Monday, December 9, 2013

Beil's Christmas Stollen and Popeye's

It was December 20, 2007, four days before Christmas Eve. It has been a tough year and yet another Christmas was near. Throwing caution to the wind, I made the call to the dealer in Wisconsin. The dealer was in particularly good holiday spirits. Why not it was the holiday’s season and they were going to make a lot of money in the next couple of days. I placed my order, he gave me the price and we agreed to meet Sunday evening, December 23at the Mobil gas station on the corner of Highway 41 North and Route 22. He requested my cell and home number so he could call me Sunday with the time to meet. While I normally don’t give out personal information like this to the dealer I needed it bad, so I complied. If my family knew what I was up to all hell would break loose. After all I was doing this for the family. Wondering how this would go down on Sunday, I began scheduling my activities around this one single event.
Cold day at the beach
On Sunday, the first day of winter, it was 23°F, with wind gusts up to 50 mph. At 3:15 pm., the call came in and the hand off was set for about 3:30 pm. We will call the dealer Billy for now, he said that he would be at the gas station in 15 minutes and that he was driving a red Ford Aero Star with Illinois license plates. I decided not to go myself and sent my wife and daughter in my place. I gave my wife cash and told her that he would not take any checks. I told her to go right away since he would not wait for her and had other deliveries to make. I decided right then and there that my New Years resolution this year would be to give it all up, once and for all. Look at the money I would save. Easier said than done when you’ve been doing it all of your life.  My dad did it all of those years before and now it was my turn, a right of passage. Was it a tradition, or an addiction?
My wife and daughter arrived at the gas station early and waited. There were only two possible entrances and two exits. When he arrived, my wife noticed that another car had pulled up behind her as she got out of the car and approached the van. My wife fell into the game quickly and asked the man who had just arrived if he too was here for the pickup. He was and said that soon helicopters would be flying overhead. Why did I send my wife and daughter to meet the dealer? What kind of husband was I? Relax, I just sent them to pick up a traditional holiday favorite, Dresden stollen and shinkin rolls. What did you think it was?I waited until the last possible moment this year before placing my stollen order, knowing full well that he might be sold out. Finally after going through the appropriations committee (my family), it was decided that the great stollen caper could be funded one last time. After all, it was Christmas and it was my job. So when I called this year I spoke directly with the baker. He told me that I could in fact order three or four pound stollen. I ordered two 3 pound stollen, after all there were many mouths to feed.
While I had him on the phone I told him that whenever we would go to Minocqua, we would go to a local bakery and get these fresh bread rolls, that we called “shinkin rolls”, because they looked like a babies butt. He laughed and said “you mean split rolls!” Finally, somebody who knew what I was talking about. Not only did he know what they were, he said that they made them on special orders and generally for the holidays. I decided right then and there to do it. I knew there would be problems, since I did not have authorization or clearance to spend more than the allocated amount for the stollen from my wife, the high-command. I would somehow have to justify the additional expenditure to the committee, but it was Christmas and I hadn’t had an authentic shinkin roll in over fifteen years. My dad would have been happy. Most of my kids, don’t remember ever having them and I needed a picture for my cookbook. Who could argue with buying bread? How many reasons did I need? So I placed the order.
Meanwhile, as I was pacing back and forth in the living room, My wife and daughter returned with the “stuff”. I was literally like a child in a candy store. The stollen would have to wait, my target was acquired, and I just had to have a shinkin roll. Waiting for them to return from the pickup, I had already taken out the butter (unsalted, sweet cream) and allowed it to come to a spreadable consistency. I searched the cabinets for just the right place mat to set up the picture and got my camera ready.
Bag of Shinkin Rolls
