Greater Harrisburg's Community Magazine

Grains of Taste: Talking Breads brings local, authentic foods, flavors to the West Shore

Grazing Board

To borrow a phrase from the inimitable David Byrne, “Piece of mind. It’s a piece of cake.”

To that, I might add a few scones, some delicious peanut butter chocolate bars, cured meat, bagels, bread, cookies and, oh, so much more.

That’s what you’ll discover at Talking Breads, the name a riff on Byrne’s iconic new wave band, Talking Heads. Owners Shana and Joe Amsterdam, who opened their business back in February, try not to take themselves too seriously, but are quite serious about their products, which are simultaneously high quality and accessible.

“We don’t want people to feel we have pretentious products, just good locally sourced items that people will enjoy,” said Shana.

 Local Focus

The couple launched their original business selling at farmers markets. In 2014, they decided to purchase a property in Shermans Dale, moving in a year later after building a house and bakery.

They said that, over time, they realized that they wanted to change direction.

“We came to the conclusion that we didn’t want to just do farmers markets all our lives,” Shana said.

So, they sold their Perry County property and relocated to their native Cumberland County.

“We bought this Lisburn Road property last May (2019), started construction last October, and now here we are,” Shana said. “We opened right before COVID struck and had to reroute everyone to a pickup window, but we felt fortunate to be deemed an essential business.”

The products offered at Talking Breads will delight any fan of locally sourced goods. For instance, one of their suppliers is Harrisburg’s Elementary Coffee Co.

“We like their light roast from Colombia and a dark roast called Black Rose, which we enjoy very much,” Shana said.

The couple also partners with Good Keeper Farm in Gardners and assists young people in the LEAF program by selling their produce, as well. Three Fold Farm, located nearby, provides tomatoes and seasonal fruits like figs, papaws, kiwis and berries, according to Shana.

Talking Breads also serves as a pickup location for people who get produce from the popular CSA run by Spiral Path Farms in Loysville.

To craft their artisan breads, the couple relies on wheat berries and rye berries from Pecan Meadow Farm in Newburg.

“We mill them for flour for our bread,” said Shana.

Bread choices include wheat, rye, sourdough, European rustic and darker breads, which are crusty on the outside and chewy on the inside, with the French bâtard being the most popular.

“People also love our fruit and nut breads,” Shana said.

Cheese is sourced from Caputo Brothers in York.

“We have ricotta salata, aged ricotta, provolone and mozzarella,” she said.

During warmer weather, the couple encourages customers to stay awhile and enjoy an old-fashioned, yet upscale picnic.

“We sell a grazing board, which includes a variety of meats, cheeses, breads, pickles and spreads for $11 a person,” Shana said.

To make things extra fancy, customers can bring along vases and purchase a bouquet from Carlisle-based Roots Cut Flower Farm.

Many Things

Cathie Jenkins has been a fan of the couple’s artisanal breads since being introduced to the products at Farmers on the Square in Carlisle.

“Having spent time in Europe, we missed the hearty, nutritious bread we had learned to enjoy there,” Jenkins said. “Through snow and ice and frigid weather, Joe and Shana kept us supplied with their tasty creations.”

She said that she has watched the couple perfect their craft over the years, even going so far as to order a mill from Austria to process locally sourced grains, with some grown on their own farm. Jenkins said that she is thrilled that the business now is closer to her home.

Customer Liz Dete, a twice-a-week customer, is equally as satisfied, saying that the business is many things to many people.

“For my husband George and me, it’s a coffee shop for coffee, a chocolate chip cookie and lingering outside at a picnic table,” she said. “It’s a grocery store for house-made egg and chicken salad, locally pickled red beets, house-made sweet slaw and local granola.”

Dete said that she also buys her cheeses, produce and baked goods at Talking Breads.

The Amsterdams currently raise chickens and cows on their 26 acres and live in the house located behind the business. They eventually want to connect the two buildings and hold workshops and classes and add café seating.

Future plans include planting more fruit trees, perennials and flowers, and they talk of making their own products for their charcuterie boards.

“Salami is not available locally now because we can’t find anyone who does USDA charcuterie in the area,” Shana said.

“To sell cured meats wholesale, you need a federally inspected facility, which involves a lot,” Joe added.

The couple employs nine workers, and they expect to bring on additional help as they expand.

“Every day is different,” Shana said. “One day, I’ll be baking and shaping bread or weeding the garden or moving the cows. It keeps things interesting, and watching the community come together and embrace us as they have has been very gratifying.”

Talking Breads is located at 1619 W. Lisburn Rd., Mechanicsburg (Monroe Township). For more information, visit or their Facebook page.

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