You may think the summer is a quiet time but get a look at what’s happening on the local restaurant scene.

Sunday Supper_Vintage Grille

The Vintage Grille in Fountainville is offering a special prix fixe menu every Sunday evening throughout the summer. The Sunday Supper features three courses for $24.95. The menu this past Sunday featured a Chicken & Quinoa Chowder, House Salad with roasted tomato vinaigrette, Edamame Potstickers and a Beet & Goat Cheese Arugula Salad for appetizers. Entrées included Soba Noodles with Salmon, Grilled Pork Tenderloin, Polenta Lasagna, Flat Iron Steak Salad, and Tagliatelle with Mussels. And dessert too! Call 215.348.4850 to reserve your seat.

Hamilton's Grill Room courtyard; painting by Robert Beck

In Lambertville, Hamilton’s Grill Room has updated their weekend lunch menu for the summer. In addition to favorites like Fried Oysters (with a cornmeal crust and a tabasco remoulade) and a Lobster Roll (with mascarpone, on a buttered brioche roll), they’ve added a Grilled Tuna Nicoise Salad and Burrata Cheese with Prosciutto. Lunch is served Saturday and Sunday from 11:30 am to 2:30 pm. And with the weather we’ve been having, it would be great to sit out in the courtyard too. For the full lunch menu, click here. Call 609.397.4343 to reserve.

It’s another locals’ night in Lambertville. The Left Bank Bistro at the Lambertville House is launching Lambertville Local Love, a specially priced dinner on Monday nights from 5 – 9 pm. DiSh Catering provides the food for the $21 prix fixe dinner, including appetizer, salad/soup, entrée and dessert. For tonight’s full menu, Monday, July 21, click here. Watch their Facebook page for menu specifics every week.

Mussels at Hattery

One dollar oysters? Endless mussels? A bacon bar? Yes, you can have it all at the Hattery Stove & Still in Doylestown. Beginning July 14, you can enjoy Buck-A-Shuck ($1) oysters during Happy Hour from 5 to 7 pm on weekdays. Monday nights it’s Endless Mussels, including steamed Prince Edward Island mussels with a Dijon white wine reduction sauce or spicy red sauce, along with crusty bread and $3 craft brew cans, all for $14. Stop by the Hattery for breakfast and you’ll be able to dig into the Bacon Bar, a rotating selection of bacons including Apple Wood Smoked, Hickory Tamarind Smoked, Pancetta, Canadian Bacon, Crispy Pork Belly, as well as locally sourced selections from area farms. The Bacon Bar comes with breakfast on weekdays, between 10 and 11:30 am. For more information, stay tuned to the Hattery’s Facebook page.

Charlotte Baker's baked goods

If you’ve been to Friday afternoon’s Ottsville Farmers’ Market, then you are well acquainted with the delicious baked goods of Charlotte Baker Small Batch Baking. Now you can enjoy Megan Kehoe’s food on Saturdays and Sundays too. Welcome Charlotte Baker’s Garden Folly Foodery, a vintage camper turned food truck selling breakfast pastries, sandwiches, fresh salads and baked goods at Linden Hill Gardens in Ottsville from 10 am to 3 pm every weekend. See her Facebook page for more details.

 

In  this series, chef Rich Baringer gives great recipes, full of fresh, seasonal ingredients, just in time for the weekend.

by guest blogger, Rich Baringer,

In our house, I’m usually the one who tries out all the unique and gourmet recipes.  My wife, Mary Beth, luckily for me, is extremely skilled in making great comfort food.

These are the dishes that she was raised on and that just hit the spot. This recipe is one of them.

Often, with these kinds of recipes, there really isn’t a recipe.  So we had to estimate the amounts and cooking times.  And, to be honest, a recipe like this is really more of a guide. You don’t have to follow it to the letter. A lot has to do with your personal taste.

But whether you follow the recipe closely or not, this meal is worth making. It is so tasty, made with all local, in-season ingredients. The perfect dinner for a lovely summer night. It tastes even better a day or two later.

Ham and Beans_Rich Baringer

HAM & BEANS
Serves 8

INGREDIENTS
2 pounds smoked ham butt
1 large onion, chopped coarse
1 pound small new potatoes, cut in half
1 ½ pounds green beans, trimmed
1 small cabbage, cored and chopped coarse
Salt & pepper to taste

  • Place ham and onion in a large Dutch oven and add water just to cover. Salt to taste and bring to a boil. Lower heat and simmer for about 1 ½ hours.
  • Add potatoes, beans and cabbage. Return to a simmer for another 30 minutes or until beans and cabbage are cooked to your desired doneness.
  • Season with salt and pepper to taste.  Serve and enjoy!

Rich Baringer is chef/owner of Dinner’s Done Personal Chef Service.  Rich grew up in Haycock Township and has lived (and eaten) in Bucks County his whole life. He now lives in Blooming Glen Village with his wife, Mary Beth, his son Jake, and Ophelia, the cat. Rich graduated from the Culinary Business Academy in Atlanta, is a member of the U.S. Personal Chef Association and owns Dinner’s Done Personal Chef Service. For more information about Dinner’s Done PCS, contact Rich at 215.804.6438, dinnersdonepa@comcast.net or check out his website.

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Farm-to-fork, craft beer, wine pairing, pizza on the grill, and even catching fire flies. It’s all happening this week in Bucks and nearby.

Lagunitas beerIf you are a craft beer fan, don’t miss a special beer dinner Thursday (tomorrow) night at the Yardley Inn. The five course meal will feature Lagunitas Brewing Company beers. Sous Chef Josh Noel has created a pairing menu to compliment the beers, including fried gulf oysters, potato chip crusted pork terrine, and seared big eye tuna (for the full menu, click here). 

Eight of the best chefs in New Jersey and Pennsylvania will be preparing a 7-course wine pairing dinner at a special Farm to Fork Fundraiser at Alba Vineyard & Winery this Sunday evening. The dinner features locally produced food from farms throughout northern New Jersey and eastern Pennsylvania.  Expert winemakers have hand-selected each course’s pairing. The event begins with gourmet passed hors d’oeuvres during a VIP vineyard tour and concludes with al fresco dining on the beautiful grounds. The fundraiser benefits the New Jersey-based organization, The Foodshed Alliance (not to be confused with the Bucks County Foodshed Alliance.) For tickets and more information, click here.

Jersey Shore Dinner_Hamilton's Grill Room_cropFresh Jersey tomatoes, steamed mussels and Littleneck Clams, corn-on-the-cob, Maine lobster and peach shortcake. Do I have your attention? Hamilton’s Grill Room presents their first Jersey Shore Dinner of the season this coming week on Tuesday, Wednesday and Thursday night. This is a very popular event, so make your reservations soon. And at only $29.95 per person, it’s a great deal. For the full menu, visit their website. If you can’t make it this week, they are doing it again on August 19, 20 and 21.

