24 Great Places to Grab a Beer When Hiking in California’s Gold Country

Pull on your hiking boots, get out the trail maps, and pick out the perfect place for a beer. Afterall, our mantra is that the tastiest beer every is the one you quaff after a hike. And what better place to do so than in California’s gorgeous and historic Gold Country.

Known for its rolling hills dotted with forests and scenic vistas as well aits many artisan breweries, Placer County is an outdoor adventurer’s – and a beer lover’s – dream. With 30 miles of trails,

Hidden Falls Regional Park is a great stop for a leisurely hike before checking out the local breweries such as HillenbrandGoathouse and Dueling Dogs. Near the Auburn State Recreation Area, the 10.8-mile Quarry Trail will take you along the American River, surrounded by sheer limestone.

Then head to Moonraker Brewing for renowned lagers, IPAs, sours and hard seltzers. Also popular trail is the 4.5-mile Lake Clementine Trail, which passes under the highest bridge in California. Post hike, stop by Crooked Lane Brewing for their fruit infused beer such as their Fruited Sour with Raspberry, Tangerine, and Pineapple as well as Mandarin Pale Ale.

Photo: Erik Bergen, Placer County

While you’re at the Auburn State Rec Area, take the easy Olmstead Loop Trail that parallels historic Highway 49 near the town of Cool on one side and the American River Canyon on the other. The trail passes through rolling oak woodlands and includes canyon descents, climbs and water crossings, with elevations ranging from 1,350’ to 1,500’.

Three minutes away, Cool Beerwerks offers cold beer in warm environs with occasional live music. The Monte Vista Trail, located in El Dorado Hills near Folsom Lake, is a scenic three-mile loop that boasts various views, including the South Fork of the American River as it curves toward Folsom Lake. You may see wildflowers, green meadows, and birds depending on the time of year. Off Salmon Falls Road, the trailhead also accesses the Brown’s Ravine trail and New York Creek for a longer hike. Either way, a cold beer awaits just seven minutes away at Mraz Brewery.

Closer to Sacramento, many trails including the American River ParkwayLake Natoma Trail and Hidden Falls Regional Park offers trails for all levels of hiking experiences.After visiting these awesome trails, head on over to the Rancho Cordova Barrel District and experience six breweries (as well as local distilleries), including Burning Barrel Brewing Co.Claimstake Brewing CompanyFort Rock Brewing, LogOff BrewingMovement Brewing Company and hard kombucha brewer Shorebirds Brewing Company.   

In Calaveras County, after exploring the Arnold Rim Trail, go for a cold brew at the Watering Hole and or the Pour House in Murphys for an eclectic list of rotating local, regional and international craft brews

Finish your Gold Country Hike & Beer tour around Yosemite National Park. In the park, you can cap off a hike on virtually any trail with a cold one Mariposa’s own 1850 Restaurant and Brewery which has taps at The Mountain Room at the Yosemite Valley Lodge.

Outside of the park, 1850’s tap house in downtown Mariposa is a great spot to grab a burger and brew after a day at the park or a hike at Stockton Creek Preserve, which is just a three-minute drive away.  The Lewis Creek National Scenic Trail is a popular trailhead in the Oakhurst area and South Gate Brewing is a perfect place to grab a cold one after this four mile trek.

What’s New and Happening in Chicago – Winter/Spring 2023

The New Year brings a plethora of new opportunities to explore Chicago. Whether it’s the host of new, hot restaurants, haute shopping experiences, or high-energy, immersive shows and attractions,

it’s clear: the Best Big City in the U.S. (six years running!) isn’t resting on its laurels. In fact, it’s just getting started.

January signals the triumphant, sold-out comeback of First Bites Bash after a three-year hiatus. The all-inclusive January 19 event inside the iconic Field Museum kicks off the 16th annual Chicago Restaurant Week, celebrating the area’s acclaimed culinary scene across 17 days and more than 300 top restaurants. Restaurant Week includes special prix fixe menus ($25 for brunch or lunch and $42 and/or $59 for dinner).

These signature events are a great way to indulge in around-the-world delicacies without leaving the city. Immersion takes on a new form with Stage 773’s WHIM, a walk-thru experience inviting guests to partake in a whimsical night out inside a world where every art form comes together – paintings, music, sculpture, street art, and live performance – all by Chicago artists.

And, on the heels of Black History Month, Illinois Holocaust Museum & Education Center debuts The Negro Motorist Green Book, an exhibit dedicated to African American travel in the Jim Crow era.

February is well-known for being a month dedicated to and all about love, and this year, there’s no shortage of events to fall in love with.

This month marks the beginning of a bevy of bold performances at stages across the city, from Broadway in Chicago, the Belmont Theatre District and the Joffrey Ballet. And with the return of Chicago Theatre Week (now in its 11th year), that means these can’t miss live performances are available from February 16-26 for $30 or less!

The Chicago Auto Show, the largest auto show in North America, returning to McCormick Place Feb. 11-20. And throughout the month, raise a glass to great American writers at the American Writers Museum’s new Get Lit happy hour series.

Complete with the 60-plus-year tradition of dyeing of the Chicago River green, March makes a colorful point to the world that no city celebrates St. Patrick’s Day quite like we do. From the signature parade downtown to neighborhood-specific festivities, Irish history and culture run deep in neighborhoods like BeverlyAlbany Park, and Mt. Greenwood.

With so much in store this year, go ahead: Discover big-city culture, Midwestern hospitality, and urban adventure. Come explore the city that feels like home! Visit ChooseChicago.com for more information.

Please click here for the full list of What’s New in Chicago for Winter/Spring 2023: https://www.choosechicago.com/press-media/whats-new-in-chicago/whats-new-and-happening-in-chicago-winter-spring-2023/

Lone Mountain Ranch’s 11th Annual Authentic Wild West Rodeo Week

Dust off your boots and don your cowboy hat for a step back in time at Lone Mountain Ranch’s 11th annual authentic wild west PBR week. Taking place from July 17th – 23rd, 2023, the action-packed Touring Pro Division PBR week is Big Sky’s biggest week of the year, as the community events and fun winds up to a weekend of world-class bull riding.

Exclusively available to guests of Lone Mountain Ranch, this all-inclusive Rodeo Week Package offers guests authentic ranch lodging at this luxury historic Montana guest ranch with three meals a day at the farm-to-table Horn & Cantle restaurant, and special dinners around the ranch each night, including a barn party one night, and live Western music in the rustic saloon. Guests also receive tickets to the PBR events on Friday and Saturday nights, with VIP access to event seating, food, and drinks.

Lone Mountain Ranch guests who join the Rodeo Package enjoy a six-night ranch experience, and scheduled daytime activities including horseback rides, naturalist hikes, mountain biking, canoeing, paddleboarding, archery, fly-tying course, yoga, axe throwing, guided Yellowstone tours, high ropes course, history hikes, photography hikes, yoga, axe-throwing, and more. In addition to the scheduled activities, other exclusive events on property include an on-ranch professional Rodeo with PBR qualifiers, followed by an exciting concert.

