Persian Breakfast

One thing that most of us love is when we go to a restaurant and the server brings out a little starter. Sometimes it is chips and salsa, or a warm loaf of bread and butter. One restaurant that I love brings out a cathead black pepper topped biscuit along with honey and blueberry jam, but my favorite starter is from my favorite restaurant. It is the Persian breakfast served at Pomegranate on Main in Greenville, SC.

Until my first visit to this restaurant, I’d never heard of it, but it is something that was a bit of a revelation to me after my first bite. After we placed our order, our server returned to our table with a lovely platter and asked if we’d ever had a Persian breakfast. When we replied that we had not, the server went on to explain that what she’d brought to our table was know as the Persian breakfast, and instructed us to take a piece of the flatbread, spread it with butter, then top it with radish, feta and fresh mint. This was not a combination I’d ever tried, but as with most foods, I was opened minded. I did as instructed, and with the first taste, I was hooked! It is hard to explain how just a few simple ingredients can pack such a flavorful punch, but it does. In this case, the sum is far greater than the parts.

Because this is such a simple combination of ingredients, it is easy to bring this dish home to enjoy over and over again. I’ve served this as a starter when having a family gathering, or as a snack on movie night, and I find that every time I make it, I want to do a little happy dance, and sometimes if no one is looking, I do. I’ve found that the fresher and higher quality the ingredients, the better it tastes. I’m lucky to have a large pot of fresh mint growing on my patio, and sometimes grow my own radishes, but often just pick up a bunch from the grocery store. The better the Feta, the better the dish. I have recently discovered that Costco sells an organic Feta imported from Greece that is just delicious, but I’ve also enjoyed it with whatever was on sale at the grocery store. I’ve used both pita bread and naan and enjoyed them both. I’m sure homemade would be better – goals!

If you do a little research, you’ll see variations of Persian breakfast that are much more elaborate, but because I am only conveying my experience, I’ll keep it simple.

Persian Breakfast

1 Package of Pita Bread or other Flatbread

1 Bunch of Radishes, sliced

1 Block of Feta Cheese, sliced

Salted Butter

1 Bunch of Fresh Mint and/ or Basil

Cut flatbreads into bite sized pieces. Spread each piece with butter. Top with sliced radish, sliced feta and fresh mint or basil leaves.

Persian Breakfast

Yes, this is incredibly simple, but it is good and so worth the effort you didn’t have to make!

Dining Experience – The Fishin’ Pig

Last weekend my husband, youngest son and I got the pleasure of traveling to New Jersey to attend the wedding of my nephew and his beautiful bride. We got to spend too brief a time with Ray and his family for the first time in 1410 days, which is crazy! Who else is impressed that Ray took the time to calculate how long a time to the day it had been since we’d last been together? But alas, the time was over in the blink of an eye, and we were forced to begin our return to South Carolina.

When choosing to drive to and from New Jersey, we like to make a stop overnight in Virginia and more often than not, we choose to stay in Waynesboro. Waynesboro is situated in the Shenandoah Valley, and the views are simply breathtaking…

Because it had been about 1410 days since we had been to Waynesboro, we did a little research before traveling. It was clear within a few minutes of Googling, that there was a new to us restaurant that was getting a lot of buzz. The restaurant was called “The Fishin’ Pig”. The name alone got my attention, the menu looked intriguing, and the online comments were glowing. We actually attempted to eat there on the drive up, but it was packed so we decided to save it for the return trip. I’m happy to report that we were successful in getting a table on the way home, and it was worth the wait.

The hostess greeted us with a smile and we were able to get a seat on the outside patio immediately. Our server acknowledged us as soon as we sat down and shortly thereafter took our drink order. The drinks menu offered many local brews. Tom and I both ordered a local Pilsner. For the life of me, I cannot remember what brewery it was from, but I do remember that it was located 9 miles from the restaurant and that it was excellent.

We each ordered something different for dinner. As for me, I was yearning for something light after several days of eating rich foods and fast food, so I ordered the Blackened Ahi Tuna Tacos featuring fresh cabbage, Pico de Gallo, Cheddar Jack cheese and a cilantro dill Remoulade. The tuna was cooked perfectly, and the tacos tasted delicious.

