Hope you’re all recovered from the four beer festivals last weekend, because you need to tap into your energy reserves to keep up with this weekend’s many harvest festivals, plus a handful of quirky wine and beer tastings.

Gone are the days of the basic wine or beer tasting. The breweries, vineyards and distilleries of Bucks County are getting creative. Some of them don’t even require that you leave your couch to join in on the fun.

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Chefs Matt Ridgway & Jean-Marie LacroixOn the restaurant scene. Chef Matt Ridgway of The Pass in Rosemont welcomes his mentor Philadelphia culinary legend, Jean-Marie Lacroix, to cook with him this Sunday, September 28 for brunch. Ridgway left The Fountain with Lacroix to serve as chef de cuisine at Lacroix at The Rittenhouse when it opened in 2002. Together they will recreate the original Brunch at Lacroix they conceived for Chef Lacroix’s namesake restaurant. The first seating is at 10 am for $40. The  second seating, at 1 pm, includes oysters on the half-shell, for $55. Call 609.961.1887 for reservations or click here.

Stockton Inn frontIf you’ve been wondering what has been going on at the Stockton Inn these past two months, here are some answers. The Inn closed for renovations in late July and plans to reopen in mid- to late-October with changes to both the menus and the Inn’s hours. When it reopens, the Inn will serve dinner Thursday, Friday, Saturday and Monday starting at 5:30 pm and at 4 pm on Sunday. The menu will include an À la Carte Menu as well as a Chef’s Menu, which will be a fixed-price multi-course dinner option. At this time they don’t plan to do lunch, Sunday brunch or tavern fare. Owner Mitch Millett says that he will hold back on adding Sunday brunch, “until at least next spring.”

Some of the physical changes include a new, improved approach to the main entrance and new dining furniture and table top ware. The Glass Room has also been transformed into a club room/lounge where diners can enjoy a before or after dinner drink of premium whiskeys and cognacs, such as Hennessey Paradis Imperial and Remy Martin’s Louis XIII. The Mural dining rooms and foyer have also been spruced up for the first time in years. Millett will be unveiling further changes once the Inn reopens, saying “I think it’s best to keep that a surprise other than to say the changes are significant!” [Want to read more? See our post from earlier this summer on the Stockton Inn here.]

Mojito Cuba CaribeThere’s a new restaurant at a familiar place in New Hope. Mojito Cuba Caribe opened last month at 90 S. Main Street (formerly Sandbar, 90 Main, and other incarnations). They are offering a menu full of Cuban dishes, influenced by Spanish, African, and Caribbean cuisine. We haven’t been yet, but the Yelp reviews are very promising. The menu looks great.

Opening later this fall will be another new face in a familiar place. Where the former Wildflowers restaurant resided on Mechanic Street in New Hope (across from Karla’s), Nektar will open. Don’t know much yet but the New Hope Free Press got a peek at the new wine bar menu.

In the “here’s your last chance” category, sign up for a cooking class this fall at The Cooking Cottage in Sellersville because they will be closing at the end of the year. Peggi Claus and her family have taught hundreds, maybe thousands, of home cooks over the past twenty years in this quaint cottage tucked away on a back road in Upper Bucks. It is an experience not to be missed. First you watch the meal being made in the cozy kitchen, then you get to eat the meal in the even cozier dining/living room of this old cottage. It is delightful. The classes range over all cuisines and meals: A Modern Asian-Inspired Dinner Party, Italian Comfort Food, Steakhouse Style, Soup’s On, A Festive Cocktail Party, Christmas Cookies (very popular) and more. For a full list of courses, click here.

Tom & Tricia_organic certification_blooming glen farmCongrats are due to Blooming Glen Farm which is now officially USDA certified organic. Although Tom Murtha and Tricia Borneman have been following organic standards for years, this is a major accomplishment. The paperwork and time alone keeps many small family farmers from going for certification. You can find Blooming Glen Farm’s delicious produce at the Wrightstown Farmers Market on Saturdays, at the Easton Farmers Market and at the Headhouse Farmers Market in Philadelphia. Consider joining their CSA (community-supported agriculture) program too.

“You know it’s fall when…” Pumpkin ice cream is back at Uncle Dave’s Homemade Ice Cream at Shady Brook Farm in Yardley. Yum.Uncle Dave's pumpkin ice cream

Know of any tidbits I’ve missed, or questions you have about food in Bucks and nearby? Feel free to email us at info@buckscountytaste.com.

 

In this series, local chefs give us their favorite recipes, full of fresh, seasonal ingredients, just in time for the weekend.

By Chef Caleb Lentchner, Caleb’s American Kitchen,

When I opened Caleb’s American Kitchen almost a year ago, I wanted to source our menu as much as possible from “homegrown” producers—be they local or elsewhere in the US. I take pride that every ingredient used to produce our New American cuisine is authentically American and local when in season. At dinnertime our bread is served with a California extra virgin olive oil, and our charcuterie cheese appetizer features a variety of local cheeses and regionally cured meats.

