Monday, May 19, 2008

Kennett Square

Anyone that's read about food in the last year knows about Talula's Table. Featuring a single, farmhouse table that seats 12, reservations are available for exactly one year in advance -- and sell out for that date each morning. Having memorized the number to the French Laundry at one point for an upcoming trip (I never got through), I am wary of the restaurant-as-sold-out-concert- tickets. This instinct, however, is also balanced by my need to never to be left out. I was hoping to find a compromise in driving there and shopping Talula's prepared foods.

In a nutshell, I was disappointed. Their seemingly dated website featured pictures that not only overstated the size of the place, but also the quantities of stocked items. When I arrived, I looked around to discover only a few, relatively empty shelves. The plus side was that the few items available were made on-site. I scooped up some items and MFDC and I split a fresh quiche, featuring, appropriately for the area, mushrooms. The quiche was heated and brought to our table, nestled in the small cafe section in the front of the store. I also snagged an almond meringue sandwich cookie, which was very good.

Sadly, the purchased items have not yielded the gourmet happiness for which I was looking. The asparagus, parmesean and potato soup tasted solely of pureed asparagus. Fresh, yes, interesting, no. I even added more parmesean at home to no avail. The cheddar dip with Victory ale is fairly tasty, however, but I need to buy pretzel sticks as probably the best accompaniment. The pork pate was merely good, but lacked a richness or bite that I would have enjoyed. I confess that I have no idea how duck rillettes should taste, but I found Talula's version rather bland. One of the best items, not pictured here, was the fresh cheese bread that was at once delicious and cheesy without being too much. Kudos on offering miniature cheese "bites," all under $1, but still well-labeled.

After starting to feel like the hour drive was more of a miss, we wandered down to La Michoacana Ice Cream Shop, recently mentioned by Craig LaBan. The proprietors are very sweet and encouraging of tastes of fun flavors like avocado. I settled on a small, split between corn and rice pudding. As LaBan promised, the corn was a sweet riff on a corn pudding flavor, with chunks of corn throughout. The rice pudding was even better, also with bits of rice, but with an indescribably rich flavor. Both were served with a generous sprinkling of cinnamon. When we asked, we were told that the chile powder condiment was best on mango water ice, an intriguing combination for a warmer day. A fraction of the cost of the gelato places in the city, this ice cream was both interesting and decadent.

Last but not least, we stopped at Alondra's Bakery, in an effort to make the most of the authentic Mexican offerings in the area. Among the many delicious-looking items, we chose gingerbread and an odd beige roll/pastry. As it turns out, neither were very sweet, which was appealing. The roll had a consistency similar to processed white sandwich rolls, but with powdered sugar and cinnamon. A strange combination, perhaps best with coffee.

When all was said and done, it was a pretty pleasant morning in Kennett Square.

Talula's Table is located at 102 W State Street; La Michoacana Ice Cream Shop is located on 231 E. State Street; and Alondra's is across the street from Talula's. All are in Kennett Square, Pa.

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