The top 10 reasons to city-break in Cork this autumn

With its warrens of narrow streets, vibrant spirit and warm welcome, Cork is the perfect city break destination for when the nights are drawing in.

Here are 10 reasons why you should be in this historic city as the seasons switch.

1. Food worth travelling for

Thanks to an abundance of high-quality local producers and a profusion of creative and passionate chefs, Cork has a deserving reputation as Ireland’s food capital. Whether you’re browsing the overflowing stalls at the famous and centuries-old English Market or sampling dishes at the city’s amazing restaurants, pubs and cafés, great food will always be on the menu.

2. And all that jazz

Having hosted jazz greats such as Ella Fitzgerald, Oscar Peterson and Mel Tormé throughout its long history, the lively Cork Jazz Festival pulls in thousands of music fans every October. Sponsored by Guinness and with events taking place in pubs and venues all across Cork, the city will be buzzing once again this autumn with groundbreaking music, fun and charm from 27 – 30 October.

3. Titanic tales

One of the most popular day trips from Cork city is to the town of Cobh, a beautiful Irish seaport with a bittersweet history. Once the main point of emigration from Ireland, Cobh was the Titanic’s last port of call before she sailed onwards to her fate. The story is told magnificently at the Titanic Experience located in the old White Star Line offices on the seafront.

4. Epic Cork City Gaol

Cork City Gaol ( museum), Cork, Ireland

Experience life in the nineteenth and early twentieth century at Cork City Gaol, a museum that offers a unique insight into the city’s history, both inside and outside of the prison walls. Take a trip back in time and wander through the wings of the gaol, accompanied by the shuffling feet of inmates and the jingle of the warders’ keys.

5. City sight-seeing

You can easily explore Cork on foot, but it’s worth checking out one of the excellent, locally led tours to find out what really makes Ireland’s second city tick. Cork City Walks are full of history and folklore, or you can jump on an open-top double-decker bus and see the sights with Cork City Tours.

6. Art galleries galore

Crawford Art Gallery

As a former European Capital of Culture, Cork is packed with museums, galleries, theatres, music and dance academies and more. You will find everything from opera to street art within the thriving art and culture scene, with the Crawford Art Gallery, the Glucksman Gallery and the Lavit Gallery among the best visual art spaces to make a beeline for.

Cobh, County Cork

 

7. The Wild Atlantic Way

One of the best sections of the 2,500km Wild Atlantic Way route starts – or ends – in Kinsale, just half an hour away from Cork city. This makes the city the perfect jumping-off point for exploring the breath-taking scenery and remote peninsulas of West Cork.

8. Ring the Shandon Bells

A visit to Cork isn’t complete without climbing to the belfry of the eighteenth-century St Anne’s Church to ring the world-famous Shandon Bells. There are 135 steps to reach the viewing balcony, but the reward is fantastic panoramic views over the city and surrounding countryside.

Old_Cork_Waterworks_Experience_Entrance

9. Fitzgerald Park

For a gorgeous feel of autumn foliage in Cork, head down to Fitzgerald Park on the banks of the River Lee. Home to Cork Public Museum, the Sky Garden, a series of sculptures, cafés, walks and more, the park offers a quiet retreat from the hustle and bustle of the city.

10. You can kiss the Blarney Stone

The world-famous Blarney Castle, home of the iconic Blarney Stone, is one of Ireland’s top attractions and is located just ten minutes from Cork city. Legend has it that kissing the Blarney Stone will give you the ‘gift of the gab’ – as in great eloquence or persuasiveness. A great reason to go!
 
www.ireland.com

Straight Bourbon: Distilling the Industry’s Heritage

“Bourbon is a legacy of blue grass, water and Kentucky limestone,” Carol Peachee tells me when I ask what makes Kentucky bourbon so prized.

Limestone? Water? Bluegrass? What’s that have to do with fine bourbon?

Turns out it’s quite simple. According to Peachee, the limestone filters the iron out of the water as it flows through the rock, producing a sweet-tasting mineral water perfect for making the greatest tasting liquor. Limestone, with its heavy calcium deposits, also is credited with the lush blue grass the state’s prize-winning horses gaze upon — making their bones strong.

