A Horrible Day for Food: An NJ-based Nightmare

(kim) #21

I have greatly enjoyed your reviews from Lancaster. I lurk on the Jersey board (lived most of my life in NE Philly, and so enjoyed my South Jersey dining experiences). Now I’m in the western Philly burbs and only about an hour or so from Lancaster. You have reminded me that I need to revisit this area . . . it’s so much more than the Dutch smorgasbords of my youth :clap:

(Greg Caggiano) #22

Thank you!

I have been visiting the area since I was literally in the womb. When I went with my parents (usually twice a year), we always stayed in the county. There was Dienner’s, Miller’s, Isaac’s, and a few other mainstays. As I got older, the area vastly changed. There are now not one, but two Chinese buffets in the county area and even a sushi place. Then the place started getting built up: Rockvale and Tanger Outlets are not what they used to be. There’s now a Target, Christmas Tree Shop, Bed Bath and Beyond, etc, etc, and almost every major chain you can think of (Texas Roadhouse, Longhorn, IHOP, Ruby Tuesday, Olive Garden).

The city is surprisingly multicultural. In our short walk, we ate at an Indian restaurant and passed a Thai, two Chinese, and a Vietnamese…all in less than a mile.

Lancaster County has lost a little of its majestic, old-world charm because of it, but if you stay off 30, it has not changed too much. Still tons of open country and little mom and pop shops.

The city, which I explored for the first time this past week, was enjoyable. It was like a mini-Philly: large enough that you know its a city, but small enough that you feel safe and not overwhelmed. So many more restaurants to explore.

(kim) #23

I usually go in the summer for the corn and the ice cream. You drive through farmland way off Rte 30 and find boys delivering corn–literally torn from the field. Stop for ice cream made from the cows in the field (and barn cats hanging around for the leftovers).

Now I’ll have to revisit the city of Lancaster; it’s been at least 10 years and the best option was an Iron Hill.

(Greg Caggiano) #24

Prior to this visit, I had been to the City once, and ate at Lancaster Brewing Company. It was decent, but pretty cookie-cutter compared to all other breweries I’ve eaten at. There’s really a whole world of restaurants there. TripAdvisor currently lists 463. Himalayan Curry and Grill is ranked #3 right now.

I do love the farmland, though. Like you said, the children delivering food. Seeing the Amish kids on their scooters. The roadside Amish stands. Signs at the end of long, winding farms roads advertising fresh root beer, eggs, corn, etc. Justin didn’t believe it when I said we could literally drive up the road, knock on the door, and ask to buy something.

(kim) #25

Even better? The birch beer! That red, sudsy, flavorful concoction. My BIL and I are addicted :confounded:

And yes, just knock and ask?

(Greg Caggiano) #26

Yes, many times the signs advertising products are in front of the Amish people’s actual home and farm, not their business. So even if no one is outside, you can go up and inquire to see if they have anything for sale.

(Greg Caggiano) #27

And I must add that I am currently lunching on a bowl of radishes and raw broccoli with hummus as to counteract the copious amounts of scrapple I ate on this trip,


This is awesome! I have to visit. This reminds me of hawaii. People would have signs out at the side streets indicating what was on the menu. You could just pull up to a house and eat some killer Hawaiian food and hang out with them…amazing people.

If you would try anything like this in NJ , you would be arrested and charged with operating a “restaurant” without a permit and face all types of legal ramifications. Yet we continue to be plagued by tolls and gasoline taxes…and the highest car insurance in the country.

(Greg Caggiano) #29

Couldn’t have said it any better. You can’t even have bake sales (legally) in NJ because the products were not baked in a commercial oven. Ridiculous! One of the reasons I love the PA countryside. There’s an air of freedom about. It may only been two and a half hours away, but it is a world away from the Jersey Shore.

When I was teaching at a private school, parents would “rent” the oven in the cafeteria kitchen so they could bake and sell their cookies, brownies, etc.

(Jeff) #30

You must be talking about Lapp Valley Farm. Wonderful ice cream! (and cats) Even in the winter we stop there every visit to Lancaster.

(Greg Caggiano) #31

On an unrelated note, picked up this stuff at the Bird-in-Hand Farmer’s Market. I try to time my visits to hit the markets on the day I leave in case I want to buy meat, cheese, or produce. This market is only open Friday’s in winter.

(John) #32

Pennsylvania generally has the same sort of laws as NJ regarding food production & handling. However, the Amish are exempt from many of them in order to respect their culture. Just because they live a primitive lifestyle doesn’t mean they don’t vote & are not involved in local government. They also have exemptions to education & labor laws.

The Lancaster Farmers Market downtown is the oldest farmer’s market in the US. Another market of interest is the Green Dragon in Ephrata. I forget which days the Lancaster Market is open but the Green Dragon is only open on Fridays. Another place I stop frequently is Yoder’s Market on Rte 23. It’s a local grocery store but their baking aisle has to be seen. It’s actually a double aisle with all sorts of hard to find stuff. Also - if you get out there on a weekday, the Leola Produce Auction is worth a visit. in season, they auction about $350,000 of fresh local produce every morning. The horse & wagons pull up on one side to unload and the forklifts & trucks take it all out the other side. Anyone can go & anyone can bid. They have big lots & small lots. It’s a bit East of Lancaster just off Rte 23. The Leola Produce Auction sets the prices for the entire northeast.


Glad that was a fairly quick turnaround time too! Actually you maybe enjoyed the awesome day even more because of the fairly recent Epic Food Fail Day.

(Greg Caggiano) #34

The Amish lifestyles and their exemptions are fascinating. I have tried to read as much as possible over the years about their history. If I remember correctly, the children do not have to attend school past the compulsory age in Pennsylvania, which is 15. Most Amish and Mennonite children do not seek further education because it is thought to be unnecessary (though a tiny percentage do go off to college to study agriculture to improve farming methods).

Have been to Green Dragon many times. I used to get the best root/birch beer from a stand there. There also used to be an amazing hot dog place. I think they are still there. I would not find much to buy in the flea market area, but you could really snack your way through the day there. I sat in on a live poultry auction a few years back just to have the experience

Went to Central Market in the city once. Was very young and do not remember much. They are open Tuesdays only. My favorite market is Roots in Manheim, also Tuesdays. Massive flea market with people selling everything imaginable, plus an auction and produce market.

(Greg Caggiano) #35

I was thinking about it the whole time. Also thinking, “I deserve this.” :smiley:


My only experience with NJ is Newark Airport but spent a few days in NYC but lots of time upstate.

It seemed there were taxes on everything and laws against everything else, but the pizza was fantastic, especially upstate.

Hey, whatever happened to that Amazon thing in NYC?


Wow I’d like to try that popcorn. The Wifeacita is a genius with Orville stovetop I’d like to see what she could do with the Amish popcorn.

(John) #38

After some local opposition, Amazon cancelled plans for HQ2 in NYC.

(kim) #39

That’s it! (I couldn’t think of the name). I can smell the waffle cones being made fresh as I write this.