Besides that, Lone Mountain makes it easy to get around the local Big Sky area with transfers to and from Bozeman Yellowstone International Airport, as well as in-person and text service from a personal Ranch Concierge for the optimum rustic experience during this year’s Rodeo Week.

2023 Rates:

July 17, 2023 – July 23, 2023: Adult, $1500* Child, $1200*

*Rates are per person per night, minimum occupancy applies per cabin

 *All package rates are subject to a 6% tax and a 15% Resort Fee (resort fee is taxed by 12%)

*6-night minimum

For reservations and availability call 406-995-4644 or email reservations@lonemountainranch.com

About Lone Mountain Resort

Celebrating more than a century as a symbol of the American West, Lone Mountain Resort was around during the early days of Yellowstone Park, the formation of the town of Big Sky, the evolution of ranching and logging in the Northern Rockies and the preservation of this magnificent wilderness.

Ever since it was homesteaded in 1915, Lone Mountain Resort’s story practiced real Western-style hospitality, welcoming to all. This is truly the Old West and for those staying at Lone Mountain Resort, it’s like turning the clock back more than century.

We call it the Real Montana and you’ll see what we mean when you arrive.

See the Movie; Book the Trip: Film Destinations Are In

Special guest blogger Michal Laszuk has done an amazing amount of research to put together this fantastic coop on film tourism. Take a look at his post and for more info on Michal, see below.

We’ve all fallen in love with a TV show or movie at least once.  

Whether it’s Harry Potter, The Walking Dead, or Breaking Bad, there’s something about getting sucked into a good story that makes you feel warm and fuzzy inside.

But—

Did you ever consider traveling to a place you saw on Netflix?

If so, you aren’t alone.

That’s because film tourism (also known as film-induced tourism, screen tourism, and set-jetting) has been all the rave lately, with more and more people planning vacations around their beloved shows and movies. 

So at PhotoAiD, we’ve decided to reach out to 1,000+ Americans to unpack their experiences with this phenomenon, their attitudes toward it, and much more.

Let’s dive right in:

Key Takeaways

  • 96% of Americans have visited places associated with their favorite television shows or movies at least once in their lifetime.
  • 78% of travelers are likely or very likely to opt for TV- or movie-themed trips in 2023 and beyond.
  • The most common reason to engage in film tourism (35%) is to enjoy an immersive experience that lets you live out shows’ or movies’ storylines and follow in the footsteps of famous characters.
  • Lodging is the most frequently mentioned film tourism expense (60%), followed by transportation (53%) and sightseeing (50%).
  • Globally, the UK and Ireland are the most desirable screen tourism destinations owing to the success of Harry Potter.
  • Thanks to the Jurassic Park franchise, Hawaii was picked as the US’ most desirable film tourism destination, according to 31% of respondents.
  • 68% of Americans have a negative or very negative attitude toward fellow travelers striking irreverent poses or otherwise misbehaving when visiting the sites of actual tragic events depicted in shows or movies.

Film Tourism Is Gaining Momentum

For starters, we wanted to gauge the popularity of film tourism in the US at the end of 2022.

It turns out 96% of Americans have visited places associated with their favorite television shows or movies. This includes locations and destinations, popular due to their appearance on TV or themed sites built upon the fictional world.

Wow.

Although we expected the number to be high, we had no idea it’d be THAT high. 

It may be because we’re watching more TV than ever before, with the average person likely to stream 437 hours of content in 2023 (=18 full days).

Film Tourism is Gaining Momemtum

Here’s also a look at the extent to which respondents’ favorite movie or show was a reason to visit a particular spot:

For starters, we wanted to gauge the popularity of film tourism in the US at the end of 2022.

It turns out 96% of Americans have visited places associated with their favorite television shows or movies. This includes locations and destinations, popular due to their appearance on TV or themed sites built upon the fictional world.

Wow!

Although we expected the number to be high, we had no idea it’d be THAT high. 

It may be because we’re watching more TV than ever before, with the average person likely to stream 437 hours of content in 2023 (=18 full days).

Here’s also a look at the extent to which respondents’ favorite movie or show was a reason to visit a particular spot:

It was the main reason44%
It had some influence39%
It had no influence17%

At this point, we also decided to ask survey takers to rate their most recent screen tourism experience.

So—

About four in 10 Americans (42%) consider it positive, and 31% describe it as very positive. As a follow-up, we asked respondents how likely they are to pick one of their next vacation destinations based on their favorite TV show or movie in 2023 and beyond.

The results are in:

Likely45%
Very likely33%
Neutral16%
Very unlikely5%
Unlikely2%

As you can see, 78% of Americans are likely or very likely to opt for TV- or movie-themed trips in the upcoming years. 

Thus, it’s not surprising that companies like Airbnb and Netflix have already started to capitalize on the opportunity. 

The former has launched thematic accommodation options based on Scooby Doo, Moulin Rouge, and Queer Eye. In turn, Netflix partnered with the UN World Tourism Organization (UNWTO) to “help destinations realize the potential benefits of screen tourism.”

Even governmental bodies aren’t lagging.

In fact, the official “Visit Albuquerque” site makes it easy for Breaking Bad fans to plan location tours and visit popular spots, such as Los Pollos Hermanos, Walter White’s house, and the car wash.

That shows just how much the likes of HBO and Apple TV are changing the tourism industry and travelers’ habits.

Scroll on to see what’s fueling this trend.

Key Reasons to Engage in Screen Tourism

People travel for all sorts of reasons.

Some want to check off their travel bucket list. Others are looking to dive under the radar and escape it all.

Yet—

When it comes to film tourism, here are the TOP five motivators, according to our respondents (the text version is below, just in case):

To emotionally immerse oneself in a place where the TV show/movie was filmed35%
To experience the city’s scenery shown in the movie or TV show34.9%
To visit restaurants featured in the movie or TV show34.4%
To discover a meaningful place with a story rather than visit a trendy destination33.9%
To visit a location one’s admired celebrity has once been to33.6%

The data shows that the most common reason to engage in film tourism (35%) is to enjoy an immersive experience that lets you live out your favorite shows’ or movies’ storylines and follow in the footsteps of famous characters.

It’s closely followed by the desire “to experience the city’s scenery shown in the movie or TV show” at 34.9% and to visit depicted restaurants, as 34.4% of respondents indicated.

These make sense, particularly if you consider TV shows.

Their slow-paced plot progression, long runtime, and character development often foster a deep connection between the viewer and the story. 

So—

It’s no wonder many people want to go and see the spots on their own.

Top Film Tourism Destinations, Ranked

So far, so good.

Now that we’ve answered some of the why questions, let’s move on to the where part.

To uncover the most desirable film tourism destinations in North America, we gave respondents a list of places famous because of a movie or TV show and asked them to indicate which one was their favorite OR which they’d like to visit the most.

Below are the results:

Jurassic Park (Hawaii)30.6%
Friends (NYC, New York)30.5%
Joker [2019] (NYC, New York)28.6%
Home Alone 2 (NYC, New York)27.9%
Big Little Lies (Monterey, California)25%

Thanks to the Jurassic Park franchise, Hawaii was picked as the most desirable film tourism destination in the US, according to 30.6% of respondents.

