Friday, April 18, 2014


A good night’s sleep helped with the next day’s itinerary beginning with Longwood Gardens.  It was a short drive from the Pennsbury Inn.  As the flora was not yet in bloom, the tour was confined to the half-acre East Conservatory always in bloom. For me, it seemed quite a walk from the visitor’s center.  Upon entering we spotted a wheel chair which would then be Laurie’s exercise for the day wheeling me around.   

Interesting bathroom area set up as if it were part of a garden.

There were certainly enough rooms to view some of the most gorgeous and wonderfully scented flowers.   It was both a feast for the eyes and the nose. 

One of the rooms housed an organ and piano.  Times are set aside to simply sit there and listen to the digital music.  I could see the housing of the huge pipes. 

Here is the 101 on it.  Composed of 10,010 pipes divided into 146 ranks, the Longwood Organ is the largest Aeolian organ ever constructed in a residential setting. Pierre du Pont was an organ aficionado who, in 1930, replaced the original organ with a much larger, custom-designed Aeolian model that remains in Longwood’s Conservatory to this day.

I am looking to return when the gardens are in bloom.

Exploration brought us to dining located just across a bridge where there are two dining options.  One is a more cafeteria style while the restaurant called “1906” offers a more upscale lunch with a view. 


Hooked on that raspberry tea, they happened to have a raspberry mint tea giving a choice of added alcohol.  Too early for me.  Bread was served as a brioche resting in a plant pot.  How cute. Out came an amuse bouche of English pea puree.  We shared each of the courses ordering a half dozen Chesapeake oysters on the half shell and a flatbread with buttered lobster, artichokes and parmesan were the appetizers.  One entrée was a Rainbow Trout with white asparagus, Swiss chard, heirloom radish salad and black garlic puree on the side…I do not appreciate garlic. Soy glazed Skuna Bay Salmon was the other entrée. It was served with White Asparagus, Heirloom Radishes, King Trumpet Mushrooms, New Potatoes, and Sea Beans.  


Being that a local ice cream company was providing, I had to sample some opting for the Cappucino.

With Brandywine Valley being the Mushroom Capital of the World, there was nothing left to learn after experiencing Phillips Mushroom Farm where the focus is on Specialty Mushrooms.  Most people use the common white button mushrooms. Incidentally, these are not “wild mushrooms”. Think of it as choosing “wild” or “farmed” products.

Although tours are not open to the public General Manager Jim Angelucci took us through each of the buildings and rooms that housed the various mushrooms, all grown in different ways depending upon the type.  Spores, vs. seeds, are mixed into a casing of peat moss (that they create) serving to hold in the moisture since the fungi need the dampness to grow. During the “pinning” stage pins of mushrooms push up through the casing. What you see on mushrooms is not “dirt” but peat moss.  It is illegal for farms to use pesticides, so you shouldn’t think of washing mushrooms as if you were scrubbing off a potato. The mushrooms are then harvested by hand as there are no machines capable of selecting them.  


What are the varieties?  Portabella: largest of the commercially available varieties that have a taste and texture compared to a filet mignon.  Baby Bella (crimini) are similar to the white button mushroom but more intense.  There is size of bella in between best used for preparing stuffed mushrooms. Shitake: classic mushroom shape having a meaty and earthy smoky taste, texture is firm and slightly chewy.  Oyster: variety of species of these having a texture much like their seafood namesake with a mild taste and pleasant odor.  Beech: most popular in Japan; crisp firm flesh with short, thick stems.  Maitake: commonly known as either Sheep’s Head or Hen-of-the-Woods that form a brown to gray cluster on a stalk.  Royal Trumpet: also known as King Oyster with trumpet-shaped caps resting on a tender white stem.  Pom-Pom: white sphere with soft spines and no stem with a mild sweet taste that have been compared to lobster or very tender veal. 


The Visitors Center allows you to see a short movie as well as being able to purchase both the fresh mushrooms and various mushroom products. 


