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Monday, June 29, 2015

Lansdale Beer Tasting Festival

Hi Blog! On Saturday, June 27, 2015, we attended the 6th Annual Lansdale Beer Tasting Festival!

A beer fest is a great place to try new beers without having to worry. They give you a small tasting glass. If you don't like it, you haven't wasted that many calories. However, if you do love it, you can then add that beer to your next shopping list! Here is Dave showing off his new tasting glass.

We decided to purchase VIP tickets which gave us a chance to get a one hour start on the general admission folks. It also included a full BBQ lunch, so it was well worth the added bucks. Last but not least, the VIPs got first crack at the special limited edition bottles.

We started with the VIP beers, which were arrayed on tables from light to dark styles.  Each time we approached the table, we got two different beers. We probably sampled about 14 different offerings before we started running into the really hoppy and really sour beers. Here are some of the honorable mentions: Dark Horse - Plead the 5th Imperial Stout; Destihl - Clarice Congnac; Evolution- ZL Nouveau; Fegley's - Brandy Barrel Aged Venomous; Fish - The Hobbit Series - Bolg Tripel; Fuller - Vintage; Heretic - Chocolate Hazelnut Porter.

Having satisfied our curiosity at the bottle table, it was time to circle the various tents and meet the breweries. Many of the "pourers" are actually volunteers from the local community.  Here's a photo of two of the pourers.  We memorialized the pourers in the photo below from Great Swamp Brewing in Quakertown, Pennsylvania, because we really liked their Amaretto Stout.  Great Swamp Brewing is about to open, but if their Amaretto Stout is any indication, they are going to be a brewery to watch!

All the proceeds from the event go to a number of Lansdale charities.  The list is too long to print, so here is the link. So, we get to eat and drink and support really good causes. What's not to like about this beer fest!

You can tell Dave is fully recovered from his surgery. In the photo above, he is about to get some Honey Berry Happiness from a Hooker - Thomas Hooker Brewery that is. (At least the guy below thought my joke was funny!)

We took a few minutes out from sampling to dig into the BBQ. It was pretty rainy, so everyone had to huddle together under the big tents.

The rain didn't dampen the spirits of the crowd, however. Our friends at Penn Brewery made a delicious Chocolate Meltdown Stout. This is definitely going on the shopping list!

With hundreds of breweries in the area, it can be difficult to come up with a unique name. What's not to love about Evil Genius (shown below), especially when they brew up a particularly yummy Pineapple Heffeweizen - tropical summer goodness!

Before we knew it, it was time for the general admission folks to join the party.  There were a LOT of them:

Although we concentrated our initial efforts on the VIP beers, we had time to circulate to all the other tables, and we found a lot of the non-VIP beers we liked, too!  There were many of them we hadn't tasted before.  Two of the honorable mentions from the brewer tables are Greak Lakes - Chocolate Raspberry Porter and Innis & Gunn - Scottish Porter.

We're really disappointed about the timing of this beer fest, because, while we're about to move to Cooperstown, New, which is just a short drive from Oliver's Brew Crew in Albany, where we normally can pick up individual bottles of just about any beer we can imagine - this time, our next move will be on to Canada, and we're going to be strictly limited in the amount of beer we can bring into that country.  Foiled!  But we'll keep track of the best beers we tasted here in Lansdale and find a way to pick some up when we return to the States this fall.

In the meantime, stay thirsty, my friends!

Saturday, June 20, 2015

Hatfield American Legion BBQ Cookoff!

Today was an event we have been looking forward to ever since hearing it was scheduled:  the Great Hatfield American Legion BBQ 4 a Cure Cookoff!  The event benefits the Hemophilia Foundation, and a wonderful time was had by all.

Held right across the street from our RV park, it attracted 22 professional barbeque restaurants and caterers from the region, who competed for "Best BBQ" before a panel of distinguished judges.  In addition, attendees like us were entitled to taste specialty bacon bites, prepared by each competitor according to their own personal recipes, and then vote on the "Peoples Choice" best bacon BBQ tidbit!  Each competitor set up their smokers and mobile kitchens under a cabana, with welcoming signs and unique flair:

Here's a view down one of the rows of BBQ contestants:

The aroma of smoking pork, chicken and beef wafted over the grounds.  We could barely contain our appetites as we waited for the 1:00 pm kickoff of the tasting competition.  Luckily, attendees were entitled to free soft pretzels, FRESH AND HOT RIGHT OUT OF THE OVEN!  We also served ourselves small portions of pulled pork and other barbeque delights to tide our tummies over until the tasting.