Old school meets new school at the PASS in Rosemont this Tuesday evening. The prix fixe meal starts with an apertivo and an amuse, followed by six courses. The menu is French and designed to showcase both classic techniques and flavors, as well as a more contemporary take on French cuisine. For this special event, Matthew Ridgway, chef and owner of The PASS restaurant hosts chef Christopher Kearse, from Will BYOBa modern French-inspired restaurant in South Philly. For the full menu and to reserve your seat, see the PASS’ website.

grilled pizza_Williams SonomaPizza on the grill. This Tuesday night the Vintage Grille in Fountainville (Doylestown) hosts another of their Cook & Cork classes and dinners. What could be better than a summer night with pizza on the grill with fresh dough and fresh ingredients? The menu features Marguerita Pizza with fresh mozzarella, tomatoes, and basil, Three Cheese Pizza with Prosciutto, BYO (Build Your Own Pizza), and a S’mores Pizza for dessert. The class will be outdoors, weather permitting. Click here to register.

Grass-fed? Pastured? Conventional? What does it all mean? If you want to learn more about how our meat is raised in this country—from the farmers themselves—come to the County Theater this Thursday evening (tomorrow) for a showing of the film American Meat. Following the movie, there will be a panel discussion with local meat farmers. The event is part of the Farm Fresh Film Series, co-sponsored by the Doylestown Food Co-op and the Bucks County Foodshed Alliance. For more information and to purchase tickets, see the Co-op’s website here.

Remember catching fire flies when you were a kid? Give your kids the same fun experience this Saturday night at Tabora Farm and Orchard in Chalfont/Hilltown. The evening includes live music, a BBQ dinner, crafts, wagon rides to a bonfire, games, and, of course, firefly catching. Tickets ($5) must be purchased in advance. Call 215.249.0417 or visit the store.

Carrots; photo credit Lynne GoldmanTo market, to market. Here’s what you can expect to find at local farmers markets this week.

Just Arrived! Carrots, cauliflower, eggplants and peppers.

You’ll also find apricots, basil, beets, blueberries, broccoli, cabbage, celery, cherry tomatoes, chives, cilantro, corn, cucumbers (slicing & picking), dill, fennel, garlic scapes, green beans and yellow wax beans, green garlic, Hakurei turnips, Tuscan and curly kale, kohlrabi, lettuce, lettuce mix, mint, mushrooms, parsley, radicchio, radishes, red new potatoes, rosemary, sage, spinach, spring onions, summer squash, Swiss chard, tomatoes, zucchini, and flower bouquets.

Most markets will also have:  eggs from free-range chickens, grass-fed and pastured meats, preserves, specialty foods, baked goods like breads, cakes, cookies and pastries, cheese and yogurt, locally roasted coffee, and interesting crafts from local artisans. For a list of all farmers’ markets in Bucks and nearby, go to our food guide here.

Follow Bucks County Taste on Facebook, Twitter, Google+, and Pinterest.

For more details on any of these events, please go to our full calendar, Food Events in Bucks County, or click the “continue reading” link below.

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The parking lot is full and so is the side street adjacent to the restaurant, so hubby says, I’ll park; you go in and see if you can grab some seats at the counter. Squeezing by a dozen or more hungry people waiting for tables, I eye two empty stools. Yes! Breakfast – and more importantly coffee – is only minutes away.

Actually it’s more than just okay. I love sitting at the counter, especially at a place like Charcoal. It’s the nerve center of the restaurant. From my perch, I can see through the order window into the kitchen, where the line cooks are putting up dishes every few seconds. I can view the coffee station – certainly the nerve center during breakfast – and listen to the wait staff chat as they pass each other, moving quickly off in different directions into the dining room with a cup, or plate, or glass of milk for a crying child.

And quietly, at the center of all this, is (Anton) Tony Plescha, owner of Charcoal BYOB. He constantly scans the dining room, clearing dishes here, filling up a coffee cup there. He sees a potential problem and with a quiet word to one of the staff, it’s taken care of. He’s the one oiling this well-oiled machine.

breakfast_charcoal byob

This is Charcoal “AM.” Right on River Road, one story up (we’ll talk floods later), this neighborhood restaurant is well-known and loved in Yardley for its great food and beautiful views of the river. During the day, Charcoal serves up delicious breakfasts and lunches. But at night, the restaurant shows its other personality, serving fresh and seasonal dishes, prepared in innovative, and even surprising, ways. Like freshly-made radiatori served with pepperoni Bolognese, egg yolk, Parmigiano-Reggiano and arugula. This is Charcoal “PM.”

Radiatori with bolognese_charcoal byob_cropRadiatori with Pepperoni Bolognese

Charcoal is actually two restaurants in the same building. Like siblings from the same family – different personalities but the same underlying values: take good, quality food and make it the tastiest it can be.

The day begins at 6 am for Tony, getting the Hollandaise sauce for the eggs benedict going, cooking the potatoes for the home fries and doing salad prep for lunch. Two more line cooks join him and the restaurant opens for breakfast at 8 am. At first glance, it’s a typical breakfast menu: eggs, omelets, pancakes, side meats. But look a little closer. There’s brioche French toast and blueberry pistachio pancakes. The Orange, Arugula & Blue Omelet with Black River blue cheese may also catch your eye. And if it’s available, get the house made bacon.

cinnamon french toast with house made bacon

Cinnamon Raisin French Toast with Glaze, and House-Made Bacon

At lunch, it’s the kind of place where you can still get an egg salad sandwich. Next to the old favorites like chicken salad, BLTs, and burgers, you’ll see interesting little twists that don’t show up in your average diner. The chicken salad comes with a raisin relish and a walnut vinaigrette. The spinach salad has pumpkin seeds, craisins, blue cheese and a white balsamic vinegar dressing.

shaved kale caesar salad_charcoal byob

Shaved Kale Caesar Salad

“People aren’t afraid to try new things,” explains Tony. That’s why you’ll see weekend specials like an Irish omelet, made with smoked trout and horseradish sauce. Or an Italian eggs benedict using Italian bread and prosciutto instead of the old Canadian bacon on an English muffin.

It’s all good, fresh comfort food, but it’s a chance to showcase different ways of cooking, says Tony. Charcoal AM is the welcoming, corner place where you can hang out, have a breakfast meeting, or bring the whole family.

Tony’s sons, Mark, 32, and Eric, 29, grew up in the business, cooking, serving, and running through the kitchen. They developed a passion for food and wanted to do more. “Despite my advice, they wanted to go into cooking,” says Tony. So he insisted they first get some culinary education to get a good foundation (Tony is a Culinary Institute of America graduate and 15 year Marriott veteran).

Rewind back to the 2006 flood. The restaurant—then on street level—was washed out. Tony rebuilt the restaurant, raising it a story (plus a foot above the highest flood mark just to be safe). When he reopened in 2008, he decided it was time for a change and he “gave” Mark and Eric the restaurant for dinner.

Now they have hit the big time. Customers come from as far away as New York, as well as Philadelphia and its suburbs. Craig LaBan, the Philadelphia Inquirer’s restaurant critic, gave them a very nice review (although it was back in 2010; I think he needs to visit again.) Yet there are still so many people here in Bucks County who have never heard of Charcoal.

