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The Lodge at Woodloch: a decade of recipes

  • By
  • April 18, 2017

“NURTURE with NATURE”

follow nature’s lead with seasonal recipes

Do you have a passion for nature?

You can cultivate your own well-being in much the same way you would improve or refine your garden using ingredients harvested from nature.

“NURTURE with NATURE: Seasonal Recipes for Body, Beauty and Healing,” a cookbook brought to you by The Lodge at Woodloch, is more than a collection of recipes.  It’s a “guidebook” that provides directives for anyone who seeks to discover or restore that delicate balance between living and thriving. NURTURE with NATURE is a culmination of a decade of guests’ favorite recipes.

Guests arrive at The Lodge at Woodloch, an award-winning spa destination located in the Lake region of the Pocono Mountains of Pennsylvania, knowing they will leave rejuvenated with their souls enlivened. During your stay, you will immediately understand why the lodge draws customers from near and far. Each moment of your visit is a celebration of life and come mealtime; after hiking, fly fishing, a painting or yoga class, or a spa treatment, a diverse array of dishes await you in the Tree Restaurant and Bar.

This recipe book is a celebration of the miracles of Mother Earth and her ability to provide our earth with a wide spectrum of seasonal foods, herbs and nutrients that enhance our well-being.

NURTURE with NATURE is a collaborative effort of The Lodge at Woodloch executive chef Josh Tomson and his team; Amanda Clabaugh, treatments’ manager, beverage recipes from Leslie Britt and Cindy Wasilewski, and Nathaniel Whitmore, master herbalist. Readers will find Pantry Clean-Up, Choosing Foods for the Season, a Food Rainbow, as well as more than 100 recipes. Much credit is also due to Andrea Killam, the photographer, and creative director, whose photos depict the calming environment at the lodge.

If you’ve never visited The Lodge at Woodloch, you are missing an opportunity to experience a world-renowned, adults-only spa resort destination and a culinary wonderland. The recipe book only scratches the surface of the locally-sourced, garden-to-table cuisine you will find.

As I perused the pages of NURTURE with NATURE, I made my list of must-have ingredients so I could begin to sample several of the recipes. Most of the ingredients are readily available at your local farmers’ market or in the organic herbs, fruits and vegetables sections of many grocery “superstores” or online. A few of the offerings are “crispy trout with wild leeks,” “oyster mushroom & homemade ricotta flatbread,” and “brown rice veggie burger.” You should also reap the benefits of the renewal beauty and healing recipes, which are also arranged according to the season. Try the spring “Calming Banana Mask” to soothe and smooth your winter-weary complexion and the “softening hand and foot scrub” before sandal weather is in full swing.

I’ve been a guest at The Lodge at Woodloch and Woodloch Pines, two properties owned and managed by the Kiesendahl family. Rest assured, you will be pampered by your hosts.

NURTURE with NATURE was published in December 2016 and you can purchase a copy by following this link: http://shop.thelodgeatwoodloch.com/cookbook

To see what’s on the schedule at The Lodge at Woodloch, click here.

 

 

 

 

 

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Historic Philadelphia in 24 hours

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  • April 4, 2017

The City of Brotherly Love: 

Experience historic Philly in 24 hours

Do your plans include an overnight stay in The City of Brotherly Love?

historic Philadelphia
historic Philadelphia’s skyline is a mix of architectural elements and styles.

Why historic Philadelphia? 

By far, Philadelphia is one of my favorites cities to visit.

“The City of Brotherly Love” tugs at my heart.

Whether you choose to take in the sights on foot or perched on a streetcar, be sure to detach from your electronic devices long enough to appreciate the modern and historic buildings that line Philadelphia’s wide streets. Keep your camera close by because there’s something for everyone, whether you’re tuned into people watching or architecture. Philadelphia offers an array of stunningly beautiful architectural gems.

You’ll find a list and descriptions of Philly’s treasures here and a rundown of the Top 10 Historical Buildings in Philly.

A thriving birthplace 

Are you aware Philadelphia’s history dates back to 1682? I also learned something new while researching the city’s rich history. Philly and I share a birthday. William Penn founded Philly on October 27 to serve as the capital of his Pennsylvania Colony. According to http://www.ushistory.org/us/4c.asp, Penn aimed to draft a plan for the city that left the horrors of crowded European urban life behind.

Learn more about historic Philadelphia here.

 

What makes Philly unique from other metropolitan hubs? History abounds on the streets of Philadelphia, with miles of historic and cultural icons you won’t want to miss. Don’t forget to bring along your camera (and selfie stick) so you can capture every photo op. All photos by Joan Mead-Matsui.

