Stop in The Bay for great coffee, cozy place to work

I’m always on the hunt for a great coffee shop. I am one of those people willing to pay $4 for a great cup of specialty coffee, but I can also appreciate a fresh cup of gas station brew too — I’m an equal-opportunity coffee drinker. So in my travels, coffee stops are almost always included.

71069391_461666757769853_6001972842017587200_n

Things I look for in a coffee shop:

  • Classic coffee options: Fresh brewed and  cold brew options, plus mochas, lattes and chais
  • Milk options: I’m recently a fan of oat milk (thanks for that Bryan — Oh Hey! If you like baseball, check out his website!)
  • Snacks: Baked goods or packaged snacks are always appreciated as options
  • WiFi: Free WiFi (so I can get some work done…obviously) is a must
  • Seating: I like seating options (comfy chairs and tables) — outdoor and indoor
  • Traffic: It’s always a plus when the coffee shop has other people there, but it’s not so busy that I feel like I have to hurry up and leave

steamers 2

Steamers Coffee Shop in Williams Bay checked a lot of the things on my list. Steamers is located in the main building of businesses you see when you’re driving through The Bay on Highway 67. It’s attached to the Green Grocer — they serve soup and sandwiches, and also have a small grocery, wine and beer selection. On the Steamers side, they have a couple baked goods available (from Simple Cafe in Lake Geneva).

71229168_2353518524964529_5956136147875790848_n

The cafe side isn’t large, but there were plenty of seating options (including tables and comfy chairs) when we were there. It’s a pretty standard local coffee shops with cute decor, mismatched tables and chairs, and creeky wood floors — I loved it all!
71044439_411782392865139_6378181036202786816_n

They also had free WiFi — hint: the password is on a framed piece of paper hidden up (kinda high for this shortie) closer to the front door. And we were able to sit at one of the tables and get some work done without feeling rushed or in the way. There were definitley people in and out, but it wasn’t crazy busy.

71049399_398227680861314_6819953542543966208_n

Now to the coffee — I got an iced non-fat mocha. This mocha was probably one of the best specialty coffee drinks I’ve ever had. It was smooth, creamy and super chocolately but not too sweet. Most of the time with mochas you can’t get all of those things at the same time. Usually if it’s chocolately — it’s too sweet. Or if it’s smooth and creamy it’s not non-fat. Or if it’s not too sweet — then it’s kind of bitter. This basically tasted like high quality chocolate milk mixed with espresso — it was amazing!

71779019_2341485009449103_4200844719795732480_n

And if you want to bundle up and enjoy a view of Williams Bay, or wait until spring, they have a nice little view from right in front of their shop!

Other coffee shops in the area I like:

TELL ME: I need to add more local coffee shops to my rotation. If you have a favorite coffee shop in Walworth or Rock counties…let me know!!

Local, unique cheeses featured at Lake Geneva Country Meats

71913949_430678364318623_5378526590604935168_n

A couple of weeks ago I wrote a blog about Lake Geneva Country Meats. You can go read it here. I said their cheese section was a bit small and anyone looking for a large selection of Wisconsin cheeses could go somewhere else.

I’m sticking with my opinion that their are places you can go that have more options, but I will say that you might not want to go to those places over LG Meats. After trying some of the options LG Meats has in their cheese case, I can say that anyone will find something they love, something they maybe haven’t tried before, and something you will want to come back for again and again.

69391554_387488501964640_1756796470519922688_n

The team at LG Meats has spent a lot of time curating their collection to have something for everyone, and to offer some really special cheeses. My favorite type of specialty cheese has always been any of the Sartori BellaVitano flavors, and they have that but they also have some other amazing cheeses you need to try.

71308699_920558368323650_8631382409385869312_n

The bacon cheddar is made with LG Meats’ own bacon that they cook up and deliver to Hill Valley Dairy. Hill Valley is a true family operation — they make cheese with milk from their family’s farm. The bacon cheddar is amazing. It’s a good cheddar with amazing bacon (and A LOT of it), and some black pepper to bring it all together.

71181673_929629400757405_3534723956797865984_n

Hill Valley’s Whiskey Cheddar is also something special. It’s a white cheddar finished in whiskey (from Great Northern Distilling, which is also owned by a family member!). Whether you love whiskey or aren’t a fan — you have to try this cheese! The creamy cheddar pairs amazing with the smoky whiskey. And if you don’t love whiskey, the flavor is subtle so it’s still worth trying. They also have a Whiskey Gouda.

