Saturday, September 12, 2009

Amish Country

We've been seeing Amish folks out and about every once in a while (although there were many at the zoo when Kyla and I were there), and were looking forward to a fuller experience.

The last weekend in August we did a day out in Lancaster, which is known for its heavy Amish population. Jonathan only had a half-day on Friday, so we packed up and drove out there for dinner and shopping on Friday. We stayed at the Hawthorn Suites in Lancaster, very close to Dutch Wonderland (a small theme park for young kids).
We had dinner at Good 'n Plenty, a local Amish place. It's a family-style restaurant, and there were seven others (two parties) at our long table. Our waitress, Michelle, was very prompt, friendly, and had a great memory. While we waited for the meal to begin, there was applesauce, chow chow, and bread on the table. The bread was plain sliced white and wheat, with several different butters, including a delicious apple butter. The applesauce was also very good... it tasted fresh. I didn't try the chow chow, which seems to be a cooked vegetable medley. We both had the lemonade, and it was terrific.

The menu changes nightly, but that night there was fried chicken, pollock, and roast beef for the main entrees. They come out in platters and get passed around the table - you can take as much of whatever you want, since the plates just keep being brought out from the kitchen. There was brown-buttered noodles, mashed potatoes & gravy, and corn as well. The noodles were great, as was the mashed potatoes. I didn't really care for the fried chicken, and the pollock was extremely buttery.

But it didn't stop there! Cherry Jello was brought out, and then peanut butter pudding. Then we were all asked which ice cream flavor we want (vanilla, chocolate, or orange sherbert), and dishes were brought out about the same time as a shoo-fly pie and a cherry rhubarb pie. Jonathan said the pudding was reallly peanut buttery, and I thought the jello was great. Chocolate ice cream was yummy and creamy, Jonathan liked the orange sherbert as well. I didn't really care for either of the pies, but Jonathan thought the shoo-fly was okay.

We hit up a few shoppes after dinner, and had a good time finding some local gifts for upcoming family birthdays and such.

The next morning we started out by going to a few more places to shop, including a farmer's market. There were some beautiful tablecloths, but since I have no idea why size future dining room table I may have, I couldn't convince myself to get one, LoL. We saw a few farms (and a LOT of corn!), and a bunch of horses-and-buggies on the road.We then went to the Intercourse Pretzel Factory, tried a few hard pretzels (herb was good, and brown butter was surprisingly delicious), and then took a tour of the facility. We didn't walk around, it was a very stationary tour. They make about 100 pounds of pretzels a day there, and only sell four flavors (herb, brown butter, salted, and sugar/spice). Herb isn't overpowering, and they mentioned that it's just a combination of the spices usually found in a spaghetti sauce, except light on the garlic. The tour ended with a lesson in pretzel twisting. I'm pretty bad at it, but Jonathan figured it out.
We then went to the September Farm Cheese Factory, but we didn't know they're only in production on Tuesdays and Thursdays. We were able to watch a video on the process of making their cheese, and it was quite cool. There were tons and tons of samples, and eventually we picked up two cheeses and a cheese slicer (which works amazingly!) among other things.

Our final stop was an Amish Information Center, where we picked up a few pamphlets and read a bunch of things. We also got a new edition of the local paper, but this one wasn't as filled with grammatical errors as the previous one.

We opted not to do a horse-and-buggy ride, but we didn't get an opportunity to tour a farm and house, which we wanted to. So, we'll be back at some point, and we'll probably consider getting Amish BBQ, since it just sounds interesting!

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