Category Archives: Food

Brunch Blog

Countryside Breakfast or Downtown Brunch?

Rise and shine – it’s time to start your day in Lancaster County! Treat yourself to the most important meal of the day.

Breakfast or brunch – which will you choose?

For a Countryside Breakfast:

A traditional breakfast featuring eggs, home fries, pancakes and other favorites can be found at many of the local PA Dutch restaurants and buffets. Try a little bit of everything with an all-you-care-to-eat smorgasbord or order off the menu of tasty classics.

Here are some favorite breakfast spots across the county:

Shady Maple: features two hundred feet of deliciously authentic Pennsylvania Dutch cooking. Be sure to try one of their house-made doughnuts or pastries!

Oregon Dairy Country Restaurant & Buffet: serving a full breakfast menu Monday through Sunday plus a breakfast buffet Friday, Saturday and Sunday

DJ’s Taste of the 50’s: classic breakfast dishes served in a vintage diner setting

For a Downtown Brunch:

Brunch is a delicious early afternoon meal typically served on Saturday and Sunday, and featuring dishes that combine the best of lunch and breakfast. Tasty brunch spots are popping up across Downtown Lancaster, serving up brunch burgers, quiche, chicken and waffles, and cocktails.

Explore Lancaster City and stop by one of these great brunch spots:

Annie Bailey’s: a traditional Irish pub serving classic Irish breakfast items and savory lunch burgers and sandwiches

Aussie and the Fox: blending American and Australian cuisine and creating delicious brunch dishes and cocktails

Prince Street Café: serving breakfast or lunch all day, along with hot and cold espresso and coffee drinks

Bon appetite!

Things to Do Blog - July

Ten Things to Do in Lancaster County in July

Summer is officially here! Whether you’re in Lancaster for a weekend getaway or family vacation, or you’re a local looking for something new to experience, there’s a lot going on this month across the county.

An Evening of Live Music:

July evenings are best spent at one of the many outdoor concerts throughout the county. Friday, July 8 and 22, Oregon Dairy hosts Summer Music on the Deck, their free music series that begins at 7:00 PM. Concert-goers can enjoy delicious ice cream from the Milkhouse Ice Cream Shoppe while listening to relaxing tunes.

Saturday evenings, music fills the lawns of Nissley Vineyards for their Music in the Vineyards series. Music-lovers can enjoy a picnic supper and the wine produced at the vineyards during the concert. Concerts run every Saturday from July 23 to August 20.

Cool Off on the Creek:

Cool off on a hot July day as you float down the Pequea Creek. Sickman’s Mill Creek Tubing offers two mile tubing tours where you can relax in a canvas tube and take in nature’s beauty.

Howl at the Moon:

Lancaster County is home to the Wolf Sanctuary of Pennsylvania, where the Speedwell Wolves live and thrive. Each month, the sanctuary hosts their Full Moon Tour, held on the Saturday closest to the full moon. July’s event will be held on the 16th beginning at 7:30 PM. Visit the wolf packs at your own pace, relax by the bonfire and maybe even howl at the moon.

Find Fresh Produce:                                                                    

Farm fresh produce is plentiful in Lancaster County during the summer months. A variety of crops including tomatoes and corn can be found at local farmers markets and roadside stands across the county. If you’re visiting on a Tuesday, Friday or Saturday, stop by Lancaster Central Market in Downtown Lancaster for lunch, baked goods, local produce and so much more. Held on Saturdays in Lititz, the Lititz Farmers Market is an open air market held on North Water Street. This small town market features a variety of goods in a festive, community atmosphere.

Kid-Friendly Favorites:

With school out for the summer, it’s time for kid-approved family fun. Lancaster County is home to lots of kid-friendly things to do and see including Dutch Wonderland and Cherry Crest Adventure Farm. Dutch Wonderland is a safe, family-focused amusement park, designed with kids in mind. The park features rides like the train, small rides for younger children and their iconic roller coaster in addition to their water playground, Duke’s Lagoon.

For farm-centric family fun, head over to Cherry Crest Adventure Farm. Kids of all ages will enjoy activities including a petting zoo, corn maze, a hay chute slide and so so much more. Cherry Crest Adventure Farm is open Tuesday through Saturday.

