By guest blogger Debra Wallace,
Roaming the aisles of the Newtown Pennsylvania Dutch Farmer’s Market is my definition of wall-to-wall comfort food.
Like many people, I used to just dart in one entrance, head for my favorite vendors and dart out. So I started exploring the market looking for, and easily discovering, so many hidden treasures.
For sure there are good meats, baked goods, fresh seafood, as well as buttered soft pretzels (who can pass that up?).
But I’ve discovered so much more: handmade aprons and oven mitts, soothing cough drops, lip balms and bulk cooking items, wide varieties of jams, sauces and spices, as well as some of the best home-made food and side dishes around.
At a time when customer service is non-existent and pre-packaged and fast food is the norm, I’m impressed by this group of 15 shop vendors, who sell fresh, high-quality Amish delights and other food products in a warm and friendly manner.
I’ve also found that the shop keepers are extremely knowledgeable about the items they sell and it’s obvious they take great pride in their wares. Whenever you ask a question about a product or need extra service, each of them is gracious about going the extra mile. It reminds me of my happy years roaming my family’s department store in Chicago, a true mom and pop gem.
Here’s my 10 favorites from the market
1. Zook’s BBQ Barn My son won’t eat my mashed potatoes any more; he says that Zook’s are creamier than mine. Also, the BBQ ribs fall off the bone and I LOVE the sauce (it comes in both mild and hot).
When I come home from the market my son frowns if I don’t bring him a roast chicken, wings, and the mashed potatoes — so I comply and enjoy. What’s a mother to do?
2. Barbie’s Soft Pretzels A guilty pleasure to be sure. Try as I might to avoid (for the sake of my waist), the hand-rolled pretzels dipped in butter call to me.
Or should I have the pretzel sticks rolled in cinnamon and sugar?
3. Smucker’s Salads Great side dishes. My grandmother made baked lima beans for family holiday dinners, and I don’t see them at many other shops. Smucker’s also makes the perfect cole slaw and several kinds of potato salad. And I bet you didn’t know that you can have breakfast and lunch there too. Look around the side for the counter and stools (by the canned goods).
4. I love candy! Going to Dutch Treats is like being a kid again in a candy store. I am partial to the Swedish fish, dark chocolate-covered raisins and the cocoa dusted almonds.
And each time I browse I find unique items to bring home such as the Wilbur Buds, chocolate-covered ginger, chocolate-covered banana chips, scrumptious nut butters, a lollipop tree and gourmet Asher’s chocolates.
5. The high-quality fresh ground beef, ground turkey, and steaks taste so much better than what I buy at the local grocery store. I now save my meat shopping for Aaron’s Fresh Country Meats, and definitely impress my dinner guests.
6. Dos Amores Another little gem. They make the best homemade guacamole with an option of nine different salsas, including Mango, Peach, Black Bean and Corn, Feta/Lime, Pico de Gallo, Garbanzo, Mexican Slaw, Mild or Hot. I also enjoy the chicken, beef or mushroom empanadas.
7. King of Falafel The hummus and the grape leaves are the best I have ever tasted, and one of my all-time favorite lunches is the lamb or chicken platter served with salad and rice, with a side of tahini and vinaigrette dressing. I also take home tabouli, hummus, grape leaves and white or wheat pita bread for lunch and snacks all week long. And then there’s the falafel…
8. The cream cheese spreads at Dutch Country Dairy are simply delicious. My goal is to try them all. The enticing list includes: garlic and herb, spinach, and crab-meat and artichoke. An easy hors d’oeuvre to pick up when you don’t have time to make the canapes.
9. While Madara’s Seafood has a wide variety of fresh seafood, my favorite item is the shrimp rolls. They are fried to perfection and two of them can make an entire meal.
Madara’s almost always has fresh East Coast oysters which they will shuck free of charge. Ask them to put the shucked oysters on ice in one of their white plastic containers. It will be easy to take home and will impress everyone.
10. The mini cream-filled chocolate chip cookies at Riehl’s Bakery are a family favorite. Need I say more? Well, if I do, the rolls, breads, apple dumplings, cakes and Amish moon pies are the perfect end to a meal of comfort food from all of the other vendors.
Newtown PA Dutch Farmers Market
2150 South Eagle Road
Newtown, PA 18940
HOURS: Thursday, 9 am – 6 pm; Friday, 9 am – 7 pm; Saturday, 9 am – 4 pm