September 19, 2013 | Posted by: Kathleen Frankford
As I continue my culinary tour of Lancaster County (I know, I know; this is a tough part of my job), I sampled two other types of fare this past week: traditional PA Dutch cooking, and delicious candies.
My first stop was at Good ‘N Plenty Restaurant in Smoketown, where we held our board meeting. Good ‘N Plenty has been around since 1969 and features both family-style dining and a-la-carte offerings. They’ve been voted best local PA Dutch restaurant for 17 years, so if you’re craving authentic PA Dutch favorites, Good ‘N Plenty is the place to go.
I sampled my regular favorites: roast turkey, fried chicken, mashed potatoes, and whoopie pies, which were all delicious. But I also decided to expand my horizons and try two PA Dutch food items I had never sampled – brown buttered noodles and cracker pudding.
I’ve been told brown buttered noodles are a popular PA Dutch specialty but always wondered what all the hype was about. They’re just noodles cooked with butter, right? Well, they’re also made with a mix of seasonings that make them unbelievably tasty. I tried some and they melted in my mouth – I can see why they are a favorite of visitors and locals alike.
Then I was asked to try rice pudding, to which I reflexively replied “Yuck.” But Glenn Lapp, the owner of Good ‘N Plenty, coaxed me into trying a small dish. The pudding was cool and refreshing, and tasted like a cross between tapioca and coconut cream pie. It was so yummy, I went back for seconds.
The food at Good ‘N Plenty was delicious, and the service was friendly and fast. They also have a bakery and a large gift shop.
I ended my week with a visit to the grand opening of Miesse Candies’ newest location, on Water Street in Downtown Lancaster (they have a total of three locations). Attendees included a Who’s Who of Lancaster, so it was definitely the place to be on a beautiful Friday afternoon.
Miesse Candies has been in business since 1875 and features some of the best candy you will ever taste, made with all-natural ingredients. Sea salt caramels, coconut creams, and chocolate-covered pretzels were just a few of the delectable treats I was fortunate enough to sample. If you love candy, this is a must see (and taste!) for you.
Miesse Candies offers informative factory tours at their Water Street location for a nominal cost, and they will also package and mail your candy for you. They are great gift ideas – I have given them as gifts on several occasions and have come out as quite the hero.
Add a stop at Miesse Candies’ new downtown store to your next visit and you won’t be disappointed.1 Comment | Category: Amish, Food, General info | Permalink
September 10, 2013 | Posted by: Kathleen Frankford
Lancaster County is home to a large number of great restaurants – everything from fine dining to Amish cooking to ethnic cuisine to fabulous casual fare. Over the past week as part of several lunch meetings, I’ve been fortunate to enjoy the delicious offerings of three different venues.
To celebrate our new executive assistant’s first day (welcome, Cheryl Miller!), we headed to the Iron Hill Brewery. We sat outside and enjoyed this gorgeous fall weather while we watched college students from F&M come and go to their campus across the street. I had a wonderful chopped salad, and a delicious goat cheese and spinach pizza with chicken. The food was fresh and tasty, the service was fast and friendly, and the atmosphere was perfect. Had we chosen to dine inside, we would have been equally impressed, as the inside of the restaurant is beautiful.
The next day, I met with Essen Cooking owner Betsey Gerstein Sterenfeld to dine at Sukhothai restaurant. One might not imagine Lancaster County having a diverse range of ethnic options, but it certainly does, everything from Thai to Greek, Indian to Vietnamese, and Mexican to Italian. I absolutely love Thai food and Sukhothai did not disappoint. The hot and sour soup was spicy and flavorful, and I ate every last bit of my Brown Curry dish.
Finally, I met with Rick Stammel of Dutch Wonderland over a fine dining experience at the Stockyard Inn, a beautiful venue built in 1750 and once owned by James Buchanan. Even though the Stockyard is famous for its steaks and crab cakes, I decided to sample some of their lighter fare. I had calamari for an appetizer, which was crunchy and delicious, and a wonderful salmon Caesar salad for my entrée. They certainly pay attention to the details – our food was served on classic plates and the presentation was excellent. They also have outdoor dining options available on the wrap-around porch.
