Recipes don’t lie. And in the case of Gross’ Gourmet, they tell quite a story. Fifty-three years of serving up delicious, home-cooked foods like fried chicken, meatloaf, mac ‘n cheese and German potato salad. It is comfort food at its best, and it’s a Bucks County tradition that Leslie and Andy Bilotta are proud to continue.

If you’ve lived in Bucks for a while you may remember Gross’ small storefront just off Swamp Road, by the car dealerships in Doylestown. Selling mostly fried chicken and sides, the modest store was a great place to pick up a last minute dinner. The chicken was always good—crunchy and flavorful. The business was originally begun by the Gross family in Perkasie, who still sell chicken wholesale to local restaurants. But when the Bilottas bought Gross’ in 2005, they got the recipe book too, filled with original recipes for all of Gross’ favorite dishes.

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“I started taking the recipe book home,” explains Leslie, “I’d test and cook, and then bring it to the store for tasting.” In this way, Andy and Leslie have brought back to life so many of the original Gross’ specialties, and more than just chicken. You’ll find pulled pork, barbecued ribs, soups, quiches, stuffed peppers, warm sides and cold salads. Everything is made from scratch and everything is made on the premises.

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clover_blue moon acresHow thrilling to see grass again – even if it isn’t quite green yet. But if you want to celebrate “the green,” this is a good weekend to do it.

St. Patrick’s Day celebrations are happening all over Bucks County. The Green Parrot in Newtown will be holding their 4th Annual Newtown Irish Festival beginning on this Friday and continuing all the way through Monday (who said St. Patty’s Day is only one day?). The Pineville Tavern will have special Irish menu items and live music over the weekend, as will Triumph Brewing Company on Saturday at their 2014 Irish Fest.

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fish_fryDare I say it? Perhaps, maybe, fingers crossed, we might be seeing the light at the end of the tunnel? Temps are warming up this week. Yahoo. And there is so much going on in food this week. Here are some of the highlights.

Fish Fry Dinners. With the beginning of lent comes a host of fish fry dinners at area firehouses. In Riegelsville, Community Fire House #1 will start their weekly fish fry dinners this Friday, March 7, ending on Friday, April 18. The same schedule goes for the Columbia Fire House in Lambertville who will be cooking up fish for the 32nd year. Unfortunately, it will also be their last year doing this (see their website). The Plumsteadville Grange will offer three fish fry dinners this year – March 7, March 21 and April 11.

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We had no power. No light. No heat. No running water. It was Day 2 of the Ice Storm of 2014. Most of our efforts had been focused on getting warm, finding a place to shower and getting an internet connection so that we could work.

Barley Sheaf dining roomImagine our delight, then, to find ourselves sitting in a warm, cozy inn, sipping bourbon and dining on savory, seasonal food. No, we hadn’t abandoned the dogs and fled to a B&B. We were sitting in the dining room at the Inn at Barley Sheaf Farm, quite pleased with ourselves. We were enjoying Bucks County’s newest “best kept secret.”

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Piece of gratin; photo by Kelly Madey

by guest blogger Kelly Madey,

There are a few words that I would like to eliminate from the English language:

Polar vortex
Widespread power outage
Potholes

No doubt it has been a trying winter for all of us, even my youngest son, who loves nothing better than a good snow day, is disgusted at the prospect of another storm next week. What used to be a fun day of sledding, snowball fights, hot cocoa and homemade chocolate chip cookies has turned into the prospect of a very short-lived summer vacation; and, for the record, I stopped baking cookies after snowstorm number eight, after realizing that stretch jeans can only stretch so far.

On a more pleasant note, we thoroughly enjoyed the nice temperatures last weekend. Who knew that 50°could feel downright balmy? We took a long stroll through Doylestown and enjoyed the fresh air and sunshine, and I finally had the chance to visit the Doylestown Food Co-op.

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March is in sight! And hopefully Spring also. This week’s calendar is full of fun stuff.

Lahaska Restaurant Week 2014_ButtonwoodThe 1st Lahaska Restaurant Week starts this Sunday, March 2 and continues every night through Friday, March 7. Participating restaurants—Porterhouse Restaurant & Pub, Villagio Italian Restaurant, Caleb’s American Kitchen, Earl’s Bucks County and Buttonwood Grill—will offer a minimum three-course, prix fixe dinner for $29.99, tax and gratuity not included. Each participating eatery will offer a specially created menu each day to include appetizers, entrees and desserts. You can also choose to enjoy wine and beer tastings courtesy of Lahaska Restaurant Week partners: Chaddsford Winery, DeLoach Vineyards, Milestone Winery, Waterbrook Wines, Bogle Vineyards and Greatest Beers of the World. For more details, see their website.

