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.

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