Back in Time: Phillipsburg Manor and Gristmill in Sleepy Hollow

From Grand Central Station in New York City, we traveled on the Metro-North Railroad (MNR) line that follows along the shores of the Hudson River to Tarrytown. It’s a longish walk from the depot to Phillipsburg Manor and so a stop at Muddy Water Coffee and Cafe at 52 Main Street for lattes and pastries was in order. The restaurant, located in historic downtown Tarrytown, is cozy and comfy with original tin ceilings, wood floors, and a small garden tucked away in the back. Then it was on to the manor and old gristmill dating back to 1850. A note to those that make the journey. Tarrytown and Sleepy Hollow (yes, the Sleepy Hollow where the Headless Horseman rode) are built on steep hills and if you’re so inclined (and I was on the way back to the depot) Tarrytown Taxi is a cheap and easy alternative to getting around.

The manor, gristmill, and rebuilt millpond bridge are accessible at the Historic Hudson Valley (HVV) Visitor’s Center which is also where you catch the shuttle to Kykuit, the Rockefeller Mansion that rises above the Pocantico Hills overlooking miles of woodlands and then, in the distance, the Hudson River. Other tours include Washington Irving’s Sunnyside and the Union Church of Pocantico Hills.

For those who visited the mill and buy some of the grain ground there, HHV provides recipes including the following for Pumpkin Cornmeal Pancakes re-created from the travel accounts of Swedish botanist Peter Kalm, a Finnish explorer, botanist, naturalist, and agricultural economist, who journeyed to Colonial America in 1747 to bring seeds and plants that might be useful to agriculture.  In his description of foods eaten by the Colonists, Kalm described a thick pancake “made by taking the mashed pumpkin and mixing it with Corn-meal after which it was…fried.” He found it “pleasing to my taste.”  Further recipes are including from HHV for recipes from an article titled Cooking with Cornmeal Fresh from Philipsburg Manor’s Gristmill .

Pumpkin Cornmeal Pancakes

  • 1 cup all-purpose flour
  • 1 cup yellow cornmeal
  • 1 cup confectioner’s sugar, plus extra for the topping
  • 1/2 teaspoon dried ground ginger
  • 1/2 teaspoon cinnamon
  • 1 cup canned pumpkin
  • 2 eggs, lightly beaten
  • 2½-3 cups milk
  • Butter for frying

Combine dry ingredients in a large mixing bowl. Combine eggs and pumpkin. Beat into the dry ingredients. Add the milk slowly to make a smooth batter.

Heat some butter in a frying pan and pour some of the batter in. Swirl the batter around to make an evenly thick pancake. Cook on both sides until brown.

Serve hot, dusted with confectioner’s sugar.

Light Corn Bread

  • 1/4 cup sweet butter
  • 1/3 cup light brown sugar
  • 2 egg yolks, beaten
  • 1¼ cups buttermilk
  • 7/8 cup cornmeal
  • 2 cups cake flour, sifted
  • 1 tsp. salt
  • 3 tsp. baking powder
  • 1/2 tsp. baking soda
  • 2 egg whites, beaten

Cream the butter and sugar until smooth. Add the egg yolks. Mix dry ingredients together in a separate bowl. Stir in the buttermilk and the mixed dry ingredients alternately. Fold in the stiffly beaten whites last. Bake in a greased, floured 8 by 11 by 1½-inch pan about 20 minutes at 375 degrees F.

Cornmeal Shortcake

  • 1 cup yellow cornmeal
  • 1½ cups all-purpose flour
  • 3/4 cup sugar
  • 1 Tbsp. baking powder
  • 1/2 tsp. salt
  • 2 cups buttermilk
  • 2 large eggs (lightly beaten)
  • 1/4 cup vegetable oil

Preheat oven to 400 degrees. Grease an 8″ baking pan and set aside.

In large mixing bowl, combine cornmeal, flour, sugar, baking powder and salt; stir until well mixed. Add buttermilk, eggs, and shortening; mix until smooth (about 1 minute).Pour batter into pan. Bake 30 minutes (until lightly browned); toothpick inserted in center should come out clean.

Serving suggestion: Top with fruit and whipped cream.

Back From the Farm: Family Recipes and Memories of a Lifetime

   My friend Phil Potempa writes these encyclopedia-sized cookbooks based upon growing up on a farm and his years—still counting—as a food and entertainment columnist, currently for the Chicago Tribune Media Co. Well, his latest, Back From the Farm: Family Recipes and Memories of a Lifetime Vol. 4, is no different. I didn’t weigh it but it’s hefty and thick with 576 pages. Chocked full of recipes, photos, and anecdotes, the book is a compilation of Phil’s food and entertainment columns that takes us from growing up on the family farm in La Pierre, Indiana to hanging out with celebrities and everything in between such as local baking contests, chef interviews, chili cook-offs, ethnic celebrations, and readers’ favorite recipes.

“There are a lot of ways to read these books,” Phil tells me, noting that some people tell him they go straight to the index and look up the celebrity names while others leaf through the book, stopping at recipes that look interesting and still others are intrigued by stories of Potempa’s farm relatives.  After all, who could resist recipes with such names as “Granny Wojdula’s Nine-Day Sweet Pickles,” “Jim Nabors’ Mom’s Split Green Pea Soup,” “Bob Hope’s Favorite Chicken Hash,” or “Blondie Wappel’s Favorite Pink Champagne Cake,” which implies that Blondie must have had several recipes for cakes made with pink Champagne.  Now that’s really drilling down on an ingredient.

San Pierre, for anyone—and that’s most of us—is a small dot on the map consisting of less than 200 people according to Wikipedia. It’s where the Potempa still spends time with his family (he also has a place in Chicago) and is the center of Indiana’s mint growing industry and where the North Judson Mint Festival is held every year. According to the National Agricultural Statistics Services third nationally for spearmint production and fourth for peppermint production. Much of their mint ends up as oil and is sold to Wrigley, Colgate Palmolive, and Proctor & Gamble for use in their products. In other words, when you brush your teeth with a spearmint flavored toothpaste it might have come from San Pierre which is some 50 miles away.

   The two both shared a love of cooking and Diller helped Phil with his first From the Farm cookbook.

              Describing her as his first celebrity interview, Potempa says that over the years when she was performing in Northwest Indiana or the Chicago area she would invite he and his family to attend her shows and then visit her backstage afterwards.

              “She was really a friend, I’ve been to her home and it was so wonderful to see my cookbooks in her fire red kitchen,” says Potempa about one of his visits to her home in the tony Brentwood, California city near Los Angeles.

