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2017 Pennsylvania Calendar and Book Buying Options

3.30.2017

Clarion River Brewing Company: Hearty Brews and Great Food in the heart of Clarion

The Clarion River Brewing Company is an excellent microbrewery and restaurant with an relaxing environment. Located right in the heart of Clarion, it is great to see a new venture like this get built within two old storefronts. The workers take great pride in their work, and for good reason; their brewery and restaurant is already one of the best in the state.
In addition to their in-house brews, they also have spirits from nearby Blackbird Distilling, Foxburg Wine Cellars, and others. They often have live music acts play at the restaurant.
Their brews are smooth and not overly hoppy. Every brew had a smooth taste, with hops used in a manner that complements flavor instead of dominating t.
Some of the brewery's offerings are named with local history in mind. Leatherwood, Iron Furnace, and 1841 allude to the history of the area. Leatherwood references the Anti-Horsethief Association, an organization that is based right in Clarion and grew into a national force. The association's membership fee remains at one dollar, and General and President Eisenhower was a member of the group. The Leatherwood beer also happens to be one of the heartiest brews that they make at the restaurant.
Iron Furnace, named after the area's heritage in early iron making, is an American Pale Ale that has a decent amount of hops, but it is balanced out with the general flavor of the beer. 1841 commemorates the incorporation of the borough of Clarion, and is an American Cream Ale with a well balanced amount of malt and hops. The Clarion River, Doc's Choice, and other brews were all very good as well. Expect a Lager to hit the taps shortly. From our preview of it, this is an absolutely excellent brew. Expect to see it out soon. 
The appetizer we had, spinach and artichoke dip with crab topping and pita bread, was absolutely delectable. It was perfect, especially coupled with CRBC's brews.
Our dinners! Mine was lemon dill salmon with garlic mashed potatoes and brocollini. What is brocollini you may ask? It is a delicious natural cross between broccoli and asparagus. Brit had shrimp pasta, with asparagus, and sundried tomatoes, in addition to their house salad, with a delicious balsamic dressing, and crusty French bread. 
Dessert time! The limoncello marscapone cake was excellent! 
Now we take a tour of their humble brewing operation. They have a number of brews going at any given time, and they are working on their brand new lager right now, which is set to be released soon. It is clear that they take great pride in their operation. They are pretty new to the game, and have already set themselves ahead of the bulk of PA's microbrewing scene. 
A tank and the kegs waiting to be filled.
The shiny new mashing machine.
Some brews awaiting your palate. 
Clarion River Brewing Company receives our highest recommendation. Both their brews and food are top notch and amongst the best in the state. 

CRBC is worth going out of your way for a visit, but should be even more of a destination due to how nice the surrounding area is. Deer Creek Winery and their Inn, is located nearby, and Cook Forest State Park, one of the finest stands of old growth forest in the country, is located nearby as well. 


For more information, check out their website at http://clarionriverbrew.com
Clarion River Brewing and the PA Great Outdoors Region Visitors Bureau hosted us and we have shared our candid thoughts and opinions about this place.

3.28.2017

Deer Creek Winery: A Perfect Place for a Getaway in Clarion County

I am not sure where to even start when it comes to writing about this awesome place. Between the friendly staff and visitor, the winery, the intimate gathering areas, the musical entertainment, the great food, and the perfect guest rooms, our stay at the Inn at Deer Creek Winery was phenomenal. This stay easily one of the best that we have ever experienced in our travels. They thought of just about everything when they made this place and it really has the feel of a modern take on a traditional resort, coupled with a bed and breakfast experience. Our experience at the winery and inn was nothing short of perfect. 
The winery is centered around its intimate gathering area lounges, where musical acts perform in the largest room, complete with a small mezzanine area that you can watch performers from above while sitting on comfy sofas, lounge chairs, or at tables. The winery has speakers set up throughout the building that let you hear the music throughout the inn. While listening to the music, be sure to have a glass (or two!) of their delicious wine in hand, along with some of their delectable food. 
Their wines are tasty and unique. We generally prefer wines on the dry side, though we thought that the sweeter ones were their best. The Fawn Catawba was our favorite. Instead of being overwhelmingly sweet like most from that varietal, theirs was crisp and delicious. They also make a sparkling Niagara, something that I don't believe we have seen before. That was very good, especially with the different mixed drinks that they make.



The rooms are glorious! Perfectly appointed, modern, and cozy. All of the rooms are equipped with a fireplace, super comfortable bed, dinettes, and more. Some of the rooms are equipped with private patios and hot tub areas. We were blown away by how perfect the rooms were.

They had two different musical acts throughout the day that made such an excellent atmosphere throughout the winery. The common areas, in addition to their porch patio area and outdoor gas fire pit, were popular with the guests, and extremely relaxing to experience. 

The front porch patio area and fire place. The music emanates out and it creates a pleasant environment.

The perfect kind of place to relax, kick back, drink some wine and take in the music. Reflecting back on our time at the winery is making me want to go back.
Gary Bickerstaff was the evening's musical act. He really does a terrific job.

Here is the breakfast area. This doubles as a nice second reception area to the main room. The music emanates through the entire winery, making for a very pleasant experience.
The breakfast was top notch! I ordered the stuffed french toast and bacon. Brit ordered a breakfast flatbread with ham, egg, cheese, peppers, and onions. Both meals were fantastic, along with their coffee cake, coffee, and their specialty mimosas (we tried the peach and cranberry mimosas).


