Grab your mugs and try this delicious, boozy twist on classic hot cocoa: wine-infused hot chocolate! Can you really combine two of the best things in the universe? The answer is yes! It may not get you buzzed, but it will give you that warm fuzzy feeling. It’s simple to make, too, and you can experiment with different recipes until it’s just right. Head to EliteDaily.com and search “wine hot chocolate.”
Java Have It
Give the gift of local choice this holiday season with the AlottaJava Gift Card! With this card, you support small businesses and boost our local economy, as 100% of its redeemed value is returned to area businesses. Recipients choose from participating coffee shops and restaurants in West Chester and Downingtown. There’s no better way to spread holiday cheer than supporting local! Purchase online at AlottaJava.com.
Give Fruitcakes a Chance
Let’s face it … fruitcakes face lots of criticism and are notoriously re-gifted. But with December ringing in National Fruitcake Month—who knew?—we’d like to change your mind. Although these desserts have a bad rap, it wasn’t always so. For hundreds, maybe thousands of years, they were a popular staple around the world—from Egypt to Rome. Help fight the stigma and try Food Network’s Five-star Free-range Fruitcake recipe from Alton Brown. FoodNetwork.com/Recipes.
Matunda Ya Kwanzaa
Celebrated for seven days starting December 27, Kwanzaa got its name from the Swahili phrase matunda ya kwanza, meaning “first fruits of the harvest.” The table is set with symbolic foods, like mazoa—fruits and vegetables symbolizing the bounty of the harvest. Other staples include soul-soothing Southern foods and African flavors like Moroccan-spiced couscous dishes, collard greens and spiced yams. Food websites offer inspiration—AllRecipes, Epicurious and more. There are even Kwanzaa wines recommended in this issue’s “Wines for Every Holiday.”
Philly Takes the Pie
The Daily Meal has been ranking the best pizzas since 2012. This year, their “101 Best Pizzas in the Country” spans 23 states—with four pizza places in the Philly area making the cut! Lorenzo and Sons, known for their jumbo cheese slices, ranked number 71. Head to their West Chester location on Gay and High Streets and taste for yourself. TheDailyMeal.com.
Ever dreamed of wearing chef’s whites—that cool double-breasted jacket? Check out Culinary and Hospitality Day at Delaware County Community College where you’ll be inspired by the best! Join Culinary Arts Program Manager and Philadelphia’s Chef Educator of the Year, Peter Gilmore, for a fun class where you’ll watch a cooking demo and learn about a career in the culinary and hospitality fields. Sharpen your cooking skills (and your chef’s knives) and register for the October 14th session at the Marple campus. DCCC.Edu/Info-Session.
Ditch the Takeout
Weeknight cooking can be frustrating. There just isn’t enough time in a busy day to spend hours prepping dinner. Luckily, award-winning local cookbook writer Kathy Brennan (Keepers) has a plan—The Dinner Plan: Simple Weeknight Recipes and Strategies for Every Schedule. With 135 no-fuss recipes and five strategies, Brennan makes cooking quick, fun and painless. Instead of ordering takeout tonight, buy a solution to your dinner-prep blues! Available at Wayne’s Main Point Books, Exton’s Wellington Square Bookshop and other independent booksellers.
October is National Chili Month, so as the weather gets cooler, the smart move is to warm up with a hearty bowl of soul-satisfying goodness. Folks from Texas would likely agree, since their love of chili predates 1977, when they made chili their official state food. And West Chester shares the love when it celebrates the traditional dish at the 15th Annual Chili Cook-off on October 8th. Stop by for a palate-clearing mint at the County Lines table! WestChesterChiliCookOff.com.
47 Thousand Farmers Can’t Be Wrong
That’s the force behind D.C.-based Founding Farmers, a full-service restaurant and bar serving food grown locally and with care at its new King of Prussia Town Center location. This 14,000-square-foot eco-friendly urban farmhouse serves up breakfast, lunch and dinner for up to 300. With a menu of sustainably sourced food and drink—freshly baked bread, house-churned butter, homemade ice cream—Founding Farmers is making dining out wholesome. WeAreFoundingFarmers.com.
Celebrate the nutty holiday of National Nut Day on October 22nd, a day with a not-so-nutty origin—it was started by the Liberation Foods Company to advocate Fairtrade nuts and promote healthy living. Need a simple recipe to mark the day? Whip up fall harvest nuts by mixing honey granola, mixed nuts, cinnamon, dried apples and pears. For nut allergies, swap out the nuts for peanut-free granola. With this healthy snack, who needs Halloween candy? HomeMadeHooplah.com/Fall-Harvest-Mixed-Nuts.