During the spring season, we launched our monthly “Friend of a Farmer” dinner, an evening celebrating the many wonderful local farms in Bucks and Hunterdon Counties. It’s a 4-course prix fixe meal themed to specific produce, what is in season and harvested at that given moment. In May our menu focused on strawberries, spring peas and arugula. Peaches, corn and tomatoes were the highlights of July and this month, on September 28 and 29, we are rolling with tomatoes and gooseberries. In addition to all of this exceptional local produce, the fish and meats we use for these dinners are all supplied regionally from as far as Lancaster and Cape May, NJ. Here’s the recipe for a starter course we offered at our August dinner.

calamari_mussels_Caleb's American Kitchen

CHILLED MUSSELS & CALAMARI with ANCHOVY VINAIGRETTE

 

INGREDIENTS

2 lbs. calamari (preferably fresh)
30 mussels
1 bunch green onion (chopped small)
½ cup seaweed salad
½ cup anchovy vinaigrette

Anchovy Vinaigrette

1 egg yolk
¼ cup lemon juice (fresh)
¼ cup champagne wine vinegar
1 garlic clove
1 shallot
5 anchovies
1 ½ cups olive oil
½ teaspoon Kosher salt

HOW TO

  1. For the vinaigrette: In a blender add egg, lemon, vinegar, garlic, shallots, and anchovies. Add oil slowly to emulsify (you may need to add a little water if it gets too thick). Add salt.
  2. Cut calamari in rings. Sauté it and then chill. Steam mussels in white wine, chill and then remove them from the shells. Toss calamari, mussels, green onions, seaweed salad and vinaigrette and let marinate for 1 hour prior to serving.

Caleb Lentchner_photo credit Bucks Life

ABOUT Chef Caleb Lentchner and Caleb’s American Kitchen

Caleb’s American Kitchen is a BYO bistro nestled in the heart of Lahaska adjacent to Peddler’s Village. Caleb’s opened in Fall 2013 offering breakfast, lunch and dinner seven days a week in a modern ambient setting that feels bright, fresh and welcoming. Chef Caleb Lentchner, formerly the GM and executive chef of New Hope’s Marsha Brown restaurant, delivers inventive New American cuisine with many options for gluten-free and vegetarian diners.

 

BeersI’m going to level with you. This week’s calendar post took me way longer than normal. Why, you ask? Because this weekend is so jam-packed with things to do, eat and drink that I simply could not choose what to write about. There are 27 events on Saturday alone, including four separate beer festivals. Yes, you heard me right. Four beer fests.

Somehow I doubt that even the most zealous of you want to read a small novel just to find out what’s happening this weekend, and so I narrowed it down to four beer festivals, an Italian feast fit for a Saint, two prix-fixe dinners, and a very special fundraiser.

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by guest blogger, Chef Rich Baringer,

J. Ryman Maxwell believes in the power of “local.” As owner of Perkasie’s popular Down to Earth Café, Ryman has joined in the growing locavore movement by building his café menu around all the great meats, vegetables and other ingredients available in Bucks County.

When Perkasie’s Sun & Moon Bakery and Café closed, Ryman came to the conclusion that a community should not be without a bakery. And so he decided to open one in the same space.

Bread Box Bakery_1The kitchen was renovated—including the installation of a huge bread oven—as well as the main part of the shop. A relaxing outdoor sitting area was added. Then the Bread Box & Bakery was ready to open. If my visit was any indication, Ryman made a good decision.

As is usually the case with bakeries, it’s the smell that hits you as soon as you open the door. It’s really irresistible. And then you see the goodies.

Bread—sourdough rye, baguette, ciabatta, wheat, whole grain—fill baskets mounted on the wall. The counter and cases display brownies, cookies, cupcakes, éclairs, croissants, Danish and more. Everything is made by hand, and with obvious care, so it’s very hard to choose.  (That’s why I took 6 different things home with me to taste!)

muffinsRyman explained that it’s a bit harder to use all local ingredients in a bakery setting than in the café, although they do use some: rye flour from Doylestown’s Castle Valley Mill, wheat flour from the Lancaster area, and local honey and seasonal fruits. They also serve coffee from Speakeasy Coffee in Woxall. Ryman is always on the lookout for other quality local ingredients to use too.

But “local” doesn’t always refer to ingredients. Both of the bakers are local “products.” Head baker John Vink grew up in the area and, after making a name as a chef all around the country, he turned his sights on baking. He trained under the head baker at King Arthur Flour in Vermont and now puts his skills on display here baking the breads, croissants and more.

John VinkAndria Knechel, who grew up in Sellersville and has worked in other local bakeries, trained at the French Culinary Institute in New York City. She handles most of the bakery’s sweets.

