Getting cultured in Kenosha

One way to describe our visit to Kenosha is “whirlwind global tour”. You’re thinking now, “Huh? But you only went to Wisconsin!” True, but we experienced way more than the stereotypical cheese and bratwurst. In fact, there is quite a bit of culture going on in Kenosha.

It started for me at the Kenosha HarborMarket. I’ve been to my fair share of farmer’s markets around the Midwest, but this one takes the cake! It was like the United Nations of food. I was introduced to African tiger melons…

They look like pumpkins but they’re melons! About as big as a softball, they taste like honeydew.

Lucia begged for a Greek “pizza”,

She said, “Mommy, it’s delicious!”

and I drooled over the baklava….

So good!

We bought fresh, homemade ricotta from Mia Famiglia

Ricotta not from Mia Famiglia, but I didn’t get a photo of it before we ate it all! Photo credit: antonio.tombolini

…in addition to countless fresh baked goodies and handcrafted clothing accessories. And because that isn’t enough culture for one spot, a few different musical acts can be found performing at the market. We were treated to sounds from a lovely string trio. Depending on the day of your visit, you may even catch a live chef demo. Kenosha HarborMarket = highly recommended!

Along the harbor, across 54th Street from the Market, is the Kenosha Sculpture Walk. Described as “an ever-changing exhibition”, the Sculpture Walk is privately funded and features sculptures by various artists. I recognized one immediately, Leap of Faith by Terrence Karpowicz, because I’d seen another of his pieces – a similar one – at ArtPrize in Grand Rapids, Michigan. We strolled along the harbor, checking out the sculptures, coming up with our own stories behind the works of art. It was a great time to allow Lucia’s imagination to wander, and a perfect spot for her to run freely and get some exercise. When she was tired of that, she lay down in the grass “to watch the clouds”.

Photo taken with Instagram

After a full day of walking and exploring, we were hungry and ready for some German food and some German beer (well, The Working Dad and I were; Ms. Lucia prefers wine). So we paid a visit to a Kenosha institution, House of Gerhard, which has been serving up authentic German cuisine and American favorites since 1964. We arrived at 6:00pm on a Saturday with no reservations, which means we had to wait for a table. It was not a very long wait, though, and the hostess and other staff members did everything they could to get our family seated in a comfortable spot, as quickly as possible, since we had a hungry toddler on our hands. Everyone was so friendly and accommodating, and the meal surely didn’t disappoint! House of Gerhard allowed The Working Dad an opportunity to get in touch with his German heritage, and it allowed the both of us to give our daughter a little taste of Germany. All around, a win-win situation.

Speaking of getting in touch with one’s heritage… I did just that in a big way at Tenuta’s Italian Grocery & Delicatessen. HOLY CANNOLI, Tenuta’s is an amazing place! It is the largest Italian grocery I’ve ever seen outside of Italy (this coming from an Italian-American girl who grew up in Chicago’s Little Italy). Aisles and aisles of olive oil and coffee and canned tomatoes and porcini mushrooms… And don’t even get me started on the deli cases! Several of them just filled with deliciousness, some of which we took to go and had a picnic lunch at Simmons Island later on. The portobello panini was amazing and the cannoli were the best I’ve ever had! I will drive back to Kenosha JUST to shop again at Tenuta’s. Oh, along with all the Italian goodies, Tenuta’s also has quite an impressive craft beer selection. I did not expect to see that in an Italian grocery but I thought I’d died and gone to heaven.

There are plenty of global goodies to be had in Kenosha. But, when you visit, if you want to stick with the cheese and bratwurst, there’s always the nearby Mars Cheese Castle and the infamous Brat Stop.

My family’s trip to Kenosha, including accommodations and meals, was provided by the Kenosha Area CVB and its partners. All words and opinions, however, are my own.

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14 Responses to Getting cultured in Kenosha

  1. Paula Folinazzo September 29, 2012 at 9:31 am #

    Hi Francesca, if you ever get a hankering for anything at Tenuta’s, facebook me, I go up there fairly often and can have Nickie bring you anything you might like! I love it there, just the smell alone is great!

  2. Francesca September 29, 2012 at 6:29 pm #

    You are awesome, Paula – thank you! I’ll take a chocolate cannoli from Tenuta’s anytime!

  3. The World Wanderer September 30, 2012 at 11:35 am #

    This sounds like the perfect, perfect day! I love places that are like a United Nation of food and culture. Baklava is also one of my favorite desserts. I have to admit, Wisconsin has never exactly been on my list of places to visit, but this is changing my mind.

    • Francesca October 2, 2012 at 11:42 am #

      It was the perfect, perfect day – and so was the baklava! Seriously some of the best I’ve ever had. It’s time that Wisconsin and the rest of the Midwest are no longer thought of as “flyover country”.

  4. Ana Silva O'Reilly (@mrsoaroundworld) September 30, 2012 at 12:21 pm #

    I would love to go to a Market in the USA. Never been – or seen one. I will look more closely next time. Would LOVE some ricotta right now!

    • Francesca October 2, 2012 at 11:44 am #

      We do have our farmer’s markets but the ones I’ve been to don’t even compare to European markets! But, as I detail here, there are wonderful items to be found and wonderful times to be had.

  5. Leah Travels (@L_e_a_h) October 1, 2012 at 1:52 pm #

    So, I was going to make a joke about the “tiger melons” but then remembered that I’m nearly 40 and this is a family travel blog.

    • Francesca October 2, 2012 at 11:45 am #

      …and yet there’s a part of me that kind of wants to hear your joke 😉

  6. John October 2, 2012 at 9:37 pm #

    Amazing that you can find so much international culture in Wisconsin. I wonder if the brat stop has currywurst???

    • Francesca October 9, 2012 at 6:54 pm #

      Oooh, good call, John! I’ll have to check next time I’m at the Brat Stop.

  7. Pola (@jettingaround) October 3, 2012 at 5:05 pm #

    You had me at “HarborMarket.” The more I think about it, the more sure I am I will be making my way there soon… It’s a short drive from ChiTown, after all and those pumpkins look great!

    • Francesca October 9, 2012 at 6:56 pm #

      You should, Pola, especially if you have friends there. The HarborMarket moves indoors during the winter so you can still check it out if you can’t get to Kenosha right away.

  8. Judi October 5, 2016 at 6:02 am #

    When you come back to Kenosha, do stop by Elsie Mae’s Canning and Pies. Yummy, yummy, yummy.

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