Fat Tuesday pancakes_Credit-André BaranowskiWho knew the beginning of Lent could be so much fun? This Tuesday, March 4 is Mardi Gras, also known as “Fat Tuesday” and, around these parts, “Faschnacht.” Both the Washington House in Sellersville and Slate Bleu in Doylestown are hosting special Mardi Gras dinners.

In Ivyland, St. John’s United Methodist Church is hosting their annual Fat Tuesday Pancake & Sausage Supper and Old York Cellars is celebrating all this weekend with the infamous king cake and tasting of their sparkling wine (plus, if you are the lucky one to find the prize in the cake you will receive a special gift).

Stop by the Standard Club in Doylestown this Saturday for a free live-streaming viewing party of TedX Manhattan—Changing the Way We Eat co-sponsored by the Doylestown Food Co-op and the Bucks County Foodshed Alliance. The viewing is a full day of talks split into three sessions exploring the state of our food system and our progress towards sustainability. The event begins at 10 am and finishes at 5:15 pm. Stop in at any point for some or all of this fascinating experience. Chipotle has donated catering to the event. You can also purchase from the Standard Club’s menu and enjoy the delicious local creations of Chef Justin. For more information, see the Co-op’s website.

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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To say this has been a difficult winter for all of us is an understatement. But it has been a real slam to many area businesses and restaurants. So if you’ve got cabin fever, go out and patronize your local eateries. Give ‘em some love now so that they’ll be around in the spring.

Spaghetti and Tomato SauceI’ve pulled together specials offered by restaurants in PA and NJ. If I’ve missed any of your favorites, just drop me an email here. Enjoy the weekend and balmy weather!

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Who’s going to let a little winter get in the way of having fun? The calendar is chock full of great foodie events this week. Here are some of the highlights.

oysters and charcuterie_smaller cropOysters and charcuterie, two of my favorite food groups, are coming together at the Pass in Rosemont. Every Sunday, chefs Matt Ridgway and Paul Mitchell will have a simple supper, “dim sum” style of fresh oysters and artisanal, PorcSalt charcuterie. No reservations are necessary. We plan to check it out this weekend (if we can get in!) and will let you know how wonderful it is. It’s hard work, but someone has to do it.

max hansen_smoked_salmon_napoleonCaterer Max Hansen is hosting one of his delicious in-store “chef” dinners at the Carversville General Store tomorrow night, Thursday, February 20Max’s Table—a Bucks County Feast features seasonal foods using many ingredients from some of his favorite local farms. Seating is limited to 30 so call the store directly for reservations at 215.297.5353. For menu and details, go to Max’s blog here.

Brian’s in Lambertville is creating an eight course French Country Dinner this week, perfect for the cold weather. The first seating, Monday, February 24 sold out, so he’s added another seating on Tuesday, February 25. The menu includes Leek Tart with Goat Cheese, Bouillabaisse, Cassoulet and Game Bird Torte. For a full menu, click here. To make reservations, call 609.460.4148.

Firehouse breakfasts, church suppers and more. On Saturday, St. Stephen’s UCC in Perkasie will be holding their annual Family-Style Ham Supper. The Haycock Fire Company delivers up their monthly All-You-Can-Eat Breakfast Buffet this Sunday.

Three churches are hosting free community meals this week. Christ Community Bible Church in Perkasie will hold their dinner tonight at 5:30 pm. In New Hope, St. Martin of Tours Parish will be serving lunch this Saturday at 11:30 am. “Dinner with Friends” will be at the Bux-Mont Christian Church in Ivyland this Sunday, beginning at 5:30 pm.

Veg-e systems basil. Photo (c) 2014 Lynne Goldman

Updates. Due to winter weather, the Bucks County Foodshed Alliance had to reschedule their February 5 event, a tour of Veg-e Systems, a vertical hydroponic farm in the heart of Doylestown. This is not to be missed. I’ve seen the facility and it is fascinating. Potluck begins at 6 pm and the tour starts at 7 pm promptly. For more information click here.

