Your cholesterol may go up just reading this. You have been warned.
When I was nine or ten and eating at Dienner’s Country Restaurant in Lancaster, Pennsylvania, I placed something on my plate from the buffet that looked like a brownie to my young and naive eyes. I took a bite. It was no brownie. When the waitress came by, no doubt a Mennonite herself, I asked what exactly “scrapple” was. Without holding anything back, she bluntly said, “Well, when we’re done butchering the animal and making sausages and bacon, whatever is left gets ground up into scrapple.” She actually said it with a pleasant smile on her face before moving on to another table. Being as young as I was, of course, I was a bit grossed out. Fast-forward 15 years or so, and scrapple has become one of those treats I look forward to when I get to Amish Country. In fact, the only place I will eat it is at Dienner’s because I know it is fresh. If you’ve been following this blog the last few days, you’ll see my review of said restaurant. Not to rehash what I previously said, but the place is amazing. Their bacon is crispy—the best you’ll ever have. There are two different kind of sausage, and all other kinds of meat dishes. But then there’s the scrapple. Pork-heavy, deep-fried, artery-clogging goodness. Hey, pass the Lipitor.
Our view of the Conestoga River.
Date: Cumulative Visits (recently May 2, 2016)
Location: 1501 East King Street, Lancaster, PA
Here’s another place in Lancaster where I have been coming for years. I’ve always had a lukewarm approach towards it because dining experiences here have ranged from pleasant to dreadful. Last night’s visit was a hearty mix of both, leading to a score which was a little above average. We started sitting outside on the patio. It was a beautiful spring night along the Conesotoga River. I had a Jack Daniels on the rocks which was a nice pour and only $5.50, which is about as cheap as you will ever see it. Will had a frozen margarita which was long on ice and short on booze. Coming in at $8, it was a total waste. Our appetizer was the brisket fries. This was the highlight of the night. A large mound of fries was covered in brisket, barbecue sauce, baked beans, and cheddar cheese. The flavor was awesome, though they could have put a little more brisket on it. The $11 price was perfectly fine. Halfway through the dish, it started to rain and we moved inside from the beautifully lit patio.
Restaurant: Dienner’s Country Restaurant
Date: Cumulative Visits (most recently May 2, 2016)
Location: 2855 Highway East, Ronks, PA
Pennsylvania Dutch buffets in Lancaster are a dime a dozen. Some are plentiful and fresh while others have seen better days. I’ve been coming to Dienner’s since I was a little kid. Over the years, the visits have been numerous but always for breakfast. Yesterday, we decided to try the lunch buffet. We had just spent two hours on the road and had not eaten yet. To quickly summarize the breakfast buffet from past visits: the bacon is super lean and crunchy, and the home fries are crisp. Everything is fresh, from the scrambled eggs to the scrapple (this is the only place I’ll eat the sinister looking patties of deep-fried pork byproducts), and even warm shoe-fly pie. That’s pretty much all I have to say. It’s amazing, and for something like $7 it is well worth it and will fill you up for the day. Their lunch buffet also gets a good commendation. There is an assortment of homemade meatloaf, fresh country ham, rotisserie chicken, and about 10 different vegetables and starches on the side. It also comes with a salad bar, dessert bar, and a fridge full of pie slices. All of this for just over $10.
Every so often, I share with my blog readers a debate I have had. A few months ago, I was in an email debate over Christopher Columbus and whether or not his holiday should be celebrated. Though I rarely post political commentary on here, I want to share this debate I had this morning with my good friend and fellow history graduate at NJCU, John DeSarno. I have known John for three years. We’re both Rangers fans. He’s a nice guy, intelligent, and logical, yet we happen to respectfully disagree on the issue at hand, the topic being whether or not the minimum wage should be raised to $15 per hour. John is an avid Bernie Sanders supporter and is for the idea. I, on the other hand, oppose it. I actually consider myself quite liberal and would support Uncle Bernie over Hillary Clinton just for a shake-up to the establishment, but I do not agree with some of his views.
When it comes to Indian restaurants in my area, they are all BYOB. When it comes to a BYOB, I’m not much of a wine guy so usually that means I end up just having water. I’m not a big fan of bringing beer to a restaurant either because it gets warm fast and I’m not the type to lug a cooler in. Readers of this blog know I like my food hot. I once ordered food in a Thai restaurant so spicy (a “4-star” according to their heat guide on the menu) that the chef came out of the kitchen to see who it was sweating and suffering over what they had just cooked. That’s also another reason why I don’t drink wine with Indian food. Again, I want my food spicy and authentic as possible. Indian restaurants vary greatly as to what they consider “hot”. Some are a bit heavy-handed while others barely come across as mild even as I beg the waiter, “Tell them to make it as hot as they can”. In doing so, this limits me to what I am bringing to a BYOB (red wine just makes it burn more), until the night I had a revelation. It was actually in a Thai restaurant when in walked a party of about six or seven Indian men. They sat down and out came two—count ’em—two bottles of Dewars 12. I could tell by the packaging. Of course, why didn’t I think of that?
On April 5th, the Indiegogo campaign for a new Civil War short film titled Our War will be marching into action, in need of fan support to help subsidize the cost of production. The movie is to be directed and co-written by J.D Mayo, who has extensive work with independent films, as well as Civil War historian and reenactor Steven Hancock, who will be producing the film as well as writing the screenplay. Having known Mr. Hancock for many years, I can attest that his passion and knowledge for the American Civil War will make for an interesting film project, which we can be sure will be as authentic and historically accurate as possible. Pre-production has already been underway, with the filming of a teaser trailer featuring the star of the film Ryan Daniel Thompson, who appeared in two episodes of the hit AMC historical drama Turn: Washington’s Spies.
Restaurant: Hmart (Food Court)
Date: March 21, 2016
Location: 1761 Route 27, Edison, NJ
In Edison lies one of the greatest stores I have ever been to. It has an unassuming name for a place where you can find thousands of items relating to Asian cookery, in regards to both food and cooking tools. I could have spent the entire afternoon browsing around. My mouth was watering. The store is called Hmart, and is the size of a Walmart. When you first walk in, you are met with a row of stores within the store itself, and then a small food court which is where Will and I ate yesterday. There was Chinese, Japanese, Korean, and more. Right behind that is the produce section, butcher, and fish market, all catered to Asian tastes. The whole store, in fact, is located in a shopping center which contains other Asian restaurants, including a Mongolian grill and Vietnamese-French bakery, which we also visited yesterday. Anyway, with so many choices, I told Will to order for me since he had been there before. He got me a soup that came served to me bubbling, and although I wasn’t crazy over it, I could appreciate how fresh and authentic it was.