Carroll County is definitely rural – it’s not really close to any big “city” – it’s an hour from Akron, 90 min from Pittsburgh, 2+ hours from Columbus…which made my husband say, “What are we going to do there?”. Turns out we had PLENTY to do!
Our first stop when we arrived in town was Donna’s Deli in Carrollton. This is the county seat for Carroll County. Donna’s is a locally owned deli and it’s adorable! Donna came out to chat with us and told us how everything is scratch-made. It’s also a very small-town place – our guide Amy knew pretty much every person that came into Donna’s.
We tried a variety of items including a turkey, apple and brie croissant sandwich with a homemade side of potato salad – this was REALLY GOOD. There was also one piece of sheet cake left – so – geez – I had to have it! haha
Larry got the Reuben – pretty usual for him – and it was really good! I mean – don’t you just want to dig in and take a bite!!! (sans sauce of course with his egg allergy) It seems like whatever he orders always looks the best – he’s got a knack for it.
After our lunch, Larry and I set off to explore a little and just a couple of doors down was Ashton’s 5 & 10. This is one of those fun shops where you never know what you’ll find! There was a ton of candy (much to hubby’s delight) and just collections of things like ribbons and embroidery thread – along with some fun farm toys! (Check out that corn!)
If you like farm toys – they have a whole store dedicated to them just around the corner – Bud’s Farm Toys – which is right across from a local bakery!
From there, we headed twenty minutes north to Minerva and visited Yoder’s Country Market. This is your typical Amish market with lots of brightly colored adirondak chairs and hundreds of items in bulk. They also had a wall of hand pies (egg free!) – so purchases were made!
From there – we went a few blocks to the Minerva Dairy. This was a load of surprises! They make cheese and milk – unfortunately nothing we could really tour – but they have a cute little shop that made a dent in my wallet. I bought some Chocolate & Peanut Butter Milk (yes!!) – there were a bunch of flavored milks so we actually got a few pint bottles just to sample them. Very rich.
In addition to that, they had a nice deli where they will sell you meats and cheeses or even make up a sandwich for you. I got some salami cheese for the road (just a couple of slices) as well as a set of potholders for my mom. The one thing I wanted to purchase but we just didn’t have a way to get it home was the Maple Syrup Amish Roll Butter – it was just a couple of bucks and I can just imagine the taste on pancakes!!! #nexttime
And yes – I drank the Chocolate Peanut Butter milk by the big cow out front. And yes – that’s the cow’s butt too. That’s who I am – I take a picture of a giant cow butt.
Somehow we were supposed to eat dinner just an hour later. For that, we headed to the Normandy Inn. It’s right next to the railroad tracks and I share this because the GPS didn’t want to find it. We drove by 4x before Larry spotted it – so look for the railroad tracks.
So this is your consummate “old folks place” – we were definitely the youngest ones there – but after we started eating – we were FINE with that!! Everybody gets the soup & salad bar with their meal and it was muy popular! The soups were the hidden gem – the top middle pic was a German Chowder with sauerkraut, chunks of pulled pork, sausage and potatoes. This was HOLY CRAP delicious!! I’m going to be making this soup – or whatever rendition I can find a recipe for. They also had a cream-based chick-cucumber soup – which sounds gross – it was also delicious! But that German Chowder was phenomenal!! I went back for more! (Screw the salad!!)
I got a ribeye ($9.95) – it wasn’t very thick but it was juicy and tender and cooked to a perfect mid-rare. They also had Worcestershire Sauce on the table – always a sign of a good place!!
Larry got the Brisket special that came with potatoes and a vegetable (sauteed snap peas) – he’s not the biggest brisket fan but since it was on special – he wanted to try it. It was fine – a little fatty – a huge portion though. But there was no lack of food – with the salad bar, rolls, vegetables, meat, etc. We definitely left in a food coma.
From there – we headed to our hotel – the Microtel Inn & Suites in Carrollton. This was a great room! There’s a little kitchenette area, a super comfy bed, nice sitting area and big bathroom. We were only there for one night but it was a great night’s sleep!
Saturday morning, we got up and headed to the Carroll County Farmers Market just up the street from our hotel. It was raining pretty good – so I just took a quick buzz around. We also were a bit early in the season – so there were a lot of plants and homemade goods. I’m sure they’re full of vegetables right now. There was one vendor that even brought a baby goat!! And yes – I ran over and petted her. I mean – shut up!!
Along the lines of – SHUT UP SO CUTE – next up we drove out to the Coffee Pot Alpaca Farm. I can’t say enough about this farm. It’s not really a public farm to view/tour – but Kathy was kind enough to show us around. She sort of got into breeding these beauties 25 years ago by accident. She went to a sale and ended up with one in her back seat by the time it was over! The rest is history.
Seriously – look at that face. I can’t even.
She has a bunch of alpacas of all ages – they’re separated by boys, girls, adults, children and pregnant/new moms. There was a baby that was super friendly and kept running over to me! I was about 5 minutes from ending up with one in my back seat for the ride home! 😉 (Larry said no – booo!)
The alpacas are so beautiful and soft! They are a bit skitchy but once they get used to you for a few minutes – they’ll come over to see what you’re all about. I was asking Kathy about how she makes money with these – she said that it’s a wide variety of ways from breeding, their coats, boarding and more. It was really interesting and made for some beautiful photos.
And – we had one more meal ahead of us – who knew they saved the best for last?! We headed to Atwood Lake and tried out the Lighthouse Bistro. It’s probably a good thing we didn’t know about this on Friday – because we probably wouldn’t have left! There are boat rentals right on the lake and it was super peaceful!
The food was FANTASTIC!!!! Larry got the half pound of fish & chips ($10) – I have absolutely no idea how anyone could eat the whole pound meal!!! The half pound was so much food (top right) and it was delish! Crispy white fish and really great fries.
I got the Summer Citrus Salad ($11) – Fresh spinach topped with mandarin oranges, pineapple, peaches,
goat cheese, red onion, sliced almonds and balsamic reduction
served with our house made citrus vinaigrette and topped it with shrimp ($5). This was SO FREAKING GOOD! The peaches were fresh – while the oranges and pineapple were canned but it was all so good! This salad – sitting on a patio – overlooking a lake – perfection.
But I have to mention my most favorite and amazing part of my trip. You see I watch Vanderpump Rules (crap TV – yes) and my favorite hussy – Stassi – always raves about the Goat Cheese Balls at SUR. I love goat cheese. I love bal…wait – JK! bhahaha. But I’ve never had Goat Cheese Balls!
These GCB had fresh goat cheese coated in Japanese breadcrumbs – deep fried to a
golden brown & served with chipotle Mayonnaise ($9). These were WORTH THE FOUR HOUR DRIVE!!! Seriously – I kinda want to go back tomorrow. And the next day. And the next day. The breading was light and crispy – the goat cheese was rich and creamy. OMG – I can’t even!!!
The Lighthouse Bistro definitely capped off our trip – we loved it! When we head back – it will be our first stop – I’d love to just stay on the lake and eat every meal there!
Carroll County has so much to offer – and you might not know it – but you may have been there! They are home to about a dozen summer camps for kids! Think along the lines of the camp in the 70s movie Meatballs – I’m so jealous – I always wanted to go to a camp like that!
So maybe there’s a little piece of your history you want to revisit – or maybe you just want to try those Goat Cheese Balls! Either are a perfect reason to head north to Carroll County!
Thanks again to Amy and all the merchants that provided meals and hosted us.