Tradition is on the bill of fare in Southwestern Pennsylvania’s Butler County. Adventurous foodies can sample a full culinary spectrum of local specialties. Willie’s Smoke House, in Harrisville. Opened 40 years ago, owner William “Bill” McKee experimented with different blends of wood to create the perfect smoked flavor. His ultimate blend of hard woods, primarily hickory, created a distinctive flavor that has become his trademark. Today, the third generation of McKees runs Willie’s with the same dedication to quality recipes, techniques, and products.
Initially, Willie’s offered just a few items, but their product list has grown to include smoked hams, sausages, cheeses, poultry, and fish, as well as a range of deli items. Try their smoked pork chops or their excellent dried beef; both are standouts.
If you need to wash down all of this good eating, make a stop at the North Country Brewing Company in Slippery Rock. Housed in a building that dates back to 1805, the brewpub and restaurant produces more than a dozen hand-crafted beers, free from any preservatives, additives, or added sugars. Their Paleo IPA is a particular favorite, brewed in the English tradition and dry-hopped to give it a very aromatic, citrus quality.
Butler County is rapidly becoming a culinary destination. Several other specialty producers and specialized retail operations offer a range of gastronomic adventures. Baldinger’s Candy, a traditional sweet shop, stocks candies from the past and modern confections, while the Enchanted Olive has more than 50 different types of vinegars and olive oils. The Porter House Brew Shop caters to home brewers and wine makers, and Herbal Delights offers a catalog of organic and all natural specialty dips and spice mixes. The Butler County Tourism & Convention Bureau can supply more information about these and other culinary sites.
Courtesy of Fiore Moletz, Burgh’ers Restaurant, Harmony, PA, firstname.lastname@example.org
1 cup white vinegar
1 cup sugar
1 cup water
1 teaspoon mustard seed
1 teaspoon coriander seed
1 teaspoon fennel seed
1 teaspoon red peppercorns
1 teaspoon white peppercorns
1 teaspoon black peppercorns
2 bay leaf
1 pounds ramps, cleaned and trimmed
1 teaspoon Kosher salt
6 allspice berries
1 pinch red pepper flakes
Combine everything except the ramps. Bring to a low boil; let chill back down to at least 100 degrees F. Add ramps and let sit for a week.
For More Information:
Butler County Tourism & Convention Bureau, 866-856-8444, www.visitbutlercounty.com
Willie’s Smoke House, 724-735-4184, www.smokedspecialtymeats.com
North Country Brewing Company, 724-794-2337, www.northcountrybrewing.com
For recipes and more of Reed Hellman’s signature culinary adventures, visit his Website at www.reedhellmanwordsmith.com. You can follow his monthly columns in Recreation News and read his feature articles in Business Monthly.