If you have been to Charcoal for dinner, but it has been awhile, it’s time for you to go back. The restaurant got a lot of good press early on but much of it focused on the techniques they were using – “gastro-science” – and they got labeled as good but kind of weird.

“We’ve calmed down,” admits Mark. “We learned the techniques and now we apply them to just making the food as good as it can be.”

different color pastas_charcoal byob

Case in point. Charcoal bought an Arcobaleno pasta machine and pasta cooker this past year. The pasta machine has 25 different dyes, so Eric and Mark are making four fresh pastas for dinner each night. Borrowing from the Japanese, they add baking soda to the pasta dough to add “snap.” This means is that the noodle doesn’t continue to cook after coming out of the water; instead it stays a consistent firmness throughout the meal. They also add wheat gluten to give it “chew,” an Italian technique.

pasta machine_charcoal byob

Do you know how most pasta is prepared in restaurants? A boiling pot of water sits on the stove, and when the order comes up, parboiled pasta is dropped into the water to cook for a few minutes. The Arcobaleno pasta cooker that Charcoal uses actually removes the starches from the water so the pasta is always cooked in fresh water. “The difference in flavor is amazing,” says Mark.

Let’s talk about fried chicken. A staple on the Charcoal PM menu is the Fried Griggstown Chicken served with kale and buttermilk potatoes. I ordered this on a recent visit. I started out using a fork and knife on the breast, but then there was the drumstick. Couldn’t use utensils for that. So I started using my fingers, which is really so much more rewarding when eating fried chicken any way. The outside was crisp and crunchy with just enough greasiness to satisfy. The inside was incredibly moist. The kale was tossed in a ranch dressing that complimented the chicken with a nice tartness. In fact, by the end of the meal I was using the chicken to sop up the extra dressing. The buttermilk potatoes were smooth and sweet, a perfect balance in texture next to the crunchy chicken and the crisp kale.

Now let me tell you how it’s made. Day one: “First we brine the chicken in buttermilk for 12 hours,” explains Mark. “Then we debone the thigh and breast, but leave the skin on the breast. The next step involves ‘gluing’ the two pieces using an enzyme that binds protein.” That’s day two. On day three, the chicken is put in a sous vide for 1 hour and 45 minutes, with duck fat and herbs. Then it is battered and fried, and delivered to grateful customers.

For the buttermilk potatoes they boil down the potatoes until they are falling apart and run them through a ricer to break down the starches. Then they add butter and buttermilk, whip it up and add a little salt. We’re not done yet. Using a nitro canister (think whipped cream), they spray it out and serve it in its own little pot. The result is a much more concentrated flavor. Now this is better living through science!

quote about technique_charcoal byob

“People have become more sophisticated in their tastes,” says Mark. “Because of the Food Network, people know what the back of the house looks like, and they are interested in trying new things.”

When I look through the dinner menu, here’s what goes through my head. First ingredient of the dish is usually pretty familiar (and “safe”): St. Louis Ribs, Shrimp Scampi, Chilled English Peas. The second ingredient is a little different, even interesting, but still okay: pepperoni Bolognese, smoked sesame tofu, radish kimchee. Then there’s the surprise. Andouille sausage with pan roasted halibut? Egg yolk sauce on a flap steak? Or bacon with Bucatini & Soft Shell Crab?

“We call it the 1-2-3 punch,” Mark says with a smile.

shrimp scampi_blackened rigatoni with squid ink_charcoal byob

Shrimp Scampi with Blackened Rigatoni

The menu is seasonally driven and can change twice a week, or not for a month. On Saturdays, the chefs receive a list from the Ringoes, NJ distributor, Zone 7, of what is coming in from the local farms that week. That’s when the menu is first put together, but it can change at any time. “This past Tuesday we looked at the menu and said we don’t have enough pork. So we brought it in,” says Mark. In fact, the menus are printed every night.

You’ll also see a real global influence on the menu, be it Asian, Italian or American. “We don’t rule anything out,” says Mark.

At the heart of the dinner menu—and the day time menu—is a focus on the food. “We want to showcase what is good about the food,” says Mark. “It’s about sourcing really quality ingredients, locally, and not messing it up.” That includes getting flour from Castle Valley Mill in Doylestown, fresh chicken from Griggstown Farm in Princeton, greens from Blue Moon Acres in Buckingham, and vegetables from local farms in Pennsylvania and New Jersey.

And the passion is evident everywhere. Sous chef Jared Remer comes in two hours early to bake bread for dinner. Prepping starts at 10 am and at 4 pm, the three chefs sit down for an espresso before the 5 pm opening. It’s a long day but a rewarding one.

Mark lived in downtown Philly for five years, enjoying the great restaurant scene. “I want to bring that same passion up here,” he says. “People don’t need to go into Philly for great food. They can have it here in the suburbs too.”

Charcoal BYOB
11 S. Delaware Ave.
Yardley, PA
PH: 215. 493-6394
WEB: www.CharcoalBYOB.com
Facebook: Charcoal
HOURS:
Breakfast and Lunch – Tuesday through Sunday, 8 am – 2 pm.
Dinner – Tuesday through Saturday, 5 pm – 9 pm. Dinner reservations recommended.
Handicap accessible via ground floor elevator.

Charcoal is BYOB, in case it’s not obvious. Feel free to bring your own bottle, or flask.

Photos courtesy of Charcoal BYOB.

Due to an embarrassment of cheese riches, Bobolink Dairy & Bakehouse is offering their grand reserve 2013 Drumm and Jean-Louis at a significant discount of 25% off.  And, to sweeten the deal, they are offering this season’s gooey Baudolino at the same price! These are three exceptional cheeses.

For orders placed online before Monday, July 14, or for purchases at the farm or any of their farmer’s market stands before July 14, Drumm and Jean-Louis, regularly $24/lb, will be just $19.20/lb. Online, you can order as little as ½ lb, and at the markets and farm store, there is no minimum order.

Bobolink creates their artisanal cheeses from 100% raw milk, drawn from their pastured cows. To learn more, go to their website. I highly recommend taking the tour of their farm just north of Frenchtown.

Click here to order the sale cheeses online.

Baudolino – gooey with a light grassiness
Jean-Louis – bold, tangy, creamy
Drumm – deep flavor, with lovely blue veining

Keep Calm and Carry OnLet’s say you don’t go away in July. As the weather gets hot and humid, and the roads seem empty, it’s easy to feel like nothing is happening.  Ah, but there is plenty going on in Bucks and nearby. Here’s some ideas of what you can get out and do this week.

Wednesday. Tonight, the United German Hungarians Club in Bensalem holds their monthly Schnitzel Night from 5:30 pm until 7:30 pm (usually on the first Wednesday of the month but due to the holiday last week, they moved  it to this week.) Or check out the  Custom Tea Blending Class at the Tubby Olive in Doylestown at 6 pm tonight.