But my favorite part of Ryman’s view of “local” is the role of the bakery as part of the community—helping to revitalize the neighborhood and make the area around the bakery a destination unto itself. The Bread Box & Bakery is part of a number of stores and restaurants that have been bringing locals and others to Perkasie in recent years. He sees the community as the engine that moves his bakery and the neighborhood forward. In fact, for the bakery’s grand opening he’s had t-shirts made up that say “CSB—Community Supported Bakery.”

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You can find Bread Box & Bakery items at other local establishments like Pasqualina’s Italian Market in Blooming Glen and the Washington House Restaurant in Sellersville as well as at Down to Earth Café. But it is definitely worth a visit to this gem of a bakery. They’re open now, but their Grand Opening will begin on September 16 and run the rest of the week, with giveaways and specials. So stop in and be a part of the community!

Bread Box & Bakery
619 W Market St.
Perkasie, PA 18944
PH: 215.257.5057
Fax: 215.257.5064
Email: BreadBox&Bakery@gmail.com
Web: thebreadboxandbakery.com
Facebook: The Bread Box and Bakery
Hours: Tuesday through Saturday, 7 am – 3 pm. Hours may be extended periodically.

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In this series, local chefs give us their favorite recipes, full of fresh, seasonal ingredients, just in time for the weekend.

By Chef Jamie Hollander, Jamie Hollander Gourmet,

It’s inevitable: as soon as there are a few cool nights in a row, our customers start asking, “When will the sprouts be back?” Those people are usually the first to mention that they used to hate Brussels sprouts. Oddly enough, I used to be one of those people as well, having been served boiled Brussels sprouts when I was a kid. Roasted sprouts are now one of my favorite fall foods, and I’m glad so many of our customers feel the same way. They are a staple of our Thanksgiving menu each year.

If you are still holding out on loving sprouts, try this simple recipe for roasted sprouts with shallots and walnuts. Start by choosing fresh, small sprouts that feel hard and have tightly compacted leaves. Sprouts that are about an inch wide or smaller are usually sweeter, but larger sprouts are delicious too, just a little more cabbage-like in taste. The best thing about cooking seasonally, is that by the time I’m starting to get tired of sprouts, they are gone…until the next season.

finished sprouts

BRUSSELS SPROUTS WITH SHALLOTS AND WALNUTS

(recipe from Chef Jamie Hollander)
Serves 4-6

INGREDIENTS
2 lbs fresh brussels sprouts
2 Tbsp canola oil, divided
1 tsp kosher salt
½ tsp black pepper
1/8 cup walnuts, roughly chopped
2 Tbsp shallots, minced
1 Tbsp garlic, minced
2 Tbsp fresh thyme, chopped

HOW TO

  1. Preheat oven to 375º. Cut brussels sprouts in half and remove stem.
  2. Toss sprouts in 1 Tbsp canola oil. Season with salt and pepper. Roast on a baking sheet for 25-30 minutes, until cooked through and caramelized.
  3. On a separate baking sheet, toast walnuts in oven for about 4 minutes.
  4. Saute shallots and garlic in remaining oil over medium-high heat until translucent; add chopped thyme and remove from heat.
  5. In a large bowl, toss warm Brussels sprouts together with the shallot mixture, then fold in the walnuts.
  6. Serve hot.

Jamie HollanderJamie Hollander grew up in Bucks County and is a graduate of the Culinary Institute of America. He worked his way up the kitchen ranks from line cook to owner, opening The Knight House in Doylestown in 1999. Since 2006, Jamie and his parents, Ron and Carole, have owned and operated Jamie Hollander Gourmet Foods & Catering, providing prepared foods, eat-in or take-away breakfast and lunch, and custom catering for events. Jamie Hollander’s now has their own event venue, the historic riverfront mansion Glen Foerd on the Delaware, and they just opened Market Pizza at the Stockton Market this summer, serving wood-fired pizzas that feature local, seasonal ingredients. For more information, call 215.862.9809 or visit their website.

Need to find a farmers’ market near you? Click here to see our local food guide on Farmers’ Markets.

 

Fall Harvest MoonLast night marked the annual arrival of the Harvest Moon, and with it brought noticeably cooler air. Two weeks ago, you could find me moaning about the passing of the summer, but if every fall weekend is like this coming one, we have a great autumn ahead of us.

Harvest Festivals and Farm-to-table dinners are springing up all over the place. To start, Apple Days on Saturday and Sunday at Terhune Orchards celebrate the most popular fruit of the season with fresh apple pies, apple cider and apple cider donuts (plus roast pork, BBQ chicken, fruit pie and homemade salads). As if the food alone isn’t enough, there are also wagon rides, pony rides, face painting, pumpkin painting, make your own scarecrows, pick-your-own apples and pumpkins, a corn maze and more.

