The 1st Annual Musing Awards

The first Foodie Buddy

The first Foodie Buddy

It’s coming up on a year of blogging. It’s been such a hoot for me and I intend to continue and I hope you’ll stick with me! I’m going to wrap up my first 12 months of blogging by bestowing the much coveted (not) Musing Awards to some of my favorite persons, places and things I experienced for the FIRST time this past year.

The results are in and the “Musee” (patent pending) goes to……..

Favorite Prepared Foods and Beverages:

Savory: Blue Hill Butternut Yogurt-this stuff is the bomb! Currently, the only place around me where it’s available is Wegman’s and it’s a bit pricey but worth every penny. Check out Blue Hill’s website for locations, other fun products and recipes. My own concoction is the yogurt, hot sauce, and almonds…a perfect at the office breakfast yum. http://bluehillyogurt.com

My fav is the Butternut Squash, but there's beet and Sweet Potato at Wegman's as well

My fav is the Butternut Squash, but there’s beet and Sweet Potato at Wegman’s as well

Sweet: Garden Lites Carrot Berry Muffins– found in the freezer in the Organic Foods Section (at Giant at least) these muffins are just a moist 4-bite piece of Carrot Cake only nutritious too. I swear spread some cream cheese on the top and you have dessert! 35 seconds in the microwave from the freezer and you’ll be in guilt free heaven.

Marvelously delicious with no effort

Beverage: American Harvest Vodka- When I’m not drinking tea, I’m drinking wine. When I’m not drinking wine, I’m drinking Vodka (I think in that order…sometimes I forget). A mid=priced Vodka this Organic-American made Vodka has a wonderfully crisp, clean flavor that in my opinion stands up to being “dirtied” or sipped straight (very chilled of course).

http://americanharvestspirit.com/

Favorite “New to Me” Chef: Chef David Schmidt of Enchantment Resort in Sedona Arizona- I mentioned Chef Schmidt in my post “Northern Neck Paradise”. I met him while vacationing this summer and became enchanted…..with the chef and the resort where he is the executive chef. Check out the website to learn about the Resort and David Schmidt (Chef also has a facebook and twitter page). http://www.enchantmentresort.com/

As a side note, I made the Granola Recipe on the resort website as Christmas gifts to my Office employees at my real job this year.

Granola Gifts for my Office. Double the recipe made 20 bags!

Granola Gifts for my Office. Double the recipe made 20 bags!

Favorite “New to Me” Winery:first ever tie. First Colony Winery, Charlottesville VA and Old House Vineyards, Culpeper VA. I go to lots of wineries, especially in Virginia. Out of a dozen or so that were new to me this year, these two stand out as favorites-great venues, good wines and personable staff! I truly find something to like at every winery I go to (sometimes it just the Corgi!), but at times I find a winery that has it all…go to these two when in VA. http://www.firstcolonywinery.com and http://www.oldhousevineyards.com

 

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

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

 

 

 

 

 

 

The Thatched Roof of First Colony

The Thatched Roof of First Colony

 

 

 

Favorite “New to Me” Restaurants:

Upscale to the Max- Te at the Inn at Leola Village-If you happen to be in the Lancaster PA area and you want to indulge in an award winning meal go to Te. Matter of fact, stay over night in the lovely accommodations available at the Inn at Leola Village. Our meal at Te was exquisite and I hope to go again sometime soon! http://www.theinnatleolavillage.com

In the Windy City- The Purple Pig-this was tough. I realize we didn’t even scratch the surface of all the fabulous restaurants in Chicago and literally ALL of the places we went to had merit. The Pig though has a certain flair that I found interesting, comforting and just darn tasty. It’s not everywhere you can order bones filled with fat and consider it delicious….you can at The Purple Pig!

Roasted Bone Marrow was just one of the exciting choices at the Purple Pig

Roasted Bone Marrow was just one of the exciting choices at the Purple Pig

Just Plain Delicious-Restaurant Sidney (Willoughby Run in Gettysburg or the Original in East Berlin PA)- Love, Love, Love my Sidney. Great Food, relaxing atmosphere at both locations and a Chef and servers who try to please. http://restaurantsidney.com/#!/main

Classic Sidney Pate

Classic Sidney Pate

Favorite “New to Me” recipe to me- Easy Cioppino- the recipe is found in a previous post titled “Easy Peasy”. I swear, I must try 100 different recipes each year (have I mentioned that I love to cook?). This particular recipe is very easy, very delicious and quite healthy.

