“Like a Painting by Monet”

A few weeks ago, during the one sunny afternoon in the midst of what seemed like days upon days of rain, my son and I headed out to the gardens at Chanticleer. I hadn’t been there in over 10 years, since before he was born. He’s a lover of all kinds of plants, so I was looking forward to showing him this wonderland in Wayne as an end-of-the-school-year reward.

Built in 1913 as the country retreat of Adolph Rosengarten, Sr., and his wife Christine, Chanticleer has been open to the public as “A Pleasure Garden” since 1993. Thirty-five gorgeous acres are accessible from April through October, the perfect months for viewing blooms, foliage, woods, ruins, and water features; meandering on the mile-long main path; and enjoying the whimsical and imaginative setting. Honestly, it’s hard to find superlatives that measure up to the beauty of this unique yet little-known spot—but I will try.

We started our visit at the Teacup Garden, located just beyond the entrance. This lovely terrace is chock full of seasonal, tropical, and subtropical blooms both large and small, all surrounding a central fountain that just begged to be dipped into on the hot day. We also came across the first of many artists there that day capturing scenes from around the gardens on canvas. I made a note to be sure to return with my husband, who always has a sketchbook in hand.

From the Teacup Garden we headed to the Cut Flower Garden and Vegetable Garden, which was just beginning to burst with the promised bounty of the season. I can imagine that as the summer progresses, the twig arches will become entwined with flowers and veggies and vines of all sorts! We took a seat at a bench at one end of this garden, pausing to take it all in. (It should be noted that benches and chairs are scattered all throughout Chanticleer, encouraging visitors to linger, relax, and enjoy.)

At some point we put away our map and decided just to wander. We spent the afternoon traversing a bridge that looks like a fallen tree and following the shady streamside path on the other side, marveling at the Ruin and its incredible  sculptures and water features, escaping the heat in the Asian Woods and Bell’s Woodland, and enjoying every moment we spent in this gloriously informal escape.

We finished our visit at the Pond Garden, which we were told not to miss when we entered the grounds earlier that day. The pond teems with an impressive array of huge koi, but what we really wanted to see were the poppies, which were promised to be “like a Monet painting.” Indeed they were! Huge swaths of orange blooms streaked across the hills surrounding the pond, dotted here and there with yellow and purple and pink. Imagine, our own Giverny right here in the Brandywine Valley! The scene was absolute perfection. I guarantee you’ve never seen anything quite like it.

Chanticleer, located at 786 Church Road in Wayne, PA, is open April through October, Wednesday through Sunday, from 10am to 5pm (extended hours to 8pm on Fridays from May through Labor Day). For more information, visit Chanticleer on the web and Facebook.

—Michele Kornegay

Jolly Good

For the past several years, my mother-in-law has been taking me to a tea room in Emmaus, just west of Allentown, to celebrate my birthday. We always have a lovely time sipping tea, feasting on sweet treats, and talking about life as part of the Kornegay clan (for the record, my mother-in-law is fabulous; I consider myself lucky to have such an incredible extended family).

I’ve often wondered if there was a local tea room that could offer up the same kind of experience—a relaxing place where ladies (and gentlemen) could go for a few hours of escape from the hectic world outside. I found it earlier this week, at Special Teas Tea Room in Chadds Ford. This quaint little spot in the Olde Ridge Village Shoppes, just off Route 202, is an oasis from the hub-bub of everyday life. Owned by sisters Carole Bradley and Judith Finnigan, Special Teas has been offering visitors homemade treats and a tremendous selection of teas for nearly 15 years.

The day I visited the tea room was cold, dreary, and drizzly—like many days lately, it seems. Although I love winter, I’m sure I’m not alone in longing for sunny skies. Spring is just around the corner (or so the groundhog tells us), but for now, I needed to feel warm and cozy again. I settled into my beautifully set table and ordered the Afternoon Tea for one, with Pai Mu Tan (white peony) tea. While I waited for my order I enjoyed the lovely instrumental music in the background and the sounds of quiet conversation around me.

What a treat it was when this gorgeous display arrived! The Afternoon Tea includes a selection of assorted tea sandwiches, miniature pastries, and a choice of a raisin or plain scone (I chose raisin), served with Devonshire cream, preserves, lemon curd, and a pot of tea. It was almost to pretty to eat. I later learned that Judith is responsible for baking all of the homemade pastries and other sweets on the menu, while Carole makes the salads, sandwiches, and everything else coming out of the kitchen. These sisters have definitely hit on a winning combination. Everything I tried was superb.

The menu also features a Children’s Tea for ages 10 and under that includes a pot of tea, six tea sandwiches, and two cookies—how much fun would it be to bring a little one for a fancy afternoon tea “party”?—as well as soups, quiche, salads (Caesar, chicken, tuna, egg), and sandwiches. Tea lovers will marvel at the variety of teas offered; I counted more than 30, including traditional black, flavored black, oolong, green, white, decaffeinated, herbal, Rooibus, and fruit-infused teas.

