Monday, May 21, 2012

Dutch Pie in Lancaster County

A visit to Pennsylvania’s Lancaster County is a step back in time. Bearded men in wide-brimmed black hats drive horse-drawn buggies through the streets, while women in plain 19th-century dresses and bonnets sell quilts and jellies in the farmers’ markets. And drifting from the bakeries and kitchen windowsills is the sweet, heavenly smell of home-baked Pennsylvania Dutch pie.

The quaint towns and neat family farms of Pennsylvania Dutch country are a world away from the urban buzz of Philadelphia.
Head off the beaten tourist track onto the quiet rural roads here and you’ll enter a landscape of rolling green hills and woodlands, dotted with large whitewashed farmhouses, covered “kissing bridges,” windmills, and sturdy old barns built to last a century or two. In winter the farmers plow the fields using horses, not tractors, and in summer they bale hay with pitchforks onto wooden wagons.
The term Pennsylvania “Dutch” is a corruption of the word “Deutsch,” the name for the Germanspeaking settlers who came here in the early 1700s.
It includes the Amish communities, who live a simple life based on family and religious values, eschewing all things modern, such as cars and electricity. An otherwise closed community, the Amish open up to the outside world most readily through their crafts and food. They are known for hearty, home-cooked meals, served at communal tables in Amish restaurants, and their most famous dish is their pie – a pie so delicious that local people often eat it for breakfast. The combination of traditional German recipes and a natural bounty of fruit and nut trees and lush berry patches makes these the finest fruit pies in the world.
From juicy apple and ripe peach to sour cherry, tangy rhubarb, plump raisin, sticky pecan, or wild huckleberry, Pennsylvania Dutch pies have the perfect blend of tart and sweet flavors, oozing through a flaky lattice crust or hiding under a crunchy crumb topping.
There are special pies, too, that are rarely found elsewhere. Like the famous schnitz pie – normally made with dried apple slices, this uses green tomatoes in late fall when the apples run low. Or the syrupy, cakelike shoo-fly pie, made with molasses and brown sugar, which comes in thick, gooey “wet-bottom” or thin “dry-bottom” varieties. Its whimsical name came from the need to shoo the flies away as the pies cooled.
The popular whoopie pies are not really pies at all, but more like huge cookies, consisting of a sandwich of two small, thin rounds of chocolate cake filled with icing. A Pennsylvania Dutch table is always laden with wonderful home-cooked dishes, but it’s the scrumptious desserts that keep everyone coming back for more.

Horse-drawn travel is a sign of the Amish commitment to tradition and the virtue of living in a simple, unhurried, natural way

Best Places to Eat Pennsylvania Dutch Pie
Good ’N Plenty Restaurant
Good ’N Plenty is housed in a two-story farmhouse built in 1871; the large “Dutch room” (main restaurant area) was added a century later to accommodate the customers lined up out the door for Christ and Dolly Lapp’s delicious home-cooked Pennsylvania Dutch dinners. They still run the restaurant with their children and grandchildren. Dining is family-style, with tables seating 10 to 12 people. Once the tables are full, the platters start coming, laden with such favorites as crispy fried chicken, baked country ham, roast beef, mashed potatoes, baked country sausage, pork and sauerkraut, noodles, chow chow (a traditional relish), pepper cabbage, homemade bread, and more, followed by shoo-fly pie and other scrumptious desserts.
No wonder it’s been rated one of the best down-home dining spots in the country. And there’s plenty more in the Bake Shop and Store, where you can buy freshly baked pies, cakes, and breads, and jars of apple butter or homemade chow chow to take home.
150 Eastbrook Road, Smoketown; open 11:30 AM–8 PM Mon–Sat; closed Christmas, Jan and early Feb;

Right : The dark, sticky filling of shoo-fly, made from rich sorghum molasses and brown sugar, makes this pie a local favorite
Left :Amish quilts are renowned worldwide for their quality and distinctive patterns, often contrasting bright colors with black

Also in Lancaster County
You won’t find a setting much more authentic than Stoltzfus Farm Restaurant (www.; moderate) in Gordonville for a Pennsylvania Dutch country meal. It’s served in the Amish farmhouse where Amos Stoltzfus grew up. The family-style menu includes homemade hamloaf and homemade sausage, made in their own butcher’s shop right on the farm, accompanied by candied sweet potatoes, brown buttered noodles, and many other country favorites, along with shoo-fly, cherry, and apple pies.
Also in the US
There are Amish communities scattered across 22 states of the US. Two of the largest are in northern Indiana and southeast Iowa. At Das Dutchman Essenhaus Restaurant and Bakery (; inexpensive) in Middlebury, Indiana, large tables fill the rustic wood-paneled dining room, where family-style dining features old Amish recipes passed down through generations. The restaurant serves 30 kinds of pie; if you can’t choose, take some home from the bakery next door. In Amana, Iowa, the family-run Ox Yoke Inn (www.; moderate) has been a local favorite since 1940. It serves traditional old-world recipes, family-style or à la carte, using produce from neighboring farms and smokehouses. A tray of fresh-baked desserts is presented at the end of your meal.
Three Days in Lancaster County
There’s lots to enjoy, apart from the food. You can explore the Amish way of life from old-fashioned horse-and-carriage rides to tours of Amish homesteads. There are historic mansions and museums, and dozens of art galleries. Shop for antiques, hand-stitched quilts, and other crafts, or expertly fashioned Amish furniture.
DAY ONE : Immerse yourself in the Amish life with a visit to the Amish Country Homestead at Bird-in-Hand, or the Landis Valley Village and Farm Museum in Lancaster. Admire antique quilts at the People’s Place Quilt Museum in Intercourse. Take an afternoon horse-and-buggy ride through the countryside.
DAY TWO : Take a foodie tour of Lancaster County. Watch Pennsylvania Dutch cooks making pies and putting up canned jams, preserves, and more at the Jam and Relish Kitchen in Intercourse. Try your hand at twisting pretzels at the Intercourse Pretzel Factory or Sturgis Pretzel Bakery in Lititz. Nearby, watch candy-makers at the Wilbur Chocolates Candy Americana Museum.
DAY THREE : Follow a scenic driving – or cycling – route and discover some of the region’s covered bridges. The tourist office has several itineraries.

Getting to Lancaster Country

There is an international airport in Philadelphia; Lancaster has a small airport that connects to BWI (Baltimore Washington International). Trains and buses run to Lancaster County from Philadelphia.
A rental car is essential for touring.

Where to stay in Lancaster Country

Stone Haus Farm B&B (inexpensive) is a 200-yearold working farm.
After Eight Bed and Breakfast (moderate) is an antique-fillled 1818 colonial home in Paradise, Pennsylvania.
The Inn at Twin Linden (expensive) is an elegant retreat in the heart of Amish country.
501 Greenfield Rd.;

Amish Markets
One of the delights of visiting Lancaster County is visiting the food markets. Lancaster City’s Central Market is the oldest farmers’ market in the US, and a good place to buy cheeses and fresh-baked desserts. Columbia Market sells lots of local produce, and is housed in a historic structure with a dungeon beneath (there are guided tours). In Bird-in-Hand, the Farmers’ Market has fresh produce and local crafts, while Kauffman’s Fruit Farm and Market has delicious homemade sweet apple cider, apple dumplings, and deli items. In Ephrata, the Green Dragon Farmers’ Market & Auction sells baked goods and Amish-made items, and the Village Farm Market has a wonderful selection of fresh-baked pies and specialty bakery items. Markets have different opening days and hours, so check locally.

1 comment:

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