How many times have you thought of a vacation close to home where you can really escape from it all but can’t seem to find an ideal place?
Fortunately for you, Travel Plus Wine has done its homework and found just the perfect place: The Island of Happy Days.
It does sound fun and happy… but where is this scenic place? You’ll never guess.
Commonly known as Stout’s Island Lodge, The Island of Happy Days is 26 green acres of peaceful island paradise secretly nestled in Birchwood, Wisconsin.
The reason I say “secretly” is because, surprisingly enough, not many people in Wisconsin even realize this place exists.
Surrounded by the pristine waters of Red Cedar Lake, Stout’s Island Lodge was established in 1903. Due to its historical importance, the lodge is listed on the National Register of Historic Places and is a member of Historic Hotels of America.
The lodge is cozy and charming and there’s no doubt you’ll be in awe the moment you step foot on the island and admire the abundance of nature.
The sounds of the wind sweeping through the tall dancing leaves, the sights of ospreys catching fish from the lake, the aroma of fresh pine trees, among many other things, are a constant reminder that Stouts Island Lodge, after all, is your escape.
The outdoor activities are vast within the island and the physical difficulty simply depends upon what you want to do.
If you enjoy the peace and quiet that nature brings, Stout’s Island Lodge offers great bird watching. Actually, it was here I saw a bald eagle for the first time, one of the greatest symbols of American wildlife.
If you love reading, nothing can beat the serenity of sitting on the luscious green lawn in an Adirondack chair surrounded by tall trees overlooking Red Cedar Lake.
However, if you are looking for more action, you can take one of many kayaks or hydro-bikes available from the lodge (no extra charge) to go around the island. And let me tell you those hydro-bikes are a great workout! You can also go swimming or fishing in the enormous lake.
For short distance hiking, the island has two beautiful nature trails with spectacular scenery. If you happen to be in a competitive mood, Stout’s Island Lodge offers you the chance to show your skills in tennis, croquet, or badminton.
Dine with class at the Main Lodge which features regional dishes utilizing locally grown foods.
Their wine selection list is not huge, but hey, isn’t it all about quality not quantity? Stouts Island Lodge carries a few great wine labels and chances are you’ll find the bottle that’s right for you. As an alternative, you can bring your own bottle to enjoy from the comfort of your cabin.
The Island of Happy Days is definitely the place for those looking for a unique, quiet and relaxing holiday escape.
In fact, this is also a great place for family celebration. Stout’s Lodge Island has only 43 guest rooms in 10 separate buildings, making this an ideal place for organizing special gatherings.
The middle of nowhere has never felt so pleasant.
One of the main landmarks of Antwerp, Belgium is the statue of Silvius Brabo, a mythological figure who is said to have killed a giant to protect the town.
This symbolic statue, by sculptor Jef Lambeaux, is located in the Town Square in front of Antwerp City Hall.
According to legend, a giant called Druoon Antigoon lived on the banks of the River Scheldt. He charged sailors for crossing the river, and those who refused to pay, he would punish by cutting off their hands.
Fortunately for citizens, Silvius Brabo, a Roman soldier, came to the rescue. Not only did he manage to kill the giant, but cut off his hand and threw it in the river.
Believe it or not, Mexican food and wine do go together.
Mexican flavors are so complex (much like wines) that it’s entirely possible to find an excellent wine for every Mexican flavor.
Chef Rick Bayless is no stranger to pairing Mexican cuisine with the perfect wine. He has created a “Guide to Classic Mexican Food & Wine” and it’s posted on the web, so be sure to check it out before your next home cooked Mexican meal!
- Looking for a wine to go with lime? Bayless suggests Oregon Pinot Gris or a New Zealand Sauvignon Blanc for a “crisp, fruity balance.”
- How about a wine to go with those green enchiladas? This seasoned chef recommends exploring Côtes du Rhône, a lighter California Syrah (soft, youthful fruit), or an Alsatian Riesling (fruity with good minerality).
Rick Bayless has his complete guide to Mexican food & wine pairing at RickBayless.com.
Once upon a time, I used to think price was directly correlated to the quality of the wine; the more expensive the bottle, the better its quality. I couldn’t have been more wrong.
Every once in a while I come across excellent wines under $10 that put pricey competitors to shame. When I do, I have to share this news with the world!
Today, I’m talking about the Marchese de Petri il Valore Chianti Riserva 2005, a great wine at a great price. I found it for $6.99 at Trader Joe’s.
A Chianti is considered a Chianti when it contains at least 80% of Sangiovese grape and when it is produced in the region of Chianti in Tuscany, Italy. Furthermore, in order for a Chianti to be considered a Riserva it must be aged for at least 38 months.
So why is this Chianti Riserva so good? In part because 2005 was a great year for Sangiovese grapes all over Tuscany (expect some extraordinary Brunello di Montalcino 2005 next year).
Now, when you first open the bottle of Marchese de Petri il Valore you’ll sense a light, mature flavor with delicate hints of dried fruits or berries.
I recommend not serving it immediately; let it breathe for 45 minutes or pour it in a decanter for the same amount of time. This will help open up the wine and develop its bright fruity flavors.
This medium-bodied Chianti is very flexible and pairs well with salads, pasta dishes, poultry and meat.
So there you have it! If you try this wine and please give us your comments. We’d love to hear from you.
Keep in mind that when you’re looking for a Chianti, the wine is often found in a traditional wine bottle and not necessarily nestled in a straw basket.
Located just off Interstate 10 in Southwestern New Mexico, you can find the ghost town of Steins. This unique town is currently being restored (perhaps by ghosts?) and the date of completion is still not known.