New Wine Bar in Webster, WI

20190105_090324a

There’s something new blossoming in Webster on Cedar Street. It’s named after the state flower of Wisconsin and is called Violet on Cedar. “Violet” is a wine bar that serves small plates, soups and dessert. It’s the creation of mother and daughter duo, Virginia Harstad and Ginna Lauré. They both spent their formative years in Burnett County, but their outside education and experiences have led them to this exciting new collaboration.

6

5

The idea to create a place that offered wine and food germinated in 2012 when they sat down to write a business plan. Over time, they’ve allowed the idea to unfold as the right elements came along to make it happen. Among those elements was finding the right space and location, finding the right chef and food plan, and then preparing themselves with the knowledge they needed to do it right. Ginna even traveled to Napa, CA to earn a Level 3 certification with the Wine and Spirit Education Trust so that she felt confident in her knowledge of wines and wine service.

2

4

Once they purchased the real estate that would become their vision, they acquired the zoning change and permits required to transform the 3 bedroom, 2 bath home into a 38 seat space, complete with bar area, a professional kitchen and a dedicated baking room. The interior is open, fresh, light and bright. It’s a comfortable place to linger with old friends and to meet new ones as well!

3

The next step was to begin testing and tasting food concepts. They worked diligently with their chef Hans Eckstrand to create food ideas and recipes. To hear them talk about their food and what they plan to present to patrons can be summed up in one word: flavor! The menu will be everchanging along with some staples. And rest assured, if you require a gluten-free environment, this is a safe place for you! They also joined forces with Lisa Benson at Webster’s Fresh Start Coffee Roasters to create a house blend of coffee called – you guessed it, Violet.

1

8

7

They’re taking things one step at a time, so that Violet can grow and develop in a way that maintains their vision. But the future holds ideas for private parties, wine tasting events, developing the outdoor green space for summer use and expanded hours.

9

They’re open Thursday, Friday and Saturday nights from 4:00-8:00pm and have menu and wine updates on their website and Facebook page. Stop by this weekend for their Open House on Saturday, January 12th from 4:00-8:00pm. When you arrive at 7438 Cedar Street, it will feel like you’re arriving at the home of a friend. When you leave, you’ll know that to be true! ~ Wanda Boldon

10

Fishy Weather For the Fourth

20180630_211231

This year, the Fourth of July is a “season”, because with two weekends flanking the actual date, it’s hard to know just when to celebrate. So, I believe the answer to the question has become “for 10 days straight”. (You have to count Fridays and Mondays as weekend days for the folks who come Up North, don’t you know!)

20180702_161436

Those 10 days are shaping up to be a good time to enjoy another “season” as well – fishing season. The weather and atmosphere have been giving us the classic summer pattern of low pressure to high, humidity to freshness and the fish are biting because of it.

20180630_205130

First things first, if you don’t have your fishing license, you can buy one online at the Wisconsin DNR site while you fill your vehicle at the gas station. It’s called the Go Wild program. Go figure.

The Fourth of July is a common time for family and friends to gather, and sharing is caring, as they say. If you have any children at your gatherings, it’s a great opportunity to introduce them to the fun of fishing. Be sure to include some good fish stories so they have some lore to dream about at night as they listen to the loons call from the lake.

20170809_145016

You can preserve the special memory of catching their first fish with a “My First Fish” certificate from the Wisconsin DNR site. The certificate allows you to drop in a photo of them with their fish and notes the date, fish species and where they caught it. Adorable!

20170528_160057

When it’s time to clean your catch of the day, don’t fret if the dog ate your cookbook. You can find some great recipes and information for eating fresh fish from Wisconsin online at eatwisconsinfish.org or at Healthy Dishes With Wisconsin Fishes.

20180630_212640

So when the sky looks like this, Go Wild, grab your pole and chant, “Here fishy, fishy!” ~ Wanda Boldon

Cinco de Mayo Weekend – Up North

The list of fabulous things to do Up North on Cinco de Mayo weekend is growing! Gather your friends and family to plan your weekend and then plan a siesta after it’s all over!