Apple Pie

To learn something new, head to the Honey Weekend, 12-5 pm Saturday and Sunday at Old York Cellars. Meet Old York Cellar’s resident apiarist, Roger Gares, and sample his honey and honey mead. Talks and tours of the hives will be given at 2 and 4 pm.

On Saturday, the “As it Grows…” Farm to Table Dinner, hosted by Edible Jersey, will celebrate New Jersey’s 350th Anniversary, as well as the state’s rich agricultural history. The menu will be designed by the David Burke Group and will feature local ingredients. Live music and an auction will also be part of the evening.

Max HansenSunday night, Blue Moon Acres hosts their own Farm to Table Dinner to benefit the Trenton Area Soup Kitchen. Chef Max Hansen is creating the menu to highlight the rice grown on the farm and featuring many other seasonal and locally sourced ingredients.

Just for fun. The annual Doylestown Arts Festival is on this Saturday and Sunday. It’s free, so take a walk into town and check out the art, live music, fun and of course, food. And since where we live is so incredibly cool, there’s also a professional bike race called the Thompson Classic that starts in Doylestown in conjunction with the festival and circles through Bucks County.

 If you’re wondering what that has to do with food, the Thompson Classic Viewing Party and Pig Roast at the Lumberville General Store is your answer. Hang out outside the to watch cyclists fly past throughout the race and enjoy a pig roast while you’re at it.

On our radar…

  • The Art of Preservation: A Farm to Table Event – Historic Kirkland Farm, 2510 Old Bethlehem Road, Springtown, PA [Sat, Sept 20]
  • McCoole’s Fall Beer Festival – McCoole’s Red Lion Inn, 10 South Main Street, Quakertown, PA [Sat, Sept 20]
  • Newtown Beerfest – Stocking Works Complex, 410 South State Street, Newtown, PA [Sat, Sept 20]
  • None Such Farm to Table Dinner – None Such Farm Market, 4458 York Road, Buckingham, PA [Sun, Sept 21]
  • Wine Dinner at the Jamison Publick House – Jamison Publick House, 1860 Geryville Pike, Pennsburg, PA [Wed, Sept 24]

Follow Bucks County Taste on…

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Bucks County Taste on Facebook

 

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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Sean Tracy loves wood. Especially old wood. White oak, hickory, black birch, cherry, sycamore. For over 15 years his company, Bucks County Timber Craft, has reclaimed antique barns and given them new life in the form of custom homes, commercial buildings and, even, new barns. He has access to wood hundreds of years old, some from trees that are even extinct, like the chestnut.

Several years ago, Tracy started getting intrigued by micro-distilling. He wondered if there was a way to use this unique, old wood in a new way. After much research, including a workshop in the Catskills, he decided it was time to give it a try.

Micro-distilleries all over the place

OCopper still_photo Lynne Goldmanver the last five years, micro-distilleries have been popping up all over the country. Think of when craft beer started to get traction over two decades ago. This is now happening with hard liquor. In Pennsylvania, state laws governing the distilling of spirits changed with Act 113 in 2011. The new law allows for a limited distillery license, lowering fees for a company that produces less than 100,000 gallons of spirits per year. The distillery can also have a tasting room on the production premises. This opens the playing field to small producers.

For Pennsylvania consumers, this is wonderful news. Bucks County got its first distillery in 2010 when Dad’s Hat started making rye whisky in Bristol, PA, bringing back a very old Pennsylvania industry. Now Bucks County has its second distillery, Hewn Spirits, which opened March 2014 in Pipersville.

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In this series, local chefs give us their favorite recipes, full of fresh, seasonal ingredients, just in time for the weekend.

By Chef Rich Baringer,

I love basil pesto—every year when we approach the end of basil season, we make a load of it, spoon it into ice cube trays and freeze it. Then, in the dead of winter, we can have a taste of summer by simply thawing it and tossing with pasta.  But basil pesto is not the only pesto there is….far from it!

Pesto sauces are great because they usually can be whipped up in a food processor in just a few minutes. Using fresh and local ingredients gives the sauce that special taste that comes with this time of year.

This recipe uses two of my favorites from the farm—cherry tomatoes and arugula. It’s simple, delicious and quick. I use sweet Italian sausage (from Blooming Glen Pork), but you could use your favorite sausage or even chicken. I grilled mine, but cook it however you like. It’ll be good no matter how you do it!

Arugula pesto and sausage by Chef Rich Baringer

TOMATO, PINE NUT AND ARUGULA PESTO PASTA WITH SAUSAGE

(adapted from America’s Test Kitchen Quick Family Cookbook)
Serves 4

INGREDIENTS
1 lb sweet Italian sausage, cooked and sliced into coins
12 oz cherry tomatoes
¾ cup arugula
1 oz Parmesan cheese, grated (about ½ cup)
¼ cup pine nuts, toasted
1 small pepperoncini, stemmed, seeded and minced
1 garlic clove, minced
1¼ tsp lemon zest
1 tsp lemon juice
Salt and pepper
Pinch red pepper flakes (or more to taste)
¹⁄3 cup extra-virgin olive oil
1 pound pasta of your choice

HOW TO

  1. Cook pasta al dente according to package directions.
  2. Process tomatoes, arugula, Parmesan, pine nuts, pepperoncini, garlic, 1 tsp salt and pepper flakes in a food processor until smooth, 30-60 seconds. Scrape bowl as needed.
  3. With processor running, slowly add oil until incorporated. Transfer to a bowl and season with salt and pepper to taste.
  4. Toss with pasta and sausage. Serve.

