One of the ironies of being socially isolated right now is that everything about the springtime weather beckons us outdoors. And while it’s fortunate that this isn’t all happening in the dead of winter, as we are grateful for walks in the sunshine, working in the garden and cocktails on the patio, it does feel like we’re missing out a bit on the season where we all get to emerge from hibernation and get back to the world.
Normally, a drive through Chester County to Chadds Ford and Kennett Square, PA is one of our favorite spring traditions, especially when all the trees are starting to bud and the bulbs are in riotous, colorful bloom. A trip to Longwood Gardens to take in the stunning grounds, the immersive greenhouses and the unbelievable flowers everywhere, feels like the perfect way to herald the new season. For lunch or a snack, Longwood’s on-site cafe is wonderful, and it’s also fun to drive into charming downtown Kennett Square for a cup of cream of mushroom soup (one of PA’s most famous food icons!) at a local bar or cafe. The trip simply isn’t complete without a stop at Chaddsford Winery for a flight of local wine and a bottle or two to take home.
Even though we can’t do all of these things right now (and that is disappointing), there is a way to virtually recreate some parts of a lovely day-trip to Kennett Square! Here’s how to go on an outing to one of our favorite parts of PA, without actually going out at all:
First, a week or two before your virtual excursion, head to Chaddsford Winery’s website and buy a few bottles of wine from its well-stocked online shop. Why not grab a few bottles to stock up for the weeks ahead? We suggest the Cab Franc, Traminette, and a good weeknight bottle like The Red Standard. All orders over $49 ship for free, and a number of bottles are currently on sale.
Once your wines arrive, pick the day of your “outing.” When the day comes around, make a big batch of cream of mushroom soup with local mushrooms. You can use your favorite recipe, or use a copycat recipe for the soup served at Longwood Gardens. We also like this recipe from the Food Network. Don’t sweat it if you don’t have every ingredient on hand — by now, you’re probably used to the substitutions and resourcefulness that pantry cooking requires! Bonus points if you can wrangle up a hunk of bread and a wedge of Chester County cheese!
Now that you’ve got your wine and your soup, it’s time for the fun part: going on your trip!
Longwood Gardens has an incredible number of videos on its YouTube page. You can take a tour of the orchid houses (shown in the video below) and learn about the history of the Longwood orchid collection, which might be especially enjoyable if you missed the annual Orchid Show this year. Watch an aria being played on the famous Longwood organ, observe a breathtaking magnolia tree in bloom, or learn more about the Meadow Garden.
There are so many videos, ranging from moment-of-zen quick bites of beautiful nature to more in-depth educational videos. If you’ve got kids to keep entertained, take them on a virtual field trip of Longwood, to explore its trees or learn about carnivorous plants. Pair the videos with hands-on activities that Longwood has designed, like building a tree poem, or practicing pollinator math.
Once you’re finished at Longwood, dish up a bowl of your soup, and crack open the Chaddsford bottle of your choice. Chaddsford’s team has also been developing some really cool content from home, which is posted regularly on YouTube in a series called Glass Half Full; head over to its channel to learn about different winemaking regions, techniques, or for great tutorials on how to taste wine. These videos offer the same casual, approachable sort of wine education that guests at Chaddsford’s tasting room get, but from the comfort of home!
And that concludes your virtual trip to Kennett Square and Chadds Ford! If you want to bring some friends along, plan a Zoom video meeting and share your screen with them as you delve into the Longwood and Chaddsford Winery video content.
We hope this has provided you with some fun ideas for staying connected to the beauty and bounty of Pennsylvania — even if we can’t go enjoy it in person, the way we’re used to. What other places in Pennsylvania do you want to “go to” virtually? Let us know in the comments here or on the PA Eats Facebook page!
- Feature video: Longwood Gardens
- Wine tasting video: Chaddsford Winery
- Wine photo: Ed Williams for Chaddsford Winery