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on location: midwest ❖

colleen kitka

Hearty home cooking keeps travelers well-fed in Midwestern Amish communities

Das Dutchman Essenhaus in Middlebury, Indiana, serves heapin’ helpings of stick-to-your ribs Amish fare.

COUNTRY FIXIN’S S

imple cuisine that consists of much more than shoe-fly pie and jams and jellies borrows from a rich cultural past laced with German and Swiss roots. Using seasonal produce, the Amish share with travelers a rich food heritage that is kept alive through strong family ties and community gatherings. Favorite dishes are passed down through the generations, and mothers teach their daughters to cook by “feel” rather than simply following a recipe. Fresh and canned fruits, pickled vegetables,

40 October 2009

and home-baked breads and sweets are just a few of the items identified with the Amish culinary tradition. Amish communities in Illinois, Indiana and Ohio abound with restaurants, specialty stores and markets that offer a taste of the wholesome country fare that many have come to know and love.

ILLINOIS

Around 4,000 Amish make their homes in Central Illinois, mostly in and around the towns of Arthur and Arcola.

Rising farmland costs have encouraged many to go into greenhouse, carpentry and other businesses. Some Amish work in the food industry. The Dutch Kitchen is one such example. Located in downtown Arcola, it offers a homey Amish-style menu. Entrée specials include ham and beans, chicken and noodles, homemade dumplings and fried chicken, with homemade pie for dessert. For those with large appetites, Yoder’s Kitchen offers an all-you-caneat Amish buffet with heaps of mashed LeisureGroupTravel.com


Holmes County Chamber of Commerce

potatoes, pork chops and more. As Arthur’s largest restaurant, it can comfortably accommodate tour groups and provide banquet rooms if necessary. Also in Arthur, Roselen’s Coffees & Delights, the only Amish-owned coffee shop in the state, offers coffee specialties along with 24 ice cream flavors, wraps, deli sandwiches and pastries. Amishland Red Barn Buffet is located in Tuscola, just off I-57. A 400seat Amish buffet, bakery, cheese and meat store, and Amish handicraft shops sit under one roof in a 72,000square-foot barn. Rockome Gardens Family-Style Restaurant in Arcola is a great value with its $11.99 family and groupfriendly meal of two meats, mashed potatoes and gravy, homemade noodles or dressing, vegetable, bread and pie. For a lighter option, their plated dinners, starting at $6.99, come with similar Amish fare. Rockome Gardens, a popular group tour attraction, has seven gardens with creative rock sculptures, a horse-powered sawmill, and shops selling Amish and country crafts and foods. For a truly unique experience, visitors can arrange for an Amish farm tour

Enjoy Amish home cooking at Boyd & Wurthmann Restaurant in Berlin, Ohio.

or home-cooked meal in an Amish home through the Illinois Amish Interpretive Center in Arcola. The Kitchen of Doris Yoder offers the same experience and can accommodate any group size. INDIANA

The nation’s third-largest enclave of Amish resides in northern Elkhart County, creating an oasis for Chicagoans and other travelers seeking to escape their high-tech lives.

Groups never go hungry at Das Dutchman Essenhaus in Northern Indiana. LeisureGroupTravel.com

Amish Acres Restaurant Barn in Nappanee dishes out an authentic dining experience and is acclaimed to be Indiana’s best meal. The Thresher’s family-style dinner delivers iron kettles of hearty bean soup, platters of chicken, ham and beef and other Amish fare, all served on antique tables in a centuryold barn. Outside town in Middlebury, Das Dutchman Essenhaus is a destination in itself with all-you-can-eat, familystyle diners. For dessert, choose from 29 different kinds of pies made on-site at their bakery, where diners can buy an extra indulgence to take back home. From April through December visitors can start their day off right with an oldfashioned breakfast buffet. In downtown Shipshewana it is hard to miss the Blue Gate Restaurant and Bakery, one of the largest restaurants in Indiana. With a seating capacity of 600, it can comfortably serve Shipshewana’s 536 residents and any party size. Patrons can feast on a family-style dinner of fried chicken and roast beef, homemade meatloaf or smoked ham, mashed potatoes, homemade noodles, chicken dressing and October 2009 41