Here are “cinco” events to choose from:

  1. 36th Annual Second Alarm Fish and Smelt Fry – Gather at the Jackson Town Hall at the corner of Hwys A & C on Friday, May 4th, starting at 5:00 pm for an incredible experience! Widely supported by the community for a good reason. Tickets can be purchased at the door – $10 for adults, $4 for kids 12 and under. Get your smelt on!
  2. Inaugural Fat Fish 40 Bike Race – Show your true grit in this 42 mile bike race that starts at the Central Burnett County Fairgrounds in Webster, WI. The race has a fat tire division and is also has a “non-fat” category. The race course takes you on the sugar sand fire lanes, logging roads and trails by the marshes, lakes and streams through the lost acres of Webster, WI. With a spaghetti dinner the night before, the race starts at 9:00 am on May 5th and ends with a beer and a brat, a podium ceremony and prizes. https://www.fatfishrace.com/the-race/
  3. Wisconsin Fishing Opener – The first Saturday of each May kicks off the fishing season for many species of hook and line caught fish. Make sure you get your license in advance and stock your cooler so you can be on the water by 5:00 am. You own an ice barge, right? https://dnr.wi.gov/topic/fishing/seasons/index.html
  4. 9th Annual Taste of Siren – Tickle your taste buds on Saturday, May 5th from 5:00 to 8:00 pm at the Northwoods Crossing Event Center. It’s an evening of food, festivities and fun! You can buy your tickets in advance or pay at the door. $20 per person or $35 per couple.  https://www.travelwisconsin.com/events/fairs-festivals/taste-of-siren-128205
  5. 17th Annual Spring Art Tour – Earth Arts of the Upper St. Croix organizers put together this distinctive tour of studios and galleries May 5-6th from 10:00 am to 5:00 pm. One could spend the entire weekend doing this alone! Download the brochure and map so you can prioritize your stops! http://www.earthartswi.org/spring-art-tour/

Sombrero and margaritas are not required, but not discouraged. Have a great Cinco de Mayo weekend! ~ Wanda Boldon

It’s (Gluten) Friendly Up North.

20180124_071436

You can hardly have a conversation about food these days, without encountering someone who’s affected by gluten in the food they eat. I have a friend who was diagnosed with MS and has been prescribed a gluten free diet as a result. I recently met a woman with a child who is ADHD and their pediatrician is having them try a gluten free diet for a year. When the topic arises, it’s interesting to find out how many people are truly in tune to the dietary restriction – either for themselves or for someone they know.

It caused me to seek out food resources in the area for those in need of a gluten free or gluten friendly diet. Because no one should avoid coming Up North to have fun because they’re worried about where and what they can eat!

20180126_161403

If eating out is on your wish list, be sure to try Mia Mangia in Grantsburg. It’s a thoughtful family owned Italian restaurant with pizza, pasta and sandwich choices that are big on flavor. Owner Gerry Ensign said they decided to adapt some of their menu items and offer a nice assortment of options because they have a daughter who eats a gluten free diet. As a result, he said they have a “regular” who comes in just for the gluten free spaghetti and they do quite a few pizzas as well! They have a comfortable dining area if you want to eat in or you can order in advance and pick up your food on the way to the cabin.

20180126_161253

Wouldn’t it be sad if you couldn’t eat at Tesora or the Wood Shed in Siren because of dietary restrictions? Thankfully, we have a “no sadness allowed” policy Up North and owner, Jake Mangelsen said they offer several options on their menu at Tesora and are now offering gluten free pizza crust in the Wood Shed. They’re careful to use separate utensils and clean cutting boards so their diners can eat with confidence. Jake said they’ve found that people really appreciate having the gluten free items noted on the menu, but that people who have the dietary restriction are very educated and know, for the most part, what they can and cannot eat.

20180127_140641

20180127_140604

20180127_140705

If you’re looking to grab some grocery items and want to cook for yourself, you’ll be surprised at the options available at Wayne’s Foods in Webster. I talked to Kim Flodin from the store, who said that the bread, buns and frozen items are selling well. If you’re driven by your sweet tooth and want to grab a yummy dessert, they even have gluten free cakes and cupcakes.

20180124_164856

And then there’s the “Mother Ship” in Spooner – North Crossing Foods, “where organic, bulk, gluten-free and regional favorites meet”. If you haven’t experienced this place, you need to schedule a field trip to believe it for yourself. If the owner, Dan Fern is there, you must request a tour of the store to fully appreciate what they have and what they put into every single item they offer. It’s beyond the scope of this Blog post! Suffice it to say, if you’re looking for ingredients for a gluten free diet, this is your new mainstay. From bulk flours, nuts, beans, rice, spices, to condiments and packaged items, it’s a treasure trove. They even have take and bake gluten free pizzas. If they don’t have what you’re looking for, they’ll make a serious effort to get it!