71343008_3049041435111158_8407687258341113856_n

LG Country Meats also have some great cheeses from Carr Valley, Hooks and Uplands Cheese. You can’t go wrong with any of the cheeses in their case, and they’re always bringing in new options and adding new cheeses!

70845780_669287476913454_2629144619425726464_n

 

A stop at Lake Geneva Country Meats should be on your weekly list

69272756_532192443987211_7936980631068606464_n

When I moved here five months ago part of my transition was finding a new grocery store. When I lived in Madison, I was a die-hard Woodman’s shopper, but with Woodman’s about 30 minutes away it wasn’t an option for regular shopping anymore.

69603353_426709447961588_7979244603909865472_nI started going to Aldi and Piggly Wiggly in Lake Geneva, but it wasn’t quite what we were looking for. Aldi had all of the produce, dairy and dry goods we liked, and Piggly Wiggly had the deli we were looking for, but neither had fresh or frozen meat we were interested in. My boyfriend mentioned he’d been to Lake Geneva Country Meats a couple times, so we went to check it out. I was instantly sold.

69279122_534969403941326_5439763688850456576_n

The larger-than-expected store out on Highway 50 east of Lake Geneva has fresh and frozen meat, canned and jarred goods, beer and wine, cheese and produce. During my first couple of trips, I picked up a couple canned goods along with our other items. All of the canned goods I tried (esepcially the pickled brussel sprouts) were super good, but a little pricey. They’re worth it for a fun treat, but not a regular purchase.

69391554_387488501964640_1756796470519922688_n

I’d also say the same thing about their cheese. They have a lot of novelty cheeses like bacon cheddar and whiskey soaked cheddar. If you’re looking for a lot of options of Wisconsin cheese — there are other places you could go. [UPDATE: Read an udpated post about their cheese.]

69259285_917509075279467_8103833444728963072_n

The produce section is surprisingly fresh. I’ve been getting most of my produce at Pearce’s recently, but earlier in the spring I was getting several items a week at LG Meats. The prices were similar to Aldi and usually cheaper than The Pig.

69674603_347707622775506_8251713334848520192_n

But let’s be real…I’m not going to LG Meats for the produce. Some of my favorite purchases:

  • Thick cut bacon
  • NY Strip Steak
  • Ground Beef
  • Marinated boneless skiness chicken breasts (Italiano Romano is my favorite flavor)
  • Green pepper, cheddar brats
  • Butterflied porkchops

69346271_399089524144265_199269985565016064_n

We also love their chicken wings and their twice baked potatoes. They have a lot more things, including a more flavors of brats, deli meat and salads, cuts of meat, and fresh and frozen items. Oh and did I mention the wine and beer?

69549484_336919090335224_7646904677405032448_n

 

Ice Cream Store Round-Up: Straw Hat

Summer and ice cream go together like peanut butter and jelly. I could keep going with great pairings (like oreos and peanut butter) but I’ll move on with this post.

68819286_2399738267018995_7062743199063736320_n

In the summer, my boyfriend and I like to go on motorcycle rides. Now some riders will say you don’t need a destination, you just ride. But I like having a destination or something fun to do to break up the ride. That’s where my “Ice Cream Store Round-Up” posts will come in. We like checking out little ice cream stands on our rides.

68825787_462990247887651_2474208935557464064_n

Our first (definitely not first ice cream stop of the season…just the first one I’m writing about) is the Straw Hat in Twin Lake. I was in Twin Lakes for work a couple weeks ago — missed my turn and found this place!

68739442_1277518975762994_6908807679934726144_n

The Straw Hat is a little roadside walkup stand that has all the standard ice cream options plus some food. You can see Lake Mary from their front benches, and it’s a good place to sit and people watch in the summer. We were down there on a Thursday and the main road was pretty busy for mid-week. We both got a shake — rootbeer, and peanut butter chocolate (seeing a trend here?). The sizes are very generous and the flavors were decent…almost a little too much peanut butter and not enough chocolate in mine (almost!).

68387788_2336910579902495_6475483331315105792_n

It’s definitley a cute place if you’re down in that area…which is basically Illinois!

