Part of our itinerary is to make a stop at the an Amish area on the way to Philadelphia. Ever since I watched the movie Witness, the one that Harrison Ford starred in, I was quite amazed with the Amish way of life. It just so happen that somewhere in between Washington DC and Philadelphia lies the largest Amish community in North America. That place is called Lancaster and this is the place where the movie Witness was shot.
Our stop is primarily at a famous farm called the Plain and Fancy Farm. There is another farm called “Good and Plenty” but we choose this one. This place is located somewhere between two little towns called … believe it or not … Intercourse and Bird-In-Hand. Weird name for towns, I know. Can anyone guess why the town is called Intercourse? No dirty ideas please!
There are two things we wanted to do here … have a good old Amish feast and take a tour of the area and learn more about the Amish way of life.
The Plain and Fancy Farm is a small complex of everything Amish. Besides the restaurant, this is where you can book a bus tour which brings you to various areas in the nearby Amish community. One thing I learned here … despite the simple lifestyle, there are a lot of Amish millionaires here! So, don’t think that these people are simpletons.
We opted for their Rolls Royce meal … the all you can eat Family Feast.
If there is anything that the Amish does extremely well, it is their food. Not only are they very very good, they sure serve lots and lots of it. We got seated on a long table which we thought was a bit odd since there were only the two of us. The table setting is unique where they have a little bench thingy right in the middle. You know what it is for? Well, they serve so much food on the table that this is their way to stack the plate high.
Service was exceptional and so downright genuine. I already like the Amish because they were so polite and so patient with us with our questions.
The drinks we ordered was just lemonade and sweetened ice tea.
The feast was delivered in three separate courses … the appetizer, the entree and dessert. Make sure that when you start off with the appetizer that this is just the appetizer … the main meal is yet to come!
First appetizer was the iced raisin bread. We love the icing and the freshness of the bread.
Then there is the rolls with apple butter. We just discovered apple butter the day prior. The bread smell like its just been taken out of the oven. Warm to the touch, this is perfect. For me, this itself could make a meal.
Ever heard of chow-chow? No, not the dog. Called chow-chow, the above is a common relish in this part if the world and is made of a few vegetables. I love cauliflower but Suanne rarely makes it at home as she claims that it has no nutritional value.
Oh … here is a childhood joke about cauliflower I still remember from my teen days. It goes like this … Boy to girl … “Hey, you look very good”. Girl, blushing, asked “Oh really? Why did you say so?”. Boy replied, “It is because you are pretty … pretty like a flower”. Girl shyly asked, “Really? What type of flower?”. Boy answered … “cauliflower!”.
Was that funny or lame? LOL!
There is this thing above … am not sure what this is called. It’s cabbage with mayo … very much like coleslaw. Nice, we like it.
After this we loosened our belts one notch to tackle the entree.
Their fried chicken was awesome. The skin is crispy and the meat inside moist. Simply one of the best fried chicken we ever had.
The chicken pot pie is nothing short of amazing. I never quite cared for anything named pie but this one was like wow. It resembles nothing like a pie though.
The roast beef was almost perfect. Being a meat eater, I had two servings of the above.
At this point, I was just wondering if there will ever be just one dish that is just OK. Nope … the mash potato is not just OK, it was more than OK.
The sausage is large. It looked mean for sure but for some reason, we are not a huge fan of sausages.
The steamed baby carrots were tender and soft with a hint of sweetness. Nice.
I believe this is called the grind corn. Never tried it before but I love this. I bet this is easy to make at home … I started to suggest to Suanne to research this on the net … she gave me the evil stare … I immediately looked down on my food like I had never suggested it at all.
The bow tie pasta was darn simple — just butter and pasta. Now, that would have been easy to make at home too but I better shut up and eat. This reminded me that nice food need not be complicated.
And finally came the dessert. This is when we loosen another notch in our belts.
The famous Shoofly Pie … it made of molasses, brown sugar and cinnamon. Know why this is called Shoofly? Oh … whipped cream … this is not the real deal if you don’t have lots of it.
And the other dessert is the Apple Sour Cream with Caramel. My life would be complete if I have this at home everyday … but then to think of it, my life would end the instant I dare to express this to you-know-who. LOL!
Last but not least … homemade ice cream. That’s it and thank goodness. If there are more food, we would need to remove our belts because there are no more notches to loosen.
Damage was about $40 buck. We left happy and for a fleeting moment, I wished I am an Amish. Where do I sign up?
And now … ladies and gentlemen … Ben goes into his tirade of his travel series again … BUT … BUT … he is doing it hidden in the next page. If you care to read of it, click on read more below.
There’s quite a few things you could do in the Plain and Fancy Farm.
These guys think of everything. I think this farm is owned and operated by non-Amish — I am not 100% sure. We bought entrance tickets that included a bus tour, a guided home tour and a movie.
We did not get much shot during the bus tour because, well, Amish do not like their pictures taken because to them photos is a form of vanity and vanity is a no-no. We got a few non-Amish shots though like the one of a buggy … of tourists.
The Amish homes are very well maintained. Some were huge and grand … many were smaller but they all are very well kept.
I think in some ways the bus tour is a tourist trap. They even brought us to a wine tasting place. Oh please! I was tired that I slept in the comfy air-cond bus but Suanne went down for the wine tasting.
The most enjoyable part is when we got a tour of an Amish home. This is not a real live in home but one that is made up of stuff gathered from real Amish home so that we can see first hand the typical Amish home. The above is a dish washer. Bet you don’t know that a motor is allowed in Amish’s life. No electricity but generators are OK.
They also eat day to day stuff like we do. No, they don’t plant their own coffee beans, they have Folgers like you and me. Why, they even have Splenda too. Of course, they make and bottle many of the relishes and what nots themselves too.
We learn a bit about the Amish women’s clothings. The colors and and type denote something … like whether they are available for marriage or not. Also, they are held together by pins … yup, pins and not safety pins. You see, pins are OK but safety pins are not.
Men too … they dresses in black and white. And do you know that they kept their beard but shaves the facial hair in the upper lip?
They can travel on a scooter like the one above but not a bicycle. They said that a bicycle can take them further and should shun it … something like that.
This is used to iron their clothes. Not too bad considering my memory of my grandmother using an iron like this which is heated by burning charcoal.
The dining table is a very important area of the Amish home. See that Coke bottle on the table?
They publish journals that describes what is happening in Amish communities in North America.
Since Amish do not use electricity, they light up their homes with oil lamps. But they also have torch lights too as batteries are OK.
We ended the tour with a movie of the struggle of a young Amish man who had to decide when he came of age if he wants to adopt the life of the Amish or join the world.