How does it translate into real numbers? 

Consider this:

Jurassic World: Fallen Kingdom alone has given Hawaii’s economy a $31M boost and more than $6.9M in wages to 1,200+ Hawaii workers. 

So you could say the movie has had a T-Rex-sized impact on the islands.

Now—

We also wanted to unveil the most desirable screen tourism destinations globally. Like last time, we gave respondents a hefty list of places and prompted them to make a pick.

See the TOP five results below:

Harry Potter (UK, Ireland)20.2%
The Lord of the Rings (New Zealand)18.1%
Game of Thrones (Northern Ireland, UK, Croatia)17%
Squid Game (South Korea)16.7%
Sherlock (UK)15.9%

The UK and Ireland took the cake as the most desirable screen tourism destinations globally (20.2%), thanks to Harry Potter. It’s followed by New Zealand courtesy of The Lord of the Rings trilogy. Northern Ireland, the UK, and Croatia close the top three owing to Game of Thrones’ success.

Needless to say, all the destinations ​​saw a significant, lasting increase in demand after said movies and TV shows came out. 

To this day, tourists take photos at London King’s Cross railway station, famous for featuring a fictional section known as platform 9¾ in Harry Potter and the Sorcerer’s Stone.

Biggest Expenses Associated with Screen Tourism

Travel isn’t exactly cheap these days.

A pilot shortage, COVID-19-induced demand for travel, and higher fuel prices have all contributed to the recent rise in tourism costs.

So much so that ~9 in 10 vacation-goers (88%) had to downgrade their vacation plans in 2022, according to one of our recent studies.

That’s why we wanted to ask the respondents about their biggest expenses regarding film tourism.

Below are the results:

Lodging60%
Transportation53%
Sightseeing50%

As you can see, lodging was the most frequently mentioned expense (60%), followed by transportation (53%) and sightseeing (50%).

So—

If you plan to fly thousands of miles to get epic Instagram snaps from Squid Game in South Korea, be prepared to open your wallet a little wider.

The Dark Side of Film Tourism

It’s no secret:

Many popular movies and TV shows depict or are based on true events. As a result, some locations can grow popular among travelers.

BBC’s Poldark is a good case in point.

While the series boosted Cornwall’s economy, influencing 14% of all visitors to the county, it also gave rise to the so-called “Poldark effect.” 

The phenomenon caused bumper-to-bumper traffic making some communities feel unsafe, and potentially affected the sense of the Cornish identity.

So—

Our study also wanted to see if Americans know that film tourism can cause over-tourism to some of the most in-vogue destinations.

A total of 95% of respondents do.

Although we were pleasantly surprised by such a high number, it’s important to remember that awareness doesn’t always translate into action (after all, the “Poldark effect” came about for a reason). 

Now, as our last question, we asked the survey participants about their attitude toward fellow travelers striking irreverent poses or otherwise misbehaving when visiting the sites of actual tragic events featured in a movie or TV show (e.g., Chornobyl).

Below are the results:

Negative41%
Very negative27%
Neutral24%
Positive5%
Very positive4%

The takeaway?

Always respect the site’s rules and only take pictures when allowed. Otherwise, you won’t only make others blow a fuse but also give film tourism a bad name.

Stacking It All Up

There you have it.

A comprehensive look at screen tourism to help you stay ahead of the curve.

Now—

Did you ever engage in film tourism? Which TV or movie universe would you want to travel to?

Let us know in the comments below.

Methodology

We conducted an online survey of 1,060 US respondents via a bespoke online polling tool in October 2022.

The respondents were 66.8% male and 33.2% female. 7.6% of respondents were 25 or younger, 70.01% were aged 26–38, 17.1% were aged 39–54, and 5.2% were 55 or older.

This survey has a confidence level of 95% and a margin of error of 3%. Given the gender and age makeup of our sample size, the study’s findings are statistically significant for the population at large.

This study was created through multiple research steps, crowdsourcing, and surveying. Data scientists reviewed all survey participants’ responses for quality control. ​​The survey also had an attention-check question.

About Michal Laszuk

Michal Laszuk is a writer at PhotoAiD by day, an aspiring novelist and an avid traveler by night. Always eager to travel to the most underrated and less popular destinations, he now looks to the far east after seeing almost everything Europe has to offer.

Salamati: Hamed’s Persian Kitchen: 70 Recipes and Stories from Iran to the Other Side of the World

for the adventuresome home chef, Allahyari offers a world of flavors.”

In mortal danger for his beliefs, Hamed Allahyari and his pregnant girlfriend fled their homeland of Iran, first spending two months in Indonesia and then, after grueling hours long by truck over badly paved back roads and then days crammed aboard a boat another five months on Christmas Island before being granted asylum by the Australian government. Once there, life remained extremely difficult for the young couple who were now parents of two young children, and though Allahyari had been a chef and restauranteur in Iran, no one was interested—or so it seemed—in Persian cuisine.

Unable to find work Allahyari began volunteering at the Resource Center, an organization that provides support, legal advice, and other assistance including meals to refugees and people seeking asylum.

“Every day they feed 250 people a free lunch,” Allahyari writes in the introduction to his cookbook Salamati: Hamed’s Persian Kitchen: Recipes and Stories from Iran to the Other Side of the World. “I started cooking there two days a week, making Persian food for people from all over the world: Sri Lanka, Afghanistan, Miramar, Sierra Leone, all kinds of places, and most of them had never tried Persian food before. But when they tried it, they liked it. They talked to me about it, asked me about it, and it made me happy.”

Culinary Connections

At the recommendation of others, Allahyari also began teaching cooking classes, demonstrating how to make such dishes as Zeytoon Parvadrah (Olive and Walnuts Chunky Dip), Abdoogh Khiar, Yogurt and Cucumber soup, Sabzi Pofow Ba Mahi (Fish with Herb Pilaf), and Persian Love Cake. Over the years, Allahyari taught more than 2500 people how to make Persian food. Now, he caters and is chef/owner of SalamiTea, a restaurant located in Sunshine, an ethnically diverse neighborhood in Melbourne. The name is a play on “salamati,” the Persian word meaning both “health” and “cheers.”

Salamati is more than just a cookbook, it’s also a memoir and homage to the country he had to flee. The introduction to the featured recipes in his book might offer a personal connection to the dish, a description of a unique ingredient that helps define it and bring out its best flavors—though he also offers a substitute for such items as Persian dried limes, which might be difficult to locate outside of a major city, and/or puts the food in context with the scenes to Iran.

This dish is traditionally served in Iranian shisha shops, the cafes where older men gather to smoke water pipes, drink tea and solve the problems of the world,” he writes about Ghahve Khunee Omelette (Street-Food Tomato Omelette). “Shisha shops don’t really serve food but inevitably people get hungry while they’re hanging around, so it’s become traditional for staff to whip up a quick tomato omelette for customers and serve it with bread, raw red onion, herbs and lemon. If you want one, all you ask for is ‘omelette.’ There’s no menu as such.”