You may have found Joe D’Andrea’s homemade, artisan pasta at local farmers markets and tasted it in area restaurants even before it became a Best of Philly hit. Now, after six years in the business, Vera Pasta has its very own retail storefront in West Chester! Shop for over 20 different types of organic, ancient grain and non-GMO pasta, plus seasonal specials and homemade sauce, all with ingredients sourced as naturally and locally as possible. 319 Westtown Rd., Suite K, West Chester. VeraPasta.com.
Looking for a new Netflix series worth sinking your teeth into? Foodies have many options—from the Emmy-nominated Netflix original Chef’s Table for ultimate food porn to Anthony Bourdain’s The Mind of a Chef, combining cooking with science, travel and history through the stories of select chefs. Don’t want to commit to a series? There are still plenty of flavorful films like Jiro Dreams of Sushi or Somm for sushi or wine lovers. More picks at TastingTable.com.
Oodles of Zoodles
Noodles don’t need to be of the wheat variety to satisfy. In fact, zoodles—a.k.a. zucchini noodles—are more popular than ever. Gluten-free and color-full, this healthy pasta alternative can be enjoyed in many different ways, from salad toppings to shoestring fries or all on their own. Just pick up a spiralizer and go crazy! And don’t be afraid to get creative with other fruits and veggies like carrots, sweet potatoes, squash, apples and pears. More ideas at FoodNetwork.com.
Root Down on Main
What? Another brewery in Phoenixville? Yep. Just when you thought four was enough, Root Down Brewery opened its doors this summer, carving out its space as brewery #5. Located in an old root beer factory (no surprise) with endless walls of eye-catching graffiti, the massive space has plenty of seating for a crowd and a casual, fun atmosphere. Enjoy freshly smoked BBQ from the kitchen and a selection of expertly crafted brews. 1 N. Main St., Phoenixville. RootDownBrewing.com.
Elevation of Pizza
West Chester continues to raise the pizza bar with its newest addition, Rize Pizza, also in Broomall. What makes them stand out? Their Roman style, fluffy, square crust for one—which takes 2 to 3 hours to “rize”—plus sesame seeds on the bottom and lots of unique flavors. Try fan favorites like the Venus, Monte Carlo or Southern Bell with fried chicken. Watch for an expanded menu exclusive to West Chester, including pastas, appetizers and desserts. And it’s BYOB. 124 E. Market St., Building A, West Chester. RizePizza.com.
There’s yet another brewery in our area! Moving in down the street from 2SP Brewing Company in Delaware County and aiming to open soon, Aston Abbey Brewing Company plans to bring handcrafted Belgian beer—with hints of French and German inspiration—to our ever-growing beer scene. Husband and wife team Chuck and Sue McKenna are going for quality over quantity with a focus on unfiltered and unpasteurized brewing. 340 Turner Way, Aston. AstonAbbeyBrewing.com.
What better way to celebrate the Brandywine Conservancy’s 50th anniversary than a farm-to-table dinner prepared by Chef MacGregor Mann of Junto and the Millstone Café? Save the date for August 9, from 6 to 10 p.m., and dine in a historic Chadds Ford barn on Hill Girt Farm that was one of the first properties placed under conservation easement by the Brandywine Conservancy. Enjoy vegetables freshly picked from SIW Vegetables and a BYOB meal for this very special occasion. $65–$75. Brandywine.org/Conservancy/Events.
Frosé in a Bag
Wine in a bag has a new frozen friend—frosé on the go! Enjoy this rosé slushie on the beach, at a picnic or a BYOB summer festival using the same technique you used to make ice cream in a bag at camp—or maybe in your 5th grade science class. All you need is your favorite rosé, two small ziptop baggies, ice, salt and napkins or a towel. Find instructions at Food52.com.
Calling all flavorful coffee lovers! Head to the West Chester Co-op to find coffee gem Máquina Coffee Roasters. This tiny roaster based in Gabe Boscana’s garage in Marshallton knows how to roast beans just enough so your coffee is clean and sweet—no milk or cream needed! High-quality, ready-to-order coffee beans are available for purchase at MaquinaCoffee.com or at the co-op’s Local Food Program. For another dimension in coffee, give them a try. More at WCFood.coop/2017-CSA-Program.
Craft beer meets communal outdoor gathering at Levante Brewing Company’s second outpost, Levante at the Stables! A joint venture with West Chester’s Split Rail Tavern, this newly unveiled beer garden is now open in Chester Springs on the grounds of an 1840s farmhouse. Enjoy over two acres of cozy in- and outdoor seating, plus picnic tables, local food trucks with beer-friendly fare, live music, games, fire pits and more! 160 Park Rd., Chester Springs. LevanteBrewing.com/The-Stables.
