Food & Spirits: Kennett Square Odds and Ends

Below are some food and drink-related odds and ends which did not make it into my restaurant reviews from Kennet Square, Pennsylvania the last few days:

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  • Longwood Gardens, as expected, was pretty great. Gardens aren’t really my thing, and walking around in the heat and humidity was a bit of a chore, but I enjoyed it. We ended up getting tickets to the Nightscape viewing too. They have about 10 different light shows coordinated with music set up around the park. They play on a loop every 10-15 minutes allowing you to see them all as you make your way around. I thought some of the effects were pretty weak, just because of how hard it is to project light and moving images onto a tree or shrub many yards away. There were some that were spectacular, though. The ones in the conservatory are a little smaller and in a controlled environment, and therefore more robust in color. There also happened to be a bluegrass concert going on in the beer garden. We stopped in to try the grapefruit beer on tap. It was made by local Victory Brewing and very bitter, almost like an IPA (which I don’t like). I didn’t enjoy it, but where that fell short, an awesome pretzel picked it up. No kidding, it was the best damn pretzel I’ve ever had in my life. Soft and hot on the inside, crispy on the outside, and packed with plenty of salt. For $6, it was a long braid and came with warm beer cheese, garlic butter, and grain mustard.

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Food & Spirits: Half Moon Restaurant (Kennett Square, PA)

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Restaurant: Half Moon Restaurant and Saloon

Date: August 25, 2016

Location: 108 West State Street, Kennet Square, PA

After an abominable meal the night before, I desperately needed something good to bring me back. We visited The Mushroom Cap which is a store in town devoted entirely to mushrooms (and includes presumably the world’s only “Mushroom Museum”) and asked the worker what restaurant she recommended. She steered us over to the Half Moon, which specializes in exotic meats. They actually have a menu full of normal items, but when I have the chance to try something I probably couldn’t get anywhere else, I go for it. When we walked in, the place reminded me of the saloon in The Shootist, John Wayne’s final movie. Not western themed, just old school and classy. Everything from the floors to the booths, walls, and bar. It was beautiful, but when we were told they also had a rooftop atrium, we decided to go sit up there. With a view of Kennet Square and a clock tower in the background, it was a nice spot to have a drink.

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Food & Spirits: Kildare’s Public House (West Chester, PA)

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Restaurant: Kildare’s Public House

Date: August 24, 2016

Location: 18 West Gay Street, West Chester, PA

It was a beautiful afternoon yesterday and although the inside of the pub was gorgeous, we decided to sit outside. The menu was full of contemporary American classics as well as old Irish favorites. As soon as I saw the full Irish breakfast listed, I knew what I wanted. I had never had one before. Pubs in New Jersey rarely serve them except as specials on weekends. Before the meal, we had an order of deviled eggs. I’m not usually a fan of them, but these were okay. The filling was light, and stabbed into the middle of each of them was a small piece of jerky to give it some added smokiness and saltiness. For drinks, Will had some tiny $7 cocktail which was sparkling wine over sorbet, filling up only an insulting half of a glass. I went with an easy one: Bushmills on the rocks, and later trying a Jameson Black Barrel. The whiskey selection was superb.

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Food & Spirits: Longwood Family Restaurant (Kennett Square)

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Restaurant: Longwood Family Restaurant

Date: August 24, 2016

Location: 938 East Baltimore Pike, Kennet Square, PA

After going more than a year without visiting any horrific restaurants, I have now hit two in the last two months. I’m not even going to introduce the Longwood Family Restaurant with any pleasantries. This place sucked, plain and simple. I might have been able to find better cuisine out of the vending machine in my hotel. I laughed at the line on the bottom of the menu saying how they offer catering for large parties. Shit. I wouldn’t let this place feed their scraps to my cat. Despite recommendations of several good restaurants in and around Kennet Square, we decided to go to this trash bin instead. Why? I don’t know. It seems every vacation I take has one restaurant that was a bomb. This would classify as our Hiroshima, Nagasaki, and whatever is going to start World War III rolled into one.

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Food & Spirits: Johnnie Walker Select Casks Rye Finish

Photo credit: manofmany.com
Photo credit: manofmany.com

It’s not Scotch and it’s not Rye. So what is it, then? How about just damn good. Johnnie Walker Select Casks is going to be a series over the coming years where their Cardhu single malt is aged in barrels atypical to their usual Scotch production. The first in this line is American Rye whiskey barrels. For 10 years, the product will age in a “first fill” oak cask before being transitioned to a rye cask. The result is unusual and unexpected, but definitely worthwhile. For the veteran whiskey drinker, it may take you a few seconds to grasp what it is in your mouth. Fans of Johnnie Walker will no doubt expect that signature taste, but even though we know it isn’t coming, our taste-buds are still a bit perplexed.