While we waited, we were entertained by a horseshoe tournament --

-- and The Little Red Rooster Blues Band, an excellent blues band complete with harmonica:

Come 1:00, it was off to the tasting.  We were going to have to taste FIFTEEN different BBQ Bacon Delights.  To the extent it didn't harden our arteries, it was going to pile the pounds on, so we decided to share a single tasting.  A fateful decision, as will be revealed below.

We enjoyed the various BBQ'ers' signs.  Many were creative and inspiring, as, for example, this one that was also pretty descriptive of their offerings:

One contestant even brought along the pig from whom they borrowed the meat.  Below, Kathy poses with the fellow


Our tally sheet and tasting notes below tell the whole story (buuurrrrrpppp!) 

Since we decided to share a tasting, we had to agree on the "one best" BBQ recipe in order to cast our vote.  This proved difficult.  Kathy found it a toss-up between White Collar BBQ --

which served up an amazing something-encrusted bacon that could be dipped in a hot melange of chocolate and marshmallow!  (David called it a "bacon s'more.") --

-- and Bearded Pigs BBQ --

which offered us an amazing habanero-infused meatball wrapped in scrumptious smoked bacon.  Not too spicy at first, but a flavor explosion, and then, afterward, as it started to become a memory, a surprise eruption of habanero flavor!

As it turned out, David thought the Bearded Pigs' habanero bacon-wrapped meatball was the hands-down winner.

There ensued a verbal tug-of-war as we tried to decide which contestant to cast our vote for.  Bearded Pigs finally won our joint Grand Champion award when we decided to give our Reserve Grand Champion award to the White Collar bacon s'mores because their bacon, itself, was -- hands-down -- the best of the festival.

Having cast our vote, we ran back over to the competitor who won our hearts -- er, stomachs -- and ask for a souvenir photo of the chef and his sign.  Here, Kathy informs him of the great honor he has been bestowed by receiving our vote:

We left after the competition, but will be going back late this afternoon to see if Kathy won the 50-50 raffle.  Hopefully not in the pouring rain and thunderstorm.

Lansdale Farmers Market

We're finally getting out and about in this area - after nearly six weeks of confinement.  Last week, Kathy discovered the Lansdale Farmers Market, held on Saturdays in the center of Lansdale.  Like many communities, Lansdale has attracted many local small farmers and crafts people to sell their produce and wares to local residents.  Like other farmers markets, this one had a festive air. However, we detected a discriminatory attitude:

Luckily, Baxter and Flip weren't with us, or they would have had a word with management about the entire exclusion of cats from the event.

The sign, however, is welcoming and shows local produce to advantage:

Kathy couldn't wait to throw all sorts of things into our backpacks:  garlic scapes, leafy K-2, beets with bushy greens, long-plump-crisp asparagus, summer squash, olives, luscious raspberries, eggs laid just yesterday!, and many more items of produce.  Here, Kathy is patronizing a produce truck that looks like it has graced many a farmers market:

The market boasts vendor tents with many exotic spices --

-- and mushrooms (we picked up some tasty looking chanterelles).

The vendor who sold us Moroccan argan oil gave us a recipe for exotic amlou, a Moroccan spread consisting of argan oil, ground almonds and honey, which is a spectacular spread or dip.

Kathy has been in the market for a walking stick - not so much to lean on, but to carry and help her train her back to walk more erectly.  This seems to help keep her back muscles from aching.  Well, who did we find at the market but a wood craftsman who told Kathy he thinks he has just the stick for her.  He promised he would bring it to next Saturday's market.  We look forward to seeing him again next week!

There was something for everyone at the market.  Music was provided last week by this band, and today by a solo guitarist:

We were even joined by a local representative of the biker set and his motorcycle mama:

David, for his part, found the vendor stall for Cardinal Hollow Winery, a local small volume winery that specializes in the Whiskey Mead that we enjoyed so much at Round Guys Brewery the other day. We decided this was a fit reason to buy a few bottles for gifting to relatives and friends (not to mention one for ourselves).

All in all, we considered this a successful morning of browsing and shopping.  We congratulated ourselves for resisting the temptation of two spectacular baked goods vendors.  You have to draw the line somewhere, you see.

