If you’re reading this, you’re part of the Grinder’s geographically scattered online audience—and you’ve probably never been to the St. Croix Valley between Minnesota and Wisconsin. It’s your loss, as Dara Moskowitz Grumdahl tells it in this month’s edition of Gourmet (article not available online, sorry).

The article pays tribute to the area’s …

… countryside that surely ranks among the most stunningly picturesque in the nation. It is home to scores of perfectly preserved 19th-century mansions and treasure-packed antique shops, hundreds of miles of hiking and biking trails, spectacular fishing and birding, and, most surprising, some of the best food this side of Chicago.

The piece starts with the region’s distant past (Lakes Duluth and Agassiz, the ancient, grander ancestors of today’s Great Lakes) and moves into its present, as typified by house-crafted specialty brews, Wisconsin cheese plates, charming B&Bs, roasted duck breast with wild rice and a dried cherry and cocoa-nib consommé, and lemon icebox cake.

As the writer notes, it’s not Napa Valley, but depending upon your perspective, that’s not a bad thing.

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