Monday, October 31, 2016

Martinsburg Edition: Orr's Farm Market

Orr's Farm MarketSomehow, in all of my travels, I had never been to Martinsburg. A tragedy, I know. But, fortunately, Orr's Farm Market changed all that.

Orr's Farm MarketFolks from the farm market reached out to me to see if I'd like to come, explore the farm, do some berry picking and show them a little love in my blog. I couldn't really get the timing right this summer, but then all of a sudden, the stars aligned for fall.

Orr's Farm MarketI had a column due for the Charleston Gazette-Mail, I was traveling to Martinsburg for work, and I had already wanted to see this farm for my blog. So, it turned out to be a win-win-win. I wrote about agritourism, I got pumpkins we could use for WVU's photo shoot, AND I get to talk about how amazing this farm is right here in my blog.

Orr's Farm MarketThis expansive farm has roots way back to the 1930s when it was a small fruit and berry farm:
During the depression days in the mid 1930’s, George S. Orr, Jr. helped his grandfather by working on his small fruit and berry farm. This farm was located just west of Martinsburg on the east side of North Mountain (Arden). As a young man George joined the U.S. Navy and traveled to California where he met his wife Juanita. With fruit growing in his blood, George S. Orr, Jr. returned to West Virginia and purchased a 60 acre orchard in 1954 and began a lifetime of growing fruit. With help from his family he increased the size of his orchard to 350 acres by 1979.

When George S. Orr, Jr. passed away in 1989, he was 62. He left his business to his wife Juanita, and their three sons (Mike, Mark, and G.W.). The corporation George S. Orr & Sons, Inc. owned 1,100 acres of orchards at that time, producing 500,000 bushels of fruit annually. The brand was “My Three Sons”. George left a legacy of determination, innovation, and competition.

In 1995 the family opened Orr’s Farm Market, a retail market to serve our local community. Over the years the Orr family has diversified into specialty crops, a pick-your-own operation, and agritourism events and activities.

Today, George Orr’s children and grandchildren are continuing the agricultural path that he paved for them. Pristine orchards are tended to by George’s son Mark Orr. A state of the art packing facility is managed by the eldest son, Mike Orr. The office is run by Mike’s wife Vicki and daughter Julie. Julie’s husband, Phil Bolyard, is IPM manager and helps with orchard operations as well. Mark’s eldest daughter Katy manages the farm market and her husband Don Dove is Packing Operations Manager. Other daughters help at the farm market during their summer breaks from college.

From the beginning Orr’s has depended on extended family and close friends to help bring in the harvests. Without such a dedicated staff of employees our farm would not be what it is today. George S. Orr, Jr. would be proud of what the family has accomplished so far, but there are many goals still on the horizon.
Orr's Farm MarketThe farm has pick-your-own pumpkins, fruit, games, activities, hayrides, a corn maze and a fresh produce market. Giant bins of apples of all different kinds were available - and you can mix and match a peck to your heart's content. I got quite a few to take home (and I may have ended up munching on all of them before I could make anything with them -- but so worth it!).

Orr's Farm MarketI picked my own pumpkin in the patch (the best looking pumpkin ever!) and skipped past dozens of others that were ~almost~ right. When you know, you know, right?

Orr's Farm MarketI then took the hayride back to the market. The hayride, by the way, is cute and takes you past the farm's animals and some of the property. Very cool.

Orr's Farm MarketThe market is something else. Like, it was beautifully set up with all sorts of pumpkin displays, those bins of apples and other general produce that takes up every shade of the rainbow. Plus, there are some fun toys and candies for the kiddos.

Orr's Farm MarketOrr's really does have it all. It's a beautiful location with so much fun things to do and the most delicious fresh produce available. They do lots more pick-your-own earlier in the season, and I, for one, can't wait to get back for some strawberries, cherries, blueberries, raspberries, blackberries, grapes... all of them, basically.

Orr's Farm MarketThis is truly a destination and some place I could spend an entire day at -- I wasn't joking when my column talked about how successful they have been with their agritourism efforts. It's grea tot see a farm like this excelling and really being part of all of our memories.

Orr's Farm MarketHave you been to Orr's Farm Market? If so, what's your favorite part?

Orr's Farm Market

Friday, October 28, 2016

Pocono Pines, PA Edition: Jubilee Restaurant

JubileeSo, my parents were vacationing in the Poconos recently, and I made the trek up to visit them. The Poconos are a mountain region full of wooded hills and valleys -- and it's just a few hours from major cities like NYC or Philly, making it a prime vacation destination and spot for second-home owners.

Poconos

We did some cool stuff, like seeing this natural boulder field that came about through years of glaciers, rain and temperature changes. Pretty cool.