It’s been a long time since I took geology in college, but I do like the taste of good bourbon and the sight of stately horses grazing in beautiful pastures and the more I can learn about it all, the better. Which is why I love Peachee’s entrancing photographs.

Carol Peachee

I first met Peachee, an award-winning professional photographer, when she was autographing copies of her latest book, Straight Bourbon: Distilling the Industry’s Heritage (Indiana University Press 2017; $28). Creating beauty as well as a sense of yearning, her books, including The Birth of Bourbon: A Photographic Tour of Early Distilleries, take us on a wanderlust journey of lost distilleries and those now re-emerging from the wreckage of Prohibition. At one time, Kentucky had over two hundred commercial distilleries, but only sixty-one reopened after the repeal of Prohibition in 1933. Now, as Kentucky bourbon becomes a driving force throughout the world, once barely remembered and long closed distilleries are being restored and revamped and are opening again for business.

Using a photographic technique known as high-dynamic-range imaging ― a process that produces rich saturation, intensely clarified details, and a full spectrum of light ― Peachee hauntingly showcases the vibrancy still lingering in artifacts such as antique tools, worn cypress fermenting tubs, ornate copper stills some turning slightly green with oxidation and age, gears and levers —things we would never typically think of as lovely and compelling.

Traveling with the Book

Keeping copies of her books in my car when I travel to Kentucky, I love visiting some of the places and sites she’s photographed.

Her passion for bourbon may also have come about, in part, because she lives in Lexington, Kentucky which is rich in the history of bourbon making (and, we should say, sipping).

To get a taste of how bourbon connects to the land, when in Lexington, Peachee suggests a stop at the Barrel House Distilling Co. including the Elkhorn Tavern located in the old James B. Pepper barrel plant. It’s part of Lexington’s happening Distillery District. But fine bourbon doesn’t just stop in Lexington.

“There are so many bourbon distilleries now,” she says, noting that the heritage of good bourbon making is more than the equipment and the water.

“The cultural heritage of distilling also lays in the human culture,” she writes in the Acknowledgements section of her latest book, “the people who learned the crafts of milling, copper welding and design, barrel making and warehouse construction and then passed them on through the generations down to today’s workers and owners.”

And now Peachee has passed them down to us so we can fully appreciate the art of distilling

Town Branch Bourbon Bramble

  • 2oz Bourbon
  • 3/4oz Fresh squeeze lemons
  • 3/4oz Simple syrup
  • 5 Fresh blackberries muddled

Shake with ice, strain and pour over fresh ice in rock glass with blackberry garnish.

Town Branch Bourbon Mint Julep

  • 2 oz Bourbon
  • 8 mint leaves
  • 1/4oz simple syrup
  • Dash of bitters

Muddle ingredients.

Add crushed ice with mint garnish and straw.

The above recipes are courtesy of the Lexington Brewing & Distilling Company.

Explore What’s New and Cool Now in the San Juan Islands

Where else can you celebrate the birth–the first in more than a decade–of a new Orca calf, dine at a Roman restaurant, journey to islands accessible only by ferry, attend a re-enactment of the Pig War Crisis, try the latest IPA from the only brewery in the San Juan Islands, taste the newest sparkling wine in a limited release from an island winery, and listen to a podcast by the creator of San Juan Sea Salt? I can’t think of any place by the enchanting San Juan Islands,

The romantic sounds of the ferries beckon as make their way across the waters, carrying passengers from the mainland to Lopez, San Juan, and Orcas, three of the archipelago of 172 named islands and reefs in San Juan County. Located off the coast of Washington State, four ferry service the most populous Islands: San Juan Island home to Friday Harbor, the county seat Friday Harbor, Orcas Island, Lopez Island and Shaw Island. These three offer the majority of lodging and dining options and tourism activities. 

