A Taste or Two of the Midwest

In this age of global accessibility, you can order just about any type of food you crave and have it delivered promptly.

Every now and then, though, we like to go old school; we eat regional delicacies right where they’re made. We think tart cherry concoctions taste best in Door County, brats should be eaten fresh off a Wisconsin grill, Italian beef sandwiches should be woofed down at an Illinois street fest and White Castle Burgers…we’re not going lie, we don’t think White Castle burgers should be eaten at all.

We know, we know, them’s fightin’ words.

But we digress.

This weekend, we had the opportunity to sample Midwestern food all the way from the tip of Door County to the heart of Naperville and we took full advantage.

We spent Friday night at the Harbor Fish Market and Grille in Bailey’s Harbor where we passed on the traditional lobster boil and cherry pie special because we’re not very graceful with our whole crustacean consumption (Molly compromised by ordering the Lobster Bisque). Our meals ranged from poached salmon to cocoa/chili powder dusted rib eye and we highly recommend that little slice of beachfront charm. Earlier in the day we had picked up a few goodies at the Wood Orchard Market, so we went to see As You Like It at Door County Shakespeare with happy tummies. A post-show stop at the Cookery in Fish Creek allowed Vinnie and Molly to sample the Chicken Cherry Flatbread.

We ran a little late Saturday morning, so we breakfasted at a brat fry at a gas station in Valmy, Wisconsin en route to visit our Illinois relatives.

Aunt Donna took us to Taste of Arlington Heights, a suburban version of the original gastronomical (said with a Mike Ditka twang) feast. We were not hungry at all, so we restricted ourselves to ribs, Italian beef sandwiches, pot stickers, pad thai, and fried ice cream.

Sunday found us at a post-church lunch with the wonderful Grandma Mary Jane, where we feasted on chopped salad, PLT sandwiches (Pancetta, Lettuce and Tomato) and a giant pork chop.

We’re not sure we’d recommend cramming all of that food into one summer weekend — our Sunday afternoon drive home left us a little queasy. But we’re still strong advocates of regional cuisine.

Step outside your door and taste a little local fare!

I have no pictures of all that Door County food, but this was our view Saturday morning as we digested it.
Donna, our hostess with the mostess, Vinnie and Molly take a moment to pause in the Arlington Heights Street.
Italian beef sandwiches — a true Chicago delicacy.
Chicago style ribs rest before finding a plate.
Apparently, Vinnie hit the fried ice cream stand just after they ran out of chocolate.
You only live once … so enjoy yourself!
Twinkle lights and live music added to the fun. We heard “Seventh Heaven” and “He Said, She Said.” Both cover bands, they inspired dancing and pleasantly drowned out the cicadas, no small feat.
Oh man, Vince’s Sunday afternoon pork chop drizzled with balsamic vinegar took up his whole plate.
Here’s a taste we never acquired. Nearly 30 years ago, at the request of fellow Marquette Tribune sportswriter Dave Marran, I stopped at a White Castle stand on the way to cover the Marquette/Indiana basketball game. He was thrilled, I was not. I honestly thought they had forgotten to put a burger on my bun. Marquette lost to the Hoosiers in double overtime. I blame the burger.

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