Spring Culinary Tours

I’ve been super busy researching all of the fantastic stops for the Spring 2011 tours.  The Fork and The Road did a culinary tour to Bedford and to parts of the Laurel Highlands last fall, and both were terrific, but there’s always room  for a little tweak here and there.  The number of high quality artisanal foods in these areas just keep increasing and it’s so hard to decide where the tour bus should go.  So hard and so fun!

New this season is the Italian themed tour.  Of course, lots of testing of all of the stops and products is in order, so as soon as there is a day without ice and snow, I head out on Route 30 to investigate all things food. I’m not giving away any big tour secrets, but I can say I’ve been sampling dark chocolate truffles, freshly made cheese,  delicious pasta, crunchy biscotti and a variety of pasta sauces. Oh, and a little vino always enters the picture, too.  The Italian tour is a mix of “old school” and “cutting edge” cuisine. Good stuff.   We’ve already had quite a  response to this tour, so we’re doing two of them instead of just one.

The small tour size (18 people max.) allows us to have a more personal experience at out stops . . talking with the chefs, store owners or vintners.  So don’t delay in signing up.  A few tours are close to capacity.  For more info, click on the Tours tab above.  For even more info or to register, email me at mary@theforkandtheroad.com or call 412.576.1755.  Hope to see you on the bus!!

Gobs in the Mountains

I'm too embarrassed to show a photo of the giant gob that I ate, so here is a photo of the beautiful scenery on the way to The Country Pie Shoppe from Ligonier

Ever since I was a kid, I have always loved gobs. You might call them whoopie pies, but they’re the same thing. A giant soft cookie sandwich filled with soft, sweet, whipped filling. They were special occasion cookies in my house and were always part of the cookie tray at Christmas. They still are something I look forward to every December.  My favorite kind of gob is made from a chocolate cake-like batter with a creamy filling made from . . sorry, all of my dietitian co-workers out there  . . .  Crisco . .  . and some sugar, vanilla and canned evaporated milk.  Sometimes I will buy a gob and then be so disappointed by the filling. I don’t care for the ones made with confectioner’s sugar. For me, the texture is chalky and the taste is too sweet. I also prefer the plain chocolate ones with vanilla filling. I’ve tried pumpkin, mint-chocolate, peanut butter, banana and vanilla, but nothing hits the spot for me like plain chocolate.

So imagine my excitement yesterday when, on a drive through the Laurel Highlands, we stopped at The Country Pie Shoppe in Donegal.  I was really hot and thirsty and need some water. (Why I decided to wear a long sleeve black dress on a ninety degree day, who knows?) But once within the shop, I immediately spied the giant gobs and had to have one.  I asked the nice woman in the bakery about the filling, not wanting to waste my time on the confectioner’s sugar filling of a gob, but she was new to the shop(pe) and wasn’t  sure about the ingredients. I gave it a shot . . .and yahoo. . . . the filling was fluffy and creamy and wonderful. So when you are on the PA Turnpike near the Donegal exit or if you are spending the weekend at Seven Springs or Hidden Valley, turn into the Pie Shoppe and get yourself a giant gob. It’s surely enough calories for an entire day, but it will be a good day for sure.

Sign up now for the fall tours!

Mix this kind of scenery with amazing food . . . and you've got The Fork and The Road Culinary Tours!

This fall, we are able to take larger groups on our culinary tours. It is going to be so much fun.  The tours are still small – maximum number of 18 people – and we are travelling in style in a luxury mini-coach. It really is comfy and nice, with big windows for watching the autumn leaves go by.

Our three day-long Autumn 2010 tours start and end at McGinnis Sisters Special Food Stores in Monroeville.  The October 21st tour focuses on the hidden foodie secrets of the Laurel Highlands.  Our October 26th  tour takes us to historic Bedford, Pennsylvania, which also has its share of hidden culinary gems.  The third tour, on November 12th, keeps us closer to Pittsburgh in the Gateway to the Laurel Highlands –  Greensburg, Latrobe and some  little towns in between.  Who knew there were so many great food experiences right in our eastern backyard?

Each tour includes round trip luxury transportation, tons of samples, a meal or two (depending on the tour), cooking demonstrations, some history of the area, and a few surprises. All meals, samples, and other fees such as museums are included in the cost.  A great time is guaranteed.

Don’t think we’ve forgotten about areas North, South and West of Pittsburgh, but you’ll have to wait for Spring for those tours.  We’ll keep you posted about the dates as soon as everything is lined up.

For additional information, click on the Tours tab.