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.

Need to find a farmers’ market near you? Click here to see our local food guide on Farmers’ Markets.

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Back to school!No matter how long it’s been since primary school, at the start of September I still feel like it’s the beginning of the school year.

Which is why it’s fitting that this week is absolutely packed with cooking classes. But unlike primary school, these classes are attended by choice and accompanied by wine, not whining. The fact that you get to eat your homework, and it’s delicious, doesn’t hurt either.

Back to School. The Cooking Cottage of Sellersville will show you the ropes of hosting a Tropical Dinner Party this Friday evening, September 5. On the menu: pineapple daiquiris, skewered Filipino-style shrimp, tropical spinach salad, grilled Jamaican jerk chicken, smoked sausage kabobs, a late summer harvest marinated vegetable salad, and of course, key lime pie.

Chocolate & wine; photo courtesy of Crossing VineyardCrossing Vineyards & Winery is offering a Wine and Chocolate Pairing Class this Sunday. The class includes instruction, a wine tasting, a tour of the winery, and an assortment of Pierre’s chocolates. Something tells me no one will “forget” to do their homework for this one. The Winery is also hosting a series of courses this fall to introduce beginners to wine: how to drink it (happily), what to drink it with (more wine?), and the likes. The six-part series starts Monday with Wine 101: Intro to Wine.

Tuesday night, Carlow Cookery will demystify Thai cooking in their Terrific Thai Cooking Demonstration. You’ll learn the techniques and ingredients that lend themselves to Thai food’s unique and well-loved flavors, and get to sample from a menu including lettuce wraps with tender beef and sweet chile dipping sauce, summer vegetable spring rolls with Thai dipping sauce, Thai crunch salad with peanut dressing and traditional shrimp Pad Thai.

Other courses this week include Jim Hamilton’s Atelier Cooking Class Program at Hamilton’s Grill Room, the Vintage Grille’s The Cook & The Cork “Back to School” installment on Tuesday night and another foray into international cooking (this stop: Barcelona) at Carlow Cookery on Wednesday night.

Lumberville General Store

For those who just want to eat… Supper clubs have been gaining popularity in Bucks County, and are a fun way to meet new people and enjoy a meal carefully crafted just for the occasion. This weekend, the Lumberville General Store Supper Club will host two nights of gourmet meals (Friday and Saturday) and on Saturday night, the Kitchen Garden Supper Club will treat guests to a dinner inspired by the culinary traditions of Tuscany.

DFC farm to table tapas_cropDon’t forget! This Saturday is the Doylestown Food Co-op‘s Farm to Table Tapas Dinner at the beautiful Honey Hollow (home of the Bucks County Audubon Society) in Solebury. Chef Michael Kanter, of Puck in Doylestown, will be preparing a variety of small plates for the occasion. The event is BYOB, but libations will be available for sample or purchase on-site, too. It’s not too late to buy tickets, so hurry up and get them while you have the chance! Here’s their website.

To market, to market. Here’s what you can expect to find at local farmers markets this week.

First apples from Solebury Orchards_photo credit Lynne Goldman

Just arrived! APPLES
Basil, beets
, black-eye peas, cabbage, cantaloupe, chives, cilantro, non-GMO sweet CORN, cucumbers (slicing & picking), dill, eggplant, garlic (fresh and cured), green beans and yellow wax beans, Tuscan and curly kale, lettuce, lettuce microgreens, lettuce mix, mint, mushrooms, okra, torpedo onions, parsley, peaches, peppers (sweet, frying, poblano, hot), plums, radishes, fingerling potatoes, rosemary, sage, spring onions, summer squash, tomatoes (cherry, heirloom, plum, roma), wheat grass, tomatillos, watermelon, 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.

On the radar…

  • Blue Moon Acres Farm to Table Dinner – Blue Moon Acres, 11 Willow Creek Drive, Pennington, NJ [Sun, Sept 14]
  • The Art of Preservation: A Farm to Table Event – Historic Kirkland Farm, 2510 Old Bethlehem Road, Springtown, PA [Sat, Sept 20]
  • McCoole’s Fall Beer Festival – McCoole’s Red Lion Inn, 10 South Main Street, Quakertown, PA [Sat, Sept 20]
  • None Such Farm to Table Dinner – None Such Farm Market, 4458 York Road, Buckingham, PA [Sun, Sept 21]
  • Wine Dinner at the Jamison Publick House – Jamison Publick House, 1860 Geryville Pike, Pennsburg, PA [Wed, Sept 24]

Follow Bucks County Taste on…

BCTaste on Twitter

Bucks County Taste Google+

Bucks County Taste on Pinterest

Bucks County Taste on Facebook

 

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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This is the story of two people who met on Craig’s List.

