Monthly Archives: June 2018

Flavors of the Great River Road: Iowa

Saturday, June 30, 2018

You might associate Iowa with corn fields and cows, and the state sure does have a lot of those. But there’s a lot more to Iowa, including countless local flavors that extend far beyond the realms of corn and dairy. We put together a list of stops along the Mississippi that show just how diverse and delicious the flavors of Iowa are.

North

Places to eat:

Schera’s (Elkader)

Schera’s offers an array of Mediterranean favorites and Iowan classics. The Mediterranean dishes pay homage to the town’s namesake, Algerian leader Emir Adb El Kader. At Schera’s you can get your falafel with a side of fried pickles. Now that’s the best of both worlds.

The Wild Carrot (Waverly)

The upbeat yet cozy atmosphere of The Wild Carrot makes it the perfect place to stop for breakfast or lunch. The menu features American favorites including burgers, cheesesteaks and the dish that made the restaurant famous, carrot cake.

Flatted Fifth Blues & BBQ (Bellevue)

Who says Iowans can’t do spicy? If you can’t wait to get down South, Flatted Fifth has you covered. This unique spot offers Southern-inspired dishes like jambalaya, pulled pork and gumbo to keep you on the edge of your seat while you tap your foot to live music.

Things to do:

Osborne Welcome Center (Elkader)

The Osborne Welcome Center is the perfect place to stretch your legs after a trip in the car. Peruse the Native Wildlife Exhibit and learn about Iowa’s many species of plants and animals. Then, take a walk down one of the scenic nature trails for a breath of fresh air before stopping in the gift shop for a souvenir to remember your adventure. Osborne Park is located 5 miles south of Elkader on Highway 13.

Froelich 1890s Village Museum (McGregor)

Step back in time with a tour through this historic gem. See turn-of-the-century inventions, a country store and an old schoolhouse as they were over a century ago. Tours available daily (except Tuesdays and Wednesdays). Find hours and ticket information here.

South

Places to eat:

Atlas Steak & Smokehouse (Fort Madison)

Atlas Steak & Smokehouse wrote the book on farm-to-table dining. This steakhouse sources its beef from a farm just six miles from its front door. It doesn’t get fresher than that! Located across the street from Riverview Park and Old Fort Madison, Atlas is the perfect place to wine and dine before a sunset walk along the Mississippi. See the menu here.

Wide River Winery (Clinton)

Enjoy live music on the water’s edge. Take in the scenery as you experience wine made on the Mississippi. Check out their website to get info on events and offers. You won’t want to miss their seasonal specials. While you’re there, get a behind-the-scenes look at the facility and learn the art of wine-making.

Rastrelli’s Italian Restaurant (Clinton)

This Italian bistro is a favorite of locals and tourists alike. In fact, people love it so much that Rastrelli’s offers overnight delivery of its pizzas anywhere in the United States. That means you can relive your trip with a taste of one of Iowa’s best Italian restaurants long after your vacation ends. View menu options and learn more about Rastrelli’s on their website.

Things to do:

Blue Hyll Dairy (Clinton)

This dairy farm is home to 1,200 cows and goes through 75 tons of feed every day to keep the animals fed and happy. The family-owned facility has been providing dairy products to restaurants and grocers all over the area for over 50 years, and they are proud to welcome visitors. Check their Facebook page for hours and plan your visit to see the farm in action.

The Sawmill Museum (Clinton)

This one-of-a-kind interpretive center pays tribute to the United States’ lumber industry and emphasizes the pivotal role Clinton played in developing the Midwest. The museum features vintage sawmill equipment and, in July, will open a virtual reality lograft simulator for visitors to experience the Mississippi the way loggers did in the 1800s. Visit their website for hours and ticket information.

 

Flavors of the Great River Road: Tennessee

Tuesday, June 26, 2018

Savor the flavors of the South when you explore the Great River Road through Tennessee. From barbecue to bananas—yes, bananas—and everything in between, there’s plenty to whet your appetite.

When it comes to cuisine along Tennessee’s Great River Road, the undisputed king has got to be Memphis. (All apologies to Memphis’ other king, Mr. Presley.) Memphis is a city that boasts history, culture and personality in a bundle that can’t be beat. It has everything to offer from stellar live music venues to can’t-miss historical spots. Among these one-of-a-kind traits are the flavors of Memphis—especially barbecue. Locals have been perfecting their craft for centuries here, making a science out of sweet-and-spicy combos that you can now find in a variety of Memphis-born dishes.