on location: midwest ❖ inn, market and old-fashioned ice cream shop, plus occasional gospel concerts and dinner theater productions. Widely known for its broasted chicken, slow-cooked roast beef and mashed potatoes, the Amish Door was named by USA Today as one of the “top 25 meals of 2006.” Diners eat in what resembles an oversized Amish house and can choose the family-style option or order from the menu. The cream-filled whoopie pie is a treat at Amish Door Restaurant in Wilmot, Ohio. Dutch Valley Restaurant in Sugarcreek imparts similar more, or choose from the breakfast, fare with family-style or entrée menu lunch or dinner menu. Many other area establishments provide snacks and treats to hold you between meals. JoJo’s Pretzels in Shipshewana is a must for all soft pretzel enthusiasts. Popcorn lovers can fill up at Yoder Popcorn in Topeka, and those with a sweet tooth can take home a variety of baked goods from the Dutch Maid Bakery in Goshen. Stock up on jams, jellies, homemade noodles, salsas, spices, cheeses and farm-raised beef at Yoder’s Meat and Cheese Co. in Shipshewana. During the summer months Many Amish families in Holmes County, on Tuesdays and Wednesday, the Ohio, sell foods from their homes. Shipshewana Flea Market hosts numerous vendors selling a variety of options. It welcomes bus groups with Amish goodies and fresh farm produce. reservations. Save room for the bestselling favorite, peanut butter cream pie. When full, meander onto the porch OHIO and digest while relaxing on rocking Ohio has the country’s highest conchairs and gazing out across the fields. centration of Amish. Most live in the A Mt. Hope establishment dishes northeast counties of the state, close to up a bit of the unusual along with the the Pennsylvania border. Holmes typical Amish fare. Concord grape pie, County contains the largest Amish date nut pudding, old-fashioned population with approximately 18,000. cracker pudding and the spring seasonal Amish Door Restaurant and Vildandelion gravy are just a few of the lage in Wilmot is nestled in the hills of specialties Mrs. Yoder’s Kitchen cooks Ohio Amish country. It has shops, an up on its rotating menu. 42 October 2009

Holmes County Chamber of Commerce

Amish Door Restaurant and Village

The Dutchman Restaurants offer an Amish gastronomic experience with restaurants in Sugarcreek, Walnut Creek, Waynesville and Plain City. Meals can be ordered from a menu or enjoyed family-style. The Dutch Kitchen in Plain City has a generous barn-raising buffet served from 11:30 till closing. Guggisberg Cheese Co. in Millersburg, home of the original baby Swiss, produces award-winning cheeses made from Doughty Valley Amish farmers’ milk. Guests can take samples, buy from a selection of more than 40 cheeses and take a peek at the cheese-making process. For those with a sweet tooth, Goblentz Chocolate Co. in Walnut Creek supplies 114 varieties of candies like chocolates, caramels, clusters, creams, meltaways, jellies and fudges. Bulk food stores are another great place to stock your pantry. Swiss Village Bulk Food in Sugarcreek has baking supplies, candies, dried fruits, nuts, over 80 spices, and organic and health foods. For a real treat, grind your own peanut butter or purchase pure raw honey in bulk. Illinois, Indiana and Ohio abound with ways to relish Amish country fare. No matter which community you visit, hearty country cooking and the simple way of life is sure to keep your groups coming back for more. LGT

PLAN IT! Illinois Amish Country: • amishcountr yillinois.com • amishcenter.com • illinoisamish.net Northern Indiana Amish Country: amishcountr y.org Ohio Amish Country: • holmescountychamber.com • oacountr y.com.

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ILLINOIS Shrek The Musical will launch its national tour next year in Chicago, playing the Ford Center for the Performing Arts, Oriental Theatre for a limited engagement from July 13Sept. 5, 2010. Tickets are now available for groups of 15 or more. The show is based on the story and characters from William Steig’s book Shrek! as well as the DreamWorks Animation

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film Shrek, the first chapter of the Shrek movie series. The musical tells the story of a swamp-dwelling ogre who goes on a life-changing adventure to reclaim the deed to his land. Joined by a wise-cracking donkey, the unlikely hero fights a fearsome dragon, rescues a feisty princess and learns that real friendship and true love aren’t only found in fairy tales. The Broadway production opened on

Photo by Joan Marcus

on our radar: midwest ❖

Shrek The Musical takes center stage next summer in downtown Chicago.