This is my adaptation of the recipe found Better Homes and Garden Special Interest Publication "30-Minute Dinners"

This is my adaptation of the recipe found Better Homes and Garden Special Interest Publication “30-Minute Dinners”

Life Time Achievement Award: Gazebo Room Salad Dressing-This is a no-brainer for the first award of this kind. Please refer to the previous post titled “Location, Location, Location”. GRSD is a must-have for all household that are lucky enough to live in a State that stocks the dressing at local grocers.

Photo (3)

Unlike the Oscars, winners don’t go home with gift bags. Instead, I’ve tried to supply contact info when possible so do me a favor and click on a couple of sites that interest you. It’ll show the winners you care and I get a kick out of seeing the number of “clicks” I get on my stats page (anonymous of course)

It’s been a fun year. I look forward to testing out next year’s winners for the next 12 months…stay tuned.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

A “Sweet” Heart Supper

“This year, Valentine’s Day was a celebration of the heart in the truest sense. With bypass surgery behind and my husband’s continued speedy recovery, I was in the perfect position to go all in with the meal prep.

The table is set at Hodge Podge Lodge The table is set at Hodge Podge Lodge

“Cooking is at once child’s play and adult joy. And cooking done with care is an act of love”- Craig Claiborne

The lady’s cocktail for the evening was a French 75 with a welcome twist…..made with Vodka instead Gin. Fresh squeezed lemon juice is a must as far as I’m concerned and only the tiniest bit of superfine sugar. I used Prosecco as the bubbly but Cava works just as well.

I love my French 75 Cocktail I love my French 75 Cocktail

The Salad I chose to make is called Italian Salad. Recipe can be found at one of my favorite sites: http://fandw.me/1A0v840.

So easy and very delicious So easy and very delicious

The Main Course: Filet Mignon with Peppercorn-Mustard Sauce (p 29 of “Special Edition: The Best of Cooking Light” published in 2000), Poached Mahi-Mahi with Lemon-Herb Sauce (p 34 of “Cooking Light Annual Recipes 2012”) on a bed of Jasmine Rice and Haricot Vert.

The published fish recipe calls for Halibut. The Mahi-Mahi worked just as well...I've tried both. The published fish recipe calls for Halibut. The Mahi-Mahi worked just as well…I’ve tried both.

The Dessert: A Sampler from the local bakery with a Red Velvet Whoopie Pie as the highlight.

No credit to me here. I just did the plating. No credit to me here. I just did the plating.

The first anniversary of “Musing about Eating and Boozing” is fast approaching in April. I appreciate all your support these past months and look forward to taking the blog back on the road once Spring is in the air. I’d love it if you’d browse through my previous posts and I’d be especially interested in feedback. If you’re interested in short snippets about food and a sundry of other things please visit my facebook page “Mygro Tips” once in a while.   Ta-Ta for now.

 

If You Can’t Eat the Dish You Love, Love the Dish You Make!

Chicken Vegetable Soup ala Cooking Light Annual Recipes 2009

Chicken Vegetable Soup ala Cooking Light Annual Recipes 2009

My family has been struck with Heart Disease which has necessitated a rather slight change in meal prep for me. Typically, sodium has not been a nutrition factoid that I’ve dwelled on when choosing recipes to try or adapt, but that changed after bypass surgery for my love became a reality. Being relegated as a caregiver for the week or two after surgery was nothing new for me and the idea of having all day to make meals was almost exciting. I love to cook (have I said that before?)! With a new focus on low sodium, I set out on my familiar exercise of pouring through Cooking Light Annual Recipe Cookbooks to find the perfect recipe. As usual CL did not disappoint. I found perfection in nutrition, taste and presentation. Behold….Chicken Vegetable Soup from Cooking Light 2009 page 27.
Simmered a whole chicken skinned myself then cut in half

Simmered a whole chicken skinned myself then cut in half


I say the key was the addition of parsnip and turnip.

I say the key was the addition of parsnip and turnip.


