Many will be looking for locations of bodies of water this holiday weekend as they celebrate the 4th of July.
My Aunt Lottie and Uncle Swede had a lake cabin in the 1960s on Bass Lake, which is about 35 minutes from our family farm.
Bass Lake is in Starke County, as is our farm, and this resort and summer destination is steeped in Indiana’s historical lore, from famous authors L. Frank Baum, who wrote “The Wizard of Oz” , and Union General-turned-scribe Lew Wallace, who wrote the novel “Ben-Hur,” both had family cabins on Bass Lake that served as quiet retreats for their writing duties.
My regret is that in 1968 Aunt Lottie and Uncle Swede had sold their country house on the lake and I wasn’t born until 1970. My only memories are the photos in our family albums and the stories of relatives gathering for dinners on the lake. outdoors in summer and ice skating. and hot chocolate parties during the winter months. My cousin Bobby and my wife Bernie from Chicago were newlyweds at the time and frequent guests of the cabin, as my older brother Tom remembered.
“Cousin Bobby loved the giant mounted deer head that hung over the fireplace in the lake cabin,” Tom said.
“So much so, that when Aunt Lottie and Uncle Swede sold the cabin, they gave Bobby and Bernie that deer head for their own house.”
My first published cookbook, “From the Farm: Family Recipes and Memories of a Lifetime,” released in 2004, features a wonderful photo at Aunt Lottie’s waterside picnic table, surrounded by Tom and my older sister Carol , as well as our cousins Mike and Frank. The same page has recipes for cucumber salad variations, including one that is “yellow table mustard based” as given to Aunt Lottie from “Grace Reynolds, our next door neighbor in our lake cabin.”
Fortunately, I came close to bringing back the relaxing and welcoming atmosphere for a summer lake house experience with a recent visit to the lobby of Fairmont Chicago, Millennium Park. In May, the hotel property, which first opened in 1988, launched a fun theme that continues through September 9 with the hotel transforming its lobby area to emulate the spirit of Chicago summer on the lake.
Located between Millennium Park and the Magnificent Mile, The Lake House at Fairmont Chicago offers an exciting getaway for anyone who wants to experience the adventure of a lake house in the middle of the city. Along with live entertainment and nautical-themed décor, The Lake House at Fairmont Chicago offers delicious seasonal food offerings, cocktails, yacht excursions and other diversions, all within walking distance of Navy Pier, beaches and harbors, trails and parks. along the sparkling blue waters of the lake. Michigan.
The hotel’s Lake House theme includes a built-in boathouse surrounding Fairmont Chicago’s lobby bar, accompanied by a Fairmont Arcade featuring lake house-inspired games like cornhole and picture-perfect porch swings, stacked rocks, sand castles and everything inside.
Director of Food and Beverage William Schultz rounds out the experience with a new seasonal menu of summer-inspired bites. Classics include favorites like pork ribs, brisket, fried calamari, easy-peel boiled shrimp, and a robust seafood platter with lobster, mussels, and clams. There’s also a s’mores-inspired dessert shake and a variety of specialty cocktail offerings.
One of my favorites dreamed up by Schultz and his team is a roasted sweet corn on the cob “on a stick,” served as “Mexican Street Corn,” meaning spread in an outer layer of mayonnaise, then rolled in crumbled bacon, white cheese smooth shredded and the added option of a sprinkle of crushed Flamin’ Hot Cheetos.
Schultz joined Fairmont General Manager Clay Spencer on my WJOB radio show on Wednesday afternoons last month to describe the process for coming up with this summer’s Lake House hotel lobby theme, which began with brainstorming on the cold months of January.
“After the last two and a half years, everyone wants to get back out there, and our Lake House lobby theme really feels like a pop-up adventure experience,” Spencer said.
“We’re right here at the Fairmont ready for guests with something fancy for anyone who doesn’t want to spend five hours driving to Door County, Wisconsin or all the way to Harbor Country in Michigan. William has prepared special options for family dinners with fish fry on Fridays and barbecue on Saturdays, everyone is welcome.”
The Lake House Lobby Experience at Fairmont is open to the public from 4:30 pm to midnight, Monday through Sunday, with reservations at www.FairmontChicago.com or by calling 312-565-8000.
A great way to toast the 4th of July holiday is with the caramelized pineapple margarita devised by Schultz and his team, which is also a staple on the Fairmont Chicago lobby bar menu.
Columnist Philip Potempa has published four cookbooks and is the director of marketing for Theater at the Center. He can be contacted at [email protected] or mail questions to: From the Farm, PO Box 68, San Pierre, Ind. 46374.
makes 1 cocktail
1 1/2 ounces Casamigos Reposado
3/4 ounce Giffard Caribbean pineapple
3/4 ounce lime juice
1/2 ounce pineapple juice
pineapple wedges, garnish
2 pineapple leaves, optional pineapple wedge garnish
Deep granulated sugar rim
- Prepare a larger “double” size Old-Fashioned bar glass with a deep rim of sugar, set aside.
- Add all ingredients to mixing glass.
- Fill 3/4 with ice and stir well.
- Strain over large ice cubes in an Old Fashioned glass.
- Garnish with pineapple slices and pineapple leaves.