I’m happy to have Tio Wally (long-time Me So Hungry reader) aboard to send in his eating adventures from across America. Here he is in Vienna Township, Wisconsin.

Greetings from Vienna Township, Wisconsin!
N 43° 15.000’  W 089° 22.299’  Elev. 919 ft.

I love Wisconsin. Of all the states I’ve sailed through Wisconsin consistently has the coolest vibe. The entire state is beautiful, it’s extremely land-yacht friendly and, with few exceptions, virtually all of the Wisconsinites I’ve encountered have been really nice, warm and open.

It was a lazy day schedule-wise, with breathtakingly beautiful fall weather, so the crew of the SS Me So Hungry had the rare opportunity to play tourist.

I just had to stop at Ehlenbach’s Cheese Chalet [www.ehlenbachscheese.com] because I saw a billboard boasting they had 150 different cheeses. I thought: Hey, let’s have a free cheese meal tasting 150 varieties. As it turned out — though I didn’t count all the cheeses — that number seemed to be no exaggeration. Unfortunately they had to pull any cheese you wanted to taste out of the cold case and shave you off a piece. Seemed like it would make more sense, not to mention less labor intensive, to cut up a bunch of little cubes of each cheese and set them out the way they do at other places. As a result, I only sampled the Garlic Cheese and the Portobello Mushroom Cheese before I felt kind of guilty and more of a pain in the ass than I already am.

The Garlic Cheese was very mild and not very garlicky at all. I was hoping it would be super garlicky, perhaps enough so to substitute for the trip to the Gilroy (Calif.) Garlic Festival that I’ve never made. But no. The Portobello was much more interesting. It was actually mushroomy and kind of creamy. The young cheese-shaver lady explained that it was a young cheese and would have kind of a salty taste. I didn’t think so … at first. Then the aftertaste hit and, man, was it salty.

I ended up buying (without tasting) a half-pound each of Bacon Cheese and Salami Cheese (both $7.98/lb), cheddar cheeses with little bits of the respective meat in it. When I was a spring chicken I used to get Salami Cheese at the Riverbank (Calif.) Cheese Factory. It was great and I’ll never forget how disappointed I was when they quit making it; they said they didn’t sell enough of it and, because of the fat in the meat, it would go rancid after awhile.

Sadly, I don’t know how Ehlenbach’s Bacon or Salami Cheeses tasted. I ended up taking them to my friend’s house and not only neglected to taste them, I sailed away leaving them behind. D’oh!

In addition to much cheese, Ehlenbach’s has a variety of meats, sweets, preserves and pickled stuff, as well as a plethora of tourist kitsch. The most interesting/curious thing they had were meat footballs — you can’t get a meat football just anywhere, you know — that I suspect were made of summer sausage or somesuch.

They also had not one but two sizes of those cheesy foam Swiss-cheese hats that Green Bay Packers fans are so fond of. I thought Jason probably needed one so he could finally distinguish himself among the New York masses but I wasn’t sure if he was really worth the price ($23 for a large), so I passed. No doubt, I screwed up: I now sincerely believe that if he wore more cheese on his head he’d attract more women (“Oh, Jason, what is that cheese you’re wearing?”).

Down the road a piece I stopped at a truck stop for coffee and right next to the driveway was an Amish woman and her daughter with a little tent and card table set up beside their buggy with a sign that said Bake Sale. I had to go over and see what the deal was. They had some really good looking stuff: cookies, breads and pies. They had a couple of awesome looking pumpkin pies (one of my favorites) on the table, but I’m just not set up to deal with a whole pie. I did buy some oatmeal/raisin cookies ($3/dozen) however. They were good, not too sweet, but needed more raisins. I mean, c’mon, the raisins are the reason, right? Otherwise they’re just oatmeal cookies. I would’ve called to complain but there was no phone number — imagine that! — for Hidden Valley Farm, the name on the little sticker on the bag.

I asked if I could take a picture and the woman said that it would be okay as long as they weren’t in it. So they scurried and hid behind their buggy while I took a shot. I don’t know if it’s a religious thing or not. Nevertheless, I’m always polite and (usually) always ask before I take pictures.

As I was leaving I noticed another buggy and tent/table set up at the truck stop across the Interstate. Being a typically nosy land-yacht skipper, I had to drive by. There was her husband and two young sons, about 10-12, having the all-male Amish bake sale. After turning around, I tried to covertly snap a picture of them. I figured, they had their backs to me, no harm no foul. (What I really wanted was a picture of one of the boys because he was wearing the typical Amish homemade duds — black slacks, white shirt, straw hat— but he was wearing sunglasses! Preteen Amish cool!! I’d never seen that before.) As I was trying to set up the shot the other boy looked at me and, quickly snapping, I laid the camera on my leg and waved. That was when disaster struck: The camera fell and hit the Qualcomm keyboard (an industrial-grade, heavy-metal unit used for the electronic Driver’s Log, satellite communications, etc.) and broke the little switchy thangy that toggles between photo, video and review. Then the father looked at me and waved, sort of, with one finger in the air. After discovering that I’d screwed up the camera, I wondered whether he had been giving me a neighborly Amish wave, signaling “Shame on you!” or pointing to the heavens, summoning God to smite me and destroy the graven image I’d taken.

While the camera is not what it used to be, I was able to take it apart, flip the switch and download the pictures. Hopefully, I’ll be able to *fix it. I know what’s wrong and I have the pieces. Now the only thing between me and a world-class repair job is my mechanical abilities. If only I were Amish.

If nothing else I learned a valuable lesson: Never take any more pictures of anyone Amish anymore. Oh yeah, and don’t forget the cheese.

And so we roll.

*Not. But it still works great. I just have to use my pen knife to reach in and flip the little switchy thangy.

Ehlenbach’s Cheese Chalet, I-90/94 Exit 126, DeForest, WI

Tio Wally pilots the 75-foot, 40-ton(max) land yacht SS Me So Hungry. He reports on road food from around the country whenever parking and InterTube connections permit.

About The Author

Tio Wally

Tio Wally is pilot emeritus of the 75-foot, 40-ton land yacht SS Me So Hungry. Now a committed landlubber, he reports on food wherever he is whenever his fancy strikes.

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5 Responses

  1. Dessert Landscape

    I REALLY enjoy these “Tio Wally Eats America” posts! Wally is an excellent, entertaining writer, and I don’t know any other trucker food bloggers out there. What a treat to get the inside scoop on the life of a truck driver AND a look around parts of the country that many Me So Hungry readers will never get to see. Fascinating and funny– a perfect combo. Keep on truckin’!

    • tio wally

      Thank you very much for your kind comment. I hope you enjoy reading them as much as I do writing them. And I hope you’ll keep reading. Abraço!

  2. Deanna

    We just got some cheese in the mail that my husband had Ehlenbach’s send to our house while he was on a trip to visit his family in Wisconsin. Yay for cheese curds! Oh yeah, and the aged cheddar and every single bit of it. Yum! Loved your story and laughed out loud about the Amish. I’ve taken their picture from far away – in my defense, I didn’t know we weren’t supposed to take pictures of them. This is probably why my camera survived… until we got closer to home when it was stolen. Oh dear. Maybe their is something to this.

      • tio wally

        I think there is something to their (the Amish’s) karmic power over cameras. Seriously, the German word for “Witchcraft” is Hexerei. They’re putting a hex on us and our cameras, I say.

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