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Destination Delaware County

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WEDNESDAY, JULY 3, 2013

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Downtown Media, as American as Meatloaf and Micro-brews When the old time trolley pulls into Media, we expect to see Jimmy Stewart or Donna Reed get off at the corner of State and Orange. This little burg of Mom-and-Pop shops, tree-lined sidewalks and ice cream parlors has traditional Americana written all over it. But beneath the nostalgic surface is a modern, independent and delicious little renaissance town worth a good long stroll. You’ll wanna bring a couple of sturdy tote bags and an appetite. Because Media is a sweet little shopping excursion fueled by soulfeeding meatloaf, a scoop or two of rum raisin, fresh fiddlehead ferns, Italian micro-brews and homemade gnocchi served by aria-singing waiters. The first thing we notice is what’s missing. There’s no Restoration Pottery, no Cold Stone Applebee’s, No Cheesecake Gap, none of the me-too shopping mall staples that make one American town look just like the next. Media is all charm with very few chains. More than likely, in any downtown shop or eatery, you’re one degree from the proprietor. And everyone’s got a smile to share and a story to tell. Best of all, virtually every downtown business in Media has embraced the concept of Fair Trade. Which means the stuff we buy in so many of the unique boutiques – coffee, handbags, scarves, jewelry, sporting goods, housewares – comes from companies that shun child labor, pay living wages and practice sustainable production techniques. Here’s a list of the places and people that make a couple of days in Media pretty special for us. There’s no particular order to this itinerary. We hope you’ll be inspired to make Media, the self-proclaimed “First Fair Trade Town in the Western Hemisphere,” a top stop when you tune your GPS to Destination Delco.

1. Kuta Because you’re one of a kind, and because we are too, we fall in love with just about everything inside Kuta, a very groovy, galley-sized, indie boutique. We love calling Kuta indie, because it’s very independently operated (familyowned since 1988) and because so many of the unique accessories in the store are hand-made in Indonesia. (Some things are made by local artisans, too.)

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1,579 BRANDYWINE COUNTRY MAGAZINE

The intricate jewelry is fascinating and every piece a conversation starter. The scarves are silky and shear. Batik bags are colorful patchwork cotton. And handbags, messenger bags and overnighters are leather and canvass and all manner of hand stitching. We do a double take at the prices – in a good way. Everything’s probably a third of what they get in center city fancy-pants places. Now this is what we call fair trade.

Brandywine Country Magazine SPRING/SUMMER

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Destination Delaware County

7/17/13 12:30 PM EDITION. Read it online by clicking on cover.

2. Deals

BLOG ARCHIVE ▼ 2013 (2) ▼ July (1) ► May (1)

So they gotta be tired of hearing that this place is the real deals. But it is. For those who never set foot in a G.C. Murphy or an F.W. Woolworth, Deal’s is as close to the classic five-and-dime as you can get. From the hardwood floors to the pressed tin ceiling, the place smells like wide variety. With dollar-sized smiles, we troll aisle after aisle of big-time bargains: birdhouses, wrapping paper, lawn seed, Brazil nuts and bolts and WD-40. Yep, those are lavender mothballs and off-brand corn flakes. Here’s your hand cream, hair gel, catnip, claw hammer, pudding mix and pom-poms. (Actually, it’s kinda like the amazon.com of Delco.) In the words of one wise shopper, “If Deal’s don’t have it, you don’t need it.”

3. Standing Room Only on State Street Wowee, we can smell the glory of the greasepaint and hear the roar of the crowd the minute we walk inside the marvelous Media Theater. This Golden Era gem is restored to full Roarin’ Twenties elegance, and packs ‘em in with boldface names like Andrea McCardle, Betty Buckley and funny lady (and Media resident) Wanda Sykes. Jesse Cline’s the artistic director, and has led this troupe for 20 years of standing-room-only. Young Austin Sterchele (rhymes with Churchill) Connors works the front of the house. He gives us the fiftycent tour, backstage to balcony, and it’s clear he loves this place “My mother used to sew the costumes for the big productions here,” Austin says. “I’ve got this theater in my blood.” People come from far and wide to holler bravo and give standing o’s inside this 700-seat jewel box. And they applaud some of the best performers in the world. A magnet for the Media renaissance, the old theater is now the second largest employer in town – second only to the county courthouse a few blocks downtown. And believe us, the show’s a lot better on stage than it is in court.

