Charleston Two Ways
For me, 2016 pretty much sucked. I won’t bore you with all the specifics, but let’s just say if it wasn’t for my obsession with musing about eating and boozing, my guess is I would’ve withdrawn from all human interaction shortly after November 8th! That being said, I did manage to discover some wonderful culinary products and impressive restaurants throughout 2016 that deserve recognition as recipients of the 2nd Annual Musing Awards.
And the Musee goes to………
Favorite newly discovered Food and Beverage:
Savory- Eat Smart Beets and Greens Salad Kit. I’ve never been a fan of bagged salads. I tend to think I can taste the plastic bag on the lettuce. Thankfully, that doesn’t hold true for salads made of sturdier (and healthier) greens such as kale or brussels sprouts. I truly have enjoyed all the Eat Smart Salad Kits I’ve tried with Beets and Greens being my favorite (and the one that’s out of stock most often).
Sweet-Betty Crocker Limited Edition Salted Caramel Cookie Mix. Okay, okay I realize this winner isn’t exactly all the way “prepared” but they sure make baking easy and delicious! Literally just add an egg and butter (REAL UNSALTED BUTTER) for sweet and salty home-baked heaven! If you care to, add my secret ingredient….1/2 tsp Almond Extract.
Beverage- Cheribundi Cherry Juice. I’m not gonna lie, this stuff is pretty pricey but I find the flavor delicious! Maybe it’s just label persuasion, but I swear if I drink four 8oz servings through the week my joints actually do feel better as the product implies. I tend to purchase the “lite” version when available.
Favorite “new to me” Chef- Neal McTighe . I had the pleasure of meeting Neal at a community outreach program at Dickinson College that I was invited to by a dear friend who’s an alum. My friend and I had no idea what to expect from this particular event that was called “Italy in a Jar”, but what the heck it was free and appeared to involve food! Once seated with a glass of Italian Wine and a few nibbles provided by the Dickinson staff we got to meet and hear the story behind the creator and founder of Nello’s Sauces, a red hot Italian Pasta Sauce Company that’s beginning to appear in shelves all over the place such as Wholefoods, Kroger, Harris Teeter, etc. Even the mail-order meal company, Plated, has begun to provide Nello’s Sauce with their dinner kits. Neal’s rise from Dickinson college student with limited Italian language skills, to teacher of Italian, to Pasta Sauce Chef extraordinaire is not only interesting (“click” on his name above to get to Nello’s website and read all about it) but inspiring too as it is a stunning example of someone pursuing their passion. After the talk, we all gathered into the college kitchen where Neal gave us sauce making tips (do you know the best canned tomatoes to use?) and prepared a huge pot of Pasta with Nello’s Marinara Sauce. I went home with a jar Nello’s sauce laced with lavender which was scrumptious! Ironically, Nello’s Sauce isn’t found near Dickinson College as of yet (closest in probably Wholefoods towards Philly?) but I have my fingers crossed.
Favorite “new to me” Winery- Grace Estate Winery . Like so many other things in 2016, I didn’t get to as many wineries (VA mostly) as I’d would’ve liked or usually do throughout a year. I’m awfully glad my two favorite girls and I were able to get to Grace Estate! Tasting Room-great, Wines-tasty, Outdoor seating and views-lovely. Don’t miss this one when you’re in the Charlottesville area. Look at my blog post from Nov 2016 for more photos of some Charlottesville area wineries visited this past year.
Favorite “new to me” Restaurant-Cosima, Baltimore MD I loved this place! Baltimore really has some gems and Cosima is at the top of my list. Look at my post from September 2016 titled “Charmed, I’m Sure” for further details on this and a few other places I discovered in the Charm City this past year.
Just Plain Delicious- Zunzi’s, Savannah GA I blogged about my trip to Savannah in July (“Oh, Savannah”) which provided details of my culinary experiences. Zunzi’s was without a doubt the “funnest” food I had. Truly coming out of a hole in the wall, you stand in line to order absolutely delicious South African (and a few other countries) concoctions. The “Oliver’s Lunch” shown below really is just plain delicious! Take a look at their website. You can order some of their sauces and Zunzi gear.
Favorite “new to me” recipe-Chicken Tagine with Lemon and Olives . I guess I must’ve cut this out of a Cooking Light magazine in 2007 but didn’t get around to making it until this past year. I made up for lost time though, because I bet I’ve made this succulent dish at least a dozen times in the past 12 months. It’s that good. Atypically for me, I follow this recipe to a tee except for the cilantro- I never add the Cilantro. Originally I thought 1 hour seemed to be a heck of a long time to simmer chicken thighs but they turn out perfect after a long, slow simmer. Please note that this is a Cooking Light recipe so it won’t infringe on any New Year’s resolution.