Oysters on the half shell

Thursday. There are few things I enjoy more in this kind of weather than a half-dozen oysters accompanied by a cold, dry martini. On Thursdays, Deanna’s in Lambertville fills this need with their Happy Hour Raw Bar from 4:30 to 6:30 pm; shrimp, oysters and clams a buck each (also on Friday evenings). Also on Thursdays, the Freight House in Doylestown has a Happy Hour Dollar Oysters night. And don’t miss the Clam Bake at the Logan Inn every Thursday too.

Friday. Start off the weekend with some adult beverages at these events:

bluegrass and blueberries peddler's village_logo

The Weekend. Love blueberries? Love bluegrass music? You’re in luck. This weekend, Peddler’s Village hosts their annual Bluegrass & Blueberries Festival on Saturday and Sunday. At Fisher’s Tudor House in Bensalem, you can dine and sleuth at the same time at a Murder Mystery Dinner taking place Saturday eveningOn Sunday, enjoy a Summer Pig Roast at Sand Castle Winery in Erwinna or a firehouse breakfast at the Upper Black Eddy Fire Co. on Sunday morning.

Monday. It’s Burger Night at the Wycombe Publick House in Wycombe with their delicious burgers $2 off. The Continental Tavern in Yardley also offers their great burgers for half-off on Monday nights.

Lobster night_PVT

Tuesday. Who needs to go to Maine when every Tuesday night it’s Lobster Night at the Pineville Tavern and the Buck Hotel? The Pineville is offering a 1 ½ lb lobster with two sides and soup or salad for $25. At the Buck Hotel you can get a 1 lb, 1½ or 2½ lb (!!) lobster with soup or salad after 5 pm. The Buck also has a Seafood Buffet on Monday nights with an all-you-can-eat raw bar, carving station, hot buffet, pasta and dessert for $29.95.

Coming up… Enjoy a Farm to Table Gala at the Myerov Family Farm in Perkasie next Wednesday, July 16. It will feature a vegetarian tapas menu crafted by local chef Cody Garber created with fresh fruits and vegetables grown at Myerov and other local farms. Folk artists Yuri and Caleb Gohen will provide the music. Click here for tickets.

Also on next Wednesday, learn more about wines from down under at the Australia & New Zealand Wine Dinner at the Vintage Grille in Fountainville. Details on their website.

For more details on any of these events, please go to our full calendar, Food Events in Bucks County.

Vegetable Bounty; MSClipArtTo market, to market. Here’s what you can expect to find at local farmers markets this week.

Just Arrived! Apricots,  cabbage and corn, maybe eggplant and peppers.

You’ll also find basil, beets, blueberries, broccoli, celery, cherry tomatoes, chives, cilantro, cucumbers (slicing & picking), dill, fennel, garlic scapes, green beans and yellow wax beans, green garlic, hakurei turnips, Tuscan and curly kale, kohlrabi, lettuce, lettuce mix, microgreens, mint, mushrooms, parsley, radicchio, radishes, red new potatoes, rosemary, sage, spinach, spring onions, summer squash, Swiss chard, tomatoes, zucchini, and flower bouquets.

Most markets will also have:  eggs from free-range chickens, grass-fed and pastured meats, preserves, specialty foods, baked goods like breads, cakes, cookies and pastries, cheese and yogurt, locally roasted coffee, and interesting crafts from local artisans. For a list of all farmers’ markets in Bucks and nearby, go to our food guide here.

Follow Bucks County Taste on  Facebook, Twitter, Google+, and Pinterest.

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by guest blogger, Erica Chayes,

When a landmark like the Stockton Inn begins to shift in new directions, it’s easy for us locals to push away the winds of change. After all, we’re only human.

But I must remind you, my fellow bon vivants, that change brings new flavors. Was it not a change of pace that inspired Dorothy Parker, George Kaufman and other members of the Algonquin Round Table to venture to our neck of the woods for taste making and a little R & R? Change is a wonderful thing, should you choose to embrace it.

And proprietor Mitch Millett and his nephew, executive chef Heath Millett, embrace change. In fact, they’re pros at the art of reinvention. As Bucks County locals who recently returned to their roots, they’re working to preserve the Stockton Inn’s history and make it a prominent fine dining destination.

Chef Millett is both bold and meticulous in his approach to running the kitchen and revitalizing the Inn. From a family who always encouraged responsibility and hard work, Chef Millet was introduced to commercial kitchens as a 12-year-old dishwasher. By eighteen, he was teaching culinary school and by twenty-one he had become the owner of his first restaurant in Olympia, Washington. He brings his expertise in American-fusion fare to the Inn but is also crafting the menus to be colonially inspired (General George would be most pleased).

When not teaching his staff how to delicately shuck a Nauti Pilgrim, Chef Millet can be found bounding through the Inn’s corridors or crouched beside a table regaling customers with tales of the Inn’s history. He is disarming, standing at 6’3” with a peppery mane and a Stones t-shirt peaking out from under his button down. Yet his luminescent sienna eyes show an intensity that attests to his fervor for the culinary arts.

Stockton Inn pot pie

The Stockton Inn’s sprawling layout supplies a variety of atmospheres for all to enjoy and the Millets plan to nourish the distinct character of each. The Dog and Deer Tavern, a favorite among locals, travelers, workers and writers for over 300 years, now has its own tavern fare. Accompanying craft ales and smoky scotches is an assortment of dishes that will please pub-goers and epicures alike. The shepherd’s pie is served in a cast-iron crock and leaves the wonderfully grassy after-taste of lamb on your palate between cozy bites of mash. If you crave a cooler dish on one of these balmy days, enjoy a chopped cobb salad or the lobster rolls—generous mouthfuls of lobster meat chilled and stuffed into soft, sliced bread beside a pile of herb-dusted fries.

Stockton Inn Mural-Room

The Mural Dining Rooms, Glass Room, and Garden Patio offer a higher-end menu to compliment their sumptuous spaces. Begin your experience with the escargot vol au vent, delicately placed in a puff pastry shell with melted butter, blue cheese and mushrooms. This dish is an art piece unto itself. The sun-dried tomato, spinach and artichoke dip is decadent yet light and shareable when scooped onto house-made pita chips. Entrées range from trout flambé to pork tenderloin with lobster whipped potatoes and morel cream sauce. The Chilean sea bass is pan-seared in fine herbs with a balsamic cream sauce, basil whipped potatoes and oven dried tomatoes. The diver scallops are fresh and tender, seared to perfection until they’re slightly crisp on top. They are served over a fine herb risotto cake with grilled green and white asparagus and beurre blanc.  [To see the Inn's menus, click here.]

Stockton Inn Garden-Bar

To celebrate the summer season, the Millets have opened a raw bar beside the waterfall in the upper garden bar. Thursday through Sunday, it is the place to cool off and wind down with a relaxing cocktail, a light nosh, and a bit of live piano. There is a selection of oysters to choose from and some, like the Well Fleets, have proven to change oyster-wary orderers into oyster-enthusiasts. There are also specials such as the tuna tartar, which bursts tenderly on your taste buds with unforgettable flavors.

