Kathy’s Cafe

My family has been vacationing in Eagles Mere, a small mountain town in Pennsylvania nicknamed “the town that time forgot,” for over twenty years now. We began coming when I was a wiry tomboy who rode my bike recklessly to the beach and athletic field during the day and the ice cream and penny candy shop, The Sweet Shop, at night. Each year the five of us spent the first two weeks of August biking, swimming, hiking and competing in a “sports week” in which there were various semi-competitive events such as chin ups, nail driving and cannonball contests. As I grew older, the summers were spent sleeping the day away and learning how to be a teenager at night….whatever that entails…

In my early twenties, my parents made the impulsive decision to purchase a house in Eagles Mere. Suddenly we moved up a notch in the world–we were no longer renters, we were owners. Now we were a few steps higher in the local pecking order. Ever since they bought the house, we have had the opportunity to experience Eagles Mere throughout the year rather than solely the first two weeks of August. We have been there for snow storms and beautiful autumn breezes and have enjoyed many games of Scrabble before the heat of the wood stove. In June 2009, my husband and I celebrated our love for one another and for this special place as we had a memorable wedding weekend in Eagles Mere.

Planning a wedding in Eagles Mere could only be described as a unique experience. While I live in Philadelphia, a metropolitan city in which I need not look far for anything I need, all of our wedding vendors were located in the nearest “big town,” which was 45 minutes away. Williamsport is known for the Little League World Series, which, coincidentally, culminated this weekend.  Congratulations, Japan.

On the way to Williamsport is the small, blue-collar town of Hughesville, Pennsylvania. About two years ago, my parents mentioned that they had heard about a little cafe in Hughesville that served up unique, organic fare. They checked it out and we were intrigued yet skeptical when they mentioned that my dad had enjoyed a shot of wheatgrass. Folks don’t eat or drink wheatgrass in Northeast, PA, home of “Welcome Bowhunters” signs and hunters’ breakfast specials. However, my parents enjoyed it and we decided to check it out. Well, I don’t really remember our first meal there, but I will say that we now try to visit Kathy’s Cafe each time we’re in Eagles Mere.

I have an admission to make. I’m a mixer. I love eating a number of food items mixed together into an unidentifiable and toothsome glob. One of my favorite things about Thanksgiving leftovers is taking a little mashed potatoes, coleslaw, gravy, corn and a splash of cranberry sauce and mixing it all up for breakfast the next morning (or maybe a little late night snack.)  Kathy’s has embodied this secret love of mine in breakfast form and it’s called the Scromlet. The etymology of “scromlet” is pretty decipherable. It’s a mix between a scramble and an omelette. ARE YOU KIDDING ME???  The scromlet is comprised of two eggs scrambled with hashbrowns and veggies and topped with cheddar cheese. I should clarify that I am referring to the “Sarah Scromlet,” which I order every single time I visit Kathy’s–including twice this weekend.

Kathy’s is fashioned to look (and sound) like a 1950s soda fountain. The booths and chairs and red vinyl and the walls are decorated with posters and albums from the era including Elvis, The Beach Boys, Marilyn Monroe, The Platters and Sam Cooke. They also have a number of license plates from various states that, coincidentally, all have our wedding date on them.

I was in the mood for poached eggs on Friday but chose to abstain because my parents would be coming into town and I knew I could talk my dad into making his famous poached eggs for breakfast Saturday morning (I ended up going to Kathy’s again, but that’s another story.) I ended up ordering the Sarah Scromlet and wondering why I even bother looking at the menu.

Kathy’s is a bit of a dichotomy (or tri/quadotomy) While it presents itself as a 1950s cafe, the the menu is full of fresh and local ingredients. The waitresses are old and slow, yet extremely friendly, although I’ve heard a mispronunciation of the word “heirloom” more than once.

Kathy’s also lists the source of many of their ingredients without looking pretentious as many restaurants tend to do. I ordered the Landis farm turkey sausage (okay, I order that every time too.) My husband ordered a glass of the fresh squeezed grapefruit juice because they were out of apples. The only problem that arises in ordering these fresh squeezed juices is the fact that they actually are fresh sqeezed. If there’s only one waitress on duty and the table in front of you orders a  juice–worse yet, FOUR juices–don’t expect coffee any time soon.  Luckily, we were the only ones ordering juice and our drinks and food came quickly. The Sarah Scromlet was as good looking (and tasting) as ever.

I’m a really nice mom because I always take home a hunk of sausage to my dog, Jewels, even though I could demolish the entire patty myself. My husband had the original scromlet with eggs, hashbrowns, ham and velveeta cheese. This is the truth.

I cannot even begin to describe the pleasure of biting into a scromlet. Imagine all the best things about breakfast. Now imagine them together. Then make it taste a little better. There’s a scromlet. If you are ever, ever in the area of Hughesville, PA, Kathy’s Cafe is a do not miss.

p.s. When I went with my mother the next day, she told the waitress that I was writing a blog post on Kathy’s. The waitress didn’t know what a blog was. Did I mention how much I love this place?

Gloucester Brunch

My sister-in-law and brother-in-law both had the day off yesterday so we set out for a family fun day of brunch followed by the beach. There are a number of tasty brunch spots in town, but we selected Lee’s, a blue-collar diner-esque place just across from the working harbor. There was a short wait for a table of six, so we sat outside and enjoyed the sunshine.

We were finally called inside and the six of us stuffed ourselves into the booth. I immediately ordered a cup of coffee.