A New K…K…Killer Whale

For the first time in more than a decade, there’s a new calf in the endangered orca group known as K Pod. Recently the Center for Whale Research (CWR) field biologist Mark Malleson and his colleagues confirmed that K20 ‘Spock’ was traveling with a new calf, after previously receiving video and photographs of a possible new calf earlier this year (April and June). These captured images of K20 with her new baby traveling in a tight group with other family members.  K45 is the first calf born into K Pod since 2011 when K27 ‘Deadhead’ gave birth to K44 ‘Ripple’ (male). The mother, K20 (born 1986), is part of the K13 matriline and has two siblings, K27 ‘Deadhead’ (female, born 1994) and K34 ‘Cali’ (male, born 2001). Spock is also the mother to K38 ‘Comet’ (male, born in 2004).

On the Food and Restaurant Front

Aloha to the Orcas Hotel

Owner and Chef John Cox, with wife Julia Felder, have opened a new restaurant at the landmark Orcas Hotel. Norbu’s joins the classic Orcas Café with a Hawaiian-inspired menu featuring fresh, tropical flavors using the best ingredients, including tuna direct from the Honolulu Fish Auction and a wide selection of rare rums and spirits. Norbu’s is open for dinner service on Friday, Saturday and Sunday, as well as for a special Jazz Supper Club on Monday evening. For more information, contact John Cox orcascafe@gmail.com or visit www.orcashotel.com/eat-and-drink

Roman Orcas

Roses Bakery Cafe, in the old fire station building on Prune Alley, was a longtime Orcas Island landmark. It was sold in late 2021, and has been reimagined as Monti, a Roman-inspired restaurant, market, and wine shop. Monti, which is named for a neighborhood in Rome, uses both handmade and dry pasta and offers authentic antipasti, pasta dishes, pizza and more as well as desserts made in house by Brea Currey of Seabird Bakery. The menu features a few changes each week and is influenced by owner Erin Gainey’s deep attachment to Rome, where she lived for periods of time in her youth. Monti is open Friday through Tuesday from 5 to 10 p.m. Reservations can be made at www.montimontimonti.com.   

New Chef for New Leaf

Chef Andrew Martin and his wife, executive pastry chef Amy Nack, have been visiting Orcas Island for fifteen years. While their son attended Camp Orkila every summer, Andrew and Amy explored the island, falling more in love with it every year. When the executive chef position opened up at New Leaf Café, despite the uncertainty of COVID, Chef Andrew leapt at the chance. At New Leaf, he’s putting a regional spin on his specialty of Northern Italian cuisine, balancing flavors and textures, and incorporating local ingredients for a delicious brunch menu. One new item is a much talked about Bacon, Lettuce and Avocado sandwich on hearth bread, served with a smoked tomato jam instead of sliced tomato which gives it a sweet savory bite. For more information, contact Ayn Gailey ayngailey@gmail.com or visit www.outlookinn.com/newleaf

Events & Exhibits

A Porcine Sesquicentennial

2022 marks the 150th anniversary of what is known as the “Pig War” crisis – a little-known international dispute that shaped Washington State and our country. To celebrate this anniversary, park rangers are bringing back Encampment in August – a weeklong series of reenactments, demonstrations, and other fun activities with more than 50 costumed historical interpreters who will give visitors an opportunity to travel back to the 1800s. Demonstrations that will bring history to life include loom work, metalworking, fur trade, and what life was like for members of the military and their families. In the fall, the park will hold a formal commemoration of the 150th Anniversary of the San Juan Boundary Dispute Resolution. For event updates, contact Cyrus Forman cyrus_forman@nps.gov or visit www.nps.gov/sajh/index.htm

Bison Antiquus

Bison grazed in the meadows of Orcas Island 16,000 years ago. Human beings harvested, butchered and ate bison meat in a meadow near Olga 14,000 years ago. Some of the most complete skeletal remains of prehistoric bison ever discovered were unearthed in 2003 in an excavation in Olga. Archeological staff identified a large male bison, with the head almost completely intact, a smaller male, and one other. A new installation featuring the bison presence and the significance of these particular bones will become part of the museum’s permanent exhibit. “This discover helps validate Indigenous tales of antiquity,” says Antoinette Botsford, exhibit chair. For more information, contact Nancy Stillger director@orcasmuseums.org or visit www.orcasmuseums.org/home.html

New Products, Services, & Shops

New Layer at San Juan Brewing Company

Kulshan and San Juan Island Brewing Companies have teamed up to bring beer lovers Marine Layer Cold IPA; a crisp and clean beer with fruit forward hop aromas, a touch of soft pine, and a maritime finish. Right in time to help San Juan Island Brewing celebrate their fifth anniversary, it’s the perfect refreshment when that cold fog bubble bursts and the glorious summer sun returns to the Salish Sea.

