A Visit with Revittle

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Continuing to move through this month with some Good Grief activities to take my mind off things I invited my husband to join me in taking a food judges’ class sponsored by the Steak Cookoff Association. Bill is my chief taste tester and having him always support my cooking adventures and antics with enthusiasm has been a blessing. Driving 2 1/2 hours to the western part of the state would take us through Harrisburg which sparked a brilliant thought to visit an on-line cheese shop known as Revittle.

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Revittle came to my attention through a “Best of” Philadelphia Magazine food piece. The article highlighted the best pizza in America made with a Pennsylvania sourced gouda cheese and a cheesesteak made “wit” another local farmer’s cheese. Always looking to try the best of anything in and around here I learned these artisan cheeses are only available through Revittle whose address just happens to be Harrisburg. I was hoping they had a brick and mortar store where I could sample and buy.

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Otterbein Acres Shepherd’s Delight

An email exchange with the owner, Mark Zimmerman, revealed no physical store, but he enthusiastically invited Bill and I to his beautiful office in an old historic building on the river to sample some cheese and cured meats along with his business partner, Tim Pianka. While all the bites were quite delicious, Shepherd’s Delight was hands-down my favorite. How could one not love a cheese whose shepherd grazes his sheep only on the youngest grass? What a labor of love herding the animals from acre to acre seeking that green sweetness. Well aged, salty and sweet this Tomme style cheese is totally addicting.

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Food people are the most welcoming generous kind. Bill and I quickly felt at home with Mark and Tim as they relayed the story of how Revittle came about. Each bite of their delicious products included interesting tid-bits of their close-knit relationships with local farmers and chefs. Sharing with us was a real gift.

“Revittle was started on the principle of working with the best artisanal producers. Let us introduce you to the families who take pride in the quality of their products. Together, we put healthy, regionally produced foods and wines on your table.”

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Cheese boards and charcuterie seem all the rage these days. Whether offered as an appetizer or a dessert who doesn’t love an array of farm fresh goodness accompanied by sweet and tangy condiments and crispy crackers? Arranging a cheese board is an art I have yet to master, but that won’t stop me from enjoying the delightful contrasts in tastes and textures and layers of flavors offered from local farmers.

As luck would have it Bill and I were invited to visit and sample an Ah-mazing line up of award winning Pennsylvania farm cheeses and Charcutiere/ Cured Meats with Mark and Tim. We are friends now and I have nothing, but gratitude for our chance meeting. Check out Revittle on their web site to see their array of locally sourced and might I add reasonably priced products. Bonus: use the promo code GOODGRIEFCOOK to receive 20% off your purchase. I gain nothing from your purchase. I’m just here to tell you about great products from really nice people.

oops forgot to mention….if anyone wants to buy and share that 11 pound Gigi brand whole prosciutto…I am in!

Town Tour & Ancho Avocado Ice Cream

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Welcome to Kennett Square, PA known as the “Mushroom Capital of the World”. Yes, our portobellos, cremini, oysters, trumpets, maitakes and fresh buttons are awesome and probably what you are buying in your local grocery store. Come September thousands will visit our 31st annual Mushroom Festival and get a taste of mushroom farming at its best. I am excited to see which fabulous home cook wins the mushroom cook-off earning their way to compete at the World Food Championships.

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The rest of the town is pretty great, too, also quite famous for Longwood Gardens. Last night husband and I did a stroll celebrating the first Friday of the month. The stores stay open late. People are dancing in the street to live music and the award winning food is always abundant and delicious. From crepes to burgers to mushroom soup (of course) there are so many casual to high end restaurants to choose from.

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On this particular warm summer evening I just wanted ice cream from the best place on earth and husband, much to my surprise, was all in on the idea. If you ever come to Kennett Square you absolutely have to stop by family-owned La Michoacana ice cream shop where you can sample traditional Mexican flavors like corn sprinkled with cinnamon or my favorite avocado with chile. Trust me! The best! Come visit!

LaM

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Back home I wondered if I could make a no-churn version of avocado ice cream. You all know I am obsessed with the endless flavors of no-churn. Have you tried the Margarita or Almond Joy, yet? They are so simple, creamy and scoop-worthy. With only a few ingredients needed you are on your way to frozen flavor town.

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Whatever flavor you choose to experiment with don’t forget to taste as you go. For the avocado I added extra lime juice and then had the epiphany to toss the chile powder right into the mix. Yes, that is my fingerprint you see. Please don’t do that. Use a 1 time tasting spoon to taste as you go. It’s cleaner.

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And one more tip: place your bowl and beaters in the freezer for a few minutes before whipping the cream. Cream whips up better when it is icy cold.

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No Churn Ancho Avocado Ice Cream

1 (14 oz) can Eagle Brand sweetened condensed milk

¼ cup fresh lime juice

2 ripe avocados, pitted, peeled, chopped

¼ teaspoon salt

¼ teaspoon McCormick Gourmet Ancho Chile Powder

2 cups heavy cream

In a blender, combine condensed milk, lime juice, avocado, salt and chile powder; process until completely smooth. Beat cream to just stiff peaks; fold into avocado puree. Pour into freezer-safe containers. Freeze for at least 6 hours. Scoop and serve with an extra sprinkle of chile or some fresh seasonal fruit. Makes about 1 ½ quarts.