Bring a few extra $$ when visiting Pearce’s in Walworth

68751617_341582940061867_3346971213799882752_nI love a good farm stand. Most of the time farm stands are on the side of the road and have a handful of items — mostly fresh produce — to choose from. Sometimes there’s someone manning the stand and sometimes it’s a self-service stand. I’ve found that produce from these stands is usually the same price or cheaper than the grocery store, and it is always better. Then there’s Pearce’s. Pearce’s is much larger and way more involved than most farm stands, but that’s what makes it so great.

67963938_2307978032790045_2258809552499638272_n

Pearce’s is on the corner of two county highways between Walworth, Williams Bay and Delavan. It’s a large building, but it only took me about 15 minutes to get in and out. It was mostly what I expected, except for one thing — there was an adorable older man singer old-school country music off to the side. It definitely made my time there way more memorable than it would have been without him. Hats off to whomever at Pearce’s thought of that!

67782264_1592444007555549_1406978629870551040_n68471011_439332580256708_2883311171866198016_n

Based on their Facebook page, I’ve learned that they sell a lot of homemade products and products they bring in, but they don’t open for the season until their own sweet corn is ready to be picked and sold.

67796904_2409638475988606_1268132808321138688_n

68849794_2281075698776952_7486153633587789824_n

What they sell (based on what I saw this weekend):

  • Canned Goods
    • Jam
    • Salsa
    • Pie Filling
  • Pickled products
  • Baked Goods
    • Cookies
    • Breads
    • Donuts

67913662_502252543866607_1909917251532750848_n67892925_366933514198738_2661431847094845440_n

  • Maple Syrup
  • Honey
  • Homemade beer cheese dip
  • Cheese curds
  • Tortilla chips
  • Decorative gords
  • Flowers
  • Kettle Korn
  • All. The. Produce.

67781815_649456708877086_3776271753588768768_n67740903_430228097589744_5318032422917373952_n

I’m sure there’s more that I’m forgetting or that they’ll start selling as the season continues, but it’s got a lot of options. I went there expecting to buy some corn and tomatoes, and ended up buying so much that when they were packing up my stuff — they pulled out a box to start filling up. I definitely spent more than I was expecting but I got a lot of quality stuff. I wouldn’t say Pearce’s is expensive — I’d say bring extra money because you’ll end up wanting to buy more than what you expected!

Pearce’s isn’t exactly a secret, but it’s still worth checking out if you’re in the area.

Daunting Lake Shore Path on Geneva Lake wins Round 1

IMG_1834
Path in Williams Bay

A couple months ago I learned about the Lake Shore Path that goes all the way around Geneva Lake. I was very curious about the 26 mile route that puts you between the lake and the million dollar homes…literally right on the Wrigley, Stone Manor and Casa del Sueno properties. After doing some research and recruiting some friends…I decided to try completing the route in one day (Gulp!).

IMG_1851
Lake Geneva Walking Path rules

Well…to not keep you in anticipation…I failed. I started at Pier 290 in Williams Bay and made it to the library in Lake Geneva. I’m not sure how far that was (didn’t start a distance tracker…whoops!), but I was over it by the time we got to LG. I do plan on attempting this again, but during a much cooler time of year. Here are some of my mistakes, tips, observations, and the sights from my partial lake shore path walk.

IMG_1830
Path near Pier 290 in Williams Bay

IMG_1833

MISTAKES

  • Trying to walk the entire 26 miles in the humidity of July
  • Not using a distance tracker
  • Not spraying down with bug spray

IMG_1843

IMG_1853
Path in downtown Lake Geneva

TIPS

  • Start early in the day
  • Make note of where bathrooms are…and use the ones you see no matter what! Once you’re on parts of the path, there’s no getting off to find a bathroom.
  • To go along with the first one, drink water even if you’re afraid of having to pee too often (I think this is why I got so tired so fast)
  • Wear sunscreen and bug spray
  • Bring extra socks to change out your sweaty ones (thanks for the tip Angie and Clare!)
  • Bring chapstick and gum
  • Pack snacks/lunch
  • Be prepared to get wet: There are sprinklers that directly cross the path and if they’re on, you can’t avoid them.
  • Know where you’re going to stop and take breaks, but have a time limit…otherwise you might never get back up and keep walking.

