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Archive for April, 2009

strawberryfestivalpreserves09_21Another delicious weekend coming up in Bucks County. Here’s a round-up of some of the food stuff happening. Check out our online calendar, Food Events in Bucks County for more details.

  • Wine Concert Series at Shady Brook Farm,  6 – 9 pm, Yardley. Weather permitting. Free admission. Dogs Playing Cards will be the musical entertainment. (Friday)
  • Pancake Breakfast at The Plumsteadville Grange, 7 – 11 am (Saturday)
  • Doylestown Farmers’ Market, 7 am – Noon, Doylestown (Saturday)
  • Hoagie Sale Fundraiser, 9 am – Noon, Quakertown (Saturday)
  • Roast Beef Dinner at the Riegelsville Fire Company, 4 – 7 pm, Riegelsville (Saturday)
  • Sip and Spa – Mother’s Day Candle Light Dessert Tea at The Talking Teacup, 6 – 8 pm, Chalfont (Saturday)
  • Strawberry Festival, 10 am – 6 pm, Peddler’s Village, Lahaska (Saturday & Sunday) – Check out the new outdoor seating at Sweet Lorraine’s while you’re there!
  • Spring Fling – Bucks County Wine Trail, various wineries throughout Bucks (Saturday & Sunday) – New wine releases!
  • Breakfast at the Orion Masonic Lodge, 8 am – Noon, Frenchtown, NJ (Sunday)
  • Sunday Funday: Perennial Festival, Shady Brook Farm, Noon – 4 pm, Yardley (Sunday)

Have a great weekend!

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A great place to have a party just became even better. MaxHansenCaterers is now the exclusive caterer at the Michener Art Musuem.

Max Hansen is “a Carversville resident who understands our mission and appreciates Bucks County’s artistic heritage,” explains Hollie Brown, the Museum’s Director of Visitor Services and Retail Operations. “Max has built an impressive reputation for offering not only the finest and most innovative food, but also an unmatched level of service and devotion to detail.”

Max Hansen with Bruce Katsiff, Director/CEO of the Michener Art Museum

Max Hansen with Bruce Katsiff, Director/CEO of the Michener Art Museum

It’s an exciting time for the Museum as they prepare to unveil a new 5,000 square-foot upper level gallery in September, one that is large enough—and flexible enough, to accommodate major nationally touring exhibitions and the permanent collection. The patio area of the Patricia D. Pfundt Sculpture Garden will be covered with glass, creating a premier indoor event space for large public programs and private events. The second phase also includes the renovation of the Ann and Herman Silverman Pavilion which will include, among other things, an expanded museum shop and café.

Museum visitors can now enjoy MaxHansenCaterer’s great food at the café, adjacent to the Museum Shop. “We’re excited to introduce a new menu at the café, featuring healthy options such as yogurt, granola, fresh fruit, smoked salmon and bagels, salads, sandwiches and seasonal soups, as well as our homemade chocolate chip cookies and brownies, plus delicious scones from J. Scones in Doylestown and freshly roasted coffee from Rojos’s Roastery in Lambertville,” says Hansen.

MaxHansenCaterer is working with the Museum’s staff to schedule weddings, bridal showers, gala dinners, cocktail receptions, Bar and Bat Mitzvahs, corporate meetings, workshops and luncheons onsite at the Michener Art Museum’s various event spaces. For additional information or to set up a consultation, interested parties should call Rita Gehkt at (215) 766-3439.

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Bucks County Taste has moved! See this post on our new server.  

Nope, not talking about Christmas. Throughout Bucks County, May and June will be filled with the opening of seasonal farm markets. Here’s our rundown.

Vegetables

Weekly markets:

  • Springtown: Wednesdays from 3  to 6 pm, Springtown Firehouse, 1030 Main Street/Route 212 (begins May 6th)
  • New Hope: Thursdays from 3:30  to 7 pm, New Hope-Solebury High School, 180 W. Bridge Street (begins May 7th)
  • Lower Makefield: Thursdays from 3:30 to  6:30 pm, Edgewood & Heacock Rds (begins June 4th)
  • Linden Hill: Fridays from 3:30 to 7:30 pm, Linden Hill Gardens, 8230 Easton Rd in Ottsville (begins May 29th)
  • Wrightstown: Saturdays from 9 am to 1 pm, 2203 Second St Pike (near the township bldg.) (begins May 23rd)
  • Doylestown: Saturdays from 7 am to 12 pm, W. State & Hamilton Streets (already in full swing!)
  • Plumsteadville Grange Market: Saturdays from 9 am to 12 pm, Route 611, just north of Stump Rd (begins June 6th)

Check our calendar for more details and directions.

