Culinary getaways not too far from Philadelphia

Owners of the Hamanassett Bed and Breakfast pride themselves on their lavish breakfasts.
Owners of the Hamanassett Bed and Breakfast pride themselves on their lavish breakfasts.
Posted: June 21, 2012

Not all who wander away from home at this time of year are in search of a tan.

Summer is a great time to plan a culinary-themed getaway, especially with local produce hitting its peak. And over the last few years, the possibilities for short, easy, delicious trips in the region have multiplied, with options for cooking lessons, tours of farms, wineries, and cheesemakers, and multicourse feasting at breakfast, lunch, and dinner. The following are just a few ideas for roaming eaters this season.

Where to eat, sleep, and cook food

The owners of the elegant Hamanassett Bed & Breakfast have always prided themselves on their unusually elaborate multicourse breakfasts, which alone are worth a stay. For the last three years, the Brandywine Valley inn has also been operating a cooking school with special themed weekends. An all-inclusive package covers two nights, a welcoming reception, breakfast, and cooking instruction for two days. Typical classes might begin with tours of area farms, Philadelphia's Italian Market, or vineyards to gather ingredients and inspiration, and conclude with the day's creations. The inn can be used as a jumping-off point to explore nearby wineries, restaurants (hello, Talula's Table), and Longwood Gardens.

Hamanassett Bed & Breakfast, 725 Darlington Rd., Media, Pa. 19063; 877- 836-8212, www.hamanassett.com

Set in Lancaster County, Harvest Moon B&B is owned and operated by Carl Kosko and his wife, both trained chefs who were looking for a new way to express their love of all things edible. The inn operates year-round cooking demonstrations with seasonal and ethnic themes. In the summer and fall, there are culinary tours of local farms and cheesemakers, followed by a gourmet lunch. Guests can also create a cooking weekend package that starts on a Thursday or Friday, culminating in a sit-down dinner and cheese tasting Saturday evening.

Harvest Moon Bed & Breakfast, 311 E. Main St., New Holland, Pa. 17557; 888-824-3763, www.harvestmoonbandb.com.

Meals worth the drive

A historic hotel set on a 130-acre 19th-century Lehigh Valley farm, Glasbern Inn is an epicure's destination. Ninety percent of the kitchen's ingredients are raised on the surrounding land, including Scottish Highland cattle, Berkshire pigs, and Katahdin sheep. Saturday night prix-fixe menus might include a greenhouse arugula salad with shaved local fennel and Meyer lemon, followed by that morning's egg in parmesan veloute with morels and oregano, and Glasbern beef with potatoes, pickled alliums, and bone marrow. There's an award-winning wine list and a complimentary country breakfast served in the main barn. Tours of the farm are available by request, and on occasion chef Yianni Arhontoulis offers a cooking demonstration.

Glasbern Inn, 2141 Pack House Rd., Fogelsville, Pa. 18051; 610-285-4723, www.glasbern.com

New Jersey's answer to Blue Hill at Stone Barns, the ultimate farm-to-table complex in Pocantico Hills, N.Y., is Natirar, a culinary and agricultural wonderland in Raritan set on land that once belonged to the royal family of Morocco. Visitors to the Ninety Acres restaurant can also arrange for tours of the 14-acre farm that supplies its ingredients. A la carte, open-kitchen, and communal-style dining experiences are all available here, and the chef's specialties include organic risotto with house-cured guanciale; local monkfish with pearl barley, baby beets, speck, and kale; and chevre cheesecake with poached apples and date puree. The on-site Culinary Center, sponsored by Viking, presents a full lineup of instructional sessions, including demonstrations and hands-on classes. The center, which opened for business in 2010, will be adding hotel rooms and resort activities for visitors in the future, but for now, overnight visitors can find a room at the Bridgewater Marriott or the Bernards Inn in Bernardsville.

Natirar, 2 Main St., Peapack-Gladstone, N.J. 07977-0331; 908-901-9500, www.natirar.com

Roll-up-the-sleeves-and-pitch-in fun

If farm-to-table eating feels a bit too removed, there's always the option of a farm stay. PA Farm Stay maintains listings for family farms with guest rooms, such as Chester County's charming Olde Stone Guesthouse Atglen. These quiet, rural retreats enable urban types to reconnect with the pastoral life. While most farms don't require guests to work for their keep, they often allow interaction with the animals, including milking cows, gathering eggs, and horseback riding — a great option for families with young kids who want to know where their food comes from.

PAFarmStay, www.pafarmstay.com

Behind-the-scenes tours

Bucks County Food Tours offer five- or six-hour themed itineraries on weekends, including the Meat and Greet tour of local butchers and charcutiers and the (not to be overshadowed) Vegan Voyage of area farms. Tours cost $95 per person and include lunch.

Bucks County Food Tours, 215-794-4191, www.buckscountyfoodtours.com

The weekend tours at Valley Shepherd Creamery in Long Valley, N.J., open up the cheese room, milking parlor, and barns to visitors. There are also cheesemaking classes on the third Sunday of the month that include a tour, continental breakfast, lunch, and a cheese tasting for $155 a person.

Valley Shepherd Creamery, 908-876-3200, www.valleyshepherd.com

The enough's enough option

When vacation means a detox from multicourse binges and business lunches, head to the Lodge at Woodloch in the Poconos. About a three-hour drive from Philadelphia, this destination spa makes food an important part of its healing retreats. A demonstration kitchen offers twice-weekly cooking and baking demonstrations. The lodge's Tree restaurant serves farm-to-table cuisine that showcases seasonal, hyper-local fare, and in the warmer months Tree hosts outdoor community-style dinners in the Chef's Garden. There are also wine tastings for $30 a person on Thursdays, Fridays, and Saturdays.

Lodge at Woodloch, 731 Welcome Lake Rd., Hawley, Pa. 18426; 1-800-966-3562, www.woodloch.com

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