Not all the recipes are easy but for those who don’t want to spend a lot of time in the kitchen, there are enough simple ones to get started. Full-color photos of each recipe show what the finished product will look like. And for the adventuresome home chef, Allahyari offers a world of flavors.

This review originally appeared in the New York Journal of Books.

Eight Great Restaurants and Food Artisans Feed the Soul: Slow Food in Southwest Germany

In tranquility lies good flavor.

Love, time, and wonderful ingredients are the heart of Southwest Germany’s Soul Food and Slow Food–a movement defined by local chefs creating traditional regional specialties It’s a way to honor the past as well as transport us from our hectic daily lives and into the sublime with meals made to be savored, slowly, of course.

Artisan Unpasteurized Cheese: Langenburg Sheep’s Cheese

Deutschland Baden Wuerttemberg Langenburg Hohenlohe – Langenburger Schafskaeserei Demeterhof von Norbert Fischer Slow Food Schafskaese

Norbert Fischer’s Demeter-Hof, nestled between meadows and fields in the Hohenlohe-Langenburg region, began in the early 1980s as a small, self-sufficient farm with a couple of sheep and now has grown into a substantial operation with a huge barn, a cheese dairy, farm shop and home. Everything is made from wood and glass accented with colorful flowering plants on the roof tops. Over 250 sheep live here under the care of Fischer, their shepherd. He uses their milk to hand produce fine sheep’s milk cheeses ranging from tangy Pecorino, to mouth-watering Camembert, and strong “Roque blue” cheese. Other products include organic ice cream and meat, sheepskins and the farm’s own picture book.

Lemon Ricotta Cake

  • 3.2 cups (400 grams) flour
  • 2 teaspoons of baking soda
  • 1 3/8 (340 grams butter), melted
  • 1 cup (200 grams) of sugar
  • 2 eggs

> Knead everything and spread the dough on a baking tray

Bake for 15 minutes at 170 degrees

  • 3.3 cups (800g) ricotta
  • 6.76 fluid ounces (200ml) cream
  • 4 eggs
  • 4 tbsp grated lemon zest
  • 6.76  fluid ounces (200ml) lemon juice

Mix everything and pour over the dough

Bake for 30 minutes at  325°F.

Put in the fridge and before serving, sprinkle with fresh mint.

schafkaese.com

Deutschland Baden Wuerttemberg Langenburg Hohenlohe – Langenburger Schafskaeserei Demeterhof von Norbert Fischer Slow Food Schafskaese

Fragrant bubbly: Blütenzauber Manufaktur in Bächlingen

The Jagst is one of the Neckar River’s largest tributaries. It winds its way from the Eastern Alb, over the Hohenloher and Haller Plain into the Heilbronn district. On the way, it meanders through the little village of Bächlingen. This is where Bernulf Schlauch lives, the Slow Food regional coordinator for Hohenlohe and inventor of blossom champagne. He uses a laborious process to produce sparkling wines from elder, acacia, rose blossom, and meadowsweet – deliberately taking things slowly.

“These sparkling wines need time for their flavors to unfold”, says Schlauch. For him, Slow Food does not just mean allowing time for the products themselves, but also taking time for guests and delicious food.

holunderzauber.de

Love of the Loaf: Eselsmühle Mill in Musberg

Eight donkeys, a shop, the Mühlenstube restaurant, a garden bistro, and a wood oven where the Demeter bread is baked. Sounds like the good old days and real proper bread, luckily at the Eselsmühle this is all on offer right now. The mill’s history goes back over 600 years, when the local millers supplied surrounding villages with food.

In 1937, the mill was acquired by the Gmelin family, who are still working passionately to preserve it and have created a genuine feel-good location in the extensive grounds surrounding the site, a place where everyday stress is banished. All the products here are certified organic and most come from this beautiful bucolic region.

eselsmuehle.com

Organic Fine Dining Pioneer: “1950” in Hayingen

Located in the heart of the Swabian Alb biosphere is the world’s first Demeter & Bioland fine dining restaurant. The “1950” is a new addition to the Tress family’s gastronomic offerings and honours the legacy of Grandfather Johannes, with the name marking the year he laid the foundation for the sustainable company philosophy that is still upheld today. The key feature: for every course on the vegetarian “CO2 menu” served here, guests also get comprehensive information about the ingredients. From CO2 emissions, to the distance involved between the producer and restaurant. To avoid producing waste in the kitchen, Simon Tress and his team strictly follow the principles of “leaf to root” and “nose to tail”.

tress-gastronomie.de

Holistic Gamekeeping: Schussental Game Products in Fronreute

“Once upon a time, there were three hunters …” – it sounds like the start of a Brothers Grimm fairy tale, but in fact this is how the success story began for the Schussentaler Wildmanufaktur game company in Fronreute near Ravensburg. Their mission: to convince the residents of Upper Swabia to eat game. Game lives in a natural habitat, it is sustainable and largely free from harmful influences, offering the finest quality meat with a favourable environmental impact. Nonetheless, many people have reservations about the taste and are unsure how to cook it. The Wildmanufaktur hunters are doing their bit to restore its image by selling local, freshly hunted game that is ready to cook as a roast or goulash, grilled sausage or meat loaf.

schussentaler-wildmanufaktur.de

Copper pan cherries: Faller jams from Utzenfeld

Whether it’s black cherries from Baden, forest blueberries or Bühler damsons: ever since the company was founded in 1913, Faller jams have been cooked in small quantities using traditional, open copper pans and stirred by hand to preserve the natural, original taste of the fruit for the finest possible results. Short transportation distances also contribute to the quality of these jams.

Following this tradition, Faller continues to source large quantities of fruit and berries from the nearby Kaiserstuhl and Markgräflerland regions. This family-run Slow Food business has links with farmers that often go back many years. Their produce can be sampled in the “Therese” jam café. Or order jars of these sweet temptations straight from the online shop to enjoy for breakfast at home.

shop.fallerkonfitueren.de

Slow brewing amidst the pines: Rothaus Grafenhausen, Baden’s district brewery

Baden’s district brewery, Rothaus, demonstrates how you can capture the essence of the Black Forest in a bottle. All you need is tranquillity, care and time. The raw materials also come entirely from the surrounding area: the brewing water bubbles up from local springs in the nearby forest, native spring barley is used as the brewer’s malt, the aromatic hops are sourced from Tettnang and Hallertau, and the yeast comes from the company’s own pure culture. The “Slow Brewing” seal of approval confirms the exceptional quality and full-bodied, mature flavour of the Rothaus beers. This final feature is undoubtedly also owed to the brewery’s special location, up at an altitude of around 1,000 metres, between the Black Forest pines and spruce trees.

rothaus.de

Café Goldene Krone in St. Märgen

The “Golden Crown” has welcomed numerous guests over its centuries-long history. From 1753, it operated as a pilgrims’ refuge, later it became a grand hotel. Famous people called by here: from Heidegger to Adenauer. When the hotel was closed in 1990, a hush descended. A citizens’ action group halted the threatened demolition and, a good ten years later, went on to rescue this historically significant building and revive the village centre.