In addition to two rooms for enjoying tea, Special Teas also has a gift shop where visitors can purchase any of the teas on the menu, tea accessories, honey, curds, teapots, teacups, and other items. Hours for the tea room are noon to 3pm on Monday and 11am to 3pm Tuesday through Saturday; reservations are recommended, especially on Saturday. The tea room is also available for private parties and catering. Stay up to date on Special Teas’ newest teas and special events by following them on Facebook.

As these last few weeks of winter linger and the skies continue to be gray, treat yourself and a loved one to a spot of tea at Special Teas Tea Room. You’ll leave feeling relaxed, warmer, and oh-so-civilized. (British accent not required.)

—Michele Kornegay

Media, Dressed in Holiday Style

Looking for holiday fun? Head to downtown Media! From decorated storefronts and buildings illuminated by night to carriage rides and a chance to whisper your fondest wish in Santa’s ear, the whole borough of Media gets in on the spirit of the season. Here’s what’s happening in Media over the next few weeks.

The borough of Media is aglow for the holidays.

* Enjoy a horse-drawn carriage ride tonight from 6–9pm. With just a teeny nip in the air, the weather couldn’t be more perfect for snuggling with your loved ones on a ride around the borough. Meet in front of the courthouse; the cost is $10 for adults and $5 for children under 10.

* Kids of all ages can find Santa in his village at the Franklin Mint Federal Credit Union, at the corner of State & Olive Streets, today through Friday from 3–7pm and Saturday & Sunday from noon to 4pm. Bring your camera and take all the photos you’d like! On December 20 from 4–7, bring your favorite furry friend to pose with Santa. Use your own camera, or have the Delco SPCA photographer on hand take a photo (free!) and email it to you. (Please consider making a donation to the Delco SPCA if you bring your pet.)

* Visit The Media Theatre for a performance of Dr. Doolittle, starring Philly sportscaster Billy Vargus and a cast of delightful children. Read more about the show here. (Or, drive just a few miles outside of Media for a performance of A Christmas Carol at the Hedgerow Theatre in Rose Valley.)

* Head to downtown Media on New Year’s Eve for the Community Celebration and Ball Drop at the corner of State & Jackson Streets, with live music by Philly Gumbo. This much-anticipated annual event brings out residents and visitors for dancing in the street and the area’s only ball drop. Music starts at 11pm.

As an added bonus, parking is free in the Olive Street Parking Garage through December, and stores are open late through Christmas Eve. To find out more about these events and other happenings in Media, visit the Media Business Authority website.

Media's merchants get into the holiday spirit! Find winter items like this authentic Flexible Flyer sled at Blueberry Bog.

If you’re like me and have left most of your shopping for the last minute, you’ll find something for everyone on your list in Media’s boutiques, artisans’ galleries, vintage and home decor shops, jewelry and clothing stores, and more. Supporting local, family-owned businesses is a wonderful way to put money back into the community—and if customer service is important to you, it doesn’t get any better than at a small “Mom and Pop” shop.

Need a show-stopping outfit for a holiday party? You'll find just the right fit at one of Media's clothing stores, like Sorella Boutique.

As America’s First Fair Trade Town, Media also prides itself on its stores’ selection of items by local artisans and its focus on fair trade products. In Media, you can shop with the knowledge that your purchases will help provide a living wage for artisans both locally and globally. Such hand-crafted items are special, not mass-produced; if you’re looking for something that’s one-of-a-kind, Media is the place to find it.

Support artisans around the world with your purchase of fairly traded items at stores like Earth & State.

You’ll want to get a bite to eat while you’re shopping or paying a visit to Santa. No trip to Media would be complete without a visit to one of its fabulous restaurants—the only problem is which one to choose! Name it; Media’s got it (seriously). I can’t think of another town where you can walk down the main street and find Italian, Irish, French, Middle Eastern, Asian, Mexican, Continental, vegetarian/vegan, pizza, soup and sandwiches, pub food, and dessert—and I’m sure I’m leaving something out!—just mere steps from one another. And of course, restaurant gift certificates always make a great gift.

One of my favorite restaurants in Media is Diego's Cantina and Tequila Bar. Call 484-442-8741 to learn more about their January 16 Patrón Tequila Dinner.

I’ve gotten to know the faces behind many of the shops and restaurants in Media—the people who put a whole lot of heart and soul into their businesses to create a warm and welcoming environment you’ll want to return to again and again. If you have a chance, pay them a visit. I’m sure you’ll grow to love them, too.

Happy Holidays!

—Michele Kornegay

Note: Street scene photograph by Ralph Nardell Photography.