This recipe is readily available on line. In order to get a beautifully clear broth, cook the noodles separately and add to the bowl when serving.

“Cooking is like love. It should be entered into with abandon or not at all”-Harriet van Horne

Seize the Day!

New Year's Day Pot 'o Tea

New Year’s Day Pot ‘o Tea


Typically, after a whirlwind of cooking and entertaining during the Season, my New Year’s Eve Celebration is fairly low-key. This year will only be slightly different in that due to an especially stressful week past, I’ve decided to “own” New Year’s Eve this year and make it all about me. Still limited to my rather small town surroundings, I’ve planned a day that may rival the celebrations (in culinary terms) of big cities everywhere!

6:45AM- Day drinking begins with the consumption of an entire pot of Constant Comment Tea…in my mind, one of the best everyday tea available. Sipping was especially comforting while watching “The Paper Chase”. Checkout the Bigelow tea website at http://www.bigelowtea.com for some amazing facts and tips (beauty tips…who knew?)

Behold! a French 75 at Sidney Willoughby Run

Behold! a French 75 at Sidney Willoughby Run

2:30PM-An intimate lunch at Sidney Willoughby Run, one of my favorite restaurants! My French 75 paired perfectly with the ever so spicy-sweet Crispy Calamari Pizza with Jalapeno and Banana Peppers. The velvety Sidney Classic Pate was delicious with just the perfect amount of Yuzu Marmalade.

Spicy and Crispy Calamari Pizza

Spicy and Crispy Calamari Pizza

Classic Sidney Pate

Classic Sidney Pate


Read all about the Sidney locations at http://www.restaurantsidney.com and my previous post titled “My favorite Gettysburg Address”

4:30PM-“Into the Woods” at the Theater

By 7:30PM-home to ready-up for dinner and a glass of something Red.

Home at Hodgepodge Lodge

Home at Hodgepodge Lodge

9:00PM-the Main Event: dinner at the Boiling Springs Tavern. BST has been our NYE destination for at least the last 20 years with very little deviation and is without a doubt our home base restaurant. BST is unpretentious, doesn’t give into fads, but consistently serves wonderful food based on a stellar menu and a few nightly specials. In my opinion, the BST fish and seafood selections are the best in the area with the shrimp being especially succulent. The staff at BST is top-notch which explains why the vast number of “regulars” like us know them by name. Michael the bartender has been a BST staple for 20 years, while the manager Kevin arrived shortly thereafter which enables Geoff the owner of this fine establishment, to spend a good deal of time with his family in Florida. Longtime servers include: Erica who never steers me wrong with a menu suggestion and certainly knows her way behind the bar, Jen who not only has a great name, but is one of the friendliest servers I know, Dave who will always tell you what he thinks about everything and Stacy who is a fine example of hiring local in that she as many other BST employees got jobs while in or shortly after graduating from the local high school.

I like that BST is "old school" and will still serve a salad with entrees....nothing but the freshest greens here!

I like that BST is “old school” and will still serve a salad with entrees….nothing but the freshest greens here!

Cajun Shrimp with Basmati Rice....Scallops added

Cajun Shrimp with Basmati Rice….Scallops added

This night we were lucky to get a favorite server BA and the best seat in the house (a perk to small town living is that 9PM reservations are usually the last). I added Scallops to my Cajun Shrimp, while my husband added Shrimp to his Mediterranean Scallops (he also swapped rice for pasta….yes, BST will do that). What perfect meals to end 2014!
See their website: http://www.boilingspringstavern.net

By the fire. Best seat in the house!

By the fire. Best seat in the house!

Coconut Tart. Kevin, the manager of BST makes most of the desserts

Coconut Tart. Kevin, the manager of BST makes most of the desserts

Resolved: For 2015 I shall follow a “Meatless Monday” regimen. In doing so, on that one day of the week I will look for guidance and inspiration from a book I gave myself…”Simple Recipes for Joy” BY Sharon Gannon

Thanksgiving at Vintage

The stone fireplace in the Great Room at Vintage The stone fireplace in the Great Room at Vintage