Strongbow Inn

              Another fav story was told to him by his good friend Russ Adams, a 1978 graduate of the Culinary Institute of America in New York, who worked at the Strongbow Inn, a Valparaiso Restaurant that was started by Adams’s grandparents on the site of their turkey farm and for more than 75 years was a favorite stopping point for dinner no matter what time of year. Adams recalled when Los Angeles Dodgers Manager Tommy Lasorda came into the kitchen to see what was going on. He’d ordered a turkey sandwich and told Russ to “load it up! And make it like you’re making it for your brother.”

              Russ also told him about the time his Grandma Bess was at the hostess stand sometime in the late 1950s and came face-to-face with a portly man waiting to be seated, who looked very much like Oscar winning actor Charles Laughton. When Bess mentioned how much he resembled the famous actor, he told her, in a very cold and stiff English accent: “Madam, THAT is because…I AM CHARLES LAUGHTON.”

              Interestingly, Colonel Harlan Sanders, founder of Kentucky Fried Chicken, frequented the Strongbow Inn whenever he was in Northwest Indiana visiting his key local fast-food franchises says Potempa. Popcorn King Orville Redenbacher of the popcorn powerhouse ate there every year when he’d return home. In all, the restaurant served more than 250,000 pounds of turkey a year but one of the most requested recipes from the place that Phil received was for their Blue Cheese Dressing.

              Phil wrote in one of his columns that he never expected to get the dressing recipe with its secret combination of ingredients because the Strongbow Inn restaurant used to bottle and sell their dressing in their lobby waiting area, displayed on a rack near a small freezer where a frozen version of their signature turkey pot-pies and gravy could also be purchased. But with its closing that changed and the recipe is below as are several others.

Phyllis Diller’s Chili

Serves six

  • 1 tablespoon vegetable or canola oil
  • 1 pound ground beef (chuck is good)
  • 1 medium onion, chopped
  • 1 medium bell pepper, chopped (see note)
  • 10 garlic cloves, minced
  • 1 teaspoon Lawry’s Seasoning Salt
  • 1/2 teaspoon garlic salt
  • 1/2 teaspoon onion salt
  • 2 teaspoons chili powder
  • 2 or 3 dashes tabasco sauce or to taste
  • 1 (28 oz) can chopped tomatoes
  • 2 (15 oz) cans s & w kidney beans, undrained
  • Garnishing – if desired
  • 1 white onion, chopped
  • 2 cups mild cheddar cheese, shredded

In a large, heavy-bottomed pan, warm oil over medium-high heat. Add the ground beef, breaking it up, and cook, stirring occasionally, until beef is cooked through, about 10 minutes.

While the beef is cooking, peel and chop onion. Set aside. Core and chop bell pepper. Set aside. Peel and mince garlic cloves. Set aside.

Once the beef is cooked through, add the onions, bell pepper and garlic. Cook until vegetables are softened, about 3 or 4 minutes.

Stir in the seasonings and tomatoes. Reduce heat to a simmer. Simmer the chili until it begins to thicken slightly, about 20 to 30 minutes.

Stir in the kidney beans with their juices. Simmer an additional 10 minutes or until heated through.

Adjust to taste.

Peggy’s Easy Beef and Noodles Supper

  • 2 tablespoons cooking oil
  • 1 1/2 pounds cubed beef stew meat
  • 2 quarts water (divided use)
  • 1 large onion, chopped
  • 2 cups sliced carrots
  • 2 cups chopped celery
  • 2 teaspoons mixed seasoning blend, like Mrs. Dash
  • 6 teaspoons beef bouillon paste (or equivalent using cubes)
  • 1 (16-ounce) bag of Amish egg noodles (grocery shelf variety, not frozen)

Heat oil in bottom of a large soup pot and lightly brown beef and onion. Add 1 quart of water and simmer for 1 hour. Add carrots and celery, beef base and seasoning blend and add remaining 1 quart of water and simmer 1/2 hour. Finally add dry noodles and cook according to instructions, about 1/2 hour. More water can be added as needed during cooking time.

Makes 10 servings.

Blondie Wappel’s Favorite Pink Champagne Cake

Makes 18 servings.

Cake:

  • 1 (16.25-ounce) package white cake mix
  • 1-1/4 cups pink champagne
  • 1/3 cup vegetable oil
  • 3 egg whites
  • 3 or 4 drops red food color

Pink Champagne Frosting:

  • 1/2 cup (1 stick) unsalted butter or margarine, softened
  • 3-3/4 to 4 cups sifted powdered sugar
  • 1/4 cup pink champagne
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla
  • 3 or 4 drops red food color

For the cake, preheat oven to 350 degrees. Mix together dry cake mix and champagne in a large bowl; add oil, egg whites and food color and beat with an electric mixer on medium speed for 2 minutes. Lightly grease and flour the bottom of a 13-inch by 9-inch shiny aluminum pan. Note: The baking temp has to be adjusted for glass, dark or nonstick pans or alter baking times and pan prep according to the directions on the cake mix package.

Pour cake batter into pan and spread evenly. Bake for 25 to 29 minutes or until a cake tester inserted into the middle of the cake comes out clean. Allow cake to cool completely before frosting.

To make frosting, cream butter with an electric mixer in a medium bowl and gradually add the rest of the frosting ingredients, beating at medium speed until the frosting is of a smooth consistency. Spread frosting evenly over cooled cake.

Decorate as desired, including possible garnish with pink and white sugar crystals.

Forbidden Apple Cake

  • 1/2 cup vegetable oil
  • 2 sticks Imperial margarine, softened
  • 2 cups sugar
  • 3 eggs, beaten
  • 2 teaspoons vanilla
  • 3 cups flour
  • 1 teaspoon baking soda
  • 1/2 teaspoon cinnamon
  • 1/2 teaspoon nutmeg
  • 3 cups unpeeled apples, cored and diced (a firm, slightly tart baking apple is best)
  • 1 cup walnuts or pecans, chopped (optional)
  • 1 cup golden raisins (can be soaked in 1/2 cup good rum for one week for a “sinful” addition)
  • Powdered sugar for dusting.

Note: Seal rum-soaked raisins in a glass container at room temperature for one week, ahead of time. If using the rum version, omit cinnamon, nutmeg and vanilla.

Preheat oven to 325 degrees. Spray 10-inch bundt or tube pan with non-stick cooking spray. Beat oil with margarine. Add sugar, eggs and vanilla. Sift together flour, baking soda, cinnamon and nutmeg. Add apples to flour mixture and stir a few times to coat. Add raisins and nuts, if using, to egg/oil mixture. Stir flour/apple mixture into egg/oil mixture until well blended. Pour into prepared pan. Bake 75 minutes or until cake tester comes out clean. Cool 30 minutes, invert onto cake plate. When completely cooled, dust with powdered sugar. Makes 10 slices.