It’s Show Time:

Two childhood favorites are coming to local live theaters this summer. Mary Poppins comes to life at the Dutch Apple Dinner Theatre this month, with familiar and uplifting tunes. Enjoy this enchanting story along with one of Dutch Apple’s buffet and dinner options.

Gretna Theatre, right outside Lancaster County in Mt. Grenta, PA, is bringing the epic musical adventure, Disney’s Tarzan, to life. High-flying adventure is in store at this summer theatre, July 14 through 24.

And that’s just the short list! For a complete list of the events happening in Lancaster County in July and beyond, visit our online events calendar. Happy travels!

Things to Do Blog - JUNE

Ten Things to Do in Lancaster County in June

Signs of summer are popping up across Lancaster County. From fun with the kids now that school is out to spending time outdoors in the warm sunshine, here are ten exciting events and things to do in Lancaster this month.

A Day at the Railroad

Railroad fun and history are ever-present in Strasburg this month for the young and young-at-heart.

The Railroad Museum of Pennsylvania’s special exhibit for 2016, “Safety First! The Evolution of Railroading Safety Practices,” explores how technology and practices helped to improve the safety of railroad workers. For those who love railroading history, this is just the place for you! Along with the special exhibit, the museum also features historic locomotives, a working restoration shop and more. Admission to this year’s exhibit is included with museum admission. The exhibit is open during regular museum hours and will be on display until December 31, 2016.

Thomas is coming back to town – Thomas the Tank Engine™ that is! June 18 through June 26, Strasburg Rail Road® will host their Day Out with Thomas™ event, featuring a train ride with Thomas, storytelling and more. Thomas won’t be traveling alone, as his friend Percy will be joining in the festivities too. Tickets can be purchased for the June, August, and November Day Out with Thomas™ events online.

Live Music Galore

Outdoor music performances are plentiful in June, and what better time to enjoy the warm summer air and toe-tapping tunes.

Looking for something to do on Sunday nights this summer? Grab a picnic dinner and lawn chairs and head over to Long’s Park for their Summer Music Series. Beginning on June 5, live music will be performed at the Long’s Park Amphitheater that will have you dancing along. Admission to these family-friendly, outdoor concerts is free.

Another exciting celebration of music is Kitchen Kettle Village’s Music for Everyone Festival, held on Saturday, June 18. Enjoy various live music performances as you stroll around and browse the village shops.

Celebrate the City and Towns

Join in the festivities as Intercourse and Lancaster City are celebrated with fun and even fireworks!

Intercourse Heritage Days will be held June 17 through 18 to celebrate the history and heritage of the town. Hosted at Intercourse Community Park, this festival includes activities for kids, a pie baking contest, musical entertainment, a reptile show and more. The Taste of Lancaster Food Showcase will feature local restaurants and Pennsylvania Dutch cuisine that plays a role in the area’s heritage. A fireworks display will wrap up Saturday’s festivities.

As a celebration of culture and diversity in the growing City of Lancaster, Celebrate Lancaster will take place on Friday, June 24. Enjoy more than 20 food vendors, live music on two stages and beer & wine, with festivities wrapping up in the evening with a fireworks display.

Beer & Wine… Oh my!

Whether you prefer to sip chardonnay or relax with a brew, here are two wine and beer centric events for your June afternoon.

From the creators of Lancaster Craft Beerfest, comes SIP Wine in the Park, an afternoon of wine tasting the Lancaster City’s Musser Park. Tasting Tickets are on sale now for this June 18 event, and admission includes a commemorative sampling glass plus samples from around the world, live music, and food sampling.

The newest beer fest in town is the Ephrata Brewfest, to be held on Saturday June 25 at the Whistle Stop Plaza in Ephrata. Ales, IPAs, stouts and more will be available for sampling from local up-and-coming breweries including Wacker Brewing Company, Lancaster Brewing Company, St. Boniface Craft Brewing Company and more. Live music and food vendors round out this event which is sure to be a good time.

Relax on the River

With the cold weather behind us, the outdoors are just waiting to be explored. Take some time this month to experience water sports on the Susquehanna River.

