National pie champs have rural roots

Twenty years ago, Caroline Imig’s world started crashing. Her husband was killed in a farm equipment accident, leaving her as a single mother with five children. She tried to sell 350 acres and a herd of 120 cows, only to have a land contract buyer abandon the property without her knowledge. “They left me in(…)

Sub Fest, celeb centennials, Manticore new in tourism

Some Wisconsin destinations – like Summerfest in Milwaukee or the EAA AirVenture in the Oshkosh – become annual traditions because of their magnitude and ever-fresh approach, but these one-time or first-time events and attractions also aim to earn your attention. – Centennial celebrations for two native sons happen this year. Orson Welles (responsible for the(…)

Food truck cuisine: sammies, pizza, ethnic specialties

Maybe we should count the return of food trucks and food carts right up there with robins as sure signs of spring. “Mobile food is not a new concept in the United States,” notes PasteMagazine.com. “From the chuck wagons of the Old West to the hot dog stands of New York City, quick, inexpensive food(…)

New in Wisconsin food: Got2HavPie, Sartori, Nueske’s products

Much of what happens during the annual Midwest Foodservice Expo is insider advice and networking for the hospitality industry and others whose work involves the preparation and delivery of good food. Vendors hawk food trucks to chef uniforms, digital advertising systems to slush machines. Also in the mix at this Wisconsin Restaurant Association event are(…)

Machu Picchu pilgrimage: a study in engineering, miracles

When pelting rain wakes me at 4 a.m. on a Monday, about all I can do is listen and wonder. The closest weather forecast online is for a city 70 miles away and 3,300 feet higher in elevation. This is the day. There is no rain date. Our train leaves in mid afternoon. What sounds(…)

How to deal with the unexpected during travel

I sometimes welcome the unexpected in travel because that’s the foundation for fond and lasting memories, even though you might not think so at the time. An overnight at a Buddhist temple north of Busan, South Korea, had us fumbling with chopsticks, in fear of an order to swig a slosh of wasted food, then(…)

Reader mail: River cruises, Holyland churches,

Time to lighten the reader mailbag – thanks for taking the time to write with your questions, ideas, critiques and praise about destinations close to home and abroad. – I certainly am not the only one whose Danube River cruise was interrupted by flooding. Kathy Thomas of Pleasant Prairie says her trip was rescheduled from(…)

Eagle watch: Mississippi River, Raptor Center

Up to 2,500 bald eagles winter near the Mississippi River’s locks and dams because open water makes it easier to fish for dinner. That’s why we consider this the time of year to seek out the once-endangered raptor. The population estimate comes from the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers, and most bald eagles head north(…)

Frommer’s travel advice: Bali, Europe, Nashville are good value

So many travel stories concentrate on exotic and extravagant destinations that have huge budgets for marketing and promotion. We all know they are off-limits to average people because of the excess and expense. Arthur Frommer’s Budget Travel columns, magazines and books are a longstanding exception. His guidebook “Europe on $5 a Day,” published in 1956,(…)

Cooking with beer, brandy at Schlitz campus, Appleton brewery

Cooking with alcohol used to mean little beyond a splash of beer in a crock of cheese soup or tub of simmering brats. Now ales, stouts and spirits show up in almost all courses, if you know where to look. – The Brown Bottle, a tasting room and tavern for Milwaukee’s Schlitz Brewing Co. since(…)

Chicago Restaurant Week: From the Farmhouse and beyond

Downtown Chicago might seem about as far away as you can get from rural America, but think again. At Farmhouse Chicago restaurant, an antique tractor grill covers the hostess stand, steel pipes are stairway handrails and simple cotton kitchen towels are napkins. On display are collectible toy tractors, walls are whitewashed and accouterments include a(…)

Valentine’s Day ideas: cave, art, chocolate, wine, spa getaways

What cracks the deepest freeze of winter? A warm heart, and February is just the time to stoke up a little romance. Here are a dozen ways to woo your Valentine. Cave of the Mounds, Blue Mounds, opens its Cathedral Room and more to couples from 5-7 p.m. Feb 14. This by-reservation opportunity is only(…)

Early O’Hare flight or layover? Check out Rosemont, Ill.

I am a fickle consumer when it comes to airline transportation and spend way too much time weighing fares and gateways. I favor no airline but repeatedly head to Chicago’s O’Hare International Airport because of often-remarkable price differences compared to Wisconsin options. When a deep discount means spending a night in the area because of(…)

Paralympics’ best Nordic skiers in Hayward for world championships

If you look at winter as a season of limitations, head to Cable and Chequamegon National Forest in southern Bayfield County for a profoundly different perspective. I’m not talking about the American Birkebeiner cross-country ski races in February, held since 1973, although the demonstration of athleticism, endurance and grit is bold. What the area hosts(…)

“1,000 Places” author: thankful, curious, loves long-haul flights

Patricia Schultz was raised in Beacon, N.Y., a Hudson River town with some of our nation’s earliest settlements and the late folkster Pete Seeger as a hometown icon. She calls the city “a real Norman Rockwell corner of the world.” “I had a lovely childhood, but it wasn’t quite enough for me,” says the author(…)

Major Nuremberg brat exhibit opens in Germany

You say you love bratwurst? Germany’s Bavaria is centuries ahead of us in that regard, and now a new exhibit in Nuremberg’s local history museum is devoted to the sausage. The show about Nuremberg Rostbratwurst fills the first level of Stadtmuseum Fembohaus and is a first step toward deciding whether the city should open a(…)

Unexpected gems: Bay Motel, Leg Lamp Lodge, Molly O

Little luxuries and surprises are a part of what makes travel a joy, and this applies to my wanderings throughout Wisconsin in 2014. Remember that what you take for granted in the back yard indeed might earn ovations from out-of-towners. Here is a glimpse of what impressed me unexpectedly. Bay Motel and Restaurant, 1301 S.(…)

Green Fountain B&B in Waupaca serves other meals, too

Booking a bed and breakfast at the Green Fountain Inn could mean lunch or dinner, too, if you time it right. Accommodations at the Waupaca B&B, a roomy Victorian-style house built in 1908, are more about comfort and affordability than excess and luxury. Room rates stay well under $100, which includes a continental breakfast with(…)

Where the locals go in Madison during winter

Dreams of a white Christmas usually come true for us in Wisconsin, but there’s a quick skid of difference between picturesque wintry weather and an avalanche of discontent. A new exhibit at the Wisconsin Historical Museum, Madison, gently reminds us that the modern-day pleasures and pitfalls of winter are gentle when compared to what our(…)

Chicago gangster tours delve into bullet-riddled history

Mobster Al Capone was released from federal prison 75 years ago and sent home to Chicago. He was 40 years old and in bad health, mentally and physically, because of advanced syphilis; he refused treatment because he didn’t trust people with needles. That’s how Johnny Three Knives recounts it, and he’ll tell a lot more(…)