This is just a small sample of the wide variety of restaurants and delicious cuisine available in Lancaster County. For more information on these restaurants and other dining options, please visit the “Places to Eat” section of our website. Bon appétit!Leave a Comment | Category: Food, General info | Permalink
September 3, 2013 | Posted by: Kathleen Frankford
A few weeks ago I blogged about Dutch Wonderland, a premier amusement park located within the heart of Lancaster County and geared toward families with kids up through 12 years of age. Since my children are now teenagers and self-proclaimed thrill seekers, a visit to nearby Hersheypark – with its 11 exciting roller coasters and expansive waterpark – was in order.
Hersheypark is only a 20-30 minute drive from Lancaster County and is great fun for families of all ages. In addition to the roller coasters and waterpark, it boasts numerous rides for younger children, live entertainment, games, gift shops and more. Their one-price admission gets you access to everything for the entire day.
My kids love going to Hersheypark – in fact they’d probably go every day if they could. The rides are diverse and thrilling, the games are fun, and the waterpark is refreshing. From a parent’s perspective, there are plenty of shaded areas, lots of beautiful hanging plants, and an extremely clean environment.
Speaking of clean, when I was part of the Hersheypark management team years ago, the General Manager was passionate about maintaining the cleanliness of the park. Whenever we managers were in the park, which under his leadership was quite often, it was our duty to make sure things were running smoothly and that any trash was picked up promptly. There were many 90 degree days I spent wearing high heels and a suit, picking up sporadic pieces of trash in the park.
So for fun, I told my oldest daughter Maddie I was going to look for trash during our visit and count the number of pieces I saw. There’s always SOME trash at amusement parks, right? So any guesses as to how many pieces I saw? ONE. Yes, in an amusement park of over 120 acres, I only saw one piece of trash the entire day.
For for a fun and thrilling day with the kids, in a safe and clean environment, Hersheypark is the place to go.
As part of the Lancaster County tourism team, I feel we are extremely fortunate to have two world-class theme parks in such close proximity to each other, one suitable for families with children up through 12 years of age, and the other for more thrill seekers.
Hersheypark is open weekends through the end of September, then opens for seasonal hours & events around Halloween and the holidays. At only 20-30 minutes away, it’s the perfect day trip during your stay in Lancaster. For more information, please visit www.hersheypark.com.1 Comment | Category: For the Kids, Outdoors, Things to Do | Permalink
August 26, 2013 | Posted by: Kathleen Frankford
There’s something really special about cooking with your family. It almost serves as a mini team-building event, as each family member does his or her part to contribute to making a delicious meal, all while having fun. So just imagine the enjoyment when you take that idea a bit further by creating an experience where you can learn to cook something new in a safe, entertaining and hassle-free environment.
Last Monday, I scheduled a trip to Essen cooking school for my oldest daughter Maddie’s 13th birthday. Essen is a recreational cooking school that provides demonstration and hands-on classes for the home cook. The interactive classes are fun and intimate, and focus on how to bring delicious, seasonal, and homemade food into our crazy busy lives.
Betsey Gerstein Sterenfeld, the owner of Essen (which means “eat” in German), graciously hosted a cooking class for Maddie and two of her BFFs. All three girls were really excited and honored to have their very own private cooking session.
The menu for the day included homemade pasta with pink sauce, and chocolate peanut butter brownie cupcakes.
After donning our aprons, pulling back our hair and washing our hands thoroughly, we began with the pasta. We made the dough from scratch (the closest I had ever some to doing this was rolling out Pillsbury pizza crust), then Betsey taught us how to roll it out three different ways: with a rolling pin, a manual crank, and via machine. The process was really fun… lots of giggles were heard throughout the experience. When we finally flattened the dough, we layered it, cut it, unwound it and cooked it. We then learned how to properly “sauce” the noodles with the pink sauce. The end result – delicioso!
The brownies were extremely simple to make, and unbelievably moist and wonderful. Did you know a dab of espresso powder brings out the flavor of the chocolate? They were easy enough for the kids to make on their own, and we used ingredients readily found in most home pantries.
We finished our cooking adventure with a sit-down meal, where I was able to pepper Betsey with numerous questions about cooking, and how she started her business. The girls drank sparkling lemonade as they ate their pasta and brownie cupcakes, and truly felt special.
You need a lot of patience to deal with three giggling 13-year-olds for two hours, so my hat goes off to Betsey for being such a saint. The entire experience was really fun and engaging for the girls. When I asked them what they enjoyed making the most, they all replied rolling out the dough and cutting the noodles, which surprised me since that took the longest. I made a mental note to schedule a time to make homemade pasta with our entire family on an upcoming Sunday afternoon.