Combine biking and paddling for a day of adventure along the river. Chiques Rock Outfitters, conveniently located at various points along the river, offers kayak, canoe and bike rentals. To ultimately cure your lingering cabin fever, opt for an hour long bike ride on the Northwest Lancaster County River Trail then trade your bikes in for a kayak for a three hour ride on the river back to where you started. The trail is fairly flat and winds through wooded areas for a shady, leisurely ride.

With a variety of events in June, Shank’s Mare Outfitters offers a few different ways to experience the river. Whether you’re a novice or a paddling pro, Shank’s Mare offers stand-up paddle boarding classes, some even incorporating yoga in to the mix, and kayaking classes and tours. Follow an evening of paddling with a dinner along the river with one of their evening kayaking tour events.

Courtesy of Shady Maple

Shady Maple – Where Food is a Destination!

One of the popular ways to enjoy delicious Pennsylvania Dutch cuisine is with a meal at a buffet, or Smorgasbord as they’re called in Lancaster County. With a craving for a hearty, home-style breakfast, I took a trip to Lancaster County’s largest smorgasbord, Shady Maple. From donuts, pastries and fresh fruit to eggs prepared your way, there is truly something for everyone.  I had bacon and their savory hash brown casserole on my mind, and added creamed chipped beef over home fries and a doughnut to my plate (don’t worry – I ate LOTS of vegetables for lunch). At the grill areas, they make pancakes and waffles with a variety of mix-ins and toppings and eggs prepared to order, eggs Benedict and omelets. Serving a variety of egg options, Shady Maple goes through 3,000 eggs every Saturday – WOW!

When lunch and dinner roll around, their buffet features an extensive salad bar, soup, meats, cheeses, homemade bread and fabulous grill options. At lunchtime you can find hamburgers, hot dogs, and corn fritters, to name a few. Their dinner grill options vary through the week with options like Prime Rib on Wednesdays and BBQ on Thursdays.

After my delicious breakfast, it was time to do a little shopping (and walking) in their 40,000 sq. ft. gift shop, located in the same building as the smorgasbord. The gift shop features furniture, games and toys for kids, jewelry, Christmas ornaments and collectibles, canned jellies and jams and so much more! They even sell merchandise featuring their mascots Whoop-e-pie and T-bone steak.

Shady Maple began with humble roots as a road side farm market almost 46 years ago, growing to the 110,000 sq. ft. farmers market it is today. Along with standard groceries, the farmers market sells local produce, meats smoked in-house and delicious baked goods produced in their own on-site bakery. My favorites are their apple fritters and maple bacon long johns. Yes- they put bacon on a doughnut, and yes- it is absolutely scrumptious. In addition to donuts, the Shady Maple bakery produces pies, whoopie pies in a variety of flavors, specialty breads, sticky buns and so much more.

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Shady Maple is a Lancaster County staple and worth a trip! Stop by for a meal at Shady Maple Smorgasbord or PA Dutch style baked goods at the Farm Market next time you’re in the area.

Speckled Hen Blog

Speckled Hen Coffee

Tucked between the historic bed & breakfasts and train attractions of Strasburg is a quaint café by the name of Speckled Hen Coffee. Excited to try something new, I ventured there for lunch and a caffeinated afternoon pick-me-up.

Speckled Hen Coffee is located on Main Street in Strasburg with ample parking for patrons. Upon entering the café, I noticed the crisp, clean décor and ample natural light. There is a patio out front for al fresco dining on the warmer days. A room next to the coffee bar and main dining area features a table with toys for children to play with while the parents enjoy their coffee. Speckled Hen Coffee features beautifully finished concrete floors with tables near the large windows where you can watch the occasional horse and buggy trot by.

Their breakfast menu including omelets, breakfast sandwiches, and house-made baked oatmeal (just to name a few) is served all day, but I was in the mood for lunch and opted for the Turkey Bacon Jam sandwich with a side salad and a latte. Not only was the latte beautiful, but it was also hot and rich – perfect! They source their coffee from Passenger Coffee, a coffee roasting company located in Downtown Lancaster which speaks to their passion for local products and the Lancaster County community.