Life Time Achievement Award-Shrimp Spread. The LTAA this year has to go to the family Shrimp Spread recipe featured in my blog post “History, It’s in the Making” April 2016 and dedicated to my dad who passed away last February. I can now say that this recipe has gotten my family through the best of times and worst of times. It’s been served at countless parties and holidays to include this year at Thanksgiving and Christmas. My mom also made it for my Dad’s Military Honors Ceremony and following Reception as a tribute and sweet remembrance of a great husband, father, Officer and gentleman.
So there you have it- the Musing Awards for 2016. Please be so kind as to “click” on a few of the websites I have highlighted. I’d enjoy hearing your thoughts on any of the award recipients and would be honored if you’d pass this post to anyone you think might be interested.
I truly hope 2017 brings you all happiness, peace and a multitude of culinary adventures. Next up for me is the Culinary Immersion Weekend at the Omni Bedford Springs!
“They say I need to be seasoned; they say I need to be stewed. They say, ‘We need to boil all the hope out of him — like us — and then he’ll be ready’.”- Barack Obama while campaigning in 2008
Unplanned culinary adventures are the best! What started out as a weekend in the Charm City to attend “Jazz in the Sculpture Garden” at the beloved Baltimore Museum of Art turned into a food extravaganza. It was so darn hot that the Jazz had to move indoors and doing anything else outside was out of the question. Since we were staying both Friday and Saturday nights at the Inn at the Colonnade, our go-to lodging while visiting the BMA, we had lots of inside time to fill and what better way than to try out some different eateries.
To be clear, my favorite area in Baltimore is not the Inner Harbor area. I much prefer the charm in the Hampden neighborhood near BMA and John Hopkins University Homewood Campus. Usually we leisurely walk through campus to get to the BMA through the sculpture garden, but I would have none of it this time. UBER was an easy and relatively inexpensive way to go this particular weekend with the exception of lunch on Saturday which was right next to the hotel. Are you ready? Let’s get started…..
Upon arrival at the hotel, we lazed around while researching dinner options for the evening. I decided on Cosima and I certainly was not disappointed! Actually finding the entrance was an adventure in itself as our UBER driver had no choice but to drop us off at the top of a steep cobblestone drive that appeared to go to the back of a warehouse. A young gal had also just been dropped off and was just as confused as to where we could enter as we were. Not to be deterred, I took the lead, boldly went down to the depths of that cobblestone, turned right and behold, there was the busy front door (although in the back!) of one of my new favorite restaurants.
Cosima was hopping when we arrived for our 9PM reservation. I was pleased with the décor that was able to exude coziness while still having that made-over Industrial Warehouse vibe (go, you’ll see what I mean). We quickly ordered the meats and cheeses to enjoy with our cocktails and the server in turn brought a basket of crusty bread. Next came the very exciting raw Swordfish you see above. All our food was outstanding with my entrée of Slow Cooked Pork Ribs, also shown above, being my absolute favorite. Go to Cosima while in Baltimore…you’ll like it!
The heat continued it’s vengeance into Saturday when we were informed via email the Jazz wouldn’t be in the Sculpture Garden after all. That being the case, my weekend partner slept until noon (truly not an unusual occurrence) and upon waking after thorough research on my part, I suggested we go literally next door to the…wait for it…VEGETARIAN Restaurant called One World Café. In full disclosure, I totally ignored this place in the past because I had no idea it had an absolutely adorable FULL bar. Who can’t eat Vegetarian with Wine or a Bloody Mary? Fortunately my guy was up for it so we took the across-the-street trek to what ended up being veggie heaven.
Looks are deceiving and to be honest I had always thought One World Cafe was pretty much a free trade coffee place and little more. Also since we both are carnivores at heart (although I did practice Meatless Mondays the entirety of 2015), vegetarian establishments don’t stand out as usual dining options. I’m so glad we decided to live life on the edge and go to OWC! The Black Bean Soup shown at the tippy-top was superb and my eggplant pita was just as hearty as any meatladen sandwich. I even went crazy and had a shot of carrot juice for 2 bucks. Check out their FB page for other photos and menu.
