Northern Neck Paradise

View from the Tides Inn Terrace

View from the Tides Inn Terrace


I love my home. I even like my day job. I gotta tell you though, leaving the Tides Inn and the beautiful views like you see above is always gut wrenching for me. The Tides Inn is a Virginian Paradise! Located in Irvington, part of Virginia’s Northern Neck, the Tides offers a perfect vacation spot….lovely setting, the perfect mix of activity and relaxation, but most important for me great food and libations. This trip had us eating dinner three out of six nights right at the Inn. Each meal was quite delicious with my favorite being a succulent duo of Beef Tenderloin and Sea Scallops.
Perfectly prepared Sea Scallops and Beef Tenderloin

Perfectly prepared Sea Scallops and Beef Tenderloin


While at the Tides, I was delighted to meet and talk with the very personable Chef David Schmidt, Executive Chef at Enchantment Resort in Sedona Arizona. It turns out the Tides Inn and Enchantment are sister resorts hence Chef Schmidt and family were on vacation. Upon meeting, I immediately googled Enchantment Resort and became, um…….enchanted! Consider it if ever staying in Arizona. I know I will. Checkout Chef David Schmidt’s Facebook page and the resort website http://enchantmentresort.com.
There’s other fun and tasty food choices in and around Irvington. A favorite is Merrior along the water in Topping, the restaurant at the home of Rappahannock River Oyster Company. This summer was my second visit and the second time I ate the least amount of oysters of anyone in my party. That being said, I find sipping on something cold and bubbly (the ladies in my group had a French Rose’) while eating an oyster or two a very pleasurable experience. Rest assured everyone else at my table will attest the Oysters at Merrior are very, very good. I believe Chef Schmidt thinks so as well since he told us that he gets Rappahannock Oysters for the restaurants at the Enchantment Resort…….who knew the Oysters from the Northern Neck area made it all the way to Arizona?
Something cold and bubbly, the very best with Oysters!

Something cold and bubbly, the very best with Oysters!


If you go and can’t embrace eating dozens of raw oysters like me, I’m happy to report there are lots of other delectable options. I recommend the Stuffin Muffin (just the right amount of oyster flavor mixed in a moist bread stuffing) or the Peel and Eat Shrimp with Spiced Vegetables not to mention the assorted specials they have each day. You can read all about the Rappahannock River Oyster Company at http://www.rroysters.com
Nate’s Trick Dog Cafe is another great eating establishment within walking distance from the Tides Inn. It’s only open for dinner and closed both Sunday and Monday, however. We’ve been there several times and have always enjoyed the food. This trip my entrée of a Pork Shank braised in coffee and cocoa with chorizo and spinach ravioli was superb. The favorite appetizer for the table was the Salmon Tartare. Make sure to call for reservations as this place fills up with vacationers and locals alike.
A loaded Bloody Mary at the Kilmarnock Inn

A loaded Bloody Mary at the Kilmarnock Inn


The only other meal I’m going to highlight in this post is lunch at the Kilmarnock Inn. This lovely Inn is a Presidential-themed Bed and Breakfast of sorts serving breakfast, lunch and dinner 7 days a week. If I didn’t suffer from my Tides Inn addiction, I’d be liable to stay here once in a while. Alas, that is not to be so I settled for lunch in the charming dining room. My husband ordered a Bloody Mary that could serve as an entire meal for someone with a small appetite. He found it delicious while I was more than pleased with my Roasted Tomato and Corn Chowder and Poached Salmon Salad. I will definitely try dinner at the Kilmarnock Inn next time I’m in the heavenly Northern Neck area.
I’ll close with just a few more recommendations. For food, try the relatively new Northern Neck Burger Company in Kilmarnock or drive a bit to Reedville for an incredibly reasonably priced meal at the Crazy Crab (get the Sugar Toads if they have’em in season!). For Winery visits, don’t miss the Dog and Oyster Vineyards (you can ride a bike from the Tides Inn) or Good Luck Cellars only a few miles away. For the best in scenic views, by all means go to the Tides Inn.
Just another day at the Tides Inn

Just another day at the Tides Inn

Call Peppa

Just one of the lovely areas used for entertaining in the 1960s at the Glen Burnie House and Gardens

