Thursday, October 16, 2008

Pennsylvania Dutch Country Living Inn

During a recent visit to an area of the country nicknamed "Pennsylvania Dutch", I had the pleasant experience of visiting the Country Living Inn located in Lancaster, PA. It was pleasant, not only because of the charm of the lodging property itself (owned by local couple, Mr. and Mrs. Gerald Kling), but also because Mrs. Kling (called D.J. by her friends and shown above sitting on the front porch of the Inn) took several hours out of her day to show me around the "back roads" of Lancaster County, known world-wide for its unique Amish/Mennonite heritage. If you have visiting Pennsylvania Dutch country as something on your "Bucket List", I can definitely recommend the Country Living Inn as a great place to serve as your headquarters. The Inn has a cozy, homey feeling that I have never seen before in a lodging property of this size (it has 34 rooms). The rooms are decorated in PA Dutch decor, from the artisan-painted ceiling borders , to the quilts covering the beds, to the artwork/accessories that embellish each welcoming room. The rooms also have ceramic coffee mugs to get your mornings started right (and reduce landfill from disposable cups!). Since I do culinary tours, I was especially interested to get a preview of the fifties-style diner that D.J. and her husband are opening up next door to the Inn. It is called "D.J.'s", and the decor there will take you back to an era that predates cookie-cutter franchises and will rekindle fifties nostalgia. D.J. said one of her menu items will be baked oatmeal. Since I was raised in a family that had oatmeal for breakfast every day (AND have a master's degree in Foods & Nutrition), I was a little embarrassed that I had never even heard of baked oatmeal. But as soon as I had the opportunity, I looked up the recipe on the Internet, and treated myself to a taste of this new edition to my cuisine vocabulary. And, it was delicious! I am already thinking of ways I could modify the recipe to keep the great flavor and texture, but make it slightly lower in calories so that it would be suitable to use in the healthy lifestyle classes I teach ( Speaking of health, another reason I liked the Country Living Inn is because it is the "anchor" for a one-mile long, pedestrian-friendly sidewalk that will take you to a popular Amish tourist attraction called The Amish Farm and House. And, in the event you're going unto withdrawal from not having been in a discount superstore since you left home, there is also a Target store at the end of the one mile hike, where you can buy "provisions" for the walk back to the Inn. (I have to credit my son with the tongue-in-cheek "provisions" phrase because of the way he teased me once when we were on a short hike in Oregon. He said I was carrying enough "provisions" for an overnight camp-out, although our hike would only be an hour or two!) Another nice thing about the sidewalk between the Country Living Inn and the Amish Farm & House attraction is that it borders a large, (real!) working farm where you will see the fields in varying states of production, depending on the time of year you visit. Once you have returned from your hike, you can relax in the comfortable chairs in a landscaped patio looking out towards a different working PA Dutch farm, OR sit in the shade of the Inn's front porch in the specially-made, glider rockers and watch the world go by on the Old Philadelphia Pike that runs in front of the Inn. So here is my recommendation, whether you have a group or just a couple of travelers, CHECK OUT the Country Living Inn, and you will see for yourself that it is the place where you will want to CHECK IN!
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