Betsey is an excellent cook, and a fantastic teacher. She is personable, enthusiastic and put everyone at ease in the kitchen. In addition to holding various classes for everything from fish to pasta to desserts, Betsey holds cooking demonstrations for those groups that just want to be entertained then treated to a delicious meal. She also offers kids camps, canning classes, team-building events, and more.
To plan your next family experience, girl’s night out, corporate outing, couple’s night, or just some special time for yourself – not to mention learn how to make a delicious meal – visit the Essen website at www.essencooking.com.4 Comments | Category: Events, Food, General info, Things to Do | Permalink
August 19, 2013 | Posted by: Kathleen Frankford
I recently visited Turkey Hill Experience in Columbia with our newly-promoted Communications Coordinator, Kristen, and her 3–year-old daughter and ice cream connoisseur, Sophia. Turkey Hill Experience is a fun, interactive museum where you can learn about their history and how they make their very popular ice cream and iced tea products.
Throughout the experience, there are numerous interactive exhibits and activities geared to both children and parents alike. Some of the fun things we did on our visit included:
- Checking out the tearoom where we learned all about teas, finding out what teas match our personalities, and drinking as many free samples of tea as we liked. Our favorite for the day was “half and half.” (Half tea, half lemonade)
- Watching Sophia make her own virtual ice cream favor called “Coconut Bears,” which consisted of vanilla ice cream, raspberry flavoring, coconut, and gummy bears. After combing everything via a computer, she was able to design her ice cream package any way she wanted, then make her own TV commercial that Mommy could later access online.
- Milking the mechanical cows, playing with Sophia in the ice cream truck, and keeping busy in the Flavor Frenzy, where you pretend to pour flavorings into empty containers to create ice cream blends.
- There was a “cold room” where Sophia could experience what it would feel like to be stored in a freezer, and a Mix and Match station that allows you to smell various scents used in their products.
- Turkey Hill Experience also has a Make Your Own Ice Cream Lab (which requires reservations and an additional nominal cost), but we were so busy with our other activities we decided to do that another time.
And now for the Inside Scoop – throughout the Experience, you can sample as much ice cream, and as many flavors, as you like. Just like their iced tea. That alone was worth the visit!
On our way out, we visited a whimsical gift shop where Sophia scored a stuffed cow and a very large lollypop (since she apparently didn’t get enough sugar with all of the ice cream she had throughout the day).
All in all, Turkey Hill Experience was a lot of fun. I really enjoyed watching Sophia have a great time, as well as testing out several of the exhibits on my own. For a fun, engaging experience with your children, not to mention lots of free ice cream, plan your visit today. Check out TurkeyHillExperience.com for more information.
Leave a Comment | Category: For the Kids, Things to Do | Permalink
August 12, 2013 | Posted by: Kathleen Frankford
Last Wednesday, I embarked on the Amish Experience’s Amish V.I.P. (“Visit in Person”) Tour along with our Public Relations Director, Joel Cliff. The V.I.P. tour is a fantastic opportunity to visit with our Amish neighbors in a more personal and intimate setting.
When I first heard the tour was three hours, it seemed like a long span of time, but when the tour was finished I couldn’t believe how quickly the time went. I was engaged throughout the entire tour, as was even the youngest member of our group, a 6-year-old girl from Canada.
We boarded a very comfortable 14-seat air-conditioned bus and our driver and tour guide, Joanne, began our journey with some background on the Amish community and their history in the area. Our first stop was at Esh’s dairy farm, where owner Jake showed us how they milk cows and told us all about life on the dairy farm. Our young little Canadian even had the opportunity to bottle feed one of the calves.
We toured the barn where we saw buggy horses and work mules, then headed to the quilt shop where they sold gorgeous handmade quilts and other beautiful gifts.
Our next stop was at the Leola Buggy Shop to see how buggies are made and refurbished. It was really neat to learn about the types of buggies, the various features that can be ordered, and the differences between Mennonite and Amish buggies.
Our final stop was an Amish home where we warmly welcomed by Steven and his family. We toured the kitchen and common area, then had the opportunity to sit in the living room to listen to stories and ask whatever questions we wanted: “Do you pay taxes?” “How long do the kids go to school?” “Do you still do barn raisings?” etc. This was perhaps the most enjoyable part of the tour – I mean, how many people have the chance to sit and talk with an Amish family and realize that, in a lot of ways, they are just like you and me?