Fresh is Best! Craving a slice of authentic Neapolitan pizza? Look no further than MidiCi, King of Prussia’s newest Italian destination. Located in KOP’s Town Center, MidiCi will take your taste buds on a journey to Naples with traditional dishes like Pizza Diavola, or—calling all dessert lovers—their signature Nutella Calzone. MidiCi flies in their non-GMO flour all the way from Naples. That’s a journey worth celebrating with a second serving. 201 Main St., Ste. 100, King of Prussia; MyMidiCi.com.
Best of the Beers. Head to the 23rd Annual Buzz Off Homebrew Competition at Levante Brewing. Mark your calendar for May 19–20 to watch as homebrewers submit handcrafted beers brewed using their own private equipment. This year Levante will choose one beer from the Best of Show table to be scaled up and brewed on their system for the taproom. That’s something to drink to! Awards Ceremony 4 p.m., free, Levante Brewing, 208 Carter Dr., Ste. 2, West Chester; BrewDrinkRepeat.com/Buzzoff.
Simply Crafted. Malvern’s newest watering hole—Locust Lane Craft Brewery—is bringing simplicity back to the search for craft beers. Four base beers make up the menu at Locust Lane, with no long lists to bog down your drink selection. Try simple favorites like IPA, ESB and stout and then visit the rotating lineup of food trucks. So, if you’re looking for a new place to grab a brew, take a stroll down Locust Lane. 50 Three Tun Rd., #4, Malvern; LocustLaneCraftBrewery.com.
Community-Crafted. Just in time for Memorial Day, The Creamery in Kennett Square reopens for a whole new season of family fun. This former 1902 creamery was refurbished in 2016 and now offers a pop-up beer garden, rotating food trucks and a community gathering space with a vintage twist. Marvel at the up-cycled renovations of this once industrial space, play lawn games and listen to local music all while sipping a cold craft beer. 401 Birch St., Kennett Square; KennettCreamery.com.
Going Global. King of Prussia Mall gets another taste of global cuisine with its newest eatery. At Mistral Restaurant, Chef Scott Anderson—2014 James Beard Foundation Award Semi-Finalist—blends international flavors and his trademark “interpretive-American” style to bring patrons tempting options like Lamb Belly, Thai Duck Salad and Crispy Maitake Mushrooms. Using the best that local farms have to offer, Mistral serves small, fast plates—perfect for a mid-shopping lunch break! 160 N. Gulph Rd., King of Prussia; MistralKOP.com.
Think Fresh, Stay Local. A Chester County native, Eric Yost—formerly of The Gables, White Dog Café and Wyebrook Farm—recently opened Suburban Restaurant and Beer Garden in Eagleview Town Center in Exton, featuring his take on farm-to-table cuisine. The restaurant, adorned with long, family-style wooden tables and refurbished barn doors, features fresh produce from Chester County farms and an outdoor beer garden highlighting local craft beers to enjoy. Want to know more? Sign up for their newsletter. SuburbanBG.com.
Sweet and Tweet. With spring in full swing, there’s no better time to take a little inspiration from Mother Nature. If you’re tired of the same old strawberry shortcakes, opt instead for bird’s nest desserts! These miniature marvels can sit atop cupcakes or be made as no-bake versions—good when working with kids. Start with a base—like crunchy chow mein noodles or mini pretzel sticks—then top with chocolate candy eggs or a classic favorite—Peeps. Recipes on TasteofHome.com.
Something to Celebrate. Get your pint glass ready for New Beer’s Eve on April 6th. The night before National Beer Day on April 7th, New Beer’s Eve celebrates the end of Prohibition in the U.S. On April 6th, 1933, throngs of thirsty people waited outside bars and taverns until midnight, when buying alcohol would be legal for the first time in 13 years. Celebrate this historic event at your favorite bar or watering hole and toast New Beer’s Eve!
Farm-Forward. King of Prussia Town Center added another eatery to its restaurant row: Founding Farmers Restaurant Group. This co-op from the North Dakota Farmers Union works to promote farmers’ rights and advance the quality of their livelihoods while serving locally inspired fare. Founding Farmers offers dishes like Farmers Slaw Reuben, Seafood Bucatini and Glazed Bacon Lollis—short for lollipops. This two-story venue has its own bakery along with a dining room and bar on the second floor. More at WeAreFoundingFarmers.com.