This year marked thirty-three straight years of enjoying my Thanksgiving feast at Vintage and I can’t imagine a more lovely place to spend a holiday that is wholly based on preparing a meal to share with family and friends as a way to give thanks and count our blessings. Although Vintage is my parents home that wasn’t purchased until I had already graduated from college, I like to think I was instrumental in persuading (actually it was full out coercion) my folks to see this beautiful piece of property as the perfect place to spend their retirement years and to hold our most momentous family occasions.
The Thanksgiving guests at Vintage have changed through the years but four of us have remained constant…my mom and dad, my husband (only fiancé the 1st year) and I. We’ve had as many as 12 around the table, but this year it was limited to the four of us and our daughter and son. Regardless of the numbers of attendees, the menu planning remains the same with very little deviation- my dad takes care of the turkey, my mom decorates the table and does the stuffing and makes the family shrimp spread recipe while I scour through all my Cookbooks and Magazines to come up with sundry recipes I want to try. My daughter has taken over the Mashed Potato prep and this year made two fabulous desserts. Get a load of this……

While the menu may be extensive, for me it’s a perfect testament of my many blessings to share the fruits of the effort with my family who have always appreciated and supported (and in many ways inherited) my culinary obsession. Likewise, the warm and welcoming atmosphere maintained by my mom and dad that Vintage holds enables us to put our significant areas of concern aside for just one day of the year. I truly hope you all have a “Vintage” in your life as well.

Sherry Creamed Mushrooms, Pimento Cheese Creamed Spinach, Asparagus with Crispy Pancetta and Apple Cider Glazed Root Vegetables adorn the Sideboard. Sherry Creamed Mushrooms, Pimento Cheese Creamed Spinach, Asparagus with Crispy Pancetta and Apple Cider Glazed Root Vegetables adorn the Sideboard.

5 Stars are awarded to the Pimento Cheese Creamed Spinach, the Apple Cider Glazed Root Vegetables, the Salted-Butter Apple Galette and Marbled Gingersnap Pumpkin Tart (both desserts made lovingly by my daughter). The Sherry Creamed Mushrooms have always been to die for and “our” Shrimp Spread is legendary.

The Great Room of Vintage The Great Room of Vintage

“Food, in the end, in our tradition, is something holy. It’s not about nutrients and calories. It’s about sharing. It’s about honesty. It’s about identity.”- Louise Fresco

Gallery

Online Art Exhibit: Edible Landscaped Splendor

As late autumn sets in and my flowers dwindle in the garden, it makes me want to take one last look at this past season when edibles and blooms collided. Please enjoy:

Jen Blen Begins

Jen Blen Begins


A Sensory Haven

A Sensory Haven


A Garden Friend

A Garden Friend


Peppers, Nasturtium and Kale Dance among the Flowers

Peppers, Nasturtium and Kale Dance among the Flowers


Chives and Chard and Other Things

Chives and Chard and Other Things


The Hedgehog scurries among the Mint

The Hedgehog scurries among the Mint


Eggplant and Cucumbers mingle with the flowers

Eggplant and Cucumbers mingle with the flowers


My Koi hidden in the reflection

My Koi hidden in the reflection


The first Foodie Buddy

The first Foodie Buddy

Late Summer Harvest poses for one last picture

Late Summer Harvest poses for one last picture

Wine about C-ville

Our Wine Flights at Early Mountain après la tasting

Our Wine Flights at Early Mountain après la tasting

This past weekend was my annual Fall Winery Mecca to Charlottesville Virginia. Whether it’s my husband or daughter (or anyone else for that matter) who ends up being my travel companion, there are a few rules I strictly enforce: 3 Wineries on the way down on Friday, 3 more Wineries on Saturday, Lodging on the Pedestrian Mall at the Omni or at least close like you can get at the Courtyard by Marriott and Dinner reservations made by me at the restaurants of my choice. This weekend was no different with the exception that the weather didn’t cooperate like it usually does thus my pictures are good, just not great. Here are the highlights:

As we drove up to Early Mountain Vineyards http://www.earlymountain.com/ I had a distinct sense I’d been there before. When we walked into the tasting room I was less sure until the pourer cleared up everything for me. This Winery used to be called Sweely until about a 1 1/2 years ago. My daughter and I had been there and as I recall the interior was very dark almost Gothic in décor. Now the tasting room is beyond lovely…light and airy along with a full service dining facility.
Tasting Room at Early Mountain Vineyards
What I found especially fun is that after we had a traditional wine tasting, we were able to order interesting flights of wine that featured wines from other local vineyards as well. I got a “Taste of Fall” that featured a wine from Blenheim and Barboursville. We also ordered cheese, olives and charcuterie… perfect with our wine flights.
Next up Reynard Florence reynardflorence.com . It’s a very small tasting room venue and I’m not sure they want to expand their clientele, but the wines aren’t bad and for me being able to spend time with T-Ray the Corgi was all I needed. My family is totally against me dream of having a Corgi someday so when I can get a “fix” I take it!
T-Ray the Corgi..my dream dog
After checking into the Omni in Charlottesville, we dined at the Downtowne Grill  https://downtowngrille.com/. If Steak is what your craving, I’d highly recommend it. My Filet topped with Crabmeat and Asparagus was superb.
A cloudy, but still lovely day at First Colony
Our visit to First Colony Winery is the stop I’d like to highlight for Saturday. http://www.firstcolonywinery.com/

The Thatched Roof of First Colony

The Thatched Roof of First Colony

I loved, loved, loved my experience at First Colony. Upon arrival, we were lucky enough to be greeted by Bruce, one of the owners, and a precious Beagle named Dudley. Once inside the cozy and pretty tasting room (being made even prettier due to a wedding taking place that evening) we were fortunate to have Abby as our pourer. We chatted quite a bit during our tasting about lots of things, wine…not so much. That was okay though because the wine tasted good and I was far more interested when Abby told us of her husband’s recent endeavors of making small-batch chocolate bars by roasting the cacao with the machine he uses for coffee beans at his shop, Shark Mountain Coffee (www.sharkmountaincoffee.com). Although we didn’t have time to stop before coming home, the chocolate must be good because it’s featured in Fall publication of “Edible” Magazine (Blue Ridge edition). There are several features of First Colony I enjoyed such as the various scenic views available, woodsy in the back and a panoramic view of field and mountain in the front with all sorts of seating and tables for your wine drinking in enjoyment. Visitors are welcome to bring picnics, but they have a selection of cheese, crackers and other snacks as well.

A wall of growing edibles at Red Pump Kitchen

A wall of growing edibles at Red Pump Kitchen

Saturday night we dined at Red Pump Kitchen www.redpumpkitchen.com. and we enjoyed our meals immensely. Only opened since July, this Tuscan-style kitchen is supremely located on the Pedestrian Mall and has already received a host of positive reviews. I was especially enamored with the wall of live edibles. A closer look and a couple of questions later, I found out when they had first opened the attempt was to grow all their herbs on the wall. When that didn’t work, they opted for some edibles and mixed with a few house plant….it still looks very cool though and the mint is harvested! For an appetizer, we shared a Fennel Sausage, Shaved Brussels Sprouts, Roasted Red Onion and Mozzarella Pizza (the menu told us to do it!). My entrée of Mushroom Agnolotti(that’s pasta), Butternut Puree, Parmesan Cream and Shaved Black Burgundy Truffle was delicious and while I don’t always mention my dining partner’s meal, I would be remiss if I didn’t say that the Squid Tagliatelle, Clams, PEI Mussels, Bay Scallops (can you say that PD?) with Uni Butter was a pleasure as well. Check out the Red Pump Kitchen. You’ll be glad you did.

What a Pizza Pie!

Dear readers, I encourage you to “click” on the websites I’ve highlighted or check out other Charlottesville wineries and restaurants. C-ville is a great weekend destination and while I always focus on food and drink, Virginia history and culture abounds. Please also share your thoughts about the many, many wineries in this region.

