Those of you who have found my blog via the Montgomery News blog section have likely also perused the website’s other featured blogs. And those of you who found my blog because you know me and I have incessantly bragged about it every time I’ve posted a new entry, I hope you also have checked back via the link on my sidebar to the Montgomery News Blog section so that you too can check out other blogs on the site because there are some really great ones there.
One of those featured blogs is the “I Love Skippack” blog run by a gentleman named Michael Shaw. After befriending Mike online and keeping up with his blog I’ve come to learn a little bit about this little community not too far from my home without ever stepping foot into the village of Skippack. So last Sunday my wife Nicole and I made the decision to remedy that situation and see if this place is as great as Mike Shaw says it is.
In the interest of full disclosure, my wife and I had originally planned to go to Nockamixon State Park but the weather in Quakertown was iffy and with a 50% chance of thunderstorms putting a damper on the prospect of hiking and swimming we decided that a Sunday of shopping and strolling was on the agenda instead. So we headed out to Skippack with both open mind and wallet.
Our first stop was the Skippack Farmers’ Market at the Montgomery County 4H Center parking lot in the town of Creamery, PA. Maybe it was the weather forecast or the fact that it was sweltering hot at only 10:30am, but of the 16 advertised vendors on the market’s website, only six were present. And that’s counting the magician/juggler who I still can’t figure out what he was there for. Still, Nicole and I managed to buy some tiny cups of homemade ice cream to get our appetites going, a loaf of multi-grain bread we intended to have with dinner, and some sugar plums from a local farm. Speaking of local farms, there was one stand selling ears of corn for 25-cents apiece or six for three dollars. Let me say that again. One ear was only twenty five cents, but if you wanted five more ears you needed three dollars. Unfortunately the two young people working the stand didn’t understand their faulty math and economics.
We departed and headed to Skippack proper, pulling into the parking lot of the Skippack Village Italian Market. The owners must have been cutting and peeling enough onions for an army because when we walked in my eyes started tearing like I was watching the first 10 minutes of Pixar’s UP. (Damn you, Pixar!) After explaining we were visiting Skippack for the first time, the owners gave us a visitor’s map of Skippack and the rundown on their own menu. Despite my physical distress, the smells coming from the market were amazing so Nicole and I couldn’t help but order some food.
We were ushered into another room that was both cozy and free of the onion vapors where the missus had a hoagie of her own concoction featuring fresh mozzarella, tomatoes and roasted red peppers. I went with the hot Roast Pork Italiano with aged provolone and broccoli rabe. After taking one bite of my sandwich I was in foodie heaven. I had to tell the owners that I had grown up in South Philly and sampled the notable and famous pork sandwiches from John’s and DiNic’s and Nick’s Roast Beef and their sandwich was right up there in the Pantheon of Palatable Pork Perfection. We were then served two complimentary cannoli (one chocolate and one chocolate chip), which must be the owners’ crack-dealer-like way of giving the first taste for free knowing full well you’ll be hooked and come back for more. I decided then and there that even if I wasn’t going to ever visit Skippack again, I was still going to stop at the Italian Market for years to come for some truly wonderful food.
Nicole and I drove off and parked a few blocks away in a lot that appeared to be the midway point of town. Strolling to the front end we took in the sights before stopping in the multitude of quaint little shops and stores.
As soon as I saw it on the map I knew I would be stopping in at The Grand Fromage, a store that boasts “Fine Cheeses & Charcuterie.” Boy, they weren’t kidding. We were given samples and within moments realized that our dinner plans for the evening were going to become wine, cheese and bread. We promised the folks in the shop we would return before we left because we didn’t want the cheese to sit in the car all day.
Another highlight of the trip was when we entered Black Sheep Pottery and were warmly welcomed by owner/founder/ceramic artist Nicole Dubrow. After being in her shop for two minutes I knew my wife would be signing up for lessons, as pottery was something she’s been itching to work with. Talking with Dubrow you can easily see that not only is she a talented artist but that she is also very much in love with what she does. It shows in her work and she gave us some insight into the hand-crafted tiles she is making for a client’s kitchen project.
At the recommendation of the owner of The Grand Fromage, we took a peek inside Hotel Fiesole, a European-looking hotel with a trolley-car-turned-bar right just beyond the main lobby. The décor was extravagant but classy. We asked if it was OK to walk around and decided that when we walked downstairs to the Bella Rossa bar we would partake of a liquid lunch: a glass of wine for the lady, a pilsner of beer for the lout.
We stopped in virtually every store in Skippack. We sampled wine from Cardinal Hollow Winery (although I passed on their jalapeno wine that I had a few times before). We chatted up the owner of Tara’s Country Cottage who informed us that Antler Ridge Winery would be opening shop in a portion of her building in only a few days, just in time for the upcoming First Friday in August.
Overall, it was a great day of walking and shopping and was really was nice to see that even on a Sunday it seemed that everything was still open. I mused that this is what Jenkintown could be if it had more places to shop and the proprietors realized that the calendar has seven days a week and not six.
We finished the day with simple slices of pizza from Skippack Pizza (but only because the local sushi place, Tokyo, wasn’t open yet). We made one final stop at The Grand Fromage as promised — which apparently was the subject of a bet between the people working there — and picked up two amazing cheeses for dinner. We drove home vowing to return on August 5th for their First Friday celebration. So, apparently this Mike Shaw guy knows what he’s talking about.
Thanks a lot, Mike. I love Skippack, too!