4. Home, Sweet Home Among the unique boutiques along State Street, Media’s main shopping drag, are those for the home. If you want the oddball music globe or puzzle for the den, poke around inside One Or Two Of A Kind. Feeling oriental? Roll around on the rugs over on Baltimore Avenue. If you’re a vintage kind of guy or gal Media’s Consignment Shoppe is a regular browse-a-rama. Our junk drawer is full of buffalo nickels, so we dig the coins at Pennies, Pounds & Pesos. We fall for a sweet little local home store conveniently called Local Home + Gifts. That’s where we spy a great new cocktail shaker, a little rose-patterned hammer with screwdrivers and other tools hidden in the handle (perfect for the missus) and some cool mix-and-match jewelry.

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Across the street we find the oddly named Quincy Marqueting, one of those candle-scented gift shops with all saccharin “gifty” gifts your great aunt might want balanced out with unexpected shockers like the tea towel set printed gaily with ‘50s housewife types who happen to voice their inner-most homicidal tendencies. (Gotta see ‘em to believe ‘em.) We wind up with a bag of old fashioned Horehound hard candies. At an old wooden cash register the near centenarian shopkeeper warns us, with love: “Don’t break a tooth.”

5. Come Hungry, This is a Tastebud Town

Every Wednesday evening in the warm weather, the main drag closes up and the tables come out in a downtown that’s chock-ablock with great restaurants. Folks here call it Dining Under The Stars, and we call it delicious. With the gamut running from hoagies to haute cuisine, freshfilled cannolis to creamsicle milkshakes, it’s impossible to be hungry in this town. We tuck our napkins into four widely different menus, just to sample the spectrum. A good place to start is where some say it all began. Babe D’Ignazio came back from World War II and wanted a place where he could enjoy the blessings of his friends and family. He started with a few taps and tables. Now Babe’s Towne House is a Media stalwart, a unique tavern experience of multiple bars, 4 main dining rooms, 5 banquet rooms, 4 meeting rooms and a sidewalk cafe. With souvenirs, photos, old maps, moose heads, popcorn machines, hanging airplanes, cigar-store Indians, and tchotchkes of every stripe on every shelf and inside the nooks that are inside the crannies of this place. But don’t let all that keep you from wolfing down clams casino, old-school snapper soup, prime-rib steaksandwiches and say yes to that scorching lobster Fra Diavlo. Say hey to pretty Laurie behind the bar and crazy Connie, the waitress with the biggest smile in the county. Next it’s brick-oven happiness at Ariano, a tasty upmarket pizza parlor with serious rustic pies and Italian craft beers rarely seen this side of Sesto San Giovanni. We tuck into a Regina pizza: hot sausage, grilled Portobello and awesome stewed tomatoes. Wash it down with a bottle (to be shared) of L’Ultima Luna, an Italian barley beer that’s aged 9 months in Calvados barrels and rips with 13% alcohol. It drinks like a wine, and Dominick, the helpful barkeep, makes sure we sip carefully. “It’s way stronger than normal beer,” Dominick cautions. “You don’t wanna wake up with your face in that good pizza.” After the pie, we hear the siren song of Ariano’s gleaming glass case of homemade gelato. And after the barley brew, we’re ready for a little sweet. The dark chocolate and pistachio gelato nails the spot. Let’s take the Italian theme up a notch over at Fellini Café. We love this little BYOB, where the Bolognese reminds us of mama’s, and, on Monday nights, the wait staff break into opera between courses. And when the weather’s good, ask about a table on the romantic, quieter back deck. On the other end of the menu spectrum is Lotus, a restaurant poised to take advantage of the bounty of farms that surround this town. The theme is farm-to-table, and they practice what they preach. Spring fiddlehead ferns, wild ramps and grilled trumpet mushrooms blow us away. The grass-fed rib-eye steak is killer. And the fresh kale, turnips, and artisan cheeses make music in our mouth. Exec Chef Ryan Sulikowski shares the credit with the farmers he lists right on the menu. Their farms, our table. Dig in!