After lunch/brunch I had the rest of the afternoon to watch Lifetime Movies (yes, a favorite pass time of mine only to be out done by Hallmark Movies) and figure out where my next meal was coming from. Reservations were made for 9:30 at the Food Market.
After a fine Jazz concert (unfortunately inside as you know) we took the short UBER ride over to the Food Market and for the 2nd evening in a row were extremely impressed with our meals. My Scallops Deluxe were awesome. I might have trouble ordering something different if I were to go again. I loved the quaint bar at the front of the restaurant and was pleased I could get a glass of a dry Rose while waiting for our table.
Sunday morning and check-out time came far too soon ( in our world that’s noon). Typically on the drive home we stop at a Diner for breakfast/brunch. This trip we decided to get food before leaving the city limits and in doing so came across the absolutely best restaurant find of the weekend! Make no mistake, Johnny’s Restaurant is billed as a diner although after finding the place among some lovely houses it’s evident why it’s description contains the word upscale. Possibly for the first time in my blogging career I was so engrossed in my brunch dish I didn’t even think to take a picture. “Johnny’s Loco Fried Rice” has officially become one of my best brunch foods ever. So much so, I’ve made my own version for breakfast twice since visiting. The Mr. was pleased to be able to order an omelette with his chosen ingredients and his side of Merquez Chicken Sausage was very tasty. I’m going to Johnny’s again, soon, and this time for dinner….can’t wait!
“If more of us valued food and cheer and song over hoarded gold, it would be a merrier world”-J.R.R.Tolkien
As anyone who’s been or wants to visit knows, Savannah is an absolutely beautiful city. To that end, many photos have been taken of the famous fountain, the Bird Girl of “Midnight in the Garden of Good and Evil” fame and the historic Squares with trees draped in Spanish Moss. I took those pics too but I feel it’s my duty as a Food and Drink Blogger to submit to you original photos of the culinary side of Savannah. So sit back, relax and experience a “taste” of Savannah my way…..
http:zunzis.com Zunzi’s is truly a hole-in-the-wall where you line up to get spectacular South African food. Savannah has an open liquor law so we could order beers with our lunch and then imbibe in the closest tree lined square.
http://www.elizabethon37th.net/ Elizabeth’s on 37th is in a Grand Victorian Mansion that is as lovely as it’s food is delicious.
http://thegreyrestaurant.com We went to The Grey our last night in Savannah and must I say there’s nothing like saving the best for last. A restored Greyhound Bus Terminal is the backdrop for this spectacular restaurant. The food was outstanding as well as creative. A must stop if you’re in Savannah.
http://www.local11ten.com/ Local 11 Ten was our first meal in Savannah and boy what a welcome. The food was great and the after dinner glass of Port on the rooftop bar called the “Perch” was sublime.
I would be be remiss in not mentioning we did other things in Savannah besides eating and drinking (Telfair Art Museums being one of them…don’t miss! www.telfair.org). For lodging, I highly recommend The Mansion on Forsyth (a Marriott brand for all you rewards members www.mansiononforsythpark.com). In my mind, it’s perfectly situated at the end of the historic district away from the more touristy area. The decor is artsy if not a bit “kitschy” but I like that.
I’d go back to Savannah in a heart beat, but fair warning it was HOT and Muggy even in late April. Next time I might try late March.
As an Army Brat, an Officer’s daughter no less, one of my Mom’s jobs as so many other Officer’s wives was to entertain. We had lots of Cocktail Parties, Sit-Down Dinners, Luncheons and Teas at our home wherever we were stationed. That being said, I became interested at a young age in the art of entertaining. I also picked up one of my Mom’s habits that has defined me in oh so many ways! You see, just as my mother before me, with each and every social ocassion I host, I produce an “Index Card” that not only lists what I served, but what I liked, what I didn’t, who was invited and what notable occurances happened before, during or sometimes after. They became a historical record of sorts that through the years has served as a remembrance for me of days gone by. I can tell you for instance that I made Chicken with Bell Pepper and Onion Confit (Bon Appetit September 2001 Issue) for my Mom’s birthday dinner 3 days after the Attacks of 9/11. It is documented that my son had Hardee’s Chicken for four birthdays in a row (ages 3-6), yet by the time he turned 12 his tastes had become so refined that I prepared Pepper-Seared Tenderloin w/Horseradish Cream. According to my index card that same sweet boy used the “F” word in front of his grandparents at my Dad’s 80th Birthday (hopefully the Sausage Ratatouille I made buffered the shock). My index cards fit perfectly in a sweet pastel basket where 35 years of entertaining is recorded. I’ll admit, I’ve missed an ocassion or two here or there and some cards lack detail compared to others. By and large though, the cards tell a lot about my family’s past.
