I Ain’t Afraid of No Ghosts. . . . okay, this is not true at all!!

abraham lincoln

Last week, I took a short trip to Gettysburg, mainly because one of my favorite authors was in town to do a talk and book signing.  Kelly Corrigan, who wrote The Middle Place, Lift and Glitter and Glue, was to speak at the Adams County Arts Center and my desire to wander told me that I had to go. I just can’t sit still once the weather breaks (which it didn’t once I was on the road, by the way). Plus, it was only $35 per ticket, which included the book, a chance to meet Kelly, wine and snacks.  Good deal, right?!!

When I arrived in town, I stopped at the Gettysburg Visitor Center to visit the museum and check out the Battle of Gettysburg cyclorama painting.  It was so interesting. I would highly recommend it for anyone, but especially  for folks like me with poor recollections of the Civil War from junior high history. Of course, I bought up some culinary history books from the shop there, too.  Can’t stop myself from food books.  It is becoming a problem.   From there, I was off to the Dobbin House Tavern ( built way back in 1776) after a recommendation from the guy at the ticket desk inside the visitor center. Abraham Lincoln gave his Gettysburg Address across the street in the cemetery.   Really cool, historic building and good food, but when I got home I noticed weird stuff in my photos which creeped me out a bit.  A friend noticed the shadows and outlines, too.  I googled the Dobbin House and  the internets told me that it is ” very haunted.”  I ‘ve decided not to look at the pictures again and will probably delete them from my files … but here is one or two in case you want to take a peep.  See what you think. The top is of the dining room and the bottom is a peep hole into the spring that still runs into the basement of the building.  The tavern used to be a place where slaves could hid on their way up to Canada.   I am finished looking at them . .forever.dobbinsDobbin 2

 

I stayed at a lovely small hotel, the Federal Pointe Inn, which used to be a school ( built in 1896 ).  The 18 room hotel had a sweet, small bar in the basement, which was so toasty on a snowy (end of MARCH) evening by a pretty stone fireplace.  There I had a crab cake and a beer before the talk just to hold me over.

I also had a light meal and a beer at The Pub earlier in the day ( yes, I eat a lot, I know )  where I tried their signature sweet potato soup with raisins. Sweet Potato Soup I was hesitant, but it was really good.  Not too sugary, not milky –  and the plump raisins were a bonus.

After a few wine tastings in town, I was ready for the book event.kelly corrigan

It was a perfect short getaway.  Just a few hours from home . . . great food, amazing history and good shopping.


Double M

One of my dearest friends frequently calls me Double M because of my initials.  It’s a great little phrase yet a quick Google search shows that I am not the only Double M around.  Double M Pizza, Double M Gaited Horses, Double M Auto Sales. Food, animals, cars . . so why not have  a Double M day?

Edgar Thomson WorksMy Double M day?  Mills and Maple!OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA

 On Sunday, I drove down to pick up my parents for a day out and about.  I left early to get some treats for them at the newish Five Points Artisan Bakery in Squirrel Hill. Five Points Artisan Everything is so good, but get there early as they frequently sell out early.  Taking the long route to the my folks’ house through Braddock,  Munhall and towards McKeesport, I ended up driving past two of my favorite places.  The first is the Joe Magarac statue across from Edgar Thomson Works in Braddock.  This legend, to me, represents toils, troubles and strength of the Eastern European immigrant population that worked in the mills.  Joe is supposed to protect the mill workers.  Drive on down to Braddock Avenue across from the Edgar Thomson Works to see Joe in person. It is a terrific place to ponder things.  There really is no parking right in front of him, but you can park and sit across the road in the small parking area near the entrance to ET.  According to legend,  Joe  “ate that hot steel like soup and cold steel ingots like meat.”

Joe Magarac

After that, my road trip took me past the Clairton Mill, a steel mill and coke production facility which is one of the world’s largest in the world. It is still working, belching out much cleaner smoke that the 1960s when our sky and water were both yellow from pollution from the mill..  I know it’s odd, but I find comfort in the sulfur smell near the old coke plants.  Smells like home.