Here’s a listing of year-round markets,  roadside and “pick your own” farms that you might want to check out. This is not a comprehensive list. I “cherry-picked” (no pun intended!) ones opening in May/June. Please see the Penn State Cooperative Extension, Bucks County for more information.

j03137291Active Acres Farm: Specialty plants, bedding plants, perennials, hanging baskets, hay & straw, strawberries, peaches, sweet corn, tomatoes, peppers, eggplant, squash, cucumbers, melons, onions, cornstalks, ornamental corn, mums, gourds, rides to the pumpkin patch*, barnyard animals, educational school tours, Sleepy Hollow Haunted Hayride. *Pick-your-own: May-October Every day
881 Highland Road, Newtown 18940
215-968-2192

Bechdolts Orchard, Inc.: Peaches, pears, apples, plums, nectarines, tomatoes, peppers.
2209 Leithsville Rd/Route 412, Hellertown 18055
610-838-8522
Spring & fall hours – 9:00 am-5:00 pm
Summer hours – 9:00 am-6:00 pm

Bolton’s Farm Market: Turkey: parts, sausage, ground, cutlets; chickens, beef, berries, sweet corn, cantaloupes, tomatoes, peaches, other fruits and vegetables, milk in glass bottles. No hormones or drugs used on animal products. Phone orders taken.
Route 113, Silverdale 18962
215-257-6047
Market: Year round, Monday – Saturday.

Brumbaugh’s Farm: Strawberries*, raspberries, peas*, sweet corn, tomatoes, peppers, squash, beans, herbs, lettuce, melons, cucumbers, cut flowers, asparagus, mums, pumpkins, gourds, Indian corn, hanging baskets, bedding plants, Christmas wreaths. *Pick-your-own
2575 County Line Road, Telford 18969
215-723-3508
Market: April – December, Monday-Saturday

Lavender

Carousel Farm Lavender: Lavender plants, flowers, Lavender products-soaps, candles, creams, essential oils. Organic.
5966 Mechanicsville Road, Mechanicsville 18934
917-837-6903
Open from May to December; call for hours

(more…)

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Now that it’s up and running, it seems so natural. Two names – Delaware Valley College and Shady Brook Farm – both a part of Bucks County agricultural history.

The official opening of The Market by Shady Brook Farm at Delaware Valley College , or “The Market” for short, was in early April. We had the pleasure of sitting down with Dave Fleming, Jr., general manager of both the DelVal market in Doylestown and Shady Brook Farm’s market in Yardley.

sb-preservesA little history lesson. Shady Brook Farm started in 1913. Owner Dave Fleming, Sr., is an alumni of Delaware Valley College, and ran a traditional wholesale farming business until the mid-1980s.

“In 1984, we started seeing the writing on the wall,” explains the younger Fleming. The family realized that retail – not wholesale – was the way the business was going, and opened a farm market. Fleming took over the retail store when he graduated from college in 1990, while his brother, Paul, stayed on the production, or farming, side of the business.

In the mid-90’s, Fleming, Jr. decided it was time to go the next step. He wanted to do prepared foods in the market, but needed permission to install sewer and water to do so. Not always easy to accomplish in Bucks County. Fast forward twelve years and Shady Brook opened a new store in 2004, complete with kitchen, deli and bakery.

Next chapter. Delaware Valley College, known locally as “DelVal,” has been educating farmers, horticulturists and other ag types since 1896. (It also does more than teach agriculture these days. US News & World Report just ranked it as one of the best comprehensive colleges in the country). In 2004, the college, which had a modest farm market, built and opened a beautiful new market and garden center on Lower State Road. But things didn’t pan out and the market closed.

Determined to make it work, the college looked at other avenues. They hired a farm market consultant. He gave them the names of thirty markets to visit, plus the five he would recommend to run DelVal’s. One of which was Shady Brook.

cropped-dvc-spring-flowers.jpgWhy did they choose Shady Brook?  Don Feldscher, special assistant to DelVal President Dr. Joseph Brosnan, explains that Shady Brook had the right “feel.”

“They talked first about education, and using students to work in the market,” says Feldscher. The college also liked that Shady Brook was committed to using college produce and products.

Fleming also points to Shady Brook’s experience. “A lot of places do a farm market well, or a garden center well,” he explains, “it’s difficult to keep focus on both sides. We’ve had that experience.” Shady Brook also knew a thing or two about running successful events, as they have been doing for years at their Yardley farm. In addition, they are an Agway dealer, and sell all kinds of garden products, from pansies to trees.

But enough history. Let’s talk food! While the interior of the market hasn’t changed much – it’s still crisp, clean and bright – there are some notable changes, both out front and behind the scenes.

