ON LOCATION: Tabora Farm and Orchard

Greetings, friends!  It's been a minute, and I've missed intrepidly reporting to you all of my gluten free adventures.  Chalk it up to starting a brand new job in a brand new career, in a competitive nurse residency program, no less.  With both classroom theory training and regular 12-hour shifts, cooking has become a little routine - still delicious and healthy, if a little boring.  So I figured I'd catch up with one of my visits ON LOCATION to the incredibly tasty and welcoming Tabora Farm and Orchard, located in Chalfont, PA, about 30 miles north of Philadelphia in my homeland of Bucks County.  Tabora's highlights are seasonal produce (much of it grown on-site), homemade ice cream, and a knock-out, old-fashioned baked goods section, housed in a barn-style building surrounded by miles of farmland. 

At places like this one, I never expect to find things I can eat, considering my figurative butting-of-heads with both gluten and dairy.  And that's one of the many reasons Tabora is exceptional - they offer a growing selection of gluten free baked goods so good that you'll probably be suspicious the first time you try them.  And trust me, you will want to travel there just to try them.

If I may plug the area a bit, Bucks County is a charming place to visit, easily accessible from Philly and even from NYC (about a 1.5 hour drive or 2 hour bus ride).  There's a ton of Revolutionary War history, cool little towns with landmarked buildings, shopping, great restaurants and specialty food shops, museums, and bucolic scenery.  There's even a bit of gluten free awareness cropping up here and there, including excellent pizza at Jules and Cafe Alessio in Doylestown, unsurpassed by any other gf pizza I've tried.  If you do smarten up and take a trip there, Gluten Free Philly has an extensive restaurant list that covers Bucks County as well.  Tabora, however, does ship (including affordable gift baskets), in case you need a sample sooner than you can plan a trip.

Back to Tabora.  The gluten free baked goods are akin to what you'd find standard in a good, local pastry shop, with cookies sold by the pound, and sandwich breads, quickbreads, pies, and muffins sold by the piece.  Everything I've sampled has been moist and flavorful, to the extent that it's difficult to even begin to discern which flours are used.  The thumbrints are buttery and flaky with a touch of sweetness from the jam and chocolate drizzle.  Sir Benjamin happily stole several bites of these, liking them as much as his giant non-gf cookie.

Muffins and mini quickbreads are sold in their own tins, which may contribute to the gluten free-defying moistness and airy texture.  Many of us have had the experience of biting into a gf muffin that would have been better suited as a door stopper or paper weight, and these are nothing of the sort.  The orange cranberry muffins are only lightly sweet, with bites of tartness from bits of fresh cranberries.  Tabora was out of sandwich bread and pies on this particular trip, though I've tried them before - the gf apple pie is a must, with a domed, flakey, REAL pie crust, but the sandwich bread I sampled was best toasted and not better than what you could make from a gf bread box mix.

Aside from the produce and baked goods, they sell a variety of prepared foods, many that are naturally gluten free including a hearty turkey chili, soups, sauces, and salads.  Dried goods, like quinoa and gluten free pastas are also available.

I had hearts for eyes when I found the flour section - they now carry a great selection of gf flour basics, certainly enough to make your favorite baked goods.

Just a warning, too - it's basically impossible to stop here without picking up a jar of Tabora jam (they also offer sugar free varieties).  One entire section is devoted to maple syrup of different grades and prices.

There are lots of non-food items to browse, mostly local and/or fair trade crafts.  For Christmas this past year, my sister gave me one of their incredible fair trade elephant grass baskets, the materials grown, harvested and handwoven by farmers in Ghana. 

Tabora also hosts events, including live music - just check in with the site for what's coming up this summer.  And since it is an active farm and orchard, they'll have incredibly fresh produce and plants available all season long.  So, go!  And if you can't go, consider placing an order for yourself or your favorite, very lucky gluten free loved one.

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