Whenever possible, take your cue from residents and guests – a walking tour of Philadelphia is one way to see the sights. You’ll be tempted to pause often to glance into storefronts, read menus or stop for a bite to eat at one of the many restaurants. According to tripadvisor.com,  Philly offers 3,698 restaurants. That’s foodie heaven. You can find the best deal, compare prices, and read what other travelers have to say at TripAdvisor

Get your dose of Philly here.

The extra wide streets are a breeze to navigate.

5 must-see Philly attractions 

History: everywhere you turn

1. Penn Museum

(also known as University of Pennsylvania Museum of Archaeology and Anthropology)

After a particularly long week, my husband and I took two days off to rediscover Philly’s cuisine and culture. We began our glorious 24-hour whirlwind tour at Penn Museum, 3260 South St.,
on the University of Pennsylvania campus, with Pam Kosty, public relations director, as our guide.

You’ll be captivated by the artifacts and art from around the world. Kunihiko Matsui, AIA, marveled at the distinctive architectural elements throughout the museum. Of course, the Japan gallery was a must-see for this Kyoto native.

Stroll the University of Pennsylvania campus and you’ll soon discover why this Ivy League school is regarded as one of the world’s most respected research and teaching institutions. Penn Museum, located on the campus, was our first stop upon our arrival in Philly. Both the interior and exterior of the building are enchanting and representative of an enlightened society eager to promote the arts and sciences. The museum in College Hall was formally opened to the public January 2, 1890.

Create your own signature learning experience as you celebrate the incredibly diverse artifacts and art displayed and intermingled with hands-on learning tools. If you’re fast-tracking your way through Philly and you’re short on time, you can view each of the exhibits in two to three hours. You can also expect to find many objects on display that originated from university-led archaeological excavations and anthropological expeditions. Stone tools, household items, monuments and yes, fine art, are among the treasures you’ll see.

When you think of archaeology and anthropology, what comes to mind? Truly, both disciplines are a celebration of mankind and our world’s diverse cultures.

Take your Pick or see them all

The interior space houses 11 signature exhibitions: Egypt (Sphinx), Egypt (Mummies) Gallery, Africa, Canaan and Israel, China, Etruscan Italy, Greece, Rome, Japan, Mexico and Central America galleries; space dedicated to special exhibitions, and a cafe that features tasty, authentic food from around the world. I chose an Indian dish that was delicious.

Click here for an updated list of special exhibitions or to purchase tickets to the museum.

Museum hours are Tues to Sun., 10 a.m. to 5 p.m. and 10 a.m. to 8 p.m. on the first Wednesday of each month.

Admission is $15/general adult, $13/senior citizens (65 and above), and $10/children 6 to 17 and full-time students with college ID. Museum members, active U.S. military personnel, children 5 and under and PennCard holders (Penn faculty, staff and students) receive free admission.

 

Flanked by a lovely courtyard, koi pond and seating area, the lawn is a respite where students, staff and museum guests can take a coffee or lunch break, amidst the soothing sounds of trickling water.

 

2. Sonesta Philadelphia Lobby Art Exhibit 

Our next stop was check-in at the incredibly hip Sonesta Downtown Philadelphia. View the original art of Philadelphia’s fine artists and craftsmen in Sonesta’s lobby. The exhibit is updated every six months. Hotel guests in need of information should consult with the concierge. 

Find the best deal, compare prices, and read what other travelers have to say at TripAdvisor.

 

Contemporary decor
Art created by Philadelphia artists and craftsmen is the focal point in the lobby of Sonesta Philadelphia Rittenhouse Square.

Read more about Sonesta’s accommodations and services at my companion post: http://wp.me/p7Pqe9-uy

3. Reading Terminal Market 

Sonesta Rittenhouse Square is centrally located downtown at 18th and Market Streets in Center City, and only a short distance from a multitude of attractions. Whether you and your spouse are on an overnight getaway or you’re traveling with children, I guarantee you won’t want to miss the historic Reading Terminal Market. Whatever taste bud you hope to satisfy, you’ll find a selection of baked goods, meats, poultry, seafood, and produce. Other vendors also carry flowers and cookware. The Reading Terminal Market has been open to the public since 1892.

4. The Butcher Bar

What’s your hankering? As 5 p.m. rolls around, and particularly after hours of sightseeing and walking, why not try one one of historic Philadelphia’s newest restaurants?

As we approached the restaurant around dusk, the large shutters on the second-floor windows were wide open. I could see diners engrossed in conversation and candles gently flickering. The entrance-way was bursting with activity as guests sipped cocktails, wine and beer. Happy hour was in the works.

