Yes, a tour of the sites of the Civil War’s tide-turning three-day battle in Gettysburg is the major reason millions of visitors come to this lovely village of red brick Victorian homes. But Gettysburg offers more than history. Situated in fertile Adams County, Gettysburg is prime farm country where locavore chefs fashion a bounty of foods into memorable meals. From Philadelphia, Baltimore and Washington, D.C., a day trip to sample Gettysburg’s thriving food scene is a delectable prospect. And you will enjoy the comestibles in a sophisticated and gay-friendly town.
“Gettysburg is a town where two beaux or two gals can grip hands during a ghost tour,” says Michael Chapaloney, director of the Pennsylvania Tourism Office. “It’s a community forged in civility.”
Take the food tour
A great way to dig in is to take the Savor Gettysburg Food Tour. This three-hour experience, held on Fridays, Saturdays and Sundays, visits seven of Gettysburg’s dining venues, traversing about a mile. Knowledgeable guides provide background on the food the restaurants offer and the history of their buildings. Itineraries vary, but a typical tour might start at the Garryowen Irish Pub where owners Kevin and Joanne McCready recreate family recipes from their original home in County Armagh, Ireland.
From the pub, the tour takes a short walk to Gettysburg’s beautifully preserved town square and a stop at Gettysburg Baking Co. The bakery evokes a European village boulangerie with baskets of baguettes, croissants and sweet buns, which, along with a dark roast coffee, are irresistible. Best to just nibble, though, since the tour moves across the square for Kaytlin’s Café on the Square (1 Baltimore St.) for their signature sandwich: turkey and corned beef topped with sauerkraut and Thousand Island dressing. Other stops on the tour might include local favorite Café Saint-Armand, a French bistro, and family favorite, Mr. G’s Ice Cream (404 Baltimore St.).
Storm the countryside
To experience the Gettysburg-Adams County food scene fully, drive into the surrounding countryside. Thousands of acres of orchards (in blazing colors, come fall) provide the county with two of its best-selling food products: apples and apple cider.
If you know cider only as a cheap thrill from high school days, you and your palate will be surprised by the sublime and subtle ciders at Hauser Estate Winery. Sample the ciders, ranging from slightly sweet to dry, on a broad terrace with its sweeping 35-mile view.
Before heading back to town for dinner, stop at Hollabaugh Bros. Market. A bright, airy barn, perched at the edge of the family’s 450-acre fruit farm, houses a market and bakery where shelves groan with gifts to take home (relishes, salsa, jams, jellies) and mid-afternoon treats (cider doughnuts, sticky buns).
Finish among friends
As for dinner back in Gettysburg, three fine dining establishments vie for your reservation. At One Lincoln, located in the handsomely restored Hotel Gettysburg, chef Joseph Holmes creates great comfort food entrees from local ingredients. Smokey gnocchi is stuffed with broccoli, roasted peppers and peas. Maryland crab spikes a terrine of mac and cheese.
Gallic melds with locally grown at Café Saint-Armand. (See above.) Regional vegetables (zucchini, eggplant, squash and tomatoes) stuff a ratatouille crepe. Pork medallions are glazed with apple butter.. The coffee here is among the darkest and strongest in town – a perfect complement to the flourless chocolate cake.
The red brick Inn at Herr Ridge dates to 1815 and, over the years, has been a brothel and, during the battle of Gettysburg, a hospital. Now it is a welcoming inn and restaurant with a 6,000-bottle wine cellar. Here, again, regional foods prevail. There’s crab and corn chowder to start, then entrees highlighting local beef, pork and chicken. If you feel a hand caress the back of your neck when you tuck into a steak, remember that Herr Ridge is said to be haunted — one of the gay soldiers known to have fought at Gettysburg may be enticing you.
To close out your day with a dram or a brandy, head to the Blue Parrot Bistro. “Birds of a feather,” says Chapaloney, “flock together at the Blue Parrot.”
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