A couple of weeks ago, I set out on the road for a bit of business travel. My first stop: State College, PA, home of Penn State. I arrived just prior to dinnertime and set off into the small college town area to find some eats.
It was Sunday, so many places were closed (!!! Guess we're not in NYC anymore, Toto...). After much menu browsing, I ended up at the Allen Street Grill; I was seated at a quaint table by the exceedingly friendly waitstaff. One order and five minutes later, and I was tucking in to an heirloom tomato stacker.
This concoction was described as: "Sliced organic heirloom tomatoes stacked with mozzarella then garnished with reduced balsamic vinegar, extra virgin olive oil, and fresh basil." What arrived was something like that. The tomatoes themselves were actually pretty fresh and flavorful, but there were a few oddities-- first, the whole thing was doused, absolutely marinating, in oil. It was drenched. Second, while basil was (logically) promised, cilantro was what actually arrived. Let's just say that while I'm not one of those infamous cilantro haters, cilantro did NOT go with this dish. Finally, the mozzarella was predictably bland; it was a good textural contrast to the tomatoes, but it didn't provide much flavor-wise.
No matter, because after paying the modest bill, I took off for the main event: the Penn State Creamery. It's buried deep within the enormous campus, but after consulting several maps, I finally made it to the creamery. And I was handsomely, handsomely rewarded. I tried several different flavors, but the ultimate winner was Coconut Chip: an incredibly creamy, nutty coconut base, with a few shards of fresh coconut here and there and an overwhelming backdrop of fresh sweet cream, all punctuated by crumbly ribbons of dark chocolate. It was heaven. And it was a huge portion for well under $3. Suffice it to say I clearly went to college at the wrong school.
Next up: Williamsburg, PA...
Allen Street Grill
100 W. College Avenue
State College, PA
814-231-Grill (yes, really)
Penn State Creamery
State College, PA