A Visit to America's "Little Switzerland"
A couple weeks ago, we took a short trip up to Wisconsin for an overnight getaway. Much of our drive was spent on back roads, enjoying the beautiful country scenery and stopping in small towns to experience life there. One of the places we stopped along the way was New Glarus.
New Glarus calls itself “America’s Little Switzerland.” The town is located in south central Wisconsin and it’s apparently surrounded by farms and woods like those found in Glarus, Switzerland, the homeland of New Glarus’ founders. The town features Swiss chalet-style architecture on almost every building in the downtown and many of the restaurants and businesses are dedicated to serving or selling Swiss-themed fare.
We strolled around the town and stopped at The New Glarus Primrose Winery to sample some local wines. We tried several reds, whites and most uniquely a rhubarb wine. The rhubarb wine was perfectly clear and had a truly unique, refreshing taste. We ended up purchasing two other unique bottles: One a Primrose Red made tasty by the inclusion of Concord grapes and the other a Summer Wine that featured a distinct cherry flavor. Not a dessert wine, but definitely a wine on the sweeter side, to be served chilled. At the suggestion of the winery shopkeeper, we then moved on to lunch at The New Glarus Hotel.
The New Glarus Hotel is designed in the Swiss style and its staff is attired in traditional Swiss garb. This struck me as a bit hokey, but charming nonetheless. We were seated on the hotel’s second floor porch where we could enjoy a lovely view of the downtown.
Our waitress welcomed us to New Glarus and suggested we start the meal with some cheese curds. How could we come to Wisconsin and not succumb to the temptation of cheese curds? So of course we said yes. The cheese curds were delicious, especially when dipped in the hotel’s own spicey honey mustard sauce. We drank local beers with our appetizer, a Spotted Cow for me and an Edel-Pils for Win. Both of these were from the New Glarus Brewing Company, recognized as Best Small Brewery in America in 2003.
We both decided to try the restaurant’s roesti dishes. I ordered the Vegetarian Roesti, which was grilled vegetables served atop roesti potatoes and melted cheese. You can see this dish above. Win tried the Raclette Roesti, which was roesti potatoes served with a generous amount of melted Raclette cheese. Win’s is pictured below. Both were excellent…warm and satisfying.
We admired the silver tray of decadent desserts presented to us, but we had to decline as we were too full. Wisconsin cheeses will fill you up. After lunch we walked around the small town a bit more and then were off to see new things. One of the most notable sightings on our weekend drive was a cow and a horse sitting down next to each other in a field. They were so cute sitting there alone in the vast green field, hanging out. I’m not a farm girl so maybe this brand of farm animal fraternization happens all the time, but I’ve never seen it before and I loved it. Buddies.
New Glarus is a charming town and it’s worth a stop if you’re in that part of Wisconsin. There are several interesting restaurants, a delicious looking bakery, and a few unique stores. It’s a tiny town so perhaps one of the best times to come would be during one of New Glarus’ special Swiss festivals when there is more action.
The New Glarus Hotel Restaurant
100 6th Avenue
New Glarus, Wisconsin 53574
Web Site: http://www.newglarushotel.com
The New Glarus Primrose Winery
226 Second Street
New Glarus, Wisconsin 53574
The New Glarus Brewing Company
County Road W and Highway 69
New Glarus, WI 53574
Web Site: http://www.newglarusbrewing.com