The Butcher Bar, 2034 Chestnut St, offers a lunch, brunch and dinner menu that will leave the meat lover’s mouth watering. I can still recall my reaction to one of our appetizers, a slab of bacon. “Oh, this is incredible – tender and juicy.” Words cannot describe this delectable creation. Kunihiko Matsui and I sampled a variety of menu items.

The bar features 16 beers on tap, 6 draft wines, and a whiskey-based cocktail program. You should absolutely make reservations. View the menus here.

5. The Eastern State Penitentiary 

Before leaving Philly, The Eastern State Penitentiary was our final stop as we prepared to leave the city. Over the years, I’ve heard rave reviews about the Eastern State Penitentiary, but since most of my trips to Philadelphia have been brief, I’ve never found the time to visit.

Regarded as “one of the most famous and expensive prisons in the world” and the world’s first true “penitentiary,” the ruins are bone-chilling and captivating. My overall opinion is the crumbling walls, empty prison yards and dimly lit hallways all speak of the lives of the inmates who called the Eastern State Penitentiary home. They are haunting as much as they are thought-provoking.

Notable residents were “Slick Willie” Sutton and Al Capone, who were among some of America’s most famous criminals.

A masterfully created one-hour hands-on audio tour, history exhibits, artists’ installations, and a vivid imagination are all you’ll need to feel the history that emanates from the walls. A very knowledgeable tour guide also led us through portions of the building.

Stay tuned for video clips from Eastern State Penitentiary. 

Are you looking for a more in-depth history of the penitentiary? Visit http://www.easternstate.org/history-eastern-state.

The penitentiary is open every day from 10 a.m. to 5 p.m., with the last entry at 4 p.m. Don’t plan to visit on Thanksgiving, Christmas Eve, Christmas Day, and New Year’s Day, when the facility is closed.

Adults: $14
Seniors: $12
Students & Kids: $10 (not recommended for children under seven-years-old) 
Members: FREE


Granted, you won’t have a full 24 hours to tour historic Philadelphia, when you factor in time while you’re sleeping, but in a brief period of time, you will get a taste and feel what makes Philly so interesting. Allow some time to relax and catch your breath. There’s no need to rush, and realistically, who can say how many days, weeks or perhaps even months you’d need to see everything Philly offers? Move at your own pace.


Visitphilly.com graciously arranged my visit and also provided me with information that helped immensely when we were mapping our 24-hour visit. Feel free to reach out to the staff as you are planning your trip to Philadelphia. 

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Yoga Journey at The Lodge at Woodloch

  • By
  • March 12, 2016
Spa

Tune into your body

Spa
Kimberly Matthew teaches Chakra Yoga at The Lodge at Woodloch.

An award-winning Spa destination offers self-discovery activities

Find your reprieve at The Lodge at Woodloch

Imagine a world-class Spa destination where you can leave your troubles behind.

“Some people need more room in their bodies, some people need more room in their mind. Some students simply need to relax and move at a different pace from everyday life.”

                                   Kimberly Matthew, yoga instructor

Kimberly Matthew’s goal is to turn people on to the world of yoga.

Open level yoga

Matthew teaches beginner to intermediate Chakra Yoga, one of many self-discovery activities offered to guests at The Lodge at Woodloch, an award-winning luxury adult-only Spa destination in the lake region of the Pocono Mountains of Pennsylvania.

A perfect start to your day

Her morning Chakra Yoga class provides a perfect start to your day and is perhaps the first step on your personal journey to total mind-body revitalization. A large glass window overlooking a portion of the woodland retreat is in and of itself, sedative. Matthew’s class began with moments of meditation to prepare the mind and body for 50-minutes of beginner to intermediate yoga asanas designed to stimulate and balance your energy centers for physical, spiritual and mental wellness.

Focus is on the seven energy center of the body 

Joan Mead-Matsui Tree Pose
Yoga class bright and early

“Chakra yoga focuses on the seven energy centers of the body,” Matthew said, but she also noted, “I think all styles of yoga help people connect with their bodies, their breath, and their energy body.”

Alleviate or eliminate lower back pain

Her personal journey with yoga began when she was experiencing acute sciatica. When different modalities failed to ease the pain, Matthew turned to yoga, which can alleviate or eliminate pain in the lower back and leg associated with sciatica.

Matthew chose teacher training to help other people out of their pain cycles. She completed her training and certification at the Kripalu Center for Yoga & Health in Lenox, MA, and has been teaching yoga for 18 years to students with dramatic brain injury and Parkinson’s to well, able-bodied people.