Tuniberg im Sommer 2008

Hugely successful, today the “Golden Crown” is once again a popular meeting place. This “countrywoman’s café” with a small shop is a fine example of social, economic and environmental sustainability. Instead of trained professionals, the shop and kitchen facilities is run by 20 committed local women, all adding their own special flavour to the regional dishes with their personal recipes.

Cafe Golden Krone

cafe-goldene-krone.de

For more information:

State Tourist Board Baden-Württemberg

Esslinger Strasse 8

70182 Stuttgart, Germany

ausland@tourismus-bw.de

2023’s Best Cities for Fast Food Lovers: 200 Cities Ranked

From the drive-in to the drive-thru, America loves finger-lickin’ good fast food. 

But which cities are best for satisfying on-the-go hunger (or on-the-couch cravings)? 

LawnStarter compared the 200 biggest U.S. cities to rank 2023’s Best Cities for Fast Food Lovers.

We looked for cities with access to plenty of fast-food establishments. We also considered affordability and quality, including Thrillist’s Fasties Awards. 

Have it your way on National Fast Food Day (Nov. 16) with the help of our ranking below, followed by some highlights, lowlights, and expert tips.

Contents

City Rankings 

A Chick-fil-A fast food restaurant location on an early summer evening in West St. Paul, Minnesota.

See how each city fared in our ranking:

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Overall Rank (1=Best)CityOverall ScoreAccess RankQuality RankAffordability Rank
 
1Orlando, FL67.3721146 
2New York, NY66.343291 
3Miami, FL61.16193147 
4San Francisco, CA59.00101415 
5Chicago, IL58.919969 
6Philadelphia, PA58.79114127 
7Huntington Beach, CA56.9933632 
8Washington, DC56.8962228 
9McAllen, TX56.2491362 
10San Diego, CA55.6047741 
11Los Angeles, CA54.51261096 
12Las Vegas, NV54.461413128 
13Scottsdale, AZ54.09142116 
14Chandler, AZ53.5471174 
15Killeen, TX52.53765149 
16Boston, MA52.3244876 
17Torrance, CA51.95242342 
18Glendale, AZ51.203112160 
19Atlanta, GA50.89204320 
20Austin, TX50.77412833 
21Palmdale, CA50.61152875 
22Pasadena, CA49.91363729 
23Seattle, WA49.24394426 
24Long Beach, CA49.012825124 
25Rancho Cucamonga, CA49.001082625 
26Tempe, AZ48.20254285 
27Orange, CA48.06326221 
28Tampa, FL48.041747104 
29Phoenix, AZ48.025518141 
30Mesa, AZ47.84823343 
31Pomona, CA47.75872482 
32Glendale, CA47.641064612 
33Peoria, AZ47.511571671 
34Escondido, CA47.491073049 
35San Antonio, TX47.236120143 
36Plano, TX47.19735713 
37Anaheim, CA47.01375068 
38Moreno Valley, CA46.971322166 
38Corona, CA46.97844527 
40Naperville, IL46.9165753 
41McKinney, TX46.141026511 
42Oceanside, CA45.801033590 
43Louisville, KY45.505117112 
44Dallas, TX45.36198670 
45Charlotte, NC45.241502981 
46Fontana, CA45.20795944 
47Olathe, KS45.191713238 
48Henderson, NV45.041703439 
49Santa Ana, CA44.74219545 
50Denver, CO44.67407958 
51Fort Lauderdale, FL44.641213151 
52Thornton, CO44.611005857 
53Fullerton, CA44.59468835 
54Salt Lake City, UT44.59905372 
55Norfolk, VA44.564951135 
56Lexington, KY44.511763152 
57Portland, OR44.481216034 
58St. Louis, MO44.334355140 
59Sunnyvale, CA43.40291572 
60Springfield, MO43.2015915181 
61Jersey City, NJ43.16816050 
62Sacramento, CA42.541513799 
63Frisco, TX42.49671328 
64Riverside, CA42.301137460 
65Waco, TX42.079368105 
66Garden Grove, CA42.038063137 
67Eugene, OR41.9817338117 
68Winston-Salem, NC41.921954147 
69Hampton, VA41.877552170 
70Fresno, CA41.875272152 
71Chula Vista, CA41.561221305 
72Overland Park, KS41.481747616 
73Pittsburgh, PA41.3816147110 
74Columbus, OH41.338566153 
75Raleigh, NC41.311688024 
76Little Rock, AR41.2113361122 
77Houston, TX41.1435103121 
78Roseville, CA41.095713823 
79Lincoln, NE41.0416256106 
80North Las Vegas, NV41.0219627134 
81Colorado Springs, CO40.968378129 
82Modesto, CA40.813813361 
83Knoxville, TN40.694587163 
84Fremont, CA40.581481247 
85Santa Clarita, CA40.421447774 
86Richmond, VA40.4018112171 
87Nashville, TN40.261726484 
88Baltimore, MD40.2527104162 
89Ontario, CA40.238610673 
90Alexandria, VA40.06719517 
91Tallahassee, FL39.955096151 
92Tulsa, OK39.8713670133 
93Virginia Beach, VA39.73979898 
94Kansas City, KS39.7319219184 
95San Jose, CA39.63621649 
96Rockford, IL39.5816440177 
97Clarksville, TN39.5219154108 
98Amarillo, TX39.3258122100 
99Kansas City, MO39.2019736145 
100St. Paul, MN39.209814822 
101Fort Worth, TX39.1910111965 
102Lubbock, TX39.186694156 
103Salinas, CA38.933017614 
104Tacoma, WA38.8864110136 
105Providence, RI38.8010591154 
106Elk Grove, CA38.7611514330 
107Columbus, GA38.5914690103 
108Irving, TX38.267716118 
109Bellevue, WA38.09951771 
110Laredo, TX38.0815882138 
111Jacksonville, FL38.0769107158 
112Oxnard, CA38.008115446 
113Durham, NC37.8917510254 
114Madison, WI37.761788992 
115Lakewood, CO37.6918071142 
116Greensboro, NC37.6616110193 
117Surprise, AZ37.65114111132 
118Rochester, NY37.6313128191 
119Fort Collins, CO37.5311215048 
120Murfreesboro, TN37.5112015631 
121Omaha, NE37.51149100109 
122Chesapeake, VA37.2418311436 
123Augusta, GA37.1716584157 
124Mobile, AL37.1319449172 
125Indianapolis, IN37.07140109119 
126Wichita, KS37.03124120107 
127Hialeah, FL36.9123124185 
128Milwaukee, WI36.9011881180 
129Baton Rouge, LA36.80111108168 
130Corpus Christi, TX36.8013413477 
131Anchorage, AK36.781998567 
132Carrollton, TX36.765917340 
133Cincinnati, OH36.5660146148 
134Buffalo, NY36.554473196 
135Tucson, AZ36.529569190 
136Hollywood, FL36.413418337 
137Santa Rosa, CA36.3411615279 
138Lancaster, CA36.2015412995 
139Albuquerque, NM36.17143121115 
140Stockton, CA36.0894118169 
141Vancouver, WA36.025316789 
142Bakersfield, CA36.0192153111 
143San Bernardino, CA35.8418267179 
144Denton, TX35.8218810597 
145Arlington, TX35.7074159102 
146Oklahoma City, OK35.6519383150 
147Warren, MI35.6416016319 
148Oakland, CA35.596317453 
149Sioux Falls, SD35.3616614178 
150Boise, ID35.3413715864 
151Grand Rapids, MI35.2951151173 
152Shreveport, LA35.2313492182 
153El Paso, TX35.20117144144 
154Dayton, OH35.167097188 
155Fort Wayne, IN34.71151115161 
156Irvine, CA34.6913818210 
157Aurora, CO34.50123113176 
158Huntsville, AL34.5019014259 
159Midland, TX34.1513117156 
160West Valley City, UT34.14189123113 
161Macon, GA33.93155135155 
162Minneapolis, MN33.347218080 
163Grand Prairie, TX33.2912717086 
164Newport News, VA33.2799139183 
165Des Moines, IA33.25163155125 
166Akron, OH33.1716739200 
167Memphis, TN33.16156140167 
168Yonkers, NY33.124818987 
169Fayetteville, NC32.96179127165 
170Garland, TX32.837818483 
171Hayward, CA32.7689175130 
172New Orleans, LA32.64184149118 
173Birmingham, AL32.04147116187 
174Salem, OR31.71145168139 
175St. Petersburg, FL31.2468194101 
176Reno, NV30.88153178114 
177Savannah, GA30.7656181174 
178Toledo, OH30.7114199198 
179Springfield, MA30.55119136193 
180Spokane, WA30.4554179178 
181Mesquite, TX30.41130185116 
182Paterson, NJ30.30126186123 
183Pembroke Pines, FL30.2613918794 
184Pasadena, TX30.14169165164 
185Port St. Lucie, FL30.13110191126 
186Worcester, MA29.92109193131 
187Cleveland, OH29.74125126199 
188Chattanooga, TN29.25177169159 
189Cape Coral, FL29.06104190166 
190Montgomery, AL28.58181166175 
191Aurora, IL28.4512919963 
192Charleston, SC27.6819818855 
193Detroit, MI27.29185145194 
194Jackson, MS27.14187162186 
195Joliet, IL27.06128172192 
196Newark, NJ26.6242197189 
197Brownsville, TX26.05186196120 
198Syracuse, NY24.9422198195 
199Miramar, FL24.5920019288 
200Bridgeport, CT20.4388200197 

