It was the aroma of homegrown Chippewa potatoes plunging into the bubbly grease that lured me over, and once I got there, how could I not indulge? Fall Fest at Schramm Farms and Orchards, in Jeannette, takes place every October -- and this year I arrived hungry. There's enough farm-grown goodness here to keep any foodie occupied for hours.
It took some effort to walk past the concession stands, chock-full of homemade goodies such as mini pumpkin pies and pepperoni bread, to reach the entrance of the bustling market area. I wove my way through small children running with sleeves of popcorn larger than their bodies. Inside were apple and pumpkin butter, jellies from local farmers, potatoes, spices and, of course, bins and bins of apples picked fresh from the orchard.
The apples are the top-dog fruit at the market; the lines for apple cider, and candy and caramel apples were by far the longest. I wondered: Why do we indulge in these delicious treats only during the fall? OK, so it's the peak of the apple harvest, making the fruit perfect to eat right about now. My next serious concern: caramel or candy?
By the gallon, by the half-gallon, it's fresh-pressed apple-cider time. Every other person was sippin' on their very own squeezable pint of cider. Schramm's also offers an apple-cider slushy -- snow cone meets cider. It's a delicious twist on an old favorite, but there were still plenty of folks lined up to purchase a gallon of plain old apple cider.
With cider in hand, I headed over to the pumpkin patch, where you can pick out the best pumpkin for your holiday pies. Yes, that's right: Roll up your sleeves, and make your pies this year fresh from the vine, not from a can. The New England pumpkin is popular with bakers since you don't have to dig elbow-deep in slimy string to get to the flesh. Looking for a simpler tasty project? Pick up a snack jack pumpkin, perfect for roasting up some pumpkin seeds.
Refuel back at the concession stands with some delicious homegrown veggies, and then test your navigational skills in the corn-stalk maze. Food is so abundant at Schramm's, it's even recreational.
Schramm Farms and Orchards, 1002 Blank Road, Jeannette. 724-744-7320 or www.schrammfarms.com