I know a place with food to rival even the eye candy Chartreuse has to offer. And it's on the way there. The Amish Market in Germantown, MD! Yes, there are Amish in suburban Maryland. And they make some wicked good fried chicken. But I'm getting ahead of myself. We have to get you all there first. Here's a map from Google.
The Lancaster Country Dutch Market is just off 270, exit 13B, if you are heading north towards Frederick. This off ramp puts you on West bound Middlebook Road. You take a right on the excitingly named Great Seneca Highway, just before the high school. Turn left at the next light, Wisteria Dr, and look to your left. You will probably already have seen it in the corner of the strip mall, due to the back up of cars there.
The first thing you need to know about this market is the hours. It is not open daily, only Thursday, Friday, and Saturday. So check your timing.
As you walk in, the first thing you will notice is the divine smell of melted butter and baking bread. This is the pretzel stand. Just trust me on this, you want one.
This is what they look like just out of the oven, freshly salted.
The workers throw them right in front of you, while you are waiting to order.
Once they're cooked, they get dipped in melted butter. Mmmm...butter. I know, you guys are all freaking out about calories and cholesterol, but I just said they were good. No one mentioned them being good for you. But as Sponge Bob says, "They're good for your soul."
Here's the pretzels all finished, waiting to jump into your belly. You can get them dipped in cinnamon sugar as well. Hungrier than just a pretzel? They make fresh pretzel dogs too.
Sorry if the angle on a lot of these pictures looks a little off. When I asked, the Amish said I was welcome to photograph the merchandise, but not the people making stuff. So if my angles seem a little odd, it was to honor this request.
Across the aisle from the pretzels is the spice stand. They have the best deals on sprinkles I've ever seen. You can get small margarine size bins of sprinkles for $2-$3 each. If you make a lot of Christmas cookies, you know that's a deal.
They have every thing you could want in the spice world, at bulk prices, just for more reasonable quantities. They also sold grains and pastas and soup mixes here.
To the left of the pretzel is the bakery. There are all kinds of things here to tempt. My favorite is the Peach Crumble Bread. It's not super cheap, I think $7 a loaf, but it does make some of the best toast I've ever had. This trip I was feeling cheap, so I bought the raspberry crumble bread from the day old rack for 1/2 price.
Did I mention the donuts? Just look at them!
And then there's the mighty stack of pie.
OK, I'm done making your eyeballs fat. We'll take a break from carbs for now.
Let's move on to something less fattening.
Hand crafted furniture.
The finish on these tables is like silk. I have no idea how those Amish can make wood feel like glass. But they can. Once again, not cheap, but fabulously well made.
ached body and soul for wanted this lingerie chest since the first time I saw it 7 years ago. The Universe decided to mess with me this trip. THE chest was on sale, marked down $300. Unfortunately that still left it a little north of $900. Since this is a "have to stay on budget" year (don't you hate those?), I didn't even bother to tell DK in hopes of a Christmas surprise. Maybe another year, one that doesn't involve health care reform and a government shut down.
Across from the furniture is the festively named Zooks Cheese. This is also a dangerously delicious place. And they have taster samples of most of their cheeses.
Whoever thought of taster samples was a total genius. I always buy more when I can taste stuff. When delicious hits my tongue, the self control is no longer with us.
Just around the corner from Zooks is the butcher. I don't know much about Amish butchery (or any butchery for that matter), but their meat is a head above anything I have ever seen. And it is well priced and super delicious.
This is far and away DK's favorite place in the market. He's such a little carnivore. I always try to grease the skids of a girl's day out buy bringing a small cooler with me and stocking him up with meat to enjoy on his grill. It is a great way to have your husband actually encourage your trips to Chartreuse & Co.
What man wouldn't be delighted if you showed up with that Porterhouse in your cooler?
And if you need dinner ideas or just don't want to prep a meal when you get home, you could snag a couple of these and be good to go. And you really should try the apple sausage. Of even the country sage sausage. They are amazing.
There is a sit down family restaurant in the market, but I've never had the time to eat there. Yelp gave it great reviews here, so take a seat if you have time. My family has developed a cult-like affinity for the take out fried chicken that you get from the deli. Seriously, the stuff incredible. Maybe there is something to the "free range chickens are happier and healthier so they taste better" philosophy.
I am a Westerner, so you people from the South may be dubious about my standards for fried chicken. All I have to say to that is that there was a whole long line full of big, Southern guys in front of me, waiting for their chicken. I figure if they're all spending their lunch hour there, I must be in the right place.
And check out the "fries." They are a quarter of a whole potato. And perfectly cooked.
A bit of crunch on the outside, steamy and soft on the inside.
Then again, if fried food isn't your thing, you could always go with the rack of ribs. And take a rotisserie chicken home for dinner tomorrow.
If you keep walking up the aisle, you come to the fresh produce stand. The food always looks this fresh, no matter what time of year I've come. It's about the same price point as the local outdoor farmer's markets, higher than the grocery stores, lower than Whole Foods.
Across the way from the healthy stuff, you find the fudge. Seriously.
I know it's blasphemy, but I am just not a fudge person.
But those candied apples had me at "hello."
The candy section is spacious and has an insane variety of hard and chewy candy. They even carry a giant variety of gummy stuff, way beyond the bears (although these are exceptionally chewy and flavorful). There are gummy sharks and frogs and peaches. And those chocolate drops with the little white balls on them, and licorice in all kinds of flavors, and sticks of hard candies, and, and, and...
I promise I really do like to eat healthy things like vegetables and grilled fish. But this market just brings out my inner 4 year old. And when you are on your way to pick pumpkins or cut down your Christmas tree, or even if you are just on a day out with your girlfriends, I don't know that being your 4 year old self, full of fun and wonder, is a bad place to start or finish a day.