Tammy

Tammy has been eating for years, but didn’t discover her professional fascination with food until she started talking about it every week. As a result of Chicago Bites, she has expanded her interest in food policy, gardening, composting, organic issues, slow food, local producers and how these impact the Chicago dining experience. She’s found her restaurant knowledge to be the ultimate ice breaker.

Jan 102016
 

The weather forecast evoked too many memories of recent Polar Vortex winters, so the BF and I took stock of the pantry and determined that a quick run to Mars’ Cheese Castle (Kenosha, WI) might be a smart move.

Mars’ Cheese Castle, if you don’t know it, is located off of I-94 just over the border, and is filled to the brim with cheese, meat, and beer from all over the great state of Wisconsin. Wisconsin has a lot to brag about. Let me break it down…

Cheese.

Go for prodigious amounts of fresh, squeaky cheese curds. I usually take home bags of “mixed” yellow and white curds and something with dill, YMMV. Curds are road trip food and taste best at room temperature.

While the selection of Hook’s Cheese here isn’t as deep as I would like, you can find a selection of the speciality cheeses like Truffle Cheddar, Red Errigal, or Triple Play if you riffle through the cheese room. I would’ve totally bought them out of aged cheddar if it were on the shelves.

Mars’ does a good job of sampling, too, and it’s a great way to familiarize yourself with cheeses from across the state. I admire, but typically stay away from the “shaped” cheeses and the stuff sold in a tub. Again, YMMV.

Meat.

Mars’ carries a variety of meats from Usinger’s, which means I don’t have to go all the way to Milwaukee to get the best frickin’ brats this side of heaven. If you look in the freezer section, they sell Usinger’s kielbasa by the case. Also load up on a selection of Nueske’s Applewood Smoked Bacon if you spot it. I was outta luck this trip, though they did have glazed ham and brats from Nueske’s.

Like little smokies? You can get them here made with elk. You can also find sausages shaped like beer bottles. There’s something for everyone.

Beer.

Wisconsin breweries are well represented at Mars’. A full range of beer from New Glarus, Ale Asylum, Capitol, Lakefront, and Central Waters is here for your browsing pleasure, as are a number of smaller breweries. I was pleased to pick up Fantasy Factory from Karben4…hell, I’m just going to come clean here. I was *giggling* on my way to the car. I love this stuff.

We also got a 6-packs of Demento and Satisfaction Jacksin from Ale Asylum, Electroshock TherHOPy from Wisconsin Brewing, Satin Solitude from Central Waters, and a bomber from new-to-me Big Bay Brewing. I may make it to spring.

Honestly, you can probably find most of this in Chicago, but not in one stop or with such a wide range of selection. Winter is here — are you stocked up?