If You Cook

If You Cook
Both of us enjoy cooking. If you come to Hidden Valley during warm weather, you’ll find that there are great places to get fresh, local ingredients. And 5112 has quite a well-equipped kitchen, so you can have a great time preparing a special meal.

Stone Villa Winery

Near Donegal, just one exit on the Turnpike from Somerset, is the Stone Villa Winery. The owner was in the construction business before opening his winery, and you can tell from the beauty of the stone buildings that he has constructed. However, we’ve never taken anyone to Stone Villa who didn’t like the wines and particularly the ambience of the site. Visit their Web site; you’ll see that they have a number of special events planned. On any nice day, you can take a lunch and sit on their patio, but a bottle of their wine at the winery price, and then enjoy a picnic, overlooking their beautiful lake. If you’re lucky there will be a musician performing while you’re there.

They offer free tastings, and winery pricing if you buy a case or more of their wine. I think you’re likely to find wines that are worth taking home.

Glades Pike Winery

There is another winery that’s closer to Hidden Valley, but we have not been as impressed with the quality of their offerings–although, of course, your taste may differ, so you might like the Glades Pike Winery although we don’tprefer it. Of course, the quality offered by a winery can improve, and we haven’t visited for a few years.

Putman Place

Just across Route 31 and up the road is Sue Putman’s place. She grows flowers and herbs, lets you cut your own, and prices them at levels you can’t resist. A big plus is Sue herself, who is friendly, outgoing and knows everything about her flowers and herbs. We like to bring our dehydrator when we come to Hidden Valley. Then we go see Sue and cut a huge load of herbs, that we dry at the condo. Typically we’ll also do some cooking with the fresh herbs while we’re there.

It’s a good idea to call before you go to make sure she’s open. In the spring and early summer she has asparagus and blueberries that you don’t pick yourself–you call her to order them in advance. These are so good they often sell out, so be sure to call and place your order if you want asparagus or blueberries.

An increasing share of Sue’s business is providing the flowers for weddings. Brides and their friends come to her gardens, get her advice and pick their own flowers and make arrangements for their weddings. The savings for an entire wedding are substantial.

Another way to take advantage of Sue’s great flowers when you visit Hidden Valley is to visit as you leave and take your flowers home. We bring along a bucket to keep them in water, and have a houseful of beautiful fresh flowers for a week after a Hidden Valley visit!

Ligonier Country Market

Ligonier is worth a visit to the historic fort, or the arts and crafts, or the country market! Every Saturday morning during warm weather, local farmers and some craftpeople gather to sell their products. The food that’s available ranges from berries and vegetables to fresh sausage and other meats. The prices are reasonable and, of course, everything is very, very fresh. It’s great fun to visit the market to choose things to cook for dinner that evening.

Their Web site is simple, but it tells you what you need to know.

Laurel Hill Trout Farm

Just up Route 31 from Hidden Valley is the Laurel Hill Trout Farm & Pond. Here you can fish for trout in a heavily-stocked pond. It won’t take you more than two or three minutes to catch a trout! The staff will clean your fish for you and package it. Then all you need to do is take it home and cook it! Talk about fresh fish, this is really incredible.

The prices are very reasonable, and it’s about as fast to drive in and drive out with some fish as it is to visit a supermarket. Head toward Donegal on Route 31. As you start down the long hill, keep your eyes peeled for a “Trout Farm” sign on the left side of the road. Watch carefully or you’ll miss it! Then enjoy the easiest fishing experience you’ll ever had, followed by the freshest trout ever.

RR#4 Box 223C, Route 31 West, Somerset, PA 15501