There is a fairytale land in Northeastern Pennsylvania currently undergoing an extensive renovation to restore it to all of its original splendor from once upon a time.  But you don’t have to wait to experience magic of this fairytale. The Lands at Hillside Farms is sparkling historical gem whose light has never faded and will only shine brighter with a little polishing. This weekend the Second Annual Fall Festival, a major fundraiser at Hillside, is scheduled to take place and will provide a wonderful opportunity for families throughout the area to experience all that Hillside has to offer. See below for operating hours and details.
The Lands at Hillside Farms, a 412 acre working dairy farm, was formed as a non-profit organization in June of 2005 to protect and preserve the farms aging infrastructure. It’s whose mission aims “to present aspects and benefits of the region’s land, history and promotion of lifestyle choices which are healthy, conservation-minded and practical.”  Hillside places great emphasis on family-friendly educational programs, sustainable agricultural activities and living.  It is now undergoing a major restoration to return it to its original pristine grandeur and in hopes of eventually becoming a major tourist destination. Look for a bed and breakfast, a restaurant and a more expansive educational program for people of all ages in the future.
Hillside has always been one of my favorite places to visit – and not just for the homemade ice cream. The atmosphere at Hillside is serene and picturesque, and almost even romantic, as evident in the photos of the iron and cypress greenhouses.  These greenhouses were constructed by American greenhouse and conservatory builders Lord and Burnham over 100 years ago. They were relocated from the area no occupied by the Dorthy Dickson Darte center in Wilkes Barre and are thought to be only five greenhouses of this design in the entire country.  Currently, the greenhouses are being restored by Glass Garden Builders, which purchased the Lord and Burnham business several years ago.  
Greenhouse at the Lands at Hillside Farms.
During the late 19th century, at the height of the Anthracite coal mining era in Northeastern Pennsylvania and the Industrial Revolution, industrialist William L. Conyngham purchased 100 acres from Joseph Harter of Trucksville.  These 100 acres formed the foundation of a grand summer and agricultural estate. 

 The Cottage at Hillside, pictured above, was originally built in 1882 as a two story summer residence where family friends would stay during their summit visits. The first floor of the cottage includes a Victorian foyer, sitting room and dining room, butler’s pantry and kitchen.  Originally, there was also a companion building which housed bedrooms and a ballroom.  Footpaths led from the home to other locations with bridges, gazebos, flower beds and benches at the farm and alongside the creek.  The main Cottage and accompanying Heritage Gardens at Hillside hosted many of American’s elite individuals.  Hillside was also the home of the award-winning Clydesdale Belgian draft horses, Dorset cheep, Berkshire hogs and dairy herds of registered Holstein/Friesian, milking shorthorns and Jersey cattle.

Today, the Cottage is available to host a variety events including small weddings, family reunions, birthday parties, office parties, or bridal and baby showers.

The Cottage at the Lands at Hillside Farms.


The Dairy Store at Hillside has been offering its famous ice cream and milk since 1977.  The milk is sold in returnable glass bottles, some of which have lasted decades. While most cows in the United States are raised in confinement, force fed grain, hay and/or corn, and stand in dirt and manure, the cows at Hillside graze on a pasture from Spring through fall, enjoying green grass, clean water and fresh air.  This ensures that the milk you consume from Hillside is loaded with vitamins, minerals and cancer-fighting agents. Milk obtained from a pastured cow can have five times as much conjugated linoleic acid, or CLA, as milk obtained from a cow who is purely grain fed.  This CLA is a type of fat that is believed by some to fend off cancer. 

The Dairy Store

Notably, the cows at Hillside have not been injected with controversial Bovine Growth Hormones, artificial hormones usually injected bi-weekly into cows, causing them to produce three times as much milk as a normal cow.  (In the United States, the Environmental Protection Agency and National Institute of Health (as well as numerous other studies) have declared that this hormone is safe for human consumption. However, it has been banned in Canada, Australia, Japan, New Zealand and most of the European Union)

The Dairy Store offers butter made on the premises with Hillside Gold milk and eggs from free-range chickens. Whenever possible, the Dairy Store offers products from small-scale producers located near the Lands.  You can find just-picked seasonal produce for sale, as well as locally produced baked goods. To provide a shopping experience reminiscent of “days gone by,” the Dairy Store also offers old-style penny candy and natural treats like granola, trail mix, nuts and seeds.

The Dairy Store is open seven days a week at 8:00 A.M.

The Ice Cream Parlor opens 8:00 A.M, Monday through Friday.
The Ice Cream Parlor opens 10:00 A.M on Saturday and Sunday.

Both the Dairy Store and the Ice Cream Parlor close at 10:00 P.M.

Mint Chocolate Chip Ice Cream from The Dairy Store
Getting messy with some chocolate chip ice cream!