Blackened Ahi Tuna Tacos

Tom was next. He ordered Nick’s Catfish Basket. I noticed that this item is half-priced on Thursday evenings, which might explain why we were unable to get a seat the first time. Tom was generous enough to share a bite of his catfish with me, and I would say it is some of the best I’ve ever tasted. Tom agrees. He also enjoyed the Deathwish Hot Sauce with his catfish.

Nick’s Catfish Basket

My son Ryan had chosen his meal days ahead, and he was not disappointed either. He chose the Andouille Sausage Mac-N-Skillet which was mac-n-cheese topped with tater tots, Cheddar Jack cheese, crispy bacon bits and the sausage garnished with scallions. This dish comes with several choices of meat, including pulled pork and beef brisket, but the Andouille seems like a solid choice. Did Ryan offer anyone else a taste of this dish? Of course he didn’t, but we’ll just have to trust what he said and what we could see with our own eyes – a winning dish.

Andouille Sausage Mac-N-Skillet

I realize that none of us ordered BBQ, which is half of what this Southern combination restaurant is known for, but that just gives us something to look forward to on future trips. Meanwhile, we’ve created a wonderful food memory which will be rekindled each time I see the slogan on Tom’s new Fishin’ Pig t-shirt – Eat Like a Pig, Drink Like a Fish!

Father’s Day Brunch 2022

I have written in the past about the new Mother’s Day tradition we started a few years ago. We used to go out for brunch until the pandemic hit. When Mother’s Day 2020 arrived during the very early part of the pandemic, we were still in lockdown, and you couldn’t go to a restaurant. That year my son and I worked to recreate the brunch from the place we always took my wife.

In those early days of the pandemic, you had to be creative to help make life feel a bit more normal, and preparing brunch was our way of doing that. Little did we know at the time that it would become a favorite new tradition in our home, and that even when the restaurants opened again, we’d all continue to choose our new at home brunch tradition over the old one.

When June rolled around that year, and the pandemic as it turned out would still be in the early days and going strong, Father’s Day was suddenly upon us. We used to go out for Father’s Day as well, but the new Mother’s Day tradition also turned into a new Father’s Day tradition as my wife and our son teamed up to make brunch for me!

That first year we were a bit more extravagant in our brunches than in the years that followed, and why not? We were stuck at home and had plenty of time to fill with our creativity! That Father’s Day they decided to surprise me by recreating the breakfast from Ohana at Disney’s Polynesian Village.

We’ve had breakfast at many restaurants in Disney World, but the breakfast at Ohana has by far always been our favorite. From the food to the atmosphere to the friendly service, you just can’t go wrong. I like to call their breakfast a “reverse buffet” because they bring everything they’re serving to your table on a beautiful platter. When a strikingly similar platter appeared on the table that first Father’s Day at home, I was truly blown away – my family really knocked it out of the park!

It’s hard to believe that new tradition is now three years old! With three Mother’s Days and three Father’s Days behind us, we still love it just as much as we did in year 1. While we may have simplified our efforts a bit after that first year, we still turn out a fun spread and with so many options on the table, that brunch also serves as afternoon snack and dinner as the day goes on!

Father’s Day brunch 2022

One fun new addition this year were these easy egg cups. My wife looked up a few ideas, but then decided to just throw her own idea together and came up with something that was incredibly simple yet loaded with flavor. They were also a time saver as they prepared them the night before and warmed them for the brunch the next morning.

Lori said that the simplicity of the project made it easy for our 7 year old to do most of the work himself by scrambling the eggs and deciding what variations to use. He let his imagination and creativity run wild – the recipe made a dozen egg cups, and he turned them into 6 varieties using ham, cheddar, smoked gouda, mozzarella, and parmesan. He was quite proud of his work and was so excited to tell his food blogger dad about each kind, which he had color coded by the cupcake wrapper.

Lori & Max’s Easy Egg Cups

  • 8 eggs
  • 1/4 cup milk
  • 1 teaspoon salt
  • Mix ins of your choice!

Add the eggs, milk and salt to a large bowl and scramble together until well combined.