Next, I picked the folks up and we ventured to my second M of the day .   … maple. It was open house weekend for a whole pile of sugar camps in Somerset County.  I went to the event last year and it was so great that I had to do it again..  Once you see the effort that goes into producing maple sugar and syrup, there is a real appreciation and value to the cost of true maple products.  We made maple sugar and spotza and sampled maple popcorn, maple cookies, maple syrup topped sundaes and more. Maple Sap Evaporator At the camp, we watched the big, fancy evaporator do its job to morph maple sap into syrup.  The trees can only be tapped until early April, so if you have the chance, go check it out in the next few weeks. If you’ve never been to a real hidden treasure, the Somerset Historical Center, do pay them a visit. It is a wonderful place to learn all of the agricultural history of Somerset County and surrounding areas.

So, the Double M day of mills and maple ended as it began, with a drive down the lonely roads past old mills, with my windows rolled down for a sniff of my childhood.

 


Happy 2015!

Here are a few of my adventures in 2015 so far. . . . Troeg’s Brewery and Cafe in Hershey,   the PA Farm Show and a visit to the newish Five Points Artisan Bakery in Squirrel Hill.

TroegsFarm Show veggiesFive Points Artisan Bakery

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Not sure where the time goes, but wow .. . . it’s already working towards February and no one is happier than me! Just a quick reminder of some good things on the horizon. . . . . . .terrific culinary tours can always be had with the folks at Pittsburgh Tours and More, so go to www.pghtoursandmore.net to see what is coming up. They are all terrific, but I helped to develop the Steel Town Sampler and The Flavor of Pittsburgh tours, so I am just a bit biased!! Also, if your cabin fever is out of control, come on out to Ligonier on January 24 to be part of the Fire, Spice and Ice Culinary Getaway. It’s the same weekend as the Ice Fest in Ligonier, so you can check out the carvings, then pop down to the Ramada Ligonier for a snappy cocktail, a sweet local food/beverage vendor tasting area, a cooking demo, delish dinner and then a bottomless mimosa brunch the next morning. Go to www.ramadaligonier.com and click on events for more details. I am making an effort to post more on the blog this year . . .mainly about fun food events, amazing local artisans and some other food adventures. Hoping to focus on people doing good things for our communities, and not so much on business stuff.  I am just not that interested in selling things or tooting my own horn. Just want to let others know about all of the good things and amazing people in our area who are involved with food endeavors.  Thanks for reading!!


Good times in September!!

The August 12 tour called Edible Secrets of Pittsburgh:  What’s All The Buzz About? sold out, so I have added another one on September 3.  The ShowClix link at www.pghtoursandmore.net isn’t up yet, but if you are interested let me know and I will do my best to hold spots for you!!  This is a lovely tour of hidden gems through Lawrenceville, Etna, Highland Park and Morningside.   Just a delight!! Cost is $75 and the tour lasts approximately 4 hours.

The picture below is a secret garden that we will visit. It is filled with the most luscious produce.  But I am keeping the location a secret.

secret garden

 

 

Another tour, called Mangia Men, is being held on September 23.  For this tour, we will venture out towards Irwin and Jeannette, visiting Italian restaurants and groceries to eat and learn about local Italian treasures. It is a six hour trip and the cost is$85.    Fabuloso!!

For any of these tours or for info about the Flavor of Pittsburgh tour, email me at mary@theforkandtheroad.com or call 412.576.1755.

 

Pasta Machines at Fede Pasta

Fresh Pasta . . oh so delicious!!


New Food Tours in the Works!!

If you haven’t read about the new tours  or seen us on WTAE or KDKA, let me fill you in.  The Flavor of Pittsburgh tour is a three hour food trip through Pittsburgh’s culinary history from early days in Market Square through today.  It is really fun, I promise!!    This tour is an ongoing one and more info is at www.pghtoursandmore.net.

