Tuesday, June 19, 2007

Weekend Chow - part 2 Day Trip Report

Note: This post delayed due to technical difficulties..

On to the rest of our weekend...

Before the Red Head left her job as a day care director, her staff scrounged up some moola and purchased her a night in a brand spanking new bed and breakfast. We also had a AMEX gift card (to use for chow) that I received as a result of spending other peoples money while traveling on business the past 10 years.

Speedwell Forge
is an amazing place - fully restored - mansion originally built in 1760. It's just a gorgeous building, with 2 separate restored buildings that were converted into guest rooms. We stayed in the Paymaster's Office, which was originally used for pretty much what you would think. It served as sort of a bank for the forge workers.
Browse their web site and you'll see pictures of the room. Here's the outside.

So we arrived around 3PM and were greeted by one of the most pleasant people you could ever meet. Dawn really has a passion for running her B&B. The house used to be her Grandmothers, so she puts a lot of love into what she's doing. She also makes a mean omelet, but I'll get to that.

After checking in, we headed up to Cornwall, to the Bluebird Inn. It's also an historic old building, with lots of charm and character. They've got a nice enclosed porch, which is where we decided to dine since it was so warm on Sunday. The Bluebird is clearly trying to hit some niche as a sophisticated English pub. I will admit that I got a little concerned when the menu bragged at how all their beers were served chilled to 30 degrees!!! Yikes, cold beer is fine most of the time, but not all beer is meant to be served at the same temperature, just ask Michael Jackson (the one with his original nose)

We both started with soup - crab bisque for the RH, and shrimp chowder for me. The bisque was quite good, though a little too thick, even for that style of soup. The chowder was a bit spicy, which is normally fine for me, but it kindof over-powered the tender shrimp, making it sortof a miscellaneous chowder. But still we both graded our soups in the B-range.

I ordered fish n chips, which were in this case very crispy breaded haddock. I generally prefer cod for my fish n chips, but haddock is acceptable. Strangely, it was not a beer batter, which is unfortunate because they were cooked perfectly. Ok, decent fish, but the fries were quite good. They had that slightly crispy, very potato-ee taste. Not greasy at all. Some of the best fries I've had in a while.
The wife had the Guinness tips pie topped with a puff pastry crust. If you know her at all this is sortof up her ally - she loves beef tips over noodles, puff pastry, and while she doesn't care for beer much, she usually loves cooking with it. The description says it's in "a rich Guinness demi glaze" and baked 'till "golden brown." Hmm. In actuality it wasn't all the rich like you would expect. It was decent beef, but the sauce just tasted like a generic thickened beef stock (not gravy) with half pint or Guinness poured in at the end. There was clearly no reduction or demiglaze to it at all. It had tons of alcohol still in it, and the flavor was just way too beery that you couldn't taste anything else. As for the golden brown puff pastry? More like a light blond soggy mess. I guess that description makes it sound worse than it really was, it wasn't horrible, but it wasn't what we were expecting.

All in all, I'd have to give the Bluebird a B or B minus (saved from a C by the fries). They have a huge menu, so I'd go back if someone I knew wanted to, but it's not worth going out of your way, and was a bit of a let down.

We had no desert plan, but I must mention at this point that I had been craving these cream filled made by Harting's Country Made bakery. I could not find them for the past few weeks, so we though maybe for a treat we'd find some the next day.

Before heading back to the room, we scooted down toward Lancaster and hunted down Bruster's Ice Cream Shop. This is a make it on location chain that's starting to infiltrate Pennsylvania. Maybe I should replace infiltrate with infect. It was so bad that I really can't figure out how it succeeds at all, and I can't imagine how in the world it's expanding in a state that makes some of the best ice cream in the world. I feel bad for the folks who live wherever it originated, because they have no idea what ice cream tastes like. The people working there were nice enough, and they have some nifty flavors - perhaps too many gimmicky choices, but the ice cream is just terrible. Oh well.
UPDATE: I cant' believe this. I looked up the web site and discovered the place actually originated in Pennsylvania!!! I decided not to edit what I wrote because it still reflects what I believe. How could we let ourselves go like this!!!!

Considering our ice cream disappointment, we became obsessed (that's a theme with me lately) with finding those Harting's cream filled donuts. We stopped at two different grocery stores on the way back to the B&B with no luck. Let me tell you, no grocery store donut was going to be "good enough" after our ice cream fiasco. But they were not to be found that night :(

For breakfast, Dawn serves 3 courses. We started with homemade granola, which isn't one of my typical choices, but this was really good. Moving on, she brought us a dish of fresh berries (Rasp, Black, Blue) with real yogurt - yummm. We finished with a light and fluffy omelet with crispy red potato home fries. Quite delicious, with good company from another couple who were finishing up their meal and our host, who really made us feel comfortable.

We spend the rest of the day taking a nice drive around Lancaster County, walked around Lititz, where after about 45 minutes, I realized that I still had the key to the paymaster's office!!! So we finished up our walk and headed back to drop it off, making a convenience store stop still hunting for the donuts. When I dropped off the key, M hung out in the driveway and booted up my laptop - we were determined to get some of those donuts!!! We knew the place was in Bowmansville, which was more or less on the way home, but were not sure exactly where. Low and behold, it's right on the main drag. And we were off to grab the donuts.

They have a little tiny shop attached to the front of the bakery, with big windows looking into the actual baking area. The first thing you see are the creme filled donuts - exactly what I was looking for. They also have chocolate filled, fruit filled, and many others. Also various sticky buns and creme cheese buns and I could go on and on. I was surprised to see bread products, including fresh made hamburger buns - one of which I just consumed and used to eat a leftover Chipolte Orange Turkey Burger that I pulled out of the freezer.

As for the creme filled donuts. Just go buy some, I really can't describe how awesome they are.

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