Here’s something you can sink your teeth into
Wikipedia defines Foodies as a person who has an ardent or refined interest in food and who eats food not out of hunger but due to their interest or hobby. If this describes you then you’re going to love the Amana Colonies.
The Colonies have a rich history of great foods. Our German roots and communal heritage provide a wonderful baseline for our foods. Add to that some modern innovation and imagination and you have the Amana Colonies food scene.
If you’re spending one day or several, here are some suggestions on what to see and taste.
- A great place to start the day is at the Hahn Bakery in Middle Amana. This is the only original hearth oven bakery remaining from the communal era and they make fantastic coffee cakes. You’ll want to get there early or call ahead and have one reserved as they are almost always sold out by 10 am. They bake bread and cookies and several types of coffee cakes but the ones with fruit or cinnamon filling are the most popular.
- Take some time to browse the different shops that feature foods and most likely you will find they are sampling something. The Amana Meat Shop should be high on your list. They offer samples of their different summer sausages and jerky so you can nibble as you look around. There might be a scent of hickory in the air as the old smokehouse is right off of the specialty room that features the different bratwurst flavors they offer. Amana Brats are something special; a recipe that was brought from Germany and changed very little over the years. You might grab some Landjaegers (hunters sausage sticks) to snack on for later. You’ll find that they will ship their cured meat directly to your door with their hams a featured item at Easter and Christmas.
- Next, check out the Amana General Store. They have a full line of food products from pickled beets to jams and jellies. There is always something to sample and in the lower level, you’ll find Amana Coffee and Tea Company. They have wonderful flavors of java and will offer you a sample as you browse around. If you are crazy for coffee this is a great place for you, with a large number of flavors and samples.
- Just down the street is the Chocolate Haus. Here, they’re hand dipping chocolates and creating all types of sweet treats. They always have samples of their yummy fudge but that’s just the start. Look around their cases and you’ll find chocolate covered toffee, turtles, hand dipped caramel apples and a variety of new creations.
- At Fireside Winery in the Village, you’ll be impressed by the variety of cheeses. Some are local and others imported. You’ll also find a variety of jams, jellies, and specialty foods along with wines from Fireside Winery which is just down the road of few miles.
- If wine is your thing you’ll find a nice variety with four wineries in the village of Amana. Fruit wines are a Colony staple as many years ago it was difficult to grow traditional wine grapes in the Midwest. The Amana Colonies became famous for the sweet fruit wines made from almost any fruit you can think of including rhubarb (Piestengle) and even dandelions. Ackerman Winery and the Village Winery specialize in this style of wine. Today, the Colonies also feature award-winning grape wines. Fireside Winery and White Cross Cellars have won numerous awards for their dry and sweet grape wines. One of the best things about visiting the wineries in the Colonies is that they all give free samples. It’s a great concept, you get to try it before you buy it.
- Speaking of award-winning drinks, Millstream Brewing has also won some prestigious awards for their handcrafted beer. Their standard lager and amber beers are favorites as are the seasonal brews they make. In the fall of the year, they roll out the barrels of Oktoberfest for our local celebration and it is a perfect match for the cooler autumn weather. Step up to their bar for a small sample or purchase a stein and relax in their beer garden.
- Even though you’ve been sampling your way across the Colonies at some point you will want a meal. We have several options from a full family style meal to sandwiches to wood-fired pizza. While they serve plated meals and sandwiches, the Ox Yoke Inn and Ronneburg Restaurant specialize in the traditional family style meals. This is a must to experience but save a little room for the homemade desserts. We guarantee you won’t leave hungry. If you are looking for a more pub style atmosphere head down to Millstream Brau Haus. You’ll find sandwiches and some lighter German fare to match their beers.
Special food events are also scheduled throughout the year including April’s “Take a Bite: A 3 Day Food Festival” along with 5 Course Vintner Dinners by the Ox Yoke Inn and White Cross Cellars that include wine pairings and Communal Dinners by the Amana Heritage Society served in the Colonies only surviving intact communal kitchen.
Foodies prepare yourselves, in the Colonies, you’ll find one delicious bite after another.
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