Scenes from Cheese Journey’s Philadelphia and Chester County Tour

Dinner in a vineyard. A kitchen table cheese tasting with the award-winner makers at Doe Run Farm. An after-hours party at my favorite cheese shop in Philadelphia’s Italian Market. Ohhh, lovers, these are just a few of the glorious dairy highlights from my recent Philadelphia & Chester County Cheese Getaway organized by the fabulous Anna Juhl of Cheese Journeys. If you missed it, don’t panic. Anna and I are co-leading this food tour again next year. Block out October 5-8, 2018 on your calendar and write “CHEESE JOURNEY” in big letters because this might be the best four days of your dairy-loving future.

Now, let me show you what you’re in for. Our recent tour was both educational and sumptuous, starting with a house tour of the beautiful Inn at Grace Winery, our home base, where we enjoyed a different Chester County cheese and wine pairing in each room. In the cellar, we fell hard for Grace Winery’s subtle rosé and a round of Doe Run’s new Camembert-style cheese, paired with Chef Scott Megill’s beet mostarda.

The cheese boards on our house tour previewed later parts of our journey, like our visit to Doe Run’s cheese cave, where we spent an afternoon with Sam and Stacey Kennedy. We also visited the wood studio of John Luttman (Artifaqt Design), who provided all of our cheese serving ware for the journey. And we traveled to the dairy farm of Sue and Ken Miller to meet the cows who contribute to Sue’s wonderful Birchrun Blue, a signature cheese from Chester County.

Of course, our getaway included a few non-dairy diversions, like a private tea tasting with Alexis Siemons of Teaspoons & Petals, who delighted us one rainy afternoon with four cups of tea, including a stunning Ruby Oolong, paired with sweets.

After tea, we mozied through my home neighborhood of Fishtown, to pop by a few of my favorite food haunts, like Rowhouse Spirits — a one-man distillery run by my friend Dean Browne. Dean fortified us with tastings of his gin, aquavit, rum, and amaro before we strolled around the corner for a gallery talk with cheese portrait painter Mike Geno.

Mike plied us with some of his favorite subjects from his walls, including bites of Winter Fury, a rare cheese from Alaska.

Then, it was off to Di Bruno Bros. in the Italian Market for a “cheese lock-in,” as I like to call it. The mongers closed the store, lit candles, and prepared bite after bite of delicious cheese and charcuterie while we nibbled on olives and sampled jams and mustards from the shelves. Restraint, there was not.

Luckily, we built some exercise into the tour — like a walk through the Italian Market with legendary cheese lover Emilio Mignucci, Di Bruno Bros’ VP. He gave us his favorite restaurant tips (Anastasi’s mussels in red sauce) and shared his favorite “car snack” (the taralli from Termini Bros., where we stopped for a behind- the-scenes tour and cannoli tasting). And we learned about Emilio’s favorite lunch in high school, PB&J on a Sarcone’s roll.

Whenever we felt parched, Anna appeared with refreshments.

So we never went thirsty.

Of course, there were meals. Very special meals, like dinner in the kitchen at Talula’s Table in Kennet Square. And a picnic with some very special Holsteins.

It’s impossible to imagine a more perfect tour, a mix of city strolls and relaxing afternoons in the Pennsylvania countryside. We even made it to an exotic mushroom farm and spent an afternoon at Artisan Exchange Market — an incubator for small-batch food producers in West Chester — that included a tour of Levante Brewing.

Next October, I hope you’ll join us for another getaway! I’ll be there, sharing photography tips, shaking cocktails in the barn, and showing you how to create stunning cheese boards at home. A huge thank you to all of this year’s participants and to the many cheese angels who made our 4-day getaway so incredible.


Tickets to More Cheese Events:  Don’t miss the September 24 Hootenanny at Lundale Farm in Pottstown, PA featuring Birchrun Hills Farm cheeses, cider, and square dancing. On September 28 in Philadelphia, check out Alexis Siemons’ Fall Tasting: An Evening of Linens, Cheese, Tea, Bread, and Honey. On October 12, sit down with the dames from Collective Creamery at High Street on Market for a special cheese dinner; for reservations, call (215) 625-0988.

Now, for Free Cocktails! I’ll be at the Brooklyn Book Festival this week to offer a free talk and tasting called “Cocktails Go to the Movies” with André Darlington. It’s part of my sibling side project, With the Darlingtons. Come join me for this free book event on September 13 at 6 p.m. at WeWork Dumbo Heights! We’ll be signing copies of our latest book, TCM’s Movie Night Menus.


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