From the minute I ordered my sandwich, I couldn’t wait for the first bite… and it was flawless. Melted Gouda, turkey and bacon jam were married between two perfectly pressed pieces of wheat-berry bread. My mouth is watering just thinking about it. Chips are offered as a side, but the fresh, tender lettuce they source from Meck’s Produce paired with their delicious balsamic dressing made me forget chips even existed. They take pride in their food by using fresh, local products and making many items in house, like their bacon jam.

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Turkey Bacon Jam sandwich with a side salad… Yum!

After a savory lunch, I was longing for something sweet. The pastry display was filled with sweet treats from macaroons to coffee cake. I opted for one of their special desserts this spring, lemon-lavender cake. The lavender created a floral aroma while the lemon added a refreshing element. It was a uniquely delicious treat, especially on a bright spring day. Also inspired by the flowers of spring, they have added a lavender latte and lavender and rose sodas to their menu for the season.

Lemon Lavendar Cake

Lemon Lavendar Cake

 

During my visit I had the honor of chatting with the café’s co-owner about the inspiration behind the café and its name. Their love for celebrating what makes everyone unique, their community and coffee inspired the name “Speckled Hen Coffee.” They show their community spirit through hosting Music Fridays to showcase local musicians and partnering with Zolé Art Factory to host paint nights to bring coffee, art and people together.

I can’t wait to visit Speckled Hen Coffee again, especially for their Wednesday Burger Night to experience their selection of gourmet burgers and dessert options. Did I mention they have house-made desserts AND Carmen and David’s ice cream?

Whether it’s time for breakfast, lunch or dinner, or even just a quick cup of coffee, check out Speckled Hen Coffee for yourself!

Image Courtesy of Kauffman's Fruit Farm

Kauffman’s Famous Fruit Farm & Market

Kauffman’s Fruit Farm & Market has been family-owned and operated since the founder, Amos L. (A.L.) Kauffman planted the first fruit trees in 1911. Today, over 100 years later, the 3rd, 4th, and 5th generations run the business; and the orchards are now producing over 135 varieties of tree fruits on 100 acres. Pretty impressive!

When A.L. built a packing house in 1937, he made it larger than most other buildings in the area because he believed that his business would expand exponentially. He had dreams of growing the best tasting fruit in the region and building a successful business that would continue on for generations.

In 1954, a critical part of his vision was fulfilled when his five sons became business partners. A. L. Kauffman & Sons began a new chapter.

In A.L.’s lifetime alone, the orchard grew to have 55 acres of apples, 35 acres of peaches, 3 acres of pears, and 4 acres of plums and cherries.

For the Kauffman family, hard work, skill-perfecting, family traditions, and fond memories have marked every milestone, every season, and every year of their growing business. Picking apples in the orchard, making cider, assisting in the farm market, and managing a growing business have all been key to the family’s success.

While they are thankful for their rich history, strong values, and meaningful traditions, they continue to grow and adapt to the needs of their customers. They proudly combine values of the past with visions for the future.

Because the Kauffman family loves their business, the local community, and each customer, they promise to continue growing food responsibly, sustainably, and healthfully for many more generations.

Image Courtesy of Kauffman's Fruit Farm

Image Courtesy of Kauffman’s Fruit Farm

To learn more about the market and Kauffman’s delicious produce, read Christina’s post.

Learn more about the Kauffman family or purchase their 100th-anniversary keepsake book, FAITH, FAMILY & FRUIT.

Be sure to check out other iconic Lancaster County hot-spots such as Shady Maple Smorgasbord, Strasburg Rail Road, and Lancaster Central Market, and Green Dragon.

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What Exactly is Chow-Chow?

Chow-Chow, not to be confused with the breed of dog hailing from China, is a sweet and sour mix of pickled vegetables often served as a side dish next to PA Dutch classic cuisine.

Not only is chow-chow delicious, it’s also a resourceful use of odd amounts of vegetables left at the end of harvest, giving it the nickname “end of season relish.” Left-over carrots, onions, cauliflower, cucumbers, celery, corn, peppers, beans, etc. are canned together with a sweet and sour pickling liquid.

While the origin of the name isn’t officially known, there are a few theories. Some believe it comes from the French word for cabbage, Chou. Others say it comes from the Indian squash, chayote, which is also known as chow-chow.