Lee’s has an extensive breakfast menu with a vast array of omelettes, scrambles, pancakes and more. My sister-in-law and  had difficulty deciding, while my in-laws zeroed in on the “big breakfast” of 4 eggs, homefries, bacon, sausage, toast and a gigantic blueberry pancake. (EDIT: My mother-in-law wants me to clarify that they split the breakfast. She is not a trucker.) They got a grilled corn muffin on the side, which Lee’s is apparently known for. The muffin came to the table split and nicely charred. I had a small bite which filled my mouth with corny goodness.

My husband, who has an affinity for hollondaise sauce, ordered the eggs florentine which came to the table with fresh spinach that slowly wilted under the hot eggs and sauce.

I had difficulty deciding what to eat, but was prompted to hurry up by my very hungry father-in-law. I wavered between the “Julie” which was a southwestern-style scramble with cheddar, tomato, mushroom, pepper, onion and jalapeno and the “Irish omelet” which was an interesting combination of corned beef, swiss and hollandaise. I couldn’t decide if the latter would be a delicious gooey mess or an absolute disaster–so of course I decided to order it! I’m weird about my omelettes. I like the ingredients to be mixed so that I get a little bit of everything in each bite. I don’t like them to be too eggy–I like the filling better than the egg itself. The omelet arrived to the table and looked rather unassuming.

Much to my delight, it was the perfect ratio of filling to egg–not too disgustingly overstuffed, yet I didn’t get any bites of egg and egg alone. The saltiness of the corned beef was balanced by the mild nuttiness of the swiss cheese and smooth creaminess of the hollandaise. I mean, come on. Hollandaise is so damn good, regardless of Anthony Bourdain’s warnings that it tends to be festering with bacteria. The house made wheat bread was a great addition to the meal, yet I barely put a dent into the al dente and under seasoned potatoes.

Other items were a short stack of gigantic, plate-sized blueberry pancakes and the Portugese, chorizo-like linguica, which is a local favorite. We were underwhelmed and missed the pop of blueberry in our mouths with each bite when it came to the pancakes.  I don’t generally eat pork, but tried a tiny bite. My dining companions raved about the subtle spice and wanted to come back for more.

Pancakes

Linguica

Lee’s was a great way to start a day of sunbathing, paddle ball and beach reading–and it was heavy enough to tide us over until our lobster dinner. Stay tuned!

Brunch and Headhouse

Besides the fact that it’s the day before Monday, I tend to love Sundays.  My favorite kind of Sunday is the lazy kind with a world of possibility. In the fall and winter we have football season (more about that in a few months) where we’ll throw something on the stove or crockpot to simmer or braise away for a few hours until game time. From May-November, I am blessed with one of my favorite things of all time–Headhouse Square Market. Now, I love Farmers Markets and always have. I grew up in West Philly and have spent countless hours at the Clark Park’s farmers markets, flea markets and outdoor fairs. My husband and I try to give business to the small Wednesday market at the Fountain on Passyunk each week. However, nothing holds a candle to Headhouse. From the Sausage Truck (vegan sausage, anyone?!) to Talula’s Table and Griggstown, the Sunday market has everything I could possibly need. Sometimes–if we’re going on vacation or already have a full fridge–we don’t buy anything. We simply stroll under the shambles with our dog who SORELY misses the organic dog treat stand from last year!

Many Sunday visits to the shambles include brunch at the taco stand or the Sausage Truck. We’ll get our goods and sit on a stairwell while the dog begs for whatever we’re devouring. I usually end up tossing something her way, much to her delight. This morning, with the weather in our favor–we could eat outside with the dog–we decided to splurge on a real brunch.  Due to the ominous clouds above, we decided to hit up Hawthorne’s because it is close to our house and we figured we’d be able to get a table quickly. We got to Hawthorne’s and snagged up one of the last outdoor tables despite the host’s warning that it may start raining. We figured we’d order quickly and get our food to go if the skies opened up.

We’ve only been to Hawthorne’s once before and I had SOS (aka creamed chipped beef on toast.) As a former vegetarian, I had never eaten SOS but had always been intrigued. I figured it was time and quickly learned that I love SOS! For that reason, I was tempted to have the dish again (I tend to be a repeat orderer when it comes to something I like) but was drawn to a few other menu items, including the chicken salad sandwich on a baguette. I ended up going with the “Captain Ahab” platter of an everything bagel with lox, cream cheese, capers, red onions and mixed greens due to a recent lox craving. I couldn’t complain.

My husband ordered the “steak and eggs” which was a decent sized helping of braised beef with shirred eggs and a side of Claudio’s mozzarella and tomato salad. I didn’t get a chance to snap a picture before he dug in, but we also got an order of home fries to split. I like their home fries. Heavy on the rosemary and lots of fried pepper and onion. Yum!

My favorite part of the meal was the couple sitting across the way with their two dogs. Apparently one of them is a beer lover!

After brunch, the weather continued to work in our favor and we headed over to the Headhouse Market.  I’ve been drooling over a recipe for scalloped tomatoes/tomato bread pudding that I’ve seen in a number of iterations of the past week and knew that I wanted to get some fresh tomatoes so I could finally make it. We strolled under the shambles, checking out the vendors, including the largest and strangest looking squash I’ve ever seen from the Asian produce stand (sorry, no pictures) and allowing my dog to be center of attention. I walked away with a container of tomatoes and some corn with directions on how to keep it fresh. Apparently you are supposed to keep it damp in the fridge. Who knew? No wonder my corn has been drying out so quickly.