Now that the warmer weather is finally here, it’s about that time of year when planning for summer vacations and weekend getaways begins. If you’re a Chicagoan, chances are if you’ve ever made your way to Lake Geneva, the Dells or anywhere else in Wisconsin, you’ve passed the Mars Cheese Castle. It may seem a little touristy (and forgive the pun, but also a little cheesy), yet it now claims snazzier digs in a renovated building that literally looks like a castle; it’s worth a visit.
The obvious choice is the cheese, but Mars offers much more than the traditional aged cheddar. The fruit-filled cheeses are both tart and sweet. Crumbly white cheddar is filled with apricot and ginger, cranberry, blueberry or cinnamon apple. The bakery is serving up fresh coffee cakes, cookies and a sliced cheesy bread. Mars is also a good place to stock up on beer from the New Glarus brewery. If you’ve never sampled the craft beer, their famous Spotted Cow is a great place to start.
If you’re stopping for a bite to eat, the menu is limited, but there are a few standouts. The classic ham and cheese is simple but done right with a tender shaved ham and your choice of melted cheese. For something different, yet still very Sconny, the cheddar-bacon-jalapeño bratwurst is an extremely flavorful sandwich. It’s crispy on the outside and bursting with juices upon the first bite. Like all sandwiches, it comes with a choice of chips or two different types of homemade potato salad. The problem with stocking up here on a road trip is that not all of the snacks will end up making their way home. Intermittent nibbling is expected.