Tag Archives: Mineral Point

Mineral Point

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We chose Mineral Point as the part of Wisconsin to visit with Marcia because of its artistic community, its charming historic downtown and of course, proximity to The House on the Rock. It was pretty sleepy on a Monday in late June. Marcia commented, “I bet you it gets busy in the summer. Wait, it IS the summer!”

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Kusaka

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We have never been in Mineral Point on a day when MP Dining Company (with its excellent reviews) is open: my days off are Sunday and Monday. For us, the best restaurant in town is Kusaka (open 7 days a week!) We walked over from the Saltbox, a cottage we had rented a couple streets over.

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The husband and wife who own Kusaka are dedicated to serving food made from scratch. It doesn’t get any better than that! The dumplings were delicious, some of the best I ever had, and made for the perfect starter. Etta’s mom got a lychee soda (from Japan) and had fun popping the seal (it involved a glass marble.)

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I got the pork belly ramen with a side of irresponsible sauce. This well balanced hot sauce had bright, tart, sweet shades of flavor and ultimately satisfying levels of spice. I used all of it, and I’m pretty much a wimp when it comes to the hot stuff.

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The smoked pork belly brought a smoky, summery level of umami to the dish. The handmade wheat noodles were delicious. I found myself craving them and later that night I raided and devoured Etta’s leftovers.

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The Saltbox

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We had rented a beautiful cottage called The Salt Box in historic Mineral Point, an artistic small town in the corner of SW Wisconsin. What a beaut of a property. A wooden staircase in the center of the cottage lead upstairs to an attic with twin beds and an AC: that’s where Marcia slept.

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Etta and I (and Marcia, when we played Scrabble at night) stayed in the queen size bed on the first floor. I used the small living room area to read and watch old DVDs of Seinfeld, when everyone else needed a nap after the House on the Rock. We walked to Kusaka for dinner.

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Gray Dog

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The next morning, hungover from several devastating losses at Scrabble, we had breakfast at the Gray Dog Deli in Mineral Point. Even though it was closer to lunch time, they graciously served us egg sandwiches and strong coffee.

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I admired a small print of “The Sun King,” a painting by Marcia, that she carries around in her wallet.

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Walker House

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We stayed in a large corner room with a king size bed. After a day of handmade ramen, a hike in the beautiful state park, and dinner of Wisconsin beef and cheese, I was ready for sleep. But first I had to take a shower.

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I neglected to bring the little bottle of shampoo and conditioner, and the hand soap, to the shared bathroom down the hall. Inside the bathroom, I saw the personal effects of fellow travelers. Though I recognized I was stepping into what was, at best, an ethically grey area, I decided it wouldn’t be so bad to use a little bit of these guests’ shampoo.

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Later on I lay back in the comfortable king size bed, relaxing in the old bones of the historic inn. There was a loud knocking on the door. Shit, I thought, the other guests figured out I used their shampoo, and their pissed. A male voice called out loudly, “Tornado! You have 1 minute to come downstairs!”

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In a blind panic, I took only my camera. My girlfriend and I followed the innkeeper, Dan, down multiple flights of stairs, through the dining room, and down into the very old basement of the Walker House. There we were lead into a man-made cave, where the other guests were already seated.

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I wondered if they could smell my fear, or maybe their own shampoo in my hair. Kathy, Dan’s wife, was seated in the cave, wearing a yellow teeshirt with the handwritten phrase, “I survived the tsunami,” in red. She asked if I heard the tornado. I listened, and in the cave’s echo I did hear the tornado. “Yes I hear it”, I told her. She said that was just the town of Mineral Point’s emergency siren.

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While we spoke, a five hundred foot wide tornado tore through neighboring Dodgeville, and ripped up a huge grain combine. I had never before been so close to the destructive power of nature, and it was Kathy and Dan that kept me safe.

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Kathy also gave me homemade M&M cookies, and loaf of strawberry bread for the ride home. They were also very understanding when we saw a derecho (line of thunderstorms, accompanied by the possibility of tornados) approaching the next day and decided to get the heck out of Dodgeville.

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We will be back in Mineral Point at some point in the near future, for the mellow artist vibe, the handmade ramen, to float in Cox Hollow Lake in a tube, and see that waterfall, and when we come back, we would love to return to the Walker House.

It’s got great history, clean, comfortable, affordable rooms, two of the best innkeepers of all time (both of whom are Maineiacs) and really delicious homemade baked goods. Did I mention the tornado-proof 200 year old caves?

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Kusaka

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Kusaka is a restaurant in MIneral Point that specializes in handmade noodles and ramen. It is unique amongst other restaurants in Iowa County. If I lived there, I would eat at Kusaka all the time.

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Etta and I drove out on a Sunday. I was still hungover from my work week and the construction between Chicago and Rockford had me in a daze. We came to Mineral Point, turned up High St and parked the car.

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The owners are a married couple who relocated to Wisconsin following the Japanese tsunami. The husband is the host, and the wife is the chef. He recommended I get the pork belly ramen. It had deep, rich flavors from the broth, sesame, green chile, and the rich pork belly.

The noodles are what made me so happy. They are toothsome yet tender, absorbing the twang of spice and umami from the broth. The service was great and the noodles are phenomenal. Kusaka makes the drive from Chicago to Mineral Point worth it in one meal!

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