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 décor.

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. 

Saturday, May 28, 2016

The Goldmoor Inn and Galena, Illinois

My friend Cortney and I headed to Galena, Illinois, just before the holidays this past year. She had been there before, but it was my first trip.

As we headed there, I was surprised to see the dramatic change in the Illinois landscape. What had started as flat farm land had turned into rolling hills, some of them high enough to be considered small ski mountains.

Our home for the long weekend would be the Goldmoor Inn and we were impressed from the start.

It looked like an English castle, with 18 suites inside, as well as three cottages and two cabins on the property for those looking for real privacy.

Although we were on a girls’ getaway, I could also certainly see it as the perfect place for a romantic trip.

The 23 acres the Goldmoor is on are right on the Mississippi River, which offers fantastic views all year round, from every spot.

We were shown into our suite and first went through a common area, which was welcoming with a fireplace and couches.

Our suite was quite big. It had a separate kitchen with a small table, and a large room with a pull-out couch, Jacuzzi, and king-sized bed.

The bathroom was also quite big and had one of my favorite amenities, a towel warming rack.

We left the Goldmoor to head to Indulge Spa. I had found a deal on Groupon and thought a pedicure would get me in the mood for a relaxing weekend. It definitely did.

We left the spa and headed to the Green Street Tavern in the downtown DeSoto House Hotel. 

We were meeting Jeff Graack, Director of Sales & Marketing for the Galena/Jo Davies County Convention and Visitors Bureau.

We talked about Galena and all the things that were going on for the Christmas season we were visiting during.

Galena during the holidays is quite magical every year, especially with the Night of the Luminaria & Living Windows downtown. We were going to attend this the following evening.

While we chatted we sipped drinks from the Martini Flights Green Street Tavern offered.

I picked a sweeter grouping than Cortney did, and we both enjoyed our choices.

Desoto House was also getting ready for a Christmas event and had cakes and trees on display so we spent a few minutes looking at those before we left.

We went back to our suite at the Goldmoor Inn and got ready for our dinner in their dining room. It was quite elegant and the food was just as inviting as the décor.

One of the owners of the Goldmoor, Slobo Radin, showed us to our table and welcomed us to the Inn.

We started with some freshly made bread and butter, along with some pickled vegetables.

Goldmoor's Chef Carlos Valdez came to speak with us and tell us about his views on finding fresh, local ingredients whenever possible.

For an appetizer, we had the very tasty Trio Bruschetta. It was a selection of three toppings, roasted eggplant hummus, basil pesto, and tomatoes and garlic in olive oil, served with warm, grilled pita bread.

We also really enjoyed the cheese stuffed mushrooms we had ordered 

I saw one of my favorites on the menu, Beef Wellington, and was happy to hear Chef Valdez was willing to make it well-done for me. Many chefs insist it will ruin the dish, but the good ones know that you won’t enjoy something if it’s not made the temperature you like.

It was delicious. It was also served with a rich scalloped potato cake.

Cortney savored the Double Seared Pork Chop with an apple cider brandy sauce, roasted apples, and a fig & apricot chutney, with a salad on the side instead of the potatoes.

We finished with a selection of scrumptious house-made desserts before heading back to our suite.

It had been a long day and we had an even longer one coming up, exploring Galena/Jo County