Although the barbeque competition was at the center of last weekend, there were also a lot of things beyond that which made it an amazing weekend. Going to the competition required, for me, an overnight stay in the area the night before. Having lived in Lancaster County for 14 years and having worked in it for 20, that wasn’t a problem! I was excited to have a little bit of a chance to play ‘tourist’ and also visit some places near and dear to me.
I started by checking into the Strasburg Village Inn on Friday night. Having managed this property for 5 years before retiring and moving from the area, I left behind dear once-colleague but become-friends that I was excited to see again. (I do try to make several day trips each year as well.) It was awesome to see Tammy, Peggy and Emily again! It was ‘interesting’ to stay at the Inn and try not to find little details that were missed by the current staff taking care of it. Of course, my eagle eyes are well-trained, and I did find a few minor infractions, but nothing that would have made me think the place was dirty or unkempt. And as always, friendliness to the guests remains a top priority.
I walked to Pizza City on Friday night, looking forward to a slice of true New York style crust pizza. It did not disappoint! While I was there, I texted my dear friends, Dave and Debbie, who live just down the street from it. They joined me there, where we chatted for quite a while, then walked back with me to the Inn to continue our visit. The Inn was the place they often stayed while visiting the area from New Jersey before they moved there, so it was fun for them to have memories of the gathering room and the complimentary fudge samples from next door.
After tiredness won over all of us (around 11:30 PM) we said our goodbyes until we met up the next day at the competition. I didn’t sleep well – not that this is anything new! – and went down for breakfast around 8:15 AM. Breakfast did not disappoint. There was a seedless watermelon slice, a pastry and a glass of orange juice awaiting, then, cooked to order when I arrived, scrambled eggs, home fries, two large links of sausage and toast. It was a LOT of food!
When I finally checked out, sadly saying goodbye to my friends, I headed to the Strasburg Farm Market. This used to be a neighborhood grocery store, small but perfect for the elderly who live in the area and don’t own/drive a car. Now it’s more of a farm market than a grocery store. Produce was local from the area and nice. There is a candy area, a meat area and an area with pre-made items. I found fresh-made chicken croquettes, which my bestie loves, so I got some to bring home to her.
Next stop was Bird-in-Hand Farmers’ Market. I used to run here whenever I wanted some sage sausage from a specific vendor, but never really looked at much else. This time, I wandered a little more. I was looking for a stand that had hog maul (pigs’ stomach) but while I could find the frozen stomachs, no one had it pre-made. You can stuff it with almost anything – it’s like a sausage casing – but the most popular way it’s made is stuffed with a mix of sausage, potatoes and onions. Some people steam it, but I steam it to get it cooked through, then bake/broil it to make the lining crispy. Crisped, it’s very much like eating crunchy chicken or turkey skin. I found my cup cheese and found out that I could order the stuffed hog maul from this stand with two weeks’ notice. Trust me, I’m already working on planning the next day trip there!
From there, I took the leisurely back roads to the competition venue. I came upon a meat and deli store on the way, so I stopped off, just in case they had pre-made hog maul. They did not, but I found a cracker spread made with bacon, horseradish, shredded cheddar cheese and cream cheese, and that, with some wheat crackers, ended up being the snack everyone enjoyed at the competition.
We did stay for the awards ceremony, so it was going on 6 PM by the time I left. I got home before 7:30, unloaded the cooler of the many treats plus bags of meat, and pretty much crashed in bed by 9 PM. I needed to get some sleep because another event was happening on Sunday afternoon!
Sunday, my bestie, Joanne, another member of our crazy crew, Brian and I all went to see a show at a small theatre venue. I’d seen the sign for it on my trips back and forth to my chiropractor’s office, and they were doing a murder mystery. Since it was close (less than 20 minutes from home), good pricing ($18 a ticket) and available for a Sunday matinee, we decided to try it out. The show we saw, “Nora Swan: Murder Most Personal” was set in New York City post WWII. The show was written in-house, and we were all impressed. Their program showed several of their upcoming productions, and I’m pretty sure they haven’t seen the last of us!
Finally, home again! And no place to go or people to see for a few days! I’m glad I got to do it all, but between all of this activity and the continued meat comas, I need lots of lots of rest!