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Amish country good destination

With the football season winding down, a member of my travel clan has declared an interest in attending a Canton Charge game. The Charge are the Cleveland Cavaliers NBA’s Development League team. Welcome to minor league, professional basketball.

This means a road trip to north central Ohio. From the River Cities it is pretty much a freeway shot on I-64 and I-77. Our journey will take us into the heart of Ohio’s main Amish country so we decided to do some destination research. After a brief discussion we crafted a basketball, cheese and trail bologna-themed itinerary.

One attraction along Ohio State Route 515, directly in front of the Troyer’s Genuine Trail Bologna factory is a store but not just any kind of store. It is the one place to get the absolute freshest cuts of Troyer’s Genuine Trail Bologna as well as other delights.

I’m told that around lunch time, Troyer’s Store is absolutely hopping with people who are stopping in for a quick, hearty bite to eat in the form of a fresh Troyer’s Genuine Trail Bologna sandwich, with cheese, of course. It is served in wax paper and is so good that many choose to sit down at Troyer’s Genuine Trail Bologna Store.

For lunch we plan on sampling a hot trail bologna sandwich served on a bun. You can dress it up with a slice of local Ohio cheese and additional condiments. We’re fried bologna purists so no cheese or other add ons please.

We’re only ignoring cheese on the sandwich. Locally produced cheese in closely clustered villages like Sugarcreek, Berlin, Charm and Walnut Creek offer fresh cheeses, baked goods, meats and seasonal vegetables. Amish goods are also available from horse-drawn buggies or local shops.

One stop will be at Heini’s Cheese Chalet. Located just around the corner from the quaint-yet-bustling town of Berlin in the heart of Amish Country, this haven of all things cheese begs to be discovered. My sister-in-law tells me to expect a long line of visitors winding through a vast selection of samples, ranging from the standard (Swiss, cheddar, Colby) to the not-so-standard (blueberry cheesecake).

On weekdays, visitors can watch through a window as the cheese is being made; an adjacent gift shop peddles fudge, candy and “The Best Butter in the World,” also made in Amish Country.

Another planned stop is at Walnut Creek Cheese shop. It’s stocked cheese but also baking supplies, bulk candy and a generous sampling of local goods, Walnut Creek is five minutes from Heini’s and is a great place to pick up a local version of everything on your grocery list. From a pickup truck and slide-in refrigerated box in 1977 to a 60,000 square-foot facility that employs more than 200, Walnut Creek is a must-see on your cheese list.

Located in the center of Walnut Creek, another must stop is the Der Dutchman Restaurant. Locals catch up over coffee at cozy tables by the fireside. Generations from far and wide gather in banquet rooms to celebrate family milestones.

Out-of-town visitors linger in rocking chairs on the front porch to hear the clip-clop of buggies passing by and catch a glimpse of daily life in our beautiful Amish farming valley. And everyone comes for the food.

The Amish Kitchen Cooking is the No. 1 reason generations of visitors make the trip to Der Dutchman every year. But our hilltop location and spectacular view come in a close second.

Walnut Creek is one of the more picturesque places in the Midwest, and Der Dutchman is blessed to be in the perfect spot to see it in all its glory. The wall of windows that curves around our spacious dining room provides a breathtaking, five-mile panoramic view of Goose Bottom Valley and the farmsteads tucked into its hillsides.

“Nau ess du!” (Now eat) is expressed often by the cooks. They know that much of the comfort in “comfort food” comes from the way it is prepared, so they use time-honored methods often learned at the elbow of a mother or a grandmother. It’s tradition you can really taste.

Breakfast choices include still-warm cinnamon rolls, fluffy buttermilk hotcakes, homemade biscuits and golden slices of fried mush with sausage gravy or syrup.

Lunch and dinner feature simple, straightforward classics chicken, country-cured ham, roast beef and turkey, and chicken pot pie. Hearty side dishes include real mashed potatoes, homemade egg noodles and the freshest tasting creamed corn you’ll ever have the good fortune to eat. There’s also a great kid’s menu, with all their favorites, and lighter options, including homemade soups, fresh salads and sandwiches.

The salad bar at Der Dutchman is as bountiful as a kitchen garden and as colorful as a quilt. Rows of fresh vegetables, fruits, prepared salads and regional specialties are constantly refilled and refreshed. Just make sure to save room for dessert.

The Amish’s love of sweets is legendary. A pinch of sugar or a spoonful of honey is even added to many savory dishes during cooking. Dessert is served daily in most homes, and it’s not uncommon to see multiple pastries appear on the table when company comes or there is a special occasion to celebrate.

Guests at Der Dutchman can celebrate every day of the year. In addition to cakes, date nut pudding and ice cream, the restaurant serves more than 20 different pies, made daily in the Der Dutchman Bakery. The only hard part is making a choice.

We’re spending two days and one night in the area but easily could stay all week. Forget the one-day, 15-hour bus rides that attempt to show you the Amish experience. Plan on at least a weekend or longer. And avoid Sundays. Most Amish spend the day at worship and with families.

Veilig Reizen.

 

Got travel? Email Steve Call at the travelprofessor@gmail.com or dial 740-550-9540.