6. The Fountain Street Fountain Ok, this one’s definitely kid friendly. It’s time for root beer floats. And hot chocolate floats. And creamsicle milk shakes. And you bet, egg creams (which feature neither eggs nor cream). And cousins, everywhere cousins! We meet Patrick Hanway, who opened the wondrous old-time Front Street Fountain a little while ago, and a couple of his cousins who don’t mind being called soda jerks. Lots of family help out here in one way or another. There’s

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pictures of ‘em all over the walls. “Used to be 7 or 8 soda fountains in this town,” says Patrick. “My folks grew up going to all of them, and they each lived within 3 blocks from where we are today.” Patrick believes in comfort food transformation. “Any food can be turned into another food,” he claims. “We love pulled pork and cheese steaks and buffalo wings and grilled cheese. So we make grilled cheese versions of all of ‘em.” We count 10 kinds of grilled cheese sammies on the menu, with a special new one invented every now and again. And sundaes galore. And all those floats and shakes we hinted at earlier. And even more flavors of ice cream then there are cousins to serve it. We slurp up the last of a creamsicle shake that takes us back to our childhood, and say goodbye to Patrick Hanway. “You wanna hear something funny?” Patrick drops the ironic bomb: “I’m lactose intolerant. I can’t stand ice cream, and can’t handle a grilled cheese.” Fountain Street Fountain's Creamsickle Milkshake

To learn more about Media, PA visit: www.visitmediapa.com Posted by Brandywine Conference and Visitors Center at 1:30 PM

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TUESDAY, MAY 7, 2013

Volume 1: Brandywine River Museum It’s that time of year when people from Maine to Murphysboro hop in the car and head for the open road. It’s when visitor traffic picks up steam around Brandywine Country here in Delaware County. Some of our star attractions really spin the turnstiles, yet some of the most fascinating places and people remain hidden treasures along the bends and back roads. These are the very places that can add wow to any weekend, and turn any day trip into a grand adventure. So we’ve created a guide to some diamonds in the rough, some gems among the jewels, and a way to meet some new friends in a place the locals lovingly call Delco. So follow along as we find the surprises a stone’s throw from where you knew you wanted to be all along: Destination Delco.

Our first installment: On the road to The Brandywine River Museum Ah, the star of the show, and our roadtrip. We know you’re heading here (so many people do each and every day), and we applaud your decision. This little roadtrip idea generator was written to help you know where to stop before and after your museum visit. So your whole day or two (or three, what the heck) is a bundle of mighty fine Brandywine. This old gristmill has been transformed into one of America’s finest creative experiences. The whole Wyeth clan – family, friends, mentors and protégés - is well represented here, as is the whole Brandywine ethos. It’s pure Pennsylvania, and we’re proud to say, the cream of the Delco crop. Make time to stroll the serene pathway along the

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Brandywine River just outside the museum. (Or float by on a tube or canoe when the weather’s warm and the water’s high.) And make sure you visit the studios of both N.C. and Andrew Wyeth, now open to the public. When you see where they worked, and how they did it, you’ll love the Wyeth art all the more. Think of this treasure of an art museum as the hub of a road trip to inspire your curiosity, your appetite and your Wyeth wanderlust.

But more than art, this roadtrip is a sure bet for all the senses. Keep reading, dear traveler….

5 great additions to your River Museum roadtrip: 1. Chadds Ford Gallery If you’re like us, and on the way to or from the Brandywine River Museum, you may be in the mood to buy a Wyeth. (Or at least a reasonable facsimile.) Well, we’ve come to the right place. The Chadds Ford Gallery is a trove of Wyeth-mania. Just walk in and look around. The front room is always chock-a-block with a temporary exhibit of guest artists right out of the Brandywine school. Straight away we’re made welcome by a big smile on the face of Barbara Noble-Moore, who grew up around here and manages the Chadds Ford Gallery. Barbara shows us around, pointing out the limited editions and out-of-print rarities that make the gallery as much a must-see as the Brandywine Museum itself. She knows the Brandywine aesthetic – what she calls “buckets, barns and beautiful daisies” – and has learned a craft that’s been a beautiful surprise to her.

Beneath this collection of art and beauty is a tunnel from the Underground Railroad.

“How’d you get into this,” we ask Barbara. “Divorce makes you do some strange things,” she says without missing a beat. Barbara grins and shows us the last available giclée of Jamie Wyeth’s iconic Wake, a huge and startling painting of a seagull in full flight, heading right for us. The painting makes us want to duck, it’s so alive. Artsy-fartsy factoid: Barbara tells us that a giclêe is a uniquely detailed digital print that’s about as close to the original painting as you can get without putting on a smock. The artistic tinkering of, of all people, Graham Nash, of Crosby, Stills & Nash fame advanced this painstaking print process. It was then perfected using local DuPont pigments.) It pops about as much as the painting. It’s not easy, and it’s not cheap. But it is stunning.

Say hey to Barbara at the Chadds Ford Gallery, your personal guide to “buckets, barns and beautiful daisies.”