IMG_1849

OBSERVATIONS

  • There’s a lot to see on the path, make sure you pad in some time to take it all in.
    • Ex. There are cute spots to take pictures (remember: stay on the path!) and there are a couple interactive spots — like the “Mystery Mailbox” in Williams Bay.

IMG_1831

IMG_1836

IMG_1842

  • Keep an eye out for sights on the lake…like Steam Yatch Louise from Lake Geneva Cruise Lines!
IMG_1850
Steam Yatch Louise
  • Be prepared to walk on anything from grass and mud to rocks and boardwalks.
  • On some properties, it is very hard to tell where the path is..don’t feel bad about “trespassing” and just keep following the lake. You’ll find a marking eventually!

IMG_1841

  • You can’t help but stare at some of these homes…whehter you like the big guys or the cute “little” cottages.
  • There’s one home on the north shore very close to downtown Lake Geneva that makes you walk behind and around their fenced in home…I have many questions about this property. How are they allowed to do this? Who are these people? Why do they think they’re special and can do this? I was annoyed with this house…if that isn’t obvious.

IMG_1839

Have you walked the Lake Geneva Walking Path? Have you walked to entire thing in one day? Tell me how!

Secret slingshot hidden along lake shore

IMG_1798

It’s the little things in life right? Well it’s also the really big things that are meant to make a little statement…like this hidden slingshot. I’ve seen this dead tree, turned pumpkin slingshot dozens of times, but today while out on an afternon walk it just made me smile!

IMG_1797

I don’t know the history of it and I don’t know how long it’s been there, but if you aren’t paying attention or know where to look, you will definitely walk, drive or boat right past it.

IMG_1800

It’s located on the north side of Lake Como on Lake Shore Drive, but I’m not telling you exactly where. You have to go find it on your own of you want to see it!

IMG_1801

RECOMMENDED ACTIVITIES (on Lake Shore Drive)

  • Walking
  • Running
  • Biking
  • Boating
  • Go on a slow Sunday drive

Verona Woods shouldn’t be overlooked for lunch

Have you seen that new development just south east of Verona on Highway M across the street from Wisconsin Brewing Company? Well if you haven’t it’s because you haven’t been over there. On my last pass through that area there were at least five buildigs, most of them housing multiple businesses, and a couple still being built. I believe there are two new restaurants and a winery. The Verona Woods is one of those new restaurants over there.

front seating

When I met a friend over there for lunch a couple months ago the bar area and most of the dining room was empty — except a large group of ladies having some sort of luncheon/meeting. We were seated fast and our waiter was extremely helpful and friendly, but with that large group they could have used more staff.

dusty fries

The lunch menu is pretty standard…appetizers, soup, salad, sandwiches and burgers. We both decided to get a salad and split an order of dusty fries — fries dusted in house dry rub served with remoulade dipping sauce. The fries were very tasty — crispy and hot with a good spice from the dry rub. The dipping sauce was a good creamy balance for the dry rub with a touch of sweetness. The fries were definitely a good addition to our salad choices.

charred beet salad with chicken

I got the charred beet and goat cheese salad — minus the goat cheese and add chicken. The half salad itself is a bit small, but the amount of chicken you get makes up for it. The salad was arugula, baby spinach, charred red and golden beets, shaved fennel, honey dipped almonds, chickpeas and a toasted almond vinaigrette. It all worked very well together — the spiciness from the arugula, the sweet from the honey dipped amonds and the tang from the vinaigrette. The chicken breast was juicy and well worth the extra $3 to add.

My friend also ordered a cup of soup, but she never got it so our server brought us this tasty dessert. I don’t 100% remember what it was, but I do remember none of it was left when we were done.

FOOD NOTES: The Verona Woods is a great addition to the Verona area. Keep it in mind for a lunch spot if you need something out in that area. I’d like to give some of their entrees — like a pasta or steak dish — a try. Also…huge props to our waiter for managing that big group and then making up for the forgotten soup with an amazing dessert!

Everly does veggies better than everyone

Bluephies wasn’t my favorite Food Fight restaurant, but I was sad to see it go. It had some unique dishes, a funky atmosphere and great dessert…am I the only one who will miss the deep fried cookie dough? So when I heard the restaurant replacing it was going to focus on vegetables I was a little disappointed. But boy was I proved wrong when I visited Everly during winter Restaurant Week.