Strongbow Inn Bleu Cheese and Garlic Dressing

Makes 5 cups

  • 1 cup cider vinegar
  • 1 tablespoon salt
  • 1/2 teaspoon white pepper
  • 1/2 teaspoon sugar
  • 1/4 teaspoon oregano
  • 4 cloves garlic, peeled
  • 3 cups vegetable oil
  • Cheesecloth and string
  • 1 cup crumbled bleu cheese

Prepare a piece of cheesecloth cut into a small square.

Combine salt, pepper, sugar, oregano and garlic, wrap in cheesecloth, fasten, and tie. Use a mallet or rolling pin to slightly pound the contents of the tied cheesecloth.

Place the cheesecloth bundle in a large quart-canning jar. Pour 1 cup of the cider vinegar over the spice bundle, seal jar and allow spices to steep overnight on kitchen counter.

Remove spice bundle, squeezing out excess liquid before discarding bundle.

Add three cups vegetable oil to vinegar mixture to fill jar and drop in the crumbled bleu cheese.

Store dressing in refrigerator and stir well before serving.

Philip Potempa can be reached at pmpotempa@comhs.org or mail your questions: From the Farm, PO Box 68, San Pierre, Ind. 46374.

This article originally appeared in the Herald Palladium.

Re-discover Your Inner Child Along Alabama’s Gulf Coast

Though I missed Be a Kid Again Day on July 8th–and you may have too, it’s never too late to connect with our inner child. And don’t we all need that considering not only our own busy lives but also what’s going on in the world. Sigh! It’s enough to make you want to crawl into bed and pull the covers over your head. But here’s another suggestion.

Why not head to Gulf Shores and Orange Beach, Alabama, two twin beach towns along the Gulf Coast known for their miles and miles of sugar-white sandy beaches and myriad water and land activities as well as great seafood and lots of you-can-only-find-it-here fun. Want examples?

Think prehistoric creatures that go beyond the big screen this summer. That’s right. It’s Jurassic Golf. But don’t worry. You don’t have to run from these creatures. Your only concern at this indoor, glow-in-the-dark miniature golf course is whether you can get finally get a hole-in-one,

Or further your education. That’s right. But this isn’t calculus. Instead it’s Sand Castle University, a program teaching “students” the very best ways to build sand castles. Yes, soon you’ll be the beach equivalent of Frank Lloyd Wright. Well, maybe not. But you’ll certainly have some Instagramable moments.

Those covers aren’t looking like such a great option anymore, are they?

Well, let’s do some more convincing. Building sandcastles and playing miniature golf with prehistoric relics calls for sustenance. And since calories don’t count on vacation (honest, trust me on this) check out The Yard Milkshake Bar for their creative mind-bending dessert concoctions served in jars. 

The options at City Donut include their unique, made-from-scratch donuts with toppings like Nerds or Fruity Pebbles, or you can just go glazed–all are yummy.

Now that we’ve gotten dessert out of the way, sit down for dinner at LuLu’s, a family-friendly restaurant which not only has great coastal cuisine (including allergy-friendly dishes) but also features ropes courses (including the Mountain of Youth, a three-story climbing structure), an arcade, a seasonal caricature artist and live music. Oh and views of the water. Last time I was there I saw a dolphin pop up but he didn’t stop to say hi.

Fortified, stop at the Alabama Gulf Coast Zoo which offers up-close and personal animal encounters with kangaroos, lemurs and sloths. For kangaroos and lemurs, kids must be at least 3 years old to attend, but sloths will hang with guests of any age.

Thye’re definitely not hands-on or good for close encounters but the zoo recently brought in three new African lions (Daniel, Chadwick and Regina from the Pittsburgh Zoo) to assist in lion conservation efforts. Guests will be able to spot them as they’re introduced to the zoo’s resident lion, Nandi.

Nothing is more relaxing and rejuvenating than getting out in the fresh, coastal air. Hop on a bike at Gulf State Park and enjoy the 28 peaceful miles of the Backcountry Trail. The park offers a free bike-share program, so visitors can explore the nine different ecosystems that make up the park. Bikes in the park are designed for adults and bigger kids; if you have younger children, several local bike shops rent kids’ and tandem bikes. And if biking seems like too much effort, that’s okay. The park also offers more than three miles of public beach to the visitors who prefer to just sit on the sand and listen to the sound of crashing waves.

Looking for a day trip from the Gulf Shores? Consider Magnolia Springs, a true step back in time.

Convinced? Then begin planning your trip at https://www.gulfshores.com

Michigan Brewers Guild Releases “Great Beer State” in Honor of 25th Anniversary

 In honor of its 25 Anniversary, the Michigan Brewers Guild has announced the release of its Great Beer State Documentary which draws from more than 60 interviews gathered over four years. Building on the work from the 2019 book A Rising Tide – The Story of the Michigan Brewers Guild and Michigan’s Great Beer State Podcast which was launched in 2020, the film was produced by The Beervangelist, Fred Bueltmann, author of A Rising Tide and co-host of the Guild’s podcast.

“Besides celebrating 25 years, this film shows stark differences between then and now, when it comes to locally brewed beer and its contribution to community culture. From before the Michigan Brewers Guild in the mid-eighties, to the formation of the Guild in 1997 and up until the present day, there has been a cultural transformation,” stated Bueltmann. “The storyline is loosely held, shared through stories and observations from dozens of brewery folks who have been a part of the brewing scene; past, present, and future.”

The documentary premiered at the Michigan Summer Beer Festival in Ypsilanti last weekend with a private viewing for brewery members on Friday evening and a VIP screening for Enthusiast Members on Saturday morning. A series of public viewings is being organized across the state at member breweries, Allied Member locations and community friends of Michigan beer. The schedule will be posted on MiBeer.com and shared via the Guild’s Facebook page. This is an essential element in the 25th Anniversary campaign which will culminate in a “Wrap Party” on October 22 following the Detroit Fall Beer Festival at Eastern Market (the actual 25th Anniversary of the Guild).

“The film is a fun and engaging look inside the Michigan beer community,” says Scott Graham, the Guild’s executive director. “After 25 years local beer is truly part of our culture and fabric; it is part of what makes Michigan great.”

It was October 22, 1997 when a surprising collection of 49 people representing 30 operating breweries gathered at a pub in Saginaw to discuss how they could collectively promote Michigan-made beer. A consensus arose out of that meeting that a formal association of Michigan brewers should be organized and on December 3, 1997, the Michigan Brewers Guild was officially formed.

The Michigan Brewers Guild is the network of innovative and passionate brewers that serves as the recognized advocate for the Michigan craft beer industry. The mission of the Guild is to promote and protect the Michigan craft beer industry with an overarching goal to help craft beer acquire 20% of the market by 2025.

Michigan’s thriving brewing industry conservatively contributes more than $144 million in wages with a total economic contribution of more than $600 million. In terms of overall number breweries, microbreweries and brewpubs, Michigan ranks #6 in the nation – thus supporting its claim as “The Great Beer State.”

