Category Archives: Food

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!

tomato pie

Food for Thought: We have more than PA Dutch dining

Lancaster County may be famous for traditional Pennsylvania Dutch-style cooking, but the comfort food that we’re known for now shares the stage with an eclectic collection of casual eateries, international restaurants, brew pubs, and fine dining. Like our PA Dutch dining restaurants, these also use locally-grown ingredients from the heart of Lancaster County.

In honor of the Thanksgiving holiday and all the delicious food that Lancaster has to offer, I’ve listed a few of my favorite restaurants below. It’s a “nod,” if you will, to the delicious cuisine outside of our famous PA Dutch dining.

  • Prince Street Café – This Downtown Lancaster hot spot is directly across the street from the historic Fulton Theatre, the oldest consecutive running theatre in the United States.
  • Café Chocolate of Lititz – This café is commitment to both decadent chocolate and sustainable agriculture: I believe in both passionately!
  • Tomato Pie Café – Tomato Pie Cafe encompasses the personality of Lititz, PA (a.k.a. The Coolest Small Town). I almost always order their specialty – Tomato Pie. Yummm!
  • DJ’s Taste of the 50’s – This 50’s-themed restaurant has to-die-for burgers, fries, and shakes. Even though I’m a vegetarian, I find lots of great stuff on their menu. The kid’s meal is served in a 50’s-style cardboard car – too cute!
  • Loxley’s –The menu is family-friendly and the atmosphere, especially the outdoor dining, (it’s in a tree-house!) is magical.
  • Forklift & Palate – The food here is remarkable. Top notch. Plus it’s in a re-purposed warehouse and features reused materials from the original facility. How cool is that? Chic and delicious!
  • Bube’s Brewery – Bube’s Brewery is one of the only breweries from the early days of the great American breweries that has been left intact. Today it features great craft beer, a restaurant, brew pub, an outdoor biergarten… and a couple resident ghosts.

My list just scratches the surface. There are so many fantastic places to discover! Check them out for yourself!

GoodNPlenty

Delicious PA Dutch Food is plentiful here

The other day I realized that I have never experienced Pennsylvania Dutch food, which is odd since I grew up near Lancaster County. If you are even slightly familiar with the Lancaster area, you know that food is part of the culture. Because I love food, I decided to give it a try. I invited my friend Jason to go with me to Good ‘N Plenty Restaurant and Bakery.

Good ‘N Plenty is a Pennsylvania Dutch restaurant with two dining options and a bakery. We had the choice of traditional dining or an all-you-can-eat, family-style dining (family-style dining is the most popular). There was no question about it. We were hungry and ready to try something new – family style dining was the clear choice!

Family style dining is one of the most unique dining experiences I have ever had. We walked into a huge, open room with rows of long tables. Each table had seating for 12 people. The hostess seated us next to a young couple and shortly after another couple joined us. As we waited for the meal to be brought to us, the table had a few of Lancaster’s favorite appetizers such as chow chow and pepper cabbage along with fresh baked bread accompanied with fresh apple butter. As we ate the appetizers, we got to know the others at our table. Both couples were from out of town visiting Lancaster County, one from Georgia and the other from New York.

After a few minutes of learning more about each other, bowls among bowls of food were brought to our table. Everything you could imagine of the home cooking variety was placed in front of us including meats, vegetables, and my personal favorite, mashed potatoes. The food was delicious. After everyone at our table helped themselves to the endless amount of food, it was time for dessert. Our waitress brought five different desserts to the table, including pies, homemade ice cream, and cheesecake.

Choosing my favorite part of our dining experience is extremely hard to do. Family dining is a unique experience that everyone should try. Good ‘N Plenty did a great job preparing delicious Pennsylvania Dutch food that was served hot and quickly replenished when empty.

After dinner, be sure to stretch your legs by walking out back and visit the petting zoo!

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My favorite place for PA Dutch Specialties

If you’ve traveled to Pennsylvania Dutch Country you may have heard about the custom of putting seven sweets and seven sours on the table at mealtime. The idea of putting such variety on the table is to provide a varied and balanced diet to a hard working family.

If you think it is hard to come up with seven sweets and seven sours for a meal, look no further than Intercourse Canning Company. Located at 13 Center Street, just off the Old Philadelphia Pike in Intercourse, PA, this store features everything you need to set a PA Dutch inspired table.

When you walk in the door you will be greeted by their helpful staff and rows upon rows of colorful jars filled with amazing new things to try. Intercourse Canning Company offers over 300 varieties of canned goods and other products and has samples for you to test of many of their top sellers.

My family is partial to their pickled beets and Jalapeno Pepper Jam. However, to get the true PA Dutch experience you must try the chow chow and the apple butter, two staples of Lancaster County cuisine. Boxes and rows of jellies, relishes and salsas fill the aisles just waiting to go home with you.

I can a little bit myself, but I learned even more on my visit. Did you know that Napoleon was a big part of canning history? Intercourse Canning Company offers lessons in canning history with their educational video which runs every day. They also have a demonstration kitchen which showcases their Amish canning kitchen cooks whipping up batches of homemade goodness for your table from April through December.

Not sure you have room in the car for that case of canned deliciousness? No worries, Intercourse Canning Company will ship to your home or a friend’s home. And if you eat up all that great Amish Meatloaf sauce (trust me, it is amazing) you can order some from your comfy couch using their online ordering at their website.

I highly recommend that you visit Intercourse Canning Company and plan to spend at least an hour browsing and tasting your way through the store. In addition to canned goods they have candy, homemade noodles, gourmet mixes, and delicious coffee (ever have Whoopie Pie coffee before?). If you have holiday shopping to do, Intercourse Canning Company makes it really easy on you with gift baskets and smaller sizes of jars if you want to make your own.

Though my family was just there in mid-summer, we plan to go again closer to Christmas since their stock and specialties change with the seasons. Next time I go I’m going to make sure I pick up two jars of their Amish Sweet Mustard. It goes great with my kids’ favorite snack of bologna and cheese. Definitely give it a try!

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backtoschool

Back-to-School, Lancaster style

Come to Lancaster to get all your tax-free, back-to-school clothing and supplies. Since your coming to Lancaster anyway, might as well make it a fun family trip. From outlet shopping to family-friendly attractions and restaurants, why not make it a fun experience for everyone?

Suggested outlet shopping:

  • Tanger Outlets: Buy directly from more than 60 brand name manufacturer and designer stores featuring Brook’s Brothers, Gap, Nike, Tommy Hilfiger, Banana Republic, and more. 20% Off Coupons (limited time only!)
  • Rockvale Outlets: Shop at more than 90 brand name factory direct stores including Carter’s, Hartstrings, Disney, Under Armour, Gymboree Outlet, and more. FREE Coupon Booklet

Suggested  fun and educational attractions:

Suggested restaurants:

Back-to-School shopping tips:

  • Before shopping, know what you need and what you already have on hand. Not sure what you need? Check out this list from RealSimple.com.
  • Make a list and set a budget — then stick to it.
  • Shop around for the best deals; most can be found online even before getting in your car.
  • To save money, check out consignment stores and/or browse Craigslist.com.
  • Get your kids involved; decide in advance what items they can choose and which ones must involved compromise.
  • When it comes time to packing lunches, think reusable and plan a menu in advance.
  • Enjoy the process!

(Image courtesy of FreeDigitalPhotos.net)

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