A few statistics:
I have 204 recorded occasions. ( I know this is where you that know me are trying to tally how many parties you were invited to!)
I’ve hosted 18 Ladies Luncheons and Teas. The first one was the luncheon I had for my Bridesmaids in April of 1981 where I served my sure to be famous Ham and Egg Roulade which I have never made again! According to the card though, it was delicious and appeared in “Home Entertaining” magazine.
40 parties were Christmas parties (yes, some years I’ve had more than one) and remarkably I’ve had several Labor Day get togethers.
Of those Christmas/Holiday Parties, I served Shrimp Spread 22 times not to mention the countless other times as well. This brings me to the other portion of this post….
The Shrimp Spread
Apparently not all families serve “our” Shrimp Spread as a matter of routine. I know for a fact that it became a family staple for us in 1969 when my Dad was stationed in Fort Sill Oklahoma. The “Guided Missle Department Cookbook” was a collection of recipes contributed by the wives and was housed in a two-ringed binder with a bright red cover and is where this coveted appetizer first appeared. Somehow my mom is no longer is in possession of this publication, but no matter as the glorious Shrimp Spread recipe has been rewritten, shared and republished many times over. When friends come over for repeat visits they immediately look for the Shrimp Spread. Who knew canned shrimp (always use the tiny or broken, mushed up!) could be the base for shellfish heaven? I’ve shared the recipes more times than I can count and the recipe now appears in several local Cookbooks either submitted by me or a friend I shared it with. Amazingly, I poured through 60 Shrimp Dip/Spreads on the “AllRecipes” website and not a one was precisely the same as “ours”.
I’m not gonna lie, as I’ve written before, I don’t make ANY recipe exactly as written. In this case when I double the recipe (and I always double the recipe!) I adjust some of the ingredients upward (hint, hint you can always use a bit more egg). I use green onion and I truly believe fresh parsley is a must although I know one particularly picky friend of mine who loves this stuff uses onion powder and dried parsley.
In my other life as a Contract Negotiator, we were constantly reminded that “documentation is key”. I strongly believe this is the case in our personal lives as well. Be it through writings, photographs, recordings, momentos or simply memories engraved in our minds, holding on to those experiences one way or another gives us a sense of family, friendship and belonging.
This blog post is dedicated to my dad who passed away on February 5 2016. A true Officer and Gentleman who shared my passion for collecting memories and experiencing life through his tastebuds. You will be forever missed.
If I had a nickel for every time I’ve planned a vacation to Paris and it was canceled because of a Terrorist Attack I’d have…well, a nickel and that is exactly what I have! Abhorrent timing made the trip my daughter and I planned for months disappear that awful Friday. We were supposed to depart for Paris on Saturday. Instead, we spent the morning frantically canceling what we could and keeping a close watch on what was happening to the beloved city of Paris. When it became clear that our European vacation was not to be, we decided to quickly put together a State-side alternative that became affectionately known as the Non-Paris Vacation……. new destination: the State of Virginia.
Let me just say that the Old Dominion State was very kind to us and made it very easy to enjoy ourselves without wallowing in self-pity for the Paris vacation that wasn’t. Our first stop was the Sassafras Shade Vineyard just off I-95 on our way to Richmond. It’s certainly worth a stop to taste the wines from this relatively new winery. www.sassafrasshade.com
After enjoying some Rose’ we headed to Richmond to spend one glorious night at the historic Jefferson Hotel. I’ve wanted to stay at The Jefferson for years and timing for this visit was perfect. A Sunday night stay in mid-November is quite affordable, not very crowded and the accomodations are superb. We ate dinner in their upscale Restaurant “Lemaire” (it sounds French, doesn’t it?) which was delicious. I also must note that I had the best peanuts ever while sipping my Dirty Martini in the Lounge…..Smoked, but not with a spice coating on them, just smoked. If anyone knows where I can purchase such a delight, PLEASE leave a comment! Make sure to take a look at the website to get an idea of how lovely this place truly is. http://www.jeffersonhotel.com/
Monday in Richmond included a perfectly delightful visit to the Virginia Museum of Fine Arts where we went directly to the French wing in order to keep with the Paris theme of our vacation. While my heart will always remain with the Baltimore Museum of Art where I am a member, the VMFA is an exceptional attraction. Admission costs nothing yet the artwork is vast and of excellent caliber. In an amazing stroke of luck, the Cafe in VMFA is called Amuse and is french themed. We had their version of French 75 Cocktails for Lunch which only added to our quest for Parisian ambience.
