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 cafĂ© 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.

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