On October 2nd and 3rd, the Lands at Hillside Farms will hold the Fall Festival, its largest “Noon to Moon” event.  This popular event, sponsored by Luzerne Bank,  attracted over 5,000 guests last year and is expected to attract over 8,000 people this year.  Though proceeds from the Dairy Store help to fund the operation of the farm. the Lands at Hillside Farms needs to raise approximately $500,000 per year to cover the costs of education, non-dairy animals, building and grounds maintenance, utilities, machinery, fencing, etc. The Fall Festival is held to raise money for Hillside’s educational programs, which cost the farm about $200,000 annually. Hillside’s education programs bring more than 3,500 regional school children from grades K-12 to the farm each year where they have the unique opportunity to learn about science, agriculture, archaeology, ecology, history, sustainable living and community service.

This year’s Fall Festival will feature family-friendly activities including tractor hay rides, pony rides, children’s games, live music, barn tours, local vendors, artisan demonstrations.  A variety of food in accordance with Hillside’s values will be available at the Festival, including hamburgers and hot dogs from grass-fed beef, veggie burgers, pizza, macaroni and cheese, grilled cheese sandwiches, soups and other side dishes. The event will attempt to incorporate Hillside’s own products as well as those from local farmers.

The event will also feature farm-to table cooking demonstrations featuring Chef Kate Gabriele of the Rustic Kitchen and Natural Foods Chef Jennifer Elliott.

Entertainment includes the Cabinet Will on Saturday afternoon and Fell Swoop on Sunday.  The popular Philaldelphia band, the Adam Monaco Band, will also be entertaining children near the greenhouse on Saturday and Sunday.

This year, WVIA members will receive free parking/admission and a free tractor hayride. WVIA members will also judge the scarecrow contest, which awards a $100 gift certificate for the Dairy Store. (Bring your scarecrow to enter!)

For non-WVIA members, the cost is $10 per carload and includes parking and admission.

The event will be held on Saturday, October 2, 2010 from noon – 6 PM and Sunday, October 3, 2010 from noon – 5 PM.

All photos except the photo of the Cottage were taken by Diana Collins of Fairytale Feasts.  The photo of the Cottage appears courtesy of The Lands at Hillside Farms. 
Nestled off of the Dallas Highway lies a quaint and cozy restaurant that is much deserving of recognition for its excellence.  Fire and Ice on Toby Creek is unique in every way to the Wyoming Valley. The atmosphere is welcoming and anything but stuffy. The decor dark, warm, and cozy. The staff patient, friendly and attentive. And most importantly, the food is fit for a fairytale.

The restaurant boasts a menu designed for every taste and budget. Kids even eat free on Mondays. (But foodie friends, don’t stress. Your children won’t be the only ones in for a treat!) There is also a soup and salad lunchtime buffet available. Chef Gary Edward’s love for food shines through his creative menu selections, which are refreshingly solid yet adventurous. Each item is intricately described on the menu and it is evident that much thought was put into each ingredient constructing the dish. The menu is also diverse, offering different sized portions (pub plates or entrees) and a sampling different ethnic tastes. Try finding a restaurant that offers the popular German dish Weiner Sneitzel (pounded veal with breadcrumbs and spaetzle, or tiny dumplings/noodles) or a Sweet Bourbon Pork BBQ sandwich or and Eggplant Rollatini all on the same menu.

    At the 2010 Food and Wine Dinner, Chef Edwards discussed how he utilizes locally grown ingredients and changes his menu seasonally, allowing for fresh tasting food that is better for our local economy and our environment. (Learn more about Chef Edwards and co-owners the Fasula Family here.)  At this dinner, Chef Edwards also prepared a tender sampling of skate fish for each guest which I really hope will be featured on the menu sometime because was delicious and very difficult to find in this area! Until then, see the recipe here.

The restaurant’s name “Fire and Ice” comes from its’ fresh hearth-baked bread and iced plated salads. The hearth-baked bread is accompanied by Honey Thyme Butter and Roasted Garlic Hummus. The hearth baked bread is soft and doughy, and unlike any other bread baked in the entire Wyoming Valley.  I love the intense flavor of the rich and creamy but gritty Roasted Garlic Hummus so much that I have admittedly eaten it straight out of the small ramekin it is served in (and almost asked for an extra side to go). The bread and hummus alone are worth the trip!

One of the best components of a meal at Fire and Ice is its’ signature Orange Cognac Salad – field greens tossed with organce cognac dressing, dried cranberries, candied walnuts and Gorgonzola cheese on an iced plate.  I have sampled the other salads at Fire Ice, including the Caesar Salad and the lunchtime Island Tropic Salad. Both were equally delicious but I would recommend trying the Orange Cognac if it is your first time there.

