One Super September Saturday!

October is almost over and it is getting a bit chilly! Right before the weather began to change I had one fine Saturday at the end of September. It began with an outside brunch with my friends Janeen and Carrie. We sat outside in the sunshine in front of Fork’n’Spoon Cafe  on Prince Street in downtown Lancaster and had a few delicious dishes.

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Carrie had the BLT and I had the poached eggs over tomatoes and spinach (pictured above, and perfectly cooked). The french toast that Janeen had (pictured above) was smothered in bananas, walnuts and carmely sweet syrup. Everything was great and it was really nice to sit outside enjoying warm coffee with some of my best girlfriends. I think it’s safe to say that we would all recommend Fork’n’Spoon Cafe, especially for an outside brunch.

I made my way over a block to the Central Market, my favorite part of my Saturday morning routine. I found some great produce at one stand that I really like Stoner’s Home Grown Vegetables. They always have homegrown heirloom veggies and they are now open on Saturdays!

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I made this awesome salad later in the week with all the veggies I bought… yes, there are edible flowers in it!

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Janeen and I decided to go up to Lititz, PA and spend a little time walking around. There is a new olive oil and balsamic vinegar tasting shop called Olio. While it was quite fun to taste all of their olive oils and balsamic vinegars, I just wish they put out some crackers or bread to cleanse your palate between tastings. They did have water and I tried to limit myself to a few tastings… but I really wanted to taste every one of the olive oils they had.

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I loved these metal containers that held the oils and vinegars. I would love one to dispense olive oil in my kitchen. They were beautifully polished and poured the liquids out slow enough to get a small tasting amount. How I wish I could find one of these! I might just have to do some hunting on the internet.

I settled on Moroccan EVOO and Chocolate Balsamic vinegar – both of which I plan to use on a salad with fresh strawberries and maybe some Parmesan cheese.

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Olio also carries several salts, spices, their own condiments, olives, and various other goodies. I saw this long pepper (below) and I wanted to try it. So far I have used it to spice up sauces, veggies, and braised meats. It is actually a dried cattail reed. I have been crushing it up with a mortar and pestle, it smells very fragrant and adds subtle flavor.

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So… Lititz has a wine tasting room now.

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Waltz vineyards opened a small wine tasting room where you can taste wines for $5. Their vineyard isn’t too far away, located in Manheim, PA. We learned that they offer tastings with cheese parings regularly and they also hold a few paring dinners a year at the vineyard. I will probably be visiting the actual vineyard soon. Some of the wines that this winery produces are probably the best Pennsylvania wine I have ever had. Pennsylvania wine is usually too sweet for my taste but this vineyard has a few wines that range from slightly sweet to very dry. I am not going to pretend that I know a lot about wine… but I did like their Merlot.


We spent the rest of the afternoon walking around some of Lititz’s little shops. Most are kitschy but it was such a beautiful day to walk around the tiny town. We finished our visit with little rest at a sidewalk table at the Bull’s Head Public House, enjoying a pumpkin ale and the crisp air.

And, yea, we stopped for cupcakes on the way home…

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Sublime Cupcakes… they are sublime, but they need some tables so you don’t have to eat them in the parking lot… or I guess you could just get them to go. But seriously, they are delicious cupcakes, very moist with awesome icing! It was a good snack to keep us going until we got to our next destination of this super Saturday…

The end of September brings Oktoberfest into full swing. One tradition that my friends and I have been enjoying for several years now is the Lancaster Liederkranz‘s Oktoberfest. This German Society holds the Oktoberfest at a picnic grove surrounded by trees and decorated with Bavarian flags and twinkle lights.

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Did you know that Oktoberfest officially begins with the tapping of a keg of beer? The keg is brought into the fest in a parade-style manner and a baby rides into the festivities on top of.. it is true.

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There are many German delights to be had at the Oktoberfest. You have to buy these tickets to purchase anything at the fest.

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There are giant Bavarian pretzels…

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Bratwurst with sauerkraut…

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Giant potato pancakes served with apple sauce…

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…and many other German delights! Just get there early – I think this Oktoberfest is getting really popular – they ran out of many other German meats before we move to the front of the food line!

There are also fun activities for kids, like painting Koo-Koo clocks and puppet shows.

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German dancing goes well into the night. There are several traditional German dances displayed throughout the weekend. Many of them tell a story and use props like the one shown below.

You can even join in the fun and learn how to polka dance and line dance to some German music. Here’s one of our favorite tunes that has a dance that goes along with it – Fliegerlied.

Enjoy the end of October – there might still be time to catch an late Oktoberfest somewhere. I do hope to see some new faces at the Lancaster Leiderkrankz grounds next year!

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Global Gardens Meyer Lemon Balsamic Bliss

I spent one day of my vacation in California wine tasting in Los Olivos. I was also really excited that day because we did an olive oil tasting at a place called Global Gardens. I loved it so much that I decided to join their quarterly olive oil club… so four times a year I get a package in the mail containing 3 bottles of Global Gardens products.

My next olive oil package is coming in November. I’m not sure what I am going to get next month but I hope it’s as good as the one I purchased in August. This one included Mediterranean Finishing Glaze, Peach Cinnamon Balsamic Vinegar, and 10th Anniversary Organic Extra Virgin Olive Oil. I added the Meyer Lemon balsamic Bliss to my package because I tried it at the shop and it was amazing on a piece of bread so I had to try it on some other food!

