Thursday, March 28, 2013

Springing into Action at the Goldmoor Inn & Dining

Open dining on the outdoor patio
over-looking the Mississippi River.

The Goldmoor Inn & Dining is delighted that spring has finally arrived (hopefully to stay) and we are gearing up for a busy season.  Our spring menu is now being offered in our dining room for guests to enjoy, weddings are taking place and there will be fun events for all to attend.  Innkeepers, Patricia and Tom Smith, and their staff are eager to kick things into full swing and welcome new and returning guests. 

One event that our kitchen staff is especially excited about is the creation of the Golden Knight’s Guild dinners.  On the third Friday of each month, the public is invited to enjoy gourmet courses prepared by Chef Taylor Harkness and receive a culinary experience unique to the Galena area.  The menu and location of the dinner changes with each month and guests may choose to purchase a Guild membership to ensure they do not miss a meal!  A returning event will be the Goldmoor’s First Friday Barbecues located under our Pavilion with live entertainment.  This year’s themes promise to exciting and engaging for all.

In an effort to play a part in encouraging the importance of health and wellness, the Goldmoor Inn & Dining has partnered with 365fitt to bring yoga and cooking demonstration classes to any who wish to attend.  One hour yoga sessions will take place out on the bluffs overlooking the breathtaking views of the Mississippi River (weather permitting) and will be followed by a one hour healthy cooking demonstration and lunch presented by Innkeeper Patricia Smith and 365fitt owner, Kathy Kent.

Not only is spring in bloom, but so is love at the Goldmoor Inn & Dining.  Many couples are planning to say “I Do” this spring and summer at our venue.  From elopements to large wedding celebrations, the Goldmoor can accommodate your wedding wishes with our majestic grounds, grand-deluxe suites and ready-to-please staff.  Although we have many dates booked, there are available weekdays and weekends open for anyone still looking for a 2013 ceremony and reception.

As you can see the whether you are looking for to enjoy a delicious meal, escape for a night or two, unwind with rejuvenating spa services, a night out with friends, or have an event, the Goldmoor Inn & Dining has it all.  The next time you’re driving down Blackjack Road, turn onto Sandhill Road and come say hello to us here and ask what upcoming events and specials we have going on.  We promise you won’t be disappointed!

Goldmoor Inn Galena, IL

Monday, February 4, 2013

Happy Valentine's Day!

Did you know that Valentine’s Day is the number one day for proposals? Yes, it’s time to think champagne, flowers, chocolates. Quaint Downtown Galena is decorated in red and pink, our local bakeries are filled sugary-smelling sweets and chocolate shops are overflowing with sweet delectables.  
With wedding season just around the corner we have engagements on our minds here at the Inn. Our Innkeeper Patricia says in her years as wedding coordinator at Goldmoor Inn, the most popular place to get engaged in Galena is the lovely footbridge .. bridging two families together. Our current wedding coordinator, Christine’s favorite engagement spot? A hot air balloon ride. Visit for more details. And what is more romantic than a horse-drawn carriage? Check out these romantic packages at We are also a big fan of Amelia’s Galena Ghost Tours, who are hosting a romantic Valentines and Vinneyard Tour. What a lovely idea … wine, roses, chocolates, and romantic dining. All the details are available at
Are you thinking about getting engaged on the most romantic day of the year? Or do you really want to woo your Valentine this Valentine’s Day? For three nights only, Feb. 14, 15 + 16, for one special couple we will WAIVE the fee to reserve our elegant private gazebo for Valentine dinner. With flowers, twinkling lights, an exclusive view of the sunset and soft music, it's the most romantic spot on the Inn grounds. What a perfect place to get engaged! First come, first served, so call to reserve now. Plan your Valentine’s Day at the restaurant Open Table just named “Most Romantic Restaurant” in the Chicago/Illinois region.