Stockton Inn oysters

Soon to open is a café in the Fox Room Lounge. For all of us caffeine-fiends living in Stockton, a coffeehouse open early every morning is a godsend. Although the Stockton Market has a great coffeehouse Friday through Sunday, during the week our only choices are to drive to Rojos in Lambertville, or sit with the gentlemanly regulars around the small, casual tables at the Stockton Food Store. Soon, we’ll have our own weekday spot to sate our craving for cappuccinos and strong brew.

Stockton Inn Fox Room Lounge

The Fox Room’s rich history and furnishings will inspire artists, poets and thinkers alike to work, draw, sip and relax. In addition to bright ideas and plush leather sofas, Chef Millet is developing Stockton Inn’s own coffee blend, with beans from fair trade growers in Guatemala, Colombia and Kenya. There will be a made-to-order menu of fine patisserie and light accompaniments too.

The Millets strive to preserve the Inn’s artistic presence in a place where so many talented individuals have met their muses. Chef Millet is steadfast in keeping things local, fair and homegrown. He wants the Inn to be an integral part of the town itself, complimenting Stockton’s existing businesses and providing high quality goods where they are needed.

The first airs of change breezing through Bridge Street carry the pleasurable scent of food being prepared by Chef Millet and his staff in the Inn’s kitchen. On weekend evenings before dinner, a plate of oysters on ice and a frosty Yards Saison will beckon you to a calming new experience in the familiar garden. Soon there will be an upscale coffee house. The Millets are changing some things, but they understand how the Stockton Inn has been treasured for over three hundred years and are devoting their energy to make it last for 300 more.

The Stockton Inn
1 Main Street
Stockton, NJ
PH: 609.397.1250
HOURS: Open daily at 11:30 am, except on Sundays when brunch begins at 9:30 am. Weekend reservations strongly recommended, or call ahead to avoid waiting.
WEB: www.StocktonInn.com

Blueberry boxThe word for this week? Blueberries.

The local blueberry crop is in! It looks like it will be a good season, according to Solebury Orchards—which opens tomorrow, July 3—and Terhune Orchards in Princeton. This weekend’s weather is supposed to be a little cooler and clear, so go pick some blueberries.

Head on over to Terhune Orchards this weekend for their annual Blueberry Bash. You can hang out and listen to some country music, or enjoy some of the many blueberry treats, like Blueberry-Apple Crisp, Blueberry drinks, Blueberry Muffins, Blueberry Cobbler, Blueberry jam, and Blueberry Salsa. There will be pony rides, music, children’s games in the barnyard and entertainment for the kids, or you can take a tractor-drawn wagon ride through the orchards. Proud of your blueberry pie? There will also be the Blueberry Bash Bake-Off with official judging and prizes. And, of course, you can pick blueberries. Admission is $5, children under three are free. For more information, please see their website.

Sum Pig Food Truck sideThe newest brewery in the county, Bucks County Brewery, is hosting Pork, Beer & Music, Oh My! on Saturday at their brewery (and right next to Bucks County’s newest distillery, Hewn Spirits). Sum Pig Truck will be supplying the pork, you know where the beer is coming from, and John Creidler of the Mango Men Band will be providing the music. The event begins at 5 pm at the brewery on 31 Appletree Lane in Pipersville. See their Facebook page for more info.

Want to go out for July 4th? Click here our post about special food events for Independence Day and the weekend.

To market, to market. Here’s what you can expect to find at local farmers markets this week: Just Arrived! Blueberries, tomatoes and, maybe…corn!

Summer Squash, photo credit Lynne GoldmanYou’ll find basil, beets, broccoli, celery, cherry tomatoes, chives, cilantro, cucumbers (slicing & picking), dandelion greens, dill, fennel, French breakfast radishes, garlic scapes, green beans, green garlic, hakurei turnips, Tuscan and curly kale, kohlrabi, lettuce, lettuce mix, microgreens, mint, mushrooms, parsley, radicchio, radishes, red new potatoes, rosemary, spinach, spring onions, sugar snap peas, summer squash, Swiss chard, tomatoes, wheat grass, zucchini, and flower bouquets. 

scones_Bucks County Cookie CoMost markets will also have:  eggs from free-range chickens, grass-fed and pastured meats, preserves, specialty foods, baked goods like breads, cakes, cookies and pastries, cheese and yogurt, locally roasted coffee, and interesting crafts from local artisans. For a list of all farmers’ markets in Bucks and nearby, go to our food guide here.

For more details on any of these events, please go to our full calendar, Food Events in Bucks County. Follow Bucks County Taste also on Facebook, Twitter, Google+, and Pinterest.

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Harvest-Peace-Valley-L-F---25

Wake up and smell the lavender!

This Wednesday night, July 2, come to Peace Valley Farm, one of the most beautiful—and fragrant—farms in Bucks County for a tour and delicious potluck dinner.

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Umbrella drinkIf you don’t feel like cooking on the 4th, you’ve got some great options at local restaurants in Bucks County and nearby.

The Yardley Inn is holding their annual Hawaiian Luau Pig Roast with a “tropical” buffet featuring Roasted Kahlua Pig, a whole pig roasted with banana leaves and sea salt; Eben’s Poi, mashed taro root with cream and butter; Potato Mac Salad, a Big Island Style macaroni salad with potato and vegetables; Kimchi Tako Poke, marinated octopus seasoned with kimchi and chili powder; Butterfish & Chinese Sausage Lau Lau, with Hawaiian Waluu and chinese sausage wrapped in taro leaves and banana leaves and steamed; Garden Greens Salad, with greens from the Yardley Inn’s own farm; Passion Fruit Buttercake, a soft and sweet cake made with rice flour and topped with a gooey passion fruit layer; and tropical drink specials. It all starts at 4:30 pm on the patio and costs $35 per person, plus tax & gratuity.

The restaurant will also offer dining discounts throughout the holiday weekend, from Friday, July 4 through Sunday, July 6 including $10 off lunch/brunch check of $30 or more, $10 off bar menu check of $30 or more , $15 off dinner check of $50 or more, $25 off dinner check of $100 or more. Mention that you saw it on Bucks County Taste and reference the password “Sparkler.” Contact the Yardley Inn for reservations at 215.493.3800.

Do you love crab? And barbecue? You’re in luck. On July 4th, the Vintage Grille in Fountainville is putting on their annual Crabfest and BBQ. crab legsYou’ll sit down to a generous pound-and-a-half of snow crab legs, fall-off-the-bone baby back ribs, barbecue chicken, Kentucky Bourbon NY strip steak, hand-cut old bay fries, drawn butter, fresh corn-on-the-cob, and house coleslaw. Quantities are limited so do reserve early. The restaurant will also be open for a full breakfast, lunch and dinner on the 4th. The crabfest also takes place on the first Friday of every month during the summer. Reach them at 215.348.4850.

A buffalo hot dog eating contest? The Rising Sun Inn in Telford, known for their bison dishes, is pulling out all the stops for a Independence Day celebration that includes a buffalo hot dog eating contest (most hot dogs and buns eaten in 10 minutes), a chili cook-off, quoits (horseshoes) tournament and a dunk booth where you’ll be able to douse Executive Chef Fred Duerr. The day begins at 11 am and continues until 8 pm. Entrance is free but there will be food and drink specials all day including $1 draft beers, $2 buffalo hot dogs, $3 buffalo burgers and oysters on the half shell. If you want to register for the hot dog eating contest, do so at 11 am. If you are interested in entering the chili cook-off, contact the restaurant at 215.721.6350. For more details, see their website.