Showing 1 to 200 of 200 entries

Behind the Ranking

For each of the 200 biggest U.S. cities, we gathered publicly available data on the factors listed in the table below. 

We then grouped those factors into three categories: Access, Quality, and Affordability.

Next, we calculated weighted scores for each city in each category. 

Finally, we averaged the scores for each city across all categories.

The city that earned the highest average score was ranked “Best” (No. 1), while the city with the lowest was ranked “Worst” (No. 200). (Note: The “Worst” among individual factors may not be 200 due to ties among cities.)

A Big Thank You!

To Lawnstarter and to writer/researcher Sav Maive

Sav Maive is a writer and director based in San Antonio. Sav is a graduate of the University of Virginia and is a loving cat and plant mom.

If Walls Could Talk: Chapala’s historic buildings and their former occupants

Now one of the most popular retirement area for Americans and Canadians, the Lake Chapala Region, nestled in a valley almost a mile high in Mexico’s Volcanic Axis,  has long been a draw for ex-pats and vacationers, lured by its almost perfect climate and beauty.

In his book If Walls Could Talk: Chapala’s historic buildings and their former occupants about Mexico‘s earliest international tourist destination (also available in Spanish), award-winning author Tony Burton shares his knowledge and interest in a region where he has spent more than two decades. Burton, a Fellow of the Royal Geographical Society who was born and educated in the United Kingdom, first visited Mexico in 1977. That visit was obviously a big success as he returned and for almost 18 years lived and worked full-time in Mexico as a writer, educator and ecotourism specialist.

He met his wife, Gwen Chan Burton who was a teacher of the deaf and then director at the Lakeside School for the Deaf in Jocotepec, one of the three main towns lining the shores of Lake Chapala. Though they now reside on Vancouver Island, British Columbia, the Burtons continue to revisit Mexico regularly and he is currently editor-in-chief of MexConnect, Mexico’s top English-language online magazine. The other two towns, each with its own distinctive vibe, are Ajijic and Chapala, native villages resettled by the Spanish Conquistadors in the 1500s. “This book looks at how Chapala, a small nondescript fishing village in Jalisco, suddenly shot to international prominence at the end of the nineteenth century as one of North America’s earliest tourist resorts,” writes Burton. “Within twenty years, Chapala, tucked up against the hills embracing the northern shore of Mexico’s largest natural lake, was attracting the cream of Mexican and foreign society. Thus began Lake Chapala’s astonishing transformation into the vibrant international community it is now, so beloved of authors, artists and retirees.”

The book, organized as a walking tour, covers not only existing buildings but also pinpoints the spots where significant early buildings no longer stand but their histories still weave a story of the town. It’s only a partial guide, explains Burton, noting that an inventory prepared by the National Institute of Anthropology and History identified more than eighty such buildings in Chapala including many not easily visible from the road but hidden behind high walls and better viewed from the lake.

Among the famous people who lived in Chapala at some point in their careers was author D.H. Lawrence, probably best remembered for his risqué (at the time) novel, Lady Chatterley’s Lover.

In 1923, Lawrence and his wife, Frieda, rented Casa de las Cuentas (House of Rosary Beads), a house that dates back to the 1800s. At the time, a one-story abode with a half-moon entrance and heavy wooden gates, it was located at 307 Calle Zaragoza, a street formerly known as Calle de la Pesquería (“Fishing street”) so named as it was where the local fishermen repaired their nets and hung them out to dry. It was while living on Calle Zaragoza that Lawrence wrote the first draft of The Plumed Serpent, published in 1926. The novel is described asthe story of a European woman’s self-annihilating plunge into the intrigues, passions, and pagan rituals of Mexico.”

Over the decades, after the Lawrences moved out, subsequent changes were made to Casa de las Cuentas including  the addition of a swimming pool in the mid-1950s when artist Roy MacNicol and his wife, Mary, owned the home.

While Lawrence’s writings were considered by some as scandalous, MacNicol’s life had its scandals as well. Burton describes him as “colorful” in that he was married multiple times and was involved in many escapades as well as lawsuits.

Mary, embracing the local culinary traditions including the use of flowers in cooking, authored Flower Cookery: The Art of Cooking With Flowers.

It wasn’t the work of a dilettante as reviews of her book such as this one on Amazon shows.