After a few more stops in Richmond and a return visit to Saude Creek Winery http://saudecreek.com/ (love that place), we made the short trip to Colonial Williamsburg where we would be spend two fun-filled days and nights at the Williamsburg Lodge.
I could go on and on about our short stay in Revolutionary City. Let me just say that the week before Thanksgiving is the perfect time to visit the historic site. There are no crowds! We had our own private tour of the Governor’s Palace. We sipped hot chocolate in one of the Colonial Homes while discussing King George with a Pastor and played a gambling game with a housekeeper in another. But I digress, this blog is about food and drink.
Fat Canary http://www.fatcanarywilliamsburg.com is located in Merchant Square at the tip of Revolutionary City. Within easy walking distance from the Williamsburg Lodge, FC is an outstanding restaurant in my opinion. Our dinner there was extremely enjoyable and enhanced with a Bottle of Moët Champagne as we were supposed to have been touring the Moët & Chandon Cellars http://www.moet.com that very day had we been in Paris.
I credit my daughter in finding the perfect venue for our Wednesday night stay…..The Inn at Warner Hall. Again, I can’t say enough about traveling the week before Thanksgiving (and mid-week no less). It allowed us to reserve the lovely Washington Suite in this beautiful 11-room Inn. The Chef on site was not preparing a served meal the evening we stayed so we opted for the Cold Supper Basket that suited us just fine as we ate it by our in-suite fireplace. Shrimp Cocktail, Salad with Poached Salmon, Quinoa Salad and a Chocolate Terrine were just some of the deliciousness in our basket! We even had a glass of French Wine at the adorable boathouse that is on the property as well. Consider this charming Inn for a Special Occasion or when your European Vacation gets postponed….I’m glad we did! http://www.warnerhall.com/
After a made-to-order breakfast at the Inn the next morning, we headed to our final destination: a three-night stay at my beloved Tides Inn http://www.tidesinn.com. If you’re familiar with my blog, you already know how I feel about the Tides…….it’s a jewel. I highly recommend an Autumn stay, especially the weekend of the Taste of the Bay festival (this was the 3rd Annual). The Festival is held on the premises which makes staying there all the better. Tastings of Food, Wine, Beer and Ale are plentiful not to mention a sundry of arts and crafts. The surroundings of the Tides Inn are glorious and the weather was absolutely perfect which made this particular stay fabulous. In addition to attending Taste of the Bay, this visit we did a few new things such as toured the Christ Church, took a Cove Cruise and finally ate breakfast at the Car Wash Cafe in Kilmarnock! The Northern Neck area is a great place to visit in Virginia I tell you!
Although our hearts were heavy with the realization of what had happened to the people of Paris and the extended terror threats in Brussels (the last leg of our planned European trip) we really had a great alternative trip State-side. Paris- We WILL see you in the Spring.
We should feel sorrow, but not sink in its oppression- Confucious
Family health issues kept my culinary adventures close to home for the last couple of months. That being said I thought it perhaps was time to rewind, recap and share some of my summer highlights that involved my passion for food and drink. Here goes:
-I got a fitbit. It’s proved to be not only helpful in tracking my steps, but also has energized my garden and kitchen prep to a new level! I find my self purposely making multiple trips to my 2nd fridge just in order to chalk up additional steps. Outside, I pace back and forth taking one watering can at a time to water my edibles just to trick my device into thinking I’m actually working out. Heck, I even wander through the house with cheese and cracker in hand to get to my step goal (hey 10K steps a day is HUGE ala Republican candidate for President Donald Trump). I had two dear friends over for lunch a few weeks ago and I told them of the night before when I walked through my hallway, all after sipping 3 rather large glasses of wine, just so I could get my last few hundred steps in. I’m starting to consider myself an athlete and may compete if Iron Chef ever becomes an Olympic sport.
-I feel I got the very most out of my garden this year and for that matter I still have stuff coming. Certainly not a fresh herb has been purchased for the last three months and my usual household of two easily stayed stocked with tomatoes, peppers, zucchini, chard and various other greens. Naturally, I made some of my by now famous spice mixture, Jen Blen (in dried/packaged and fresh form) and I also created and dried a limited edition signature blend simply called “Thanksgiving”. I added potpourri to the mix this year by creating a blend I call “Sweet MariAnnie”. I’d like to thank “Everyday with Rachel Ray”http://RACHELRAYMAG.COM September 2015 edition page 39″Make a great Impression” for the great idea/inspiration for the tiles I made.