Formed in 1997, the Michigan Brewers Guild held its first festival in July 1998. Today, it hosts five festivals dedicated exclusively to Michigan beer produced by its nearly 300 member breweries (a number that increases on a monthly basis). Within the state, and beyond, Michigan is referred to as “The Great Beer State” ranking #6 nationally for the number of breweries. 

New York City: Katharine Hepburn Garden

One of the wonders of New York City is the constant discovery of hidden treasures. And so it was when we came across the Katharine Hepburn Garden, a small fenced wonder of brilliant hydrangeas, viburnums, Mountain Laurel, dogwoods, flowering perennials, and groundcovers bordering the narrow pathways of this tiny garden. Located in the Dag Hammarskjold Plaza, the several times I’ve been there, the gates been unlocked and I’ve wondered through this delightful hidden-in-plain-spot in the city. Hepburn, the noted actress who delighted audiences for decades, loved gardening as the text, part of Parks’ Historical Signs Project, that’s a posted within the park, tells us. But it doesn’t mention Hepburn’s penchant for making brownies and I’m sharing the recipe here as well.

From the Park’s sign:

Katharine Hepburn was born on May 12, 1907, in Hartford, Connecticut. She graduated from Bryn Mawr College in 1928 and in the same year she made her professional debut in a minor role in a Baltimore stock company production of Czarina. By 1932 she was a star on Broadway in The Warrior’s Husband, followed in the same year by her screen debut opposite John Barrymore in A Bill of Divorcement. On Broadway Ms. Hepburn originated the Tracy Lord role in The Philadelphia Story (1939) before taking it to Hollywood a year later. In 1942 she starred opposite Spencer Tracy in Woman of the Year and began a twenty-five year relationship which included working on nine classic films.

Acting Kudos

Ms. Hepburn won numerous honors for her acting. She was nominated for twelve Academy Awards and garnered four Oscars for best actress. In 1962 Ms. Hepburn won the best actress award at the Cannes Film Festival for her performance in Long Day’s Journey Into Night. In the 1970s she worked in television, where she and co-star Laurence Olivier earned Emmys for Love Among the Ruins.

Her two memoirs, Me and The Making of the African Queen, or How I Went to Africa with Bogart, Bacall, and Huston and Almost Lost My Mind and Me: Stories of My Life were best sellers. Ms. Hepburn has always gone her own way, wearing slacks, refusing interviews, shunning autograph seekers, keeping her private life private, and all the while speaking her mind.

Garden Enthusiast

Hepburn was passionate about flowers and gardening beginning during her childhood in West Hartford. On Sunday afternoons the Hepburn family went for drives and walks in the hills west of the Connecticut River and during these country excursions that children competed to see who could spot the first Lily of the Valley, Bloodroot, Columbine, or Pink Lady’s Slipper.

When Ms. Hepburn moved to Turtle Bay with her husband Ludlow Ogden Smith in 1932, she transplanted wildflowers from her parents’ home to her backyard garden. She joined the Turtle Bay Association in 1957, and for more than thirty years she fought to halt the destruction of trees, to defend the sidewalks from encroaching development, and to protect mid-blocks from high-rise construction.

Garden Dedication

On May 12, 1997 community members gathered to dedicate the Katharine Hepburn Garden in Dag Hammarskjöld Plaza. The naming pays tribute to her lifelong love of flowers and gardening and thanks Ms. Hepburn for her commitment to the park and the neighborhood. A wide variety of species were used in the border planting. The plant list included birch, dawn redwood, and dogwood trees; mountain laurel, witch hazel, viburnum, rhododendron, hydrangea, and abelia; as well as numerous perennials, groundcovers, and ferns.

Katharine Hepburn’s Brownies, recipe courtesy of the New York Times.

  • ½ cup cocoa
  • ½ cup butter (1 stick)
  • 2 eggs
  • 1 cup sugar
  • ¼ cup flour
  • 1 cup chopped or broken-up walnuts or pecans
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla
  •  Pinch of salt

Heat oven to 325 degrees.

Melt butter in saucepan with cocoa and stir until smooth. Remove from heat and allow to cool for a few minutes, then transfer to a large bowl. Whisk in eggs, one at a time. Stir in vanilla.

In a separate bowl, combine sugar, flour, nuts and salt. Add to the cocoa-butter mixture. Stir until just combined.

Pour into a greased 8 x 8-inch-square pan. Bake 30 to 35 minutes. Do not overbake; the brownies should be gooey. Let cool, then cut into bars.

This famous recipe makes a rich, gooey brownie as it only uses one-fourth cup of flour.

NORTHERN LIGHTS IN STYLE & COMFORT

Skip the Expedition – Enjoy the Comfort of a Private Tour and Lodge with a Glass-Fronted Sauna

The new five-day/four-night A Polar Night adventure takes you close to the North Pole with a private tour and stay in comfort and isolation at the Juva Cabin in Svalbard, Norway. Launched by specialist travel company Off the Map Travel, the exclusive program brings adventurous travelers in search of the Northern Lights to a remote area with 24-hour darkness and a complete absence of light pollution where chances to see the Aurora are strongest. Only accessible in the snow during the winter months, Juva Cabin is the most remote comfort-oriented tourist accommodation in Svalbard.

The secluded cabin is positioned strategically to deliver the best possible views of Svalbard’s wild, pristine scenery, and optimal viewing of the Aurora. Equipped with cushy beds, a fireplace, a Scandinavian-styled lounge room, kitchen, and a barrel-shaped standalone wood sauna, the Juva Cabin allows for comfort in an Arctic experience.

Customized by Aurora Experts

Designed by Off the Map Travel’s Aurora experts, A Polar Night takes travelers to a remote location marked by a dark, clear sky. Optimizing the possibility of witnessing the colorful Northern Lights, the program offers guests a comfortable experience, different from that of a traditional Arctic expedition. Beginning in Oslo, the program travels North to Svalbard, an archipelago between mainland Norway and the North Pole.

“To have the best chance of seeing the Northern Lights you need a polar sky. Where the sun never rises, going as far north as possible, there’s greater possibility of viewing the brilliant colors,” noted Jonny Cooper, founder of Off the Map Travel.

Priced from £2699 ($3252.54 USD per person at the time of this writing), based on two people travelling, the program is available from January to May and includes all meals, one night’s lodging in Oslo’s boutique Amerikalinjen Hotel, two night’s lodging in Funken Lodge in Longyearbyen, one night in Juva Cabin in Svalbard, transfers, and all activities. Flights are additional.

