Originally uploaded by pavasm.
Most folks who have driven up to Milwaukee from Chicago have noticed the Mars Cheese Castle right off the highway near Kenosha, WI. The building has faux parapets, and a big lit up sign to let you know you need to check it out. Inside they have the usual Wisconsin gifts, sausage shaped like a beer bottle, a chunk of cheese shaped like the state. The place has a feel that just screams "road trip" of a past era to me. The lounge inside the store is definitely old school. The cheese castle isn't where you get the landjaeger, though. For the best landjaeger you need to go next door to the castle. Bobby Nelson's Cheese Shop is the home of the best Landjeager I have ever tasted. This unassuming little building literally in the shadow of the more visible and tacky cheese castle might have remained an undiscovered gem if I hadn’t heard Steve Dahl talk about it. (In the 25 years or so I have been listening to this guy on the radio, I have yet to be disappointed when trying a food this guy has touted. http://www.dahl.com )
Landjaeger, as best as I can figure it out, is a very dry Swiss sausage. It is practically like beef jerky. It is usually displayed by having pairs linked together hung on a peg or line. It has this great chewy, tough texture with a salty, oily flavor. I prefer the black pepper variety. This stuff is great- there are times I get the craving, and I foolishly try to fill the void with Slim Jims, but nothing satisfies like the real thing. (Can you tell I recently watched “Harold and Kumar go to White Castle?)