Amish Mash

New York is becoming colder and the trees are golden but slowly becoming bare of leaves. My good lady wife has taken to recovering these remnants of arboreal growth and packing them in her bag for some future project that will involve a leafy display of some kind. We have purloined willow from the Whitehouse Lawn, cedar from Central Park and needles of fir from the Rockefeller. It has become an addiction of sorts – she starts twitching excitedly and breathing rapidly whenever we travel somewhere new and the streets are found to be covered in the colours of Fall.

I guess I shouldn’t complain. It’s better than collecting items from New York’s diamond district.

Now it’s hard to tire of the food in new York but there does come a time when you begin to wonder if there might be more to life than huge burgers, pizza slices and creamy cheesecake. It is also true that leaves falls all over the United States and when the opportunity to spend the weekend in Pennsylvania was presented to us we jumped at the chance. I wanted to discover new grub while my good lady went into a cold sweat at the idea of finding a variety of falling fronds from the forests of Amish country.

The trains are quite expensive to Philly from New York but buses are very reasonable and they take the Lincoln tunnel which is a Disney ride of an experience in a bus three inches shorter than the height of the worm-hole under the Hudson.


We took the from 34th street to the heart of Philly for about sixty dollars round trip. It was very comfortable and we got a seat right at the front. That allowed us to feel the very fear of death the driver had to encounter on a daily basis.

On arrival in Philadelphia, the very heartland of American independence, we naturally headed for the most important historical monument in the country.

Not Independence Hall….

The Rocky steps!


which I gleefully ran up and bounced at the top just like the Italian stallion himself.

Sadly the great city of Philadelphia has chosen to place Rocky’s statue at the bottom of the stairs these days so he was not there to greet me. I was reliably informed that the museum curator determined that Rocky did not represent American ‘art’ and it’s position in front of the museum was improper.

It seems that multi-coloured worms coming out of the ground better represents the American spirit and culture.


Ok you say – what about the food?

Philly Cheesesteak is the staple of all citizens of this great city and the hot debate about the best is summed up in three words ‘Pats or Genos?’

Both are located near the Italian market in Philly from whence the great fighter ran to the iconic steps of the Museum so many years ago to eventually defeat Apollo Creed. As we passed both of these places the queues were longer than the Lincoln Tunnel so we chose to remove ourselves from the debate and sample cheesesteak from any-old vendor of fast food in a place called The Bourse ( close to Independence Hall.

It was both cheesy and steaky so I was quite satisfied and the vendor threw in another Philly speciality (the soft pretzel) for nothing!



I am told that the only thing I was likely to get for free from Geno or Pat was the suggestion that I should return to my homeland (in less polite terms) as they do not tolerate anyone who does not know exactly what they want, can state same in an understandable local accent and uses less than five words – (cheese steak, white, onions, mustard). Otherwise you may be shot and buried in a shallow grave by your server.

After touring the city we headed into rural Pennsylvania to explore a quieter, more religious community.

That is where the food really became interesting.

In a small church shop in Valley Forge we discovered Wacky Cake and Shoo Fly Cake which are Amish recipes and taste wonderful. There isn’t a link here but I have looked up a recipe and want to try making them because they are just magic.

For dinner we discovered the joy of Amish community entrepreneurship in the shape of a leaf – a Shady Maple one ( This eat-all-u-can was going to satisfy both my appetite and my good lady’s need for a tree frond fix.

This was my starter


which only left room for a small main course


and I could barely manage my dessert


that was my pre-dessert. This was dessert


followed by a large bowl of whippy ice cream (not shown – eaten too quickly).

As we tumbled out of this restaurant having spent the princely sum of $20 a head, we discovered the gift shop below sold as large a range of unusual goodies as the restaurant sold food.

My personal favourite cookie jar here


I’m afraid that was not all the food this weekend though. I know you must feel ill but bear with me.

Breakfast was late eaten but featured another local delight known as Scrapple (a cross between Haggis and Square Sausage).


Obviously that’s not all I ate – I needed something more substantial


All of this was consumed at a very charming little tearoom in Hanover, PA.


The prices were ridiculously low so well worth going here before they realise the year is 2013 not 1813.

Like these people do


Before signing off this blog entry I should mention that this weekend marked the 25th Anniversary of my marriage to my leafy-mad spouse. She is completely cookie so what better way to tell her how I feel that to show her



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