Program Summary

After a night in Oslo’s premier boutique hotel, the Arctic portion begins with a night at Funken Lodge, a luxury accommodation located in Longyearbyen, a small coal-mining town on Spitsbergen Island overlooking the Lars- and Longyear glaciers. The evening kicks off the Northern Lights search with a panoramic ice-and-snow filled tour on a snowcat.

From Funken Lodge, guests meet a dog sled team that will take them to the Juva Cabin in Svalbard. Once there, guests can cozy up by the fire or head to the barrel-shaped, glass-fronted sauna which offers panoramic views of the mountains.

Following breakfast, guests will mush their way back to the dog kennels before returning for a final night at Funken Lodge and dinner at the lodge’s international-cuisine Funktionaermessen Restaurant. The restaurant’s onsite Champagne cellar is a special attraction.

As with any itinerary from Off the Map Travel, the program can be customized to fit the wishes and requirements of the guest.

For more information visit www.offthemap.travel, call 1-646-701-0041 or email info@offthemap.travel

Full itinerary

Day 1

Arrive in Oslo and make your way to the city center to your centrally located hotel, Amerikalinjen. Check into your superior room and get settled before heading out for dinner at one of the city’s many restaurants.

Day 2

Check out for your flight north to Svalbard. On arrival into Longyearbyen, you will meet your private transfer who will take you to the luxurious Scandinavian-designed Funken Lodge. Check in before heading out to explore the city. This evening you will head out on a panoramic snowcat tour to the viewpoint of ‘Linken’ on the side of the mountain ‘Hiorthfjellet’ on the other side of Adventdalen to take in the views of Longyearbyen.

Day 3

Today, after breakfast, you will meet your guide who will drive you to the kennels to meet your dog sled team. You will set off with the dogs and follow the riverbed that heads into Bolterdalen, surrounded by mountains. As you travel through the valley you will find a place to stop for lunch and after an enjoyable day behind the sleds, you will arrive at the new Juva Cabin in the heart of the wilderness, equipped with electricity, bedrooms, lounge room and kitchen. January offers the possibility of 24-hour Northern Lights searching. In February, March, April and May, the light is particularly magical, with limited hours of daylight. Unharness and feed the dogs, before enjoying your dinner in your comfortable cabin where you can relax and warm up in front of the fire. For more viewing in a warm, secure setting, the outside barrel-shaped sauna offers large glass windows facing the night sky.

Day 4

After breakfast, it’s time to get the dogs ready to head back to Longyearbyen. You will head west and mush your way into Helvetiadalen before you make your way back towards Bolterdalen. Relax in Longyearbyen prior to dinner at Funken Lodge’s own restaurant, or opt for a reservation at a town restaurant such as Huset.

Day 5 

Check out for your private transfer to the airport.

OFF THE MAP TRAVEL

The team at Off the Map Travel works with experiences and destinations that allow people to explore hidden wonders of our planet. Specializing in Soft Adventure OTMT creates tailor-made holiday itineraries offering authentic experiences not offered by many larger travel companies.  For more information on Off the Map Travel itineraries visit www.offthemap.travel; call 1-646-701-0041; email info@offthemap.travel  or join in the conversation on FacebookTwitterInstagramYouTube or Pinterest.

Bocuse d’Or in Lyon: Honoring the Legendary Paul Bocuse

On July 21, the Selection Committee presided by Jérôme Bocuse met to decide which countries in the Asia-Pacific region would qualify for the Grand Final of the Bocuse d’Or, a two-day biennial world chef championship. Named in honor of Paul Bocuse, the renowned chef and restauranteur who was the recipient of the coveted France’s prestigious “Meilleur Ouvrier de France,” the Bocuse d’Or is considered one of the most prestigious gastronomic competition in the world.

Held in Lyon, the home town of Bocuse, the next competition is scheduled for January 22 and 23, 2023 and is held during Sirha Lyon, the World Hospitality & Food Service trade show. Lyon, the capital city in the Auvergne-Rhône-Alpes region of France is nestled at the confluence of the Rhône and Saô rivers.

According to Inés Carrayrou of Monet+Associates Agency for the Bocuse d’Or Americas 2022, each team vying for a chance to participate in the Grand Final was required to submit a recipe based upon a main ingredient and make a presentation. 24 chefs will ultimately be selected and during the intense two-day competition will have just five hours and 35 minutes–and not a second longer–to prepare their dish which is then presented ‘à la française’ on a tray or platter. Each entry is exquisite and the winner recieves what the Bocuse d’Or website describes as “the most beautiful trophy in the world of gastronomy.”

5 TALENTED TEAMS JOIN THE WINNERS OF THE PREVIOUS 2022 SELECTIONS

The five winning countries are:

Australia – Alexander McInstosh
China – Nick Lin
Japan – Tomoyuki Ishii
New Zealand – William Mordido
South Korea – Hwang Byeong Hyen

The teams, the recipes as well as the theme plates they’ll be preparing will be announced this fall.

Listed below are the teams that qualified for the different continental selections.

Bocuse d’Or Europe 2022

1st: Denmark – Brian Mark Hanse
2nd: Hungary – Bence Dalnoki
3rd: Norway – Filip August Bendi
4th: Sweden – Jimmi Eriksson
5th: Iceland – Sigurjón Bragi Geirsson
6th: Finland – Johan Kurkela
7th: France – Naïs Pirollet
8th: United Kingdom – Ian Musgrave
9th: Switzerland – Christoph Hunziker
10th: Belgium – Sam Van Houcke

Bocuse d’Or Americas 2022

1st: USA – Jeffery Hayashi
2nd: Canada – Samuel Sirois
3rd: Chile – Ari Zúñiga
4th: Colombia – Carlos Pajaro
5th: Mexico – Marcelo Hisaki

Paul Bocuse was the incarnation of French cuisine,”  said then-French President Emmanuel Macron in 2018 when Bocuse passed away in Collonges-au-Mont-d’Or, in Lyon, where he was born and operated his main restaurant. Bocuse, credited with changing French cuisine with the introduction of nouvelle cuisine, a lighter, fresher approach to the classic cookery of France.

At the time of his death, Bocuse’s restaurant, L’Auberge du Pont de Collonges, had retained three Michelin stars since 1965, which according to The Washington Post, was “one of the longest runs in Michelin history.

Below is one of his famed recipes.

Paul Bocuse’s Apple Tarte Tatin

Shortcrust Pastry

Caramel

Tart

Melt the butter in a double-boiler, stirring it with a whisk. Let cool for a few seconds. Add the salt and mix. Add the confectioners’ sugar. Mix. Add the flour in a steady stream, while continuing to mix. Once the dough begins to come together, take out the whisk and continue to mix with a spatula. Work in the baking powder.

Break the egg into a ramekin, beat it with a fork, then pour it into the dough. Mix it until the dough comes together into a ball. Flatten it slightly, put it on a plate, and leave it to rest in the refrigerator for 1 hour.