When they arrived, I quickly opened one of the plastic bags and got a blast of the heavenly aroma from the rolls. I looked them over for just the right roll for the picture that I needed, set it on the plate and prepared to take the “money shot”; you know the best possible picture. My wife stood to the side and said “wait a minute”, it’s not the right roll. She looked through the bag and offered a replacement. It was a keeper. So there it was the crown jewel, the shinkin roll. For one brief moment I wished I had a ten mega pixel Nikon for this shot, but the eight mp would have to do. I stopped my breathing momentarily and pressed the shutter button. Having learned a great lesson early on I took several more pictures from the same and different angles and then sat down to enjoy. I know that you’re wondering, “was it worth it?” For that moment in time all things were right in the universe.
Shinkin's on charger
Christmas Stollen cut in half
For a couple of years I would drive to the baker's father's house to pick up the stollen. This was nice and we always ran into other people with the same stollen addiction picking theirs up as well.
Beil's Bakery, Delevan, Wisconsin
This year, like I did one other time my wife and I decided to drive to Beil's bakery in Delevan, Wisconsin to pick up  our traditional stollen order. What a great day for a 75 mile one way road trip. It was sunny and 11°F in Lake Geneva and Delevan. The only thing that would make it better was if the lake was frozen over when we got there.
The Stollen House
When we arrived at the bakery we waited our turn and told them that we were picking up our order. It was ready and waiting. Standing there waiting while they packed the order in a box, we could help adding an almond coffee cake, a loaf of fresh baked bakery white bread and an apple fritter to snack on for the ride home. If you're interested in getting stollen there are tree types. My aunt and my cousin in Seattle order the Almond Stollen (special order) and the Dresden Stollen (a dense cake) and we order the Dresden Stollen. The Dresden stollen is only available from Thanksgiving until Christmas. The third type is the Dresden style coffee cake has more fruit, and is more cake like.
Two 3lb. Dresden Stollen $26.95 each
If you ever want an authentic Artisan Christmas stollen and need a good road trip, head up to Beil's Bakery, 310 E Walworth Ave. Delevan, Wisconsin, or call (262)740-1963. Support your local merchants, especially when they are good at what they do.
Lake Geneva Pier, Wisconsin
On our way home we stopped at Popeye's Restaurant (not the chicken chain) for a Bloody Mary and some soup. Popeye's is a great place to sit and look out over Lake Geneva, while enjoying a great meal of a snack.
Popeye's Bar-B-Que Garage
At Popeye's Rotisserie Chicken is a big deal. They roast the chicken on spits outdoors so there in little that can go wrong. I've never actually ordered it but I here they are famous for it so give it a try and let me know how it is.
Rotisserie Chicken
Since we came for Bloody Mary's and soup we decided to stick with that. They had their seasonal
Navy Bean and Ham, Clam Chowder, or their Shrimp and Lobster Bisque. We ordered a cup of Clam Chowder and a cup of Navy Bean and Ham. They were really good, especially the Navy Bean and Ham. Each cup of soup was $3.99.The bisque was more.
Clam Chowder
They have some great hot drinks to take the chill off, or they have their traditional drink menu. We decided on the Popeye's Bloody Mary's. Our server asked if we cared for spicy. We both said medium spicy.
A Wisconsin or Popeye's Bloody Mary
Our server returned with 2 Bloody Mary's, two beer chasers and two glasses of ice water. I asked what was the deal on the beer chaser and was told this is the way that they serve it at Popeye's. She suggested that most people drink the Bloody Mary first, followed by the beer chaser and finally the ice water if we still need to cool down. Even though we ordered the drinks medium spicy, they were hot. Very hot. 
A great place to to visit, especially in the summer
When I got the bill I realized that the drinks were $8.50 each. The receipt said "BLOODY MRY SPICY" so I guess there was no Medium Spicy. This drink was extremely spicy and apparently the heat comes from ground peppers. If we were very hungry I would have ordered the amazing Shrimp and Brie appetizer:
Shrimp & Baked Brie
“Popeye’s Original Since 1986”
A memorable appetizer

If you're ever in Lake Geneva check out Popeye's on the lake. Try their Friday night Fish Fry. You can check out their website at
Popeye's on a winter's night
Support your local merchant whenever and as often as you can. If you know of a great place, with great food within a one day drive of Chicago please leave a comment. For more information about the Dresden Stollen Festival go to    

© TMelle 2013

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