We are now checking into the second accommodations called Tree Top Suites. Kathi Lafferty, known as “the mayor of Kennett Square”, rents out four furnished apartments as well as a twin home.  Although there are enough hotels and motels, there are those that may be coming in with a family for a weekend, week or perhaps someone doing business in the area for a month.  Here Laurie and I have separate bedrooms and a shared bath.

Kathi’s full-time business is called The Mushroom Cap, home of “Snack N Shrooms” a very tasty mushroom snack chip.  Considering that we started with just plain potato chips, the industry went to various vegetable chips.  I had never heard of seen mushrooms being used until now.  She dehydrates slices of white mushrooms and seasons them.   She originally started by drying various types of Kennett Square mushrooms she made them into a powder.  They come in the original, garlic, spicy mild and spicy hot.  You may want to simply snack on the shrooms or toss some into your salad or soup…something you would not most likely do with potato chips. 



Kathi has also assembled paraphernalia and artifacts from the mushroom industry housing an exhibit and short video.  She works in cahoots with Phillips Mushroom Company GM Jim Angelucci. That means you can purchase fresh mushrooms as well.  In case you want to grow your own shitake and oyster mushrooms, kits are available.  I love the t-shirts that say, “Shitake Happens”. 

September is National Mushroom Month and this would be the place to celebrate.  If you happen to be there for New Years Eve, you may just see a mushroom drop at midnight.

A number of Mexicans work in this area, particularly with the mushroom industry.  With that, there are a few authentic Mexican restaurants to venture into.  We sought out one called La Puebla, just a few blocks off of State Street.  It is billed at being “gourmet”. 

We met the owner, Cristobal who told us that he had formerly worked at mushroom farms in the area. His wife, Mariana is the chef.   Judging by the name of the restaurant, they came from the city of Puebla, somewhat near Mexico City. 

Had to have a Margarita and was asked which Tequila I wanted.  Tequila 1800 was to be the “smoothest” and opted for that.  I also ordered an “Aguasfrescas”, a homemade drink choosing one made with lime and cucumber.  Totally refreshing! 


Needless to say, chips and dips are “necesito”: a spicy guacamole and salsa served to whet the palate.  For the entrée we selected Steak Fajitas with grilled with bell peppers, onions, tomatoes and corn tortillas.  Rather than having rice and beans, I requested extra grilled veggies. A second entree was the Mole Poblano. Dry Chile anchos, sesame seeds, pumpkin seeds, peanuts, almonds,  raisins, plantains,  and chicken broth is the base of which chicken was the option to having pork. A mole sauce is known to have chocolate it in.  This one did not.   

It was clear that Mariana was proud of her cooking skills.  I watched the customers coming in noticing that A Taste of Puebla had a huge draw from locals. 

Dessert was Pastal Tres Leches.  This restaurant made marble cake was soaked with a mixture of three milks, garnished with whipped cream, sweetened condensed milk and chocolate syrup.  That was one delicious dessert that simply added to a delectable meal.

Hearing that they are having free entertainment at Flickerwood Wine Cellars Tasting Room,


 we decided to drop by hoping that the talent would be “decent enough”.  I’m not sure if the place was packed for being a place to go on a Friday night or for the singers performing; Charrity and John.  


The tasting bar is located just as you enter.  Continue past to what appears to be a restaurant with various sized tables such as the ones with the higher seats.  The back area is where the entertainment happens, although not an everyday thing, but the first and third Friday of the month.

Flickerwood is a byof…bring your own food.  Bring food from home, take out from a restaurant or in this case, there was a long table of customers first munching on some of the cheeses that Flickerwood offers as well as someone bringing in three pizza boxes.  I’m not sure as to whether the pizzas were eaten as I then viewed Sandra Morris, manager of Portbabello’s, hauling in much food.  


Let’s get to Charrity and John.  They both have great voices, totally on pitch when they harmonize, and warming personalities.  Had I known that they do not have a CD as yet, I might have asked if I could record them…at least for youtube.   Charrity is so totally outstanding!  I felt as if I was viewing American Idol and she was the winner.  We stayed until closing.

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