And, due to worries about winter weather, Hickory Kitchen is postponing the Battle to the Bone wing eating contest originally scheduled for February 27. Stay tuned for a new date.

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 and Pinterest.

Have a warm weekend!

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Do you love bacon? How about beer? How about bacon and beer?

Bucks Bacon & Beer logo (c) 2014 L.Goldman

Then you’ll want to come to the 1st Annual Bucks Bacon & Beer on Sunday, March 23, 2014, from 1 – 4 pm.

The event, co-sponsored by Bucks County Taste and Triumph Brewing Company, will feature bacon and other delectable foods from local butchers and purveyors in Bucks County and nearby. Triumph Brewing Company will be making a special, Rauchbier “smoked” beer for the occasion. Take your chance on a raffle with delicious prizes (hint: do you want even more bacon?) and enjoy live music by John Danaher and The Quiet Men.

Bacon...what else?It’s all about the bacon! Be it smoked, cured, artisanal, or non-nitrate, come and taste the best. And don’t worry. You won’t find any chocolate covered bacon or bacon cupcakes here. It’s all about the meat!

Admission to the event includes 2 pints of Triumph Beer, a commemorative glass, and all the bacon you can eat. Tickets are $30 per person and you must be 21 years or older to attend.

To purchase tickets, click here. Buy them soon, too, because this event is sure to sell-out.

by guest blogger J.C. Scott,

As the local “expert” and connoisseur of Bucks County chicken wings, I was intrigued to learn that someone in our area, with a little fire, some smoke, and a lot of love was quietly raising the bar for America’s quintessential blue collar food.

In the heart of Doylestown, Mike Markowitz has been serving up barbeque (real barbeque) since 2010. When he opened Hickory Kitchen he decided to take a fresh look – and a smoked, slow cooked, true barbeque approach – to one of America’s favorite foods, the chicken wing. Hickory, apple, and other hardwoods are carefully selected and blended in their smoker and cared for by his pit-master, Helen Wehmeyer.

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No Snow signI think I will skip talking about the weather and just move on. Is that okay with you?

Be my valentine. It’s Valentine’s Day this Friday and all weekend. Hopefully you’ll be able to get out and about. If not, snuggle in. There are many restaurants doing special dinners and prix fixe. Here’s just a few.

Take your main squeeze to the Rising Sun Inn in Telford, or to Caleb’s American Kitchen in Lahaska for a prix fixe, Romance your Sweetheart Dinner. Fisher’s Tudor House in Bensalem is offering a special Valentine’s Day Dinner menu all weekend. They will also have a special Murder Mystery Theater and Dinner event.

Valentine's Day_Caleb's American Kitchen_sundaeIn Levittown, Scappa Brick Oven Trattoria is serving a four course meal where ladies receive a complimentary rose. After dinner, you and your Valentine will get a 30 minute basic ballroom dance lesson with a one hour open dance to show off your new moves.

Take your pick of some really nice prix fixe meals at the Black Bass Hotel in Lumberville, the Raven in New Hope and a Romantic Candlelit Valentine’s Dinner at Crossing Vineyards & Winery in Washington Crossing.

Many of these meals are available Friday, Saturday and Sunday. Check the full food events calendar.

red mushroomSpeaking of wine, Old York Cellars in Ringoes, NJ will be celebrating Valentine’s Day with a Wine and Chocolate Weekend. Also in Ringoes, Unionville Vineyards is partnering with Shibumi Farm, a local mushroom grower, with a five course meal, Share the Love: a Mushroom Tasting with Shibumi Farm (note: the 1 pm seating is sold out; tickets still available for 2:30 pm).

And for something really different, the Talking Teacup in Chalfont is offering a Wine, Tea and Food Pairing for the holiday.

As always, check before you go – this weather may put a dent in the Valentine’s Day festivities.

On the radar. Do you love wings? How many can you eat in a seating? Hickory Kitchen in Doylestown is holding Battle to the Bone: the Ultimate Wing Eating Contest on Thursday, February 27 at the James Lorah House. Only 30 contestants can enter, but you can come watch and munch too! If you’d like to be a contestant, contact Hickory Kitchen as soon as possible at 215.348.5170 or mike@hickorykitchen.com.

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 and Pinterest.

Have a warm, dry weekend!