Prepared Foods. Shady Brook has hired two chefs and a pastry chef to run the kitchen, and they’re already turning out great food. Everything from breakfast sandwiches, to hot and cold sandwiches (hoagies, paninis, cheese steaks, burgers, hot sides), to soup, to hot entrees and sides for dinner.

The kitchen is still developing its “signature,” says Fleming. “We want to have a ‘country feel.’ We don’t want to get too high-end for a farm market.” The only goal, he says, is that it has to be “exceptional.” Shady Brook has brought many of its signature products from Yardley – like its guacamole, pico de gallo, honey, and peanut butter, as well as a whole line of gourmet preserves and canned goods. (They also plan to produce food in the DelVal kitchen to sell down in Yardley.)

DVC desserts

Bakery. “Yum,” is all I can say. Pastries, cookies, pies, cakes and bread. And a full coffee bar to go with it.

Produce. A wide selection of both regular and organic produce that will only get better as we move into spring and summer. Produce from both the college and Shady Brook Farm will fill the shelves. Look for the college’s tomatoes soon, then asparagus and field greens in May from Shady Brook.

Meat and dairy. Pork and beef raised at the college, Eberly’s organic chicken, Griggstown Market’s chicken pot pies, to name a few. Deli cold cuts by Dietz & Watson and Boar’s Head are also available by the pound. Dairy items too, including organic products.

Specialty items. The market carries a good selection of DiBruno’s (from South Philly) cheeses and salamis, as well as many gourmet grocery items. Shady Brook’s own guacamole is, indeed, “exceptional.”

del-val-creamery

Ice cream. Okay, so I saved the best for last. Those of you familiar with Shady Brook Farm probably also know Uncle Dave’s Ice Cream. Dave Adami, a childhood friend of Dave Fleming, Jr., started his ice cream company in March 2008.

Made from 100 percent super premium Jersey cow milk, from independently owned Pennsylvania dairy farms, it comes in, oh, about 50 or 60 flavors, including Billionaire Chocolate, Toasted Coconut and Graham Cracker. Dave uses Shady Brook produce – like raspberries, strawberries and peaches – in the ice cream whenever he can.  At the market you’ll see the ice cream sold under the Del Val Creamery brand. Grab some and have a seat in the spacious eating area inside the market.

Coming soon – wine. Rose Bank Winery, another Shady Brook Farm offshoot, will be opening a kiosk in the market as soon as the paperwork goes through.

I’m sure I’ve forgotten something – so you’ll have to drive over to the market and check it out for yourself. Just be sure to leave with some guacamole.

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I know it’s only Wednesday (and it’s cool and rainy today), but have you seen the forecast for this weekend? Yahoo. And there is so much going on this weekend, great for being outside and enjoying the weather. Here’s just a sampling. Check out our online calendar, Food Events in Bucks County for more details.

  • A-Day at Delaware Valley College, in Doylestown (Friday, Saturday and Sunday)
  • Shad Fest 2009, in Lambertville (Saturday and Sunday)
  • Spring Wine Tasting Dinner, at Anton’s at the Swan, in Lambertville (Friday)
  • Artisanal Beer & Cheese Tasting, at Cote & Co, in Doylestown (Friday)
  • Doylestown Farmers’ Market, in Doylestown (Saturday)
  • Spring Winemaker’s Dinner, Crossing Vineyard, in Washington Crossing (Saturday)
  • Turkey Supper & Bake Sale, Solomon’s United Church of Christ, in Bedminster (Saturday)
  • Flint Hill Farm Open House, in Coopersburg (Sunday)
  • How Sweet It Is: Pairing Wine and Chocolate, Crossing Vineyard, in Washington Crossing (Sunday)

Be sure and let us know of any food-worthy events. Email us at: info@buckscountytaste.com

Have a great weekend!

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If your sole purpose is to get loose, you can do that cheaper by drinking at home. That’s why I like a good bar more than I like a good drink. Good bars are a mix of good people, good food, reasonable prices, reasonable sound level and a community comfortable enough with itself to invite newcomers in. Only once you’ve found all of these does the variety of bourbon matter, or the brands of beer on tap, or the crispness of the martini. I’ve been to many bars that I wouldn’t call “good” even though they had an impressive collection of bourbon.

