Monday, February 28, 2011

1st Annual SodBusters Dinner

We're starting a new tradition on The Sheppard Mansion property this year. In past years, we've had a bunch of fun putting together our end of season Harvest Dinner, so we thought it would be appropriate to have a sister event at the beginning of the season to celebrate being able to get our hands dirty digging in the dirt. You read that correctly. We're throwing a big party to celebrate our ability to get back into the dirt and prepare our ground for planting.(or is it just an excuse to have a party???? You be the judge...)

Here are the DEETS: We're shaking things up and putting tables in The Carriage House Market. You read that correctly. This dinner/blowout extravaganza will take place in The Carriage House Market. Tunes will be crankin', food will be served family style, and wine will be flowing!

MENU: The food will all be 'garden inspired'...Fried Rettland Farms Chicken, Sheppard Mansion Farms grilled beef, truffled deviled eggs, potato salad, Samuel Martin's salad greens with chow chow vinaigrette, and yes.....there will be whoopie pies for dessert.



Seating is limited and you don't want to miss this. Reservations can me made by calling The Carriage House Market or The Sheppard Mansion 717.633.8075.

Hey, there might even be a celebratory busting of a mason jar of sod.....who knows?

Sunday, February 20, 2011

The Beauty of Disagreement

This comment was posted to my last entry by and anonymous writer:

'I was born and raised in Lancaster, but had the good fortune to be schooled in New Orleans. Although I am the first one to stand up for many things South Central PA; I am also the first to acknowledge that our PA Swiss/German cuisene is no match for the Spanish/French/Creole/Cajun flavours that South Central LA is famous for. I think what you are doing is wonderful, but our culture is what it is and as my grandfather said..."wishing won't make it so." '

I've thought of a number of ways to respond to this comment and have settled on addressing it in a full post.

There are a number of ideas that jump to my mind with regards to this comment. First and foremost is that you can't simply say 'we're better' without something to back it up. That's like the team that wags their finger saying 'we're #1' without putting on their pads and stepping on the field of play. Louisiana has beignets, PA has faschnauts. New Orleans has King Cake and PA has shoo fly pie. LA has jambalaya and PA has slippery pot pie. Both areas have a rich history and heritage with regards to charcuterie and using every bit of the animal.....and so on.....I could do this all day.

The part of this post that I actually wanted to address is the idea that 'our culture is what it is and wishing won't make it so'. I was born and raised in central PA and have CHOSEN to come back to this area to do what I love to do and celebrate the flavors of my area. I appreciate how diverse our American food culture is and especially appreciate those who work tirelessly to represent the individual flavors and culture of their respective areas. I think it is unfortunate that the person who posted this comment doesn't feel the same way about where they were born and raised, and quite frankly doesn't stand behind the flavors of south central LA enough to post their name along with their words. I'm not 'wishing' for anything with regards to MY culture. It stands proudly on its on, just like the foods of the American Southwest, the Pacific Northwest, New England and Louisiana. I don't need to think that any one is any better than the other. They are all special in their own way and we should be proud to live in a country where such a diverse food culture is represented.

I have to be honest here: I'm pissed off. I'm pissed off that somebody's picking on the area that I love. However, I'd like to thank you, anonymous poster. Your post has made me take the time to sit down and write this response. Your post has stoked an already raging fire in my belly and now I'm going to work even harder to make sure that people can be exposed to the flavors that I love. The flavors of my childhood. Listen, I'm not 'wishing it'.....I'm DOING IT.

Friday, February 04, 2011

New Pennsylvania Dutch

Yeah, you read that correctly. New. Pennsylvania. Dutch. Classy, huh?

Here's the thing: I've been talking to a lot of people lately and a common question that comes up is 'what kind of food do you cook'? While 'new american' is a popular catch all term, it doesn't really say much or create much anticipation or differentiation. After some serious thought, we all settled on 'New Pennsylvania Dutch'. Why? Here's your answer.

I'm a south central PA boy, working with growers and producers who are proudly from south central PA, cooking food inspired by south central PA. So......why try and be anything other than south central PA? It informs the way the menu is written and honestly, it informs the way we cook. The chocolate chewy caramels that you get with your check? My great aunt's recipe. The corn fritters we serve in summer? Another family gem. The fact that we churn our own butter? Yep, my family was in the dairy business in Hanover for many years. You see, you can take the boy out of Dutchy-land, but you can't take the Dutchy out of the boy, awhile.

I've cooked in many different locations, traveled throughout Europe and happily call Hanover, PA my home. I've gathered much from my work experiences and travel, but when you get right down to it, I'm inspired on a daily basis simply by walking out my front door. Many chefs hop a plane and go to France, Vietnam or Italy for their inspiration. I hop on my bike and ride out to my garden or take a quick trip to the apple orchards in Adams County.

When most people think of PA Dutch foods, one of the first things to pop into their head is buffets filled to the hilt with food. While the Lancaster area has popularized this idea, PA Dutch food is actually a very nuanced cuisine and is done a little bit of disservice by the perception that it is simply mountains of hearty 'farmer food'. As a cuisine, it has as rich a background as the foods of New England, New Orleans or the American Southwest. I'm exploring those flavor profiles. The tastes that bring back memories of my childhood and hopefully the childhood's of folks from the area. If you're traveling to the area, I want to give you a taste of the area. You see, I'm crazy proud of this area. If you're coming here from out of town, I want to give you an expression of the area. I actually think of this restaurant as a love letter to south central PA because it is.

So, what can you expect from a restaurant that calls its cuisine 'New Pennsylvania Dutch'? Well, why don't you let me let the photographs below lead really have to taste it to know it!

GREEN, EGGS AND HAM - Asparagus, country ham, caviar, brown butter mayonnaise




That's just a little taste. We're always batting around ideas about how to best express the area that we love so much. Who knows what familiar flavor profile we'll unlock next....I suppose the only way to figure that one out is to make a reservation....

How about everybody give their Dutchy a little work out....anyone familiar with this gem? My grandfather used to say it....

'Heile heile hinkle drecht bis morgen früh und alles recht'

Here's to asparagus wishes and warm sun dreams!!!