I am starting another series of tours that are one time events, with the theme of Edible Secrets of Pittsburgh.  The first in the series is on August 12 and it’s called What’s the Buzz All About?  I don’t want to give any secrets away, but the stops are wonderful and the people that we will meet are so terrific, too.  They are all doing good things for our community .We will have enough food for a meal throughout the four hour tour and the cost is $75 per person, which includes all food and transportation. The shuttle leaves from Lawrenceville, where we can park in a safe lot during the tour.

Again, for more info, go to www.pghtoursandmore.net and click on the Food Tour link.

In the works for September is an Italian themed tour and also a fun tour to new meat markets in our area.

For  any questions, email me at mary@theforkandtheroad.com or call 412.576.1755..

Hope to see you soon!!

mary miller

 


The Fork and The Road rises again!!

Although The Fork and The Road has never really been gone, I am getting back into doing more tours by partnering with Pittsburgh Tours & More, which is part of Pittsburgh Transportation Group!  This will allow The Fork and The Road to do more tour and to meet your needs by doing a better job with charter and custom tours.  Keep your eyes open here and on Facebook for all the good things to come in mid-2014.  We are so excited about this new and wonderful chapter for The Fork and The Road.  Please email me at mary@theforkandtheroad.com with any questions or to discuss planning a culinary tour for you or your group.

new photos 014

 

It was a rainy day for the Encore tour this spring, but we still had a fabulous time!!

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Thanks so much for your patience over the last year and during the next few months as my website makes a transition to something much more beautiful and readable.  it certainly is a process, but it is all good in the end!

 

Mary


Don’t forget to sign up for the May tour!

Spring 2012

 

Culinary Tour

 

Tuesday, May 8

 

Learn all about these delicious cookies!!!

 

On this trip, the driving time is short and the stops are real Pittsburgh treasures.  Whether you grew up in near the Three Rivers or if you’re a transplant, there’s something for everyone on our foodie bus. Get ready to learn about (and taste)  the ethnic food of the steel mill workers and their families, enjoy a light snack in one of Homestead’s newish eateries, sample a bubbly treat in the Strip, visit our area’s oldest and history filled (oh, and simply stunning) hotel for lunch, tour the Burgh’s new, hot destination (Wigle Whiskey) and more.  I’ve worked to dig up some fascinating culinary history tidbits about Pittsburgh.

The tour leaves from the Pump House near The Waterfront in Homestead.  Very little walking is involved.

Date:  Tuesday, May 8

Time:  9 AM until approximately 4 PM

Cost:  $125, which includes transportation, all meals, samples and entrance fees.

To make a reservation or for more info, email Mary at mary@theforkandtheroad.com or call 412.576.1755

Seating is limited to 18 and just a few seats remain.

The old Carrie Furnace site

Hope to see you on the 8th!

 

 


Pittsburgh “This and That” Tour

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Join The Fork and The Road on Tuesday, May 8 for a tasty and trivia-filled tour of Pittsburgh.  We’ll embark on our journey from the historic Pump House near The Waterfront in Homestead.  So many stories to tell about this area!  And such rich culinary history, too. Learn about the architectural gems of  Homestead and Munhall while enjoying a morning snack in a charming, restored cafe.  Next, we’ll investigate the roots of our ‘Burgh dialect all while sipping on some fun (meaning alcohol containing) bubbly beverages and savoring some local nibbles.  Then, it’s on to a “dahntahn” treasure  for a “wunnerful, wunnerful” vintage Pittsburgh lunch.  Before inching back to Homestead, our last stop will be a visit with Eric Meyer at his fabulous new whiskey distillery, where we’ll  learn about the start of the Whiskey Rebellion and  get to taste his  just bottled rye and wheat whiskey.  This is a real treat.  The tour leaves at 9AM and returns at 4PM, and is $125 per person, which includes all food, beverages and transportation.  Tour is limited to 18 people so sign up early.  Please email mary@theforkandtheroad.com or call 412.576.1755 to make your reservations or for more information.


