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VOL. 39 | NO. 23 | Friday, June 5, 2015

Restful weekend, great salad a good combo

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I hope everyone enjoyed the Memorial Day weekend. Ours was downright relaxing: Hubby and I holed up in a cabin at Mt. Magazine State Park.

Other than a black bear and the deer we saw, which was quite exciting, we had a very low-key weekend (which was exactly what we intended).

We did make a trip down the mountain to Wiederkehr’s Winery and Weinkeller Restaurant to have lunch. That’s always a treat.

The Weinkeller Restaurant serves Swiss and other European specialties in a charming, candlelit surrounding. The original wine cellar, hand-dug by Johann Andreas Wiederkehr in 1880, was converted to a restaurant in 1967, and is now listed on the National Register of Historic Places.

If you’ve never ventured to the winery, you’re missing out on part of historic Arkansas’ past. Here’s a bit of information from the website:

“In 1880, Johann Andreas Wiederkehr and his family emigrated from Switzerland to Altus, Arkansas. (Altus comes from the Latin word for “high.”)

He chose St. Mary’s Mountain, near Altus, as the location of his home because the area’s mountains, valleys and ridges had many different microclimates, including some resembling the grape-growing climates in Europe’s finest wine regions. Johann dug the cellar, which is now the restaurant.”

Once you walk through the door, you immediately know you’re in a cellar. Although it’s lit enough for one to see, it’s still dark enough that your eyes have to adjust.

It’s also cool, and when it rains, water seeps in around the front door, creating a small pool waitresses attempt to mop up when not taking care of customers.

Strawberry Romaine Salad

1 cup vegetable oil
3/4 cup sugar
1/2 cup red wine vinegar
2 cloves garlic, minced
1/2 teaspoon salt
1/2 teaspoon paprika
1/4 teaspoon ground white pepper
1 large head romaine lettuce
1 head Boston lettuce
1 pint strawberries
1 cup shredded Monterey Jack cheese
1 cup sugar-toasted walnuts

For the dressing, combine the oil, sugar, vinegar, garlic, salt, paprika, and pepper in a large jar; cover and shake vigorously. Store in refrigerator for up to one week.

For the salad, tear the romaine and Boston lettuce into bite-size pieces. Combine with the strawberries, cheese, and walnuts, and toss to mix. Shake the dressing and toss together. Serve immediately.

A note at the bottom says: Garnish with 1/2 jicama, cut into strips.

If you ask them about it, they’ll quickly tell you they hate when it rains. To them, it adds drudgery to their jobs; to us it adds to the ambience.

Lights strung around the ceiling and candles stuffed down into empty wine bottles on the tables are the only sources of light. The bottles are covered with layers of melted wax that has dripped down the sides for years.

The restaurant is quaint, cozy, and welcoming, and the chefs serve up a satisfying lunch on a rainy Saturday afternoon.

We’ve stayed at the Lodge quite a few times for Arkansas Press Association meetings. It’s a beautiful lodge located on a bluff at the highest point in Arkansas.

The view from of the Lodge and cabins is nothing but valley below. Far below. It’s a picturesque and breathtaking vista.

Our first time to stay in the cabins was just what the doctor ordered. It was quiet, peaceful and no one was around – no one but the black bear and the deer, which was an exciting sight!

The weather was cool, windy, foggy and rainy, but since we had absolutely nothing planned, it worked for us. Hubby needed some R&R, and I had my camera, so we were good. Our only regret was that we couldn’t stay longer.

So, you might be thinking that my recipe will be one from the Weinkeller Restaurant or from the Lodge – but it’s from neither.

Although the food at both places was excellent, I’m changing tracks.

One of my sons, David, has been dating a young lady, Jordan, for quite some time. David came home not long ago bragging about a salad her mother had made, so I asked if I could have the recipe.

As it turns out, Karen got the recipe from a cookbook we both own called “Apron Strings.” Unfortunately, I had stacked the cookbook in among my hundreds of others, so it was barely thumbed through.

I want to thank Karen for directing me to “Apron Strings” again. I’ve found many recipes I hope to soon make.

Kay Bona is an award-winning columnist and photographer. Contact her at kay@dailydata.com.

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