I decided to share one of the recipes I made with the Meyer Lemon balsamic Bliss. Global Gardens has several fruit infused vinegars – some of which I got to try while I was in their tasting room – and all of them were outstanding! I have used the Meyer Lemon blend to marinate steak and several times as a salad dressing so far.

Here’s my sliced Bliss marinated steak with heirloom tomato and feta salad.

I rubbed salt and pepper to two small steaks and placed them into a zip top bag. I added about 2 tbsp. of the Bliss vinegar and 2 tbsp. Extra Virgin olive oil. I’ll be honest… I can’t remember what cut of steak I used because I made this dish in August. I would recommend using a skirt or flank steak. They are some of my favorites to marinate.

I let the steaks hang out in the refrigerator for most of the day. I grilled them over a medium high charcoal fire only for a few minutes until they were medium rare. If you use flank steak make sure you cut it at an angle against the grain so that it is tender, otherwise you’ll end up with some tough-to-chew pieces.

I mixed spring mix and some home-grown romaine lettuce together with heirloom tomatoes cut into quarters, parsley, cucumber, and feta cheese. I used the Meyer Lemon Bliss for the dressing as well and drizzled the salad with extra virgin olive oil.

The whole meal was a really nice light and bright summer dinner.

The 10th Anniversary Extra Virgin Olive oil is a blend of organic Mission and Manzanilla olives. It is fruity and crisp and it finishes with a peppery flavor. It’s a great dipping oil for bread. It goes really well with aged balsamic vinegar.

I haven’t tried to create anything with the Peach Cinnamon Vinegar but it is good on a simple salad of butter lettuce and strawberry slices…

The Mediterranean Finishing Glaze makes a great bread dipping sauce. I’ve also had it over pasta and it was pretty good. I think it would be best used in a cold pasta salad if you are going to put it on pasta. It is the perfect accompaniment to a nice Antipasto appetizer plate. I do love finger foods, tapas, and snacking.

If you are debating ordering something from Global Gardens, I would support you! It can get a little pricey, I would get some kind of package or gift set instead of buying individual items. I am trying it out for now because the Olive Oil Club is a pretty good deal. I really enjoy that they use good quality ingredients to make everything they sell. I definitely recommend a stop in Los Olivos and a stop at Global Gardens if you are going to California and you are going to be wine tasting.

Crispy Prosciutto and Cherry Tomato Pasta

I had a great dinner with Dan out on the back deck last night. The weather was breezy and cool outside, it reminded me of a nice fall day. It is still the last bit of summer and the tomatoes are still flowing so I made another pasta dish with raw tomatoes.

I got these really nice heirloom cherry tomatoes from Sweet Annie Produce at Central Market this week. They were dark in color almost looking forest green on top. If you want to find them, the variety is called black cherry. It’s supposed to be easy to grow and have a sweet smoky flavor. I think they are great for pasta dishes because they are pretty hearty and hold up to some bolder italian flavors. Good tomatoes are such a bargain this time of year and we are eating a lot of them. I feel like I should eat my fill because come October they will start to disappear.

Fun fact I learned from the Today Show on Monday: Tomatoes can help prevent sunburn… because of the phytochemical lycopene! I wrote a whole paper on lycopene for my nutrition class in college. I think phytochemicals are pretty neat <insert dork comment here>. You could also build up your lycopene by eating ketchup. Lycopene actually intensifies when it is cooked!

Here’s the recipe for this fabulous pasta, it’s simple, quick and easy:

Crispy Prosciutto and Cherry Tomato Pasta

6-8 slices of prosciutto, sliced thin

12 oz. farfalle (or your pasta of choice)

2 large balls of fresh mozzarella

1 quart black cherry tomatoes

3 cloves of garlic, minced

1/2 large vidalia onion, chopped

a big handful of purple basil leaves

a big handful of parsley leaves

Lay the slices of prosciutto on an aluminum foil or parchment covered baking sheet. Place it in the oven at 375 degrees for 10-15 minutes (depending on how thick your slices are). The prosciutto will turn crispy and brittle and look kind of like bacon. Let it cool before handling it, it will be hot! When it cools you should be able to crumble it into small pieces. It is so much better than bacon! Once you try making this you’ll have a hard time going back to bacon crumbles for your salads. You can use the crispy prosciutto on anything! It is great with eggs, salads, sandwiches, and pasta. Try putting it in potato salad, yum!

Just a note* these slices were a little small so I used extra, I think they were cuts from the end of the piece of prosciutto so they were not as long as slices of prosciutto usually are. This filled up a medium sized baking sheet in a single layer. Use however much you want, it really depends on how much you like it!

Cook your pasta to Al dente and prepare your other ingredients.

Slice the black cherry tomatoes in half. If you can not find heirloom cherry tomatoes, use any kind of good cherry or grape tomatoes.

Cube the fresh mozzarella, chiffonade the basil and chop the parsley.

Mix these ingredients together and season with salt and pepper and drizzle with olive oil. You could eat it just like this too, it makes excellent tomato basil salad!

Saute the onions and garlic until the onions begin to turn translucent. Mix the onions and garlic into your tomatoes and mozzarella mixture, add in your pasta and crispy prosciutto and drizzle with a little more olive oil.

Season with salt and pepper to taste and you are done, easy! I had a little white peach sangria with this dish and enjoyed a great dinner on the deck.