Throughout our tour, Joanne kept us entertained with fun facts, answered our questions, and told us how she came to live and work in Lancaster County. (Originally from Long Island, she visited Lancaster on her honeymoon and fell in love with the area … for more details, ask her yourself!) The other guests – visiting from Long Island, Wisconsin, Connecticut, and Canada – couldn’t say enough wonderful things about the outing.
If you would like to learn about the Amish, and see how they live, work and play firsthand, then book your Amish V.I.P. Tour today at www.AmishExperience.com.
3 Comments | Category: Amish, General info, Things to Do | Permalink
August 5, 2013 | Posted by: Kathleen Frankford
If you’re a self-proclaimed foodie, no visit to Lancaster County would be complete without a trip to Lancaster Central Market.
Lancaster Central Market is the country’s oldest farmers market, located in a beautiful 120 year-old building in the heart of downtown Lancaster. Featuring gourmet and ethnic foods, local specialties, and unique gifts and souvenirs, Lancaster Central Market was recently listed as “one of the 10 best fresh markets in the world” by CNN Go, the global and travel website of the international cable news network.
During a recent visit I decided to stray outside of my comfort zone to try some things I may not typically sample.
My first stop was at Pureblend Tea where I enjoyed my first tea latte. It was a nice change from my usual café lattes. They can be ordered in a number of different flavors… mine was salted caramel. Devine.
I was craving comfort food so my next stop was Spring Glen Fresh Foods for some delicious macaroni and cheese. Spring Glen features everything from chicken pot pie to potato salad to chow chow. If their other food offerings are as good as their mac and cheese, you’re in for a real treat.
On my way to satisfy my sweet tooth I was distracted by the tantalizing smell of… horseradish? Yes, the smell of fresh grated horseradish drew me to Long’s Horseradish where owner Mike Long was making a fresh batch. In addition to horseradish, Long’s offers a number of selections including gourmet horseradish mustard, cocktail sauce, horseradish pickles, and horseradish BBQ sauce. Per Mr. Long’s recommendation, I later tried the BBQ sauce on meatloaf. Fantastic!
Then I was off to get my sugar fix at Shady Maple Bakery where I had the best peanut butter filled whoopie pie I have ever tasted. It was so fresh and moist… I can’t believe I had enough self-control to only eat one. If you want to try this yummy PA Dutch classic, this is the place to go.
Finally, I was feeling a bit edgy so I thought I’d try a bit of Thai. I headed over to Narai Exotic Thai Cuisine for their Panang Chicken Curry. It was flavorful, spicy, and oh so delicious.
So for all those foodies out there, Lancaster Central Market is a must for your “To Do” list. Open year-round on Tuesdays, Fridays and Saturdays, more information can be found at www.centralmarketlancaster.com.1 Comment | Category: Downtown Lancaster, Food, General info, Shopping, Things to Do | Permalink
July 29, 2013 | Posted by: Kathleen Frankford
Kids love amusement parks – everything from the rides and water attractions, to the food and live entertainment. While most children of all ages thrive on the activity and craziness, many parents do not. For those parents, I have two words for you: Dutch Wonderland.
Dutch Wonderland is a 43-acre amusement park located right off Lincoln Highway East in Lancaster, not far from some of the most beautiful farmland in the county. Boasting over 30 fun-filled rides, a wonderful water-play area, and fabulous live shows, the park is geared toward families with children up to age 12. This year, the park celebrates its 50th anniversary.
In addition to the wide variety of rides, the entire park can be described as “clean and green.” It is quite beautiful really, with gorgeous flower beds, plentiful areas for sitting, numerous trees to provide ample shade, and clean walkways. Because of the layout of the park, and the fact they target younger children, you rarely experience long lines like you might at typical amusement parks. In addition, there are lots of food and drink offerings, all reasonably priced.
Since my kids are teenagers, I thought I’d enlist the help of my good friend, 6-year-old Bailey, to tell me about her recent experience at Dutch Wonderland.
Bailey, what was your favorite ride at Dutch Wonderland?
“Turtle Twirl, because it went around in circles and I love it so much. It made me giggle a lot!”
How about your favorite food?
“The cookies and cream Dippin’ Dots.” (Yummy….my kids always loved them, too!)
What was your favorite thing about the park?
“I rode the big roller coaster with my hands up after the third time!” (Bailey’s mom told me they were able to ride each ride 3-4 times because of either no, or minimal, lines!)