RedWhiteBlueMojitos2014The Washington House in Sellersville will be closed on the 4th but will reopen for the weekend with surf n’turf specials and patriotic mojitos: red, white and blue! See their website for more info.

Hamilton’s Grill Room in Lambertville will be open for lunch on Friday too; lunch is usually just a weekend treat at Hamilton’s. Grab a bottle of your favorite adult beverage and enjoy their seasonally inspired lunch menu including fried oysters, crab and avocado salad, lobster roll with mascarpone, duck BLT, fried chicken with biscuits, grilled tuna or a vegetable quiche. The full menu is on their website. You can make reservations at 609.397.4343.

Hamilton's Grill Room courtyard; painting by Robert Beck

 

Stockton Inn patio

The Stockton Inn’s Garden Patio. We’ve got fond memories of sitting in the Stockton Inn’s lovely garden patio behind the main building. Now it has been made even better, with a refurbished bar and a new menu. We can’t wait to try the new raw bar featuring top neck clams, a variety of oysters on the half shell, ceviche salads, octopus, and caviar. You can also dine from the restaurant’s main menu in the garden. For more information, see the Inn’s website.

sweet melissa pie

Stockton Market News. While you’re in Stockton, check out some of the great stuff happening at the Market. In May, Sweet Melissa Patisserie opened in the market, with freshly baked, seasonal pies and other baked goods. The chef and owner, Melissa Murphy, is a transplant from Brooklyn where she had the popular påtisserie for many years. Murphy recently relocated to Hunterdon County with her family to enjoy the “country life.” Aren’t we lucky?

Half Pint Kitchen summer flavors

When’s the last time you had Half Pint Kitchen? The amazing small batch ice creamery in the Stockton Market is in full “seasonal” swing using dairy and fruit from locally sourced small farms and orchards. Robin and Jim Salant make some of the most intense, fresh and incredible ice cream in the area. This should wet your appetite (see the photo above): Brown Butter Pecan, Salted Caramel, Dark Chocolate Sorbet, Roasted Strawberry, Almond Milk “Latte” Granita and Mint Chocolate Chip. [Note: the chocolate sorbet is so rich, people don't believe it doesn't have dairy in it!] Flavors change weekly so you’ll just have to stop by every week.

Celebrate Bastille Day. You don’t have to be French to celebrate July 14th especially when Slate Bleu is planning a special evening in honor of the day. The three-course menu looks amazing, and includes wine. Click here to see the full menu and contact them at 215.348.0222 for reservations.

Blueberries

Blueberries! Shady Brook Farm in Yardley has the season’s first Bucks County blueberries. Pick-your-own for $2.99/lb. or get them already picked in the store for $2.99/pt, 2 for $5.

Another lovely June weekend is coming up! Celebrate Sam Adams, tour a local lavender farm, pick some strawberries, shop a local farmers market, or nibble and sip overlooking the Delaware at one of the area’s oldest inns.

Happy Birthday, Sam Adams! Isaac Newton’s, Newtown’s great craft beer bar and restaurant, is celebrating Samuel Adams’ 30th birthday (the pioneer craft beer company, not the man) with an event this Saturday, 30 for 30 (plus 2!) with Samuel Adams! For the first time in the bar’s history, every tap in the house will feature a Sam Adams beer, including many rare and limited edition beers. They will be tapping a minimum of 32 Sam Adams beers throughout the day including a cask-conditioned ale.

Sam AdamsWhy 32 beers? Well, 30 is to honor Sam Adams while the ‘plus 2′ will allow Isaac Newton’s to be largest Tap Takeover in Sam Adams history. The festivities kick off at 11:30 am and continue throughout the day. There will be free giveaways and special menu items including Beer-braised Brats with Boston Lager and a Brisket Sandwich with Nitro Stout. For more information, and to see the confirmed drafts and tappings, click here.

In the category of “Has it really been that long?” the Black Bass Hotel in Lumberville is culminating a month of celebrating their 5th anniversary since reopening the famous restaurant and inn. The special meal Monday evening is a $25 prix fixe and includes artisan fruit and cheese, crudités, Mediterranean antipasto and tossed salad; small plate entrees like Chicken, shrimp and Andouille sausage jambalaya, Molasses and rum-painted salmon, Crispy risotto balls with gorgonzola cheese and a selection of popular Bass Sliders, finishing with a dessert buffet. Cocktails and drinks will only be $5. The fun begins at 5:30 pm. For more details see their website.

Peace Valley Farm harvestOn Wednesday, join the Bucks County Foodshed Alliance at their second summer farm tour of the season at Peace Valley Lavender Farm in Doylestown. George and Patty Lyons began growing lavender on the old farmstead in 2001. They raise several varieties of English lavender and lavandins (natural hybrids of English and spike lavender). On the day of the farm tour, they expect many of their more than 3,000 plants to be in bloom, coloring and perfuming the farm’s south-facing hillside. The potluck begins at 6 pm, with the tour following at 7 pm. You’ll also be able to purchase growing plants, bulk blossoms, dried bunches, essential oil, bath & body products, pillows and sachets, herbal products for the kitchen and more. For more information, click here.

The Berry Report. Manoff Market Gardens will be open through Saturday, June 28 from 9 am to 12 pm for pick-your-own strawberries only. Then they will reopen in mid- to late-July with their lovely peaches. This is your last chance to fill your freezer with local strawberries! See our post, Pick-your-own strawberries in Bucks, for a list of all local farms where you can pick your own.

And, finally, Solebury Orchards opens for the season on Thursday, July 3. Because of the late and cool spring, they are a little later opening than usual. The good news is the blueberry crop looks great and will last into mid-August, with peak being mid-July. Apricots are coming in nicely, available through July, and peaches are looking good, hopefully to arrive in mid- to late-July. The bad news is that their cherries are not coming in this year due to the blossoms damaged in a freeze. Watch their website for up-to-date news on crops and when to pick-your-own.

cherry tomatoes_Milk House Farm_June 21 2014

To market, to market. Here’s what you can expect to find at local farmers markets this week:  Just Arrived! Celery, cherry tomatoes, cucumbers (slicing and pickling), green beans, red potatoes, and zucchini.

You’ll also find basil, beets, broccoli, carrots (maybe), chives, cilantro, dill, escarole, fennel, French breakfast radishes, garlic scapes, green garlic, hakurei turnips, Tuscan and curly kale, kohlrabi, lettuce, lettuce mix, mint, mushrooms, parsley, radicchio, radishes, rosemary, spinach, spring onions, strawberries (spray-free), sugar snap peas, summer squash, Swiss chard and flower bouquets. 

Most markets will also have:  eggs from free-range chickens, grass-fed and pastured meats, preserves, specialty foods, baked goods like breads, cakes, cookies and pastries, cheese and yogurt, locally roasted coffee, and interesting crafts from local artisans. For a list of all farmers’ markets in Bucks and nearby, go to our food guide here.

