All that stuff about "local," "seasonal" and "artisanal" is nothing new for the Amish. Of course "new" is hardly what the Amish are about, as a two-hour drive to Holmes County from Columbus engrossingly verifies.

All that stuff about "local," "seasonal" and "artisanal" is nothing new for the Amish. Of course "new" is hardly what the Amish are about, as a two-hour drive to Holmes County from Columbus engrossingly verifies.

Ohio is home to the some of the largest Amish communities in the world, and at nearly 50 percent of the population, Holmes County possesses the highest concentration in the state. With its big farms, little towns and old-fashioned ways-horse-drawn black buggies clacking around hilly terrain are routine there-Holmes County is a unique getaway.

Start the day right with Ohio's best country-style-diner breakfasts from rustic and authentic Boyd and Wurthmann in Berlin (pronounced BER-lin). The formidable BW Breakfast ($8) delivers eggs, meat (get the griddled, bone-in, thick and terrific ham steak) plus home fries covered in the most amazing sausage gravy you'll ever eat. The too-good-to-be-true price includes coffee, homemade breads and area-ubiquitous tableside condiments of apple butter and house-made "peanut butter"-an addictive amalgam that always includes marshmallow cream (and sometimes honey or maple syrup). For healthier fare, the dark and cake-like baked oatmeal with yogurt ($3) is also wonderful. And don't leave without pie for later!

Unlike Boyd and Wurthmann, the streets outside it are quite touristy. Embrace this by visiting eccentric stores selling popcorn and fudge, homemade ice cream, hand-carved wooden furniture and gifts, plus-oddest of all-the zany indoor carnival, novelty and magic shop called Catalpa Trading Co.

Watching local cheeses being made and tasting them for free demonstrates the Swiss heritage of the Amish and is good, clean fun. Heini's Cheese Chalet in nearby Sugar Creek looks like a fairytale mansion on acid-factory works are visible through windows off a huge sampling room where you can buzzsaw through about 80 bite-sized varieties. Guggisberg Cheese in nearby Millersburg affords a more modest experience along with award-winning cheeses and a carved-wood, whimsical building with a bell tower and a giant Alpine-scape mural sporting cuckoo-clock-like moving parts.

If lunch is calling, enjoy Amish comfort food favorites in the Guggisberg-owned and equally fanciful-looking Chalet in the Valley right across the street. Chalet's buffet is especially popular on Sundays, when many places are closed (Note: Chalet shuts down January through February.) Resembling a mammoth Amish domicile, the Amish Door Restaurant is solid, if part of a sprawling and touristy complex. If you want to go less glitzy, visit the justly beloved $12 daily buffet of simple-looking Mrs. Yoder's Kitchen-and don't skimp on the excellent "broasted" (aka fried) chicken.

For a break from straight-edged Amish flavor, target "citified" downtown Millersburg and the Millersburg Brewing Co., where "Highway to Hell" was playing as I sampled its impressive brewed-on-site beers. Food, like excellent burgers, is available from the delightful Bags Sports Pub next door, which shares owners with the brewery.

Hands down, the fanciest dining in the entire area is at contemporary and accomplished chef-driven Tarragon, located in the renowned Inn at Honey Run spa and resort. Sporting a distinct, eating-in-a-forest windowed setting, Tarragon's the place for luscious lamb osso buco or seared scallops with an apricot-topped block of fantastically crispy pork belly flattered by a fried caper and raisin brown butter sauce, plus a silky cauliflower puree. No, it's not really Amish, but it can, and should, be part of your easy-as-homemade-Amish-pie Holmes County getaway.

Columbus-based food critic G.A. Benton reviews restaurants weekly for Columbus Alive.