“I love to people watch and it helps everyone,” she said. “I even have a dear student who is 94- years-old, who flows through sun salutation and forward bends to grab her big toes. I tell her, ‘Lorraine, I want to be like you when I grow up.”

What are some of the benefits of yoga practice?

Matthew said, “Yoga brings on a sense of well-being by creating awareness, by opening soft tissue so joints move more freely…” and her goal for each class is “to connect with each student individually and give them exactly what they need.”

Students are encouraged to participate at a level that is right for them.

“If they have any pain or discomfort they need to back off and if they have to work at breathing, they need to ease out of the stretch a bit. Some people need more room in their bodies, some people need more room in their mind. Some students simply need to relax and move at a different pace from everyday life,” she said.

In addition to Chakra Yoga, Matthew also teaches several styles of meditation from labyrinth walking to mala meditation and meditation 101.

Visit thelodgeatwoodloch.com for more information.

IMG_9796
A morning yoga class at The Lodge at Woodloch
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Mount Airy Casino Resort

  • By
  • March 12, 2016

Rustic decor, fun dining

at Guy Fieri’s Mount Pocono Kitchen

Mount Airy Casino Resort eateries sure to please

The rustic decor at Guy Fieri’s Mt. Pocono Kitchen, Bistecca, By IL Mulino, a combination of steakhouse and Italian cuisines;  Lucky 8 Noodle + Sushi Bar, The Buffet, Red Mango Yogurt Café, Starbucks, and Nostalgia Candy Store all offer distinctive cuisine. You won’t need to walk more than a few feet when hunger pangs set in because the restaurants are situated along the perimeter of the casino floor. Light fare is also available at the Get Wet Pool Bar, a 52,000 square foot, indoor/outdoor, four season pool complex and entertainment venue.

Mount Airy Casino Resort offers its guests an award-winning dining experience. Best Ambiance, Best Service, Most Romantic, Best Special Occasion are among the awards the restaurants at the casino resort have earned. 

Guy Fieri followers might ask, “So, what’s the atmosphere at Guy’s Mt. Pocono Kitchen?”

“Relaxed and fun,” is how Bill Goeke, front of the house manager at the Mt. Pocono kitchen described the atmosphere at the restaurant.

The interior was designed to offer a rustic feel and while the rough-hewn lumber used throughout the restaurant could easily be found in other eateries, there’s simply no denying the decor at Guy Fieri’s Mount Pocono Kitchen is distinctive and has received the thumbs-up from Guy Fieri, the iconic star of the Food Channel’s Diners, Drive-Ins and Dives.

038

Every item on the menu is approved by Guy Fieri and his people, according to Goeke. Chef Devan Gerhart came up with the ideas for the menu selections and then presented them to Fieri and his staff.

Among the new items on the menu are “Hall of Fame” Brisket Tacos that feature house-smoked brisket, topped with citrus slaw, avocado, chipotle creme and pico de gallo on white corn tortillas and the Ultimate Asian Chicken Wrap, filled with minced chicken, Southeast Asian Spring Rolls, Thai Skewers, and paired with three sauces: Chipotle Peanut, Sesame Ponzu, and Sweet Thai Chil served with six crisp lettuce cups. Guy Fieri’s Mount Pocono Kitchen has the largest in-house smoker in Northeastern Pennsylvania.

To view the breakfast, lunch and dinner menus, click here.

Customer service is also a priority. The staff makes frequent stops at each table to be sure customers are satisfied and Goeke circulates from table-to-table to be sure customers are pleased with their meals.

He said, “I go around to the tables and ask ‘How’s everything?’ I get feedback and I want to hear about their experience. You can get a burger anywhere, but here, you can get a burger and have a fun time.”

Guy’s restaurant is open 24 hours.


Luxury lodging, a 16,000 square foot spa, and salon, 24-hour exercise facility, lakeside 18-hole golf course, gaming with more than 1,600 slot machines and 70 table games, a variety of restaurants, and nightlife equal a vacation getaway you’ll savor.

Learn more about Mount Airy Casino Resort at www.mountairycasino.com

Click here to read my spa and complete wrap up stories at visitpoconos.com

Congratulations to the Lisa DeNaples, Mount Airy Casino Resort Owner and her staff for yet another AAA Four Diamond Award® Designation. 

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A twist on French cuisine at The French Manor Inn and Spa

  • By
  • March 4, 2016
French cuisine

French cuisine with a twist

lighter flavors and seasonal vegetables

The French Manor Inn and Spa

French cuisine
Adam LaFave, The French Manor Inn and Spa executive chef

Executive chef Adam LaFave’s menus feature French cuisine with a twist.