-As always, I was able to make a few visits to my most favorite local restaurants that I’ve posted about previously: Boiling Springs Tavern http://www.boilingspringstavern.com, Restaurant Sidney www.restaurantsidney.com, and Fidler and Company Craft Kitchen http://fidlerandcompany.com. I’m happy that Carlisle PA has added a few new eating spots downtown. While I haven’t been moved yet to actually include in a blog post, I think Brick Kitchen and Bar http://www.brickcarlisle.com and 1794 The Whiskey Rebellion http:// www.comfortsuitescarlisle.com/1794 are certainly worth a visit.
-I had delicious food at EAT-an American Bistro in Virginia Beach http://www.eatbistro.net . While down by the Oceanfront, EAT doesn’t have a touristy feeling at all. I’ll definitely go again when in the area. Speaking of Virginia Beach, we vacationed at Sandbridge Beach for the first time this summer. We were so pleased with our rental at Sanctuary Condos and equally happy with the establishment right across the street, Baja Restaurant http://bajasandbridge.com…….lots of good food and drink. My favorite Winery visit this summer was probably at Morais Vineyards in Bealeton VA http://www.moraisvineyards.com. The wines are Portuguese style and quite delicious with Touriga being one of my favorites. Heck even the so sweet but very “port-ish” Cherry Wine is good. I really like that the tasting includes food pairings. It makes the experience all that more fun. The setting at Morais is lovely as well. I highly recommend.
-Edible Landscaping continued to be a real treat for me during the summer months. Corn grown in the midst of of the flowers along with zucchinii created a Ornamental Grass effect that I really liked. I was even able to save myself 5 bucks by making my own corn stalks at the end of the season. Celebrity and Mortgage Lifter tomato varieties (just one plant each) did great and looked smashing among the Beebalm with a few Giant Marigolds added for color and pest control. The Herb garden was (still is) awesome this year and provided me with the freshest tasting recipes ever.
-Speaking of recipes, I subscribed to one those mail-order fresh ingredient meal delivery companies. The one I use is “Plated”. I like it because I can opt for an every-other week delivery, pick my own menus and I can block out weeks for non-delivery anytime I wish. Some of you who follow me on Facebook might’ve seen some of my “Meatless Monday” pics. Plated is definitely for those who like to cook, but want to have someone else do the shopping every now and then. I invite you to take a look at the website https://www.plated.com/
As summer has come to a close, I hope to post a tad more frequently and certainly intend to add more fun and frolic! Until then, may we all be mindful of the quote below:
Let my words, like vegetables, be tender and sweet, for tomorrow I may have to eat them.
– Author Unknown
A co-worker asked if the Retirement Reception that was organized in my honor was blog worthy. At the time, I didn’t know how to respond because I knew she was speaking about the quality of the food that had been prepared. Since my foodie tendencies are well known throughout my department at a very service oriented Navy facility that day in and day out does an outstanding job of supporting our war fighters at sea, the” party planners” for this event had paid particular attention to food quality and décor. As I came home after experiencing such a truly lovely outpouring of affection I knew I indeed needed to include this extraordinary event in my blog. The food was outstanding but that is not the point of this blog post. The fact that a wonderful group of co workers went out of their way to give me a retirement sendoff with every nuance of my personality considered is what makes the occasion “blog worthy” (for you, Andrea).
Not to be out done, my sweet daughter with help from the rest of the family had planned a big retirement bash at Vintage (read my post “Thanksgiving at Vintage” to learn more about this magical place) where long time friends and close co-workers were invited to celebrate MY “Independence Day”. As the guest of honor, I contributed very little to the affair only making the family Shrimp Spread and a couple of other bites to pass. The rest of the menu was squarely the responsibility of my incredibly talented girl. The Party should’ve been covered by our favorite magazine, Southern Living! From Ham Biscuits and Chicken Tenders with Alabama White Sauce to Market Potato Salad and Gazebo Room Pasta Salad, from Pimento Cheese and Mommy and Mamie’s Cheese Ball, from Spiked Blackberry Basil Lemonade to Troeg’s Sunshine Pils and everything in between……….this get together was fantastic!
Food is symbolic of love when words are inadequate- Alan D. Wolfelt
Thanks ever so Jen, Jill, Nikki, Andrea, Jason, Amy and Kay.