The Marine Layer joins a lineup of award-winning beers like the Bull Kelp ESB, Black Boar Porter, and Quarry No. 9 Pale Ale. For more information, contact Sean Aylward sean@sanjuanbrew.com

Sparkling Sea Rows

The future of the San Juan archipelago is bright and sparkling. Sparkling wine, that is. An extremely limited release, local fruit was hand-harvested and fermented with little intervention to express the terroir of the islands in Archipelago’s 2021 Sea Rows Blanc de Noir. Stunningly aromatic, Sea Rows is the latest in a lineup of pet-nats that push the boundaries in this, the fringe of all winemaking regions. 

Thirty-six cases were produced and are due to be released July 31. Archipelago specializes in sparkling wines made in the petillant-naturel style, with minimal intervention. For more information: Marti McConnell archipelago.beverage@gmail.com

For more information: www.whaleresearch.com/2022-37

A Recipe from the San Juan Islands Courtesy of Williams-Sonoma

Grilled Halibut with Maple Rock Farm Greens and a Verjus, White Truffle Vinaigrette

Serves 4

4 each, 6 oz. halibut fillets

8 oz. Maple Rock Farm salad greens

Verjus vinaigrette (recipe follows below)

  • 2 Tbs. melted butter
  • 2 Tbs. toasted pine nuts
  • 1 Tbs. chopped parsley
  • 4 cups prepared whipped potatoes or wild rice

Season the halibut with salt and pepper.

Over medium high heat, grill four to five minutes per side (or until your preferred doneness) and set aside.

Gently toss the salad greens in enough vinaigrette to coat the greens liberally.

Plate 1 cup of whipped potatoes or rice in the center of your dinner plate.

Place the dressed greens on the potatoes or rice.

Place the grilled halibut on the salad greens and brush with melted butter.

Garnish the plate with a circle of vinaigrette around the potatoes or rice.

Garnish the halibut with pine nuts and chopped parsley.

 Verjus, White Truffle Vinaigrette

  • 2 shallots
  • 2 cloves garlic
  • ½ cup local Mt. Baker Vineyards Verjus
  • 2 Tbs. white wine vinegar
  • 2 Tbs. Dijon mustard
  • 1 cup canola oil
  • 1 cup extra virgin olive oil
  • 1/4 cup white truffle oil
  • 4 Tbs. chopped parsley

Place all ingredients above into a blender and process until smooth.

Add salt and pepper to taste.

Road Trips, Reads & Recipes: No place like home at Beech Mountain, NC’s Land of Oz

Special guest blogger Kathy Witt, author of the soon to be released Cincinnati Scavenger: The Ultimate Search for Cincinnati’s Hidden Treasures, shared a new post.

Land of Oz offers spectacular views from its perch atop Beech Mountain. Photo: Kathy Witt

High atop Beech Mountain in North Carolina and hidden within the trees is the somewhere over the rainbow: the Land of Oz. It is as magical as the world L. Frank Baum created in his classic Oz book series that was brought to the screen in the 1939 Academy Award-winning movie. And it is where those looking for their heart’s desire find the Yellow Brick Road.

Professor Marvel has set up shop at the Land of Oz. Photo: Kathy Witt.

Play:

The Land of Oz opens only during its annual events, including Autumn in Oz (www.landofoznc.com/autumnatoz), a festival featuring an interactive theatrical experience, with performances by the beloved Scarecrow, Tin Woodman and Cowardly Lion and frights compliments of the Wicked Witch of the West and her band of Winged Monkeys.

