Friday, September 9, 2011

A Little Taste of History

The Dallam family has been dairy farming since the 1700's, making Broom's Bloom one of those wonderful historical artifacts of Harford County that predate the American Revolution. The dairy has been modernized as times have changed over the last three centuries. The most recent addition consists of large solar panels on the barn and over the farm store where they sell local meats and cheeses along with their milk and home made ice cream. They also serve the best lunches in the area.

Broom's Bloom serves a standard variety of soups, sandwiches and quiches that are all made fresh out of real (and usually local) ingredients. Their cream of crab soup is the best in the state, including much fancier bisques I've had at more upscale establishments. Leave it to 9th-generation dairy farmers to understand a cream soup, it is consistently perfect - never scalded or scorched or separated and always seasoned with a light hand to let the flavor of blue crab dominate.

They also offer three lunch specials that are variations on soup/salad/sandwich combos that include a very small ice cream for desert. My favorite is The Dairymaid's Delight: a cup of soup, a plate of cheese and seasonal fruit, and a choice of a cornbread muffin or buttermilk biscuit. I'm usually partial to the cornbread, which is moist with a golden crust and just a touch of sweetness.

Tonight they were out of the cream of crab, which provided me with the opportunity to try something new. One of tonight's soups was the intriguing Southern Comfort - tomato soup with peppers, shrimp and sausage served over grits. The tomato stock was smooth and a little creamy and tasted like fresh tomatoes. The peppers and sausage were sparse which prevented them from overpowering the tomato. My cup had two nice-sized shrimp and about two fingers of grits at the bottom. I ate the shrimp first and then scooped the grits up from the bottom through the stock. While it seems like an unlikely combination, it was actually quite delicious and made me glad that they were out of my usual..

This was my first visit in the evening, and my cheese cubes were served with pineapple chunks instead of the usual orchard-fresh apples, peaches, pears, and berries that have accompanied my many lunches.

Gareth ordered The Cowman's Repast: A bowl of soup, half a sandwich, and a very small ice cream. He got his usual Maryland crab soup and paired it with half a tuna salad sandwich. The nice thing about a sandwich at Broom's Bloom is the unmistakable freshness of a tomato that was allowed to ripen on the vine before it was picked and then only traveled a few hundred feet before it was sliced for the sandwich. It is worth pulling the thick slices out of your sandwich and eating them plain. The tuna salad is also better than most with a light touch on the mayonnaise and a little hard-boiled egg mixed in.

We both ordered Andes Mint ice cream, mine in a bowl, his in a sugar cone. They also offer regular cake cones and waffle cones. You can upgrade to a sundae for just a little bit more. All their ice creams are very smooth and creamy, even flavors like graham cracker and cake batter. Their variety runs the gamut from these kid-friendly flavors to more traditional vanilla and caramel cashew. Flavors change daily and can be found on their Facebook page.

The Dallams are as much a part of Harford County as our historic Quaker meeting houses, stone walls and embankments, and Revolutionary War battle sites. They participate in several local farmer's markets and sell the meat, eggs and breads produced by other local farms. Their country store and lunch counter are the latest in a long history of community involvement as the Dallams continue to help shape Harford County. Broom's Bloom is located on Rt 543 less than a mile off of 1-95 between Riverside and Bel Air.

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