Several soup selections are available at Fire and Ice.  The traditional baked French Onion Soup topped with a crispy, creamy and oily Gruyere cheese was sinfully delish – a must have indulgence for anyone in need of a bowl of comfort. On one occasion, I had a cream of asparagus soup there which was as rich as the finest velvet and bursting with the fresh flavors of the asparagus.
One of the best things I had at Fire and Ice was a wintertime special: a risotto appetizer made of the traditional Italian Arborio rice, baby peas, shredded duck and bacon cracklings.  If this were a permanent fixture on the menu at Fire and Ice, I would order it regularly. (Please bring it back for your winter menu!) It was that perfect comforting blend of creamy, buttery goodness topped with tender pieces of shredded duck and bacon.

Another wintertime option was a tender, generous portion of a half chicken paillard stuffed with spinach and peppers over corkscrew pasta.
Notably, the Lobster Mac and Cheese at Fire and Ice (on their winter menu) is the best I’ve had ANYWHERE. (Yes, even better than the Mac and Cheese that I’ve tasted while living in NYC at Cafeteria, Chat n’ Chew, and in Philadelphia at Continental.)  For $23.95, you get a king’s portion of  corkscrew pasta baked into a creamy Gouda and Cheddar cheese sauce with jumbo chunks of REAL lobster meat.  The whole thing is topped with smoked bacon crumbs and fresh herbs. This dish really is a feast fit for a king or queen and should top the list of dishes you need to explore before you die.
Fire and Ice offers a nice selection of seafood, including the Seared Scallops Provencale.  These pan seared jumbo sea scallops are served over Gorgonzola orzo and garlic spinach with tomato, caper and Kalamata olive ragu.  It is topped with a balsamic glaze.  Never a big fan of warm, pungent Gorgonzola cheese, I had my reservations about this dish.  But after sampling it, I was relieved and pleased.  The flavors were perfectly balanced and the Gorgonzola did not overpower the scallops or orzo. My only complaint, which is a matter of personal taste, is the long dish it is served on. I’ve never been a fan of long plates for a hot meal. Where are you supposed to start eating, the right or the left? What do I do if I want to mix all my food together? But props to Fire and Ice for presenting the scallops in a trendy, creative and fun manner. 

Another option is the shrimp scampi, which is served with a side of angel hair pasta with eggplant, garlic spinach, tomatoes and a white wine sauce.  Because of the way it is served, there is a bit of a disconnect between the shrimp and the side of pasta and perhaps the shrimp should be served over the pasta.  But there is nothing stopping one from pouring it over it themselves.

If you’re looking to order something on the healthier side, try the Hearth-Baked Cedar Planked Moroccan Salmon topped with fat-free cool cucumber sauce and served with jasmine rice and the chef’s vegetables. (Here, I substituted the mixed greens for the rice.)

The lobster crab cakes are also a specialty at Fire & Ice. These are delicious but be warned that these are a little different than your typical crab cake.  They are filled with chunks of real lobster meat, but that they are a little bit creamy – if they are undercooked, the texture can be a little unappetizing. 
Notice the mixed roasted vegetables that accompany the food at Fire & Ice – roasted beets, broccolini, onions, peppers and beets. This is another nice little touch which sets this place apart from other restaurants – the vegetables are not from a can and real thought was put into their preparation. You won’t leave your vegetables untouched here!

The Pork Tenderloin Tournedos were a tasteful hearty treat that I would absolutely order again. The pork seems to be ground and is wrapped in applewood smoked bacon and dressed in a sweet cider bourbon glaze. They are accompanied by cheddar and Boursin whipped potatoes and crispy onion strings. (Boursin cheese is a rich and creamy triple cream cheese that is made with pasteurized cow’s milk.)

A new and recent addition to the menu is the Chicken Chausseur – sauteed chicken scallopini with a Forrest mushroom demi glace, oven dried tomatoes and tarragon butter.  It is served with Jasmine rice and vegetables.
Finally, one of the best dishes I’ve ever had at Fire and Ice was the Angus Center Cut Filet Mignon. On the menu, the red meat is listed as coming from the finest grain-fed cuts of Midwestern Beef. 
It was so juicy, so tender, so rich. The meat melted in my mouth. At $29 for this generous 8 oz. filet (including salad and your choice of sides), the price is right. Moreover, each of the steaks at Fire and Ice can be prepared in a variety of sauces: fresh herb burgundy au jus,  sauteed onion and mushroom demi glace, shallot and marsala demi glace, or whipped blue cheese butter.  For an additional charge, your steak can be served atop of a grilled portabello mushroom with gorgonzola cheese, balsamic onion marmalade and sweet marsala and onion demi glace.
The mini desserts at Fire and Ice are a can’t miss as well. And since the come in a mini size for only $2-$3 each, it’s hard to say no to them. On one occasion, I couldn’t decide which dessert to chose from so the pastry chef sent both of them out and then personally came out to meet me. Here are a sampling of some of the treats we have enjoyed there.

Fire and Ice is located on 111 South Main St. in Trucksville, PA 18708.  It is open daily for lunch and dinner and also offers a twilight menu. For exact hours of operation and a full menu, please visit their website