The most famous pair of striped leggings in the world may be seen at the Beech Mountain History Museum. Photo: Kathy Witt

From the twister that rocks the Gale’s Kansas farmhouse to the Emerald City, visitors experience the story brought to life as the Yellow Brick Road unwinds through the site of the original 1970s theme park.

The Yellow Brick Road leads visitors to Munchkinland.

Autumn in Oz takes place over three weekends: September 9-11, 16-18 and 23-25, 2022. Admission tickets are $55 (www.showpass.com/o/land-of-oz-theme-park). Rounding out the fun are live performances, face painting, craft and memorabilia vendors and food and beverages for purchase. Add-on experiences: Scenic Lift Ride ($15), a round-trip chairlift ride to the park from Beech Mountain Ski Resort; and exclusive access to the Over the Rainbow Observation Deck ($6), for unparalleled views from the top of Beech Mountain on a site that has not been open to the public in more than 20 years.

“I’d turn back if I were you.” The Wicked Witch’s Castle at the Land of Oz. Photo: Kathy Witt

Stay:

The Klonteska Condominiums at 4 Seasons at Beech Mountain (www.beechgetaway.com) are homey and comfortable and have spectacular views of the mountains. Two-, three- and four-bedroom units feature private, covered balconies for taking in those views, plus gas-log fireplace, equipped kitchen and large whirlpool tub in the master bath. Located in downtown Beech Mountain, the condos are close to shops and restaurants, and a short and scenic drive to the Land of Oz.

Enjoy pizza, air hockey and more at Famous Brick Oven Pizzeria, located at the top of Beech Mountain. Photo: Kathy Witt

Eat: When it comes to restaurants, Beech Mountain is all about the local experience, from the always-bustling Famous Brick Oven Pizza with live music, arcade and air hockey to the cozy and iconic Alpen Restaurant & Bar, a traditional European inn.

Fred’s General Mercantile is a Beech Mountain staple and has been serving delicious food, groceries, and Beech Mountain apparel since 1979. Photo: Kathy Witt

Locals and visitors alike find Fred’s General Mercantile (www.fredsgeneral.com) irresistible and can while away a couple of pleasant hours browsing its shelves. The store was established by Fred Pfohl in 1979 when the original Land of Oz Theme Park was still open. Pfohl worked summers at Land of Oz while attending Appalachian State University. When he and his wife, Margie, decided to build the store, Jack Pentes, who designed the theme park, prepared the blueprints.

Glinda the Good Witch greets a visitor during Autumn in Oz. Photo: The Land of Oz

Visitors come to Fred’s for fresh produce, stuffed animals, clothing, hardware, ski gear rentals and more. They also come to enjoy made-to-order breakfasts – the Fred Muffin is a fan fave – at Fred’s Backside Deli, as well as hot and cold sandwiches, grilled burgers, soups, salads and other lunch fare and sweets including cakes, pies and cookies.

Treat:

The most famous pair of striped leggings in the world may be seen at the Beech Mountain History Museum. Photo: Kathy Witt

The Scarecrow is a fan favorite during the Land of Oz’s Autumn in Oz event. Photo: The Land of Oz.

Before heading to Autumn in Oz, stop in at the free-admission Beech Mountain History Museum (www.facebook.com/BeechMountainHistoricalSociety), a true jewel of a museum operated by Beech Mountain Historical Society volunteers. Inside is a diorama of the original Land of Oz Theme Park along with related memorabilia and the volunteer guides love to share the Oz chapter of Beech Mountain history. Also here is the definitive backstory of the park – Tim Hollis’ photo-rich book, The Land of Oz. Museum hours during Autumn in Oz are 10 a.m.-4 p.m. Thursday-Sunday.

Read:

The perfect souvenir of your visit to the Land of Oz? Author Tim Hollis’s book, The Land of Oz, available at the Beech Mountain History Museum.
Provided

Tim Hollis visited the Land of Oz on a rainy day in the summer of 1975, returned while working on his book, The Land of Oz, and then again for the book’s launch in 2016.

“The park is a unique opportunity to live through the plot of the movie,” he said.

