As summer has waned into fall, the changing of the leaves is adding another year to the history of the Pennsylvania National Road. Today, over 200 years after the National Road became official, we continue to see the partnership of the road, food and spirits.
The focus on the area’s resources has been translated on the menu with the farm-to-table movements at many establishments. Chefs like Kristin Butterworth at Nemacolin Woodlands, Chef Jeremy Critchfield at the Stone House and Chef Jimmy Worcholak at the George Washington hotel continually use these resources to expand and repurpose their restaurant selections to meet the travelers expectations. They partner with farms like Duda’s, Footprints and Red Range to ramp up the menus. And in between them, mom and pops like Bittersweet Cafe in Farmington, Ryes Tavern in Brownsville, and Adam’s Pine Creek in Washington create new favorites. We continue to look to establishments like them and the old guard such as the Titlow Tavern, Century Inn and Union Grill to keep carrying the torch whether it is for grub or for gourmet.
Even the spirit of the Whiskey Rebellion has been revived with a quartet of spirit-oriented establishments in Washington: The Red Pump Distillery, Washington Brewery, Washington Winery and Liberty Pole Spirits. There has also been a focus on small craft operations like Emerald Valley Farms in Scenery Hill, Plum Run Winery, Christian Klay Winery and Jackson’s Farm Dairy.
You can experience a slice of this history at the Taste of the National Road on Oct. 26. It will be held at the Nemacolin Country Club in Beallsville. Food and spirits from the aforementioned restaurants and distillers will be served, and history will be made. Tickets can be found on Eventbrite.com or contact the National Road office.
Here are some recipes from today’s historic restaurants. They can be found in Grub to Gourmet: The History of Food Along the National Road.
Braddock Inn Meatloaf
1/3 cup minced onion
1 pound ground beef
1 pound ground pork
½ cup green bell pepper diced
2 medium eggs beaten
1½ teaspoons salt
½ teaspoon pepper
¼ cup milk
1/3 cup ketchup
½ cup au jus or beef stock
Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Mix all ingredients except for ketchup and stock. Do not overmix. Put au jus in bottom of loaf pan. Put mix in pan next. Top with ketchup. Bake for 1 hour.
Braddock Inn opened as a gas station/lunch stand in the 1920s. It became a full service restaurant run by the Turner Family for nearly 40 years. Recently it had a full makeover, but still features diner style food, or mountain food, as many like to call it.
Century Inn Vanilla Bean Crème Brule
2 cups heavy cream
1 vanilla bean, split in half, or 2 teaspoons vanilla extract
2 tablespoons granulated sugar
6 egg yolks
6-12 teaspoons granulated sugar
Preheat oven to 350 degrees (325 degrees for convection oven).
In a medium saucepan mix heavy cream, 2 tablespoons of sugar and vanilla bean or extract (if using extract, mix in a medium bowl and do not heat). Simmer for 20 minutes; do not boil. Scrape bottom occasionally with a spatula. Allow to cool to room temperature.
Remove vanilla bean and scrape out the pulp. Mix the pulp into the cream mixture. Whisk in egg yolks.
Evenly distribute the mixture among four to six ramekins. Place in a water bath and bake until the custard is fully set. The custard is set when it can be held at a 45-degree angle without the surface moving.
Remove from the water bath. Cover each with plastic wrap and cool overnight.
Just before serving, sprinkle top of each portion with 1 to 2 teaspoons of sugar. Caramelize the sugar using a propane or butane torch. Alternately, a prewarmed broiler can be used: Place the custards onto a baking pan and place under the broiler until the sugar is caramelized.
For 222 years, The Century Inn has been making culinary history on the National Road.
Angelo’s Restaurant’s Pasta-laqua
¼ cup butter
6 ounces green beans
2 tablespoons chopped garlic
½ cup white wine
6 ounces chopped tomatoes
¾ cup chicken stock
¼ cup Romano cheese
8 ounces fresh fettuccine
In a hot skillet, add butter, green beans and garlic. When garlic begins to sizzle, add white wine, tomatoes and chicken stock. Cook on high heat, stirring to incorporate ingredients. Allow sauce to reduce and thicken. Cook fettuccine al dente. Add fettuccine and cheese to pan and toss to incorporate ingredients. Serve immediately.
Angelo’s Restaurant spent 69 years on the National Road in Washington.
Union Grill’s Chicken Marsala
4 four-ounce chicken breasts
2 tablespoons olive oil
½ pound sliced large mushrooms
1 whole roasted red pepper cut into strips
¼ cup marsala wine
¼ cup beef stock
2 tablespoons garlic butter
Season chicken breasts and coat with flour. Heat olive oil in pan. Sear chicken breasts on both sides, adding mushrooms and peppers. Cook until mushrooms are soft and add wine and beef stock. Finish with garlic butter.
The Union Grill in Washington has been a place to eat since 1791. The building was originally known as the White Goose, and was also known as the Swan House, the Valentine House (another one), the Seigel Hotel and William Henry Hotel.