We have some very cool things planned here at Goldmoor Inn & Dining for the coming few months. Just around the corner, we have a lovely and amazing Valentine’s Dinner planned. February 14, 15 and 16, enjoy a decadent, romantic, candle-lit feast including our chef-selected Charcuterie Plate, Proscuitto Salad, choice of Veal Porterhouse or Sea Scallop & Garden Salad, and rich Layered Mousse Cake for just $69 per person plus tax and gratuity. You may also add champagne and chocolate covered strawberries to woo your special Valentine.
We have oh so many ways for you to impress your Valentine here at the Inn. How about whipping out and dusting off your culinary skills? Learn how to cook fresh Salmon en Papillote or savory Beef Wellington in our world class kitchen with our highly-trained Goldmoor Chefs. We offer private cooking classes each Monday at 2:00 p.m. $65.00 per person – what an inventive date idea!
Culinary classes too “hands-on” for you? How would you and your Valentine fancy dinner at our Chef’s table? Sip wine and watch first-hand as our highly-skilled Goldmoor Chefs prepare your dinner before your eyes from our exquisite "Chef's Table."
How could we possibly have more romantic events up our sleeves, you ask? Reserve now for our fabulous Wine Lover's Dinner on Saturday, March 23. Who doesn’t love decadent wine and food pairings? Treat the foodie in you. Also, visit us at the Farley Bridal Fair in Farley, Iowa on Sunday, February 12. And Goldmoor Inn, along with I Do Bridal, is hosting the Galena Bridal Expo at Turner Hall in Galena on Sunday, April 28th. It’s going to be a gorgeous day of wedding vendors, free giveaways and a stunning fashion show for weddings and proms. Plan to stop by!
Bon appétit and Bonne Saint Valentin!

Friday, January 11, 2013

Magical things are happening!

Happy 2013! Spicy and thrilling goodies are brewing around here. Our brand new Guest Services Manager, Erica Wall, our Sales and Event Coordinator, Christine Pirkle, and our Executive Chef, Taylor Harkness, have been stirring up ideas with Innkeeper Patricia with your fun in mind for 2013.
Would you like to be enchanted? Who wouldn't? Well, you are cordially invited to our Golden Knights Guild monthly dining club. The elite inaugural dinner will be held Friday, January 18th at 6:30 p.m. for a low cost of $49 per person. For next week's event, we are planning a truly mystical evening with your fellow dining enthusiasts at our castle in the country. Medieval attire is optional but heavily encouraged! Here is a sneak peak of what Chef Taylor has planned for the evening's themed fare: Lamb Chop Lollipop, Cioppino Flaming Seafood Stew, Fresh Sorbet, Stuffed Filet Mignon with Chive and Blue Cheese, and select wine pairing. There is no membership commitment for the first dinner, because we are certain you will be hooked! Our Golden Knights Guild Monthly Dining Club is a members-only club that will meet once per month for a divine culinary experience at unexpected locations ... perhaps al fresco in the park, a grand hall, even the Innkeeper's home estate. Executive Chef Taylor will present coursed and themed menus while sharing his culinary experiences with the guests via many avenues, including demonstrations, techniques, recipes and more. Guild membership fee is $100 per person, $175 per couple. Members who attend all 12 dinners will receive a voucher to be used toward an overnight stay at the Inn. Members will also receive a 10% discount card to be used on Goldmoor Dining's seasonal restaurant menus. It pays to be a member!
And listen to this. We have unveiled our Gold Key Passport savings for the month of January. This seriously is our largest savings ever. The passport includes four fabulous overnight stays in any of our 13 grand deluxe suites for $1000. Passports will be sold exclusively from January 1st through 31st. So hurry! Visit for restrictions and blackout dates.
Also in the news of "Yay," Free Tuesday is back! For the month of January, stay any three nights including a Tuesday, and the Tuesday is completely free. What a great idea for a last-minute getaway. Sip some hot chocolate or sparkly champagne by a crackling fire and admire the gorgeous view of the river and bluffs. Serene and tranquil.
"I love you" isn't so hard to say. We will help you with some ambiance, romance, wine, and a delectable dinner. Valentine's Day is just around the corner and we are offering a special Sweetheart's Dinner on Saturday, February 16th. Bring your special person and savor the moment.
We love the pretty, white and happy season of weddings around here, and it is approaching rapidly. If you are out and about locally this weekend, be sure to stop by the Grand River Center in Dubuque and see us at Bride Meets Wedding's table at A Grand Event Bridal Show. Our fair-weather weekends are quickly filling up with blushing brides and beaming grooms. Anticipation is exquisite!
Cheerio and Happy New Year!