20180124_164550

20180124_164602

20180124_164628

Not everyone is a foodie, but everyone eats food. Now there’s no reason for all food eaters to come Up North. Smiles Everyone, Smiles! ~ Wanda Boldon

Fine Dining at Fresh Start Coffee Roasters

1

Fresh Start Coffee Roasters has made a great name for themselves in the hometown coffee café business. Zac Benson and his wife Lisa built the business from the (coffee) grounds up and it’s become a favorite stop on Main Street in Webster, WI for locals and second home owners alike.

One thing a lot of people may not know is that Zac is a professionally trained chef and has been at the helm of some pretty special restaurants in his time. So when I began my quest for a unique venue for the CENTURY 21 Sand County Services Christmas Party, I took my best sales pitch to Zac and asked if he could put together a great party experience for my team. I wasn’t sure if he would even consider it, since it’s a bit outside of the box of what they do at their shop. Well I don’t know if I’m smart or just lucky, but he said he would! And did he ever!

2

3

We arrived to find the place transformed into our own private space for the evening. Zac and Lisa had every detail in place including a multi-level appetizer table, chilled beverages, holiday music and a beautiful table setting. I was so proud to welcome my crew when they arrived.

Pork tenderloin with smoked potatoes and caramelized brussel sprouts with bacon

Pork tenderloin with smoked potatoes and caramelized brussel sprouts with bacon

Beef short ribs with creamy polenta and roasted root vegetables

Beef short ribs with creamy polenta and roasted root vegetables

6

The food was among the best we’ve ever had – perfectly prepared, seasoned and plated. How exciting to have such a great experience in Webster, Wisconsin! The good news is Zac and Lisa are open to doing more of this kind of service. So if you find yourself in need of a special party venue, I wouldn’t hesitate to work with them. I’d definitely consider you smart AND lucky! – Wanda Boldon

7

Fall is For Foodies in Northwestern Wisconsin: Part II

The 6th Annual “Taste of Siren” will be held at the Lakeview Event Center, just North of Siren on Hwy 35 on Thursday, September 24th from 5-8pm. Proceeds support the Domestic Animal Wellness Center and Wildlife Rescue. Tickets are just $20 per person or $35 per couple for “Tastes” from local dining establishments and select wine, brewery and beverage businesses! They’ll have raffles, games and auctions along with live music. It’s a fun night and a great way to participate in Siren’s Harvestfest!

If you’re looking for something more “homespun”, you have to check out the 13th Annual Jackson Firefighter’s Chili Cookoff! This year it will be held Saturday, October 10th from 6-9pm. This is always a fun and lively event, with great entries and is at the Jackson Fire Hall at the junction of County Hwy A and C. There is a $5 donation for tasting and no charge to enter. Call Dan at 715-475-8060 if you want to enter. Surely, you have a crazy, good chili concoction you want to unleash and share with the public, yes?

If you’re really in the spirit of food making this Fall, the Farmer’s Market in Siren will have what you’re looking for. It’s in the Tesora parking lot, Saturdays from 1-3pm. The vendors are so friendly and informative about their wares. You can find everything from the traditional varieties of tomatoes to jars of local honey. Sweet! Yes, life is sweeter when you’re Up North! – Wanda Boldon

Fall is for Foodies in Northwestern Wisconsin: Part I

resized

If you like food, make an effort to spend some time in Northwestern Wisconsin this Fall. We have some fun events in the Siren and Webster, WI areas for you!

One event worth your investigation is the first annual “Taste of the Trail” on Saturday, September 26th from 2-5pm. It’s a benefit for Northwest Passage, which is a fantastic residential mental health treatment center for children and families. I can’t say enough about what Northwest Passage offers in the form of hope for these kids and families! Their creativity in finding special ways to treat and heal is so impressive.

The event is at their art gallery – In a New Light. It’s just south of Webster on Highway 35. They have a really pleasant yard and courtyard area where you can gather with friends and family for the afternoon. They’ve arranged to have live music from Ben Tomandl and Lauryl Haye while you enjoy the best that our local eating establishments, wineries and breweries have to offer. The food and beverage vendors will have tented areas in their parking lot and include Tesora Restaurant, North Country Gourmet, Leinenkugel’s, Dancing Dragonfly Winery, Burnett Dairy Cooperative and Saratoga Liquor Company, among others! It sounds like a wonderful way to luxuriate in the beauty of a Fall afternoon Up North and support a special organization at the same time. Ahhh! Find more details at http://tasteofthetrail.org/.