Oh, I love the Laurel Highlands!

I took a short drive out towards Donegal this afternoon to visit with Judy Trabbold, the owner of the Historic Log Cabin  Inn.  Judy has vast knowledge about herbs and edible flowers, and she is a delight.   The Inn is a very old real log cabin, which Judy has painstakingly restored.     This blacksmith’s house is one of the oldest homes in Somerset County –   from the 1700s – and it is super charming inside.  Lucky guests can stay here and walk around the path outside, where you can sit and enjoy the great outdoors.  It would be a treat to stay here in any season.  I wanted to crawl in one of the beds and take a nap.

The dessert table at Connections in Ligonier

After the  Inn and Judy’s jasmine green tea, I took the always glorious drive on Route 711 on to Ligonier.  I wanted to stp at Connections on 109 South Market Street for some lunch.  The last time I was there was talented pastry wizard Sharon Detar’s grand opening a few months ago and things were crazy.  This time, without the big opening day crowd (and my own tour group) I had more time to enjoy myself in the shop.  I was so impressed with the calm colors and stylish table decor along with a great selection of free trade gifts.  But, oh, the food!  I ordered ( sorry to admit that I ate all of this, but I did) curried chicken salad, a mixed veggie salad with tomatoes, beans, onions and asparagus, and a slice of an ethereal white chocolate raspberry tart .  All washed down with freshly brewed raspberry hibiscus tea. Connections also carries Old Linn Run Coffee, one of my favorites. I can’t wait to go back to both of these places. They are really special.

Hard to resist the pepperoni bread at DeLallo's

On the way home, on the lovely (not), traffic light strewn Route 30, I made my requisite stop at  DeLallo’s, where I picked up some piquillo peppers, fresh mozzarella, fresh spinach, stuffed mushrooms and watermelon. Perfect for a lovely summer dinner.

Such a short drive from Pittsburgh and such wonderful local treasures.   We are so fortunate.


Berries, Beach Plums and Dogs

Since  hanging out in south Jersey for the last month or so, I’ve investigated some new foods and culinary spots.

Look for Hammonton, NJ on your blueberry container!

 

It’s blueberry season, and the best blueberries arrive out of the Hammonton area. Plump and sweet, they beat other blueberries by a mile. Difficult to locate some of the actual blueberry farms combined with the fact that I’m too lazy to do the “you pick” thing, leaves me with purchasing farm market berries, but they’re still completely wonderful. Check the box of blueberries at your market.  See if they’re grown in Hammonton.  Local raspberries are still at the farm markets, too.  A mix of berries, a few chopped white peaches and a sprinkling of Moscato wine.  Perfect summer dessert.

And then there’s the beach plum.  About the size of a quarter, these fruits, which grow only along coastal areas between Maine and Virginia can help to anchor the dunes as well as providing great eating and drinking in jams and wine.  The plants blosson in the spring and are ripe for picking in late summer.  There’s even a Cape May County Beach Plum Association, which helps to get the plums planted through the dunes in south Jersey and also promotes research into the fruit.   At the moment, Natali Vineyards is the only winery making beach plum wine in the country. I stopped by for a tasting, finding the flavor to be unique, fruity but not super sweet. I’m not sure it pairs with food well, but I think it would be great sipped after dinner on a hot night.

Bottling Beach Plum Wine at Natali Vineyards

Last but not least is Maui’s Dog House in North Wildwood.  Featured on Diners, Drive Ins and Dives on the Food Network a few years ago, this place has lots of personality. I had a Chicago dog and we shared the Hawaii Five O Fries. Good eatin’. They’re only open until 4 PM, so don’t stay on the beach until it’s too late for a dog.

My Chicago Dog