Wednesday, October 3, 2012

Autumn in Galena

I grew up in Galena. And, as life would have it, I moved away, romanced by the lure of bustling city life: the world of diverse people, universities, artists, museums, theater, night life … a world so much different than the horse-drawn carriages and country stores of Galena. But, thinking back, during that time I spent away, it was this time of year, early October, that I most longed for my home in Galena. Our little town transforms into a sweet-smelling snow globe of swirling auburn, burnt orange and cinnamon-colored leaves. I recall sitting in my city apartment, watching the endless spill of traffic, lights and movement, and these are the things I would miss about Galena: the crackle of the crunchy fallen leaves as you walk through Grant Park, past the trickling of the fountain, across the pedestrian bridge; the panoramic view of downtown with its red-bricked buildings, tall steeples, sloped hills, train trolleys, and the river, so still and clean, with a lone loon paddling, a perfect V fanning out behind him; the toasted smell of caramel corn, candy apples, buttered popcorn, fresh cinnamon rolls, and baked bread wafting through the town square; the warm glow of Halloween twinkle lights strung from shop to shop along the quaint Main Street; smiling, familiar faces waving a greeting and the soft strum of a local musician on a wooden bench; shop windows full of delicious things like mittens, scarves, candles,  chocolates, oil paintings and pottery; the jumble of shoppers and sightseers, carrying bags, laughing, sipping hot cider, chai tea, or warm mocha latte; the lazy, cozy feeling of lingering at a café window seat for a late lunch or lovely glass of wine. Galena in the Fall is a rare jewel.

Since making my way back to this area, I am enveloped by these autumn vignettes from right here. And now, working in marketing in a small, close-knit community, I have been introduced to even more of the outlying nooks, meandering roads and friendly businesses that make this part of the Midwest so sought-after. For example, if you wind yourself back over the serene Galena River and out of town on Blackjack Road, you’ll be treated to unparalleled country-esque views featuring pumpkin farms, an apple orchard, a field of fuzzy Alpacas with long eyelashes, a group of wooly sheep and little lambs, and a farm of all-white cows, a visual contrast against the crisp blue sky. Follow the hilly road and veer to the right, and the curving passage opens up to the castle-like property of Goldmoor Inn & Dining. Our views across the river bluffs are nothing less than breathtaking … purple, red and gold-leafed trees, reflected in the deep waters of the Mississippi River, birds gliding high above the banks, horses grazing peacefully at a farm, and a steam train, puffing along gently. Autumn is a splendid time of year to visit our country Inn that began in 1981 as a two-room bed and breakfast. Now Goldmoor Inn & Dining boasts 18 luxury suites, including two authentic log cabins and two quaint, private cottages. Just this morning, as I passed through the scrumptious-smelling dining room during breakfast, two guests were enjoying their gourmet coffee, Pumpkin Medley French Toast and fresh farm bacon, and they were alternately assessing the view of the river with binoculars. “See anything good?” I asked them in passing. They said, “Oh, just a family of deer, three wild turkeys, a lone fisherman, a river boat, a train and two eagles.” Which made me smile.