If you’re looking for a twist on some classic barbecue, head over to Central BBQ for their signature BBQ nachos. That’s right—these chips are loaded with your choice of chicken, beef or turkey and topped with barbecue sauce, assorted cheeses, jalapenos and a dusting of BBQ Shake. This favorite has been featured on several foodie blogs and has the local seal of approval.

A critic’s favorite is the dry-rub ribs at Charlie Vergos’ Rendezvous, a diner located across the street from the famous Peabody Hotel. The cooks here have perfected the Memphis tradition of using dry rub instead of barbecue sauce for ribs you’ve only tasted in your dreams.

A food tour through Tennessee wouldn’t be complete without experiencing the sweeter side of the menu. You might be familiar with Elvis Presley’s favorite lunch, a peanut butter and banana sandwich. But did you know that Tennessee actually has a connection to the banana industry? The Kentucky-Tennessee border cities of Fulton and South Fulton were once home to the only facility for distributing bananas to the northern states, so it became known as “The Banana Capital of the World.” Locals are so proud of their role in bringing bananas to the United States that they still celebrate the Annual Banana Festival every September.

If you’re looking to catch a few flavors of your own, head westward from South Fulton to Reelfoot Lake. It’s home to Reelfoot Lake State Park, a nationally renowned fishing destination for anglers going after crappie and bluegill. Plus, Reelfoot Lake—the only natural lake in Tennessee—welcomes visitors at lodging properties like Blue Bank Resort, which offers delicious cuisine at its Fishhouse Restaurant.

Between barbeque and biscuits, sweet teas and sugary treats, Tennnessee is the perfect place for a food tour you won’t forget. Add these stops to your trip and your taste buds will thank you all the way home.

(Photos: Charles Vergos Rendezvous/Facebook)

Experience the flavors of Minnesota’s Great River Road

Monday, June 18, 2018

Celebrate the flavors of the Minnesota Great River Road’s Mississippi River on your next road trip—wild rice and walleye straight from the river are among just a few classic Minnesota flavors. Bonus: you can fish for the state’s treasured walleye in many locations and experience the beautiful Minnesota outdoors at the same time. Choose one of the days below or choose them all… Just leave a “gone fishin’” note and hit the road!

Before you go: Place your order for Native American-harvested wild rice online from the White Earth Nation and gather inspiration from the recipes. For community information by region, including local tourism guides to help you find delicious local restaurants where someone else will cook the wild rice and walleye for you, visit the Minnesota Great River Road online. For farmers’ markets and more local flavors along the way, look to Minnesota Grown to guide you. And, the Minnesota DNR has a great online list of outfitters and boat rentals to help you plan before you leave home.

Day 1: Begin the day at the Mississippi River headwaters in Itasca State Park, get your fishing license at the Jacob Brower Visitor Center, and pick up a copy of the state’s fishing regulations or check them online. Then, launch your own boat or rent kayaks and canoes right at the park. Sleep under the stars in the park’s campgrounds or enjoy the rustic historic architecture of Douglas Lodge.

Day 2: Follow the Great River Road to beautiful Lake Bemidji State Park, where you can continue to try for walleye from the shore or your boat, then camp at the park or find many lodging opportunities in nearby Bemidji or at surrounding river and lake resorts. Don’t forget to try a local restaurant! Find public water access maps and safety tips here.

Day 3: Fish for walleye in lakes the Mississippi River runs through as it journeys east, including Andrusia, Cass, Winnibigoshish, Ball Club and Pokegama. Restock your wild rice supply at the Leech Lake Band of Ojibwe Main Office at 15756 State Hwy 371 NW in Cass Lake or online, where you can also find recipes and history. For members of many Native American cultures, wild rice is not just a crop; it’s a sacred component of their culture.

Day 4: Museum Day in Little Falls! Start at the Minnesota Fishing Museum, featuring over 10,000 artifacts related to Minnesota fishing. Grab some lunch downtown and head over to Charles Lindbergh State Park and State Historic Site to soak in the beautiful setting and rich history.

