Review: Harvest Restaurant at the Hotel Hershey

harvestMy wife and I recently stayed at the Hotel Hershey in Hershey, PA to celebrate her 30th birthday. I booked the trip a few months back and when I was booking it I noticed a new restaurant was opening the week before we arrived. The restaurant was called Harvest and it sounded right up our alley in terms of a place we would enjoy. Below is a description of the restaurant along with a letter that is found on the inside of their menu and my review of the restaurant.

Harvest’s Description on the Hotel Hershey’s Page:
Located at The Hotel Hershey, Harvest offers genuine American cuisine made from the freshest local and regional ingredients. The menu features an innovative selection of both classic and traditional American fare served during lunch and dinner, with daily specials.

Letter from the Executive Chef in the Menu
From farm to table, we offer the freshest dishes prepared from local ingredients found within
a 100-mile radius of The Hotel Hershey. Our culinary team welcomes you and your family to experience just how good genuine American cuisine can be, especially when it’s locally sourced, creatively presented, and enjoyed in a casual ambiance. Our concept of genuine American cuisine features a range of authentic dishes found across the country. From the Southeastern Coast to the Pacific Northwest, the experience and various backgrounds of our Chefs gives us the unique ability to recreate signature American dishes.

And at Harvest, we create those dishes using the freshest local ingredients grown right here in
Pennsylvania. We’re proud of our new restaurant and the fact that we’re leaving a smaller environmental footprint while working closely with the Lancaster Farmers Co-Op. Some of our local growers also include Creekside Farms of Perry County, Adams County Apples in Biglerville, Groffs Meats from Elizabethtown, Willis W. Gibbel Farms in Brunnersville, Longs Farm from Lancaster County, Todd Farm in Nottingham, and Green Meadow Farm from Lancaster.

We also serve “filtered water” to provide the freshest, most pristine, and purest water available.
Above all, we’re focused on preparing a delicious meal for you and your family to enjoy while
in Hershey. Thank you for visiting Harvest.

Review of Harvest Restaurant at the Hotel Hershey
We made reservations as soon as we arrived at the Hotel but I would recommend you make them before arriving. The place is relatively small and there is limited seating. With the reservation we only had to wait about a minute before our table was ready.

Decor – 2 1/2 Stars
Their atmosphere is warm & cozy but incomplete. They have yet to come up with a unified table centerpiece (ie flowers, candles, etc) and their are a few obvious art paintings missing from the wall. I don’t fault them for this though as they did just open a week ago and I’m sure there are bound to be glitches in the first few weeks.  I heard that  they were considering putting potted herbs on the tables but when we arrived the first night there wasn’t anything on our table.

Food – 3 Stars
The food was delicious however there were some things that could have been better. The fingerling potatoes with cheddar cheese, sour cream, jalepenos, bacon bits and scallions was by far my favorite part of the meal. Each ingredient worked well with the other and how can you go wrong with fries / cheese and bacon bits?  My chicken was perfectly cooked, tasted fresh and was nicely paired with goat cheese grits (something I would have never thought to pair with chicken).  The peach pie we ordered for dessert was very tasty but luke warm and would have tasted much better if it had been warm-hot.  I really enjoyed knowing that the ingredients were all local to the PA area.

Service – 3 Stars
The wait staff seemed extremely new at their jobs (most of them) but friendly and helpful.  Although they were new at their jobs, they still did a great job and were attentive. It took a long time for us to receive our dinner however I know they were pretty busy the day we went as we were unable, at first, to get a reservation due to them being overbooked.

Cost – 3 Stars
I believe their prices are relatively reasonable for an upscale restaurant. The appetizers averaged around $10, burgers & sandwiches were around $12 – $13 and dinner entrees ranged from $19 – $28. Here is a link to their current lunch and dinner menus.

Conclusion
When we go back to the Hotel Hershey in the future we will definitely go back. I may be slightly biased about the restaurant as I really like what they are trying to do with only offering foods that are  local to that area.

10 Organic Foods that are worth the money

I just read an article on Real Simple that listed the top 10 organic foods that are worth the money and their reasoning. Here is a summary or you can read the entire article here as well.

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Baby Food – “An infant’s immune, nervous, and detoxification system is less developed than an adult’s and more vulnerable to the effects of pesticides,” says Elson M. Haas, M.D., author of The Staying Healthy Shopper’s Guide. The green beans, peaches, and apples that go into baby food (and all over your kitchen floor) tend to be treated with chemicals. Organic brands like Earth’s Best are available.

ApplesA is for apple―and a lot of pesticides. According to the Food and Drug Administration, more pesticides (a whopping 36) are found on apples than on any other fruit or vegetable. In one test, as many as seven chemicals were detected on a single apple.

Strawberries – Strawberries are one of the most contaminated of all produce items in the United States.

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Grapes – Because grapes ripen quickly, tend to mold, and attract insects, growers hit them with multiple applications of various chemicals. The worst are Chilean grapes, which are treated with as many as 17 of them.

