Sunday, August 29, 2010

"pure butter" cheese and more from frecons farms

Around this time of August, freshly-picked peaches are plopped generously throughout the shelves of Frecon Farm'sfarmacy” found deliciously along South Reading Avenue in Boyertown. 
This season, which sings sweetly due to the overwhelming heat, allows the local 40-year-old harvest hub to stock shelves with some of the area's in-season finest—from doughnut peaches to the baskets booming with nectarines at their all-time high.
Honestly, although I have experienced Frecon's fiend-worthy produce aplenty, I have only trekked around their adorable farm shop once! So, I found it appropriate enough to head inside their interior on a recent steamy day, instantly becoming amazed at the attractive array of fresh fruits and veggies, locally produced meads and wines, jars of honey and canned jams, and of course, milks and cheeses.

Being a cheese connoisseur or more so, an addict, I requested a recommendation from the store clerk to which creamy chunk would be best to first experiment with from their assortment. While Frecon's carries Amazing Acres Goat cheese, which I am already an acclaimed fan of, I was looking to expand my cheese tasting palate. At the brief description of a cheese that was like eating “pure butter,” I nabbed the attractive square of Keswick Creamery's Vermeer.

From recent pleas from Messy and Picky to help Keswick stay afloat, and also, the lovely post from Madame Fromage on visiting the Cumberland County creamery, I couldn't deny supporting the cause. And then, when I broke open the blissful hunk of small-batch-produced cow's milk cheese, I instantly decided that I could eat Vermeer for the rest of my eating-obsessed-life.

Although the farmstead cheese was the forerunner of my recent Frecon's purchases, other notables included the Natural by Nature's chocolate milk in a classic glass bottle (creamiest you may ever chug), hearty loaves of ciabatta sourdough bread, juicy white peaches, and much more. Also, with fall approaching, I can't help but squeal over the idea that apple season is quickly approaching and soon I will be swigging the best fresh-pressed apple cider around!

Monday, August 16, 2010

pig butchery at the goschenhoppen, part two

Coming a long way from my vegetarian days, what I found most fascinating at my recent visit to the Goschenhoppen Folk Festival was the play-by-play butchering display, as replicating the practices of the 18th and 19th century.

A celebration of an old world way of life, where even the nasty bits were appreciated, the authentic demonstration was detailed by the fair's bearded Butcher Miller who offered  everything educational during his custom farm butchering, including information about bartering, sharpening knives and the anatomy of a pig.

After the jump, you too can follow the historical display, as I offer you a photographic recap of the reenactment. However, I do suggest if you are squeamish, do not continue reading. I am not making a mockery of a real life pig, nor trying to insult any form of animal rights groups or associations. Also, to note, Butcher Miller did not end the porker's life in front of the attending crowd, rather behind closed doors.

Sunday, August 15, 2010

old world german at goschenhoppen, part one

As if it wasn't already apparent, being a full-blown PA Dutch gal, I love to honor my heritage. So, of course, when the Goschenhoppen Folk Festival took shape this weekend, I was found waltzing around the historic displays, tastes and enactments, praising my old world ancestry.

Recently, around late June, Travel Channel's Andrew Zimmern was found trekking the same historic property of the Upper Frederick Antes House. While I personally would have preferred Zimmern to have instead taped a Bizarre Foods during the festival, I do understand what sort of chaos having such a television food celeb present in such a small space.

But, being that attending the Goschenhoppen is a tradition in my Germanesque book, from when my parents used to take me as a lil' one (which, one occasion came with a story how I snuck from my stroller and thought another bearded male was my dad) and also, used to work there when I was employed by Bauman's Apple Butter, it was appropriate B and I take the time to experience such a shindig together.

Heading over to their fairly new location on the Antes Plantation, just as the grounds were open to guests at 10 a.m., we delved deep in a time way beyond our combined years. While I was thoroughly entertained scoping out practices of antique gardeners, cigar rollers, mead makers, blacksmiths, wheel constructors, brick oven builders, and much more, obviously what I found must appealing was the traditional food scene.

From displays of bakers and cooks sculpting sauerkraut, pepper cabbage, chicken pot pie, toy candy, fasnachts, pies, apple butter, pig stomach, jams and canned veggies, the sea of samples and slurps were what made our morning complete. While I can't say that I was inexperienced on any of these tastes, it is satisfying to see the original origins of how these recipes came about, how they were typically structured, even down to the construction of an 18th century kitchen garden, with hops included.

Better yet, what I found most impressive is uncovering how PA Dutch dwelled, dined and passed the time prior to all of our current technological advances. Stay tuned for part two of my frenzied festival retelling, where I detail to you about watching a step-by-step 19th century farm butchering of a pig.