No, it’s not what you’re thinking. Although it does involve alcohol.

Andrew Knechel & Sean Tracy; photo credit Lynne Goldman

Andrew Knechel & Sean Tracy

One Christmas a few years ago, Sean Tracy, owner of Bucks County Timbercraft, a barn restorer and builder, was given a small, home copper still by his employees. After making some pretty good home spirits, reading up, and attending some workshops, he wanted to go bigger. He found a space in a light industrial park just north of Plumsteadville to set up his new distillery but needed another business willing to share the rent.

Enter Andrew Knechel, a brewer looking for a place to start his brewery. Knechel was advertising on Craig’s List and Tracy saw the listing. A match made in heaven! Thus was the first brewery and distillery under the same roof—in Pennsylvania and perhaps even the country—born.

It didn’t happen that quickly, however. The Pennsylvania Liquor Control Board kept turning down their applications to operate. After almost a year, they turned to State Representative Marguerite Quinn for some help. Within a month, the application was approved. What was the hold-up? The state didn’t know what to do with a distillery and brewery in the same building, at the same address (which they never deigned to explain). So Tracy and Knechel took two different addresses—31A and 31B Appletree Lane—and built an 8 foot wall to separate the two businesses. Finally in January 2014, Bucks County Brewery opened its doors and started selling its brews. Hewn Spirits, Tracy’s distillery, offered its first spirits in March in its tasting room.

But these are two different stories, with two very different kinds of beverages. We’ll start with Bucks County Brewery first, and explore Hewn Spirits next week.

BC Brewery sign

It’s a pleasant summer evening—the kind we’ve been lucky to have most of the summer—and people are hanging out, drinking beer and mixed cocktails, munching away at picnic tables and listening to good music. It’s Food Truck Friday at the Bucks County Brewery and Hewn Spirits, an event that has gathered steam through the summer as word has spread beyond just the locals. Every Friday, a different food truck comes to serve their fare: Bonjour Creperie, MOO, Sum Pig, and Guerrilla Ultima have all parked there, along with local musicians, John Richards, John Creidler and others.

BC Brewery taps & growler; photo credit Lynne Goldman

On tap in the modest tasting room of Bucks County Brewery, you’ll find six or more ales, all available for sampling. Behind the taps, you’ll find Knechel, or very likely, his wife, Bev. Bev’s the one responsible for all this. She introduced Knechel to craft beer seven years ago and said, simply, “You could do that.” She was right. Perhaps she couldn’t have foreseen just how well he could do it.

“A lot of people commented on just how good the beer was, especially for a new beer,” says Knechel, 47, a soft-spoken man, with a warm smile and kind eyes. For years, he made his own beer at home, even grew his own barley and hops. Then, in 2010, he decided to spend two months interning at the Harvest Moon Brewery in New Brunswick, learning everything from milling to packaging. After developing his own recipes for six years, and brewing them hundreds of times, he decided to scale up and start his own commercial brewery.

The Lambertville native spends his days as the Director of IT for a local New Jersey school district. But his evenings and weekends belong to beer. As he explains the ingredients and processes he uses to make his beers, it’s clear he enjoys the creativity and the possibilities. He likes the science of brewing too. “That, and the process, controls the quality,” he says.

You won’t find lagers at the Bucks County Brewery. Knechel wants to return to the traditions before Prohibition, when beer was local and unique. “Beer used to be flavorful,” he points out, “But after Prohibition, commercial breweries were just putting out lagers and lighter beers.”

This bias doesn’t seem to be hurting business. The beers served on tap go from light to dark, starting with a Hefeweizen, a mild German wheat beer that goes down easy on a hot day. Saison Du Lever Du Soleil, a French farmhouse ale with honey and a touch of Jalapeno pepper at the end, is another customer favorite. Farmhouse ales were traditionally made with whatever was in season, Knechel explains, and not “ultra-filtered.”

Barley Nectar Ale_BC Brewery labelBut talk about porters! Knechel has perfected the Barley Nectar Porter, the second beer he ever made and one of his favorites. He makes his own vanilla extract for the beer, using Madagascar vanilla beans soaked in whisky from Hewn Spirits. If you are lucky, they may also have the Orange Chocolate Porter, started first with orange and finished with dark chocolate nibs. As for you IPA fans, there is always a malty and hoppy one waiting for you on tap, like the East Coast Double Amber IPA, with a 9.2% ABV.