JubileeOh, and we ate, of course.

JubileeJubilee Restaurant is one of the oldest restaurants in the area - around since 1968, and it's known as "The Breakfast King of the Poconos."

JubileeThe rustic family restaurant mostly serves up American fare in a wood-paneled, stone-accented cozy space. The lunch/dinner menu features some interesting items like duck bacon wontons, portobello tower, and more. Lots of soups, salads, chicken dishes, pastas, steak, ribs, salmon, burgers and sandwiches.

JubileeI went for the "Bacon Blue Burger," because these homestyle restaurants have to have a good burger in my book. It came with crisp bacon, crumbled blue cheese and a toasted brioche bun. And, overall, it was pretty decent. The bacon was kind of half-assed with just two overhanging strips criss-crossed. I kind of wish there was some sort of sauce to pull it all together, but it still was good.

JubileeI also think the pickles were homemade, and the fries were thick but crisp. Good combo. It was standard, but it was good. The service was a bit slow - I ran out of water for a bit and had to ask for more, and our server seemed a bit disinterested.

Decent food - nothing earth-shattering - and good company made for a good time, though.

Grade: B
Van Gilder's Jubilee Restaurant Menu, Reviews, Photos, Location and Info - Zomato

Monday, October 24, 2016

Morgantown Edition: Roosters Wings

RoostersSo, a new restaurant has opened at Suncrest Towne Centre. Roosters Wings, a primarily Ohio-based chain, has opened in the former Tilted Kilt/Damon's location to make it the second location in West Virginia -- the other being in Huntington.

RoostersAnd, I would think this would be a prime location, considering its proximity to shopping and my favorite Kroger, but I've seen two restaurants flounder here. I think only time will tell if Roosters stands a chance. 

RoostersThe first thing I noticed is that it is very branded. They really push the "fun, casual" phrase, and cups, to-go boxes and more are all emblazoned with their logo. The interior is open with lots and lots of light wood - for the floors, the tables, the walls, the chairs - everything is wooden. Little risque catchphrases are written on signs throughout.

RoostersTheir specialty is, of course, wings - so I ordered 10 boneless honey bbq, and we also go an appetizer: Dumpster Wedges - wedges topped with melted cheese, bacon bits, tomatoes, green onions, jalapenos and dumpster dressing.

RoostersThe appetizer came out first, and I though it was decent. The wedges were crispy - I wasn't a big fan of the dressing so I just went with ketchup. But otherwise, cheese + bacon + potato is a winning combo. I think it could've used a touch more salt.

The wings were giant, and I only had a few. These large, white-meat tenders seemed of good quality, but I was less than enthused about the bbq flavor. It was so mild. It was just not super flavorful. I even dipped them in ranch (an additional charge), but it wasn't doing it for me. I think they need some more flavor to that BBQ sauce, and when I took the leftovers home and used some Sweet Baby Ray's, it was all good.

RoostersService was a little wonky, but that' likely because we visited right after they opened. Servers were confused about who had which table, and we ended up being served by three separate servers, I believe.

Overall thoughts: Decent. Quality of wings was good, sauce was less than stellar. Does it fulfill a wing deficit in Morgantown? Not so sure. I think for my money, I might head to Bdubs.

Grade: B
Roosters Wings Menu, Reviews, Photos, Location and Info - Zomato

Friday, October 21, 2016

Cranberry Township, PA Edition: Jimmy Wan's Restaurant & Lounge

Jimmy Wan'sI was in the Cranberry Township area for work, and I decided to grab a quick lunch. A quick Google search turned up high ratings for Jimmy Wan's, a pan-Asian restaurant with a sort of loungey feel.

Jimmy Wan'sI arrived as soon as they opened, and the front desk was already swamped. They were on the phone fielding take-out orders while I kinda stood around awkwardly. Finally, though, they were able to tend to me, and I was led nice seat right in the center of the dining room.

Jimmy Wan'sI had read that they were known for their Iron Chef roll, which has shrimp tempura and spicy tuna, topped with seared salmon, avocado, scallion, teriyaki, and tobiko ($19). I ordered one of those, as well as the crab meat rangoons ($6).

Jimmy Wan'sShortly thereafter, my two dishes came out. The rangoons came out first. The crispy wontons were filled with a bit of cream cheese and lots of crab meat. These were not bad, but not the most flavorful I've ever had. The two dipping sauces were a sweet & sour, while the other was a hot mustard. These were quite a bit greasy, but they certainly had more crab filling than I'm used to.

