Taste Your Way Down Main Street By Jamie Bartosch

Taste Your Way Down Main Street

Specialty food purveyors add fun, fuel and flavor along Galena’s Main Street

By Jamie Bartosch

Part of the fun of shopping in Galena is taste-testing and discovering unique foods in the charming stores along Main Street. You could find a delicious artisan cheese from a small, local farm, a homemade candy that makes you say “Mmmm!” aloud when you take a bite or a wine that you fall in love with at first sip.

The Civil War-era brick buildings that house these food stores create an inviting, homey feel, and many have original or restored 19th-century design features, like tin ceilings or mahogany shelving.

Among the hundreds of foods sold along Galena’s Main Street, here are a few new and popular items food lovers and cooks seek out.

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Quick Break Foods

Galena River Wine & Cheese has long been the go-to place for filling a picnic basket with gourmet goodies. But in the past year, Galena visitors have become obsessed with their gourmet grilled cheese sandwiches. It ain’t your childhood grilled cheese; this is made on fresh bakery bread cut two fingers thick, using any of the 70 artisan cheeses in their deli case. That lets you experiment with a tangy imported cheese, a Wisconsin white cheddar, or both.

In July 2019, Galena River Wine & Cheese debuted the new Cheesy Waffle Stick—as the name suggests, it’s a waffle filled with baked cheese and served on a stick.

“If you picture a waffle looking like a corn dog, you’re on the right track,” co-owner Bryon Taylor says.

It features Wisconsin-made Brunkow Brun-uusto cheese, drizzled with a goat’s milk caramel sauce from Fat Toad Farms in Vermont with a side of Meyer lemon or passion fruit curd from Rare Bird Preserves in Oak Park, Illinois.

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Creative pastas, like pumpkin spice fettuccine or wild garlic egg pasta, come from all over the world.

Eat‐While‐You‐Walk Treats

You can opt to fill a bag with candy treats from barrels and glass candy jars, like saltwater taffy and Jelly Bellys. But the signature item at Galena Kandy Kitchen is the “Georgie,” named for the late owner George Paxton. It’s a turtle candy with made-from-scratch caramel mixed in with nuts and chocolate (there are several varieties). Fans also swoon for the chocolate-covered strawberries, dipped in their highest quality chocolate.

For a snackable crunch, pick from the more than 60 flavors of popcorn at Great American Popcorn Co. Popped and seasoned in small batches, the popcorn is always fresh and packed with flavor. Go savory with combinations like Cracked Pepper & Herb or Cheezy Garlic Bread. For something sweet, try Cookies & Cream or Cherry Cheesecake.

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Fans swoon for the chocolate-covered strawberries, dipped in their highest quality chocolate.

Take‐Home Treats

A little fresh Parmesan cheese, a little butter or olive oil, along with the pasta you buy at Pasta Perfetta…now that’s a delicious meal. Their creative—and even gluten-free—pastas, like a pumpkin spice fettuccine or wild garlic egg pasta, come from all over the world. The staff will offer recipes for inspiration. For a truly local flavor combination, pick up a bottle of Rigopoulos Grove Extra Virgin Olive Oil from the Rigopoulos family hailing from Kalamata, Greece and owners of Galena’s Log Cabin Steakhouse. Find the oil at Galena Canning Company.

Hard-to-find root beers and craft sodas from around the country fill shelf after shelf at Root Beer Revelry. Belly up to the root beer bar to sample them all with a root beer flight, or ask them to add a scoop of ice cream for a stellar root beer float. If you’d like to take your sweet suds with you, purchase your root beer in one of their to-go growlers.

The smell of exotic spices wafts out of Spice & Tea Merchants, a specialty retailer with hundreds of popular and exotic spices to choose from, like a Cajun blackening blend or a cranberry maple rub. The staff can provide recipes and share knowledge on spice pairing. Their large selection of loose-leaf teas includes some that are said to have medicinal benefits.

Belly up to the root beer bar to sample them all with a root beer flight.

Good‐For‐You Goodies

Greens grown on-site at Galena Juicery and Meal Prep’s indoor sprout and wheatgrass garden are blended or juiced into many of their super-healthy drinks, shots and fresh smoothies. The Melon Zing—a watermelon, cucumber and ginger juice—is a popular summertime menu item. Whatever you order, it will be plant based, gluten free, organic, locally sourced and made with whole fruits and vegetables.

There’s also a focus on healthy eating at Galena Garlic Company. The family-owned business sells fresh garlic, of course, but also prides itself on olive oils, artisan sea salts, gourmet chef spice blends and balsamic vinegar selection. Their cranberry pear balsamic vinegar with roasted walnut olive oil, for example, makes a delicious salad dressing.

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It would be sacrilege in Galena not to have ice cream and homemade candy, the two main staples of the downtown dessert scene (sugar-free versions of most things are available).

Imported and elegant European chocolates are the specialty at Chocolat´ 229, but it’s the throwback Americana vibe and excellent ice cream (try a waffle cone!) that have people lining up at American Old Fashioned Ice Cream Parlor. Check out the collection of Coca-Cola memorabilia on the shop’s antique shelves. A trendier, urban feel greets guests at Elle & Becks Coffee & Gelato Bar tucked inside Elle & Becks home and fashion boutique. Peruse their homemade soaps, clothing and other gifts while enjoying your gelato scoop.

The smell of fresh cinnamon rolls, loaves of poppy seed or lemon bread and homemade pies will lure you into Klein’s Market Bakery. The inventory goes quickly, so don’t wait too late into the afternoon to visit. For a fresh-baked confection, head inside Chew Chew Cookies and try a bite of one of the 15 varieties of cookies.

Rocky Mountain Chocolate Factory wins over shoppers with its free fudge samples and decadent caramel-covered apples, dipped in a copper kettle and served warm—a perfect treat to enjoy as you stroll to your next stop along Main Street.

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