Nobody idealizes wholesome food more than the Amish, and it's always a pleasure to head off to Lancaster County and pay them a visit on their home turf. However, as patient as they are, the Amish can't wait around for us to come to them; at some point, they have to come to us too.
Although Pennsylvania Dutch vendors will occasionally show up at New Jersey farmers' markets—and the very idea of being able to buy a shoofly pie in, say, Westfield is in itself notable—the main way these products make their way to market in here is in the form of what I call "Amish Megastores," or retail spaces about the size of a chain pharmacy with stalls that resemble urban food markets of an earlier era.
I've already mentioned the one in Mullica Hill down at the states' south end, but there's one that's much more accessible to most of us on Route 27 in Kingston, just a bit north of Princeton and not far from New Brunswick. Let´s head over and take a stroll through it.
On your left as you walk in is Smoker's Deli with good deals on cold cuts and smoked meats. I'm an especially big fan of their bacon and knockwursts. Across from them is a pretzel stall with those butter-laden soft twists that you´ll either love or hate. I feel both ways myself, often on the same day.
Next stop up the hallway is Beiler's Meats, said by at least a few competitive barbecue teams to be the best butcher in the state. (I agree if you take price into account.) Besides, where else can you find lamb kidneys or sausage casings?
Across from Beiler's is Fisher's Bakery, a great place to visit for Pennsylvania classics like apple dumplings and shoofly pie. They also have a modest, reasonably priced selection of bulk grains and spices.
Beiler's Dairy, owned by the nephew of Beiler's Meats, has milk, butter, yogurt, and what you might call a "budget" cheese selection. This isn't the place for fine cheese (that will be the subject of at least a few future dispatches), but there's a nice selection of what many people pay more for in the supermarket.
A sharp right at the corner of Beiler's Meats and Beiler's Dairy will take you to
Stoltzfus Poultry, the largest vendor there. Although they sell both fresh poultry and cooked foods, it's the fresh ducks, turkeys, and stewing hens that are the big draws. Their rabbits, although frozen, are excellent too.
Opposite Stoltzfus is Mom's Candy Corner, a mecca for bulk candy fans. Sadly, I must report that I´m not much of a candy eater and have never bought anything here.
Just around the corner from Mom's and Stoltzfus is R&B Produce, the world's most practical produce store. With a combination of local and commercial veg and fruit, you can shop here knowing confidently that you're getting a good deal. And where else can you count on finding really nice turnips? And in the summer, they make fruit smoothies that are easily the best snack available in the market.
King's Salads, right across from the produce stand has something they call a "box salad" that actually resembles what most of us would call a "green salad" but that isn't the point. Instead the case filled with dessert puddings, pickles, rich vegetable salads and other sweets is the Amish equivalent of Korean Panchan—something that´s supposed to be a side, but can easily be made into a meal.
Finally, there's one more Stoltzfus: The Stoltzfus Lunch Bar. Most of the time, there's not much to speak of here, but there is a breakfast buffet—I've never eaten it but imagine Princeton intellectual types going for third helpings of biscuits and sausage gravy. Otherwise, have your meal here on the last Saturday of the month when they hold a pig roast. It's not Southern, Portuguese, Cantonese or any of the other barbecue genre found on Route 27. It's Amish. Plain pig cooked correctly and worth a trip in itself.