Hollis also has a museum in his hometown of Dale, AL. Among the thousands of cartoon characters, board games, lunch boxes, Christmas and Halloween collectibles and more at the Tim Hollis Pop Culture Museum is “The Wizard of Oz” memorabilia: toys, games, coloring books, the 40 original Oz books written by Baum and his successors – even a smattering of park souvenirs. The free-admission museum is open by appointment only with 48-hour’s advance notice. Call 205-648-6110.

For more information, Autumn in Oz and Beech Mountain, visit Beech Mountain Visitors Center, www.beechmtn.com.

Ingredients

  • 9-inch pie crust
  • 1/2 C sugar
  • 1/2 C brown sugar
  • 1/2 C flour
  • 1 1/2 sticks of room temperature butter
  • 2 eggs
  • 1 C semi-sweet chocolate chips
  • 1 C walnuts

Instructions

In a large bowl, combine the first six ingredients and then fold in 1 cup of semi-sweet chocolate chips and 1 cup of walnuts.

Line a baking sheet with parchment paper and bake at 350-degrees until a toothpick comes out clean. (Fred’s motto is, “If you can smell it, it’s about done!”)

About Special Guest Blogger Kathy Witt

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, Her book, Perfect Day Kentucky: Daily Itineraries for the Discerning Traveler, another travel-themed book, will be released in Fall 2023.  Kathy is a member of SATW (Society of American Travel Writers), Authors Guild and the Society of Children’s Book Writers and Illustrators.

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.

Supper Clubs: An American Dining 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

Traveling Through Time: Down the Danube Narrows to Weltenburg Abbey

Weltenburg Abbey was more than four centuries old before the monks first began brewing ale—or at least ale worth noting–in 1050. Now vying for the title of the oldest monastic brewery in the world (Weihenstephan Abbey also claims the honor), they set their claim on maintaining the original brewing process. Like the beer, much is as it was remains at the Abbey, the somewhat plain exterior of the cathedral opens onto an elaborately ornate and gilded interior. Services are still held regularly, and monks still live and work on the premises. And just as abbeys were places for gatherings for a millennium and more, Weltenburg also remains a destination. Located 25 miles west of the charming Bavarian city of Regensburg, a UNESCO World Heritage City and just three miles from Kelheim, it is accessible by car. But I totally like immersing myself in history and my goal today is to replicate—as much as I can—the 1050 experience.

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Long Wall and St. Nepomuk

On the ferry from Kelheim, I watch as the boat’s wake cuts through waters reflecting the dark greens of dense woods and whites of limestone rocks of the Fränkische Alb mountains, some rising 300-feet high. Winds, water and time have carved caves and nooks in the limestone and in one of these crannies on an expansive stretch of stone called the Long Wall someone has tucked a statue of St. Nepomuk, the patron saint of water and bridges who was drowned when he refused to reveal the confessions made to him by the Queen of Bavaria. Her husband must have really wanted to know what she was up to.

The Danube Narrows

Today it will take 40 minutes to travel the Danube Narrows, an ancient waterway to and from Weltenburg Abbey or if you want to be really German about it, Weltenburger Klosterbrauerei, a sprawling complex of Baroque stone buildings surrounded by the lush rural beauty of Southern Bavaria.

There are times when the river is a lively place with small boats passing by and bicyclists and hikers making their way along the riverbank. Then suddenly, navigating a bend, it’s all calm waters and quiet.  I imagine this is how it was when pilgrims and tradesmen (and hopefully tradeswomen as well) came to the abbey to retreat from the world, rest or conduct business. It was a time when travel was mainly by water as roads barely existed and their trip would have taken much longer without our gas powered engines. But the sight they saw when making the final curve is much the same as today—Weltenburg’s blue tower roof and the washed pink walls.

Weltenburger Klosterbrauerei

The abbey sits on a bend of the river and in front is a small sandy beach and shallow waters where people play. It’s hot today—a heat wave is moving across Europe—and I envy them as the water looks cool and refreshing. But history calls and instead I move up the walk leading from the dock to the entrance already awed by the size and beauty of the place.