“Flower Cookery is recipes, but far more than recipes,” writes one reviewer. “The book is organized by the popular name of the flower in question. Each section is introduced with quotations from literature, philosophy, and poetry that feature the blossom. This is followed by the recipes, interwoven with mythology, stories, and aphorisms about the flower, the plant from which it grows, its symbolism, and the culture or society in which humans discovered the value of the plant or blossom. The recipes include original favorites as well as recipes collected from historical sources and contemporary sources around the world. Here is just the tiniest sampling of the riches in the book.”

Burton shares her Christmas Cheer recipe from when she lived at Casa de las Cuentas.

Christmas Cheer

10-12 squash blossoms with stems removed

2 eggs, beaten

2 to 3 tablespoons water

Flour, enough to thicken mixture about one tablespoon

Salt and pepper

1 cup neutral oil such as grapeseed, canola, or safflower

Wash and dry squash blossoms on paper towels, making sure to remove all the water. Mix remaining ingredients except oil to make a smooth batter. Place oil in a large, heavy skillet to 350-375°F. Dip blossoms in batter and fry in oil until golden brown. Drain on paper towels. Serve hot.

As for the house, it was renovated again in the early 1980s and is now Quinta Quetzalcoatl, a lovely boutique hotel.

If Walls Could Talk is one of four books that Burton has written on the Lake Chapala region. The other three are Foreign Footprints in Ajijic: decades of change in a Mexican Village; Lake Chapala Through the Ages: an anthology of travelers’ tales  (2008), and the recent Lake Chapala: A Postcard history. All are available as print and ebooks on Amazon.

The above maps, both copyrighted, show Chapala 1915 [lower map] and 1951 [upper map].

In all, he’s planning on adding several more to what he currently calls the Lake Chapala Quartet, these focusing on the writers and artists associated with the area.  I asked him  to describe the region so readers who have never been there can get an idea of what it is like, but it turns out the Burton is NOT a traveler who meticulously plots every moment of a trip before he arrives. Instead, he tells me that part of the fun when traveling is to not know in advance what places are like and instead to see and experience them for yourself.

“That said,” he continues, “the various villages and towns on the shores of Lake Chapala are all quite different in character. The town of Chapala, specifically, is a pretty large and bustling town. It is growing quite rapidly and has added several small high end boutique hotels in recent years, as well as some fine dining options to complement the more traditional shoreline ‘fish’ restaurants. The many old–100 years plus–buildings in Chapala give the town a historic ‘air’ where it is relatively easy to conjure up images of what it was like decades ago. By comparison, Ajijic, now the center of the foreign community on Lake Chapala, has virtually no old buildings and more of a village and artsy feel to it, though it also has very high quality accommodations and more fine restaurants than you can count.”

Other structures still standing include the Villa Tlalocan, completed in 1896 and described by a contemporary journalist as “the largest, costliest and most complete in Chapala… a happy minglement of the Swiss chalet, the Southern verandahed house of a prosperous planter and withal having an Italian suggestion. It is tastefully planned and is set amid grounds cultivated and adorned with flowers so easily grown in this paradisiacal climate where Frost touches not with his withering finger…”

Also still part of the landscape is Villa Niza. One of many buildings designed by Guillermo de Alba, the house, according to Burton, was built in 1919 and looks more American than European in style. Located at Hidalgo 250, it takes advantage of its setting on Lake Chapala and has a mirador (look out) atop the central tower of the structure, which affords sweeping panoramic views over the gardens and lake. De Alba’s strong geometric design boasts only minimal exterior ornamentation.

Burton, who specializes in non-fiction about Mexico, related to geography, history, travel, economics, ecology and natural history, has written several fascinating books about the history of the Lake Chapala region.

In If Walls Could Talk, Burton invites you to walk with him through time as you explore the city.

118 Regional Favorites from The Lake Michigan Cottage Cookbook

              Summer cottages conjure up images of restful days by the lake or in the woods, a time of family gatherings, reading a book, watching the sunset and spending time in the kitchen (at least for those of us who like to cook) preparing dishes using local and seasonal ingredients to serve at dinner time.

              For Amelia Levin, who grew up in Chicago and spent several weeks each year with her  family at a cottage in Door County, Wisconsin, those days are to be treasured. Even now she still visits and then later visited her brother who has a place near New Buffalo, takes the essence of those summer memories, distilling the experiences in The Lake Michigan Cottage Cookbook: Door County Cherry Pie, Sheboygan Bratwursts, Traverse City Trout and 115 More Regional Favorites (Storey Publishing).

              Taking us on a culinary road trip along the Lake Michigan coastline, Levin shows us her favorite places to eat or shop for food, collecting recipes along the way. She shares recipes for Wood Smoked Barbecue Ribs and Sweet Potato and Pineapple Salad  provided by Bill Reynolds, owner of New Buffalo Bill’s in New Buffalo and a Korean Pork Bao Sandwich from Ryan Thornburg, the former culinary director for Round Barn Winery, Distillery and Brewery.

              She was also inspired by local ingredients such as the spicy fennel sausage made by Pat Mullins, who with his wife Ellie, owns Patellie’s Pizza in Three Oaks and formerly owned Local, an artisan butcher shop in New Buffalo, Levin created her recipe Spicy Fennel Sausage and Peppers with Garlicky Heirloom Tomato Sauce which is a homage to a favorite popular at old school Italian restaurants in Chicago. A fan of Froehlich’s Deli, also in Three Oaks, she devised a deviled egg recipe reminiscent of the ones sold there. These she tops with caviar made by Rachel Collins, owner of Flagship Specialty Foods & Fish Market in Lakeside Michigan.

              “I have a soft spot for New Buffalo and Harbor Country because I have family there,” says Levin who graduated from the University of Michigan. “I also fell in love with Fennville which is a really strong artisan food and farming area and I have recipes in the book from Kismet Cheese and Bakery, Salt of the Earth restaurant and Virtue Cider.”

              She was also inspired to invent her recipe for Rustic Apple Gallette with Goat Cheese, Caramelized Onions and Thyme using cheese produced by Evergreen  Lane Artisan Cheese in Fennville.

              Starting her book—and her trip where she wandered counter-clockwise around Lake Michigan—in Door County, we learn about fish boils, those classic throw everything—chunks of red potatoes, freshly caught white fish or lake trout and sliced onions–in a pot set on coals above an open fire and Friday night perch fries.

              “I have a recipe for a fish boil you can easily do at home,” says Levin, a Chicago-based food writer and chef who also works as a food consultant and recipe developer. Serve with Bavarian Dark Rye Bread, reflective of the German heritage in Door County, and Creamy Coleslaw.

              There is, of course, Door County-style cherry pie though Levin points out that Northern Michigan, including Traverse City, grows the same kind of Montmorency cherries that are perfect for using in all things cherry such as the Door County Cherry French Toast served at the White Gull Inn in Fish Creek, Wilson Restaurant & Ice Cream Parlor’s Vanilla Sundaes with Seaquist Orchard’s Cherry Topping, Cherry Poached Pears with the Mascarpone Cream in Ephraim, Wisconsin, crossing into Michigan, Levin’s take on the many recipes for cherry chicken salad found in the Traverse City area–Grilled Chicken Salad with Greens and Cherry Vinaigrette.

