ROAD TRIP: LIVING LA VIDA LOCAL IN OTTSVILLE & UPPER BUCKS

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Clockwise from top left: NelliRae’s fresh pressed carrot juice and green smoothie; Owowcow’s sign;
Espresso macchiatos from Brig O’Doon Coffee House; The Golden Pheasant’s exterior.

roadTripLaVidaI’ve taken day trips to New Hope and the Bucks County countryside, to Ringing Rocks and to the D & L river trail. I’ve spent time as a tourist in Doylestown and points south. But throughout my local travels, I kept overlooking Ottsville until a couple years ago when ice cream (see OwowCow Creamery, below) gave me a reason to plug the town into my GPS. In returning, I’ve encountered a remarkable number of food-centric stops concentrated in this sleepy village within Tinicum Township (population about 3,500) where everyone seems to know everyone. There’s no downtown with quaint shops and farm-to-table restaurants. Instead, there are two main roads and many more rural offshoots ripe for exploration. There’s an old church called Red Hill, founded in 1738 by Scotch-Irish Presbyterians and for which the town was originally named (thanks to the area’s reserves of red shale). In 1814, the name was changed to honor Michael Ott, the town’s postmaster. These days, Ottsville and its surrounding enclaves are a mix of rural and progressive communities, with a growing population of urban expats. It’s so tiny that its namesake inn no longer offers a place to stay—just a bar and restaurant.

WHERE TO STAY

This is Bucks County, so in any given direction you’ll stumble upon an old stone inn nestled in a bucolic spot. For sheer spook factor alone, consider the Bucksville House in Kintnersville. This textbook Colonial Pennsylvania establishment dates to 1795 and is haunted by several ghosts (ask for photos). Innkeepers Barb and Joe Szollosi have filled it with mid-19th-century antiques and more than 100 quilts. You won’t have a television here, but all five rooms come with working fireplaces.

A winding country road lands you at the quirky Frog Hollow Farm Bed & Breakfast, owned by Mitch and Patti Adler. There are just three rooms and the 4.5 acres contain a gazebo, pond, and walking trails, plus a working farm (two sheep and a goat) and an orchard out back whose seasonal stone fruits may grace your breakfast plate. Vestiges of its former life remain in the tractor shed, original smokehouse and bank barn, circa late 1790s. One of its packages includes a joyride in its 1931 Model A to area attractions.

Just east of Ottsville you’ll find the sophisticated Golden Pheasant Inn, the longest continuously operating inn on the Delaware canal, dating to 1857. The three Faure sisters, Brittany, Briar and Blake, took over the business from their parents and renovated the entire place in 2012. They’ve added modern, sophisticated touches such as marble counters, Frette linens and custom mosaics, while keeping the place’s historic charm intact.

Put your reservation in early for one of the hugely popular ten modern cabins surrounding the southern part of Lake Nockamixon at Nockamixon State Park, comprising 5,283 acres just west of Ottsville. You’ll be blessed with a fire pit, electricity, a minimum of two bedrooms, and a kitchen stove (off-season visitors get heat, too)— but no Wi-Fi. It’s roughing it with some style, but let’s not call it glamping.

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Top: NellieRae’s fruit tarts; Bottom: Brig O’Doon Coffee House’s exterior.

WHERE TO EAT

It’s summer, the best time of year for road food. The fare at Moo, a business that was born out of 21-yearold Evan Asoudegan’s food truck, satisfies the way good road food should—it’s uncomplicated, filling and comes with a side of local color. Except here you’re looking at an elevated concept where the requisite burgers, salads and hot dogs, along with twice-fried hand-cut fries and even a grilled PB&J sandwich— are sourced as locally and sustainably as possible. Simplicity rules. “I want to do nine things perfectly,” says Asoudegan.

Save some room for nearby OwowCow Creamery, the award-winning ice cream shop known for its inventive, culinary approach to flavors (think honey lavender and butternut-squash fudge) and hyper- local ingredients: its eggs, honey and cream are sourced from within 60 miles. Named one of the top-ten ice cream shops in America by the Huffington Post in 2013, OwowCow has locations in Wrightstown and a newly opened outpost in Lambertville, New Jersey, but this is the flagship. And yes, there’s almost always a line snaking out the door, but it moves fast and it’s worth it.

For breakfast and lunch, Rachel Lance and Kris Fanelli at veg-loving Nelli Rae’s Kitchen make almost everything from scratch. At this year-old business with wide-planked floors and art lining its brightly colored walls, think French toast (vegan, gluten-free or regular), frittatas with mixed greens, and the popular sweet-potato burger. On the way out, the bakery case tempts with treats such as a thick brownie you cannot tell is gluten-free.

Those looking for a more refined experience—or those staying overnight—will find it closer to the Delaware River at the Golden Pheasant Inn. Ask for the outdoor terrace, where chef Blake Faure follows the seasons and sources locally—there’s an herb garden on site. Fans look forward to the homemade ketchup, chilled gazpacho, and anything with local fruits and berries (from Trauger’s Farm Market, Phillips Farms and Terhune Orchards, to name a few).

