeks and bluff-top vistas. Greens Coulee Park offers some of the very best views of this picturesque part of Wisconsin.

During the spring, the view is absolutely wonderful. The combination of rolling hills and newly green fields is soothing on the eyes. Birds flock to this natural area, attracted by the open spaces and wide variety of plants. It’s a delightful place to throw down a blanket, open up the picnic basket and take it all in. Learn about more things to see and do in Onalaska – visit

Biking in Lakeview Park, Middleton WisconsinLakeview Park Middleton
In this quiet corner of Middleton, you’ll find a little piece of classic small-town life. Lakeview Park is the quintessential community park, complete with sports fields, a large playground and a scenic pond.

Whatever patch of green grass you choose as you picnic spot, you’ll have a pleasant view of this wonderful park. Watch people bicycling and rollerblading along the winding paths. See children fishing in the pond and families playing on the playground. This is a little piece of paradise in a community that’s famous for its high quality of life. Learn more about Middleton at

Crystal Lake Beach – Boulder Junction
The perfect way to work up an appetite would be a bicycle ride on the paved trail from Boulder Junction to Crystal Lake Beach.

Along your way, you’ll pass along the eastern shore of beautiful Trout Lake. After seeing beautiful blue water, you’ll be ready for a swim when you get to Crystal Lake Beach at the end of the trail. After your swim, enjoy a Northwoods picnic, surrounded by pine trees and shimmering lakes. It’s as good as it gets. See a map of Crystal Lake Trail and learn more about Boulder Junction at