Spicy Fennel Sausage and Peppers with Garlicky Heirloom Tomato Sauce

For the sauce:

  • 1 pound heirloom tomatoes
  • Four garlic cloves, unpeeled  

For the sausage:

  • 2 tablespoons olive oil
  • One pound Italian-style or fennel sausage, links or cut into four links style
  • One medium or sweet onion, halved and sliced
  • Two medium red bell peppers, halved, seeded and cut into 1 inch strips
  • 1 tablespoon good-quality balsamic vinegar or red wine vinegar
  • 1/3 cup of thinly sliced fresh basil

For the sauce, preheat the oven to broil. Line a baking sheet with aluminum foil. Bro the tomatoes and garlic on the baking sheet until partially blocking, turning occasionally. Remove the garlic cloves. Peel the skins from the tomatoes and transfer the tomatoes and juices to a blender by lifting the foil. When cool enough to handle, squeeze the garlic out of the blackened peels into the blender. Puree until smooth.

For the sausage, heat 1 tablespoon of the oil in a large skillet over medium heat. Add the sausage and brown on all sides, about five minutes. Remove the sausage from the skillet. Add the remaining 1 tablespoon oil and the onions, and cook until soft and translucent, about two minutes.

Add the peppers and cook until the onions begin to brown and the peppers begin to soften, about five minutes. Add the vinegar and cook until reduced by half, about one minutes, stirring frequently to deglaze the pan.

Return the sausages to the pan and pour the tomato pepper sauce over them. Simmer over medium heat until vegetables are tender and the sauce is thickened, 10 to 15 minutes. Serve top with Parmesan and basil.

Door County Cherry Pie

Serves 6–8

For the Pastry:

  • 1¼ cups unbleached all-purpose flour
  • ½ teaspoon salt
  • ½ cup (1 stick) unsalted butter, cut into pieces, cold
  • 3–5 tablespoons ice water

For the Filling:

  • ½ cup sugar
  • ¼ cup unbleached all-purpose flour
  • 4 cups well-drained bottled tart Montmorency cherries in unsweetened cherry juice
  • 1 tablespoon unsalted butter, cut into small pieces

For the Topping:

  • 1 tablespoon whole milk
  • 1 tablespoon sugar

  For the pastry, combine the flour and salt in a medium bowl. Add the butter and use a pastry blender or two knives to cut in the butter until it is the size of coarse crumbs.

Drizzle 3 tablespoons of the ice water over the top and stir with a fork. Gently knead the mixture with your hands until the dough holds together. If it is dry, add more ice water, 1 tablespoon at a time, and knead until the dough holds together. Shape into two oval disks, wrap each in plastic wrap, and refrigerate for at least 40 minutes.

  Roll one of the chilled dough disks on a lightly floured surface to ⅛-inch thickness and about 11 inches in diameter. Gently roll the pastry around the rolling pin and transfer it to a 9-inch pie pan or dish. Without stretching the dough, fit it into the bottom and up the sides of the pan.

  Preheat the oven to 325º F.

  For the filling, combine the sugar and flour in a large bowl. Add the cherries and mix well. Spoon the mixture into the pie shell and top with the butter.

  Roll out the remaining dough disk to ⅛ inch thick and about 11 inches in diameter. Drape the dough over the cherry filling. Fold the edges under the bottom crust and flute attractively or use a fork to press down the crust. Cut several slits in the center of the pie to allow steam to escape during baking.

  For the topping, brush the milk over the top and sprinkle the sugar evenly over the pie.

  Place the pie on a rimmed baking sheet and bake for 1 hour 30 minutes or until golden brown. Let stand on a wire rack for at least 1 hour before serving.

Cherry Streusel Muffins

For the muffin batter:

  • 1½ cups unbleached all-purpose flour
  • ⅓ cup granulated sugar
  • ¼ cup firmly packed dark or light brown sugar
  • 2 teaspoons baking powder
  • 1 teaspoon ground cinnamon
  • ½ teaspoon salt
  • 1 egg, slightly beaten
  • ½ cup (1 stick) unsalted butter, melted
  • ½ cup whole or 2% milk
  • 1 cup pitted tart fresh cherries or well-drained bottled cherries, coarsely chopped
  • 1 teaspoon grated lemon zest

For the streusel topping:

  • ½ cup coarsely chopped pecans or walnuts
  • ½ cup firmly packed dark or light brown sugar
  • ¼ cup unbleached all-purpose flour
  • 1 teaspoon ground cinnamon
  • 1 teaspoon grated lemon zest
  • 2 tablespoons unsalted butter, melted

For the muffin batter, preheat the oven to 350 F. Line 12 standard muffin cups with paper liners or butter the cups. Combine the flour, granulated and brown sugars, baking powder, cinnamon, and salt in a large bowl. Make a well in the center and add the egg, butter, and milk. Mix just until the dry ingredients are moistened. Stir in the cherries and lemon zest. Spoon a level ¼ cup of the batter into each muffin cup.

For the streusel, combine the pecans, brown sugar, flour, cinnamon, and lemon zest in a medium bowl, mixing well. Add the butter and mix until crumbly. Spoon about 1 tablespoon of the streusel over each muffin.

Bake for 22 to 25 minutes, until a wooden pick inserted in the center comes out clean and the topping is golden brown. Transfer the pan with the muffins to a wire rack and let cool for 10 minutes. Remove the muffins from the pan and serve warm or at room temperature. Any extra muffins may be ¬frozen for up to 3 months.

Prep time: 40 minutes

Baking time: 25 minutes

Makes 12 muffin

Recipes and photos from The Lake Michigan Cottage Cookbook by © Amelia Levin. Photography by © Johnny Autry. Used with permission of Storey Publishing

Lost Chicagoland Classics: George Diamond Steak House Redux

In an update to my previous post about George Diamond Steak House and for all those who are into 1950s-style supper clubs and Chicagoland food history, check out this great You Tube post about George Diamond Steakhouse. Back in the day, there were several in the Chicago area including at 630 S. Wabash in the South Loop, Las Vegas, Acapulco, and Antioch (where there was also a George Diamond Golf Course) as well as in Whiting, Indiana.

If you’re thinking how does Whiting, an industrial city on the Indiana-Illinois border fit in with such locations as Vegas, Chicago, and Acapulco–well, consider this–at one time Whiting, now best known as the place where Polish foods are celebrated every year at the Pierogi Fest, one of the top festivals in the U.S. was a major destination for both Chicago and Northwest Indiana residents who enjoyed swank dining and perch dinners. It rocked from the early 1900s to the early 1980s and had such classic places as Phil Smidt’s and Vogel’s. Indeed the latter sold so many frog legs that they started raising their own in nearby Lake George.

And, if you’re really into George Diamond history, Etsy has two of the restaurant’s shot glasses for sale for $145.

For more about vintage restaurants in the Chicagoland area, check out Classic Restaurants of Northwest.Indiana.