Line a cupcake pan with cupcake wrappers – they used paper cups, but in learning from this experience, Lori suggests using the foil variety to make them easier to remove when baked. Divide the egg mixture evenly between the cups – there should be enough for 12.

Add your chosen mix ins to each individual cup and then bake in a 350 degree oven for 12 to 15 minutes. Test with a toothpick to see if they are done. The egg cups can be served immediately or warmed again if you are preparing them the night before.

Easy egg cups

I had a wonderful day complete with the best company in the world, delicious food, and an incredible gift, but I think my favorite thing of all is to see the big smiles on the faces of my family as they present their buffet to me. That’s a gift that I can carry in my head and my heart every day. How lucky I am to have people in my life that are so happy and proud to do such amazing things for me!

Until next time, I hope you all have a great weekend!

When to Leave Well Enough Alone

Ironically, I hadn’t read Ray’s response to the weekly Q&A until this morning. Why is it ironic? Because the very thing I was working on for this week’s blog post was that same potato salad that Ray told me was one of his favorite dishes made by his mother, Tina.

Shortly after getting engaged, Tom and I were invited to his parents house for lunch. I don’t remember everything we ate that day, but two things stood out. One was some delicious grilled vegetables that Ray had helped to make. The other was his mom’s potato salad. I love potato salad and had eaten it many times over the years in many variations, but had never had any quite like hers. Her potato salad did not contain any onions (Tom despises raw onion), and instead of the predictable cubed pickles, hers contained fresh cucumbers. To add another unique touch, her potato salad featured celery seeds, which I really love and had never had in a potato salad before.

The potato salad that I have traditionally made is a typical southern style that uses mustard, those predictable cubed pickles and Vidalia onions. It has always been expected and enjoyed at gatherings of friends and family, but after marrying Tom, who you’ll remember (because I just told you) hates raw onions, that would mean that I would need to learn to make his mother’s potato salad. It would also mean that on every occasion that called for potato salad, I would be making two. After experimenting and a little coaching from Tina, I eventually got pretty good at reproducing her potato salad, at least good enough to make Tom very happy. It was also amusing to watch Tom as friends and family were given explanations about what this new second potato salad was. Most would look at it quizically, decide to take a small sample to taste, and inevitably return for a larger serving. Each time this happened, Tom became visibly tense, afterall, these people were eating the potato salad meant for him.

The one shortcoming of this potato salad is that with the addition of fresh cucumbers, it doesn’t hold well. If the potato salad is refrigerated overnight, the cucumbers will weep and the salad becomes soggy. So, this week I thought I’d solve that problem by salting the cucumbers ahead of time and sharing this recipe with the world. In my imagination I would solve the weeping cucumber situation and sit back and bask in glory of my achievement, but when does anything turn out like that? The reality is that what I produced was very substandard. Although I rinsed and patted dry the salted cucumbers, they were still quite salty and in the end, threw off the entire balance of the dish. In my opinion, what I produced was not good at all, but Tom disagreed with me. He said, “It doesn’t taste bad, but it is now a completely different dish.”

I held off writing my blog until today in the hopes that after an overnight stay in the refrigerator, by the magic of osmosis, the salad would taste better. I’m happy to report that the cucumbers did not weep, and the salad was not soggy. The taste, however? Still not good. So, my efforts to reinvent the wheel were unsuccessful. My confidence has been shaken, but as usual I now feel the need to prove myself. I will abandon the whole salted cucumber approach, and leave well enough alone so stay tuned to this channel for in a couple of weeks, I will have remastered Tina’s pototo salad to share with the world.

Dining Experience – Larkin’s on the River

Last week for the first time in almost a year, I ventured out to a restaurant, and not just any restaurant, Larkin’s, which is a fine dining experience located in downtown Greenville, South Carolina. My youngest son has recently returned home from The University of South Carolina. Unfortunately for him, his final exams took place on his birthday, in fact he spent his birthday taking two of his finals. To assuage his disappointment over his less than ideal birthday, Tom and I offered to take him out to dinner once he was home, and Larkin’s was his choice. We’d dined there after his high school graduation, and he wanted a really good steak in an outdoor setting, so he decided that a return visit to Larkin’s was in order.