The tasting area with a great example of the comfy and relaxing sitting areas spread throughout the place. 
The shop area, along with their great selection of custom oil and vinegar mixes. They also have a large selection of sorbets and coffees. Coupled with all of their wine and food selections, this place has just about everything covered.
The lineup of live acts coming up. Additionally, they are holding Springfest, a Folk, Blues, and Bluegrass music festival, on the weekend of May 20th and 21st in their events center. In addition to live music, they frequently hold different activities and events, such as lessons in mindful meditation, painting, and more, in addition to private functions such as weddings, parties, business meetings, showers, and more. They have an outstanding and unique place here that you will certainly enjoy. 

We had a great time at this winery. It completely blew away our expectations and was unlike anything that we have ever seen before. The entire premises is relaxing, cozy, well-decorated and all around fun. It is located a short drive away from many destinations in the PA Great Outdoors Region, including beautiful Clarion County and Cook Forest State Park. The Deer Creek Winery's wines can be found at a number of the Pittsburgh region's malls and shopping areas, including the Mall at Robinson, McCandless Crossing, the Clearview Mall, and the Beaver Valley Mall. We highly recommend visiting and definitely suggest staying the night at their winery in beautiful Clarion County. It is located within two hours of most places in western and central PA, including just over 1.5 hours from Pittsburgh, making for a quick and easy getaway. For more information on visiting, check out their website at https://www.deercreekwine.com



Deer Creek Winery and the PA Great Outdoors Region Visitors Bureau hosted us and we have shared our candid thoughts and opinions about this place.

3.23.2017

Nancy's Diner: Wilkinsburg, Allegheny County

Today we check out a place that is located just minutes from the border of Pittsburgh proper, though with the growth of the last century or so, this is essentially the east end of Pittsburgh.

Sometimes it is immediately clear that you know you are in for a treat as soon as you walk into a place. Nancy's East End Diner is one of these places. As soon as you walk in, you are greeted with a diner bustling with activity, with people having a great time and with a wide variety of different dishes. I had heard many great things about this place, so we knew we had to go check it out. 
This is the kind of place that you are sincerely greeted as you walk in, and it is clear that the employees and owners take pride in their restaurant and menu. 
Seinfeld fans will surely like this place

The classic diner interior
The French Toast was TOP NOTCH! Best in the area of the city, and that is saying a lot! The Mancini's raisin bread french toast is fantastic.

All in all, this is a place that you need to check out. Fantastic food and great people. 
For more information, check out their website at http://www.eastenddiner.com 

3.19.2017

Scenic Lincoln Highway Views in Franklin, Fulton, Bedford, Somerset, and Westmoreland Counties

Today we head out on a journey along the Lincoln Highway. From the edge of Chambersburg, westward for about a hundred miles, the Lincoln Highway is especially scenic, providing views along seemingly endless ridge lines, large forests, and historic small cities and boroughs. East of Chambersburg includes a beautiful drive through Gettysburg, York, Lancaster, and other points east. Today we will focus upon an area of the Lincoln Highway that is especially scenic.
Downtown Chambersburg
Our stop today straddles Fulton and Franklin Counties on the Lincoln Highway with scenic overlook at the motorcycle dive bar Mountain House Bar and Grill. This place was once a classic highway rest stop and now it is a motorcycle dive bar at the Tuscarora Summit of the Cove Mountains at an elevation of 2123 feet. The parking lot for the restaurant gives an outstanding view along the historic Lincoln Highway. On a seasonably warm day, you are certain to find dozens of motorcyclists parked in this parking lot. This is also one of the few places in the state that people occasionally hang glide from. 
Historically, this spot was a rest stop out of necessity, due to the cars needing to refill water for coolant and to cool off after climbing such such rigorous mountains. While drivers let their cars cool off, they would step into the restaurant for a bite to eat. Atop most of the rigorous climbs along the Lincoln Highway Corridor, there are old restaurants like this where drivers along the Lincoln Highway needed to stop and let their cars cool off. This one has a pretty vista looking outwards. 

From here, the road maneuvers across more ridge lines, with steep and windy ascents and descents as it traverses the Alleghenies. As you continue you will go through really scenic places, like the Buchanan State Forest, the views as you descend to Breezewood, the Narrows, where the Raystown Branch of the Juniata River passes through the rugged Evitts Mountain, and scenic Everett. The small city of Bedford is home to quite a bit, including the the famous Art Deco Dunkle's Gulf Station, the Koontz Coffee Pot, countless covered bridges in Bedford and Somerset Counties, the Original Pie Shop in Laughlintown, and lots more. You will also pass by the Flight 93 Memorial, something that you should definitely take the chance to do to pay respects to those who lost their lives on that fateful day. When you head through the Lincoln Highway, take your time. You will see something new every time you drive through. 


Our next stop takes us to a more official overlook, the Mt. Ararat lookout point at 2464 feet. For more information about this location, including information about the Grand View Point Hotel that was once located at this spot, and information on its location, check out this previous article that we wrote on a day without snow. 
A beloved hotel was once located at this spot, and it is easy to see why it was that way. I can only imagine having dinner and staying the night looking out at such a beautiful view. 
An adventure across the Lincoln Highway is definitely something that should be on your radar. Spectacular views, roadside Americana, and more await those who travel through on this classic American road.
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