For more details on any of these events, please go to our full calendar, Food Events in Bucks County. Follow Bucks County Taste also on Facebook, Twitter, Google+, and Pinterest.

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by guest blogger, Rich Baringer,

As you walk into the Karlton Café, you’ll notice some classic theater posters from a Quakertown movie house back in the day. The café takes its name from the Karlton Theater, which was in the same building where the café currently resides.

Things have changed a bit since my dad worked at the theater as a teenager. The menu here is a far cry from popcorn and Jujubes. You’ll find a lot to satisfy your hunger these days.

pizza sculptures_Tobin_Karlton Cafe

The Karlton Café has a casual, relaxed vibe. Other than the posters, when you enter the cafe, you’ll notice the open kitchen across from a wall full of pizza sculptures by Quakertown artist, Steve Tobin.  I enjoyed lunch at the row of tables looking across at the busy kitchen. But you can also eat al fresco at sidewalk tables if the weather’s nice or in the back dining room for a quieter meal.

Chef/owner AJ Buehrer owns the café with his wife, Amanda.  His mom, who is “retired,” makes all of the “Mom-Made Desserts” offered each day.

AJ grew up in the Quakertown area and was raised in the food life. Both parents worked in the restaurant business and eventually started an organic farm that supplied high-end restaurants all over the East Coast with produce and meats. AJ’s father was one of the first in the country to popularize microgreens and other now-trendy ingredients in restaurants.  AJ not only grew to understand the importance of quality produce, but also learned to enjoy butchering. He butchers much of what he serves in the café

Karlton Cafe front

Chef AJ travels to South Philadelphia to buy top-quality proteins and produce to serve at the Karlton. He’s also eager to work with local farms. It depends on his needs at the time. His bottom line is that he is dedicated to serving quality ingredients prepared from scratch. The menu makes that clear.

The Karlton serves breakfast and lunch every day, dinner on Thursday, Friday and Saturday nights and a Sunday brunch. AJ has recently changed and expanded his menu—and it’s one of those menus that will take you some time to decide on what to order.

Breakfast offerings include omelets, egg dishes and creamed chipped beef.  Most popular for breakfast are the Benedicts. You can choose from pork chop, beef filet, wild mushroom or roasted pepper Benedicts, all with house-made Hollandaise sauce.

BBQ shrimp Po' Boy at the Karlton Cafe

The lunch menu includes salads and an array of sandwiches. For lunch, though, AJ’s soups are the big hit. He makes 6 homemade soups each day and you can enjoy them by themselves or with a sandwich or salad. For those who are indecisive (like me), he offers a Soup Trio—a tasting of 3 different soups.  I love that. You can also get soup to go. I didn’t get the soup, but did have a very tasty BBQ shrimp Po’Boy with a fresh-made blueberry lemonade.

For dinner, you can choose from a number of beef, chicken, seafood, pork or vegetarian dishes. Specials are offered throughout the day as well.  To keep things on the menu changing, AJ offers special themes each month—July is “Crab Fest”—where the menu features dishes using that month’s theme ingredient.

If you’re having an event or party, AJ can do that too.  His Live Fire Grille brings all the café’s top-notch ingredients to your place and will cook it all there for you. You can choose from themes like a Fajita Party, Surf & Turf, or Shish Kabob, orr come up with your own idea.

Kitchen at the Karlton Cafe

To me, the Karlton Café is the kind of place we need more of. Quality ingredients prepared in a way that emphasizes their flavor. A creative and unique menu. A fun, relaxed place to spend some time enjoying good food. And a chef who understands and has a passion for great food.  The Karlton Café is definitely worth a visit!

The Karlton Café
310 Broad St.
Quakertown, PA  18951
PH: 215.538.8353
WEB: www.karltoncafe.com
Facebook:  Karlton Café 
Live Fire Grille’s Web: livefiregrille.com

Rich Baringer is the chef/owner of Dinner’s Done Personal Chef Service. He lives in Blooming Glen with his wife, Mary Beth and son, Jake. Check out his blog, Dinner’s Done!

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sold out day; photo courtesy of Empanada MamaThe words “sold out” have become a big part of Kendall Bajek’s vocabulary these days. But don’t worry. That will change.

Bajek is Empanada Mama. And Empanada Mama is the newest, hottest eatery in Doylestown. I’d say it’s the best kept secret in Doylestown, but it’s not a secret anymore. Which is pretty amazing since Bajek opened her empanada bakery only 7 weeks ago (early May 2014) and is looking to move into a new, bigger location by mid-July.

Right now you can find Empanada Mama in the 200 sq foot space attached to Andre’s Wine & Cheese Shop in the Main Street Marketplace. There, Mondays through Fridays, 11 am to 4 pm, you’ll find the 25 year old Bajek working full speed, baking and handing out empanadas as fast as she can make them.

empanadas with sauces; photo courtesy of Empanada MamaEmpanadas are stuffed, hand-held pastries, often fried but also baked, and traditionally filled with meats. Although the pastry originally hails from Spain, every South and Central American country seems to have their own version. Argentina is probably the most famous for their take on the tasty pastry, and that’s where Bajek learned how to make them. She spent six months living in Argentina, teaching English to airline pilots, and spending time in the kitchens of friends, learning how to make empanadas.

Bajek’s empanadas are baked, making them lighter than the fried version. The crust is flaky, and is almost like filo dough, so it’s easy to eat more than one. In fact, if you are bringing them home, get more than you think you’ll need. You may eat one in the car.

So what’s all the excitement about these particular empanadas? They are hot, freshly made and creatively filled. Although there are some standards on the menu, new options are available every day depending on what Bajek sees in the produce store and what is seasonal.

argentina-inside-beef-empanada; photo courtesy of Empanada MamaFor you meat eaters, there’s the B.A. Beef empanada with seasoned ground beef, peppers, onions, cumin and olives. Or a BBQ Pork with smoked pork, Gouda cheese, mozzarella and house made BBQ sauce (the smoked pork is made by Chef Ron Spada of {more than}>Q in the Stockton Market). You could also try the Buffalo Chicken empanada with shredded chicken, “MAMAmade” buffalo sauce, and gorgonzola and mozzarella cheeses.

For vegetarians, Bajek makes at least two veggie options every day. “Vegetarians tell me they are so excited to be able to eat an empanada since traditionally they are filled with meat,” explains Bajek. “The vegetarian ones actually sell out faster than the meat ones.”

Caprese Stuffing Exposed; photo courtesy of Empanada MamaI just checked today’s menu on Empanada Mama’s website (updated every day) and the vegetarian offerings are: Roasted Veggie, with oven-roasted zucchini, mushrooms, tomatoes, spinach, capers and mozzarella; Mediterranean Eggplant, with roasted eggplant, red peppers, feta and herbs; Sweet Balsamic Onion, with balsamic caramelized onions, fontina and mozzarella, or the Caprese, with cherry tomatoes, house-made basil pesto and mozzarella.