The weather was that perfect temperature where short sleeves are completely comfortable, and it is pleasantly warm without feeling hot at all. Upon arrival, we were greeted with lovely smiles, and our hostess proudly announced to us that it was her first day on the job. She wasn’t nervous or apologetic, she was simply happy, which set a great tone for the evening. She led us to the covered patio, which features ceiling fans for a nice flow of air and beautiful views of the river walk. Oddly enough, out of the many tables located on the patio, we were seated at the exact same table as last time.

Our first dish of the night was the Fried Calamari with pepperoncini, Asiago and Calabrese aioli. It was delicious. Although not an uncommon appetizer, this calamari is the best I’ve had from any restaurant.

My son and husband ordered what they came for, steaks, but for me, once the weather is warm, I’m almost always inclined to enjoy a lighter fish entree. I ordered Chilean Sea Bass with shrimp sofrito, onions, bell peppers, applewood smoked bacon and fresh spinach. As can be seen by the description, this dish packed a lot of flavor. The fish was perfectly cooked and the bacon led me on a sort of treasure hunt. I was a bit doubtful about the onions, but they were beautifully caramelized and in just the right amount to pair with the peppers.

Last, there was the dessert. There were many delicious sounding choices, but after such a nice meal, eating a heavy dessert is out of the question, so we all settled for Creme Brulee. It was as always, a classic perfect ending to a lovely meal.

I would rate the service as just right. Friendly and attentive, without being overly familiar or hovering.

After dinner, we took a stroll along the river walk, took in the water falls, park and bridges. We found that a few buildings that were little more than foundations a year ago were fully constructed and open for business. The takeaway was that we have a gem of a city, and we need to get out more!

Musings of a Bygone Era

Many, many years ago I was working night shift at the sleep lab with my late best friend Jan. I was feeling a bit hungry so I pulled out a can of Vienna sausages. I’m pretty sure she had convinced me that carbs were the devil and we should both be eating more protein, so this was my lame attempt at doing so. “You like those?” she asked. “Sure, I’ve eaten them since I was a kid. Don’t you like them?”I replied. “I’ve never been a fan of potted meat”, she said. Potted meat? Was that what I was eating? At that point I wasn’t sure, but I was sure of one thing. I suddenly felt self-conscious.

On another occasion, the subject of Vienna sausages came up, and I don’t recall the exact context, but I do remember the exact sentence uttered by my husband Tom. “You’re not feeding that to my kid.” Wow. That was harsh! Clearly, after those two comments I felt stung, and my consumption of Vienna sausages and the like was curtailed, but I’ve decided that years later, I will revisit some of these once popular pantry staples with my older more sophisticated palate to see how I feel about them now.

First up, Vienna sausages! These little guys have been around since the early 1900’s in the US, but evolved into the current iteration sometime in the 1950’s. Consumption peaked during my childhood. In my memory, I could conjure up exactly what these little guys tasted like, and after cracking open the can the look and smell of them was what I remembered. As for the taste? I felt like they weren’t unpleasant, but maybe not as good as I remembered in my youth. Tom still wasn’t tasting them at all, but my son Ryan is home from university, so since he was the object of the “You’re not feeding that to my son” sentence, and he is of legal age, I thought I would get his input. “I don’t know if I like it, or I hate it.” That is how Ryan chose to describe his reaction. He did clarify by saying that he felt neutral about the taste, but found the texture “extremely weird”.

Next up, Underwood Deviled Ham. I remember the commercials for this product on TV back in the 1970’s, but had no idea this product had been manufactured since 1868. I ate many a sandwich with this deviled ham in the 70’s and 80’s, but how would I feel about it now? It wasn’t my favorite, but it was edible. Tom quite liked it and Ryan agrees with him.