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More “Gods and Generals” Footage You’ve Never Seen

James Horan as Col. Arthir Cummings in "Gods and Generals" (2003).
James Horan as Col. Arthur Cummings in “Gods and Generals” (2003).

It’s been nearly three years since my last post about Gods and Generals. If you go way back, you may remember my 2011 series when I blogged about the release of the highly anticipated extended director’s cut. This past July was the fifth anniversary of when I was invited to Manassas, Virginia by Warner Brothers to cover the official premiere at the Hylton Performing Arts Center. It was one of the defining moments of my life, and I am proud to call friends a few actors who I watched on-screen since my childhood. Anyway, I have actually stumbled onto some new footage. You’ve probably never seen it. Heck, anyone aside from director Ron Maxwell and those in the editing room probably haven’t seen it. Except for James Horan, who played Col. Arthur Cummings in the First Manassass battle scene. I was looking over some of my old work (I interviewed him in September of 2011; one of many cast and crew members I had the pleasure of speaking to in my blogging adventures) and one thing led to another, and I was on Horan’s website. I started watching a highlight reel of his acting, and lo and behold, there was a clip from Gods and Generals I had never seen before.

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Food & Spirits: What Happened to Cooking Shows?

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I’ve been watching a lot of Jacques Pepin lately. My friend Dave introduced me to a website called Twitch, which generally broadcasts video games. They also have a couple of live streams every week (and some daily) which include older cooking shows and even 24-hour marathons of The Joy of Painting with Bob Ross. While I would most definitely rather put a gun to my head than sit at the computer and watch someone else play video games, the streams they offer are pretty cool. The food channel includes Jacques Pepin, Julia Child, a show from the early 2000’s hosted by the both of them called Julia and Jacques Cooking at Home, Great Chefs, A Taste of History, and a few other ones less noteworthy. Most are from the 1990’s and all of them are former PBS broadcasts, which is why they are allowed to be streamed.

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Food & Spirits: Opening a 40 Year Old Bottle of Drambuie

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Drambuie: Then and Now

Leave it to me to go to an estate sale and come home with a bottle of booze. It was hidden behind the opened front door as I walked into the house. A case of old liquor, including a few brands I had never heard of. And there it was: a bottle of Drambuie from the 1970’s. It appeared to be unopened. The seal was still on and the wrapper over the cap had not been removed. When I inquired about the price, I was told it was $10. Sold. I figured it was a low-risk situation. If it ended up being bad, then I would at least have a cool bottle to add to my collection. Buying old liquor is tough. I’m not into wine, but we all know how bottles need to be kept at a certain temperature and laying on their side in order to preserve freshness and keep the cork from disintegrating. As for something like Drambuie, I just had to hope that no air had leaked in. Nothing is truly air-tight, especially after decades.

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Food & Spirits: Windmill Family Restaurant (Morganville, PA)

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Restaurant: Windmill Family Restaurant

Date: July 24, 2016

Location: 2838 Main Street, Morganville, PA

Ah, the first restaurant we hit up on this recent trip is the last review I have to post. This time we stopped at one of my old stomping grounds on the way in last week. The Windmill Family Restaurant is a place that you can tell the locals frequent. It’s not exactly in the middle of the tourist area, which is actually a bummer for me. I have so many memories here (pretty sure my parents brought me here in a baby carrier back in the early 90’s), which hold up because the place has not changed at all. The restaurant itself has been in operation since the 1950’s. The food is still delicious, the service friendly, and the prices unbeatable for the portions. The only downside is that if you are staying in Lancaster, it is a bit of a hike (about 45 minutes). For this reason, I recommend you eat here on the way in for breakfast, or on the way home for lunch. Unfortunately, I have not been able to try the Windmill for dinner. If it was any closer, this would be worthy of multiple visits on each trip.

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Food & Spirits: Manor Buffet (Lancaster, PA)

Photo courtesy of Lancaster Online.
Photo courtesy of Lancaster Online.

Restaurant: Manor Buffet

Date: July 25, 2016

Location: 2090 Lincoln Highway East, Lancaster, PA

Well Greg, we already ate pizza out in Amish Country, so why not Chinese food too? Yes, I was scared. A Chinese and Sushi buffet in Pennsylvania? Even in my home state I am sometimes skeptical, and we’re a lot closer to the ocean than Lancaster. Once again, I took one for the team. I put my life on the line so that I would have a different kind of experience to blog about. I truly believed that if I left the Manor Buffet without food poisoning, it would be a victory no matter how good or bad it was. As it turns out, I was totally wrong in all my assumptions. Dead wrong. This place was actually good, almost on par with the sushi buffet that I used to frequent near my hometown in New Jersey which recently closed.

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