If you prepare the dough the day before, remember to take it out of the refrigerator a bit before you want to use it, so that it is not too hard.

You can also make the caramel several hours in advance. There is no need to reheat it before arranging the apples.

Step 2: Caramel

Heat the sugar over high heat in a saucepan. When the sugar has turned a nice, golden color and is beginning to foam, mix it with a wooden spoon. Add the butter. Mix until the butter is melted.

To make a successful caramel, wipe the pan out carefully before starting the process. Move it around during the cooking of the sugar, but do not use any utensils.

The caramel should have a good color without becoming at all brown. Allow 3 to 4 minutes or so.

Pour the caramel into a 8-inch (20-cm) metal baking dish. Split the vanilla pod in two without separating the two halves. Put it into the pan, right in the middle, to form a “V”.

Step 3: Tart

Preheat the oven to 325°F (160°C). Peel and core the apples. Cut them in half vertically. Arrange the apples, standing them upright in the pan. Fill in the center, and fill up any gaps.

It is important for the success of the tart that the apples are all the same thickness. Peel them immediately before cooking to make sure they do not oxidize when in contact with the air.

Place the pan in the bottom of the oven and cook for 1 hour. Check that the apples are cooked. Allow to rest for 10 minutes, then chill for 1 hour.

Preheat the oven to 400°F (200°C). Place the dough on parchment paper, and flour it lightly. Roll it out into a circle about 1/8-inch (3-mm) thick. Lay the lid of the dish upside down on the pastry, and cut the pastry out to the same interior dimensions as the lid. Cut away the excess.

Prick the surface of the dough all over, using a fork. Trim the greaseproof paper to within 1/2 inch (12 mm) of the edge of the dough. Slide the dough, on the paper, onto a baking tray. Bake for 10 minutes. Lay the cooked pastry on a cooling rack. Allow it to cool and harden.

It is always helpful to use parchment paper: there is no need to butter the pan, and the transfer of the pastry base is easy.

After 10 minutes of cooking, the pastry will still be soft. It hardens completely when cool. Handle it with care!

A few minutes before serving, gently warm a serving plate. Place the pastry disk over the apples. Unstick the apples by holding the pastry with one hand and turning the pan from all angles.

When the apples are unstuck from the bottom, turn out the tart. Lay the plate upside down over the pan, invert, and lift the pan away. The tart is ready to be devoured!

This recipe was originally published in “My Best Paul Bocuse” (Éditions Alain Ducasse). 

Road Trips & Recipes: Follow the magic to Dublin, Ohio

Special guest blogger Kathy Witt is back with another great road trip.

Legend holds that fairy doors are magical portals and, while humans can’t travel into this realm, they can at least find the tiny doors if they know where to look.

That place is Dublin, Ohio, home to the very first Irish Fairy Door Trail in the United States and a land of enchantment itself, from its picturesque historic downtown, where cheery gift, toy and sweet shops line bricked-paved streets, to the bustling blocks of Bridge Park – an entertainment wonderland with fun, games and gastronomy.

Dublin embraces its Irish through this experience and others, including the Celtic Cocktail Trail, a 19-stop libation celebration with an Irish twist. And it brings a touch of Brigadoon with its many waterfalls and water features, including Indian Run Falls, located minutes from downtown.

Play:

Boho 72 lets Irish fairy door finders know to come here to check off one of the 11 resident fairies on Dublin, OH’s Irish Fairy Door Trail. Photo: Kathy Witt

Following the Irish Fairy Door Trail (www.visitdublinohio.com/things-to-do/fairy-door-trail) is something-for-everyone fun and the perfect way to get acquainted with downtown Dublin. From high-energy North Market Bridge packed with local merchants, including a 75-year-old confectionery, to the quieter historic district with its locally owned shops, the trail meanders across the S-shaped suspension bridge spanning the Scioto River, past architecture both contemporary and centuries old and into the happy-go-lucky vibe of this community.

Decisions . . . Decisions . . . Winans Chocolates & Coffees presents a challenge to those on the Irish Fairy Door Trail. Photo: Kathy Witt

No purchase is necessary at any of the 11 trail stops, but you’ll want to bring your mad money anyway. Irresistible goodies await at Winans Chocolates & Coffees; Our Cupcakery and Johnson’s Real Ice Cream.

Candy Chef Carolyn Gasiorek hand-dips apples at Kilwin’s, a stop on the Irish Fairy Door Trail in Dublin, OH. Photo: Kathy Witt

Make sure to stop at Kilwin’s – where you can watch Candy Chef Carolyn Gasiorek hand-dip apples or shake sprinkles onto handmade chocolates; the Cheesecake Girl (a bonus trail stop); and Dublin Toy Emporium, where mom and former educator Enas Lanham has created a world of pure joy and imagination with plush puppets, science kits, books, puzzles, arts and crafts kits and more.

Find all 11 doors on the Dublin, OH Irish Fairy Door Trail and earn an official t-shirt from the Dublin Visitors Center. Photo: Visit Dublin, Ohio,
Enas Lanham, owner of Dublin Toy Emporium, rings up purchases by two Irish Fairy Door Trailblazers. Photo: Kathy Witt

Find the tiny fairy doors hidden among French macarons, boxes of chocolates and candles, clothing and tea towels, make note of the name of the resident fairy on your passport, available at the Dublin Visitor and Information Center (www.visitdublinohio.com), and earn an Irish Fairy Doors of Dublin t-shirt.

Stay:

With its separate bed, seating and workspace areas as well as mini-refrigerator, microwave and coffee maker, the SpringHill Suites by Marriott (www.visitdublinohio.com/hotels) is ideal for multigenerational family stays. Plus, it’s well located in the Bridge Park area with easy access to the Irish Fairy Door Trail and Celtic Cocktail Trail and the shops, restaurants and waterfalls of the surrounding area.

Reservations include complimentary buffet breakfast and free Wi-Fi and parking, among other amenities.

Can you find the Irish fairy door among all the merch at Extravagifts in Dublin, OH?
Photo: Kathy Witt

Eat:

Dublin revels in its Irish attitude through official “Irish Approved Businesses” that include numerous eateries, like the come-as-you-are Dublin Village Tavern (www.thedublinvillagetavern.com). This neighborhood pub is a favorite among locals and visitors alike for its congenial atmosphere, friendly waitstaff and full-on Irish dishes.

Begin with Hooley Eggs, a deep-fried delicacy featuring a hard-boiled egg wrapped in Irish sausage, then move onto braised beef shepherd’s pie, slow-cooked in Guinness and loaded with veggies piping hot beneath a mashed potato crust. The full bar stocks dozens of Irish whiskeys, plus Guinness and other Irish imports and craft beers on tap, wine, Irish coffee and specialty cocktails.

