Sunday, June 5, 2011

Meet the Makers Trip: Part I

Meeting the Makers...I was invited to attend a press trip for Philly Homegrown (remember the amazing mushrooms and Mystery Box they sent me earlier this year?) and spent Friday and part of Saturday with a bus full of food bloggers and writers from out of town. The itinerary was farm-centric: we'd be visiting the incredible farmers markets, farms, and farm-to-table restaurants, sampling some of the best food, drink, and culture that our region has to offer.

For Day 1, I met the group at the Four Seasons Hotel where they were staying for a rooftop garden tour. I had no idea that the Four Seasons was so energy-efficient, but it turns out they use turbines to produce 30% of the hotel's energy and enough hot water for the entire building. They also had quite a lovely garden that grows bigger each year and supplies a good deal of the food that is served at the restaurants and the bar.

From there, we were off to Mother Earth Organic Mushroom Farm in Landenberg. You've probably cooked with or eaten these mushrooms (I buy them at Whole Foods) and they are one of the first organic farms in the country. Over half of all mushrooms in the country come from this region.

We took a special tour of the mushroom house to see how these babies are grown - it's not easy! There are several stages just to prepare the "mushroom food". As for the smell that my husband grew up with (He's from Mushroom Country), I could not smell it much here but I did notice it later at another farm.

We headed to the Mushroom Cap in Kennett Square to learn a little bit about the local Mushroom Festival and then to Talula's Table for lunch. I've eaten vegan here before and knew I could expect something great - like this Grilled Eggplant Salad and a side of Green Beans with Mango & Nuts, as well as some of the delicious bread that they put out for us (all except for the Sourdough are vegan). For dessert, the table was brought platters of cupcakes, cream puffs, and cookies. I ordered a Rosemary Soy Latte, when one of Talula's super-staff asked if I was Kelly from Living on the Vedge and offered to bring me a vegan fruit plate with dark chocolate sauce. He was so nice that I couldn't say no, and I'm glad I didn't...because it tasted even better knowing a reader was looking out for me. Thank you!

We were supposed to meet Aimee Olexy, of both Talula's Table and Talula's Garden, which I was extremely giddy about, but she was unable to make it because of a school trip for her daughter that she had to chaperone.  Mom of the Year and Food Muse of the Year, done and done.

We made a quick stop at the Kennett Square Farmers Market across the street (vegan samosas! tempeh! guacamole! dairy-free naturally sweetened popsicles!, stevia lemonade!) and then hopped back on the bus for a trip to Va La Vineyard.

We  learned about these rogue winemakers who blend a variety of grapes and are not bound to any region restrictions because they don't sell in the state stores.  I had called ahead to find out if they had any vegan wines, but did not receive a response.  And then I found out that one of their fining agents is actually egg whites...

As you can see, that large V on the building had given me high hopes.

We ended up at Terrain at Styers, where I was immediately made aware that I would be returning and putting this on my list of favorite stores. We had snacks and iced tea in the cafe, after roaming the store which had a holistic beauty section that I could spend hours in, as well as cookbooks and all of the home goods that you'd ever need to throw dinner party after dinner party.

The team at Philadelphia Greater Tourism & Philly Homegrown put together such a fun tour that I was glad to be a part of - I don't get to spend much time in the surrounding counties and it was nice to meet other folks to see what they thought of Philadelphia and to show them the greener side of our city. Stay tuned for Part II, which happened a little closer to home.

1 comment:

Natalie @ AngstLovesSpinach said...

what a fun day! You're making me want to rent a car and head out to Kennett Square/Delaware County! I actually don't like mushrooms and my husband is allergic, but everything else seems so incredible! Thanks also for the info re: Four Seasons - knowing how green they are makes it that much more appealing to dine there. Maybe we'll skip Essene? haha.