There are always hard choices and today I need to decide whether to tour first (there are self-guided and guided tours available) or take a seat in the sun at the biergarten, It appears that most people have chosen the latter and rather than wait for a table or sit inside the restaurant, I enter the church.

St. Georg Church

We’re talking seriously rococo inside, an overdrive of theatrical flourishes mixed with more Gothic elements. Paintings date back to the 1300s, a statue of the church’s namesake St. George or St. Georg as its spelled here, sculpted in smooth, sleek marble, rides his horse most likely on his way to slay the dragon. The main room, its ceiling 65-feet high, has alcoves off to the sides, each one just as ornate. It’s hard to take in everything at once, the artistry, pageantry and craftsmanship are so amazing.  Standing near a group tour, I hear phrases like “eight ionic columns, Weltenburg marble and gold fresco” and hurriedly write the words down as it helps sort out this wonderment of riches.

Bavarian Fare

Back outside, I spot an empty table and grab it. Addicted to German fare (yes, really), I order pigs’ knuckle known as schweinshaxe, schnitzel and even though I’m in Bavarian and not the Black Forest (hey, it’s nearby) the famous cake from that region. Of course, I need a glass of their Kloster Barock Dunkel—an almost black in color ale which is still made on site in a rock cave and then sent by pipeline to the monastery taps. Also available—to drink or take home, there is a gift store of course–are other brews and such medicinal spirits as their Weltenburg monastery bitters and liqueurs. And if you want to go full abbey, there’s their klosterkas and monastery sausage both based on ancient Weltenburg recipes.

Maybe I shouldn’t have eaten that last schnitzel and definitely not the cake. To assuage my conscience, I climb the mountain path as it winds past the Stations of the Cross. It’s steep but the gaps in the woods offer commanding views of the valley, abbey and gorge below. I briefly contemplate spending the night at the St. Georg Guest House to be able to walk the abbey grounds late at night when all the visitors are gone but I don’t have a reservation. Next time for sure.

The Oldest Wheat Beer Brewery in Bavaria

          Returning to Kelheim isn’t exactly like entering the 21st century. In the old town I wander the narrow streets snapping photos of perfectly maintained Medieval-era buildings just a short walk from the docks and on the way to where I parked my car, I let my friends talk me into stopping at Weisses Bauhaus Kelheim.

It’s a beautiful place, all wood, vaulted ceilings and archways leading from room to room. Outside we sit in, yes another beer garden, this one next to a small stream, and order a round of their wheat beer. Really, I had to since they’ve been brewing beer here since 1607, making the Weisses Brauhaus the oldest wheat beer brewery in Bavaria.

 

I’m not typically a beer lover but both the Kloster Barock Dunkel at the abbey and the TAP7 here, made from the original 1872 recipe, are robust and flavorful without bitterness or an overly hoppy taste. I’m driving so instead of more beer, I listen to the live music, enjoy the myriad of colorful blooms cascading from window boxes, baskets and containers and contemplate how I’ve spent the day moving through history and only now have reached the 17th century.

Making the Case for Macon

Macon, Georgia, which is just 90 minutes from Atlanta and 3.5 hours from both Birmingham and Chattanooga and four hours from Charleston and Jacksonville, is often an overlooked destination.  Located in the center to Georgia–or should we say the very heart and soul of the state–Macon is a fun-filled destination with both a fascinating history, an exciting present, and a bright future. Still need convincing? Here are four reasons among many to put Macon on your bucket list.