Treat:

Find all 11 doors on the Dublin, OH Irish Fairy Door Trail and earn an official t-shirt from the Dublin Visitors Center. Photo: Visit Dublin, Ohio

Finding fairy doors is hard work but Dublin has just the place to chill after checking off all the stops: Zoombezi Bay Waterpark (www.zoombezibay.columbuszoo.org). From thrill-ride slides to Tiny Tides – a heated-water playground for little ones – Mexican-style street tacos and ice cream to margarita and daiquiri bar, an afternoon here can be as crazy or lazy as you like. Adding appeal are shaded cabana rentals, furnished with chaise lounges and dining tables/chairs.

Event:

The Dublin Irish Festival (www.dublinirishfestival.org) takes place August 5-7, 2022, in the city’s Coffman Park. It is the largest three-day Irish festival in the world and features seven stages of entertainment with Irish musicians and dancers; storytelling, folklore, music and hands-on workshops; 100 vendors selling everything from kilts to jewelry to handmade instruments; and a menu of foodie options from traditional Irish fish and chips to festival faves to food trucks, pizza and more.

RECIPE

Tuck in for a true Irish experience at the neighborhood Dublin Village Tavern, a must-visit Irish pub dishing up shepherd’s pie, Irish egg rolls and an Irish Kettle Dinner.
Photo: Visit Dublin, Ohio
 

Shepherd’s Pie

Dublin Irish Tavern (www.thedublinvillagetavern.com)

This dish was concocted in the late 1700s/early 1800s by creative and frugal Irish housewives intent of finding a delicious way to use up their leftovers.

  • 2 lbs. chuck road, cubed
  • 4 carrots, medium dice
  • 3 medium yellow onions, medium dice
  • 4 ribs celery, medium dice
  • 1 C peas
  • 2 cloves fresh garlic, minced
  • 1 TBSP fresh rosemary, minced
  • 1 TBSP fresh thyme, minced
  • 1 1/3 C Guinness beer
  • 1/4 C Worcestershire sauce
  • 1 1/4 C beef stock
  • Prepared mashed potatoes
  • 2 TBSP panko bread crumbs
  • 2 TBSP grated parmesan

Place a large frying pan over high heat and add a thin layer of olive oil. Season the meat with salt and pepper and fry, stirring, in two or three batches, until nicely browned. Once cooked, place meat in colander to drain off the fat.

Place pan back over medium-high heat and add a little olive oil. When hot, fry the onion, celery, garlic and thyme, for 8-10 minutes, until soft and golden. Add the browned meat, peas and carrots. Stir constantly for 4-5 minutes.

Add the Guinness and Worcestershire sauce and boil until the liquid has reduced by half. Pour in the stock and return to boil. Turn the heat down and simmer for 20-25 minutes, by which time the mixture should thicken. Continue to simmer for another 5-10 minutes if it doesn’t seem quite thick enough. 

Preheat the oven to 350°F.

Spoon mixture into casserole dish. Spread mashed potato on top of meat. Top with panko breadcrumbs and parmesan. Bake for approximately 30 minutes or until bubbly and golden brown.

Kathy Witt is an award-winning travel and lifestyle writer who writes a monthly syndicated travel column for Tribune News Service, is a regular contributor to Kentucky Living, Georgia and Travel Goods magazines and RealFoodTraveler.com as well as other outlets like County. She is the author of several books, including Cincinnati Scavenger (Fall 2022) Secret Cincinnati and The Secret of the Belles, and is working on another travel-themed book for Fall 2023 release. Kathy is a member of SATW (Society of American Travel Writers), Authors Guild and the Society of Children’s Book Writers and Illustrators.Kathy has a new interactive Cincinnati-themed book arriving summer 2022!

Supper Clubs: An American Experience

Neon lights. Big cars with rich men and beautiful dames. Martinis and music. Relish trays and super-sized steaks. Tucked away on country roads—perfect for bootleggers to deliver their goods in the dark of night or on the streets of big cities where midnight deliveries are no problem.

These are the supper clubs of old and while these vestiges of a glamorous past maybe somewhat different now, author Ron Faiola chronicles it all in his series of book, including the most recent, “The Wisconsin Supper Clubs Story: An Illustrated History, with Relish” (Agate Midway 2021; $26.66). His other two books, “Wisconsin Supper Clubs: An Old Fashioned Experience” and “Wisconsin Supper Clubs: Another Round” as well as his movie, Wisconsin Supper Clubs: An Old Fashioned Experience makes Faiola a supper club expert. His books, which make for great reading, are also perfect as guidebooks, taking us on a round of supper clubs still in business.

In his latest book, Faiola, a native of Wisconsin a state that seems to have the most of supper clubs of any state, went deep into their history and along the way dispelled at least one major legend—that the first American supper club was established in the 1920s in Beverly Hills, California by Milwaukee native Lawrence Frank.

 “It always bothered me because it named the guy, but not the supper club,” said Faiola.  “And why Beverly Hills and not New York City or even Wisconsin?  Once I delved into the Frank family history, I had my answers which became chapter one in the book.”

There was another legend to question as well. Faiola has visited close to 150 of the places. But there was a guy named Al (last name Capone) who seemed to have visited even more—at least according to claims by owners. Faiola demolished that one as well.

Join us in a conversation with Faiola.

The resurgence of supper clubs has been going on for several years.  It first began when my documentary, Wisconsin Supper Clubs – An Old Fashioned Experience,” was released in 2011. 

Additionally, once the first book–“Wisconsin Supper Clubs: An Old Fashioned Experience” was released, instead of sitting on a coffee table, people brought their copies along on trips to supper clubs and had the owners and staff sign their pages. They’d put menus and make notes about the drinks and food that they had. That snowballed as more people saw what others were doing.  It was fun for them and the supper club owners loved the attention.  I’ve heard from so many owners about the number of books they’ve signed.  They’re very proud of that.  

More recently, when all restaurants closed as the pandemic started, people thought they were going to lose their favorite supper clubs.  Once clubs started reopening, even just for take-out orders, customers were very supportive.  As clubs fully reopened, diners returned in droves in the summer of 2020 and even more so during 2021.  I’ve seen photos on social media of people standing in line waiting to get into supper clubs.  Last summer the wait for a table at Ishnala was three to four hours and yet people were cheerfully tailgating in the parking lot!  The great return to the Restaurants of Yesteryear has not only drawn more people to the clubs, but there is now a wide range of supper club souvenirs: glasses, apparel, posters, and even more books.  

Can you share a story or two about discoveries that most surprised you?

One of the things that surprised me the most was that the price of food was about the same as today when adjusted for inflation.  I tell people to multiply the menu prices they see in the book by 10, so those $3.95 T-bone steaks and 60¢ old fashioneds in 1950 would be about $39.50 and $6.00 today.