Day 5: Below the St. Cloud dam, choose from over a dozen boat landings and fishing piers on the Mississippi between here and the Twin Cities to try your luck at fishing for walleye, or learn why this area is home to some of the best smallmouth bass fishing in the state. Find details about this stretch of the river here.

Day 6: Experienced paddlers can go low on the water to try their hand at fishing walleye in the Twin Cities stretch of the Mississippi River by renting a kayak at Mississippi River Paddle Share, which provides access to the river within the Twin Cities’ very own national park, the Mississippi National River & Recreation Area. Fishing piers, boat landings and marinas also offer river access throughout this stretch.

Day 7: From Hastings to the Iowa border, this section of Mississippi River offers three riverfront state parks and multiple DNR and local boat landings and marinas. The Mississippi Bluffs region is also home to the Upper Mississippi River National Wildlife and Fish Refuge, an angler’s paradise. Charming river towns along the way will tempt you to extend your exploration of the Great River Road’s flavors by offering great restaurants, farmers markets and more!

Discover more to see and do along the Minnesota Great River Road here.

Venus in Fur

Monday, June 11, 2018

Dark, witty, and incredibly thought-provoking.

“This ain’t about love. It’s about getting a piece of me. You want the piece, you gotta put up with the rest of me. Isn’t that what this play’s all about?”

Thomas is a playwright-slash-director, desperately in need of an actress. A young-ish actress. A beautiful-slash-sexy actress. A sexy-slash-articulate young actress with some classical training and a particle of brain in her skull. Enter Vanda. The resulting action is more complex, and more important, than any audition.

Venus in Fur, by David Ives, is a play that has only grown more relevant since its debut in 2010 – a provocative exploration of gender roles and the intricate dynamic of artistic collaboration. The question is: can Vanda trust Thomas to open up his eyes, and see the woman standing next to him?

Who should I bring?
This is an exciting and challenging play. Bring a friend who is ready to discuss the show afterwards. This acting tour-de-force is only 100 minutes long (no intermission), but it packs quite a punch. Contains very strong language and sensual content. Suitable for people aged over 16. The performance will begin at 2:00

Venus in Fur

Dark, witty, and incredibly thought-provoking.

“This ain’t about love. It’s about getting a piece of me. You want the piece, you gotta put up with the rest of me. Isn’t that what this play’s all about?”

Thomas is a playwright-slash-director, desperately in need of an actress. A young-ish actress. A beautiful-slash-sexy actress. A sexy-slash-articulate young actress with some classical training and a particle of brain in her skull. Enter Vanda. The resulting action is more complex, and more important, than any audition.

Venus in Fur, by David Ives, is a play that has only grown more relevant since its debut in 2010 – a provocative exploration of gender roles and the intricate dynamic of artistic collaboration. The question is: can Vanda trust Thomas to open up his eyes, and see the woman standing next to him?

Who should I bring?
This is an exciting and challenging play. Bring a friend who is ready to discuss the show afterwards. This acting tour-de-force is only 100 minutes long (no intermission), but it packs quite a punch. Contains very strong language and sensual content. Suitable for people aged over 16. The performance will begin at 7:30

Venus in Fur

Dark, witty, and incredibly thought-provoking.

“This ain’t about love. It’s about getting a piece of me. You want the piece, you gotta put up with the rest of me. Isn’t that what this play’s all about?”

Thomas is a playwright-slash-director, desperately in need of an actress. A young-ish actress. A beautiful-slash-sexy actress. A sexy-slash-articulate young actress with some classical training and a particle of brain in her skull. Enter Vanda. The resulting action is more complex, and more important, than any audition.

Venus in Fur, by David Ives, is a play that has only grown more relevant since its debut in 2010 – a provocative exploration of gender roles and the intricate dynamic of artistic collaboration. The question is: can Vanda trust Thomas to open up his eyes, and see the woman standing next to him?

Who should I bring?
This is an exciting and challenging play. Bring a friend who is ready to discuss the show afterwards. This acting tour-de-force is only 100 minutes long (no intermission), but it packs quite a punch. Contains very strong language and sensual content. Suitable for people aged over 16. The performance will begin at 7:30

Venus in Fur

Dark, witty, and incredibly thought-provoking.