Regional flavors and variations do exist, including the less-sweet southern version and varieties that are chopped and shredded.

Pick up a jar of the Pennsylvania Dutch version and try it for yourself! Find chow-chow along with many other jams, sauces and pickles at Intercourse Canning Company.

Thank you to Intercourse Canning Company assisting with the chow-chow facts.

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Waltz Wine Dinner at The General Sutter Inn

A perfect ending to the first day of Spring!

Eating out and Dining Out are two totally different things. Dining is often reserved for that special someone or group of friends looking for a special night out together. Additionally, if you’re thinking fine dining you’re thinking extraordinary food and drink. The Waltz Wine Dinner at the General Sutter Inn had it all!

For Cheryl and I, in recent years, it’s one of our all-time favorite dining experiences. We sign up the minute we see the announcement. This was our third and we’ll certainly be back again!

We arrived just after 5:30. There were ten tables of eight in the newly renovated ballroom at The General Sutter Inn. We were seated with three couples who naturally love good wines and fine foods so there were immediate common interests. From there the exchanges comfortably drifted to unique local experiences, world travels and a host of common interests. The conversations were easy and relaxed. We had a wonderful time together throughout the evening.

Jan & Kim Waltz, the proprietors of The Waltz Estate Vineyards are wonderful hosts. After they greeted us and thanked everyone for coming Jan talked about the uniqueness of their vineyards. It was unmistakably obvious that Jan is both passionate and meticulous about their wines as he articulated the history, the processes, the love and care he pours into his craft. Their list of awards is long, distinguished and well deserved. “The General Sutter Inn was the first local establishment to offer our wines,” said Kim, “when we first talked about a pairing the General Sutter said if we can get 35 people to come we can make it work. Tonight, again, we’re sold out to a packed house of 80!” Applause filled the room.

When asked, “which comes first the food or the wine?” Executive Chef Robert Brynes responded without hesitation, “The wine!  I build the menu from there.” And what a menu he prepared! Along with Chef de Cuisine Nicholas Hooton and their team, they prepared a delightful 5 course dinner. See the menu and the pairings below. They took fabulous wines and paired them with dishes that drew out the unique flavors of each. It was a magnificent experience. The wines by themselves are wonderful. The dishes by themselves were outstanding. Put them together and it was absolutely extraordinary!

Every dish with every wine was expertly paired. The aromas drew you in and the presentation made your mouth water. A taste of the dish, a sip of the wine. They served three whites and two reds. I’m not a big white wine fan but each of the pairings was exquisite. I enjoyed every course and each glass of wine. Something special happens when the pairing is done just right. Red, white it didn’t matter, everything was delicious. It’s hard to describe, you simply have to experience it.

Around 8:30 dessert and the final wine was served. Three delightful hours with new friends, great food and wonderful wines concluded with a sweet and savory taste to remember. It was a fabulous evening!

As our hosts thanked us once again for coming they mentioned that Waltz Estate Winery & The General Sutter Inn are planning 3 pairings a year. Check their websites for dates and be sure to reserve your seats.  If you are from out of the area, I’d suggest booking a room at the General Sutter Inn and make a weekend of it. They offer both historic early American rooms and contemporary Rock Lititz rooms. Lititz is a wonderful small town and Lancaster is a beautiful place to visit.

If you enjoy fine wines and fine dining you will love a General Sutter and Waltz Wine paring. Watch the announcements and sign up early. I know we will.

THE PAIRINGS
Wines by Waltz Estate Vineyards
Dinner by The General Sutter Inn
Lititz, Pa

First Course
Cranberry Relish, Brie & Toasted Almonds in Warm Puff Pastry
*Paired with Stiegal Rose

Second Course
Pan Seared Striped Bass with Roasted Fennel Puree & Spiced Green Apple Compote
*Paired with Sauvignon Blanc

Third Course
Pappardelle Pasta with Braised Pork Ragu
*Paired with Barred Rock Red

Fourth Course
Lollypop Lamb Chops with Moroccan Cous Cous & Parsnip Ribbons
*Paired with Baron Red

Final Course
Warm Peach Cobbler with Oatmeal Streusel Topping & Whipped Cream
*Paired with Seasonal Moscato

Makes your mouth water just looking over the menu doesn’t it. The experience is everything you might imagine and maybe just a little bit more!

