Archive for the ‘West Chester’ Category

Things to Do in Downtown West Chester

September 21, 2012

With the opening of West Chester’s newest hotel this month, it seems like a good time to showcase some noteworthy places within the city’s business district. The 80-room Hotel Warner is on High Street and within walking distance of the County Courthouse and plenty of boutiques and restaurants. Here are a few of my favorites:

The Lincoln Room, 28 W. Market St. West Chester’s oldest building serves loose-leaf tea, cucumber sandwiches and lavender scones in the same building that published Abraham Lincoln’s first biography. The lace-curtained room is full of old photos and mementoes of the 16th U.S. president.

Kreutz Creek Vineyards. This just may be the only tasting room around that lets you bring your own food AND your dog. It helps that the venerable Carlino’s Gourmet Italian Market (pictured below) is just around the corner. Pick up a tomato pie, sandwiches like sausage with bell peppers and sharp provolone, or a baguette and cheeses and head to the attractive tasting room for some Chardonnay or Cabernet Franc produced right down the road in West Grove. There’s even live music (Spanish guitar, jazz) on Friday and Saturday nights to add to the relaxing stay-awhile vibe.

A Taste of Olive. This airy shop stocks all kinds of specialty olive oils and vinegars from Italy, California to Argentina. The mouth-watering flavors include Sicilian Lemon Balsamic vinegar, Dark Chocolate Balsamic vinegar and Smokey Chipotle Olive Oil. Like any good wine bar, tastings are allowed, even encouraged, before you buy.

Limoncello. Loud and friendly and serving huge portions of Italian classics like eggplant parmesan and fettuccine Alfredo, this hot spot is a favorite of Lori Zytkowicz, owner of nearby Faunbrook Bed & Breakfast. The $9.95 lunch buffet draws crowds.

Soft Pretzel Factory. Every town worth its salt has one. West Chester is no exception.

5 Ways to Celebrate the Pretzel

May 31, 2012

Philadelphians eat about twelve times as many pretzels as the average consumer does. It’s not surprising — soft pretzels are one of Pennsylvania’s greatest products, though they often get overshadowed by the glitzier cheesesteak and Italian hoagie.
Pretzels (scandalously) didn’t make Parade magazine’s recent Memorial Day list of all-American classic foods, but I miss them desperately when I am out of the area (those mall kiosks just aren’t the same). Here are some favorite stops along the state’s unique pretzel network. I’ll save the sublime ice cream and pretzel cone combo for another post.

• The Sturgis empire. Julius’ side runs America’s first commercial pretzel bakery in Lititz, where visitors can check out the original 19th-century ovens and learn how to twist dough. Brother Tom’s side operates the factory and outlet store about 25 miles away in Shillington. Here, you can sample all types of pretzels, from cinnamon-dusted to spicy jalapeno and buy huge tins at a discount (but there are no tours).

Philly Soft Pretzel Factory. This 14-year-old franchise has won a slew of awards, and its storefronts are everywhere from Chalfont to Reading. Plus, it had the audacity to invent the cheesesteak pretzel. So wrong, but so good.

• Hanover, Pa. The factory tour of Snyder’s of Hanover is a must – a front-row look at the conveyor belts and mammoth machines needed to mass-produce salty snack foods — but the smaller, more personal Revonah (Hanover spelled backwards) is also worth a stop.

• Don’t let the humble name fool you. Gettysburg’s lively Pub on the Square sells a terrific appetizer simply called Pretzel Twists. Served hot with marinara sauce and dusted with garlic, it’s a perfect way to carb-load after a day of biking or walking the battlefields.

• Sweet pretzels in Amish country. Pretzel purists may object to this one, but there’s something about the butter/sugar combo they slather on the dough that is heavenly. I don’t even know the name of the small shop that sells them, but it’s next to one of the biggest tourist attractions in the area: Plain & Fancy Farm.

What Recession? A shopper’s nirvana in West Chester

May 16, 2012

When is Heidi Klum most likely to be on the set? How do those ankle bracelets and skin-care systems get OKed by quality-control experts?  What is Rick Domeier’s favorite movie?

Learn these and other facts about the fascinating world of round-of-clock shopping on QVC’s popular daily tours. Friendly guides share behind-the-scene anecdotes and blooper videos (everything is live), then lead you past the color-coordinated product warehouse, the audio-visual computer nerve center, and a cool observation deck overlooking the studio sets, where you might glimpse Klum, Isaac Mizrahi (a Philly native) or other celebrity hawkers.

Now is the time to visit QVC’s thriving West Chester headquarters, before the summer crowds arrive. No reservations are needed, but tours (5 per day beginning at 10:30) are limited to 20 people and often fill up in July and August. If you really want to submerse yourself in home shopping, try the deluxe three-hour tour, given most Fridays; it’s $75 a person and includes lunch in the Studio Park Commissary and visits to the green room where celebs chill before going on camera. All tours include a coupon to use in the large, attractive gift shop, which stocks all kinds of QVC items from jewelry and beauty products to Marie Osmond dolls. You will probably leave here wondering, What Recession?

A tip: QVC is in the same business complex as the American Helicopter Museum, so there’s always the option of sending your kids and spouse there, while you shop without interference. Or make it a double outing and hit both of these worthy places in one trip.

Another tip: Dads get in free to QVC on Father’s Day, June 17. Cost is usually $7.50 per person.