The gallery is full of “Andy’s” pictures, as well. Which is how just about everyone we meet in Wyeth country refers to Jamie’s famous father Andrew. In fact, the whole family (and their artsy friends) is pretty well represented here. Barbara says beneath the collection is a tunnel that connects to the colonial tavern next door, now known as Brandywine Prime. (It’s where we’ll enjoy tuna tartare later this evening.) In the 18th century it was Chadds Ford Inn, run by abolitionist Quakers who made it part of Delco’s Underground Railroad, which shuttled escaped slaves to freedom. You can feel the history in the floorboards of this old gallery. There’s history in the staircase, too. Barbara points to a small marble disk embedded in the base of the railing. Back in the day, this was a source of pride for the owner, as the marble signified the building was free and clear of any mortgage. Woo-hoo! If your mortgage is in good shape, pay a visit to Barbara and take a little Wyeth home. At the very least, you’ll make a new friend. We’re sorry about the divorce, Barb, but real happy it brought you to the gallery! 2. The Christian Sanderson Museum Just around the corner from the Chadds Ford Gallery is perhaps the greatest unknown treasure in all of Delco. It’s an unassuming white house with a sweet porch and a view of a pond festooned

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with lily pads and the occasional white egret. But inside is where the fun is. This place was the home of a fine fellow named Christian Sanderson, one of America’s most prolific and oddball collectors. Chris observed minute details of everyday Brandywine life, made notes, collected souvenirs and assorted ephemera, and filed it all away for folks to find in the future. Today, we might politely call Mr. Sanderson a hoarder, but to the Chadds Ford community of the Warning: Once you walk into this utterly middle 20th Century, Chris oddball, utterly captivating treasure trove, was an everyday historian you may not leave until they kick you out. with a keen eye for what was just plain interesting. He was also a chum of Andy Wyeth’s, and played the role of artist’s model pretty often. He had the classic downhome Americana look that Wyeth celebrated so well. And you can see Andy’s sketches of Chris, and a few portraits and other rare paintings here – and only here - in the Sanderson Museum. Curator Chuck Ulman is happy to show us around. (Watch your head; don’t stub your toe on those cannonballs dug right out of the backyard.) Our jaws are happy to drop at what we see: sand from the Panama Canal dig; a Chris Sanderson had a very personal wanted poster for the kidnapped Lindbergh baby; a photo of old Chris himself relationship with the Wyeth family, and much with Miss America 1954; a hangman’s noose from Chester County’s Gallows of it is remembered here in the weirdest ways. Hill (the corner of Rts. 32 & 202); Jenny Wade’s purse (she was the only civilian killed at Gettysburg); a baseball signed by Connie Mack, a barber shop sign painted by

N.C. Wyeth, his father’s wooden lunchbox, and a set of 78-RPM records of Chris fiddling square dance tunes. There’s even melted ice from the South Pole. (We note it looks a lot like water, and wonder how it might soften our happy-hour scotch.)Christian Sanderson was a teacher, an old-timey fiddler, local gadfly and radio broadcaster where he held court on WCOJ right up till when he passed away. And when he died, it was up to his friends – more of the quirky characters of Chadds Ford – to sort through the mountains of stuff that he saved just for us. Just for a day like this: a day in Delco of dumbfounding discovery. Friends, you gotta see this place. It’s worth a day in itself. So make your plans around the museum’s limited schedule, which you can see here. And prepare to gawk and gander, and giggle all the way home.

Jamie Wyeth’s famous, favorite porker, from

3. The William Brinton House

the sign-in sheet at the Sanderson Museum.

Way back when, let’s say around 1684 just for old time’s sake, there were about 5,000 people living in Philadelphia. And out here in good old Delco, there were just a few farmers and odd sorts making way for the good life we know now. One fellow, a stiffupper-lip Quaker by the name of William Brinton, made good by milling the grain grown by those hardy farmers. “He kinda was like the Bill Gates of his time,” says Jacquie Roach. She’s the very nice lady who guides folks around old Bill Brinton’s house today. “He made a ton of money with the technology of the era and this is how he lived.” Don’t expect Bill Gates’ mansion. The Brinton House is without grand ornamentation, in the tradition of simple Quaker tastes. But Jacquie points out one