Whether you are visiting Galena for a weekend, a day, or you are lucky enough to be a resident of this part of the country, plan to stop at Goldmoor Inn & Dining for dinner. Just this month, Innkeeper Patricia has collaborated with the talents of Chef Taylor, who comes to us from Le Cordon Bleu in Minneapolis, to introduce our new Fall Harvest Menu. We are featuring fresh blue mussels, butternut squash bisque, scarlet snapper, stuffed quail, squash ravioli, grilled pork with apple butter, catfish o’brien, as well as our infamous blue cheese encrusted ribeye steak and beef wellington. All our menu items are prepared fresh with made-from-scratch sauces and sides. We’ve added an award winning wine to our diverse cellar: the 2008 Basel Cellars Claret from Walla Wally Valley, which pairs delectably with our rustic Fall dishes.

And events? We’ve got ‘em! This very weekend we are greatly anticipating Galena’s annual Country Fair Weekend, and beyond that we look forward to many special events over the 2012 holiday season … our Nouveau Wine Weekend Dinner, Christmas Carol Dinners, Luminaria Progressive Dinner, and our New Year’s Eve Dinner Party. Please visit our website at for all the event details, and for exclusive packages and specials. See you soon. And enjoy the little things.

Monday, October 1, 2012

Christmas at the Goldmoor Inn

Goldmoor InnGalena, IL

Saturday, August 4, 2012

Weddings: Less is more for a happier happily ever after

A sparkly magic is in the air at the Inn on a wedding day. The staff is aflutter … chefs are chopping and prepping, coordinators are snapping and fitting fresh linens, florists are buzzing about pretty arrangements, musicians are tuning instruments, and brides and bridesmaids are blushing and gushing. Follow our very own Wedding Coordinator, Erica, around on a wedding day and you’ll learn the true meaning of “multitask.” She never stops moving, yet somehow, she manages to fly under the radar while checking and rechecking on the details of the food, timing, guests, table settings, lighting, music, bride, groom, family, weather and ambiance. Her behind-the-scenes presence puts the brides at ease and moves the ceremony and reception along at a perfectly-timed pace.

Wedding and event demand has been increasing in the past couple years as Galena, Illinois, has become a popular “destination wedding” spot. “2012 is our biggest wedding and event year ever,” says Erica, between tying bows, buffing champagne glasses, brewing iced tea, and dipping chocolate strawberries. “We have more than 70 weddings and events planned. I personally love the weddings days!” she says as she arranges a buffet of fresh fruits and vegetables for a wedding party. No matter the details, arrangements and preparations, at the end of the day, it all hinges on two little but meaningful words: I do.

One particularly sunny wedding day in July, I ask Erica if she currently sees any specific trends in weddings this year. Anything new, different, or recurring? Turns out, she does. “Less is more.” Brides and grooms are hosting smaller weddings with more intimate guest lists and fewer members in the bridal party. Many of this summer’s weddings consisted of only the bride and groom, or the two of them with just a few close guests. “Small weddings are so private and elegant,” says Erica. “The bride and groom can really focus on each other and what they want for the day instead of being distracted by the details that can take over a larger ceremony.”

From the wedding coordinator’s perspective, the “less is more” theme is prevalent even in the beginning planning stages of an event. More often than not, weddings today at our Inn are booked not years in advance, but months or even weeks. “I’ve had brides and grooms call to book a wedding for the following week.” And can she pull it off? Without a wrinkle.

This current trend carries right through to the reception as well. Brides and grooms are often opting for modern small plates, bite-sized hors d’oeuvres, or even a simple champagne toast served with fresh berries, as opposed to a full sit-down plated meal. And as opposed to formal seated tables, we are seeing more requests for high-top tables and no chairs for standing, mingling and munching.