Bars-ms

Here’s our checklist:

  • Good people: This includes both staff and customers. We like bartenders who don’t stare at us like we’re crazy when we introduce ourselves, and fellow-customers who’ll chortle at our jokes and don’t mind us adding two cents to any semi-public chat they’re having about, say, Phillies pitching.
  • Good food: We like to eat at the bar. If an establishment doesn’t allow that, it’s off our list. But obviously you want to eat good food. Price doesn’t matter here – a good bar can be a neighborhood burger place as easily as an expensive steakhouse.
  • Reasonable prices: To us, “reasonable” is relative. Bell’s Tavern in Lambertville is reasonably priced, though the cost of dinner there is noticeably less than dinner at Marsha Brown’s in New Hope. Both are great restaurants. They’re just different experiences, and we think the price of each is reasonable.
  • Reasonable sound level: Lynne and I like to talk when we eat. We talk with each other, we talk with the bartender, we talk with other customers. The proprietors of good bars realize their places are about conversation.
  • Easygoing community: We’ve met some really nice people just by sitting at the bar and being drawn into the conversation around us. In some places, you can lean over to ask your neighbor what she’s eating for dinner and she won’t shift her stool a foot away from you. Or, the couple across the way can suggest the night’s special when they see you’re in a decision-making crisis over the menu. The real test comes the second or third time you visit, when you begin to recognize others, and they begin to recognize you. The holy grail, of course, is when the bartender serves your drink without your having to order it. (Really good bartenders can sense when you might be in a different mood, and so will wait for your choice rather than assume this is a night for “the usual.”)

Finally comes the bourbon selection. This is where it gets personal, I know, so substitute your own preferred libation here. For me, I like a bar that appreciates bourbon enough to have Maker’s Mark as its basic brand and then two or three others that rise through the scale: Woodford Reserve, Baker’s, Knob Creek, Booker’s.

With all that said, we begin an occasional series listing (in no particular order) some of our favorite bars in the area. Be sure to send us your own ideas. We need more places to visit.

Pineville Tavern: We’ve written a lot about the Pineville Tavern, which has become our regular hangout because it possesses all of the characteristics of a good bar and has the added advantage of being close to home. It’s warm. Everyone – staff and customers – seem to be in a good mood. There’s a buzz of people enjoying themselves. The food is good, Maker’s Mark is handy.

Bowman’s Tavern, just south of New Hope on River Road, has a friendly, easy-going vibe, good food, and bartenders with a knack for chatting about pretty much anything. We had a wonderful conversation with a couple sitting next to us the last time we were there, comparing notes about restaurants on both sides of the river. The weinerschnitzel, which was recommended to us by the Pineville Tavern’s Drew Abruzzese, was outstanding – tender and lightly fried. The ribeye steak was perfectly cooked, perfect brushed with home-made barbecue sauce.

The bar at Anton’s at the Swan in Lambertville is warm, friendly with a good bar menu that makes eating there a simple decision. Choices include burgers ($10), a sundried tomato pizza ($9), strip steak ($21), and pork chop with garlic mashed potatoes ($16).

Bell’s Tavern, on North Union Street in Lambertville, is tough to beat. Wonderful food, good prices, bartenders who are not above tweaking us about remaining carb-free in the face of their excellent Italian bread. (Okay, so I opened myself up to it when I ordered the bread pudding, which is worth the trip in and of itself.)

More coming soon. In the meantime, if you’ve got a favorite place of your own, tell us about it.

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An impulse turn is what happens when we’re driving along and one of us says, “Let’s turn in here,” to check out a place we’ve done no research on, just because, for whatever the reason, it seems like a good idea at the time. Last week, as we were driving home from Trenton, Lynne thought we should turn into Crossing Vineyard and Winery at 1853 Wrightstown Road in Washington Crossing. All I can say is Lynne has good impulses.

Photo cpurtesy of Crossing Vineyard and Winery

Photo courtesy of Crossing Vineyard and Winery

Walking up the path into the winery is kind of like walking into a piece of California. The vineyards beyond the path, the warmth of the wine store, the cool of the barrel room where wine tastings are held all have the feel of Napa Valley. Later on Tom Carroll, Sr.,  Crossing’s president, told us that was no accident: From the beginning, he, his wife Christine and son (and vintner) Tom, Jr., wanted to bring California-style, world-class winemaking to Bucks County.

Tom is a friendly, engaging man. We ran into him by accident, after we’d finished Impulse #1A – a wine tasting, which is among the most rewarding ways to spend $8 that I’ve experienced in a long time. His family’s energy seems to infuse the place: From the moment we walked in, we noticed how everyone around was engaged in friendly conversations about wine and food: staff members with customers, of course, but also customers with customers and staff members with staff members. Everyone was perfectly content to talk, no one’s in any hurry.

Photo courtesy of Crossing Vineyard and Winery

Photo courtesy of Crossing Vineyard and Winery

Crossing’s wines have won medals around the world, something Tom detailed for us with quiet pride. We’ll be talking to the Carrolls in more detail soon. In the meantime, check out the Crossing Web site for more of their story, and if you’re in the area stop in and taste some wines for yourself.

See more details about the vineyard’s numerous events, and other happenings, at our calendar, Food Events in Bucks County.

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