When you go on vacation after starting your first real-life, full-time job, everything suddenly seems a little better. The sun seems a little brighter. The sand feels a little warmer and softer between your toes. Everything you eat seems shrouded in a glow of freshness and deliciousness (minus a weird salad with five pieces of lettuce and twenty balls of blander-than-string-cheese mozzarella).
Even the airport lights were glowing and beautiful!
…okay that’s just Instagram. But seriously, the airport was beautiful.
Why Wisconsin for this magical first vacation? I tagged along on my boyfriend’s (Erik) family’s 4th of July vacation in Door County, the long peninsula that juts out from Wisconsin. If your hand approximates the shape of Wisconsin state, your thumb is Door County. There are miles of picturesque shorelines and beaches that I would have never expected from the cheese state. Excuse me, the dairy state.
Erik and I flew out to Wisconsin together which meant…
Where we paid nine dollars for an uninspired salad with old broccoli and eight dollars for the “Chicago-style” deep dish veggie pizza. Add in the three tacos we bought for $13 at the beginning of our trip and we spent a total of $30 on sub-par airport food during the entire trip. Highway robbery, but I was starving. Which made the salad and pizza taste actually kind of good.
And it inspired a new game that Erik and I played during the entire 27 minute flight from Chicago to Madison. It’s called: “With The Money We Just Spent On Airport Food in Chicago, We Could Have Bought…”
8 quality breakfast tacos. 1 Costco All-American chocolate cake. 3 discounted slices of Aunt Edna’s chocolate cake from the Chocolate Bar. 1.5 pizzas from Ruggles Green or Canopy. The polenta and gorgonzola plate from the 13 Celsius plus two glasses of wine, to list a few.
You see where my priorities lie. Or at least where my cravings were.
But anyway. We got to Wisconsin eventually and drove to Erik’s house. The next morning, Erik’s mom made her famous French toast for brunch! She dunked thick slices of Texas toast into a fairly simple egg, milk and cinnamon mixture and then fried them six pieces at a time on a griddle to sizzling, golden perfection. We ate them loaded with thawed frozen raspberries, powdered sugar, maple syrup and tons of fresh strawberries and raspberries. Delicious.
And then we left for Door County.
The view from Erik’s aunt’s condo in Egg Harbor was one of my favorites:
Did you know that Door County is the mecca of all things cherry? Neither did I. I was in for a quite the introduction to the cherry craze.
My new favorite cookie: cherry button cookies, which are little rounds of leftover pie crust are topped with a dollop of cherry pie filling and drizzled with glaze.
Even though I’d heard Erik talk almost poetically about the merits of Door County specialties like Three Berry Pie, I had my reservations about the cherry + blueberry + raspberry pie filling combo, which were instantly wahsed away when I took my first bite.
I could go on all day about how:
- the sugar-encrusted, pink-tinted cherry doughnuts made me want to get in my kitchen and start trying to recreate them right away
- or how the mysterious sounding “Kringle” that Erik’s family kept referring to turned out to be cherry strudel that was incredible and I’m not even a big fan of strudel
- or how the cherry salsa was a novel but not very appealing cherry product but the chopped cherry jams were like heaven
- or how the cherry balsamic vinegar I bought had me at hello with its syrupy sweet hint that melded into the tanginess of the vinegar and the salads I’m dreaming of making with it
- or how I used to hate dried cherries but I found myself shelling out $15 for a 1-pound bag of them.
But I won’t, because I have to tell you about other things.
For the 4th, we went to E’s aunt’s house to watch the Egg Harbor parade and eat at his family friend’s house. We made fruit skewers with huge juicy strawberries, grapes, and super ripe pineapple. Very festive looking.
The day after, we went to Erik’s family’s favorite mini golf spot and grabbed some frozen treats before heading to the beach. Erik’s family headed to a frozen custard place called Not Licked Yet, but Erik was set on their usual ice cream spot Wilson’s, a cute little restaurant and ice cream parlor with an outdoor patio and red and white striped awning that was crammed with people.
I should have known that he was making a stand for something worth taking a minor detour for–I had a phenomenal cone at Wilson’s, possibly top 2 in my life. Meet the chocolate peanut butter explosion cone from Wilson’s:
After an afternoon of sand castle building and frisbee in the pleasantly not-freezing lake water, we had dinner at Blue Front Cafe where I had a great spinach salad with beets, sliced almonds, gorgonzola cheese, grilled salmon and cherry balsamic dressing.
We spent the next day driving around Door County and picking up a few last things (an extra Kringle and dried cherries at Wood Orchard Market, lemon-infused olive oil and cherry balsamic vinegar at the Oilerie, etc.) before we headed back to Erik’s house.
Erik’s mom made her much-loved shrimp pasta for dinner–never the same recipe twice! She always makes it up as she goes and our night’s version included lemon pepper dressing, chunky bell peppers, green onions, steamed broccoli and the slightest hit of spicy peanut sauce:
And let it be known that I had GIANT SLICES of three berry pie for dessert THREE DAYS IN A ROW. It was glorious. And a fitting way to end this post! Part 2 featuring Milwaukee and Madison coming soon 🙂