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Overall my version of avocado ice cream is quite good with a rich creamy texture. Next time I might bump up the flavor with a touch more salt and citrus. Happy National Ice Cream Month & Independence Day. Celebrate your freedom and whatever is happening in your town.

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Traveling Bucks County Pennsylvania

Welcome to Buck's County

Welcome to Bucks County

The next few months are going to be busy with multiple food related trips. Never in a million did I think I would be writing about grief. Never in a million did I ever think that writing about grief would bring me so many other opportunities. Through the final days of summer and throughout the fall I hope to be able to share each and every travel experience with you.

notice that heart cut-out in the wooden gate <3

notice that heart cut-out in the wooden gate at the lower left

First up, thanks to my friend, Maris and the Bucks County Tourism Board I spent a most beautiful weekend exploring Bucks County, Pennsylvania which is about a 2 hour drive from my home in Chester County. The journey started with check in at the lovely Inn At Bowman’s Hill in Upper Makefield. It turns out that Michael, our host and owner of this beautiful 5-acre property formerly worked for the same company that I did. More like a reunion of old friends we shared quite a few memories and laughed about what a small world it is. While thoroughly enjoying the comfortable luxury of this gorgeous B&B what really stands out is that I was offered the opportunity to pluck farm fresh eggs from the chicken coop for my traditional English breakfast.IMG_6950

Bucks County has plenty to offer for the nature lover as well as the shopper. Strolling along the river or a walk through the 60 shops of Peddler’s Village is a real treat. There is something for everyone here from trendy clothing and well-made toys to upscale spirits and wines distilled right here in PA. Naturally, I gravitated to the kitchen wares store and spice shop, but was pleasantly surprised to stop in the Soap Opera where I was finally able to find the elusive eucalyptus soap I had been searching for.

Hewn Spirits

Hewn Spirits

A tasting at Hewn spirits is an education. Considered the hottest new distillery in Bucks County their products celebrate local ingredients and the art of handcrafted distilling in copper pots. I love to cook with bourbon and whisky as you well know, but never really knew much about the process of distilling until today. Our teacher, Elliot, poured 4 different spirits including whiskey made from locally grown rye, rum made from molasses, moonshine from non-GMO corn and a full of flavor bourbon made from an heirloom variety of corn called “bloody butcher”. Inspired by the handcrafting these spirits are ready for sipping or adding into your favorite creative recipes like BBQ sauce or Sweet William’s Inspired & Spirited Chocolate Chip cookies.

This trip also included an afternoon in the picturesque town of New Hope filled with antique shops, restaurants, museums and the famous Bucks County Playhouse and further down the road, a tour of the Sand Castle Winery. I have done several of the tours on the wine trail; this one is among my favorites. Not only is it the most educational when it comes to pairing wines with food (I think we tasted at least a dozen pairings), but also the most entertaining. The presenter could easily be a stand-up comic.

Sand Castle Winery grows 4 kinds of grapes

Sand Castle Winery grows 4 kinds of grapes

Topping off the weekend evenings in Bucks County is dinner at two outstanding restaurants, Caleb’s American Kitchen and The Golden Pheasant Inn. Both restaurants are upscale, but not stuffy with fabulous friendly service. The attention is all on the locally sourced food. The farm to table concept works well here.

locally grown squash stuffed with a variety of meats and spices

locally grown squash stuffed with a variety of meats and spices from Caleb’s American Kitchen

Caleb’s food is stellar. Best described as clean with each ingredient shining through. A starter of crab tacos is a morsel to behold. A perfectly crisp mini taco shell packed with very lightly dressed sweet crab. It needs no further adornment. Salads are fresh and crisp showing off perfectly ripe tomatoes from the chef’s own garden and the most gorgeous watermelon radishes I have ever seen. An entrée of perfectly moist halibut on a bed of speckled pearled couscous topped with deep green broccolini is served piping hot. His restraint does America proud sourcing his menu from local and regional farmers treating each ingredient with great respect. Probably some of the best food I have ever eaten in my life.IMG_6986

The historic Golden Pheasant Inn is located in a most picturesque setting between the Delaware River and canal. Maris and I enjoyed an exceptional dinner on the terrace. We marveled over the natural setting and lovely ambiance created by the old fieldstone. Every table was filled which is a testament to the impeccable service and tasty fresh food served here.

beef carpaccio salad with kale and crispy chorizo at the Golden Pheasant Inn

beef carpaccio salad with kale and crispy chorizo at the Golden Pheasant Inn

Looking for a romantic weekend getaway or a fun place to visit with the kids? Give Bucks County a look-see. There really is something here for everyone. Check out the web site visitbuckscounty.com for upcoming events and further information. I promise you will have a wonderful time.