Jimmy Wan'sThe main sushi roll was fine, too. I think it was fairly mild tasting, but the flavor itself was good. It was not something I'd want to pay $19 for again, I don't think. But it was good enough and no major complaints.

I think service is a bit off; I think it's rude to make customers who are in front of you wait while you take phone calls. I also had servers come through at random times to take the second plate from my table. I could understand at the beginning of the meal - but 3/4 of the way through - why bother? And, the food was good - not great. Not a bad lunch.

Grade: B
Jimmy Wan's Restaurant Menu, Reviews, Photos, Location and Info - Zomato

Thursday, October 20, 2016

Morgantown Edition: Back Door Bar & Tavern

The Back DoorYes, I went to The Back Door. Because I had a duty to do so. You see, Back Door has a happy hour buffet on Friday nights. And, I have it on good authority that the items are homemade (pizza and wings are from Casa D'Amici).

The Back DoorSo, what the hell? I went on Friday after work. Back Door is in a funny location, because it doesn't have much curb appeal. You can walk through the back of Casa to get to it, or you can enter through the back side, which faces the parking lot. There's a sign over top, but not much else beyond that.

The Back DoorIt's $5 to get in, and that gives you access to the buffet. They also had $2 Rolling Rock and $3 Corona. Meh, fine.

The Back DoorSo, how was it? It was fine. They had a veggie platter, some pizza, burgers, wings, pasta, meatballs, and weenies & potatoes. I think it's a pretty decent deal for just $5, but 1) it's a buffet so the quality of food is mediocre and 2) I would not want to arrive at the buffet too late for fear of what it would look like after 100 hungry drunk patrons ran through it.

The Back DoorAnd as a fun aside: The Great 'A Taste of Memphis' Debate - Layne's friend decided this would be the perfect opportunity to question my grading of one of his favorite restaurants in Princeton. This is apparently six years of built up frustration that he was ready to unleash. This is nothing new to me, folks. Food gets people all riled up, and my silly thoughts on restaurants often make me a target. Anyway, I'm sure a few heads were turned, but it was all in good fun.

The Back DoorOverall - average. The food was pretty right down the middle. The pasta was fine, and the meatballs were tasty. Average for what it is, but a good deal for broke college kids.

The Back DoorGrade: C
Back Door Menu, Reviews, Photos, Location and Info - Zomato 

Wednesday, October 19, 2016

Heston Farm Oktoberfest

Heston Farm Winery OktoberfestTis the time of year when Oktoberfest is celebrated via elaborate gatherings full of beer, lederhosen and heavy food.

Heston Farm Winery OktoberfestAnd, I was fortunate to receive an invitation to attend Heston Farm's Oktoberfest and judge its home brewing contest. The judging actually started at 10 a.m. on Saturday, and we went through and tasted a bunch of really cool, delicious craft beers.

Heston Farm Winery OktoberfestThere are very strict guidelines for styles of beers, and I did my best to judge each beer by those. Josh, the head brewer at Heston, was patient and taught me lots about beer judging and the flavors I was tasting with each beer.

Heston Farm Winery OktoberfestWe had a mushroom beer and a delicious IPA and even a mead. Very cool experience - which actually took us a few hours. Crazy.

Heston Farm Winery OktoberfestAfter the beer judging, I hung out with my friend Heather for a bit and helped get the place set up for the event. And, as soon as 4 p.m. rolled around, it was on.

Heston Farm Winery OktoberfestThere was a buffet full of sauerbraten (German style marinated beef), schnitzel (breaded chicken breast), bratwurst, spaetzel (german pasta), sauerkraut with kielbasa and apples, braised red cabbage, black forest cake and german chocolate cake.

Heston Farm Winery Oktoberfest
I got a plate full of, well, everything. My favorite was definitely the spaetzel, which is a kind of soft egg noodle found in the cuisines of southern Germany and Austria, Switzerland, Hungary, Alsace, Moselle and South Tyrol. For the buffet, it was just $20.

Heston Farm Winery OktoberfestAnd in addition to the fun home brew contest, the incredibly delicious buffet, there was also traditional music by Ron and Nancy Utt, and Soup Camel performed later in the evening.

Heston Farm Winery OktoberfestAnd, games! Keg rolling - which I tried and almost did mildly well before giving up, as well as sack races and other fun things.
Heston Farm Winery OktoberfestHeston Farm Winery Oktoberfest

Heston Farm Winery Oktoberfest





Heston Farm Winery Oktoberfest

This was actually my first time heading down to Heston Farm's pavilion. And, it's a super lovely space. The food was great, the games were fun, and the beer was amazing. It was such a fun time, and I can't wait until the next event they host!
  Heston Farm Winery Oktoberfest