Power Up! Too busy to whip up a quick, nutritious meal? Breathe easy because Wegmans now has Power Meals—grab-and-go prepared meals packed with flavor and nutrients to get you through the day. Each Power Meal is crafted by certified nutritionists, has fewer than 600 calories, and packs at least 25 grams of protein. And with tempting options like Black Pepper Salmon, Tuna Tataki and Ceviche over Quinoa, eating on the go never tasted so delicious. More at Wegmans.com.
The Bistro’s Back in Town.
Searching for your next favorite BYOB?
Look no further than newly opened 39 West American Bistro in West Chester. Anthony Mastroianni, formerly of Malvern’s Cosimo Restaurant & Wine Bar, has a new culinary venture with a menu ranging from classics like Grandma M’s Meatballs to trendy options like shrimp and grits. Stop in for lunch or dinner and indulge in their unique American classics with a twist. Bistro, baby! 39 W. Gay St., West Chester; 39WestAmericanBistro.com.
Whether you eat them alongside sandwiches or as a stand-alone snack, you can never have just one potato chip. Savor the salty crunch even more on National Potato Chip Day, March 14th. The world spends $15 billion a year on potato chips—that’s about six pounds of crunchy goodness per person! Pay homage to America’s #1 snack food at a Chester County institution—Herr’s Snacks—by taking one of their factory tours. Book your tour at Herrs.com/SnackFactoryTours.
Canned cocktails are on the rise and that’s the idea behind Better World Spirits’ venture to sell their own hard soda while supporting local agriculture.
The company launched a crowdfunding campaign aimed at Chester County residents to invest in this very canny idea. Better World Spirits aims to craft vodka-based cocktails (with flavors like blood orange ginger) made of all-natural ingredients canned in 12-once portions—perfect for sporting events or as an alternative to beer. More at BetterWorldSpirits.com.
Fish for Thought.
Most know them as the pizza topping everyone loves to hate.
But sardines are a superfood that’s in season during March. Sardines are a great source of vitamin B12, which regulates the nervous system to reduce that late winter stress. Skip the pizza and try them topped on toasted sourdough with red chili or mixed in with fettuccine and sautéed kale for an easy weeknight dinner. More recipes on Saveur.com.
Knock on Wood.
Barrel-aged drinks are the latest trend in alcoholic beverages—read “Spirited Wines” in this issue—and Victory Brewing Company jumped on the bandwagon with barrel-aged beers.
Victory recently introduced Java Cask, a dark beer featuring undertones of coffee from local roaster One Village Coffee. The barrel-aging process adds the sweetness of bourbon and a hint of oak to the beer as it’s tapped. Much like barrel-aged wine, beer is now getting a new flavor with the addition of wood. VictoryBeer.com/Beers/Java-Cask.
2017 Food Events
From food trucks to galas, mushrooms to chocolate delicacies, County
Lines Country offers an enormous number of festivals and parties to
eat, drink and be festive. We’ve put together a handy overview here,
but check the monthly events column in our magazine, online and in
our events newsletter for more and for more details.
Making Your Meals Quick, Easy, Delicious and Nutritious
Have fantasies of waving a magic wand and seeing dinner appear on your table? Or maybe you’re more practical and just want help sticking to a healthy diet while balancing a packed schedule. Either way, you’re not alone.
In an attempt to infuse that magic into your busy life, food services offer time-saving solutions that are as convenient as they are nutritious. And these magic meals taste amazing!
Don’t believe us? Keep reading …
For the days you’d rather stay home or don’t have time for yet one more errand, delivery services are your best bet. Luckily your options aren’t limited to pizza and Chinese.
Some healthier services take care of literally everything. Take the national service Hello Fresh, for example. They don’t just drop off pre-measured, seasonal, farm-fresh ingredients at your house every week, they include quick and easy recipes, too. Their weekly chef-curated menus are packed with wholesome, tasty meals, all customizable to your dietary preferences, schedule and household size.
If you can do without pre-made menus but still want your box of fresh goodies, look to Hungry Harvest. In their effort to eliminate food waste, this “Shark Tank” participant’s surplus produce service will drop off personalized boxes of fruits and veggies at your doorstep—plus they give you recipe ideas for how to incorporate them into dishes. Stay tuned for their expansion to Chester County!
Currently concentrated in the Philadelphia area—for now—is UberEATS. Yes, it’s an Uber for your dinner, plus breakfast and lunch. Get food delivered from your favorite nearby Philly restaurants, all with the tap of a screen in their app.
If you can muster the energy for pickup, your fast but healthy food world expands deliciously.