  • Makin’ Fun: Macon is the home of the Georgia Sports Hall of Fame, so sports-aholics can get their fix of every sport at every level of play. But for some what’s best about Macon’s athletic scene is that it’s home to the best-named baseball team in the whole game: the Macon Baco. Yes, really. That alone should prove that Macon is a fun place. As for the Macon Bacons, it’s part of a wood-bat collegiate summer league whose roster teams (pardon the pun) with top players from schools around the country. Not only does the team have a delicious name, but it also has a mascot that really sizzles: Kevin, a seven-foot-tall slice of bacon. Get it … Kevin Bacon? Our pal Kevin Bacon loves to dance particularly it’s one of the songs from the movie “Footloose.” A dancing strip of bacon imakes sense. After all Macon is a city that’s all about music. As an aside, the Bacons’ archrivals are the Savannah Bananas. We love that name but really, if it’s a contest between bacon and bananas, we’d choose bacon every time.
  • Makin’ Movies: The baseball team plays at historic Luther Williams Field, built in 1929 and recently refurbished. Even if you haven’t been to a game (yet), the field might look familiar to you because it’s starred on the screen in “The Bingo Long Traveling All Stars and Motor Kings,” a 1976 movie starring Billy Dee Williams; “The Trouble with the Curve,” a 2012 film featuring Clint Eastwood; “42,” the 2013 biopic about baseball legend Jackie Robinson; and the Hank Azaria TV comedy “Brockmire.” Macon is the site of plenty of movie-making, most recently welcoming an all-star cast that was in town filming the remake of “The Color Purple,” which is set for release in 2023. The film is being produced by Oprah Winfrey, Steven Spielberg and Quincy Jones. (As an aside, if our mention of Kevin Bacon above has you playing “Six Degrees of Kevin Bacon,” you might be interested in knowing that each of those producers has a Bacon Number of 2. The actor, we mean. Not the baseball mascot. The version wearing a frying pan as a cap is probably separated by a few additional degrees.)
  • Makin’ Music: This new version of “The Color Purple” is an adaptation of the Broadway musical, so Macon was the perfect location. This is a city with deep musical roots (fun fact: this is where the kazoo was invented, by a formerly enslaved man named Alabama Vest all the way back in 1840), and it lives up to its tagline, “Where Soul Lives.” It’s the hometown of Otis Redding, Little Richard and The Allman Brothers, all of whom left indelible marks on the place and its people. Today, visitors can learn more about Macon’s musical history by checking out live performances at an array of venues, visiting the Otis Redding Foundation Museum or the Allman Brothers Museum at the Big House, or taking a public or private Rock Candy Tour, which could focus on music alone or the delightful combo of music and food.
  • Makin’ Dinner: Macon has an incredible food scene, and some its top restaurants have ties to music. The Downtown Grill a fancy English steakhouse, is where Greg Allman proposed to Cher, but it’s H&H Soul Food where the band spent even more time … and then took its former owner, Mama Louise, on the road with them so they could have their favorite meals on the tour bus. Today you’ll find everything from upscale to down-home offerings, plus plenty of liquid refreshment to accompany all the amazing tastes.

Pro tip: For a great lunch option, hit The Rookery and order pretty much any sandwich or burger … and a milkshake chaser. We don’t think it’s a coincidence that many menu items feature bacon in a starring role. Because, as we know, it always comes back to bacon.

And there you have it … in just three degrees of separation from baseball to burger, Makin’ it in Macon is all about fun, food, sports, history, and so much more.

For more information or to begin planning a trip, start here

The Guardian: Restoring Hawaii’s ancient food forests

The Guardian: The farmers restoring Hawaii’s ancient food forests that once fed an island | Hawaii. https://www.theguardian.com/environment/2022/jun/17/hawaii-traditional-farming-methods-ancient-food-forests

Our community has been using their skills and creativity to pivot, fill food system gaps, and serve Hawaiʻi’s nutritional needs during this unprecedented time.

Through thoughtful interviews and photographic portraiture, we spotlight the necessity of a collective commitment needed to sustain our emerging system of resiliency, of a self-sufficient Hawaiʻi. From Feeding Hawai’i.

The Last of Howard Johnson’s

The loss of an American iconic restaurant and motel chain.:

HoJo’s no mo’: The last remnant of ‘the oranging of America’ has closed https://flip.it/l2.5Rk

It’s the End of an Era

Courtesy of New York Public Library.

With its signature orange roof, glistening pool with both high and low dives, restaurant with signature clam strips and 28 flavors of ice cream when nationwide chocolate, strawberry, and vanilla were typically all that was offered, Howard Johnson’s had it all.

Learn more about it in the book A History of Howard Johnson’s: How a Massachusetts Soda Fountain Became an American Icon (American Palate).