Our Migration From Oregon to Pennsylvania

March 29, 2017

For the better part of two decades, my wife and I have resided on the west coast. Mainly in the San Francisco Bay Area. We decided to say goodbye to California in 2013 and make the 650 mile trek to Portland Oregon. It was a bold move. Neither of us had jobs but we had a supportive family and balls. Portland is a great town. I’ve highlighted our love for their dining scene in a previous post. The job market there was challenging to say the least. Saturated with folks like us from California and others from Washington and Idaho clogged the restaurant job market and finding jobs were few and far between. Finding quality jobs was even more of a stretch. I came to the conclusion that talented chefs were under appreciated and you ended up having to acquiesce  and take jobs just to make rent. We tried and tried and after almost three years decided to toss in the towel. Adding ridiculous rent gouging, it felt more and more like the Bay Area which we fled due to these same issues.

My wife’s family who she hand not seen except in short visits campaigned to have us move back. Her mother was getting older and we felt a responsibility to her and her family to be closer to them and slow things down a bit. I am now also realizing the job market in Pennsylvania is even more challenging. I don’t really think we really researched what we were getting ourselves into. We have had a history of being impulsive. That is what keeps us young. Settling into one routine seemed stale and boring. We’ve had to work very hard to get where we wanted to go. This decision was an exception to the rule. Pennsylvania isn’t like any other state we’ve lived in regards to population density. Even the extremely rural state of Oregon had a number of large cities and extended suburban neighborhoods. We found out that where we live which is Doylestown, is an area that has ‘pockets’ of populaton which comprises Buck’s County.  This made living here and finding jobs extremely difficult. We wanted to be close to her mother and living in Doylestown meant getting a job in Philly was not an option. The results were basic pub jobs. I worked at a brewery in Quakertown for a brief period of time in which I came to the realization I needed a break from the industry.

I’ve been in the restaurant industry since I was 16 years old. I’m now 52 and wanted a change. I was experiencing debilitating pain from putting away fifteen hundred pounds of stock twice a week taking its toll on my back, knees and feet. My passion for the industry never waned but my body was telling me a different story. Adding the frustration with being  the ‘King of Wings’ chef in rural PA, it was time for a change.

I decided it was time for a break. My father who at the time was in his final stages of cancer was assisted by our local hospice facility. I loved the program and the folks that helped him were kind, caring and understanding. There was an opportunity for me to deliver medicine to hospice patients here in the Philly area and with my need for a break, I decided to pay it forward and take the job. I have wonderful clients and the job is very rewarding spritually but not financially. I will resume my career as a chef but in the time being, this was a good choice for me. My body is thanking me too.

Not having the luxury of being able to dine in Philadelphia, we’ve made an extra effort to ferret out great places to eat and drink in the Buck’s County area that I’d like to share with you. These include restaurants, brew pubs and breweries. They are not in any particular order.

One of our favorite local breweries is Free Will Brewing. They are located in Perkasie PA. They specialize in Sours and off the beaten path brewing styles. My wife, who used to be prone to drinking only IPA’s has now fallen in love with Free Will’s sours. They by far are some of the best  we’ve ever had. They also have a tasting room in Lahaska at Peddler’s Village.

Freewill Brewing

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Another great brewery we frequent that is just down the road from our home in Buckingham PA is Mad Princess Brewing. The brewery has been open for about 15 months and specializes in German style beer. They also brew styles that have not been brewed for years which is always exciting to try. I highly recommend them. They are very knowledgable and helpful without the pretension.

mad princess

MadPrinces_Logo

Eating in Buck’s county can be challenging. It’s mostly composed of burgers and wings. I shit you not. I’m not a food snob by any means and love a great burger and beer but sometimes you need things that have a bit of elevation to the dishes that are created. We found this great gem in Lahaska called Caleb’s American Kitchen It’s a BYOB which seems to be a huge thing here in PA and I applaud the idea. You can splurge on great food and take your own wine that doesn’t have a three and half times mark up which affords you to have more choices when eating out. The ingredients are very fresh, the staff are attentive and we highly recommend their burger night which is Tuesdays.

caleb’s

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If you are into wine bars which we really enjoy, head to New Hope. We love this area. Gay friendly hood on the border of New Jersey. Great small town with funky historical buildings that is nestled next to the Delaware river and canal. One place in particular that we really enjoy is called Nectar Wine Bar. They have an excellent small plates menu and a diverse by the glass and bottle list. We tried a white from Greece that was amazing. Slate and mineral notes. The service is very prompt and the space is quaint and pretty. We love New Hope.

Window_Nectar_2

nektarnewhope.com

We we were urged to try an Italian Restaurant in Quakertown by my brother-in-law. If you ever visited the area, it’s not a hotbed of culinary delights. In fact, the dining scene with the exception of maybe two places is pretty dismal. This is an exception to the rule. By a long shot. They have an EXCELLENT happy hour where you can get amazing pasta dishes for under $15.00. We tried the bruschetta, the calamari, salmon entree and my wife had the seafood pasta. Everything was superb. You’d never would have known it by looking at the place. It’s in the middle of nowhere, pretty much a hole in the wall ran by two Italian sisters but the food is top-notch. It’s a BYOB so splurge on the wine and save the money for great authentic Italian cuisine.

la campagna

A local place in Plumbsteadville is called Devil’s Half Acre. It’s a German inspired gastropub and the food and drinks are solid. It can get pricey. Almost six dollars for the deviled egg app is a bit of a stretch. The draft beer can cost you a small fortune too. Some of the beers we tried even being local were seven dollars. They have a varied menu that features German fare like sausages, schnitzel and a German beer list that coincides with a domestic craft beer list. They also have a Tuesday burger madness night where two burgers compete to see which one will be on the list next week. We tried them. They were both great. I had a habernero stuffed burger which was surprisingly mild and my wife had a caramelzied onion burger. Both great but sloppy as hell. The place is gorgeous and the service is prompt and fun. We recommend it! download.png

devil’s half acre

If you are into Mexican as much as we are, we recommend Rey Azteca in Warminster. Portland did not have a great Mexican food scene but when we were about to move, it definitely started to blow up. The Portland Mercado on Foster Road was a great addition with food carts highlighting hispanic and latino cuisine from all over the planet. Rey Azteca is very authentic, a bit pricey for what you get but the food is solid. All burritos we ordered were accompanied by rice and beans and their menu is HUGE! Their carnitas are very good and they actually used pulled chicken verses sauteed chicken chunks which was a huge turn off for us. Pulled chicken burrtios are what makes me very happy!  The service is lightening fast and it also a BYOB. logo (1)

rey azteca

We just moved to Pennsylvania seven months ago. There is a lot of catching up to do in regards to the restaurant scene. This is just a snapshot of what we’ve tried and many places simply were not worth the mention. You have to be very diligent to see the culinary diamonds in the rough in regards to the Buck’s County food scene but we won’t stop till we have a full portfolio of places to try and we haven’t even ventured into Philly yet. That is next! Cheers!!!

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