Sunday, June 12, 2016

Exploring Goldmoor Inn and the Grant Home

It was the last day in Galena for my friend Courtney and I. We filled the day with more exploration of the lovely inn we were staying in, as well as a look back into history.

We were down to the dining room at The Goldmoor Inn for another delicious breakfast.

Breakfast is part of the stay for all guests and the chef does it right, with a special feast each morning. For our last day, that meant yogurt with peaches, warm scones, and freshly made waffles with blueberries.

The meal was delicious and we walked it off with a tour of the property with Birgit Radin, who owns The Goldmoor with her husband, Slovo.

Within the beautifully manicured 23 acres is a spa, log cabins, two cottages (one English, one French), and walking trails.

The main house, which reminds me of a European castle, has 13 suites, including the Chef’s, where you can have a private meal prepared and enjoy views of both the sunrise and the sunset.

After the tour, we bid our hosts goodbye and headed to Grants Home, a national historic site.

The tour was quite informative. We learned all about Ulysses S. Grant, who was originally from Iowa, lived for a while in Georgetown and West Point, before serving as a General.

Grant then moved to St. Louis for a while before his family requested he move to Galena, Illinois, and help with their fur trade business.

Galena was where General Grant, his wife Julia Dent Grant, and their four children created this beautiful home.

The home is completely recreated, with mostly authentic pieces, to match what the Grants lived in until he was elected President of the United States (1868). 

In fact, the green chair from which he announced he had won the election is in the house, though he did take it with him to the White House during his term.

Cortney and I also learned about the children and Julia Grant, who was the first First Lady to be given that title, and the first President’s wife to have her own press secretary. 

She was involved in her husband’s life, and a friend to Susan B. Anthony.

After the tour, we had lunch at Otto’s Place, a popular spot by the railroad track in Galena.

It was Sunday afternoon and the place was packed with locals. After we tasted the food it was easy to see why. In addition to the “down home” atmosphere, everything was delicious.

I had the quiche with potatoes and their special coffee cake. Cortney went for eggs over easy, potatoes, fruit, and a piece of ham. It was more food than we could possibly finish.

After lunch it was time to depart for home. It had been a wonderful first trip to Galena, a place I will definitely return to. 

Sunday, June 5, 2016

Enjoying Galena

My friend Cortney and I had arrived in Galena the afternoon before and were really enjoying the area. For day two, we had a full schedule and we were up early to take it all in.

The Goldmoor Inn is an incredible property on the Mississippi River. Their spacious rooms and suites include a freshly cooked gourmet breakfast each morning.

While the chef makes one breakfast each day, they are flexible for special needs and allergies.

Our first breakfast consisted of warm scones, fresh fruit, juice, coffee, and a delicious omelet.

We took a ride to nearby Stockton, a small town within Galena/Jo County. We were first stopping at NorthWest Design Glass.

Northwest Glass is owned by Pennie, Daryl and Drew Groezinger.  They sell unique glass jewelry, ornaments, and other d├ęcor.

We browsed around the shop while Pennie finished up some work. She then gave us a glassblowing demonstration, which I don’t think I’d seen before.

After the demonstration, Cortney and I headed to downtown Stockton. It’s a quaint little town.

We had lunch at Stella’s Cafe. There were lots of locals, who you could tell come in there all the time.

The food was warm and comforting on the cool day. I had cream of chicken soup and pesto garlic bread with tomato, while Cortney went for the crabmeat egg rolls.

For dessert, we both devoured the red velvet cheesecake and chocolate torte.

Before we left Stockton, we went across the street to Sweet Alice’s. The bakery and candy shop is owned by the same family that owns Stella’s.

They have some great candies and cookies there, and we took some samples to go.

We drove back to the Goldmoor Inn for some rest before a long night. I was surprised at how curvy the roads in Galena are. It was certainly not what I was used to in Illinois.

We headed to Blaum Brothers Distillery for a tour of their operations, which they call “Handcrafted American Spirits from Grain to Bottle.”

They take fairly large groups through the distillery throughout the day to see their state of the art equipment and taste their vodka, gin, bourbon, and moonshine.

We had arranged the trip to coincide with Night of the Luminaria and Living Windows, two events that take place in Galena on the same night each December.

We were going to try to see as much as possible. We also wanted to stop in some of the wine tasting rooms along the way.

We parked at the end of downtown Galena and began walking through the streets. There were a lot of people, but it didn’t seem over crowded.

Many of the stores participated in the Living Windows displays. They ranged from characters acting out scenes in costume, to people baking, and even a couple getting married in a window!

The streets were closed to traffic and there were carolers walking and a belly dancer.

We passed some interesting places, such as Mean Bean Roaster, where you could design your own blend of coffee, and Timothy’s Table Bulk & Specialty Food Store, to which we returned the next day to get bags of Lucky Charm-like marshmallows.

Cortney and I also stopped at Galena Canning, where they offer endless samples of jams, jellies, salsas, and more, before going to the wineries.

We spent the longest time at Massbach Ridge. They had a large with some wines we really liked including their Seyval.

Dinner was at One Eleven Main. They are known for using many in-season ingredients and even have a board when you walk in listing some of what you’ll see on the current menu.

We started with a glass of moscato and the Beer Cheese Fondue. I had the duck for dinner and Cortney went for the pasta with shrimp. For dessert, we shared their Chocolate Roll.

After dinner, we took the Night of the Luminaria TrolleyRide. In the spring and summer months, the trolley takes you around Galena. 

For this special night, the tour includes some of the spots that are most lit up.

Our trolley driver had told us the best place for cocktails in town is Miss Kitty’s Grape Escape and we had to see for ourselves.

There was live music and we both liked the atmosphere and the spectacular three-page cocktail list. There were martinis, hot drinks, beer cocktails, and plenty of sweet libations.

Cortney went for one of the fruit martinis and I went for Death by Chocolate (Hot Cocoa, Kahlua, Chocolate Vodka).

We stayed for a bit before getting a cab back to the Goldmoor Inn. It had been quite a day in Galena and we had one more to go.