First let’s talk about the remodel…it’s very bright, white and clean inside. The door has been moved and the space seems much larger even though a chunk of the old Bluephies is now another Food Fight restaurant, Miko Poke. They also popped a chunk of the wall out and put in a big glass wall for the bar. It’s definitely an improvement from the Bluephies space…which I didn’t even think needed an improvement.

celery root bisque
roasted cauliflower

For the Restaurant Week menu, they had some of their menu items and some special items. My friend got the celery root bisque and I got the roasted cauliflower…thinking, “Come on! How can cauliflower be an appetizer on it’s own?” When the small bowl of cauliflower came out and I reluctantly claimed it from the waittress and looked at it with pickled vegetables, parsley, garlic and lemon on top. After the first bite…I was hooked. I’m not sure how you make cauliflower like this…it was crispy and salty and more flavorful than most non-vegetarian food that come out of my kitchen. If I could make cauliflower like that, I’d make it every week!

roasted chicken sandwich
heritage pork sandwich

Their entree options were smoked whitefish toast, roasted chicken sandwich, braised heritage pork sandwich and a So-Cal grain bowl. I went with the pork sandwich…because when I ordered I was just so excited to see a non-veggie option on the entrees list that I went with the heaviest one. The sandwich came with pickles, buttermilk slaw, Fresno chiles, red onions and bibb lettuce on top. And for sides I got the herb roasted potatoes, but you could also get a kale salad. Everything about this dish was perfect. The bun was soft but toasted, the pork was tender and had a flavorful BBQ sauce on it. The pickles were tangy. The slaw was crispy, light and creamy. The potatoes were crispy and salty. I have nothing bad to say about the sandwich or the side.

For dessert we both got the chocolate mousse, and for one las time the disappointment sunk in when I saw how small the bowl of chocolate mousse was. But I was wrong again! This mousse was so dense and so rich that I could barely finish the tiny amount I was given. My one and only tiny complaint about the dessert was the orange peel on top…it was chewy and sparse so when I did get a chunk it was unwanted. I eventually picked most of it off.

FOOD NOTES: Everly definitely does veggies better than most restaurants. But the good news is they also do pork and chicken and desserts really well too! This goes down in the books as one of the top three Restaurant Week meals I’ve ever had. I want to go back and try the So-Cal bowl and their brunch, especially now that their patio should be open for the season!

Waunakee supper club doesn’t stray from tradition

After writing a couple posts about my love for supper clubs, I started getting suggestions for great places in the area. A couple people suggested Rex’s Inkeeper in Waunakee, and after my long lost food date partner Michelle Li sent me a gift card she still had after moving to Seattle, I decided to take my mom to check the place out.

When you walk in you immediately know you’re in an old-school supper club and that you’re probably the only people the bar tender doesn’t know by name. The random floral decorations, leather bar stools and padded dining room chairs are pretty standard was far as supper clubs go. The biggest difference between Rex’s and most other supper club’s were the large TVs on all four walls of the dining room. I wasn’t mad at…it just wasn’t necessary.

Dirty Shirley at Rex’s
Grasshopper at Rex’s

Let’s start with the drinks. Both of us got a mixed drink. My mom’s was way stronger than mine, which was odd because usually supper clubs serve some pretty stiff drinks. The grasshopper we got after dinner was pretty tasty, but not very strong either.

The salad bar…that’s one of the main reasons to hit up a supper club on a Saturday night. Rex’s salad bar didn’t disappoint. They had all the salad fixings I wanted…including those tasty bar pickles…plus some premo pasta salad and potato salad. No complaints here!

Rex’s prime rib

It was Saturday…so I got the only option in my mind…prime rib. Here’s the thing about prime rib in my opinion…it’s great, but it tastes the same everywhere (Maybe that means I’m lucky and have never had bad prime rib? I don’t know!). Rex’s fits that description to a T. My prime rib was cooked to a perfect medium rare, and it was very tender. The hash browns were what they’re supposed to and what I love…hot, crunchy and salty.

FOOD NOTES: As far as fancy drinks and nice decor…Rex’s Innkeeper does not cut it, but that’s not what they do. Rex’s does what it does right…supper club favorites. I’m a sucker for some 80s decor, a salad bar and a steak, so I’ll probably be back to Rex’s. My one and only tiny issues was that the drinks could be stronger.