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Archive for ‘Lancaster’ posts
Aug 10 2011
I love cheese. Last spring, at Waltz Vineyard’s barrel tasting (part of a fun Wine and Chocolate tour), I fell in love with Common Folk Pecan Jack. It came from an unfamiliar company called FarmFromage. Once I got home, I googled a bit and found out that a man named Howard, in kind of a second career, now sells these amazing handmade Lancaster County artisan cheeses to restaurants and retail outlets. His goal is to preserve small independent farms. Read more about Howard here.
I told Karen Novak, the lovely and knowledgable cheesemonger at McGinnis Sisters in Monroeville about Howard and she contacted him, sent for some samples . . and voila . . we can now get Howard’s cheese right here in our area! Karen tells me that she just got some unbelievable FarmFromage Beer Tomme last week. (Tommes are normally produced from the skim milk left over after the cream has been removed to produce butter and high fat cheeses, or when there is too little milk to make a full fat cheese.) I am going to get some tomorrow and you should, too!
If you love cheese, please go out to McGinnis Sisters’ Monroeville store to meet Karen and then pick up some of Howard’s finds when you’re there.
Mar 3 2011
After last weekend’s Wine and Chocolate Tour in Lancaster, one might think that I’d be tired of products from the Theobroma cacao tree. Never. After I arrived back home, I quickly ordered some spectacular hand-painted chocolate gifts from a stop on the tour, the Wilbur Chocolate Company in Lititz, PA. The chocolate artists there are really busy, so they told me to order early for Easter. Can’t tell you what I ordered. It would ruin my Easter surprise.
Then the next day, I took a drive out to the small town of Trafford to Sherm Edwards Candies. I read about this company in a little book from the Carnegie library called Pennsylvania Snacks: A Guide to Food Factory Tours by Sharon Hernes Silverman. This book is my idea of a page-turner. Annoyed that a chocolate factory existed that I didn’t know about, I hopped in the car, picked up my friend Debbi and off we went to check it out. The shop sells both Sherm Edwards and Edward Marc chocolates, has a huge variety of Easter candy and outlet prices on the Edward Marc line. (I first discovered Edward Marc Chocolatier at The Milkshake Factory on the South Side.) They had chocolate airplanes, ballerinas, computers and cellphones in addition to the traditional bunnies and chicks. And all sorts of beautiful gourmet chocolates. Kimberly gave us a quick tour of the facility where they were making chocolate covered cherries. So much handiwork goes into each batch of chocolates here. I was impressed.
Next stop on my personal chocolate tour? Wilson’s Candies (408 Harrison Ave, Jeanette. 724-523-3151). I found out about Wilson’s after I stopped a candy shop in Ligonier and asked about locally made chocolates. I was shown some dark chocolate apricot creams – I love apricots – and the told me they were from Jeanette, but she didn’t want to divulge the name of the company that made these goodies. I bought some of the creams and then went home to investigate with my good friend, Ms. Google. Ha ha. I found it. Wilson’s Candies has been in business for over 60 years in the small town of Jeanette and gets rave review on the internet. All their chocolates are made in the basement, just like at Sherm Edwards/Edward Marc. They had the apricot creams that I bought in Ligonier, but also have lots of Easter candy. One of their specialties are cordials – cherry, strawberry and raspberry. Raspberry cordials? Never heard of that one. Of course, I had to give them a try. Believe me, they are luscious. You can see one of the berry cordials oozing onto the plate in the photo above. Fruit and chocolate. The best.
So much chocolate, so little time.
Feb 28 2011
If I’ve ever needed one of those herbal cleanses I read about in magazines, today might be the day. I spent the weekend in the Lancaster area on a Wine and Chocolate Tour with Lancaster County Tours, LLC, a culinary tour company. The weekend started with a chocolate buffet at my wonderful home base, The Artist’s Inn & Gallery, in Terre Hill. The literature for this B&B mentioned that the “horse and buggies” would be clip-clopping past the Inn, and they were right. It’s the loveliest sound. Really is. I could have stayed in my cozy bed there all day just waiting for another carriage to pass by, but since chocolate… and wine were on the agenda, I sprung to action at 8AM for Jan’s delicious breakfast, which included yummy white chocolate French toast. The day ended with a special chocolate trio dessert at a trendy restaurant in downtown Lancaster. The chocolate creme brulee was what dreams are made of. ( I know, that sentence ended in a preposition. I don’t care.) Each stop on the tour was delightful. . . talented food and wine artisans, enthusiastic store owners and creative chefs. The B& B folks ( five are involved with the tours) and the guests were friendly and fun. Really fun. I came home with a bunch of new Facebook friends.
I’m not sharing any stops on the tour because then it would ruin the excitement for your own trip. Which you really should do. Oh, and there are other culinary tours coming up in the next few months and they would make great Mother’s or Father’s Day gifts.
Next blog: my first barrel tasting. Definitely not my last barrel tasting.
Jan 24 2011
If your house is anything like mine, I make my own V-day plans. And it usually involves chocolate in one way or another. I’ve found some new ways to celebrate this year. Best of all, if I plan wisely, my fun can be spread out throughout all of February. Check these out:
Dreadnought Wines and McCormick and Schmick‘s are partnering for a Valentine’s Wine Dinner called Savor Your Sweetheart. It’s being held at M and S’s downtown Pittsburgh outpost on February 10th at 6 PM. The menu includes courses using smoked lobster, oysters, scallops and other goodies. And it concludes with a dessert of white chocolate mousse. Each course is paired with the perfect wine, selected by the delightful Mike and Deb at Dreadnought Seating is limited, so contact the restaurant at 412.201.1156 or email@example.com to reserve your space. Cost is $70 per person (plus tax and gratuity.)