“This ain’t about love. It’s about getting a piece of me. You want the piece, you gotta put up with the rest of me. Isn’t that what this play’s all about?”

Thomas is a playwright-slash-director, desperately in need of an actress. A young-ish actress. A beautiful-slash-sexy actress. A sexy-slash-articulate young actress with some classical training and a particle of brain in her skull. Enter Vanda. The resulting action is more complex, and more important, than any audition.

Venus in Fur, by David Ives, is a play that has only grown more relevant since its debut in 2010 – a provocative exploration of gender roles and the intricate dynamic of artistic collaboration. The question is: can Vanda trust Thomas to open up his eyes, and see the woman standing next to him?

Who should I bring?
This is an exciting and challenging play. Bring a friend who is ready to discuss the show afterwards. This acting tour-de-force is only 100 minutes long (no intermission), but it packs quite a punch. Contains very strong language and sensual content. Suitable for people aged over 16. The performance will begin at 7:30

Venus in Fur

Dark, witty, and incredibly thought-provoking.

“This ain’t about love. It’s about getting a piece of me. You want the piece, you gotta put up with the rest of me. Isn’t that what this play’s all about?”

Thomas is a playwright-slash-director, desperately in need of an actress. A young-ish actress. A beautiful-slash-sexy actress. A sexy-slash-articulate young actress with some classical training and a particle of brain in her skull. Enter Vanda. The resulting action is more complex, and more important, than any audition.

Venus in Fur, by David Ives, is a play that has only grown more relevant since its debut in 2010 – a provocative exploration of gender roles and the intricate dynamic of artistic collaboration. The question is: can Vanda trust Thomas to open up his eyes, and see the woman standing next to him?

Who should I bring?
This is an exciting and challenging play. Bring a friend who is ready to discuss the show afterwards. This acting tour-de-force is only 100 minutes long (no intermission), but it packs quite a punch. Contains very strong language and sensual content. Suitable for people aged over 16. The performance will begin at 2:00

Flavors of the Great River Road: Wisconsin

Discover the flavors of the Dairy State—and beer, too

More than 250 miles of the Great River Road traverse Wisconsin, traveling through lush farmlands and beautiful Mississippi River scenery. Take some time to explore the delicious flavors of the Dairy State.

Dairy

When we say Wisconsin’s the Dairy State, we’re not kidding. No matter where you travel on the Wisconsin Great River Road (aka state Highway 35), you’ll find tasty treats, from farm-fresh milk to squeaky, delightful cheese curds (or fried ones you’ll find at most any bar or restaurant). A popular stop on the Great River Road is the historic Nelson Cheese Factory, where you can stock up on gouda, cheddar and parmesan or grab a seat outside and enjoy an ice cream cone.

June is also Dairy Month in Wisconsin, and the state goes all out, hosting farm breakfasts and other events throughout Wisconsin. Visit the Dairy Farmers of Wisconsin to find great recipes, videos and more.

Other agriculture

It’s not just cows in Wisconsin—farming is the lifeblood of Wisconsin, and you’ll discover tons of other farm-fresh foods at farmers’ markets, festivals and other agritourism attractions in the charming communities along the Great River Road.

Sitting on the banks of the Mississippi River means good fishing too, and in addition to fresh catches at local restaurants, several communities along the river celebrate this bounty—visit Trempealeau for its annual Catfish Days celebration in July or snap a selfie with the larger-than-life Sunny the Sunfish statue in Onalaska, “the sunfish capital of the world.”

Want to learn a little bit about the state’s agricultural history? Pay a visit to Stonefield State Historic Site in Cassville, where you’ll encounter historic farm implements and discover what it took to make Wisconsin the farming capital it is today.

Beer

Let’s not forget perhaps Wisconsin’s most important contribution to the country’s palate—beer. Travelers along the Great River Road will find plenty of ales, lagers and stouts to sample, whether you

And beer lovers shouldn’t miss the Potosi Brewing Company in the southwestern corner of the state. Potosi Brewing was founded in 1852 and was once the fifth-largest brewery in the state before eventually closing in 1972. Thanks to strong community support, the brewery reopened in 2008, and the site is also home to a restaurant as well as the National Brewery Museum and the Potosi Brewing Company Transportation Museum. Stop in for a pint—all proceeds go to charity!