Slice of Suburbia - New Hope, PA and Lambertville, New Jersey
In my holiday edition of Slice of Suburbia, I have ventured to New Hope, PA. I wanted to go at Christmas, stay in an elegant B&B and just enjoy all the charm this town has to offer, and I got my wish!
New Hope was formerly known as Coryell's Ferry and is a borough in Bucks County. It relies on the tourist trade as New Hope is home to many artists with much culture in this little town. New Hope is perched on the edge of the Delaware River, with Lambertville across the bridge in New Jersey.
Located on York Road, New Hope is in between Philadelphia and New York, and was the overnight point back in the day for weary travelers before continuing their journey. After a fire destroyed many mills in the area, the New Hope name was incorporated in 1837 because of the ‘new hope’ that was brought into town by new industry and the Delaware Canal.
New Hope is also know for the history in the area, on a cold Christmas night in 1776, George Washington and his troops ferried across the Delaware to attack the Hessians in Trenton, New Jersey, a recreation done by the area folks each Christmas. In June 1778, Washington and his thousands of troops came through Coryell’s Ferry on his way from Valley Forge, PA, to the Battle of Monmouth.
Knowing the rich history of this quaint village, my friend and P2P assistant Brandon and I arrived to start with a train ride on the New Hope & Ivyland Railroad. In 1891 the railroad began transporting passengers with greater ease and efficiency to get from place to place. Pulled by a 1925 Baldwin Steam Locomotive and with antique coaches, the train made me feel as if I should be dressed in 20's finery. During the holiday season, the train transforms to the Polar Express and Santa and Mrs. Claus come aboard to greet the children, while music is played and carols are sung. Children can even wear their pajamas! This was very relaxing and fun as we sipped cocoa and enjoyed the scenery as the steam engine chugged us through the picturesque valley.
When we returned to the station, we walked up Main Street to check in at the Wedgwood Inn, where we were given a choice of rooms from there as well as the 1833 Umpleby House, a circa 1833 Classic Revival plaster-over-stone manor house, on the National Registry of Historic Places.
Our room was a French Victorian 2-Room Suite, and it was beautiful! Comfy bed, spacious, awesome Jacuzzi and fireplace with a sitting area, robes, and luxurious linens. The house also featured a large parlor and a sweet kitchen, inviting us to make ourselves at home.
Then, we wandered our misty way across the bridge to Lambertville, New Jersey and ventured into some antique shops, before coming to the tasting room at the Tomasello Winery, Historic Lambertville House on Union Street. Emily poured our wines and was quite knowledgeable. Our favorite was the Blackberry wine, which exploded with rich notes of just-picked fruits. We then headed back across the bridge to PA. The weather was quite strange, as it was getting warmer and the river was getting spookier with the mist.
Brandon and I stopped in the New Hope Library to support their book sale, buying a few books and VHS tapes, and we happily headed back to the Umpleby House to relax before dinner. We pretty much had this gorgeous house to ourselves, as we relaxed in the parlor with our books, some Christmas music and cups of tea and cookies that were left out for us. This place has all the amenities of home, but none of the cold feelings of a hotel room. We definitely knew we were in a special place of tranquility.
We then headed off into the night to a place I have been wanting to go for dinner for years – the amazing, the classy, the restaurant in a church- Marsha Brown. This place is home to the best Creole food north of anywhere you’d ever find in the south. From the moment we sat down, Jack Shire (the cutest server I ever laid eyes on) attended to Brandon and me. With his amazing recommendations of what to order by the culinary talented Executive Chef Caleb Lentchner.
Marsha was seeking to give clients an experience of being in a southern kitchen, with warm friendly people and delicious food. And oh the food! Nothing was too fussy, just full of intense flavors, and real fresh ingredients. We started off with drinks- a crisp Christmas-tini for me and an Amaretto Sour for Brandon, with huge bowls of lobster bisque filled to the brim with fresh lobster and shrimp pieces and sherry. Next Jack brought us mini crab cakes with mustard remoulade and the ever-delectable Eggplant Ophelia-which is Marsha’s mother’s favorite. It is a mini tower of shrimp and crabmeat, topped with grilled eggplant, baked and topped with Creole butter. This creation is a work of art and extremely delicious- heavenly!
In between courses, we checked out our surroundings. The dining area is located on the second floor of the church where the actual services were held, with a bar on the first floor. Striking stained glass windows cast pockets of dancing light wherever you look, and clients and sit on old refurbished church pews.
When we walked up the stairs, we walked into a huge open space with a mesmerizing mural on the back wall, framing the alter area where clients can dine. Up top is the original choir loft, set for dinner as well. The whole space is one of elegance and comfort, unlike any food establishment I have ever been in.
George, the maître d', checked in with us often to tell us tidbits about the food and the space, while Jack brought us even more yummies. Dinner for Brandon was sautéed catfish (oh how that boy just loves his catfish!) lightly spiced with Marsha’s signature seafood dressing, while I enjoyed delicate sautéed sea scallops atop New Orleans style pork with greens. We couldn’t even finish it all!
And then it was time for dessert, as Jack brought us three to choose from: a moist and tasty ‘24K’ cake with cream cheese frosting, a creamy bread pudding studded with raisins, and a sinfully rich chocolate cake covered in ganache. It was all so decadent! We took our time leaving over coffee, as even though it was the December winter solstice, there was a thunderstorm raging outside!
The next morning we walked over to the Wedgwood for breakfast (yes, in our pajamas!) and chatted with the other guests and Carl and Dinie as we enjoyed a light and tasty mushroom and cheese quiche, fresh fruit with crunchy granola and yogurt, fruity strawberry bread with marmalade and croissants, with juice and fresh hot coffee.
After Carl told us the stories of the Wedgwood, some of which include the Underground Railroad stops (under the house!), guests for ghost hunting and various celeb weddings, we headed back into New Hope to enjoy the unseasonably warm weather. We fed the ducks at the river, walked around town, and said good bye to our amazing hosts, who are celebrating 30 years in service in 2012. Stay tuned to their site for great package and stay deals!
Then off to the New Hope Winery. Sandra, the owner, showed us around the great new event space, where amazing musical guests perform- upcoming guests include Joan Osbourne and Thurston Moore- as well as private functions and parties. We shopped the gift area and sampled all the wines, my favorite being a red Nouveau 2011, while Brandon enjoyed the spiced and holiday wines.
Finally, we ventured to Peddler’s Village to see the thousands of lights strung up for the holidays. It was so beautiful and so magical it took my breath away. At long last, we headed home from beautiful Bucks County, tired but full of happy memories from our trip. It’s a wonderful place to visit or call home, with gracious people, culture, food and opportunities for adventure!
In the summer, New Hope is bustling, and one can take a boat tour or canoe or kayak down the Delaware. Check out Bucks County River County when the summer season starts.
Coming up is Winter Fest, a fabulous celebration of food, fun and frolic! The New Hope-Lambertville Winter Festival is from January 14, and 25-29, 2012. Every year, the Winter Festival links the twin river towns with a week full of fun including a chili cook-off, Beef n Brew, concerts & more. See details at http://winterfestival.net
A huge special thanks to Michelle Greco, Communications Manager at Visit Bucks County for arranging the tours and our events. I couldn’t have done this without you- thank you! To Carl and Dinie Glassman at the Wedgwood Inn for their amazing hospitality and being the most gracious hosts imaginable, Wayne the Conductor on the Ivyland and New Hope Railroad & Emily and her wine knowledge at the Tomasello Winery Tasting Room in Lambertville, NJ!
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Picture of Wedgwood Inn courtesy of The Wedgwood Inn.