FoodFest2010 (or My Trip to Pennsylvania)

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Trips to visit my family in Pennsylvania are not like our regular family vacations. On a usual vacation the day goes something like drag your rear end out of bed at zero dark thirty, breakfast, go/do/see until you’re too exhausted to move, a few hours of sleep, repeat. I usually need a few days off to recuperate when I get home. Vacations to Pennsylvania are different. In Pennsylvania we eat, and talk, and eat some more, and talk more, and eat again. I refer to these vacations as FoodFest. Ya’ll know I love food and that I love to eat; I come by this pretty naturally because I’m from a family of foodies/eaters/cooks. In fact the first thing we did when we got off the airplane was eat. Well the second thing; the first was to buy a birthday card for my grandma and the second was to eat a bag of Snyder’s Potato Chips (we don’t get them in Florida, they’re pretty good for potato chips.)

Our first food stop was the Springfield Grille in Mars, Pennsylvania. We met with my Dad’s family; his cousin’s wife Diane, their daughters Denise and Donna, Donna’s husband Dan, and two of the cutest munchkins on the face of the planet. It’s always totally fabulous to see them; I really enjoy chatting and catching up with everyone. We laughed and joked and continuously checked our phones for updates on the Steelers game. And of course we ate. We started out the meal with a combo platter that had shrimp cocktail, crab cakes, slices of smoked Gouda, and brie with rosemary garlic toast.

No before picture, because I’m a bad blogger.

The crab cakes were probably my favorite part. Fresh, with lots of crag, and well formed. The brie was tasty, but I’m still looking for the rosemary and garlic in the toasts. Then I had butternut squash soup. It was really very good. It was smooth and full of flavor. The soup tasted like fall and Thanksgiving, I was in love from the first bite to the last.

Great Soup for Fall

They also had spicy turtle soup, which I didn’t have because well I’m not that big of a fan of “spicy” as a flavor. Brother Bear had it though and he said it was pretty good. For my main course I had Seafood Pappardelle. It was out of this world.

The pasta was combined with shrimp, scallops, and clams; then topped with tomatoes, parmesan, and a white wine butter sauce. Both the pasta and the seafood were perfectly cooked. The sauce was tasty, though I wish it had been slightly thicker, garlicky and mildly sweet from the wine. The tomatoes were fresh and full of end of summer flavor.

After lunch we drove out to my Grandma’s house. Most of my mom’s family still lives in western Pennsylvania near where my mom and her siblings grew up; so when we go up we get to see all my aunts and uncles together. It’s a really great time getting everyone together at the table to talk, joke, and catch up. And of course there’s always food. We spent the afternoon watching the end of the Steelers game (boo Ravens!) and talking about life, work, and our plans to go into Pittsburgh the next day. My grandmother fed us a variety of cheese and pepperoni and Coke throughout the afternoon. There was more talking about my parent’s trip to New England (which is consecutive to our trip to Pennsylvania) and then dinner.

 It’s very familiar the way people drop in and out to eat at my Grandmother’s. It’s always been that way, it’s like she sends out a text message when all the food is on the table and people either show up eat and leave and then more people show up. It’s always been that way for as long as I can remember. Sunday night we had a traditional Italian dinner; though there are no pictures because I left my camera in the car. My Aunt Jennie brought stuffed banana peppers, which I’m told were very good…but again that spicy thing, and Italian wedding soup. The soup was comfort in a bowl; eating Wedding Soup instantly reminds me of the holidays and cooking with my mom and all the times my mom has made that soup throughout the fall and winter.  Then my Grandmother made homemade red sauce, meatballs, and lasagna. It was delicious and unusually decadent since I don’t usually have pasta two meals in a row. The whole meal was capped off with my Grandmother’s prize-winning Chocolate Raspberry Cake; which everyone is trying to convince her she should indeed enter in the State Fair after winning at the County level.

All this food and it was only one afternoon. The next day was our trip to the Strip District downtown and my Grandma’s birthday dinner (which will be a separate post).

Smiles. =)

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