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symbol of great luxury. “There are more closets here than rooms. These people had stuff.” And here at the Brinton House you can see a lot of that stuff. Ancient pottery, silverware, cook pots and fireplace tools. Over here’s a barrel bathtub; we imagine squeezing into it while Ma Brinton pours hot water over us. There’s the fruit press and a candle vault to protect our light source from varmints who like the taste of candle wax. And yep, there are closets galore, and the first kind of sofa bed. It’s a bench by the fireplace that opens up and looks more like a place for a vampire to rest rather than where we’d put up our mother-in-law. But then again…nope, let’s not go there. The Brinton marital bed is worth a look, if only to see the “mattress” is really a rope grid. Pull the knots Back in the day, this was as good as it got for wealthy Quaker living. Come have a poke around. taut if you like a firmer sleep. Which is how we got the saying, “Sleep tight.” The Brinton House is full of little “oh-my” moments like these. As we stroll around the property, we check out the privy (it’s a two-seater; no waiting) and the very cool red barn. We can only imagine how Andy Wyeth might have painted it if he had been around a couple hundred years earlier. 4. William Bunch Auction House The day we visited Bunch Auctions, Bill Bunch, one of America’s great old-school auctioneers, sold four Persian rugs ($45), a dresser missing three drawer knobs ($15), an oval mirror ($25), a Jazz Age floor lamp with a sexy Bohemian shade ($75), an old globe ($65), a weird kind of sphere sculpture thing ($55) and a Joe DiMaggio baseball card ($15,000!) – all within about 12 minutes. (Take a looksee at Bill selling that weird sphere thing and let us know if you can figure out what it is, won’t you?) Check ‘em out online before you come so you can see This is where one man’s junk goes to the highest what’s on the bidder. And treasures can be found where you auction block. least expect them. (Maybe you’ll find some lostAndy Wyeth watercolor if you’re lucky.) You can even bring your own junk, or (ahem) personal treasures, for a free appraisal. And ol’ Bill will be happy to find a good home for ‘em at a fair price for you. Careful not to wave or scratch your ear, or you This is not something we do on a regular basis. But for the life of may end up bidding on an 18th century armoire. us, we can’t figure out why. The Bunch Auction house is an attic full of fun. Just be careful not to scratch your ear or wave your hand at the wrong time. 5. Penns Woods Winery

Gino Razzi comes from Abruzzi, and you can bet he knows a thing or two about stomping grapes and finding the magic in the juice. Gino was born to make wine, and he’s found his life’s calling here at Penns Woods Winery in Chadds Ford. His Chardonnay is sublime (The Capital Grille has selected it as their house brand), his White Merlot Rosé is a midsummer day’s dream and the five-varietal Ameritage blend is a surefire flavor bomb that can hold its own with the great reds in the world. A few years back Gino called his daughter Carley, and told her this winemaking was a great hobby, but a little expensive. So she came on board to create a wonderful winery experience for every visitor. We love the tasting room, where Carley will pair the right wine with all sorts of goodies, from happy little cupcakes to locally crafted beef jerky.

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Sometimes we think of the winery as a kind of opposite BYOB. “We love it when people bring their own food,” says Carley. “Stop at Pagano’s up the street, bring cheese and salamis and hoagies, and we’ll open a bottle for you.” There’s nothing like a vineyard picnic. We’re not just saying this, either. We’re drinking it in. Where to chow down and hit the hay:

Free wine tastings. We like the sound of that, so we’ll say it again. Free wine tastings.

For breakfast: Hank’s Place slings a morning glory of homemade corned-beef hash (Chef Voula makes it with fresh leeks!) and local poached eggs.

Legend has it Andrew Wyeth would walk here in his pajamas for a couple of poached eggs and homemade hash.

For lunch: The garden café at Terrain, the very hip and glorious outdoor-living bazaar/nursery/lifestyle store, is a slice of local deliciousness. (With its walls of field stone and barn wood, it’s kind of like dining inside a Wyeth painting.) We’re nuts for the velvety soup of mushrooms from just down the road in Kennett Square. And the pan-seared scallops come from right close to the Wyeth summer home in Maine.

The garden café is as delicious as it is beautiful.

For cocktails: Our pal and esteemed barman Damon Jekes pours a mighty fine glass of bubbly to go with the Blue Pear Bistro’s fresh oysters. And he can jam with that martini shaker, too! For dinner: Did we mention the tuna tartare at Brandywine Prime? How about the grass-fed New York strip? Or the double-cut Berkshire pork chop? What about the bone-in rib-eye cowboy steak? You get the idea… To lay your head: Lucky for you the beautiful Brandywine River Hotel is walking distance to our favorite dinner and breakfast joints. And they have a list of affordable packages to round off your roadtrip. Tell ‘em Destination Delco sent you! Walking distance to the museums, galleries and three square (and mighty fine) meals. Tell ‘em we sent you!

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The Shunpikers Guide: Destination Delco  

The bends and back roads of Delaware County, PA. Weird, alarming and thrilling!

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