Guest Blog: A Tour of Historic Letchworth State Park in Genesee Falls, New York

I was so impressed by this blog entry from our friends Ginny and Eric LaJuene, that I have to post it here in its entirety:

A Tour of Historic Letchworth State Park in Genesee Falls, New York

Today, we Escapees are touring
Letchworth State Park in
Genesee Falls.

Tom Pedlow, in the yellow
shirt, is our guide for this
tour of this historic park.

William Pryor Letchworth, a wealthy Buffalo businessman, started buying land in this area in 1859.  Besides loving the Genesee Valley, he was fascinated by the area's history and the Seneca Indians, who had lived here,

In 1898, the Genesee River Company proposed a dam that would permanently change the valley.  Mr. Letchworth donated his lands to New York State in 1906 for use as a public park.  Since then, additional purchases enlarged these public lands.

The escarpments show the
Genesee River's path through 
the layers of sandstone & slate
that accumulated for millennia
beneath the ancient inland sea 
that once covered this area.

Tom tells our group of the importance of this valley in remote western New York throughoutAmerica's history.

Mary Jemison is known as

Captured by a French and Shawnee raiding party in 1758, Mary Jemison  was taken from her home near Gettysburg was brought to Fort Duquesne (PittsburghPennsylvania). She was sold to a group of Senecas and taken to the western New York.  When Mary arrived at the Seneca village, she was given a new name, Dehgewanus.  After her first husband died, Dehgewanus married Hiokatoo, a Seneca Chief.  

The Senecas sided with the British during the Revolutionary War.  George Washington sent an army of  5,000 to western New York to kill Seneca warriors, burn villages and crops.  Dehgewamus (Mary) fled her ravaged village and settled her family in the Genesee Valley.  

After the Revolutionary War ended, the Senecas were threatened by growing numbers of settlers. Negotiations in 1797 allowed for payments from settlers to the Senecas for the majority of their lands. Twelve small reservations  were set aside for the tribe.  The Gardeau Reservation included lands set aside for Dehgewamus (Mary).   Women were considered to be their husbands' property in the 1700s.  Yet, Dehgewamus (Mary) was listed as a landowner.

This cabin was built by Mary
around 1800 for her daughter,

Locals appreciated the hospitality that Dehgewamus (Mary) offered to all who came to her home. They asked James Seaver to interview her and make a record of her life among the Seneca.  Mr. Seward interviewed Dehgewamus (Mary) in 1823, and published The Life and Times of Mrs. Mary Jemison. ensuring her place in history.

Throughout the 1800s, the Seneca reservations were sold off to settlers.  Dehgewamus (Mary) sold her lands and moved to Buffalo Creek Reservation.

This cabin was used as the
  Seneca Council House.

Mr..Letchworth bought Nancy's cabin and Seneca Council House and had them moved to his property.  At Mary's family's request, he brought her remains back to the Genesee Valley in 1874, where they were re-interred.

Southern states seceded from the Union after President Abraham Lincoln's election in 1860.  The Civil War started when Confederate troops attacked Union held Fort Sumter on April 12, 1861. Volunteers needed to be trained and sent south to fight.  Camp Portage was established in this area to train recruits.  The first group of Northern soldiers that drilled here saw action at the Battle of Gettysburg.

Mist rises from the

Camps were built for the Civilian Conservation Corps workers who built roads, bridges and walkways in this park during the Great Depression of the 1930s.  Ten years later, German prisoners of war were held at the former Conservation Corps during World War II.

This is a beautiful place
for photos.

Our next stop is
Mr. Letchworth had this
house built & lived here
for many years.

This gravity fed fountain runs
all year long.

During the winter, the freezing
water forms an "ice volcano."

This past winter, the frozen fountain became internationally famous & brought visitors to the park in the dead of winter.

The Middle Falls mist
the Inn's lawns.

Eric and I park near the railroad bridge above the Upper Falls.

We arrive in time to watch a
train cross the bridge, slowly.

Water rushes over the
 top of the falls.

Tom gave us specific instructions to look for a Bald Eagle's nest upstream from the bridge. I scan the tree tops and take photos at about 200 yards.

And there it is!

I can see two Eaglets.

Thank you Tom, for giving us a great tour of Letchworth State Park.  Its place in American history is to be celebrated.

"Look, Daddy! I drew a boy!"