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September 16, 2008 - Jane Mort
One of my favorite summer reads this year was Boalsburg artist-turned-author Ken Hull's recent book, "Going Local: An Adventurer's Guide to Unique Eats, Cool Pubs and Cozy Cafes of Central Pennsylvania."
The title explains what the book's about, particularly the words "going local," which Hull begs you over and over again to do when choosing a restaurant.
I loved the book because it combines a lot of things I like: locally-produced books, out-of-the-way eateries and art.
Hull's book includes enthusiastic assessments of several area restaurants: The Honey Creek Inn in Reedsville, The Waterfront in Lewistown, Spruce Hill Lunch near Port Royal, Espresso Yourself in Newport, and Selin's Grove Brewing Co., in Selinsgrove (owned by former Burnham resident Heather McNabb and her husband, Steven Leason).
His descriptions of these and others that I'm already familiar with are spot on, leading me to trust what he has to say about the other places in the book. I'm keeping the book in my car, so when I'm out and about I can look up some of the places to keep "going local."
As I was reading Hull's book, I began wondering about his art, since I had never heard of him. So I went to the desk in my den, googled "Ken Hull" and viewed his awesome gallery. The Italy and Ireland paintings are just the kind of artwork I like for my home.
As I was browsing through his collection, I clicked on "Early Works," and my eyes fixed on "My Grandfather's Winchester." I raised my eyes to the painting on the wall above the desk, then dropped them back down to the painting depicted on my computer screen.
They were the same.
I own a Ken Hull and didn't even know it. The artwork was a wedding gift from my husband's long-time fishing buddy, who lives in Bellefonte. Impressed more by the quality of the artwork than the subject matter (I'd pick something from the more recent Tuscany collection), and out of respect for a good friend, I've had the piece hanging in our home for 22 years.
Back to Hull's book. It lead me to another restaurant that wasn't included, but would have been had Hull known about it, I'm sure. Inspired to "go local," I jumped at my husband's suggestion to forego dinner at the Red Lobster in Camp Hill on our way home from a day trip to Gettysburg one day this summer. Instead, we stopped at Mastracchio's, a tiny place on the Juniata River near Newport that we had heard about from several different friends, but never tried. The experience was so wonderful that I'm sorry we waited so long to try it.
It's just the kind of place that Hull wrote about. I hope he finds it. I'm glad we did.