Food & Spirits: Longwood Family Restaurant (Kennet 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?

2016-08-06 11_00_45-jacques pepin julia child - Google Search

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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Food & Spirits: Pizza City (Strasburg, PA)

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Restaurant: Pizza City

Date: July 23, 2016

Location: 6 East Main Street, Strasburg, PA

Did you really just go for pizza in the middle of Amish Country? I have driven past Pizza City in Strasburg for years. It sits in an unassuming building. You would probably miss it if you weren’t looking for it. Located in historic downtown Strasburg, it sits catty-cornered across the street from the Creamery. The sign is small; there is hardly any fanfare going on outside. No “open” sign. Do they even want you to know they are there? Online reviews are actually sparkling. But there is that age-old question for pizza made outside of the NY/NJ area: can it really be good or would it just be tolerable because there are hardly any other pizzerias around? Then there is the chance that it will be plain horrible. Of course, if you live where I do, we can be rather snobbish about pizza.

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Food & Spirits: Cracker Barrel (Lancaster, PA)

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Restaurant: Cracker Barrel Old Country Store

Date: July 24, 2016

Location: 35 South Willowdale Drive, Lancaster, PA

The Cracker Barrel is a place you can’t go to unless you’re absolutely starving. Normally, I have an aversion to visiting chain restaurants while on vacation. However, it seemed like the right place and right time to check this place out. People have raved about it for years. Every time I have ever passed, the parking lot is full and people are waiting outside. One glance at the menu and its prices and you will realize why. This is down-home, artery-clogging southern cooking. With items such as a chicken-fried steak, classic fried chicken and fish dishes, and buttery biscuits, this is not a place you want to visit if you are watching your waistline. Hell, your cholesterol might go up just sitting in the parking lot before you even go inside.

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Food & Spirits: Joni’s 340 Diner (Smoketown, PA)

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Restaurant: Joni’s 340 Diner

Date: July 26, 2016

Location: 2481 Old Philadelphia Pike, Smoketown, PA

I’ve discovered that every vacation, no matter how good or bad, will contain one restaurant dud. Well, actually, Joni’s 340 Diner would probably classify more as a bomb. We should have taken the warning sign that there was not a soul in the place that perhaps we should have moved on to greener pastures. Instead, we saw the rather lovely decor and decided it couldn’t be that bad. A few minutes later, another customer wandered in. Judging by his conversation with the one and only waitress, he was a regular. Like maybe a four or five times a week regular. I can only deduce that this man has no taste-buds in his mouth or is putting himself through some kind of excoriating torture slightly less painful than self-flagellation. The waitress was very pleasant and attentive. Offering refills several times and even asking if we wanted takeout cups for our drinks. Unfortunately, that was as good as it got.

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