DIY with Edibles

I’ve waited all summer season to write this post for here is where I’ll just scrape the surface of where Edible Gardening can take you in the creative realm. Better yet, everything I’ll share this evening is do-able without growing anything yourself…it’s up to the foodie in you! First up: Nasturtium Infused Vodka

Beautiful Nasturtium getting ready to be submerged in Vodka

Beautiful Nasturtium getting ready to be submerged in Vodka


Nasturtium soaking in Vodka

Nasturtium soaking in Vodka


This is so very easy. I scoured the Internet, but ended up using a hint from the “Cooking with Flowers” by Miche Bacher cookbook my lovely daughter gave me for my birthday. I simply added the Nasturtium flowers and a few leaves to 2 cups of Vodka ( in this case Penn 1681..I really like it …distilled in PA). For me, infusing one week in the refrigerator provided the flavor I was looking for. Nasturtium flowers and leaves are totally edible and possess a spicy peppery flavor reminiscent of radishes. In a Dirty Martini, the infused vodka was a complete and utter success. I’ve also made Chai infused Sweet Vermouth (my husband is a Manhattan drinker)in the past. That’s simple as well, 2 ounces of loose leaf Chai seeping in the contents of a small bottle of vermouth for an hour and a half, strain back into the bottle…done! The Internet is filled with all kinds of Infused Alcohol recipes with most being super simple.
Tomatillos grow in my garden

Tomatillos grow in my garden

Roasted Tomatillo Salsa

Roasted Tomatillo Salsa


I have to take this opportunity to brag about my Tomatillo plant. This is the first season I grew the green globes with a paper-like husk but it definitely won’t be my last. In fact, it might’ve been my most prolific edible with 20 of so already harvested and another 15 still coming. I’m also a novice cooking with Tomatillos so the picture you see above was my own made up concoction that turned out pretty darn good if I do say so myself.
Roasted Tomatillo Salsa
Chopped Tomatillos to taste
Chopped assorted Peppers to taste
Chopped tomato- only one medium (turns out too watery otherwise)
Chopped onion to taste
At least 4 unpeeled garlic cloves
Chopped fresh herbs such as parsley, cilantro and chive

Place on a foil lined baking sheet
Drizzle with Olive Oil ( I used Cilantro flavored Cottonseed Oil that came in my Hatchery Box https://hatchery.co/tasting-box/)
Sprinkle w/S and P and roast at 375 for 40 minutes or until you are happy with the results.

Use with absolutely anything you’d like

Compound Butter made with fresh herbs

Compound Butter made with fresh herbs


Last but not least, please try making compound butter with fresh herbs! So easy and so delicious! Just chose your herbs and add to softened butter.

My favorite Gettysburg Address

I had totally planned that my next post would be about a Jimmy Buffet Concert Tailgate (you may recall, I posted about a Bruce Springsteen tailgate earlier). While I could go on and on about the tailgate itself, it wouldn’t have much to do about eating and boozing but rather more about my visual experience. Full disclosure, I am a Jimmy Buffet Concert novice. The friends I attended with had told me all along that I would see some outrageous stuff and that certainly was the case! From shirtless men sporting coconut bras (women too, but the men were far more comical) to a fake parrot on every other shoulder, a JB tailgate is not so about the food and drink, but more about a homage to the Key West/Tropical Island life style. Don’t get me wrong, tailgaters (to include my own crew) put on a perfectly delicious spread of Cheeseburgers in Paradise and Tequila in many forms (thanks Amanda and Bri-on for the Papaya Infused Tequila Shots!), but fussiness in the culinary realm is surely lacking….which is a good thing at a Buffet Concert.

Dessert at Sidney...Double Chocolate Cake, Milk Chocolate Mousse and Dark Chocolate Mini-Milkshake

Dessert at Sidney…Double Chocolate Cake, Milk Chocolate Mousse and Dark Chocolate Mini-Milkshake


Alas, I feel I must make this post about something near and dear to my heart…the fact that “we” have not one, but two choices in Central Pennsylvania to experience the great culinary artistry of Chef Neil Annis. Neil’s first location, Restaurant Sidney, in East Berlin Pa opened several years ago. Newer still, is Sidney at Willoughby Run in Gettysburg PA. I love them both, but must say that the Gettysburg location has an edge due to it’s small plate format. Our most recent visit not only provided us with a superb meal but gave me the opportunity to re-connect with Chef Neil who truly, truly appreciates support from those of us who reside in Central PA. Please come if you’ve never been before. Both locations will provide culinary experience that can be as informal or upscale as you’d like to make it….just check out the website. You’ll be glad you did!
My meal. Pork Loin and Herbed Spaetzel

My meal. Pork Loin and Herbed Spaetzel


My husband's meal. A beautiful fish dish.

My husband’s meal. A beautiful fish dish.

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