Off Season, My Season

The View from Village Centre at Wintergreen Resort

The View from Village Centre at Wintergreen Resort

 

I really hadn’t intended to write about this weekend past, but given my blog’s subtitle I felt it my responsibility to highlight another perfectly delightful 3 day stay that would fit even the tightest budget. My husband had a couple of vacation days to use this month which meant I needed to find a long weekend destination that was close by, didn’t cost a fortune (we just came back from our “real” vacation) and had the potential of fulfilling my culinary expectations. Enter Wintergreen Resort in Nellyford VA.  While advertised as a 4 seasons resort, Wintergreen’s major focus is skiing. That being said, in mid to late August things get pretty slow up on the mountain which gave us the opportunity to stay 3 nights in a one-bedroom condo at a very low nightly rate (stay 3, pay for 2, Woohoo).

My morning tea scene at Wintergreen

My morning tea scene at Wintergreen

I’d never been to Wintergreen before, but my guess is I’ll be back again. The views were absolutely breathtaking. The landscaping and flowers were beautiful. The Pool and Spa(I loved my massage) were both excellent, not to mention quite empty.  And now for the food:

amuse–bouche of duck with hazelnuts and avocado cream in a fried wonton cup

amuse–bouche of duck with hazelnuts and avocado cream in a fried wonton cup

The few negative reviews I read seemed to indicate that while the lodging may be inexpensive, the resort “gets ya” by hiking up the food prices in their restaurants. I did not find this to be the case. I thought the prices were in line with upscale dining prices in the Central PA area, no more. I  highly recommend making your lodging reservations through the resort website. That way, you can utilize a few “exclusive” amenities that are reserved for members, residents and guests. This is true for dining at Devils Knob Grille. We ate there Saturday night and found our meals so tasty that we went again on Sunday night! The outside dining is lovely and so comfortable. Service was exceptional especially from our charming server Indz and manager Kristy.

Outdoor Dining at Devil's Knob

Outdoor Dining at Devil’s Knob

Sweet-Tea Brined Pork Tenderloin with Pimento Cheese Grits

Sweet-Tea Brined Pork Tenderloin with Pimento Cheese Grits

Bloody Mary Crab Aspic with Sesame Flatbread and House-made Pickled Vegtables

Bloody Mary Crab Aspic with Sesame Flatbread and House-made Pickled vegetables

Chilled Ginger Carrot Soup with Mustard Seed Garnish

Chilled Ginger Carrot Soup with Mustard Seed Garnish

 

 

A few other notes about Wintergreen Resort: the Market carries Boarshead Meats and Cheeses which you can purchase by the pound or have sandwiches made ( get the Spicy Turkey on Rye). Starbucks Coffee is available in the General Store (along with Tazo Tea thank goodness). There’s lots of wildlife around ( saw several deer, no bears). And I probably should disclose that we had absolutely perfect weather!

I ‘d be interested in hearing others thoughts on Wintergreen. Please reply!

Today Online: The Beauty of Virginia Wineries

Probably my favorite, the patio at King Family near Charlottesville. Gorgeous!

Probably my favorite, the patio at King Family near Charlottesville. Gorgeous!

 

After just coming off a 4 night, 5 day stay in Virginia that included as always a few winery visits, I was moved to post my 2nd online photography exhibit this time highlighting SOME of the wineries I’ve visited. For me, winery visits can be the ultimate in sensory indulgence with the TASTE of the wine being only one factor of consideration. My preference is that any winery I visit is a SIGHT to behold. In addition, if there’s music, sweet music (hopefully a live performance) that I can HEAR, I typically enjoy the experience more. Oh! and the blessed aromas…whether it’s the grapey fermentation smell or the freshly baked baguette coming from the kitchen, I love it when my sense of SMELL goes into overload. Last but certainly not least, have you ever just run your hands over a finely polished handcrafted wood bar or stepped on a stone laden path that was painstakingly made for your enjoyment or used your sense of TOUCH for that matter to shake the hand of the talented winemaker.

“Wine is one of the most civilized things in the world”- Ernest Hemingway

 

Hillsborough Winery and Vineyards near Leesburg

Hillsborough Winery and Vineyards near Leesburg

The outside of the restored barn at Sunset Hills near Purceville-Leesburg

The outside of the restored barn at Sunset Hills near Purceville-Leesburg

The ever-friendly and truly unique Old House Vineyard near Culpeper

The ever-friendly and truly unique Old House Vineyard near Culpeper

The sweet Merlot who stayed with us at Lost Creek near Leesburg

The sweet Merlot who stayed with us at Lost Creek near Leesburg

The wonderful tasting room at Jefferson Winery in Charlottesville.

The wonderful tasting room at Jefferson Vineyards in Charlottesville.

The whimsical Twin Oaks close to Fredericksburg

The whimsical Twin Oaks Tavern Winery in Bluemont, VA

The Thatched Roof of First Colony

The Thatched Roof of First Colony near Charlottesville

At Michael Shaps Wineworks near Charlottesville you taste amongst the barrels!

At Michael Shaps Wineworks near Charlottesville you taste amongst the barrels!

 

 

 

 

 

A Fond Farewell

The The “Southern Picnic” themed table at my retirement celebration

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).

Just part of the tablescape at my retirement reception Just part of the tablescape at my retirement reception
The Glorious Cupcakes served at my retirement reception at work The Glorious Cupcakes served at my retirement reception at work

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!

The cake , fruit and candy bar at my Independence Day celebration The cake , fruit and candy bar at my Independence Day celebration

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.

 

Time in New England took Me Away to……..