I love you all- Mamie, Austin, Pat, Jamie, Mom and Dad, Rick, Laura, Cloey (Nick of course too) and Hailey.
Before I get into my musing, let’s have a little interactive play- Who can take the title of this blog post, finish it to complete the first line of a song from the 1970s and name the artist? (hint-the picture above is a good clue and my guess is you’ll only know it if you were a teenage girl of the era and like me, might’ve sung it a hundred times or so while looking in your bedroom mirror using your hairbrush as a microphone!) It’s easy to leave a comment so don’t be shy. Now on with the show………
I will be ever grateful to Steve and Gina for inviting us to their wedding in Portsmouth New Hampshire over Memorial Day Weekend. Due to that invite, I was able to visit 2 States I had never been to (New Hampshire and Maine) AND feast upon food I’ll likely won’t forget for a long, long time. What an absolutely wonderful 5 day extended weekend my husband and I enjoyed! Do you realize driving from our area in PA to NH (and a 3 mile cross over to ME) you touch 7 States? (PA, NY,NJ,CT,MA,NH and ME).
This post could be far too lengthy so I’m just going to highlight a few of the great meals we had on this trip:
Montville Inn, Montville New Jersey- The plan had been to leave early enough to visit a Connecticut Winery before arriving at our first night destination. My pokey husband took a winery visit off the table with our delayed departure so we played one of my favorite games of Luncheon Roulette. We ended up at the darling Montville Inn. I had the lunch special of a Broccoli Frittata which was delicious and creatively plated with the side salad atop the egg creation. Ladies, I have never ever given this recommendation before, but when dining at the Montville in make sure to use the Ladies Room……it’s got two outstanding features! I’ve said enough. Just go if you’re ever close to Montville New Jersey.http://www.themontvilleinn.com
Piccolo Arancio, Farmington CT- We spent the night en route to Portsmouth at the ever so quaint Farmington Inn. Although well worth the cost for a single night stay, the Inn doesn’t have a Restaurant/Lounge but thankfully is just the width of a parking lot away from the very delicious Piccolo Arancio. http://piccoloarancio.com , http://www.farmingtoninn.com
When we made are way to New Hampshire, things got serious.
Petey’s Rye, NH- An acquaintance of my husband recommended Petey’s and I had a hankering (yes, KLS that’s for you) to have my first ever Lobster Roll. Let me tell you, Petey’s did not disappoint! On the advise of our super friendly server, I got the jumbo-sized roll that was packed with gigantic pieces of succulent Lobster. Not to be outdone, the Mister ordered the award winning Clam Chowder and then put in a 2nd order for the Seafood Chowder! We were there for a late lunch, but the place was hopping with locals and visitors alike. http://www.peteys.com
Portsmouth New Hampshire is just a great destination! We enjoyed the wedding we attended immensely and our extra time visiting the area was filled with fabulous scenery and delicious eating. One of my favorite restaurants we visited was The Library. If you’re a Martini drinker like me, this place is a must……over 120 different Vodkas! The atmosphere was superb with its shining wood and old books everywhere. I was especially fond of the salad that I ordered and plan to duplicate at home-lettuce, chopped Giardiniera and a light creamy dressing. http://libraryrestaurant.com/
Before heading for home, we just had to pop over (3 short miles) to Kittery Maine just to add another State to our repertoire. The good and bad was that we ate Brunch a perfectly wonderful place called Anneke Jans BUT this particular Sunday happened to be their last brunch until Fall(or maybe forever!). We made ourselves Bloody Marys for the do-it-yourself bar. Their version of Eggs Benedict was tremendous. Rest assured, this bistro is open for dinner 7 nights a week and as a loyal facebook follower, I’d say the meals at Anneke Jans don’t disappoint. There’s a story about the name of the Bistro that can be found on the internet, but you’ll have to visit the restaurant to find out the connection!http://annekejans.net
After spending the night along the way just to spread out our journey home, we made one last stop to dine. Enter the Haags Hotel. What a great find! This old-timey establishment with quirky décor boasts of homemade Amish Cooking PLUS it has a bar! I had a Pumpkin Chowder that was luscious and we shared Pierogies with Garlic Butter which were uhmm,decadent. If you’re ever around Shartlesville PA. , stop by, it’s a fun place. http://www.haagshotel.com
There you have it, a wonderful 5-dayer that included some great eating. I’d love to hear about your thoughts. Please provide comments if you’re so inclined.