Tuesday, August 10, 2010

first friday in delicious downtown lancaster

Growing up an hour away from Lancaster, I can't say I was inexperienced in trekking through the agricultural landscape of lush countryside. However, call me naive, but I never assumed that the city of Dutch County was a place I would enjoy dabbling, dining and dwelling within.
But, after this weekend, when I journeyed to spend a much-needed evening with my cousin Pamela probing around downtown's First Friday celebration, I must admit I want to go back, immediately.
What you all may assume Lancaster is about, well, is true. But, speeding into the artsy scene (yes, there's an art college smack dab in the middle, too) of the urban-most area, you will find hip hubs of culture and cozy cuisine that had this girl gushing to the extreme.
Previously, my Lancaster-living cousin squealed that Senorita Burrita was a place I would love, and well, we are family and she does know me, so we sped to devour their health-conscious eats as my premiering spot in the local scene. Pleasing all palates, from meat eaters to vegheads and those organic food-obsessed, this burrito joint serves mission-styled, grown-locally goods that well worth the trip.
Also important to note, Senorita Burrita has a killer relationship with Lancaster Farm Fresh Cooperative, and if the produce your chowing on isn't grown by the locale's heads, its sourced from stands at Lancaster's Central Market. Being a past vegetarian, I still crave veggies aplenty, which is why I opted for the Chico Burrito, which was served on a whole wheat tort and packed to the brims with all the necessaries, like brown rice, black beans, fresh guacamole and house-made salsa.
Soon, attempting to walk off our mucho-sized 'ritos, we hopped from one art exhibit to the next, eventually deciding to get rather cozy at Annie Bailey's after a brief stint in the adorable chocolate shop, Bonbonniere. But, if I were to recommend to anyone where they should go during the wee hours of your weekend night, please conclude your downtown crawl with a stop at Spyro Gyro (they're open until 4 a.m.).
Blessed with a hearty heap of falafel in a whole wheat pita, and snagging some bites of the cousin's original steaky gyro, I'd say that Lancaster is thee place to peruse, and I promised my dear family member I'd be back in a hungry flash.

Thursday, August 5, 2010

dabbling in adventures of dogfish head craft brewery

As a fanatic of sipping smooth sour ales throughout the dog days of summer, it is appropriate that I visit the headquarters of one of the best one of them all, Dogfish Head Brewery, during the current steamy months. 

An adoring lover of the off-centered brewery's Festina Peche, their Berliner Weisse-styled beer fermented with fresh peaches, I always feel the need to stock up on the tart seasonal brew, hoping it will last me well into the inappropriate months. However, title me an addict, but my fruity and tart pints flooded with this light concoction are already bone-dry, and by the likes of local distributors, others have the same idea.

But, as you may have noticed in previous posts, B and I enjoy journeying to the homes of our favorite beers, so it was about due-time to dabble around Dogfish Head. Since we are lucky enough to have relations with a summer home near the Milton-based headquarters, just one visit this summer was obviously not enough, as we already clocked two curious adventurous throughout the well-liked craft brewery. 

Tiptoeing around the fairly large establishment of Sam Calagione does seem like the thing to do for Rehoboth Beach visitors, so keep in mind, if you plan to hop by for a visit, you must reserve a spot on their arranged brewery tours. Yes, they are for free, although they fill up in a timely fashion.

The most exhilarating investigation I encountered behind closed doors were the massive exotic Paraguayan Palo Santo wood tanks used to age the incredible 12-percent brown ale that's on the tips of many's tongues as of late. (Watch the video below, DFH's John seems to be quite a fan, too.)

Dogfish Head Brewery Visit from amy strauss on Vimeo.

All tours conclude with four free tastings from their quirky taps, and lucky for me, one of the offerings on each of our recent visits was my peachy pleasure. However, one may argue that I should expand my tasting palate, but that's what having a boyfriend is for (i.e. stealing slurps of all the beers I haven't nabbed on my own).

Visiting twice in a span of three weeks allowed us to become chums with the tasting room's mainstay, John, who serves all of the brewing company's visitors their free beer (how could you not love that job). Clever and quick to nickname, he's a source for speedily spewing what makes the samples you will soon be slurping, and kind enough to agree to star in a quick clip from this blogging fish.

During our summery stops, I must reveal that we also became fans of DFH's Theobroma (brewed with Aztec cocoa powder and cocoa nibs), Namaste (made with dried organic orange slices, fresh cut lemongrass and a bit of coriander) and Sah'tea (Chai tea-inspired). And, I have to greedily admit, we will probably be back again soon, before this sultry summer concludes.