Are cakes following this trend? Erica herself is a seasoned patisserie chef. “Cupcake weddings are extremely trendy right now,” she confirms. In lieu of a large traditional wedding cake, many brides recently have chosen pretty ruffled cupcakes or multiple small round cakes. There are so many cute ways to arrange cupcakes … in a tiered stand, on a sweets table, or packaged individually as guest gifts. Jennifer Noel of All Things Sweet Shoppe in Dubuque makes divine cupcakes from scratch for weddings weekly. She assures us, “Everyone loves the diminutive treats – they’re pretty much a guaranteed crowd-pleaser.” Jennifer tells us that Build-Your-Own-Cupcake Buffets are hot right now. All Things Sweet Shoppe provides “naked cakes” along with different buttercream flavors and toppings for guests. Couples have also been choosing a full dessert bar which can include the bride and groom’s choice of chocolates, pies, cheesecakes, cookies, gourmet cupcakes, caramel corn, ice cream and a chocolate fountain. What a fresh and savory way to opt out of the expense of a sit-down plated meal!

“I have seen a minimalist effect in flowers too,” says our Innkeeper Patricia Smith, the gardening mastermind behind Goldmoor Gardens. Many of our brides choose a classic fresh-cut bouquet from our Goldmoor Gardens, which can consist of wildflowers, hydrangeas, roses, daisies and lilies, depending what is blooming at the moment. One of our recent brides chose all white for dresses and linens, and carried a single orange gerbera daisy. The effect was stunning and the photographs so lovely. Less is always more with wedding décor at Goldmoor Inn & Dining. The property and grounds provide such a picturesque backdrop for your special day that the extra expense is not needed. Rebecca Dimmlich of Valley Perennials Florist & Greenhouse in Galena agrees. “We have done a lot of wedding work this year with hydrangea flowers … two stems in a vase make a huge impact with lower cost.”

Pamela Porter of Galena’s "Hair I Do's" has noticed that less is more with hair and makeup too. She has done many recent looks that are sweet and natural, not as heavily made-up and coiffed or sprayed as we’ve seen in past years. As wedding planning website says, “If you think it’s too much, it probably is. Less is more.” The Knot concurs!

Spanning across the lifetime of the Inn, Goldmoor Inn & Dining has hosted more than 500 weddings. We offer several options for wedding and reception locations on the 27-acre property: the outdoor Pavilion sits on the cusp of the inner meadow surrounded by beautiful flowered gardens and can accommodate up to 250 ceremony guests or 100 seated reception guests; the indoor Great Room accommodates up to 100 ceremony guests or 56 seated dinner guests; and the temperature-controlled Gazebo seats 2-10 people for a more intimate ceremony and reception. Erica says that each reception is custom-tailored to the honored guests' personal tastes and wishes. “We’ve done Halloween-themed weddings, Renaissance weddings, forest weddings, and barefoot weddings, even a camouflage wedding!” Before she flits off again to check the fresh flowers in the cooler, I inquire of Erica the most unique request she has ever received from a bridal couple. “A Harley Davidson motorcycle cake,” she quips, without missing a beat. “A very whimsical bride and groom!”
For more information about weddings at Goldmoor Inn & Dining, please visit Check out our mid-week Bride-On-A-Budget special!

Saturday, May 12, 2012

Sheer Elegance in a Crust

Gazing at Goldmoor Inn & Dining's new spring menu, I notice one thing that hasn't changed. Beef Wellington. Why is this? I ask Innkeeper Patricia. "It is our SIGNATURE dish!" she replies, with a large and sweeping flourish of her hand and a mini bow. A signature dish, I think. Sounds like a foodie blog topic. (See? I'm always thinking.)

Signature dish. I nod knowingly, whist thinking, what the heck is Beef Wellington? In the photograph of it I stumbled across in my "top secret signature dish" files, it kind of resembles, dare I say, pot pie? Good ole reliable Wikipedia informs me that Beef Wellington is an English dish named after Arthur Wellesley, 1st Duke of Wellington. Some theories go a step further and suggest this was due to his love of a dish of beef, truffles, mushrooms, Madeira wine, and pâté cooked in pastry, but there is a noted lack of evidence supporting this. In fact, the earliest evidence of a recipe to bear this name appeared in a 1966 cookbook. So much for historical England. Hmm.