Just one of the lovely areas used for entertaining in the 1960s at the Glen Burnie House and Gardens


http://themsv.org
My long-awaited summer vacation had arrived. This year my husband and I decided to meander down south to our beloved Tides Inn by way of Winchester and Culpeper Virginia (re-read the title to this post to get the proper pronunciation according to my dear friend born and raised in Roanoke). While in Winchester, I practiced my southern drawl by sweet talking my husband into stopping at the Museum of the Shenandoah Valley to get a glimpse of the gardens. Once we arrived we were told no admittance into the gardens without a ticket purchase for the whole museum, so we trudged up to the building to pay a whopping $8 each expecting to exit the building immediately and head back to the gardens. An hour and a half later we had yet to make it back outside! Turns out the MSV had one particular gallery that was right down my alley and tied in nicely with the gardens I would see later. Called the “Edible Feast”, the gallery is an interactive display chronicling the entertaining that went on at the Glen Burnie House (on the Museum property) during the 1960s while occupied by Julian Wood Glass Jr. and his partner R. Lee Taylor. Not only did I read about lavish menus and gaze upon tablescapes made of heirloom serving pieces but I got to play games too. What fun I had helping Alfred the Butler guess how to properly set the table for a formal dinner party in two minutes or less via video game! I suppose I should mention that the MSV has several other outstanding galleries as well it’s just that this one spoke to the foodie in me.
The wonderful café on MSV property is run by Bonnie Blue Southern Market and Bakery also in Winchester

The wonderful café on MSV property is run by Bonnie Blue Southern Market and Bakery also in Winchester

Gazpacho at Bonnie Blue Café

Gazpacho at Bonnie Blue Café


Speaking of food, after spending time looking at the great indoor galleries, we were hungry. To my delight, the café downstairs not only served wine (remember, I was on vacation) but had Gazpacho….my all time summer favorite. The gazpacho was of the smooth variety and came with a drizzle of basil oil on top. I also ordered a salad of mixed greens, candied walnuts and dried cranberries topped with a herb dressing. The goat cheese croutons that accompanied the salad were what I can only describe as two heavenly quarters of a toasted cheese Panini filled with gooey goat cheese. We were fortunate to be able to talk to Christian, one of the owners of Bonnie Blue (the café as well as the market, bakery and catering business), who shared a lot about the local produce and meats they use in the operation of their businesses. When in Winchester, definitely go the Museum of the Shenandoah Valley and Bonnie Blue. Check out the Bonnie Blue website at: http://www.bonnieblue.us On to the gardens……..
Marigolds used keep pests away from the grapes at Old House Vineyards

Marigolds used keep pests away from the grapes at Old House Vineyards


On the way to Culpeper (remember, say call peppa) the plan was to stop at the Old House Vineyard. Boy, am I glad we did! We had a delightful time tasting wine and talking with Alison, the owner of this very beautiful property. I’m especially fond of the Chambourcin called Wicked Bottom and the port-style dessert wine called Mutage. Many of the wine labels feature artwork that translate into local folklore. We were fortunate that Bill, quite a historian of the area, was there during our visit so we learned a lot. Proving once again it’s a small world, it turns out Bill was once the ROTC Instructor at Dickinson College in Carlisle Pennsylvania (where I spent most of my time growing up) and graduated from West Point in the late 50s when my dad was an instructor there. Who knows how many times our paths may have crossed! Old House Vineyard is a must see and taste destination.
http://www.oldhousevineyards.com
Next we checked into our lodgings for the night, the Suites at 249. I could go on and on about this place but as it doesn’t fit the Food and Drink category of my blog, I’ll just sum it up this way: GO….I recommend the Verde Suite. http://www.suitesat249.com
Dinner at Culpepper was at It’s about Thyme (thanks for the recommendation Alison). I know, I know, I had Gazpacho for lunch but I couldn’t resist ordering it again in the evening when I saw this version included baby shrimp. True to form that no gazpacho is alike, this one was chunky, had lots of baby shrimp and was equally delicious. My entrée of Veal Shank was superb as well, but alas was a special so won’t always be available.
It's About Thyme rendition of Gazpacho

It’s About Thyme rendition of Gazpacho

http://www.thymeinfo.com
We had such a grand time on our way down to the Tides Inn. Stay tuned for more musing….