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….

An Epic Time in Revolutionary City

The breathtaking view from Saude Creek Winery

The breathtaking view from Saude Creek Winery


What a great long weekend! After attending a wedding and the reception that followed at Green Grove Gardens in Greencastle PA (a lovely venue), my husband and I took off for Williamsburg VA to enjoy one of my favorite bands of all time…Big Bad Voodoo Daddy. On the way there, my man was a good sport and agreed to stop at two wineries: New Kent Vineyards and Saude Creek Winery. It’s no wonder that Saude Creek was our hands down favorite given the view, the interesting history we received from Ben the wine pourer and the tasty wines. To make the visit perfect, we sat on the lovely deck, listened to music and shared the perfect winery snack in the form of a BBQ Sundae…shredded pork, topped with baked beans, topped with a scoop of coleslaw-Bliss! Go there if you want to do a wine tasting around Williamsburg that’s not over crowded.
My meal at Fat Canary

My meal at Fat Canary


The second night at Williamsburg was planned as our quasi-Anniversary Dinner with reservations at the Fat Canary. Sometimes I amaze myself with my uncanny knack for picking great dining. Let me tell you, FC did not disappoint! We were in good hands with Darcy, our server, and server-in-training Brian. I started out with an appetizer of House-made Mozzarella, Edward’s Ham, Baby Artichokes, Grilled Escarole and Onions with Balsamic which was delicious. My entrée was simply scrumptious…Grilled King Salmon, Cauliflower, Romanesco, Bacon, Hazelnut and Mushroom Duxelle. I will definitely be back and urge all foodies to go there while visiting Colonial Williamsburg. Located on Merchant Square, the Fat Canary was an easy walk from our room at the Williamsburg Lodge.
Kilkenny..a very tasty Irish Beer

Kilkenny..a very tasty Irish Beer


On the way home we stopped at a favorite Virginia town of ours, Fredericksburg. This time we had lunch at the Blarney Stone Public House. You’ll rarely read a comment about beer from me, but I must admit the recommendation by Graham the barkeep was spot on…Kilkenny is delicious! Our lunch was superb as well. I had a Hiberian Burger which basically consisted of a perfectly prepared burger topped with Dubliner Cheese and Caesar Salad. The Corned Beef on my Hubby’s Rueben was as good as what I make and that’s saying something. I have to give a shout out to Graham for being a perfect host at his fine establishment. Just another place in Fredericksburg to return to!

Again, I’ve tried to contain my comments to the subject matter of my blog. I can’t close however without saying BBVD rocks and Colonial Williamsburg has great gardens!

Wonderful Winchester Weekend

The Tasting Room at Twin Oaks Tavern Winery

The Tasting Room at Twin Oaks Tavern Winery

My daughter and I always take a Birthday Weekend in the Spring. Typically it involves wine, food and history……probably in that order. This weekend was no different in that we started our jaunt to Winchester Virginia by visiting three wineries. I’ll mention two. First stop: Otium Cellars-great tasting room, a nice Malbec and friendly staff http://www.otiumcellars.com. Next Up: Twin Oaks Tavern Winery-Extremely great tasting Room, an unusually dry Peach Wine and a top-hatted fox to boot http://www.twinoakstavernwinery.com. I recommend both these wineries if in the Northern Virginia Wine Country.

I enjoyed both evening meals in Winchester. The Village Market and Bistro http://www.villagemarketbistro.com is located on the Walking Mall and was a short distance from hotel, The George Washington Grand. The dining space is in the midst of the Beer and Wine Shop. We picked our $7 bottle of wine (+ $5 corkage fee…oh my!) to enjoy with our dinners. I chose the Chicken Schnitzel with Red Cabbage and German Potato Salad while my daughter got the Beef Pastie with the same sides. Both dishes were flavorful and well worth the price (how does $15 sound?).

Sunday included trips to two wineries until our ultimate destination which was the Grandale Restaurant http://www.grandalerestaurant.com outside of Purceville where we met the rest of the family for Easter Dinner. Such a beautiful day to enjoy such a lovely venue….did I mention the restaurant was located on the grounds of the 868 Estate Winery http://www.868estatevineyards.com? My meal was fabulous!! Pea and Mustard Spaetzle, Local Citron Mix, Fried Local Egg, Crispy Capers, Provencal Tomatoes with a Balsamic Reduction. Yum. (Thank you to our lovely server for taking care of the coursing issue. Well done!).

Note: Our Museum visits weren’t mentioned since they had nothing to do with eating and boozing…duh.