Travelling Ohio's Amish Country In Search Of Smoked Meats and Fresh Cheeses
Growing Up With An Amish Exposure
As a child, my parents loved to take drives in the country. Nearly every Sunday we would load up in the car in my hometown of Canton, Ohio and begin our journey down Interstate 77. Normally we would stop in the Dover/Beach City area and check out the flea markets that were held religiously in those areas. I can remember seeing for the first time an Amish buggy clip clopping down the road and it was an exciting moment.
Over the years I would see many of those buggies and interact in small ways with the people who would ride in them. They were always very friendly and went out of their way to help people. I really grew to respect that virtue and my curiosity was sparked as to who these folks were. What kind of a life did they live? Why did they choose to live without all of the things I thought were important and necessary? Living without electricity, televisions, and especially air conditioning seemed to be a sacrifice I didn't understand. That's crazy! But now, later in life, I get it.
Life the Way It Was Meant To Be
Now that I am in my forties, I can grasp the beauty of a simple life. We spend so much time trying to acquire material possessions and social status that we lose sight, many times, of what is really important in life. Living your life in the moment, being close to family and children, and respecting ourselves and the planet Earth are what's important. The Amish embrace these values and that is what has led them to live without the "creature comforts". In a phrase, the Amish life just makes you a better person, especially in the eyes of our Creator.
A Family Tradition
A Step Into The Past
Once we traveled down Route 250, we we came to the town of Wilmot. Here we turned left onto Route 62 and headed south through Winesburg to Route 515. Here we definitely had to make a stop at Michael Troyer's Trail Bologna store.
It is a tiny establishment that sits right off of the road and inside it looks like an old-school delicatessen. There are three glass cases that showcase their wonderful products with bar stool seating in the middle. Patrons can enjoy the bite-size cheese chunks, various bags of snacks like their local potato chips and pork skins, and my favorite and star attraction - fresh trail bologna.
This is the only place you can get this delicious meat fresh from the smoker. If you purchase it anywhere else, it will be wrapped in plastic. And the freshness definitely makes a difference in both flavor and texture. That's not to say the packaged version isn't any good, because it is just as excellent.
The trail bologna is all-beef and is derived from a family secret recipe that is over 100 years old. It has 110 calories per 2 ounce piece, so it is not too bulky in the stomach.
I highly recommend paying a visit here and if you would like to either Google Map them or give them a call, here is their information:
6552 Ohio 515
7 a.m. - 5 p.m. Mon-Fri
Dundee, Ohio 44624
7 a.m. - 4 p.m. Sat.
Closed on Sunday
A Quick Visit to Heini's Cheese Chalet
After leaving Troyer's, we traveled north on 515 back to Route 62 and made a left to head further south. Several miles down the road we came to the town of Bunker Hill. If you want to taste the best cheeses that Amish country has to offer, then you have to make a stop here.
Once you pull into the parking lot, you will see off to your right a beautiful landscape that symbolizes the simplicity of Amish life. Cattle dot the rolling hillsides as the rows and rows of farmland are woven into the landscape. The houses and farms are always well-kept, as it would be a rare sight to see a bunch of junk strewn across the property. Everything is clean and organized, as the Amish have some of the best work ethics in the world.
Once You Walk Inside
As you step through the doors you'll experience two things. One is the smell of fresh cheese curds with a linger of hardwood smoke in the air. The other would be the line of people you encounter as you make your way up the ramp. This place is usually very busy, as it has been every time I have made a visit.
There are over 50 kinds of cheeses that you can choose from - each one can be sampled with toothpicks that are provided. But, please, do not double dip after you have slid the toothpick between your teeth. A little advice on good etiquette - stab your cheese and then pull it off the toothpick and pop it in your mouth. Once that smooth creaminess melts into your mouth, you will know instantly why this place is always hopping.
How Is This Beautiful Creaminess Made?
If you have never had the opportunity to see how cheese is made, it is a cool experience. The following video not only shows this wonderful art form, but it also introduce you to Bob and Lisa Troyer, who currently own the establishment. You will hear their story and also get a view of the inside of their store. Enjoy!
Heini's Cheese Chalet Information
6005 County Highway 77
8 a.m. - 6 p.m. Mon-Sat.
Millersburg, Ohio 44654
Closed on Sundays
A Great Source for Using Heini's Cheese (from $1.00)
A Trip To Millersburg
Traveling further down Route 62 (which is now called Amish Country Byway) we glide into the town of Millersburg. This burg is essentially the Starbucks of the Amish community and that trait has its good points and bad points.
Nearly everyone who pays a visit has come to step back in time and get a taste of a simpler, more innocent lifestyle. Many folks just cannot imagine how they can still live the way they do in such an age of modern technology. But they do it with great pride, sticking fast to their traditions. The food is home-cooked, the crafts are handmade, and you can see, feel, and taste the quality and love that goes into each product.
Despite the Amish insistence to stay clean from the modern world, there is one fact they cannot avoid. They must make a living. And, at least in some way in order to survive, they must tap into the national economy. Here is where the conflict begins.
The Destiny of Tourism
I suppose that no matter what the Amish would like to believe, tourism is an inevitable evil. There are so many of us who need to take time, step out of our busy lives, and enjoy the serenity of a much calmer life. We bring all of this good feeling home with us through the craftsmanship of the Amish by purchasing antiques, decorations and various types of country artwork.
I remember walking into a candle shop in Millersburg and inside, father and son were doing a demonstration for the crowd. You could see the great care and patience put into each candle as it was dipped perhaps over a hundred times, the old-fashioned way, into the hot wax. Here in Amish country, trades are still passed down from elder to child, with a strict consistence of product. It is the beauty of owning an Amish-made gift. You know it is quality.
Her Latest Book to Be Released March 24th!
There are many within the Amish community who firmly believe in not meddling in "English" affairs. They are predominantly a Dutch family and they term us, the modern Americans, as the "English". It is generally believed that we are prone to following very sinful paths which involve, but are not limited to, promiscuity and materialism.
For some, it is prohibited that anyone interact with us because of the potential to be exposed to undesirable tendencies. Amish life is aimed at living according o the Scriptures and that is the motivation behind their dress, work ethic, and everyday lifestyle.
The "English" life can be so prohibited that taking photographs are banned. It is an interesting value if you think about it. A photo captures an exact moment in time and, in essence, a piece of your soul. Perhaps it is the maintenance of self-preservation that motivates many Amish to outlaw the use of cameras.
Berlin Antique Mall (also offers a train ride through the property)
4359 Ohio 39
9 a.m. - 5 p.m. Mon-Thurs
Millersburg, Ohio 44654
9 a.m. - 6 p.m. Fri & Sat.