terese allen
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Local Flavor, Local Support
Excerpted from Cafe Wisconsin Cookbook, by Terese Allen and Joanne Raetz Stuttgen (University of Wisconsin Press, 2007)

You know trippe when you smell it. A fairly pale, soft-textured sausage with delicate skin, trippe packs a distinctively odorous punch because of its high cabbage content. Relatively unknown outside the lower Door County and Green Bay area, this Belgian-influenced specialty is beloved by descendents of Walloon Belgians who settled here. As one myself, I grew up eating trippe and can certify that it smells gassy but tastes great.

A real taste of local flavor that has escaped the fate of so many other regional specialties, trippe, with eggs, can be ordered for breakfast every other Thursday morning at the Village Kitchen in Casco. It occasionally gets daily special status at lunch and dinner time, too. For all her trippe needs, owner Chris Jacobs turns to Marchant's SuperValu in nearby Brussels. Specializing in fresh dressed meats and specialty sausages including trippe, Belgian pie, headcheese, and sulze, Marchant's slogan is "spreading a little heritage."

When cafe owners offer local specialties on their menus, they help preserve and celebrate unique food traditions that might otherwise wither in today's fast-food culture. They also play a role in an economic network of support that helps preserve local businesses and farms.



At Joan's Country Cookin' in tiny Hustisford, for example, owner Joan Nehls always uses real whipping cream from Radloff Cheese Factory, a neighbor in town. "They send us lots of business, so we help out each other," she says. Up in Babcock, in the heart of Wisconsin's cranberry country, Sherri Dessart of the Country Cafe heartily agrees. Sherri buys fresh cranberries directly from a local grower, bakes them into pies, breads, and muffins, and sells them by the pound during the harvest months of October and November. She also supports local farmers during the growing season by buying fresh produce from farmers markets in Wisconsin Rapids and Marshfield.

In Wittenberg, Diane Gray, owner of Gus and Ann's Restaurant, uses only Nueske's sugar-cured, applewood-smoked bacon. Made just up the road for over seventy years, Nueske's famous bacon has been featured in Cuisine and Saveur magazines and in the Chicago Tribune and New York Times. In addition, weekend breakfasts at Gus and Ann's just aren't complete without Nueske's smoked sausage links and smoked pork chops.

Another one-of-a-kind Wisconsin specialty food is the lefse—soft Norwegian flatbread made from potatoes—made by Countryside Lefse of Blair, suppliers to the Norske Nook in Osseo and until it closed in 2005, Schubert's Old-Fashioned Cafe in Mt. Horeb. In business since 1965, Countryside Lefse rebounded after a fire destroyed its downtown building in 2003. It remains one of the few companies in the nation making lefse from real potatoes, not instant, and rolling it by hand.

Specialty bread of another kind is produced especially for the Amherst Cafe in Amherst. When Pauc's corner bakery closed some years ago, leaving owner Diane Stroik without the sunflower bread that had become synonymous with her cafe, she took Pauc's recipe to Amherst Family Foods and convinced its bakery to make it for her. Diane also buys all of her meats, sausage, and thick-sliced bacon from Waller's Meat Locker in nearby Nelsonville. "I like to spread the revenue around to local business," Diane explains. "After all, we're all in this together."

Read more about Café Wisconsin Cookbook.