I walk into the fabulous Goldmoor kitchen, one of my favorite places in the inn, to hover while Chef Ryan readies the ingredients for his famously famous Beef Wellington. However, Beef Wellington, cute Chef Ryan with the Elvis Costello glasses informs me, is prepared in stages. Many, many, many, meticulous stages. This works well in a gourmet kitchen because some of it can be made in advance and then prepared to order during dinner service. I watch as Chef Ryan double boils the demi glaze in a steam jacket kettle, a joyfully painstaking process, he assures me. Watching him slice and chop mushrooms for the wild mushroom duxelles pate is mesmerizing. He gingerly stirs them in shallots, onion and butter until all moisture has evaporated, then tosses in a bit of parsley.

Anyone who has seen Chef Ramsey on "Hell’s Kitchen" spear apart a Beef Wellington and angrily throw it “in the trash,” plate and all, knows that temperature is key in this dish. Chef Ryan is thankfully much calmer than Gordon Ramsey. The beef fillet, he tells me, must always be served slightly pink in the center. Thus constant use of a meat thermometer. And the pastry, well, who doesn't find pastry tough? The dough is sheerer than tissue paper, and he lays it out as if it will shatter. Using a pastry brush, he delicately sweeps an egg/butter wash over the dough, folds, seals with a bit of very cold water, and repeats. I blink, and he has the Wellingtons all bundled and lined up like little soldiers, ready to march into the oven and get toasty. I realize at this point, there is no way I will be whipping this up at home.

Don't think you can whip this up at home either? Luckily, cute Chef Ryan offers fabulous cooking classes during which he will teach you all the ins, outs and crusts of Beef Wellington. Classes are each Monday at 2 p.m. and, judging from the amount of giggling coming from the kitchen, they are a fun time.

After much prodding, I get Sir Chef to give me an "easy" make-at-home recipe for the Impressive All Extravagant Beef Wellington. Have at it. The scariest part is the puff pastry. Chef Cute assures me it's a snap.

Easy Beef Wellington NOT ala Goldmoor
• 2 filets mignon, 1-inch thick
• 2 sheets puff pastry
• Salt and pepper to taste
• 1 Tbsp. unsalted butter
• 1 egg

1. Thaw puff pastry according to package directions.

2. Filets are often irregular in shape, if yours are use a piece of kitchen twine to tie them into a round.

3. Season filets generously with salt and pepper.

4. Pre-heat a medium (10-inch) non-stick skillet over medium heat. Add butter and swirl in pan to melt.

5. Cook filets on both sides for about 3 minutes until well-browned, then brown the edges. Note: Regularly check the internal temperature of the filets, they should not be cooked past 120F at the center. Allow filets to cool, then wrap in plastic and chill for at least a couple of hours.

6. Heat oven to 400F. Whisk together egg and 1 tablespoon water (egg wash)

7. Wrap the filets in puff pastry. Brush with egg wash, and bake in center of oven until golden brown; about 30 minutes.

Voila! You will need a lovely sauce to accompany your masterful dish, and trust me, if watching Chef Ryan is any indication, you cannot make the Goldmoor Demi Glaze in your home kitchen, unless you are into steam jacket kettles. As an alternative, our resourceful and lovely friend Kimberly, owner and proprietor of "The Grateful Gourmet" and "GG2" in downtown Galena, suggests the delicious Maker’s Mark Bourbon Sauce. “This particular sauce has won tasting awards and pairs perfectly with Beef Wellington. This sauce has a real fan following – some of my customers even pick up four or five jars at a time.” So there you have it – add sauce and serve your concoction with steamed spring vegetables, and trust me, your date, friend, family, or dog will be impressed.

If all of this is too much, feel free to dress in a pretty outfit, drive to the lovely Goldmoor Inn & Dining, sit at one of our elegant candle-lit tables overlooking the bluffs of the Mississippi River, sip a glass of Innkeeper Patricia's Private Reserve Trisaetum Trisae Pinot Noir, order the signature Beef Wellington from our spring menu, and wait while Chef Ryan does all the work. Bon appetit! Or, as they say in England, Eat already!