Butter & Milk – The grains that dairy cows eat are heavily treated with chemicals, which have a residual, though still notable, presence in milk and dairy products. (Milk may also contain bovine growth hormone and antibiotics.)

Winter Squash – Like cantaloupes and cucumbers, winter squash has a propensity to absorb dieldrin from the soil into its edible parts.

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Cucumbers – In a survey of 42 common vegetables, cucumbers were ranked second in cancer risk and 12th in “most contaminated food” by the Environmental Working Group, a respected public-interest group.

Green Beans – The Environmental Protection Agency has more than 60 pesticides registered for use on green beans.

Spinach – In a certain cartoon, spinach makes muscles. In real life, the chemicals used to treat it may cause cancer or interfere with hormone production.

Cantaloupe – Cantaloupes often contain five of the longest-lasting chemicals, one of which is dieldrin, an exceedingly toxic and carcinogenic insecticide.

Highland Orchards’ Spring CSA – Week 1

I just picked up my first 1/2 share of the season from Highland Orchards.  The share included: bok choy, potatoes, onions, broccoli, apples, sprouts, cauliflower and an herb (Rosemary?).  I’m not sure yet which herb it is but I’ll let you know when I find out. Below are pictures of all the items in the share so you can get an idea of what types of vegetables / fruits you’ll find in a spring share.

I paid $165 for a 12 week share so that breaks down to $13.75 per week.  I priced out the above online at Shop Rite to compare how much I would have paid.  A few notes:
1 – I could not find fresh rosemary so I had to substitute it with prepackaged rosemary
2 – Most of the items excluding the Apples were priced at the non-organic price.  They would most likely cost the same or a bit more depending on sale prices.

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One of the best parts of signing up for the CSA is that you get to try vegetables / fruits you might not normally try.  I’m going to try to make something with the bok choy this week and will let you know how it goes.  If anyone has ever made anything tasty with Bok Choy, I’d be interested in hearing about it.

Update: The herb was dill which is selling for $0.79 per unit (whatever that means).  We got a ton so I’m guessing it would be at least 2 units which changes the price to $12.90. As I mentioned above it is $12.90 not factoring in how much all of these items would have costed if they were organic.  I’m going to try to write another post showing how we used the veggies / herbs.  This might force me to use more.

Share Items / Usage
Bean Sprouts (Sunday) – We used the sprouts on our tuna sandwiches
Onion (1 of 2) (Sunday) – We put in a chili we are making for dinner tonight
Dill + Potatoes (Monday) – We made garlic dill potatoes with all the potatoes and part of the dill
Onion (2 of 2) (Tuesday) – We used in Chicken Enchilladas
Apples (Sunday – Monday) – We used as a snack

Highland Orchards’ CSA Spring Program Begins this Saturday

picture-4If you live in or near north Wilmington (Delaware), I highly recommend signing up for a CSA (Community Supported Agriculture) share at Highland Orchards.  Their spring share begins this Saturday April 4th 2009 and will go through June (3 months).  They offer 1/2 shares for $165 and full shares for $265. The share includes farm fresh locally grown fruits & vegetables.  As I mentioned in a previous post, Highland Orchards is not certified organic as it costs too much however they follow all organic practices. Here is what they wrote on their site: At Highland Orchards, we are committed to taking care of Mother Earth. We follow the USDA regulations for organic farming, although we are not officially certified.

If you aren’t sure you’ll use everything from the share each week consider splitting a share with a friend / family member. We split a 1/2 share last year with my mother-in-law and found that was just enough.  We would pick up our share and get additional fruits and vegetables as needed.

Click the link to the right for directions to Highland Orchards.

Grow your own Vegetables or Sign up for a CSA

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I just read in the news that the White House will have its very own vegetable and herb garden this year. Ground was broken on the garden on the first day of spring with the help of 2 dozen local students.

Crops to be planted in the coming weeks on the 1,100-square-foot, L-shaped patch near the fountain on the South Lawn include spinach, broccoli, various lettuces, kale and collard greens, assorted herbs and blueberries, blackberries and raspberries.

We are planning a vegetable garden as well this year and hope it will work out better than last year.  We tried planting tomatoes, peas, broccoli and strawberries last year but were only successful with the tomatoes.  The broccoli and peas never took off (maybe because we did not water them enough) and the strawberries ended up getting eaten by birds & squirrels.

Luckily we have a local farm, Highland Orchards in Delaware, that we got the majority of our fruits & vegetables from last year.  We signed up for a CSA (Community Supported Agriculture) which we thought was well worth the money.  A CSA is a way for the food buying public to create a relationship with a farm and to receive a weekly basket of produce.

If you live in or around Wilmington, DE I highly recommend Highland Orchards on Foulk road for fresh fruits & vegetables.  Many of the fruits & vegetables are grown on their orchard and while they are not labeled “organic”, the farm follows many of the orgranic practices w/o paying the fee to be labeled organic.  They also have farm fresh eggs, specialty organic groceries & dairy items.

If you don’t live near the Highland Orchards in Delaware, check out LocalHarvest.org to find all the local CSAs in your area.