After the Underwood, we cracked open a can of corned beef. The familiar trapezoidal can was patented by Libby in 1875. Ah yes, the can that features a special little key. It had been decades since I had used a little key to open a can of food, and I did remember that if you mess this up and break the tab, you’re screwed. I experienced a mixture of fun and pressure using the old fashioned method and am proud to announce that I was successful in my endeavor. I recall ordering an omelet featuring canned corned beef at a local restaurant a few years back, and I remember thinking it wasn’t as good as I expected it to be. How would I feel about a sandwich of cold canned corned beef? Well, it was awful. How could I have eaten some of this stuff as a kid and been perfectly happy about it? Why didn’t I screw up opening the can? I would have been better off. Tom on the other hand, grew up around the corner from and worked as a teen in a deli. He hadn’t grown up eating canned corned beef. Ironically, he was not as adverse to the corned beef sandwich as I was. We spared Ryan this experience. See what great parents we are?

I also bought a can of Spam for this undertaking, but quite frankly, right now I can’t bring myself to crack open another can of meat. I’m spent! I have taken note that I have until January 2025 to collect some of my favorite Monty Python jokes and work up the courage to open and consume the Spam.

Review of Home Chef

After having tried several meal kit plans, I thought I would take the time to share some thoughts about the first plan we tried, and the one we have returned to – Home Chef. We first decided to give Home Chef a try in August of 2019. There were only two of us to cook for on the weeknights, and between full time work, commuting and other activities, we thought those meal kits might make life easier, and they did.

After having researched what plans were available at the time, I concluded that Home Chef seemed like the best fit. The price wasn’t the least expensive, but the reputation and quality seemed to be amongst the best. As we were only purchasing a plan for two people, it seemed within reach. Once we began receiving the meal kits, we were quite pleased. We were two tired adults who at the time were taxed by questions as simple as, “What should we have for dinner tonight?” This plan allowed us to plan weeks ahead of time and choose from an assortment of meals ranging from “comfort food” to “healthy options” to “dinner in a hurry”.

The way the plan works is that you select meals with 2, 4, 6 or 8 servings from a menu of approximately 20 different meals. The meals are usually $8.99 or $9.99 per serving with the exception of the Culinary Collection meals which can come in at a higher price, but usually feature a more expensive protein. There are also add-ons that you can purchase that include snacks, salads, breakfast sandwiches, desserts or even a bake and eat loaf of bread. There are also a la cart proteins or protein bundles that may be purchased. There is often the option of customizing the protein for a meal kit, which may include an additional charge or just be an even swap depending on the protein chosen. There is no customization for vegetables offered. There is a minimum purchase of $49.95 and shipping costs range from $7.99 to $13.99. For us, shipping 3 meal kits with 2 servings apiece costs $7.99. You can place your order several weeks ahead of time, and you can skip a week or cancel at any time.

The level of time investment in preparing these meals can vary. The Culinary Collection recipes tend to be a bit more complicated and require a larger investment. On the other hand, there are 15 minute meal kits that are designed to put dinner on the table in flash. Our favorites tend to be the Oven Ready or “easy bakes” as Tom puts it. These are meals which require minimal effort on our part, but are on the table within 45 minutes.

The boxes come well packed with reusable ice packs, separately packaged meal kits, recipe cards, and at the bottom is a package with all the proteins for the order. The recipe cards are nice quality large cards featuring hole punches for placing in a binder. The information on the front of the card shows a picture of the plated meal, a list of items that should be in your box, what items from your own kitchen you will need to make the recipe, the prep and cook time estimate, level of difficulty, spice level and the time you should cook your meal within. This is especially noteworthy as seafood will need to be prepared sooner and things such as lettuce or pre-sliced vegetables will not hold up in the refrigerator as long as whole vegetables. On the flip side of the recipe card are the instructions which are clear and well written including instructions you’ll need if you customized the protein. Having tried several different meal kits, I cannot emphasize the importance of clear and well written instructions enough.

As with all things in life there are occasional errors made. In the beginning there were a few times the vegetables in the kit did not hold up well, which seems to have not been a problem recently. There is the odd missing ingredient, but not often. When that has happened, we have contacted customer service and always received a quick apologetic response with a generous reimbursement.

The only real con I can think of is the packaging. There is a lot of packaging most of which can be recycled. It does feel wasteful, though. In Home Chef’s defense, I will also say this packaging does deliver quality food. I have had other meal kits come with vegetables tossed all over the box sometimes bruised or ripped apart to the point of being inedible. I’ve also had multiple experiences with other kits where the ice packs ruptured all over the food leaving the food covered in a slimy substance that I don’t even want to think about.