How did you like Duke’s Lagoon waterpark?
“I loved it! I got to go down the slides. They were so awesome. I went down the big, black one that was dark. I didn’t think it was scary, but Mommy screamed. I liked going down the orange slide, too, in the play area and shooting water at people.”
As you can tell, Bailey had a great time at Dutch Wonderland, and I am certain you and your family will as well. For more information, please visit www.dutchwonderland.com.
Bailey shown milking Bossie the cow.Leave a Comment | Category: For the Kids, Things to Do | Permalink
July 22, 2013 | Posted by: Kathleen Frankford
Last Tuesday, I took my family to see Noah at Sight & Sound Theaters® in Strasburg. Sight & Sound is a Christian-based theatre where “the Bible comes to life.” Prior to Tuesday, I had seen two other performances at Sight & Sound – Joseph and Jonah – both of which were spectacular. Like the other two productions, Noah did not disappoint.
To say the show was amazing would be an understatement. The story was extremely well told, the singing and acting were superb, and the sets…oh those glorious, beautiful sets… were truly unbelievable. Just to give you an idea of how the audience reacted, when the inside of the ark was revealed on stage, the crowd clapped and cheered. Every member of my family, from my six-year-old niece to my 65-year-old father, was riveted throughout the performance. Our experience was uplifting, engaging, and enlightening. Noah runs through November 2nd, and I highly recommend seeing this wonderful show for yourself.
Afterwards, we headed to one of my favorite restaurants in Lancaster County, Miller’s Smorgasbord in Ronks. At Miller’s, you can order off the a la carte menu or take advantage of their glorious buffet. I’m typically not a “buffet person,” but I opted for the one at Miller’s because it’s filled with a wide variety of some of the most delicious foods I have ever tasted. They have eight homemade soups, a carving station, salad bar, delicious entrées like fried chicken, beef burgundy, and chicken & waffles, and of course, an extensive dessert bar. Vegetarians and even picky eaters will have no problem finding several things to eat.4 Comments | Category: Food, General info, theatre, Things to Do | Permalink
July 16, 2013 | Posted by: Kathleen Frankford
I had such a great time on my scooter ride around Lancaster County last week, but I also realize it may not be for everyone. For example, I don’t think I would take my 92 year old grandmother or my 3 year old niece on a scooter ride. Nor would I be able to take my 90 lb. Goldendoodle, Ted. So… what would be a great way to see the area, get a close look at the Amish, AND be suitable for all three? A buggy ride of course!
Last week I went on my first buggy ride at Aaron and Jessica’s Buggy Rides in Bird-In-Hand with my three children, Katherine, Maddie and Jack, ages 12, 13 and 14 respectively. While I chose not to bring Goldendoodle Ted, I easily could have since the buggy rides are pet-friendly (as long as your dog plays nicely with the horses).
During our 30 minute ride, we saw beautiful Lancaster County countryside. We stopped at a real working farm where we were offered homemade cookies and lemonade. We learned so much about the Amish culture from our driver, John, who freely chatted about his Amish lifestyle and happily answered any questions we asked.
But the really neat thing about the experience was riding INSIDE the buggy and experiencing what it is like on a regular basis for the Amish who travel our roads daily. At Aaron and Jessica’s, along with the many other establishments throughout the county who offer buggy rides, there are a number of different tours from which to choose. You can visit an Amish farm, go on a leisurely tour (which was our choice), visit a roadside stand or two, or plan a personal, private tour for you and your family.
After our ride, the kids and I visited one of my favorite places, Strasburg Country Store & Creamery in downtown Strasburg. As you can guess, they specialize in homemade ice cream, but their menu also includes sandwiches, soups and fries, and is a delightful place to eat lunch. In addition to the most divine ice cream I have ever tasted (sweet cream and nuts is my favorite), they make their own fudge, caramel corn, and a number of other goodies. Their adjoining gift shop features everything from homemade honey (the working bees are actually on display) to dip mixes, to homemade peanut butter. My kids were both overjoyed and overwhelmed.
What a fun, relaxing and truly interactive way to spend a day with my children in Lancaster County. For more information on Aaron and Jessica’s buggy rides, please visit www.amishbuggyrides.com. For more information on Strasburg Country Store & Creamery, please visit www.strasburg.com/Strasburg-Creamery.5 Comments | Category: For the Kids, Things to Do | Permalink