Thursday, October 22, 2015

Chambersburg AppleFest (October 17, 2015)

October 17 last weekend was the Chambersburg AppleFest, the sort of tiny town festival most folks take for granted but really shouldn't--aside from the crafts, preserves, carvings, potpourri, good-luck plantings and crystals on display and available for sale there's also (and you know what my focus is and almost always will be) some excellent street food to be had, hot and plentiful and at reasonable prices.

Take Bucky's Festival Foods, the only food truck in the festival offering smoked turkey leg--basically chicken drumstick on steroids. Practically don't need to advertise; when they throw meat on their cooker people kind of gravitate to their window helplessly, like moths.

And the results look like a velociraptor thigh grilled over coals:

Joint like that you wonder: if Jurassic Park had sold these things would it have had to close down? I'd buy one--wave off those pesky pterodactyls with my meaty club if I had to, to gnaw on turkey in peace.

It's not all roast bird, though; they serve a mean pit beef: tender juicy sliced meat (I've had it overcooked and dry in other places believe me) on a hoagie bun. They'd asked me what I wanted on top and I said whatever's classic, so they plunked down sweet peppers and sauteed onions and handed it over. The results as follows:

O, and the kebab-looking sticks beside the leg? They may seem smaller, but concede little to nothing in the size of their flavor. 

Thai satay, basically the juiciest chicken thighs, skewered and marinated in spices (I taste cumin, coriander, ginger, turmeric, fennel, brown sugar and lemongrass) grilled over coals. Kat's Thai House has been coming to the AppleFest for a number of years, and its clientele has grown; the line shown below is basically the last ten or so people, and stretches all the way past the downtown fountain--

The fountain standing at the heart of downtown Chambersburg incidentally is roughly a hundred thirty-seven years old, made of cast iron, was plunked there to commemorate the burning of the town--the only Northern town to be so treated during the Civil War. For the festival they prettied it up with flowers:

The other side of which is a Union soldier, steadfastly facing south to defend the town from any further invaders (a bit late I imagine, but the gesture's touching):

Side by side though they have no business being next to each other calorically speaking are Shorty's Funnel Cakes and Alpine Eatery based out of Greencastle. 

Shorty's offers a Maple Bacon Funnel Cake--I mean: maple, bacon. Need I say more?

Crispy bacon, sweet maple drizzle, crispy funnel cake, powdered sugar. You may notice that the picture's a little fuzzy--hey, my hands were shaking. Can you blame me (maple, bacon)? 

Alpine Eatery's a whole other creature entirely, though no less delicious. 

Chef Marcel had a place on Route 11; now he expresses himself through the food truck. Behind him is 40 years' experience cooking German, Swiss, Italian and French cuisine--take away the fancy tablecloth, the fine silver, and this is what you get:

A tender piece of pork dredged in flour, egg and bread crumbs, fried and put on a roll with red cabbage, served with potato salad. Very simple yet the breading is thin and crisp, allowing the pork flavor to come through, the red cabbage salty-tart to cut the richness of the pork. The potato salad's also slightly tart, and you're finished before you realize how understated yet unmistakably good it is.

Then there's the Sauerbraten Sundae:

O the confusion this inspires! Is it savory? Sweet? Actually it's savory but so beautiful it ought to be sweet--does that make sense? Who cares? Beef pot roast (I suspect a tough but tasty meat like rump roast or bottom round), marinated for days in vinegar wine herbs and spices till meltingly tender, served on spatzle (egg noodles) and red cabbage.

Keep It Smokin BBQ was one of the few trucks open early in the morning, and served a nice little egg cheese sausage breakfast sandwich.

Had to come back for the pit beef sandwich:

Which was a different creature from Bucky's--no peppers or onions just straight beef, tender no chaser.

Also had to come back for the Sweet Porky's, basically roasted tenderloin topped with bacon topped with maple glaze topped with sweet Southern barbecue sauce:

Photo stolen from their website. What can I say? I ate the darn thing before I could think to take a picture.

Sherri's Crab Cakes is another festival perennial, and like Kat's the line is through the roof. Or past the fountain. Something like that.

It's lump and jumbo lump crab meat, around a quarter-pound, fried on a griddle and served on a bun, and that's about it. No onions or peppers, just a bit of flour spices and breadcrumbs (you taste the crab though--you definitely taste crusty crustacean). 

And yes I stole the pic from their website. Someone once told me I was a terrible food blogger, eating my subject before I can etc. etc.--I was hungry, all right? And the cakes were good; not fifteen or twenty dollar good, just eight dollar good, which is plenty for me.

Of course on top of all the pit beef breaded pork spicy chicken and caked crab, we just had to stop by Olympia Candy Kitchen to have their specially made caramel apples (dipped, as the sign says, in kettle-cooked caramel) then (in our case) rolled in roasted pistachios. 

Yes it's from their website (roast pistachioed apples on the left). I don't want to talk about it. 

Inside is arguably one of the loveliest stores I know, all knick-knacks and red velvet and tiny model towns and laces and crystals-

Not to mention all the custom-made candy, from coffee truffles to dark chocolate salted caramels to chocolate-covered candied apricots. Not for the diabetic, or waistline conscious. 

But I was talking lovely interiors. It goes on a bit more:

And pauses to give us a selection of old-fashioned handcrafted sodas (more sugar, this time fizzed!):

Separating the two rooms is this huge display case where all the gifts in the world are put on show:

Not the biggest fan in the world of Christmas--weird about that, what can I say?--but I did grow up with the holiday and if ever the idea of Christmas needs to be represented in a single image, I'm thinking the above would be as good a candidate as any. 

Leaving the Kitchen for the public parking lot (free on weekends) we walk through this little alley, easily my favorite spot in town.

Aside from the paintings put up on either wall, the cobblestone walk, the slim trees that shade you from sun or rain, the sense of brief calm after the bustle of Main Street, it's so I don't know cozy. Like my little secret nook away from home. 

The view from halfway through the little street:

And the rest is digesting, in food-comatose silence.

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