After finishing up some laundry at Adrianne’s, we said our goodbyes (thanks for everything!) and headed for Milwaukee to stay with my close friend and fraternity brother Wes. But there was one stop we absolutely had to make when we crossed the border from Illinois to Wisconsin: Mars Cheese Castle.
Mars Cheese Castle is visible from I-94 and added no driving time to our trip to Milwaukee. Even better, they sell an awesome assortment of cheeses and compliments (crackers, bologna, mustard, etc). Even better still: they have a tub of free delicious cheese sitting at the bar and legendary Bloody Mary’s behind it. Our first stop was the bar to get one and have some food.
The drinks came and lived up to the hype: they were almost as good as my own Bloody Mary’s and were served with a “chaser:” a half pint of beer. Sarah and I ordered a Reuben to share and Tom and Bernadette split a burger. While we waited for our food, we sampled the cheese in a crock. Then we all had another sample. It was good. We continued to sample until there was a pretty sizeable dent in the spreadable cheese. A man who looked like a manager or, more likely, the proprietor, came over and offered to fill it up, making a joke about how we were cut off. When the cheese returned, he put it on the other side of the bar. We really did get cut off! We got a laugh or two, and the food was tasty.
As we ate, we discussed our upcoming music festival — the 10,000 Lakes Festival — and how we were going to need to hunt down our own Bloody Mary supplies: this is no small feat as the drink has ten ingredients (including ice.) We also decided that we would have one good meal cooked over a fire over the course of four days. And we were in the perfect place to pick up the cheese course! With the help of the staff, I selected Gouda—that had won an award in 2008—and sharp cheddar. I was not familiar with Gouda but it is a delicious hard cheese, the consistency of a block of parmesan but with a different but delicious taste. Go buy some and try it right now. The post will be here when you get back. We got back on the road to see Wes, who had a case of Bud Light Lime (his favorite beer) waiting for us. After having a beer and chatting for awhile, we waked to through downtown Milwaukee past the art museum (which has huge wings that go up when it is open) to Festa Italiana, a yearly Italian festival. We wondered around and got a beer and sampled some cheese curds, and some Funnolis (n. \ˈfənˈnō-lē, ka-\ Etymology: English dialect fun and Sicilian dialect cannoli 1 : a doughnut-like pastry with a light sugary ricotta filling and icing designs based on the Italian flag.) Very autentico. We listened to some music and saw some scaled down replicas of famous Italian buildings, as well as a commemorative anniversary sand sculpture of Pinocchio. We rode a ski lift that didn’t go up a hill, but rather just provided an elevated view of the festival grounds. It was the middle of the day Sunday, so the crowd was small. This was great as they also had carnival rides.
We rode one ride that spins you around in a big circle but had to forego the other ride that spins you around in a circle because it was having vomit cleaned from it. No one would ride the zipper with me (I believe this is also known the “salt and pepper shaker”), so I had to make a new ten year old friend. A good time was had by all and we headed back to Wes’s apartment so that Bern could change her pants. She said that she sat in something wet; I guess I believe her.
After we sat around for awhile and met a friend of Wes’s, Jeff, we went to the Water Street Brewery for dinner, where we met Drew, who, with Wes is starting a website to highlight their travels to see football games: The Big 10 Tour. Check it out. We had nachos, our first bloomin’ onion of the trip, and some great beers and entrées. On our way to Hofbrauhaus (or The Old German Beer Hall) we passed one alley, and saw a whole dumpster that was on fire with several indistinguishable kids watching in the background. The whole thing was in flames that stretched several feet over the dumpster, most of which was visible. Sarah and I rushed into a bar to alert someone and the lady bartender seemed indifferent, saying that the firemen had probably already been called. We heard sirens in the distance as we returned outside. The dumpster collapsed under the extreme heat. A huge cloud of smoke shot out from behind the corner of an alcove in the alley, and two firemen chased the smoke in and redirected what we could now see was the source, two fire-extinguishers, towards the quickly diminishing flames. The show over, we continued to Hofbrauhaus.
There, we were introduced to two new things: the shotski and nail game. Jeff ordered a shotski, not to be confused with “hey, lets take a shotski dude,” which was a ski with five shot glasses attached. Each was filled with Jäger and the ski was raised and tipped. It worked exactly as intended, all five shots being taken in full simultaneously. We ordered five nails for twenty-five cents each and headed over to the stump.
There was one small sledge hammer connected to a chain and a large stump specked with nails. We each decided on a spot in the stump and tapped our old style square nails in to the stump in an area we judged as a weaker spot (really I think it was all about the same hardness and difficulty). Then we passed the hammer in a circle, taking one swing each to see who could bury the nail more quickly. Tom won and we set up a head to head match. I beat him, but on the tiebreaker he came back. It was mostly luck.
We finished out the night and headed back to Wes’s, where he ordered three pizzas and an order of “bacon [bread] sticks.” We ate the equivalent of a bit more than two pizzas and watched ten minutes of the third Austin Powers, which was showing on TV, before falling asleep. Wes camped on the carpet with us instead of walking the twelve feet to his bed. Jeff slept in a recliner even though he would have to rush to work early the next morning.
As you can see, this day ended up being ludicrously eventful and fun. Thanks, Wes.