So, if you are thinking about ordering meal kits, Home Chef is a solid choice. The food tastes good, the customer service is excellent, but before you order this or any meal plan, make sure to look for a promotion before ordering . All the meal kits seem to have many promotions all the time so I encourage you to give one a try.

Creamy Shrimp Diavolo Penne Bake

Have You Been Thinking About Getting Naked?

Well, Tom did, and he doesn’t regret it. No, The Food In-Laws didn’t suddenly turn blue. I am speaking of Naked Wines and thought that I would share our experience with you. What is Naked Wines? It is a “wine club” of sorts. Customers may buy wine directly from Naked Wine and use a one time voucher which is easy enough to find, but consumers may also choose to become an Angel. By becoming an Angel you agree to deposit $40 into a piggy bank monthly. This money allows the company to help fund independent winemakers. The money remains in your piggy bank until you choose to spend it. If you change your mind and decide to cancel, the money remaining in the piggy bank is refunded to you. Other benefits to becoming and Angel are discounted prices and once a month a gift bottle may be redeemed by purchasing a case of wine. Shipping prices are $9.99 for purchases under $100 and free for purchases over $100 except for Alaska and Hawaii which are considerably more expensive. Shipping usually takes 1-4 days except for Ohio which is 8-10 days. So far the orders we have had shipped to South Carolina have taken 3 to 4 business days. Naked Wines currently does not ship to Alabama, Arkansas, Delaware, Mississippi, New Jersey, Ohio, Rhode Island, and Utah, but it appears that it is possible that some of that may change. More information on the subject may be found on the site Freethegrapes.org.

So, how is the wine? In the interest of full disclosure I will have to admit that we have yet to try any of the white wine offerings or any offering other than red. Although we do appreciate the occasional white or sparkling wine, our true love is red wine, so that is what we order. We have chosen many different varietals and red blends from countries such as South Africa, Australia, Portugal, Italy, the US and more.The verdict for us has been a resounding yes. Every bottle we’ve consumed has been very nice. Are we that easy to please? Actually, I don’t think we are, but so far so good for the bottles we’ve ordered from Naked Wines.

That brings me to customer service. The shipping has been fast, and well packed with no breakages. The orders have all been correct, and we’ve enjoyed the wine so nothing to complain about. That lack of complaining seemed to not sit well with Naked Wines, so they reached out. Tom received an email noting that we had not yet had any complaints and assuring him that they want us to love every bottle and to feel free to reach out and tell them about any bottle that we didn’t “love” and they would be happy to refund the price of the bottle. So, we were puzzled that they seemed to be complaining about our not complaining and thought, “If there is a bottle we don’t like in the next shipment, we’ll let them know”. Well, we liked them all and again had no complaints. Our lack of complaining seems to have prompted them to just go ahead and proactively credit us for a bottle of wine anyway.

Karen Birmingham Zinfandel RESERVE. Wine swirl by Mike Fingerhut of Jersey Woodcrafters

So, if you’ve been thinking about getting Naked, I would say go ahead. You’ve got nothing to lose!

A Trip To Hersheypark

One of our favorite places to go for some family fun time is Hersheypark in Hershey, Pennsylvania. We happily made our return a little over a week ago after an 18 month hiatus due to the pandemic. While they did open last summer, we opted to stay on the more cautious side and chose to sit last year out. During that time a new area of the park called Chocolatetown was due to open – while we were disappointed to miss the inaugural year, it did not take away from the excitement of finally getting to see it this year.

The new area features the renovated and relocated classic carousel, a brand new rollercoaster and several new shops and eating options. Chocolatetown is also the new entry point to the park and while our nostalgic side does miss the old entrance a bit, I have to say what they have created offers much better traffic flow and is very visually appealing.

One of the first things you see when entering the park through the new entrance is a brand new fountain designed to look like a Hershey’s Kiss. Rising up from behind the fountain is Candymonium, the newest and biggest rollercoaster in the park.
A partial view of the new Chocolatetown area in Hersheypark. To the far left are the new entry gates to the park. The red brick building attached to the gates houses a gift shop named Hersheypark Supply Co. Also included in this new building are The Sweeterie Confectionary Kitchen, Milton’s Ice Cream Parlor and a brand new restaurant called The Chocolatier. Under the pavilion to the right is the new home for the carousel.