A Brandywine State of Mind

I was a Jersey girl before I moved to West Chester. Although I was born in Pennsylvania and lived in the state through my college years, after graduate school I ended up in northern New Jersey, just outside of Manhattan. I honestly thought I’d stay there forever. I loved the hustle and bustle, the proximity to the “action,” and my job on Madison Avenue.

But when my husband was offered a position in Media, he just couldn’t turn it down. It was a great opportunity, one of those once-in-a-lifetime chances that you just can’t refuse. The only hitch? I didn’t want to leave New Jersey. So he made the commute, staying with a friend three nights a week and driving back and forth to our home on the other days. (I should mention here how wonderful my husband is.)

This arrangement worked for awhile, but with time it grew old. I missed him, he missed me. The stress of it all wasn’t good for either of us. During one of those weeks when we just didn’t want to be apart for three whole days, my husband’s host suggested that we have a mid-week rendezvous at Sweetwater Farm Bed & Breakfast, a Georgian manor and cottages situated on 50 acres in Glen Mills.

 

Looking back, I can say that our two-day stay at Sweetwater Farm played a big part in convincing me that I should give up New Jersey for the Brandywine Valley. The tranquility and beauty of the B&B and the graciousness of the innkeepers provided a tonic for what ailed me. My stress melted away as I strolled the grounds and took in the splendor of the area. I said goodbye to the big city and embraced a more relaxed lifestyle here.

Fast-forward 12 years to today. Stress has a way of creeping in, no matter how hard you try to keep it at bay. Kids, work, money—and aren’t the holidays just around the corner?—all of it was recently bringing back that old feeling of anxiety. And again, Sweetwater Farm came to the rescue—only this time it was courtesy of Grace Winery, which opened just a few years ago on the grounds of the B&B.

I headed to the winery this past weekend to try their offerings. As luck would have it, the day’s tasting was being held in the vineyard. The week’s earlier cold temperatures had given way to a glorious warm fall weekend,  so being outside among the vines was a wonderful escape from reality. Three chardonnays, two rosés, a merlot, and a glass of mulled wine later, I can honestly say that whatever stress I was once feeling is now gone.

The wines are light, crisp, and not too sweet–just the way I like them. The atmosphere is festive yet relaxed, with couples and groups of friends coming in and out for tastings. The hosts who poured the wines, Alex and Kathryn on the day I visited, are knowledgeable and friendly. Ordinarily tastings are held in a converted barn on the property, an amazing structure that perfectly blends the old and the new. (The day I visited, the barn was being used for a wedding party; yes, you can rent out the facilities for group functions!)

Before the stress of the holiday season rolls in—or even while you’re in the midst of it—I suggest you pay a visit to Grace Winery, which is open each Friday, Saturday, and Sunday for tastings ($7; check the website for hours). For the remainder of the year, tastings will be held in the barn, with the exception of December 8, when the winery will be closed. If you have family or friends coming into town, consider lodging them at Sweetwater Farm B&B. Who knows? Maybe they’ll end up wanting to move to the Brandywine Valley, too.

—Michele Kornegay

Dining Under the Stars

A couple clinks glasses of pinot noir, a waiter balances plates of pasta carbonara and penne puttanesca, while a boy runs down the street.  The sound of a saxophone lends a slow, syncopated quality to the summer night air.  Is this a scene along the storied Champs Elyseé or have you stumbled into the Piazza Navona for a bit of la dolce vita?

This is actually State Street in Media, PA for “Dining Under the Stars” every Wednesday this summer.  What better way to escape the weekly work grind than to relax outside with food and friends in Delaware County’s favorite borough?  European charm and les bons temps are available from 5-10pm when State Street is closed down to vehicles so that pedestrians and foodies can stroll and dine.

“Dining Under the Stars,” isn’t just about quiet refinement though.  There’s something for the whole family: street painters for the kids, Corvettes lining the street for the avid car buff, and extended hours of Media’s favorite shops for the fashionista.  Of course shopping and car gazing can be exhausting, which is why a cocktail and a Soda for the kids are highly recommended.  Sip and listen to the sounds of jazz ensembles or the Shining Stars group from Upper Darby Center for the Performing Arts Center.

The greatest thing about “Dining Under the Stars” is the sense of community and atmosphere. After all, Media calls itself “Everybody’s Hometown,” and after an evening of walking, shopping, and dining, you’ll certainly feel at home.  So this Wednesday surprise yourself and the family: pile the kids, along with the Misses and Mister into the car and take them to Media for a magical night of family fun.  As the sun sets on State Street we won’t blame you for quoting Keats, “Oh! how I love, on a fair summer’s eve.”



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Delaware County�s Brandywine CVB  |  1501 N. Providence Rd.  |  Media, PA 19063
Phone: 800-343-3983  |  Fax: 610 627-9207