LaFave recently launched his spring-summer menu and two of his favorite courses on his new menu happen to both be appetizers.

“The French Manor is an atmosphere where you can come in and enjoy the food. Even when you’re coming up the driveway, it feels like you’re in another world. ” Adam LaFave 

“The first one is a foie gras torchon rolled in crushed pistachios, with Brulee peaches and a sweet wine gelee finished with a shallot jam. The second is escargot with beef bone marrow, roasted garlic brioche crostini, grilled oyster mushroom, parsley, lemon powder, onion marmalade and finished with a fig and port wine reduction,” said LaFave.

If your mouth is watering at the thought of decadent French cuisine, read on.

Anyone with a hankering for succulent beef will delight in Chef LaFave’s aged NY strip steak rubbed with a black trumpet mushroom powder and accompanied by a crispy potato rose, sautéed Swiss chard and finished with maître d’ butter as an entree. A roasted Cornish game hen dish accompanied by mushrooms, Boursin Polenta and Glace de Poulet is another addition to the menu.

What’s his first step when he’s planning a new menu?
French cuisine
Chef Adam LaFave put the finishing touch on an appetizer.

Months before, he said, “The first thing I think of when I create a dish is to highlight. If I use halibut, I think about what works well with halibut. I love truffle risotto and I think that compliments the dish. The richness from the risotto and the mushrooms cut well with the little bit of acidity from the Blood Orange Beurre Blanc.”

 

“Experimenting is definitely fun. I get smaller amounts of ingredients and experiment with them. If I like how it goes together, I’ll feature it.” 

LaFave crafted his French cuisine inspired spring-summer menu with lighter flavors and seasonal vegetables and whenever possible, he supports local growers.

“Currently, we are buying oyster mushrooms from a local grower,” LaFave explained.

Herbs grown on the premises will be cut daily and used to flavor and accentuate his dishes.

LaFave began his career at The French Manor as a dishwasher when he was 16-years-old. After two years, he was allowed to do kitchen prep work and soon realized his affinity for the culinary arts.

“I worked with the chef for a while and I went to Marywood University for criminal justice,” he said. “I worked here cooking full time for a year and enrolled in Johnson & Wales culinary arts program in Providence, RI.”

After graduation, he was a chef at several local restaurants before finding his way back to The French Manor. One of the things he loves most about his work at the manor is the laid-back atmosphere.

“It’s not as fast-paced as some restaurants, so there’s more time for making sure the plate looks really appealing and adding more components. We don’t have to hurry to get the food out. I like the artistic side and that’s a lot of fun for me.” 

If you’re in a quandary about what to order, chances are the staff has sampled each item and is eager to answer any questions about ingredients used. Feel free to ask your server for his recommendations.

“The staff will come in two hours earlier than they regularly do to go over the new menu. I explain everything and go back and cook one or two of each dishes so they can try them,” LaFave said.

Even the least adventurous diner will find a palate-pleasing selection because there’s literally something for everyone: meat, poultry, fish, seafood and vegan and vegetarian dishes.  Be sure to let the staff know if you have food allergies or restrictions and LaFave said he’ll come up with a dish based on your dietary needs.

“After you get to the point where you know how to make food taste great, then it’s really fun to experiment and you can do different plating designs to enhance the appearance. We try to find a balance. I try to accommodate everyone.”

Breakfast and dinner are served daily in the historic dining room and Hanna’s Cafe. Visit thefrenchmanor.com/dining for more information.

 

 

French cuisine
The French Manor Inn and Spa, South Sterling, PA Photos by Joan Mead-Matsui

The French Manor Inn and Spa is an enchanting full-service, family-owned inn modeled after a chateau in the north of France.

I enjoyed a memorable overnight stay at the inn two months ago and had an opportunity to experience a full course meal prepared by Chef Adam.

French cuisine
Sliced strawberry with feta cheese, candied orange, micro greens, and finished with a 30 year aged balsamic vinegar

On a late winter evening in February, I was seated in a comfortable upholstered chair listening to Frank Sinatra tunes by the fireplace as my server delivered each course of this outrageously delicious meal to me.

  • Sliced strawberry with feta cheese, candied orange, micro greens, and finished with a 30-year aged balsamic vinegar
  • red beet salad with feta, candied pecans, orange supreme, pickled shallots, candied orange slice, and spring mixed tossed in a ginger-citrus vinaigrette
  • apricot sorbet
  • pan seared halibut accompanied with truffle risotto, sautéed black trumpet mushrooms, and shaved truffles finished with a blood orange Beurre blanc

Read more about The French Manor Inn and Spa at visitpoconos.com.

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