If readers wanted to take a road trip and visit some of your favorites that are still in business, which ones would you suggest?

Start by going to some of the supper clubs that are a little below the radar – Roepke’s Supper Club in Chilton, Pinewood Supper Club in Mosinee, The 615 Club or The Butterfly Club in Beloit or The Duck Inn in Delavan.  Then hit the more well-known clubs: Ishnala or the Del-Bar in the Wisconsin Dells, HobNob in Racine overlooking Lake Michigan, Five O’Clock Steakhouse in Milwaukee and The Buckhorn Supper Club in Milton with a great view of Lake Koshkonong.

Do you have a favorite supper club dish? Besides, the relish tray that is?

I enjoy a nice medium rare cut of prime rib, or a New York Strip, but one of my favorites that is only found in the southern part of Wisconsin is Shrimp de Jonghe.  It’s a Chicago recipe and is basically a garlicky, buttery shrimp casserole.  

How did you get interested in supper clubs?

I’ve always enjoyed going to supper clubs my whole life, whether it was around where I lived in the Milwaukee suburbs, or up north when I’d go fishing with my grandfather.  I got the idea to do the movie when I was working on a fish fry documentary–Fish Fry Night Milwaukee, 2009–and I was looking for a supper club fish fry to put in the movie.  I realized no one had documented supper clubs and there needed to be a light shined on that tradition.  I went on the road to visit 14 clubs in 2010 and the documentary aired on Milwaukee PBS in 2011 and was licensed to PBS stations nationwide for several years.

Anything else you’d like readers to know?

I’m going to be busy visiting even more supper clubs this summer (hint hint).   

Photo credits: Hoffman House courtesy of Bob Prosser. The El Dorado photo and the Ray Bussler photo are Photo courtesy Ron Faiola

By the Mountains or the Sea: Three Great Luxury Resorts

Go beyond generic and experience the unique with stays at one or more of three distinctive Spire Hospitality properties: The Leta in Santa Barbara, CA, Topnotch Resort in Vermont and High Peaks Resort in Lake Placid New York. 

The Leta

If your idea of the ultimate Southern California retreat is longboards, poolside cocktails and coastal cuisine, we’ve got the place for you. The Leta is the kind of place with the ultimate Golden State of Mind/California Living attitude. So chill and enjoy the California groovy touches such as the surf-inspired décor, and eclectic accommodations, live music scene and VNYL record shop.

Ideally located, 158-room resort is prized for its cool, hip, carefree Californian personality along with it’s artful, quirky, unexpected, open and soulful chemistry. Local art, music, food and wine are at home here and the hotel boasts 6,000 square feet of meeting space welcoming locals and out of town guests alike for one-of-a-kind meetings and events.

Designed with an easygoing, California-cool aesthetic, The Leta’s artful guest rooms and suites channel the radiant spirit of SoCal featuring earthy, eccentric textures and fabrics with a nod to surf-culture nostalgia. This charming beach chic hotel in Goleta also welcomes pets. 

High Peaks Resort

High Peaks Resort in the heart of Lake Placid is the perfect home base for exploring the Adirondacks. Guests can choose from three unique lodging experiences overlooking Mirror Lake and the Adirondack mountains: The Resort, a traditional hotel featuring 105 newly renovated guest rooms; the modern retro-vibe Lake House with 44 guest rooms; and the private and serene Waterfront Collection, featuring 28 guest rooms including 10 suites on the shores of Mirror Lake. 

Amenities available to all guests include two indoor and two outdoor heated pools, an indoor Jacuzzi, an on-site fully equipped fitness center, the Spa & Salon at High Peaks Resort, and Dancing Bears Restaurant, consistently ranked one of the top restaurants in Lake Placid.

Guests also enjoy private access to Mirror Lake with complimentary use of kayaks, paddle boats and stand-up paddleboards, special activities such as yoga at the waterfront and birds of prey demonstrations, an outdoor barbecue, a fire pit (with complimentary s’mores), lawn games, sweeping views of the Adirondack mountains and close proximity to the region’s top attractions and activities such as the Lake Placid Olympic Sites, Whiteface Mountain, The Wild Center in Tupper Lake, High Falls Gorge, Ausable Chasm, and numerous hiking trails, kayaking, boating and more in the Adirondack Park.

High Peaks Resort is also within walking distance to shopping, dining and entertainment in downtown Lake Placid. Dogs are welcome, with special canine-friendly treats and amenities. 

Topnotch Resort

The AAA Four-Diamond Topnotch Resort is a glorious place to stay. Set on 120 acres of woodland at the foot of Mount Mansfield, it’s located between historic and charming Stowe village and Stowe Mountain Resort as well as within 35 miles of four other popular ski resorts: Smuggler’s Notch, Sugar Bush, Mad River Glen and Bolton Valley. Topnotch includes 68 guest rooms and 17 two- and three-bedroom resort homes that allow for a private and very socially distant experience. 

Guests enjoy Vermont fresh farm-to-table dining at The Roost, the Topnotch Tennis Academy (ranked one of the top 10 tennis resorts in the country offering more than 30 programs for all ages and levels of play on six seasons outdoor and four indoor hard courts), the 35,000 square foot award-winning Topnotch Spa, three indoor and outdoor heated pools, indoor and outdoor Jacuzzis, the Equestrian Center at Topnotch (offering English and Western trail rides, private and group horseback riding, carriage rides and sleigh rides), Mountain Ops Outdoor Gear (an on-property outfitter which can arrange and outfit for any activity year-round, including mountain biking, hiking, kayaking and fishing in the summer), outdoor fire pits with s’mores kits, shuffleboard and other games, specialty cocktails, access to the Stowe Recreation Path and more.

Dog friendly, Topnotch provides Fido with the finer things a canine deserves such as dog beds, CBD treats and special canine-friendly turndown service and spa treatments. Just a short drive from Topnotch, Stowe Village is worth the trip. Peruse the many locally owned shops (a personal favorite is Laughing Moon Chocolates) and art galleries, check out the locally sourced offerings at village restaurants, admire the 18th and 19th century architecture, explore the outdoors in a variety of ways such hot air balloon rides and kayaking, and take in a show at the Spruce Peak Performing Arts Center

About Spire Hospitality

Spire Hospitality, led by CEO Chris Russell, is a third-party operator of 7,033 room keys and over 350,000 square feet of meeting space across 20 states. The Spire portfolio, with a focus on large, full-service hotels, includes unique independent properties and premier branded assets across Hilton Hotels & Resorts (HLT), Marriott International (MAR) and InterContinental Hotels Group (IHG), including 29 hotels and resorts. Spire Hospitality offers expertise in all facets of hospitality management and is committed to preserving, protecting and enhancing the value of hotel real estate. www.spirehotels.com.