MarketBasket: Great sticky buns
Pennsylvania Dutch Country may be the sticky-bun capital of the world, but not all stickies are created equal. The favorite from our unscientific (but ambitiously caloric) tour-de-buns was this irresistible pecan-jeweled round from Achenbach's, a 60-year-old Leola standby where the baked goods have none of the preservatives of more commercial versions sold in Lancaster's touristy areas. Michael's in Strasburg was a close second. But Achenbach's has the added draw of some serious "Long Johns," exceptionally airy long doughnuts ($9.60 a dozen) glazed with perfect buttercream icing. The peanut butter flavor is a personal obsession. Even better: Achenbach's does mail-order. - Craig LaBan
Pecan sticky bun, $1.95 a piece or $21.95 a dozen, Achenbach's, 375 E. Main St., Leola, 717-656-6671; achenbachs.com
Piemonte polenta via Lancaster
Farmer Tom Culton has a reputation for growing the unusual. But this Italian heirloom Spino Rosso polenta, descended from red corn he brought back from a trip to the Piedmont (with the kernels hidden in his boots!) surely takes the prize. Not only is it rare - the red-flecked corn porridge it makes is extraordinary, with little more than water and salt necessary for a flavor that is vividly earthy, naturally creamy, and field-sweet. - C.L.
Rye still rolling
Pennsylvania's rye whiskey renaissance has been steaming forward from Bristol (Dad's Hat) to Pittsburgh (Wigle). Now central Pennsylvania has revived production of the state's classic spirit at Lancaster's new Thistle Finch, named for the bird often used as a good luck symbol in Hex signs (pronounced "distlefink"). Currently only white unaged rye is available, but this spirit from owner Andrew Martin's handmade copper still is extremely smooth and sippable. With 30 percent wheat for sweetness in the majority rye mash bill (plus some malted barley for body), it's so creamy on the palate it almost has cocoa tones. Visit the distillery during evening hours, when a bar is pouring cocktails that show its versatility. - C.L.
Thistle Finch small-batch white rye, $32 a bottle (750 ml), Thistle Finch Distillery, 417 West Grant St., Lancaster.