But Knechel’s personal favorites will appear this fall. The Crab-a-loupe, an English ale, starts with fermented crabapples from Solebury Orchards and cantaloupe from nearby Blooming Glen Farm. The apple lends astringency to the mix, offsetting some of the sugar in the melon.

The Smoked Butternut Squash Porter was a big hit at last year’s Yardley Beerfest, especially among other brewers. To make this, Knechel first smokes the squash over apple wood, then pecan wood. He adds it to the porter as it is boiling and ages the finished beer in whisky barrels. Because he doesn’t carbonate this beer, it can take up to two months of bottle conditioning until it is ready. Don’t miss this one; it only comes once a year.

Because it only takes 2 weeks from “grain-to-glass” to make beer, you can be very seasonal, Knechel says, and you can have a lot of fun, making new recipes and perfecting old ones. Since opening at the end of last January (during one of the worst winters on record), Knechel has made 20-25 different types of beer, and plans to be up to 30-40 by the end of the year. What that means for you, the beer drinker, is that there will always be something interesting to try when you visit.

And this is just the beginning. You will soon see Bucks County Brewery beers at local restaurants and venues. But, hey, it’s more fun to go to the brewery on a beautiful Friday evening, buy a pint and get a good, freshly made dinner at one of the food trucks. It’s a sweet way to begin the weekend.

BC Brewery_Making the world

Bucks County Brewery
Making The World A Better Place One Beer At A Time™
31 Appletree Lane
Pipersville, PA  18947
PH: 609-439-2468
WEB: www.buckscountybrewery.com
FB: BucksCountyBrewery

Tasting Room Hours:
Friday 3 PM to 10 PM
Saturday 1 PM to 10 PM

You can sample the beers, and buy a pint or growler too.

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In  this series, local chefs give us their favorite recipes, full of fresh, seasonal ingredients, just in time for the weekend.

By Chef Mark Miller, Hamilton’s Grill Room,

We always try to cook seasonally at Hamilton’s Grill Room, and now that tomatoes are here we can work with them much more often. They are a quintessential New Jersey ingredient and very refreshing prepared a number of ways throughout the summer.

Our local farms and suppliers provide us with great quality tomatoes. Although they are commonly found as a part of salads, we like to make them the star of several simple dishes to start a meal. At our Jersey Shore dinners we served large slices with garlic, and olive oil. On our current menu you can find a similar appetizer, but with blue cheese. With all these, the tomato is not another ingredient—it’s the focus.

This baked tomato slices recipe works great as both an appetizer or a family-style side dish for the whole table.

Baked tomatoes_Hamilton's Grill Room

BAKED TOMATOES with SHALLOTS 

Serves 8

INGREDIENTS
8 tomatoes, cored and sliced width-wise into ¼” slices
4 shallots, thinly sliced
Extra virgin olive oil
Dried oregano
Sea salt
Freshly ground pepper

HOW TO

  1. Preheat oven to 425°F
  2. Arrange tomato slices on a sheet pan and scatter the shallots on top.
  3. Drizzle with extra virgin olive oil and sprinkle generously with dried oregano, sea salt, freshly ground pepper.
  4. Bake for about 25 minutes or until tender.

Chef Mark Miller_Hamilton's Grill Room

ABOUT Chef Mark Miller and Hamilton’s Grill Room

Hamilton’s Grill Room Executive Chef Mark MIller takes pride in supporting and showcasing community agriculture.  Inspired by a French baker he worked for as a young boy, Miller immersed himself in the restaurant business. Mark has experienced every station of the trade from dishwasher to Chef, notably for the James Beard Foundation before coming to The Grill Room.

Labor Day weekend marks the unofficial end of the summer season. I’m not happy about this, but cancelling the holiday will, alas, not stop the coming of cooler weather. Thankfully, this week is packed with events that keep the flavors and fun of summer going for one more beautiful week.

Rutgers Tomatoes

Continue reading »

 

I’m not much of a gardener. In fact, I’m not that good with plants, especially those that need attention—or water. But I do have an herb garden. And as my sister says, most herbs are pretty hardy, and actually thrive on neglect, which I’m very good at.

herb garden_oregano_august 2014

My herb garden is doing very well this year. The oregano is taking over, smothering the new lavender plants, and the parsley, and the scented geranium. Not a very good neighbor. I have several kinds of oregano—ruffled leaf oregano, Mexican oregano and just regular old basic oregano. I’ve got two kinds of rosemary, four kinds of basil, winter savory that has gone wild and pineapple sage that is just too sure of itself. I think it’s competing with the oregano. I don’t have the heart to tell it that I can only use so much pineapple sage in cooking.

If you have a herb garden, and are facing the bounty of this summer, you know what I’m thinking. What do I do with all this?