Now let’s get down to what is at the heart of our whole blog – food talk! The new addition brought along with it many fun new food and beverage choices. I’d like to share some of our discoveries with you.

On our first day at the park we needed a break from the heat so we headed over to Chocolatetown for a little indoor rest and a snack. At Milton’s Ice Cream Parlor we discovered there was a second line where you could purchase a few food and snack choices other than ice cream. We decided to share a family bucket of fries.

This fun new discovery came with fries in four shapes: Waffle, curly, one that was like a scoop and tater tots. Along with the bucket came your choice of three dipping sauces. There were several to choose from and we went with cheddar, barbecue and a spicy mole sauce. I’m not the biggest mole sauce fan, but this one had a spicy and smoky flavor that was very interesting and I actually enjoyed it.

Family bucket of fries

One evening for dinner we decided to check out the new restaurant The Chocolatier. It was on the second floor and offered a view of the new Candymonium rollercoaster while eating. The décor was simple and nice – there was even a row of booths made to look like a train on a rollercoaster! The restaurant offered a variety of menu items from sandwiches and salads to more elevated hot entrees.

We all enjoyed our meals, but we had two stand out favorite items. One was an appetizer of pretzel bites served with a grainy mustard and a cheese sauce and the other was a new drink, a S’mores martini. My wife loved the martini complete with graham cracker crumbs on the rim and a toasted marshmallow for garnish. It was a touch on the sweeter side, but I also found it to be a fun and enjoyable drink. My son also reported back that his drink – chocolate milk topped with whipped cream in a glass lined with chocolate syrup – was the best chocolate milk ever!

Later, while my wife was helping our son get onto one of the rides, I turned around and noticed a new food truck on the other side of the path. Before making our trip I read that they now have mini donut stands throughout the park and suddenly, there was one right in front of me! The stand offered a variety of sizes from a half dozen up to a bucket with two dozen. You also had a choice of varieties like powdered, cinnamon and sugar, vanilla glaze and chocolate glaze. If you were so inclined, you could also add a sweet dipping sauce.

In order to get a good taste of the donut itself, I opted for the more simple variety of cinnamon and sugar with no dipping sauce. I knew this variety would also go over well with my family when I surprised them with the treat when they were done with the ride. We all grabbed one and simultaneously took a bite and had the same reaction…. “Mmmmmm!” They were fresh, warm and delicious and definitely a treat we will enjoy again during future visits.

Fresh cinnamon and sugar mini donuts

With two days left on our vacation, we decided it was time to try one more new treat. Milton’s Ice Cream Parlor is a new addition this year and although we’ve had ice cream from other stands in the park over the years, this new shop offers a whole different variety of flavors and toppings served up in an old fashioned ice cream parlor setting. The attention to detail in the décor really did give you a feeling of what it was like to go out for ice cream in Milton Hershey’s day!

There were so many fun flavors to choose from. We each decided to have a medium sized cup which gave you two flavor choices and one topping. I went with toasted marshmallow and graham cracker topped with Whoppers candy. My wife chose toasted marshmallow and birthday cake topped with Kit Kat and my son picked birthday cake and mint chocolate chip topped with Reese’s Pieces. The flavors were right on point and we all enjoyed our ice cream break. For our family, the new ice cream parlor was a hit!

Often on very hot days when we get to the park for opening, we will leave just before dinner and spend the evening back at the hotel eating dinner poolside at the more recently built Water Works pool facility. The lodge has a nice little food stand right there with simple menu choices like burgers, sandwiches, salads and such. It’s a great way to enjoy dinner and cool down from a hot day at the park while you eat. They also serve some fun cold beverages just for the adults to further help them cool down!

We truly enjoyed our journey complete with amazing weather, entertainment, many fun new food choices since our last visit to Hershey and above all, some much needed quality family time away together after a very long year at home. We were so grateful to have had the chance to go out into a world that felt a bit more like the one we knew before the pandemic started – it truly makes you appreciate the simple joys in life in a whole new way.