October 2009 43


on our radar: midwest ❖ Dec. 14, 2008 at the Broadway Theatre in New York City. Other 2010 Broadway in Chicago productions include Billy Elliott the Musical, opening March 18 for an extended run. (312-977-1710, shrekthemusical.com, broadwayinchicago.com.) The Celebration Belle, an 800-passenger riverboat based in Moline, will begin offering cruises to St. Louis and Winona, Minn. in 2010. Port cities will include Dubuque, Guttenberg and Lansing, Iowa; and La Crosse and Prairie du Chien, Wis. Operated by Celebration River Cruises, the boat is the largest non-gaming excursion vessel on the Upper Mississippi River. (800297-0034, celebrationbelle.com) IOWA Davenport’s German American Heritage Center in October will open

44 October 2009

a new interactive, audio-visual exhibit that explores what it was like to be an immigrant to the Quad Cities in the 1800s. Housed in a 19th century hotel used by immigrants, the exhibit will feature a theater, education stations, and two restored hotel rooms. The center has undergone a $2.8-million interior renovation since 2007 and has increased exhibit space by six times. (563-322-8844, gahc.org) MINNESOTA The Red Wing Shoe Museum, which features the world’s largest boot, just opened on Main Street in Red Wing, Minn. The boot, created in 2005 for the company’s centennial, is a size 638½ D, stands six feet tall and weighs 2,300 pounds. The store attached to the museum sells Red Wing shoes and boots. Tours of the factory are available. (redwing.org, redwingshoes.com) The Dead Sea Scrolls exhibition will open March 12, 2010 in Saint Paul at the Science Museum of Minnesota and run through summer or beyond. The ancient documents, some of which are more than 2,000 years old, include fragments of the earliest known texts of the Hebrew Bible (Christian Old Testament). After their initial discovery by a shepherd in caves along the shores of Israel’s Dead Sea near the ancient settlement of Qumran, archaeologists have pieced together thousands of scroll fragments into more than 900 separate documents, from biblical manuscripts and commentary to religious legal writings. The fragments, now archived by the Israel Antiquities Authority, are occasionally put in display at major museums. The Science Museum’s exhibition also will include artifacts that provide a glimpse into life in ancient Israel. (651-221-9426, smm.org)

MISSOURI The Independence Events Center, a multi-purpose facility for sports events, concerts, touring shows and festivals, opens in November in Independence, Mo. It will be the home of a new Central Hockey League team, the Missouri Mavericks. The state-of-the-art center, 17 miles east of downtown Kansas City, will feature an arena with 5,800 fixed seats, 25 luxury suites, restaurants and a community ice rink. (816-795-7577, independenceeventscenter.com) In 2004 the Missouri State Penitentiary (MSP) sent all of its inmates to be housed in a new correctional facility. Now, five years later, people are lined up to get back inside the walls. The Jefferson City Convention and Visitors Bureau has partnered with the Missouri State Penitentiary Redevelopment Commission to offer a “Hard Hat Tour” of the old penitentiary. The tour showcases cells dating back to 1836, when MSP was built, including those of famous inmates such as heavyweight champion Sonny Liston, who learned to box during his time in the big house, and James Earl Ray. Other stops on the tour are the gas chamber where 40 men and women were executed. (800-769-4183, visitjeffersoncity.com) OHIO The new Lamar Hunt Super Bowl Gallery has opened at the Pro Football Hall of Fame in Canton. Dynamic displays and interactive video kiosks highlight every Super Bowl, featuring the great plays and the game’s stars. Game artifacts are displayed throughout the 4,000-square-foot space. Exhibits explain the significance of the first four Super Bowls and how the game has risen in popularity worldwide. Visitors see a movie about the most recent game. (profootballhof.com) LeisureGroupTravel.com

Midwest: Amish Country Fixin’s  

Home cooking keeps groups happy in the Amish communities of Illinois, Indiana and Ohio. Travelers in Northern Indiana, for example, can feas...

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