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Archive for ‘maple syrup’ posts
Apr 3 2011
Yes, it is April. But it’s April in southwestern Pennsylvania, so one can expect any type of weather. And yesterday, on the Laurel Highlands tour, we had about everything Mother Nature can dish out . . . snow, sleet, rain and sun. . . and we still had a great time.
Deb and I carefully select our stops because we love what each location is doing with regards to food. These are all hardworking food artisans or business owners who have a true passion for what they do. We are always excited to have our groups get to know these wonderful folks out in the backroads of Western PA. We try to mix it up . . some shopping, a little history, maybe a cooking demo, a tour of a kitchen. . so that there is something for everyone.
We also hand select the samples we give out, whether on the bus or in the goody bags. We never pass out anything we wouldn’t eat ourselves. We also always like and respect the artisans who have crafted the foods that we sample. It’s a very important part of my company’s mission. Companies such as Wild Purveyors, Millers Mustard, LaDorita Dulce de Leche and One Tuff Cookie and others provide our region with top notch foods. They are wonderful additions to the tours.
The stops on our tours are amazing, but the guests on the tours are just as fantastic. It is truly our pleasure to spend a day with them. The tour is more like a day out with friends rather than a “canned” guided tour. It’s relaxed and informal. And we want everyone to have a good time.
The current set of tours begin and end at McGinnis Sisters in Monroeville. Karen Novak does a spectucular job of getting us some caffeine and a few treats in our bellies before we get on our way for a day of nibbling and dining. The day after each tour, I am always grateful for the wonderful people at our stops and our on tour bus. Thanks to all of you for making this so much fun for us!!
Mar 21 2011
I’m addicted to maple syrup. It all began in January when I tasted maple cotton candy at the PA Farm Show in Harrisburg, continued through February when I visited Jan Dofner at the Levi Deal Mansion in Meyersdale ( home of the PA Maple Festival), and now the obsession rages on as I experiment daily with new recipes using maple sugar and maple syrup. In addition to eating maple syrup flavored yogurt, maple granola, maple rolls and maple candy while in Meyersdale, I visited a few maple sugar camps and became intrigued with the whole process. Making maple syrup and maple sugar, even with today’s methods, is still a labor intense process. It takes 40 gallons of maple sap to make one gallon of syrup!! And once you’ve tasted the real thing, you’ll never ever go back to maple flavored corn syrups.
The Pennsylvania Maple Festival is March 26, 27, 29 and 30 and April 1-3 in Meyersdale, in southern Somerset County.
If you want to learn more about maple syrup, Dreadnought Wines in the Strip District is offering a class taught by Molly Enos of the Paul Bunyan Maple Sugar Camp in Rockwood. I’ll be there to put my two cents in, too.
Feb 21 2011
This past weekend, I drove deep into Somerset County on a quest for maple syrup.Well, really, I was just bored and wanted to get away for a few days and maple syrup was a good excuse. My first stop was at the Somerset Historical Center, just a short skip off the good ol’ PA Turnpike. Since the outdoor areas are closed until spring, I walked through the indoor exhibits of PA history, old farm equipment and maple sugaring accessories. I really liked this place. Of course, shopping is always in order, so the gift shop beckoned. I fell in love with an adorable house shaped maple sugar mold, and was excited when Mark Ware showed me a sample of how the maple sugar house looked when unmolded. I wish they sold those at the gift shop!
A picture filled tretise on maple sugaring and a little package of goose beans ( the beans are a story in themselves, for another time) in hand and I was on my way. Next stop? Meyersdale, home of the upcoming PA Maple Festival. The Levi Deal Mansion was my headquarters. . .. beautiful B&B, lovelier than lovely hosts, and perfect food.
With suggestions from Jan and Michael at Levi Deal, I visited the Milroy Farms Sugar Camp for syrup and sugar, the Springs Store for donuts, Landis Bakery for gobs and more. Yes, it was a festival of carbs.
In my conversations with locals, I learned a lot about sugaring and maple syrup, and about living in southern Somerset County. Even without autumn leaves or budding trees, this area still charms. It’s only about 1 1/2 hours from Pittsburgh, so it works for a day trip, but it’s so peaceful there, with so many culinary treasures, staying overnight is a must.
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.