This is a follow up to a post I wrote last year, and some of the references may make more sense if you read that first. This is a bit more ‘story-tellish’ than most of my posts, and the story does not do it justice :)
So a year after our discovery of a hidden gem in Montague, MI we returned to the Muskegon area for the 2014 Michigan Feis. It started with a Facebook message to Valerie, the proprietor, saying we were on the way. She let us know that she had other guests this year and that breakfast would be at 930. I replied that we would need to leave about 8 to get to the feis on time, and she need not worry about us, but shortly after, received a response saying we would not be leaving without breakfast, and that we could eat at 730.
We arrived after dark and the front light was off, so we parked near the back and went in through the back as the kitchen light was on. Valerie met us in the kitchen with hugs and a smile. NOTE: I think we got the hugs because we were repeat customers. She had warm cider and home made donuts and cupcakes waiting, and after we got settled in our room, we came back down. We met a young German couple, B & K, also repeat guests, who had also stumbled across Amanda’s for their first visit. We sat around the table and swapped stories about whatever, ate donuts, drank cider, and somebody had snuck in some beer. We laughed and acted like people would have before the onslaught of technology. I am beginning to think this house has that effect on people.
The next morning I got up early and while Mrs. WTF and TGC got ready upstairs, I went downstairs and found Valerie, once again in dress and apron getting breakfast ready. There was a large skillet of sausage gravy and the blue coffee pot on the stove. John was there to, and he got me a cup of coffee, and I moved off to a seat in the corner of the kitchen and took it all in. Sitting in that kitchen is like going back in time, not just the decor, but the feeling. There is just a sense of calm and maybe it is because it reminds me of my grandmother’s and great grandmother’s kitchens, I don’t know. Doesn’t matter why.
The women folk came down, and we were seated. For breakfast we had fresh fruit, scrambled eggs, scratch biscuits, sausage, gravy, toast, a homemade cinnamon jelly, and more coffee. John and Valerie joined us and had coffee while we ate, making sure our cups stayed full and that we were well fed. Everything was as it has been, wonderful.
We finished up and went on our merry way. The feis was good, made all that much better by TGC’s (The Girl Child in case you have stumbled upon this and are not familiar with all the players) great results in the competition. Since she had done so well, she was invited back for the Parade of Champions at the Michigan Irish Music Festival (MIMF) which coincides with the feis weekend. Since we would have to be back that evening, we skipped going to the MIMF right after the feis which had been our norm, and went back to the B&B for a little rest between the events. I was not surprised to find fresh made fall pies waiting, but we would have to wait till Sunday morning before partaking. There were still donuts and cider though.
We opted for rest instead of exploring the yard, seeing the chickens and ducks and rabbits as we had last year, and since the last time, they added a small pond. Plus, since we were back at the festival in the evening, we missed the opportunity for a bonfire which was another of the highlights of our last stay.
The MIMF was fun as always, but a lot more crowded in the evening than we were used to in our afternoon visits. Suffice it to say the crowd was a bit more ‘boisterous’ as well, so we retired before 11 and went back to Amanda’s Bequest.
Sunday greeted us with another wonderful breakfast, starting with the pies made the day before. The Sunday morning pie tradition, we found out later, had been going on for about a year, and we believe we were the first (or one of the first) guests to enjoy this new tradition in 2013. The fall pie was excellent, but I really prefer the Heritage Apple Pie Valerie makes (shh, don’t tell her). A breakfast bake followed, with fresh salsa made from ingredients from the garden in the back yard, toast, jam and coffee, and excellent company. The German couple had been replaced by a ‘foodie couple’ who both worked in the industry, and the conversation was lively and educational. It even came out that Valerie had developed a curriculum to teach children the basics of heritage cooking, and that she had not only successfully taught her program, but that it has been gaining popularity in Michigan and was being adopted by various agencies to help children.
Some time later, with bellies full and minds freshly expanded, we said our goodbyes to Valerie and John. It isn’t often that I am so taken by a place, but the genuine relaxation I find there, plus Valerie’s cooking and the hospitality of both her and John make Amanda’s Bequest a must-see in your getaway plans if you are in that area. Admittedly, it is more expensive than local hotels, but it’s really hard to put a number on what you will walk away with. My hope is your experience will be like ours.