Updated Fri, Aug 2, 2013 9:19 am
In Holmes County, Ohio, and surrounding areas, you’ll find rolling hills dotted with charming farms as far as the eye can see. Lovely barns, silos and ponds create a picturesque landscape.
Holmes County is west of Dover/New Philadelphia in central Ohio, about 40 miles northwest of Cambridge. The county and surrounding area is a unique place - not because of its lovely landscape, but because it is one of the largest Amish communities in the world. It is known to many of us as ‘Amish Country.’
To add to the charm factor, you’ll see Amish men tending their farms the old-fashioned way, piles of hay that have been raked by hand, horses plowing the field and buggies and bicycles going down the road to get folks where they need to go.
There is a ton of shopping to be found in Amish country – beautiful homemade furniture, hand-built gazebos and sheds and beautiful décor for any home.
While I love a good shopping experience, the food makes the trip worthwhile.
Amish folks are skilled at farming and building things, but I think their true talents come in the kitchen.
Here are some places that you simply can’t miss while visiting Amish Country.
Breitenbach Wine Cellars
Breitenbach is a lovely shop with wine from grapes grown in Ohio and offers more than 40 different flavors of wine. The fruit wines offer flavors like rhubarb, dandelion, cranberry and apricot. They have an extensive list of reds, whites and blushes. They offer wine tastings Monday through Saturday from 9 - 6 p.m. to help you choose your favorite.
The Amish know how to make cheese! There are two places you won’t want to miss.
Heini’s Cheese Chalet
Heini’s is a charming place. Amish farmers hand milk their cattle daily and Heini’s turns it in to cheese. If you are there on the right day, you can catch them making the cheese and even take a tour where they will explain the entire process. There are rows and rows of cheese, which offer amazing and unique flavors and the best thing is you can sample them all to decide which flavors are your favorites.
Don’t miss trying their yogurt cheese – it’s smooth and creamy, with a mild and unique flavor. Heini’s was one of the first companies to create yogurt cheese. It freezes well too, so stock up on your trip, stick it in your freezer and you can eat it for months. Here is a segment produced by Our Ohio on Heini’s Cheese Chalet.
Guggisberg Cheese offers several types of cheese, but is best known for their Swiss cheese. Local farmers looking for someone to use their milk for cheese production lured owner Alfred Guggisberg, accomplished European Swiss cheese maker, to the area where, in hopes of appealing to Americans, he developed a special milder, less sharp version of Swiss cheese that he called baby Swiss. It was a smart idea, because their baby Swiss is known throughout the world and takes numerous awards yearly in cheese competitions.
Miller’s Homemade Bakery
Just outside of Berlin, Ohio, is Miller’s Homemade Bakery. Miller’s is tucked out of the way on a small road that you may never find unless someone told you it was there (you’re welcome!). It’s a small country bakery that serves all freshly baked goods that are made daily. There’s nothing glitzy about Miller’s, it’s just a bakery with some really rockin’ baked goods. What you’ll find is dependent on what they decide to make, and what time of the day you’re there. One of their specialties is their fry pie. Folded over dough with different fruit fillings, drizzled with a sugary glaze. They are known for these and they go fast. If there aren’t any in the racks, ask the person behind the counter. They have tons of cookies, donuts and pies and everything they make lacks the chemicals and preservatives you are so used to eating with baked goods. It is simply good food.
Kauffman’s Country Bakery
Kauffman’s is across the street from Heini’s Cheese Chalet (one stop shopping!) and has a great selection of breads. They have samples available so you can find your favorite. There are many selections of bread with jalapeno or fruits, some American varieties, but also some types of European breads. Great pies, brownies and cookies are also available.
Coblentz Chocolate Company
In the heart of Holmes County you’ll find Coblentz Chocolates. The hand-made chocolates are divine! There’s something different about Coblentz’ chocolate, but I just can’t seem to describe what it is. It is smooth and creamy and melts in your mouth. They make lots of good favorites such as truffles and caramels, but they also make snappers (nuts, caramel and just a tad bit of chocolate) and my personal favorite, the Rocky Road bar. Chocolate with nuts and marshmallows and what I swear is a hint of peanut butter. This place is a must for a food tour in Amish Country.
Java Jo Coffee Bar
In downtown Berlin you’ll find the Java Jo Coffee Bar. While a great coffee place probably isn’t what you would expect to find in the heart of Amish Country, that’s what Java Jo Coffee Bar is. A nice, laid-back place to kick up your feet and relax the coffee they serve is top notch. They have quite a few great varieties of specialty and frozen drinks.
Walnut Creek Cheese
This is your opportunity to shop where local Amish and Mennonites do. According to their website, they serve 10,000 to 20,000 people weekly. It is a very large market that carries a lot of local products including a extensive selection of bulk foods, baked goods, Amish meats and around 50 varieties of their locally produced cheese. There’s also a café, deli and gift shop.
Oh, the restaurants…. There are quite a few great restaurants in the area that serve up home cooking and you won’t be disappointed in any of them. Some offer a European flair and many of their dishes that show the heritage of the people in the area. Many restaurants offer their food ‘family style,’ which consists of big bowls of dishes to pass around to your family. Many offer a buffet option that allows you to try several of their dishes. My advice: skip the salad and save room for a piece of made-from-scratch pie.
Here are some good choices: