When you live in Cincinnati, as we do,"Heading South" usually means Tennessee, Georgia, the Carolina's or even Florida. From Eau Claire WI you have most of the US.
Our afternoon and evening in Eau Claire included a tour of the Leinenkugel's Brewery, with several tastings, some good, some bad, a visit to a nearby Park and Zoo, dinner and an amazing multi acre drive around the Headquarters and distribution area of "Menard's". All enclosed in miles of brown fencing
Our friends, a young couple, spent the time with us and provided the transportation and commentary. Dinner was at "Stella Blues" 306 Madison St. Eau Claire, WI-715-855-7777. We started with an order of Deep Fried Crawfish Bites and an additional order of Cornbread, both with appropriate dipping sauces. we did a lot of splitting and items included a warm Beet salad, Fish Sandwiches, mounds of Cajun and plain French Fries and some grilled chicken, we were partially behaving. In Eau Claire, as one might guess, this was accompanied with Leinenkugel's. We split 2 orders of homemade Brownies covered with Wisconsin Ice Cream. Calories, fat and salt to cover us all for many weeks.
After a nights sleep we headed to Chicago with a stop at "Culver's", near Madison WI, to test the flavor of the day, "Carmel-Cashew".
In the Chicago area we stay with friends, probably too often, in Glencoe. We usually see our "Lobster Group". The "Lobster Group", 4 couples who had a self prepared "Lobster Shore Dinner", 40 years ago has met ever since to repeat the evening, at least once a year, somewhere. As we have aged we have allowed Restaurants to take over the preparation.
The first two nights diners are not worth reporting. We went with local, good friends Sunday to a Hamburger hang out and bar, sort of a repeat of the night before in Eau Claire, and on Monday night we met friends of ours and our son at a street cafe in Wilmette IL.
On Tuesday we were taken by some city friends to a very nice lunch place in Winnetka and then I went into the city, with one of the participants to view the new wing of the Art Institute, done by Lorenzo Piano, an impressive addition.
Tuesday night the 4 couples of the "Lobster Group" met at "Demetri's" in, I believe, Northfield IL-847-940-0777. We have all been there together, once before, to do our planing for the main (or Maine) fall event. "Demetri's" is a large, suburban Greek restaurant with an extensive additional seafood menu. We always have a "rock us", good time and that night was no exception. We had too much to drink, too many appetizers as well as large main courses and several desserts for the table. Both Marilyn and I had whole Dover Sole's which are hard to pass when they are priced around $30, depending on the market. It was a great evening of food and friendship, and over indulgence.
The next day, Marilyn's birthday, we drove home with a stop at "Chic-a-fillet", her favorite fast food joint were they honored the event with a dish of soft serve ice cream, with sprinkles, and a toy stuffed cow, there trademark.
That night, with family we celebrated at "Otto's". Paul Weckman, the chef, had prepared for the occasion Walleye another of Marilyn's favorites, what goes around comes around.
Were blessed with wonderful weather for the 12 days we were gone and too much of everything else.