Another aspect of the day is the “Passage Gravel Ride” on the Gandy Dancer Trail, which starts to roll in the morning and offers several different distances based on your skill and desire to ride. You can get more information on the ride at www.passagegravelride.org. – Wanda Boldon

Christmas Oysters Arrive in Siren, WI

1

Having oysters on Christmas Eve is a long standing tradition for many families, across many cultures – especially in the form of oyster stew. But the team at Tesora Restaurant in Siren went one step further and brought in some fresh oysters for a Christmas party that was being hosted at their restaurant.

2

 

3

 

Chef Jon Dykeman is an East Coast native and said he really enjoyed bringing in something that was so dear to his background for this party. It was a “first” for some on their staff, whom had never shucked fresh oysters before and co-owner, Holly Mangelsen also said it was a “first” for some of the party-goers. A few of them had fresh oysters for the first time in their lives!

4

 

What a fun way to celebrate! Merry Christmas! -  Wanda Boldon

J-Birds Flavor in Motion Food Truck

1

Much like me, I’m sure you’ve spied this cute food truck around the area and have wanted to try their food. I’ve asked many people about the food and watched their eyes light up as they describe how good it is. So it’s been on my “wish list” for far too long!

2

Melanie Connor Johnson is the owner of J-Birds Flavor in Motion and for three years, has been serving delicious, fresh food made from local ingredients. She even makes all her own sauces! She started in the food service industry when she was 14 years old at the Webster drive-in and put herself through college by working in the food service industry. Back at home – she said she wanted to offer something different from what’s already available in the area. So she and her husband, Dan found their food truck on Craig’s List and refurbished it to meet their needs.

3

 

4

 

5

Melanie works for Northwest Passage in Frederic during the week, but on Saturday and Sunday from 11am, until they run out of food, you can find her and Dan at their regular location in Webster or out-and-about at local festivals. They will even cater your reunion or special event. This weekend, you can find them at the Yellow River Folk Music Festival at Fort Folle Avoine on Saturday. Do yourself a “flavor” and don’t wait to try this food! – Wanda Boldon

Dairy Days at Burnett Dairy Coop

One of the places in our area that we tell clients is a “can’t miss” is the Cheese Store at the Burnett Dairy Coop in Alpha, WI. You pass it on Hwy 70 as you come and go from your cabin paradise. It’s truly a jewel and is a place that makes us proud and excited to share with others. Whether you crave one of their ice cream cones or you appreciate the dozens of fantastic cheeses they produce, you can’t drive by and not stop!

DSCN9234

This weekend, the Dairy has been celebrating with Dairy Days. It’s a big, beautiful event where you can feel the love and appreciation of the whole community for what goes on there. They’re offering loads and loads of free food, live music, a pedal tractor pull, tractor show, a bounce house, petting zoo and tours of the Dairy.

DSCN9228

 

DSCN9221

Yesterday, they honored their cheesemakers for their recent awards in the 2014 World Championship Cheese Contest. Going against hundreds of entries from all over the world, our local cheesemakers brought home 5 awards including Best of Class for Alpha’s Morning Sun with herbs de provence and Best of Class for Smoked String Cheese.

DSCN9240

Bruce Willis is the fourth from the left.

Wisconsin Master Cheesemaker, Bruce Willis has been making cheese for over 35 years and was responsible for the Best in Class for his Alpha’s Morning Sun with herbs de provence. It’s not easy to become a Wisconsin Master Cheesemaker and it’s the only program of its kind outside of Europe. It’s a 3 year program and requires a minimum of 10 years of experience making cheese, 5 of those focused on making the specific cheese you’d like to master. Only 56 cheesemakers have earned the title and Bruce Willis of Burnett Dairy is one of them.

DSCN9243

Yesterday I wanted to buy Bruce’s Best of Class cheese. It’s brand new and the only one of their cheeses I haven’t tasted. What fun to have a World Class cheese to share with my friends! I asked the staff in the Cheese Store if I could get my hands on the Alpha’s Morning Sun with herbs de provence. The woman I asked got a cute, apologetic smile on her face, like there was a story to tell. She said, “I’m sorry we don’t have that. Bruce went with one wheel. When he won, he said, ‘I have to get home and make some more of this!’ We should have some in about a week.” Awesome! What a maverick! He goes to the competition with one wheel – a tester, if you will, and wins. Now that’s a Master! – Wanda Boldon