Places like Snap Kitchen, in Malvern and Villanova, offer high quality, quick meals to-go that won’t break the bank. Their chef-created and prepared menu is “100% tasty” with “0% cooking,” unless you consider heating in the microwave and operating a fork cooking. Everything is nutrient-dense with controlled portions, perfect for sticking with your diet, even for dairy or gluten free, paleo, vegan, vegetarian, Whole30 or a combination.
For a full-course meal, HomeCooked in Paoli, celebrating their 10th year of business, earns their name. They do all the shopping, chopping and prepping, so you get a home-cooked, made-from-scratch meal you can grab and go pop in your oven. No fancy cooking skills required.
“Clients love our service because it saves them time and makes them feel good about what they’re eating,” says owner Claire Phillips Guarino. “They just skip all the usual work.” And when your family is juggling packed work, school and activity schedules, time saved feels like a godsend—especially when you can buy meals in advance.
One-stop gourmet shops like DiFabio’s Market & Tap in Media are perfect for eliminating extra stops if you need other groceries. Pick up beer, sinfully sweet baked goods and chef-selected to-go meals from their Italian market, all in one place.
Ludwig’s Village Market in Ludwig’s Corner is another high-end market worth checking out, with new additions on the way. Currently specializing in prepared foods for quick quality eats, they also provide fresh produce, meat and seafood for when you do want to cook, as well as convenient delivery services for customers in need.
Later in 2017, they hope to expand to include personal chefs to cater to more diverse needs. “Personal chefs are in demand these days,” says proprietor Matt Hilden. “Whether you’re on the Atkins diet, gluten free or just want more customization, we’re excited to offer even more options.” Stay tuned!
For instant dinner with an even more custom touch, personal chefs can’t be beat—if your budget allows. A personal chef will work with you one-on-one to devise a meal plan that’s just right for you and your family, and then do all the work.
Chef Emily Scott of The Wildflower Chef understands just how challenging eating right can be. “We give our clients the ability to stick to the type of diet they want, without having to think twice,” she says.
The Wildflower Chef team plans, shops, cooks and packages meals in their West Chester kitchen, then drops them off on your schedule for quick and easy fridge or freezer storage. All you do is follow simple reheating instructions.
“Hiring a personal chef means eating the types of high-quality, nutritious foods you know you should be eating, just without the time, effort and willpower,” says Emily.
Another local life saver, Chef Chris Welsh of Secret Ingredient has seen a diverse client base in her 15 years of business, from working couples and people with special dietary needs to those recovering from illness and busy new parents. She makes it easy for her clients to stay healthy in erratic times, helping them avoid less than ideal takeout quick fixes (and we’re not talking about the healthy options above).
Chef Slyvie Ashby of Cuisine de Sylvie takes it a step further with her “your home, your table, my cooking” motto. She not only prepares a meal, she goes to her clients’ homes and cooks it in their kitchen! Using the freshest in-season ingredients and a French touch, she offers private dinner parties, cooking classes and more. Look for her soups sold at Kennett Square Farmer’s Market and La Baguette Magique.
Speaking of classes, if you dream of cooking but still struggle with anything more complex than rice and pasta, consider trying the educational opportunities near you. You’ll be amazed how much easier whipping up a meal can be when you know the tricks of the trade.
Start with the basics. Art Roman’s Kitchen Workshop in Paoli offers great classes for amateurs and seasoned cooks alike, including Boot Camp, Knife Skills, Baking, Entertaining, Grilling and more.
Wayne Art Center has a great culinary program for both adults and kids. Check out their Tastes of the Town series where local restaurant chefs share insider tips.
In Phoenixville, Cooking Spotlight is cooking up not only classes but also private parties and team-building events for workplaces, schools and nonprofits—like Build-A-Meal Teamwork or Brunch Battles.
“Our tagline is ‘An Entertaining Cooking Experience,’” says owner Victoria Hanko. “Attendees learn a new skill or cuisine and have fun doing it.” Cooking Spotlight offers classes for all levels, with plenty of cuisine styles to choose from and chefs to answer your questions. “You don’t get that while experimenting at home!” she jokes.
For more advanced skills, Wyebrook Farm’s butchering and charcuterie classes aren’t for the faint of heart—read “Best of the Best” to see why they won Best Extreme Cooking Classes! Get an experience you won’t find anywhere else. And read last June’s Brandywine Table for Laura Brennan’s candid account of their pig butchering class.
Indecisive? Look into Chester County Night School or Main Line School Night for hundreds of adult evening classes to suit your fancy. And Delaware County Community College’s non-credit culinary courses are worth the try, especially when Chef Peter Gilmore is the teacher (more in this issue’s chef profile).
Now there’s really no excuse for settling for unhealthy takeout ever again!