Needing a quick mini-vacation, we planned a one-night trip to the Lehigh Valley area. After checking into our hotel, we were hungry and started scouting around for dinner. Now usually, I’d go out of my way to find a local restaurant to get the “flavor” of the area, but once we saw a Carrabba’s was only a few miles away, we looked no further. One of our favorite starters when entertaining is a bread dipping sauce that is a replica of Carrabbas’ own bread dipping sauce. A yummy herbal concoction mixed with extra virgin olive oil, you could easily make this a meal by itself! Not having any Carrabba’s local to us, we haven’t had a chance to try out the restaurant before.
The Husband ordered the Scampi Damian (named for one of the owners). A dish with a slight kick to it, there was nothing left when he was done. I ordered the Pasta Weesie, a dish I’m on a mission to now recreate at home. Marinated shrimp, mushrooms and scallions in a white wine lemon butter sauce over linguini alfredo — really, with that combination, how could you go wrong? And the fresh baked bread they served with dinner was really excellent as well. Yup, we’re hooked!
One of our favorite restaurants in that area is the Bethlehem Brew Works Brewery and Restaurant. We’ve gone there for about 7 years now, and it never fails to disappoint. Worth a mention is their Beer and Cheese Soup and the Christmas City Salad. I tried in vain to get the recipe (or even just the main ingredients) for the soup, but they wouldn’t budge. I’ve tried to recreate it at home, and have come close, but just not quite there yet. The Christmas City Salad is spinach leaves served with a Cinnamon Vinaigrette topped with candied walnuts, diced green apples, cranberries and gorgonzola cheese. Our two-year-old son delights in picking out the cheese from my plate — he’s definitely my child, a boy fond of those stronger cheeses!
And lastly, our morning started at the Allentown Fairground Farmers Market. What a cool place! Very similar to the Reading Terminal Market in Philadelphia, PA, it’s a lot bigger. Everything from fresh butcher meat, ground coffee, and nostalgic penny candy, to Amish breads and pies, BBQ chicken and even an old-fashioned barber shop, it gives new meaning to the phrase one-stop shopping. Because we had planned this as one of our stops, we brought a big cooler with us and came back with it bulging. Some of our purchase included Amish Apple Cinnamon bread (smells divine), roast pork, beef jerky sticks (a toddler favorite!), homemade potato chips, extra salty Amish pretzels (yum!), warm bacon dressing (for instant German Potato Salad), homemade rice pudding, pierogies, and much more.
So, if you’re looking for a fun day trip or a quick getaway, and PA is reasonably close to you, check out the above places.
I asked our son what his favorite part of the weekend trip was, fully expecting him to say the Crayola Factory … believe it or not, it was the caverns. On the way there, I showed him a brochure of what the place looked like, so he’d know what to expect, and he kept going back and forth about whether or not he wanted to go, hovering between being scared about it and saying yes. Luckily for us, his last decision was a yes, and he loved it.
Next road trip adventure will be the Poconos in a few weeks, so stay tuned!