WHERE TO DRINK

It’s no accident that a place posting a sign governing the rules of discourse, Brig O’Doon Coffee House, is located in an 1870 fieldstone building that used to be the first post office and had the first phone in Ottsville. Owner Patrick Mullaney opened the business in 2007 and will ask your name if you’re a newcomer, and then introduce you to everyone else. Nab a seat at the counter fashioned from reclaimed pear wood by big front windows facing Durham Road, the old trolley path between Easton and Philly. Bagels come from Vic’s Bagels in Bethlehem; the brews come from Finger Lakes Coffee Roasters; raw milk is available for your lattes.

Bar options are best found in old historic inns. Try an old-school martini (served with the sidecar) at the horseshoe-shaped bar at the Piper Tavern in Pipersville, or grab a beer (and some brick oven pizza) and sit on the landscaped porch at the Ottsville Inn.

The Ferndale Inn boasts a lengthy selection of generously sized martinis, especially its cosmopolitans, prepped using the same recipe as the Four Seasons Hotel in New York. In summer, they’re known for their fishbowl-sized margaritas.

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Clockwise from top left: The Moo Truck’s bacon cheese burger and apple pie shake;
house-made charcuterie from the Golden Pheasant; Owowcow’s 24 flavors; The Moo Truck.
Photographs courtesy of featured establishments.

WHERE TO SHOP

This region is miles away from Whole Foods, Trader Joe’s, and Wegmans supermarkets, so investigate local chain Kimberton Whole Foods. It’s housed in an old stone building behind Brig O’Doon and you’ll find a respectable bulk food section (including biodynamic almonds) along with plenty of local goods such as honey, chevre and soap.

Stock up on unique kitchen and garden needs, including organic teas custom-blended by owner Kristin Perry, at the Kitchen Potager, located at Linden Hill Gardens—which is also home to the garden design business of Jerry Fritz. Perry also hosts garden pizza parties and “living from the garden” workshops. Even those with the blackest thumbs can appreciate the alphabetized plant selection and display gardens at the Best of Philly–winning Linden Hill.

On Friday evenings from late April to October, the Ottsville Farmers’ Market sets up in the parking lot at Linden Hill Gardens— the brainchild of Perry and Fritz—with 20 vendors such as Mainly Mushrooms, Metropolitan Seafood and Ironstone Creamery. The real attraction, though, is the vibe: It’s more like a party at a friend’s house than a market. Buy a bottle of wine and your dinner on-site and let Perry’s husband John Schwarz grill it while the kids make friends with the chickens and ride through the grounds on Fritz’s golf cart. (Fun facts: OwowCow, Brad’s Raw Chips and the Moo truck all made appearances during the market’s early days, circa 2009.)

It wouldn’t be Bucks County without antiques, would it? Housed in an old grist mill (with lots of intact infrastructure), Gristie’s Antiques and Oddities in Kintersville is three stories full of mostly mid-century finds. More than 20 vendors display their wares in this maze-like space owned by Nevin and Ginny Smith. I spied a tabletop Skee-Ball game, vibrant pastels of Harlequin china, and something I owned as a child: a complete box set of Laura Ingalls Wilder’s books.

Edible Philly Summer Road Trip:
Ottsville & Upper Bucks County

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WHERE TO STAY

1 Bucksville House
4501 Durham Rd., Kintersville
610.847.8948; 888.617.6300

2 Frog Hollow Farm
Bed & Breakfast
401 Frogtown Rd., Kintersville
610.847.3764
froghollowfarmbnb.com

3 Golden Pheasant Inn
763 River Road, Erwinna
610.294.9595
goldenpheasantinn.com

4 Nockamixon State Park Cabins
1989 Stover Mill Road, Perkasie
215.529.7300
dcnr.state.pa.us/stateparks/findapark/nockamixon
(Cabins are located in the southern part of the park)

WHERE TO EAT

5 Moo
4010 Durham Rd., Ottsville
215.317.3317

6 OwowCow Creamery
4105 Durham Rd., Ottsville
610.847.7070
owowcow.com

7 NelliRae’s Kitchen
8826 Easton Rd., Revere
610.847.2223

8 Golden Pheasant Inn
763 River Rd., Erwinna
610.294.9595
goldenpheasant.com

WHERE TO DRINK

9 Brig O’Doon
239 Durham Rd., Ottsville
610.847.6844
brigodooncoffeehouse.com

10 Ottsville Inn
245 Durham Rd., Ottsville
610.847.5463
ottsvilleinn.com

11 Piper Tavern
Rt. 413 & Dark Hollow Rd,
Pipersville
215.766.7100
pipertavern.com

12 Ferndale Inn
Rt. 611 and Church Hill Road,
Ferndale
610.847.2662
theferndaleinn.com

WHERE TO SHOP

13 Kimberton Whole Foods
239 Durham Rd., Ottsville
610.847.2419
kimbertonwholefoods.com

14 Kitchen Potager
at Linden Hill Gardens
8230 Easton Rd., Ottsville
215.767.4051
kitchenpotager.com

14 Linden Hill Gardens
8230 Easton Rd., Ottsville
610.846.1300
lindenhillgardens.com

14 Ottsville Farmers’ Market
The barn at Linden Hill Gardens
8230 Easton Road
Every Friday through October 10th, 4-7pm
ottsvillefarmersmarket.com

15 Gristie’s Antiques
9730 Easton Rd., Kintersville
610.847.1966

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