Continue reading »

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Grilled Peach_caramel_photo credit Kelly Madey

By guest blogger, Kelly Madey,

I am still very much in vacation mode, despite the fact that vacation officially ended last week. As I sit here, staring at the aftermath of our trip—a gigantic pile of laundry and a few extra pounds on my hips—I completely lack the motivation to tackle either;

And I think to myself, wouldn’t it be grand if I could have the hotel experience at home?

Well, not our actual hotel experience, which involved me yelling at the boys not to put down their luggage, or use the bathroom until I sprayed every inch of the hotel room with my travel sized disinfectant spray;

I mean a 5-star hotel experience in my own home, where the laundry is simply stuffed in a bag, hung on the door, and— poof—I awaken to clean, pressed, and pleasantly scented clothing;

And I enjoy a delicious breakfast in bed with the dirty dishes whisked away as soon as I take my last bite;

Having actual free time, I head to the gym, only to return home to find that maid service has already been through, the whole house sparkling clean and lemony fresh.

The concierge realizes that I can’t physically be in two places at the exact same time, so he orders car service to pick up one kid from pre-season sports practice and the other from a friend’s house on the opposite side of town, but not before getting every item on the two page back-to-school supply list.

What a shame to be jolted back to the reality of two starving children, and a husband looking for clean underwear. I guess it’s time to get back into the swing of things around here before vacation really ends and I head back to work.

So I set out to restock our post vacation food supply, making my rounds to the local farmers’ markets, ending with a sweet visit to Manoff Market Gardens for fragrant and delicious peaches.

Manoff peaches_photo credit Kelly Madey

Manoff has a variety of peaches such as Raritan Rose, John Boy, Red Haven, and Donut peaches. I didn’t know which type of peach was best for grilling.

Fortunately there is always a cheerful someone to help. Yellow peaches were recommended, and just before I left, I was given a perfectly ripe peach to eat on the way home.

Before I grill the peaches, I make an unusual caramel sauce. It has butter, as any good caramel sauce should,

Butter in sauce pan_photo credit Kelly Madey

But the big flavor comes from local Rocky Ridge Maple syrup blended with a little brown sugar:

Rocky Ridge Maple_photo credit Kelly Madey

I add the sugar and maple syrup to the melted butter until the sugar is dissolved and the mixture is bubbly. This takes less than five minutes.

I place a lid on the caramel for the last two minutes because sometimes sugar can crystallize along the sides of the pan. If you have ever had gritty caramel, this is why. The condensation from the covered pan helps to wash down any sugar crystals. The result is a smooth and silky caramel sauce. A little cream and vanilla finish the sauce.

Once the peaches have nice grill marks, it’s time to put the Oh Wow! into this dessert, as in OwowCow Creamery. Their small batch, locally sourced ice cream is beyond amazing. I stopped in for vanilla ice cream and they had three different types:  Indonesian, Madagascar, and Tahitian. The Indonesian vanilla ice cream was recommended because of its smoky tones.

Indonesian Vanilla_owowcow_photo credit Kelly Madey

The final dessert was a big hit with the boys, and with just two more weeks left of summer, I savored every peachy keen bite.

Grilled Peaches with Maple Caramel Sauce and Ice Cream

INGREDIENTS
3 TBSP unsalted butter
¼ cup brown sugar
¼ cup pure maple syrup, plus 1 TBSP
pinch of salt
¼ cup heavy cream
1 tsp vanilla
2 peaches, sliced in half, pit removed
1 TBSP neutral oil
1 pint vanilla ice cream

HOW TO
For caramel sauce: 

  1. Melt butter over low heat in a medium saucepan.
  2. Add brown sugar, maple syrup, and salt. Stir until no lumps of brown sugar remain. Increase heat to medium and cook until sugar is dissolved, about 3-4 minutes.
  3. Place a lid on the saucepan and cook for 1-2 minutes longer.
  4. Whisk in heavy cream until smooth, and cook for 1 minute longer. Remove from heat and stir in vanilla. Sauce will thicken as it cools.

For peaches:

  1. Preheat the grill to medium/high or heat a grill pan over medium heat on a stove top.
  2. Brush the cut-side of the peaches with oil and place cut side down on the grill. Cook until peaches have nice grill marks and soften a little.
  3. Turn peaches over and brush with remaining tablespoon of maple syrup. Remove from heat.

Serve warm peaches with a scoop of ice cream and a drizzle of caramel sauce.

Serves 4

To print this recipe, click here.


Manoff Market Gardens in Solebury is open Monday through Saturday. They offer a variety of peaches, blackberries, jams, and fresh flowers, and an amazing variety of apples in the fall.

OwowCow Creamery has three locations in Ottsville, Wrightstown, and Lambertville. They make a variety of small batch ice cream with deliciously unusual flavors.  Their ice cream cakes are what dreams are made of.

Rocky Ridge Maple syrup is available at several local farmers’ markets and through their website. They also offer maple sugar and maple candy.


Kelly Madey writes the delicious and beautiful blog, A Bucks County Kitchen. All of the photos in this article were taken by her.

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