Farm to Table at Glasbern Inn
This past week, Mike and I took our first step towards our dream of farming (to be honest, I think Mike’s dream just includes the chickens!) and joining the movement of sustainable agriculture by visiting Glasbern Country Inn in Fogelsville, PA.
We’ve certainly been supporting our local food industry for awhile. Veggies and fruit from Terhune Orchards and a neighborhood, honor system farm stand. Meat, eggs & occasional chocolate bars from Cherry Grove Farms. And we will be partaking in the CSA program at Griggstown this season. It isn’t always an easy decision to eat local, sometimes due to money, sometimes due to convenience and often due to societal pressure. That last one might seem ridiculous, why would society be against supporting a community business that puts out great tasting, high quality foods? But look no further than a group outing to your neighborhood diner (scrapple anyone?) or burger joint. As a proud Texan (lost in Jersey), I love a good steak or burger, but after learning more about where our general food supply meat comes from, I can’t eat a burger without triggering a gag reflex. So now when we go out, I generally order a token portobello burger and I have to answer the inevitable “are you a vegetarian??” question.
The surprising thing is that the true answer, “I don’t eat feed lot meat” is far more controversial than the “I don’t eat meat” lie. It wasn’t that long ago that vegetarians were the controversial ones, now knowing where your food comes from gets the eyebrow raise (or heated argument, depending on the person). Most just don’t want to talk about it, the proverbial ostrich and the sand. And I get that, I do, ignorance can truly be bliss, my dietary life is far more complicated these days. I often gaze longingly at Wendy’s and McDonald’s when we’re on a road trip, remembering how easy it was to drive through for a cheap fix. But then I think of the resultant sugar crash and stomach ache.Yuck. Perhaps someday soon being a local eater will be as accepted as “not eating anything with eyes”.
The more we’ve learned about the food industry, the more we’ve wanted to supply ourselves and our community with our own products. So it was with great excitement that we visited Glasbern Country Inn in PA. They have a sustainable farming practice (mostly heritage breeds to boot) that supports the inn, restaurant and pub; as well as, a small farm store. (They have also started supplying a nearby farmers market, I forget which one though!) The inn itself is a luxury B&B with high speed internet, complimentary welcome Yuenglings in the mini-fridge, the softest sheets you can imagine and whirlpool baths in most rooms. They have a fitness center, conference areas for executive retreats and a spa. Quite the empire to learn from! We spent our two days at Glasbern tromping up and down fields, herding cows into grazing paddocks, collecting eggs, and lots of greenhouse work (I have the blisters to prove it!). Up at 6, in bed by 9:30…it was heaven and about as far from our normal 12-hours-at-a-desk web design existence as you can get. (Also, most visitors aren’t put to work on their vacations, we requested it!)
But this is a food blog, so let’s get to the food. Breakfast is included in your stay (pretty much the only nod to a typical B&B experience) and yum, was that a good deal or what. Fresh eggs from the grass fed chickens (rich, yellow yolks), locally made bacon (amazing), vanilla yogurt from the Devon dairy cows (truly addictive) and fresh cream for your coffee (there aren’t words to translate how good it was). Breakfast was delicious, but the real cherry-on-top experience was dinner. Salad made from local cheese and tender greens from the on-site greenhouse. Flank steak with risotto and crisp asparagus. Decadent chocolate cake with peanut-y peanut butter ice cream. Mike had the gnocchi and said it was outstanding. And the best part was, I could have ordered anything on the menu, knowing that it came from the pastures outside or somewhere nearby. No guilt or concern over what I was eating and even better….no need for a portobello burger. I’m still sad I didn’t try the chicken…it’s been so long since I’ve had chicken at a restaurant!
We came home with an even greater appreciation of the results of knowing where your food comes from and the drive to get our personal farm experience up and running, one step at a time. And if you’re ever looking for a good meal or relaxing stay at a beautiful PA inn, I highly recommend Glasbern (as do 75 other reviewers, see here).
–A big thank you to the Glasbern owner, Al Granger, and staff for allowing us to pick their brains and have an absolutely fantastic time learning about their food system. Mike is ready for his chickens and I want to get a Devon dairy cow ASAP.