Courtesy of Cameron Estate Inn & Restaurant

A Romantic Leap Get Away!

Whoever gets paid makes that plans. That’s the deal Cheryl and I have for date night. I got paid so I made the plans. I wanted a quiet get away. A place where we could have a fabulous dinner and hear each other talk. Casual elegance is a good description for what I had in mind. In addition, I wanted to be able to walk to dinner and back to our room where ever that may be.

We’d been talking about Cameron Estate Inn and Restaurant in Mt. Joy because our daughter will be getting married at the estate next January. We’d been there for dinner a couple of times and after each visit I thought it would be wonderful to be able to simply walk upstairs and spend the night. I called, made a dinner reservation for Saturday at 6:00 p.m. and booked the Donegal Garratte room on the third floor.

We arrived just before 6:00 p.m. At check-in they let us know our dinner table was ready and that we could come down at any time. We meandered upstairs, changed and made our way to the restaurant. The Inn, an early American mansion set on a 15 acre estate is absolutely adorable. It’s decorated with antiques and feels like a step back in time. There’s a sense of authenticity about it.

The hostess who was also the waitress remembered us from the last time we’d been there and that was some time ago. She seated us at a corner table in the sunroom so were surrounded by windows on two sides. Our view looked out over the estate. We got to watch it get dark and the lights around the mansion come up. It was awesome.

We started off with a ten year old 2006 Kendal Jackson Reserve, a Cabernet Sauvignon. The menu was incredible, as always.  From past experience we knew whatever we chose would be wonderful. The hostess recommended the pepper encrusted Lamb Porterhouse and the crab cakes. I got the lamb. Oh my goodness, it was amazing. It came with roasted vegetables and an unbelievable cherry reduction. Cheryl had the crab cakes. She loves crab cakes but these were over the top. I wrapped up with Crème Brulee and Cheryl had a hot chocolate spice cake that was to die for.

As the sun went down and the lights came on the estate took on a romantic glow. There was just enough light for a walk. We strolled along the foot paths and stopped momentarily on a small bridge to watch the light bounce off the stream and the water rush by.

We collapsed in a high four poster bed in our room at the end of the hall on the third floor. The next morning breakfast; a choice of quiche, pancakes and yogurt parfait was served at 8:00. Afterward we took another walk around the estate, we put our things together and made the 25 minute drive home.

It was a wonderful overnight stay. We didn’t go far. The Estate was both historic and romantic. There were people around but it wasn’t crazy. The staff was cheerful and engaging. Whether you are local or from out of the area a stay at the Cameron Estate Inn and dinner in the restaurant is a perfect choice for an overnight get away.

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A Tuesday Tradition

Shrove Tuesday, Mardi Gras, Fat Tuesday… All are names for the day before the first day of Lent.

Here in Lancaster County, we celebrate this Tuesday with FASNACHTS, delightful treats that aren’t your run-of-the-mill doughnut.

This tradition stems from the need to use up the lard, sugar, butter and eggs prior to the beginning of Lent since these lavish items were typically given up. Not to be confused with a standard glazed or powdered sugar doughnut, many fasnachts are made with mashed potatoes and fried in animal fat making them less sweet, but extra delicious!

Growing up in Lancaster County, I fondly remember the days of coming home from school to see a box of fasnachts on the kitchen counter, never really understanding the rhyme and reason behind them. Now, much like pork and sauerkraut on New Year’s Day, this is a tradition I can’t pass up. I stopped by Lancaster Central Market on my way in to work for my fasnacht from one of the bakery stands who were displaying rows and rows of fried perfection. It was just as delicious as I remember – slightly crispy on the outside with a fluffy center. I prefer ones rolled in powdered sugar, but am sure other variations are just as tasty.

Bakeries and churches across the county will be making fasnachts for the occasion including Oregon Dairy, Achenbach’s Pastry, Bird-in-Hand Bakery and Shady Maple. Stop by and try one for yourself!

Happy Fasnacht Day!

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