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Shiitake Mushrooms sprouting from log; CMushroom Gourmet 2009I first encountered shiitake mushrooms at my brother’s wedding in 1983. Although he and his bride lived in the San Francisco area, the wedding was in Detroit, her home town.

At the time, Rob was the chef at the Bay’s top French restaurant, Narsai’s. Of course, he created the menu for the event and did everything but cook it himself (we told him to back-off, reminding him that he was the groom). One of the items he insisted upon was shiitake mushrooms. He had to have them flown in from California.

Now we can get shiitake mushrooms in our local supermarkets or at area farmers’ markets (check out Mainly Mushrooms). But what if I could grow them myself? How cool would that be?

Imagine my delight when I saw that Alex McCracken is holding a Shiitake Mushroom Workshop on Saturday, February 22 (see the Turnip Truck’s Facebook page for details).

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Wine and food pairing. Whiskey and food pairing. But tea and food pairing? You bet.

Talking Teacup Course 1Choosing the right tea to pair with a meal is an art. The subtle flavors and aroma of a tea need to enhance the food, but not overpower it. Kathy Heck, owner of The Talking Teacup, understands this well. For the past ten years, she has delighted customers with high teas, fresh lunches and desserts in a 250-year old restored farmhouse in Chalfont. With a selection of over 100 teas, Kathy knows how to pair good teas with good food.

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More than Q barbecueI think there’s a football game or something this weekend? Never mind, Bucks County Taste has you covered.

Bring on the wings and BBQ. Looking for something different from your typical chips and dips for Sunday night’s game? I’ve updated our previous post on where to get barbecue in Bucks and nearby. There are choices from all over the county – from Morrisville to Dublin to Stockton, NJ. Bring in some ribs from Hickory Kitchen, some brisket from More Than Q, wings from Duck Deli or some crawfish hush puppies from Winckler’s. Also, check out our guest blogger, Jack Scott’s article on the top wings in (Upper) Bucks County.

Veg-E Systems. (c) photo by L. GoldmanDid you know that there is now a hydroponic, vertical farm in Doylestown? Last November I had an opportunity to visit the Veg-E Systems Vertical Farm. The company sells fresh greens direct to the public, and does research and development on vertical hydroponics. It is fascinating. On Wednesday, February 5, join the Bucks County Foodshed Alliance for a tour of the farm, housed in a small warehouse off Cold Spring Creamery Road. All are welcome and the event is free. A potluck begins at 6 pm – bring a dish to feed 8-10 people, as well as your own utensils – and the tour follows at 7 pm. For more information, click here.

Here’s a couple of more highlights from this week’s food calendar:

  • The Rising Sun Inn in Telford is hosting a food and wine pairing dinner, An Evening with Terlato, tomorrow evening, Thursday, January 30. Call them for more information at 215.721.6350 or see their website.
  • Old York Cellars is hosting another Virtual Vines event, beginning at 7 pm also tomorrow, Thursday, January 30. This is fun! Click here for more information.

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 and Pinterest.

Have a warm, dry, fun weekend!

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Blooming Glen is one of those Bucks County villages you could easily miss as you travel west on Route 113. Cows grazing, an auto repair shop, a few offices and some modest Victorian homes.

But don’t blink. Blooming Glen has three special food spots. Pasqualina’s, an Italian deli and market, Tussock Sedge Farm, a farm raising grass-fed beef, and Blooming Glen Pork.

Of course, if you drive past Blooming Glen Pork on any Saturday from April through November, you can’t miss the big tent out front and the smells of barbecue. Cars and bikes crowd the small parking lot. Happy people sit at picnic tables munching on pulled pork, baby back ribs, Texas-style beef brisket, kielbasa, bratwurst and even pig wings amid the smoke drifting from the barbecue pits. You’ve arrived at Big Bob’s BBQ Pit.

If you can get past the folks feasting on barbecue, you’ll find Blooming Glen Pork’s retail market. Step inside and explore the cases filled with house made sausage, fresh pork – loins, cutlets, pork chops, fresh hams, kielbasa, scrapple, bacon (smoked, nitrate-free, British, Canadian, and fresh) and even a pork tenderloin, stuffed with sausage (sweet or hot) and wrapped in bacon. They have three on-site smoke houses and a large kitchen. In addition to the retail market (open Wednesdays through Saturdays), Blooming Glen Pork has a bustling catering and pig roast business.

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What you may not see is just how much history and family pride stands behind Blooming Glen Pork.

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