Another idea is to drive south of the Burgh to the Christian Klay Winery for a Chocolate and Wine Lovers Delight on Saturday, February 12 from 1 until 3 PM. It’s $15 per person and reservations are a must! Call 724.439.3424 to reserve your space. This sounds like the perfect way to spend an afternoon.
A little way out from Pittsburgh, but an easy drive, is Pennsylvania’s chocolate heaven, Hershey. As you can imagine, there’s a lot going on there in February. The website, www.chocolatecoveredfebruary.com, has all the details. For just a peep into the festivities, read on. The fancy Circular Dining Room at The Hotel Hershey is hosting a Chocolate Dinner Extraordinaire with a menu that includes Dark Chocolate Braised Beef Short Ribs and Ancho Pepper Cocoa Dusted Grilled Striped Bass. Or you can Create Your Own Candy Bar, attend a Wine and Chocolate Pairing or sit in a Whipped Cocoa Bath at their spa. Oh boy. Sign me up.
My third idea is if you want to venture even further east towards Lancaster. The Chocolate and Wine Tour of Lancaster County sounds amazing. Five B and B’s are participating in this tour, which includes a chocolate dessert buffet and a four course chocolate focused dinner, as well as a tour of local chocolatiers. I already have some favorites out that way. . . Wilbur Chocolates in Lititz and Haute Chocolate Cafe in Manheim Township as well as Wertz Candies at the Brickerville House Shops, but I am always up for something new. (I’m signed up for this tour, so if you go, make sure you look for me and say hello!)
Don’t let Valentine’s Day come and go without a little sweet treat for yourself.
Sep 12 2010
Yesterday when I looked up at the sky, it looked like Fall. It had to do with something in the color of the clouds against the sun, a different kind of shading, a filtered type of light. Winter is not my season, so this first feeling of autumn makes my heart sink a bit, but then I remember that fall means pumpkins, gourds and apples at the farm markets. It’ll be okay.
Two of my favorite large farm markets are located mid-state. One is Roots . . . correctly pronounced like soot and not toot, if that makes any sense. I am too lazy to type it out phonetically. Roots Country Market and Auction is located in Manheim, PA and it’s held on Tuesdays from 9 til 9 (May to October) and 9 to8 (the rest of the year.) My other favorite market is the Green Dragon, located in Ephrata, PA. The Green Dragon Farmer’s Market and Auction is open on Fridays, from 9 til 9 . From January 1 through February 26, it closes at 8PM instead of 9. Bring coolers, because there is a lot to buy.
Both markets have indoor and outdoor stalls, and sell a mish-mash of everything from local produce, to Amish canned foods and baked goods, to livestock, to the usual flea market items like socks and designer knock-off handbags. There’s something for everyone. It’s not for uppity folks. I love it. My favorite stands are the ones with the Amish baked goods, the home canned pickles and the home brewed root beer. I also try to scout out any butcher stalls because they always have giant smoked turkey legs and ham hocks. Homemade split pea soup can sure cheer me up on a chilly fall day.
By mid-September, I can always find lots of different shapes of squash and pumpkins for outdoor decorating, along with apple cider, apple butter and pumpkin whoopie pies ( gobs to some of us) to get me excited for the season. Let’s hope a visit to the markets does the trick, because I feel old man winter breathing down my neck already and I’ve got to prepare. Get me some of those pumpkin gobs, a bag of apples and a few butternut squash. Pronto!
Apr 14 2010
. . . one of the Lancaster exits . . . and my car automatically turns off the highway, as if it just knows the right thing to do. During the past four years, since my older daughter has been in college in the Philadelphia area, I’ve made countless trips back and forth, and in the meantime, have exploring the hidden gems of Pennsylvania on the way. A favorite is Lancaster County. Sprawling farms, rural backroads, rustic structures selling squash, tomatoes, whatever is in season. On this trip, I didn’t have much time to spare on my way home, but a stop at Boehringer’s Drive-in (3160 N. Reading Road in Adamstown) could certainly be squeezed in. It’s an old fashioned ice cream place . . . a mile or so down the road from the now defunct Zinn’s Diner (who remembers that big Amish statue? where is he now?) I got to Boehringer’s at noon and the line for food was extending outside the building. Lucky for me, there’s a separate window just for ice cream orders. One of the great things about Boehringer’s besides the creamy, homemade ice cream is it sits near a sweet little stream complete with ducks. Lots of picnic tables are set up for guests to eat and enjoy. My favorite ice cream flavors (so far) are banana, butter brickle and black cherry. For a treat and necessary break from the Turnpike, give it a try.
Adamsburg is the Antiques Capital of the USA and even for me, who doesn’t give a hoot about Louis XIV chairs or Chippendale tables, a stop at a few shops is always a fun time (and you can walk off the ice cream calories.) My current favorite is Lancaster County Antiques & Collectible Co-op (2255 N. Reading Rd, Denver PA.) This store is jam-packed with interesting things. I always find inexpensive old food tins, cookbooks or utensils that tickles my fancy. They have high priced stuff, too, but that’s not what I’m looking for. Last trip, I bought this bright blue flour container to use as a lamp stand in my office.
This time, Prince Albert ( in a can, just like the jokes), an old vitamin powder jar and some nifty retro coffee mugs caught my eye.
After just about an hour off the main highway, I was on my way back home. Perfect way to end my trip.
A food adventure might be sleuthing out the juiciest June strawberries at a farm market, learning about gone but not forgotten area food treasures, working with a chef during a hands on cooking class or touring Pennsylvania’s artisan cheesemaker’s farms (and meeting a few cows along the way) . . or any of a zillion other fun ways to explore foodie things within a day's drive of Pittsburgh.