And then there’s dessert. Today’s offering is a Berry Mascarpone Empanada, with strawberries, blueberries, mascarpone-ricotta cream and lemon zest.

Bajek wasn’t always an Empanada Mama. When the CB East graduate went off to the University of Miami, she didn’t even know how to cook.

“My mom is a great cook, so I never really had to cook at home,” Bajek says. “But I started cooking in college because I like to eat good food. I’d Skype my mom from the kitchen, holding up a chicken, and saying, ‘Does this look right?’” Bajek also spent time at a Nordstrom Café doing prep and working the line.

After college, Bajek set off backpacking to Europe and Morocco. When a job fell through here, she just kept going, off to South America. It was when she was living in Buenos Aires that she fell in love with empanadas.

Kendall in Argentina kitchen; photo courtesy of Empanada Mama“I loved eating them and they are all over, in your face, everywhere.” She asked friends if she could come to their kitchens to learn how to make them. In fact, Bajek has spent time in home kitchens throughout her travels, picking up different techniques and flavors.

At first, she just made the empanadas for friends and family. “My mom – who comes from 3 generations of bakers – doesn’t know how to make them, so I enjoyed teaching her something for a change.”

When Bajek found herself with a week off from a stressful job, and wanted something to do, she made empanadas and walked from business to business in downtown Doylestown selling them. Her thought was to do something fun for the summer before hitting the job search again.

Dtown Tech bought from me every day, and were so supportive. They are the ones who urged me to open up my own place,” she says. For two weeks, she sold her empanadas to the locals and asked for feedback about flavors and pricing.

She heard Andre’s Wine and Cheese Shop had an available space with a convection oven. Done deal. The initial plan was to do take-out but now you’ll find 10 seats available in the little eatery. You can also buy a glass of wine or Sangria from Andre’s next door to enjoy with your empanadas.

“My biggest fear when I started was that people wouldn’t know what an empanada is,” Bajek says. So she purposely didn’t do the typical Argentinian fillings which tend to be heavy on the meat and spices. “I wanted to first do fillings with ingredients that are more familiar to people here,” she explains, hence one of her first big hits, the artichoke and spinach empanada.

She also wasn’t sure what the demand would be. Her first day open, she made thirty empanadas and sold out in an hour. “I closed for four days after first opening to figure out how to do this right,” she explains. Now, on a slow day, Empanada Mama sells 200 empanadas. On a busy day, 600 or more.

Empanada pre-bake; photo courtesy of Empanada MamaHow does Bajek handle this? Well, she doesn’t get a lot of sleep. She’s up at 6 am and at the store by 6:15 (she lives nearby). First she makes the fillings for the day’s empanadas. At 8 am she starts rolling out the dough and makes the empanadas until 10:30 am, when she finishes par-baking them (when you order, she bakes them for another 8 minutes). Then Sophia Crescitelli, who handles the register and keeps things running smooth, posts the menu on their website and on the blackboard. The doors open at 11 am.

Empanada Mama closes at 4 pm, but Bajek is rarely out by then. At the end of the day, it’s off to the market to buy ingredients for the next day.

“I have to buy ingredients in small quantities because I don’t have a lot of fridge space here. That’s why everything is so fresh, and I can change the menu so often.” Bajek comes back to the store after 9 pm and starts prepping the fillings for the next day, often working until 11 pm or later.

empanadas ready to eat; photo courtesy of Empanada MamaEmpanada Mama’s empanadas are tasty. The pastry crust is flaky and light, with just enough thickness to hold the filling and yet still provide a satisfying chew. But what I – and many others obviously – find most fun is the diversity of fillings. I asked Bejak where she gets her ideas from.

“I love eating out,” she explains. “I just ate Indian food and that gave me a whole bunch of new ideas.” She’ll also convert other recipes. “The Chicken Roja is based on a pasta dish that I make. I adapted it for the empanada filling.” Bajek enjoys cooking seasonally and plans on hooking up with local farmers, like Barefoot Gardens and Hershberger Heritage Farm.

Here's how it worksYou can buy the empanadas in orders of three. Bajek was a little concerned whether folks would go for this, but once customers realized how light the empanadas are, it wasn’t a problem. A “lunch box” includes three good-sized empanadas and the sauce of your choice ($9.25). A half dozen comes with two sauces ($18), and a full dozen includes four sauces ($35). For the sauces, choose from Chipotle Aioli, Pesto Aioli, Kalamata Olive Aioli, Horseradish Cream Sauce or Spicy Sriracha Lime Sauce.

All the empanadas are baked to order, so call in your order or be prepared to hang out for 15-20 minutes. Check Empanada Mama’s website for the current day’s menu and see some mouth-watering pictures on their Facebook page.

Bajek is about to sign a lease on a bigger space in Doylestown that will allow her to be open longer hours and on weekends, although when she’ll find time to breath, I’m not sure.

“Even though I’m not getting much sleep,” Bajek says, “I have never felt more satisfaction. I love introducing people to new things.”

Empanada Mama
Located in Andre’s Wine & Cheese Shop
Main Street Marketplace
22 South Main Street
Doylestown, PA 18901
PH: 267.809.5269
WEB: www.yoemama.com
Facebook: Empanada Mama

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Right here in Bucks County, 1 in 10 residents and 15% of all children (64,000 people, in total) are considered “food insecure,” meaning that they don’t have reliable access to a sufficient quality of affordable, nutritious food.

Among our friends and neighbors, there are children going to bed hungry, families torn between getting food on the table and keeping a roof over their heads, and older adults skipping meals so that they can afford medication.

You can help change that by volunteering or donating to Bucks Knocks Out Hunger, a one-day food packing event and a fundraiser for Bucks County’s food pantries.

Over 100,000 nutritious, shelf-stable meals are packed by volunteers at just 25 cents each. Donations will also help provide tens of thousands of pounds of locally grown produce, lean proteins, and other items that can be hard for pantries to obtain.

Bucks Knock Out Hunger

This is the impact of our collective donations:

  • $25,000 allows Bucks County volunteers to pack and distribute 100,000 meals. Meal supplies are purchased through Outreach, Inc. for just 25 cents per meal.
  • $37,000 provides meals AND allows United Way of Bucks County to work with Delaware Valley College’s Hope of the Harvest Charitable Garden and greenhouses to provide more than 30,000 lbs of produce.
  • $45,000 provides all of the above and helps Rolling Harvest Food Rescue work with small, sustainable farms in Bucks County to provide additional produce.
  • $55,000 provides all of the above PLUS lean proteins and other perishable items that do not typically come in through food drives.  This money helps pantries fill the gaps when they are critically low. Funds are distributed through the network of pantries by Bucks County Opportunity Council.

This is a wonderful opportunity to contribute positively to your community by helping to ensure that everyone has access to healthy and affordable meals.

You can make a donation to Bucks Knocks Out Hunger by clicking here, or sign up to volunteer at the packing event on June 20th by clicking here. If you’d like to find other ways to help, contact Tim Philpot at timp@uwbucks.org or call 215-949-1660, ext. 104.

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