A Taste of the Holiday Spirit
AT ELKHART LAKE
Photo credit: FLYING COLORS Drone Cinematography+Photography
Escape to Elkhart Lake, Wisconsin, for a tasty and relaxing way to usher in the holidays. Surrounded by the glacial hills of the Kettle Moraine, Elkhart Lake celebrates the holiday season with enticing cuisine and an annual Old World Christmas Market at The Osthoff Resort.
Let The Osthoff Resort (Osthoff.com) be your eco-minded base as you take in the many holiday activities in the area or on the property itself. The resort is perched at the edge of picturesque, 292-acre Elkhart Lake. Featuring spacious and luxurious all-suite rooms that include full kitchens, The Osthoff Resort is perfect for couples, families with kids or even multigenerational travelers eager to ring in the holidays with some cheer.
Originally opened in 1886 for travelers arriving with steamer trunks, the resort was recently remodeled with the environment in mind and is certified as a Travel Green Wisconsin (TravelWisconsin.com/travel-resources/travel-green-wisconsin) property. Growing fields on-premise provide more than 13,000 pounds of seasonal fresh produce and herbs annually for its cooking school and restaurants. There’s even a kitchen compost program that collects food scraps like coffee grounds and potato skins.
Festive Farm to Fork Fun
Give an early gift to your favorite cook that will keep on giving long afterwards. The L’ecole de la Maison Cooking School (CookingSchoolAtOsthoff.com) offers guests a casual, fun and delicious way to learn some new cooking skills. Rub elbows with a chef and join others in preparing a five-course meal or another culinary selection, then grab a seat at a long, white linen-covered table to enjoy the feast, complete with a chilled bottle of wine.
In a spacious, start-of-the-art kitchen with a large center island, each participant takes over a part of the from-scratch meal with the tools, ingredients and recipe. While you could prepare a traditional French Christmas dinner that includes roast goose, arugula salad and garlic potato duchess, the cooking school also offers other classes, like Wisconsin Traditions, with its focus on locally grown ingredients used in simple, hearty dishes. There’s a class on appetizers, too.
Families with small children line up for Brunch with Santa on December 1, 8 and 15. The holiday buffet table includes a hot cocoa and pancake bar. Because it’s all about the kids here, everything is served from three-foot-high tables. There’s a Brunch with St. Nicholas on December 2 and 9. Also for the kids are cookie decorating and ornament-making Children’s Workshops on December 1, 8 and 15.
The acclaimed Aspira Spa’s (Aspiraspa.com) holistic approach—with massages that go by the names of Sacred Waters, Moroccan Hot Oil, Cedars and Chakra Balancing—is perfectly balanced by the soothing feng shui design of the facility itself. Capturing the healing wisdom of indigenous peoples from around the world, many of the personalized massages and other treatments available also draw from local flora or the lake water.
Start or finish your spa experience in the Meditation Sanctuary in one of the lounges or the shared lounge with whirlpool. Spa guests can stay as long as they wish prior to or after their massage or treatment.
On the grounds and across the street from The Osthoff Resort and set up in a spacious, heated outdoor tent, the Old World Christmas Market, held through December 9, features aisles of specialty shops overflowing with nutcrackers, glass ornaments, fine clothing and handmade jewelry. Reminiscent of the German Christkindlesmarkt (ChristKindlesMarkt.de/en/), there’s even Nuremberg bratwurst, potato pancakes and Father Christmas walking around with a cane and wearing his berry-red, fur-trimmed hat.
On December 8 and 9, a visit to the historic Wade House (Wadehouse.WisconsinHistory.org) in nearby Greenbush, Wisconsin, just down the road from Elkhart Lake, celebrates Christmas past, complete with hot mulled cider, Christmas pudding and even a tree adorned with flickering candles. Musicians greet visitors at the LEED-silver certified Visitor Center and the Wesley W. Jung Carriage Museum before they hop on a horse-drawn wagon for a ride down to the decorated Wade House Stagecoach Inn.
Bring along cross-country skis and hit the trails at the nearby 30,000-acre Kettle Moraine State Park (StateParks.com/kettle_moraine_state_forest_in_wisconsin.html). Or, stroll around the historic village of Elkhart Lake, browse the gift or antique shops or pick up a bottle of wine to toast in the new year. Award-winning sommelier and Vintage Elkhart Lake (VintageElkhartLake.com) owner Jaclyn Stuart can guide your selection of that perfect bottle of wine or some of the many other regionally made products she sells.
John D. Ivanko and Lisa Kivirist are widely published authors of Farmstead Chef, Soil Sisters and Homemade for Sale. They live on the solar-powered and organic Inn Serendipity Farm and Bed & Breakfast, in Wisconsin. For more information, call 608-329-7056 or visit InnSerendipity.com.
A Taste of Elkhart Lake
Arugula Salad with Roasted Beets and Hazelnut Crusted Chevre
Yields: 8 to 10 servings
3 medium red beets, trimmed and scrubbed
2 Tbsp extra virgin olive oil
Pinch sea salt
Pinch black pepper, freshly ground
2 heads Boston bibb lettuce
6 cups baby arugula
1 recipe sherry-shallot vinaigrette
1 lb chevre cheese, room temperature
¾ cup hazelnuts, peeled
Pierce the beets with a paring knife then rub with olive oil, salt and pepper.
Wrap in beets in foil and roast in oven at 350 degrees F until easily pierced with a knife (about 45 minutes, depending on size).
Peel the beets while they are still warm.
Cut the beets in half, then slice into one-eighth-inch slices.
Set aside beets lightly covered, cool to room temperature.
Preheat oven to 350 degrees F.
Place nuts on a flat baking pan.
Bake until well browned, about 10-15 minutes (break one in half; it should be brown in the center).
Let cool completely, then grind finely in a food processor.
Place cheese on a sheet of parchment paper and bring to room temperature.
Coat the cheese completely with the roasted and chopped hazelnuts.
Roll the chevre log tightly in the parchment paper.
Slice with a sharp knife through the paper into 10 rounds.
Dress the beets with a little vinaigrette, arrange on a plate shingled in a semicircle.
Dress and mound Boston bibb and arugula to the side of the beets.
Lay the hazelnut crusted chevre on the plate against the greens and beets.
ield: 1 cup
4 tsp shallots, minced
1 tsp Dijon mustard
4 Tbsp sherry wine vinegar
¾ cup extra-virgin olive oil
To taste sea salt
To taste pepper, freshly ground
Combine shallots, mustard and vinegar in mixing bowl.
Whisking vigorously, pour the oil slowly into the vinegar mixture to emulsify.
Season with salt and pepper to taste (to taste, lightly coat the lettuce leaf that you will be eating with the dressing).
Recipes courtesy of L’ecole de la Maison Cooking School at The Osthoff Resort.