Recently I got to participate in one of my favorite activities……. Mommy-Daughter Birthday Weekend! This year we deviated from the norm of winery visits and meals in some of the charming towns of Virginia and instead opted for a “staycation” in the District of Columbia ( my daughter’s place of residence). The thought was save bucks on lodging and thus have more for eating and boozing. With this theory in mind, my daughter was responsible for two very important facets of our weekend: 1. Get her apartment in a suitable state to receive a visitor as distinguished as her Mother and 2. Make the dinner/brunch reservations. Truth be told, my sweet girl failed miserably at # 1 but more than made up for it by planning a whirlwind of restaurant and garden activities that were perfect for us!
Friday: Union Market and the National Arboretum ( R-boar-E-tum) by day, Komi by night
Union Market http://unionmarketdc.com was a perfect choice for lunch. While the market has some produce, meat and seafood, the space is taken up primarily by an eclectic collection of restaurant stands. The choices are varied and all include an option of beer or wine. We settled on sandwiches from Red Apron Butchery http://www.redapronbutchery.com mine being a Choripan (a sandwich made of Chorizo, Avocado, Smoked Chimichurri and Pickled Onions) which was delicious washed down with a chilled Lambrusco. After a thorough walk-thru of the rest of the market and a purchase or two, we set out for our afternoon destination: the National Arboretum http://www.usna.usda.gov.
The grounds at the Arboretum are quite lovely and the Bonsai Collection is truly magnificent. What’s most impressive is the cost for the experience…..$0! (thankfully, given what came next!)
KOMI-What can I say? As the subtitle of my blog indicates, I am definitely NOT in the 1%! That being said, Komi and restaurants like it, are a once a year experience for me and company limited to one other companion. Every dollar spent was well worth it though because dining at Komi http://komirestaurant.com/ is an adventure rather than a meal. When first seated, our very attentive server asked if we wanted to see the menu beforehand or just be surprised with each offering. We chose the latter and also opted for the wine pairing which adds a whole other dimension to the experience. Picture taking is frowned upon so I have none to offer but let me just say the presentation was magnificent and the flavors divine. Foodies only for this trip…… two tastings, two wine pairings, DC tax and an appropriate tip took this bill to in excess of $500.
Saturday: the Flower and Garden Festival in Leesburg VA and dinner at Le Diplomate
After spending a perfectly lovely afternoon at the Leesburg Flower and Garden Festival, we returned to the District to get ready for our evening culinary activities. First up was a stop for cocktails. I felt immediately transformed as we left the bustling city street to enter the cool, sleek basement establishment of 2 Birds 1 Stone http://2birds1stonedc.com/. Here, your cocktail is truly handcrafted and will be served in vintage glassware. I enjoyed two (yes, two) perfectly created Gimlets, while my daughter opted for the very appropriate Mamie Taylor first time around and then a Bourbon concoction (of dark liquors I’m not a fan).
Dinner at Le Diplomate http://lediplomatedc.com was next. This venue is the first Steven Starr creation located in DC. It’s probably no surprise that it’s fashioned after a crowded French Bistro. The place was hoppin’ but that didn’t take away from the exceptional service and flavorful dishes we received. My Steak Au Poivre was delicious and the Potatoes au gratin were decadent. I would definitely go again if only for the incredible little Lemon Cake bites we got at the end of the meal!
Sunday- Brunch for 4 and Dumbarton Oaks
My son and his lady-love were able (I should say invited) to join us for Brunch at Fiola Mare http://www.fiolamaredc.com along the waterfront in Georgetown. After a rocky start, that was quickly resolved once the manager intervened (thanks Elizabeth) we all had an absolutely wonderful brunch. The ladies (3 of us mind you) chose the Brunch special which included choices for 3 courses and bottomless cocktails of Mimosas, Bellinis or Sangria. My first course of Smoked Salmon Piadina was sublime and more than enough to share with my son. My second course was a take on Eggs Benedict, however the Rosemary Hollandaise made it extra special. Brunch at Fiola Mare is great especially if you reserve early enough to get a seat on the Veranda.
After Brunch we went to the a favorite place of mine…..the Gardens of Dumbarton Oaks http://www.doaks.org. Atop the hill of Georgetown, DO is just beautiful in any season (I’ll admit, I haven’t been in winter) and is well worth the admission of $10.
As always, Mommy-Daughter weekend was one to cherish. I couldn’t imagine sharing a birthday with anyone else but my sweet girl.
“People who love to eat are always the best people.” — Julia Child