The rocky beach of Kittery Maine

The rocky beach of Kittery Maine

 

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.

Behold! A succulent Lobster Roll from Petey's in Rye, New Hampshire

Behold! A succulent Lobster Roll from Petey’s in Rye, New Hampshire

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

The Library Restaurant in Portsmouth NH

The Library Restaurant in Portsmouth NH

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

A delicious version of Eggs Benedict at the charming Anneke Jans in Kittery Maine

A delicious version of Eggs Benedict at the charming Anneke Jans in Kittery Maine

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.

The eclectic Haags Hotel!

The eclectic Haags Hotel!

Springfield Manor Revisited

Updated June 8 2015

Musing about Eating and Boozing

Springfield Manor Winery and Distillery, Thurmont Maryland Springfield Manor Winery and Distillery, Thurmont Maryland

Almost a year ago (July 13th to be exact) I wrote the post below after spending a lovely afternoon at the newly opened Springfield Manor Winery. While there, we learned that plans were made to put in a Distillery  to compliment the Winery. I’m happy to report that the Distillery is in currently making Pear and two different Apple Brandies that can be sampled and purchased to take home. There’s also plans for more liquors to be distilled too!

Again, my favorite wine tasted was  the Ironmaster Reserve (actually I like the regular Ironmaster a lot as well).  We also repeated getting the large meat and cheese platter which is still huge and the same price as last summer.  When you visit, if you get Chris as a pourer you won’t be disappointed. This young man is extremely knowledgeable and holds a treasure trove of information about the Winery…

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Districtly inclined to Dine

Springtime at Dumbarton Oaks

Springtime at Dumbarton Oaks

 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!)

One of my favorites in the Bonsai Collection

One of my favorites in the Bonsai Collection

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).

A Fine Drinking Establishment

A Fine Drinking Establishment

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

 

A Food Frolic

A Lettuce Centerpiece confirmed we were having a Springtime Brunch indeed

A Lettuce Centerpiece confirmed we were having a Springtime Brunch indeed

Last weekend my adult children (I call them the DC Contingent) came from our Nation’s Capital to partake in what I dubbed as our “Spring Frolic Weekend”. We kicked everything off on Friday evening by meeting in the booming (not) town of Biglerville PA. It is there that you’ll find a gem of a restaurant called Fidler and Company Craft Kitchen (http://www.fidlerandcompany.com). My kids have been raised at my hand so needless to say they, too, have Foodie-like tendencies and fortunately Fidler’s fit the bill for our reunion. I’ve been there once before for brunch and dinner. The past dinner experience, while delicious, was somewhat disappointing in that I was told AFTER I ordered the Pork Belly and Kimchi Pizza that they were out of dough. I had tried thwarting the same situation this time by providing a veiled threat in my email reservation request ……”you better have pizza dough this time”. Unbelievably, one of the first snippets of information our server gave us when we settled  at our table is that they were out of pizza dough! Did I just hear that? Fortunately and not a second too soon one of the Fidler brothers (Dan, I believe) came over to greet us and told me he had held back enough dough to make two pizzas for us. Saints be Praised! We ordered the Pork and Kimchi Pizza that I was cheated out of last time and in a stroke of good fortune we were able to enjoy the special pizza of the evening……..thinly sliced beets, sautéed spinach (or maybe arugula, I forget), goat cheese and horseradish cream-yum! More appetizers followed as my son (credited with the photo below) and daughter both ordered the impressive and tasty Steak Tartar. The presentation was outstanding as the server lifted a glass filled with smoke from the steak and quail egg once the plate was placed. My Entrée was the Duck Salad which was fabulous, while my husband ordered the Swordfish Special that was delightfully prepared.

Impressive Steak Tartar after the smoke has been lifted

Impressive Steak Tartar after the smoke has been lifted

We split up among the girls and the boys on Saturday. The girls continued with the Food Frolic theme by lunching at Garryowen Irish Pub (http://garryowenirishpub.net) in Gettysburg. I been to the Pub once or twice for a beer, but this was the first time I had eaten there. I was more than pleased with my Salmon Roulade Salad. The Pub is in an old Civil War era home so the eating areas are broken down into a variety of rooms. The room we ate in was recently opened and very charming in décor. I definitely would go back for lunch or dinner. After lunch we visited our “go to” place near Gettysburg if the weather is halfway decent…. Hauser Estate Winery (http://hauserestate.com). The view from the Tasting Room is beyond compare and the wine is more than drinkable. Since we had just had lunch, we chose not to get cheese with our tasting or glass, but believe me you’ll want to try the Bay Cheddar from Conebella Farm….it’s great! (http://conebellafarm.com)

The dressing served with this salad compliments perfectly. That's crab rolled in the smoked salmon!

The dressing served with this salad compliments perfectly. That’s crab rolled in the smoked salmon!

 

The Main Food Frolic Event occurred on Sunday at Brunch hosted by none other than yours truly. As always, I had spent the better part of the week prior (when I wasn’t at my real job, of course) planning and prepping. What fun I had preparing the Spring Menu and Tablescape! I have to give a shout out to Dave and Rachel who operate the best flower shop ever , The Whimsical Poppy (http://thewhimsicalpoppy.com), for having beautiful Lettuce Planters again this year!

The Menu:

Homemade Corned Beef Hash- a recipe I saved from Southern Living years ago. I roast the Brisket a few days before and then chop with the potatoes and pepper. Believe it or not, a bit of nutmeg makes all the difference.

Oven Roasted Bacon- the best way to cook a lot of bacon in my opinion. Just set raw bacon on a rimmed baking sheet covered with crinkled foil, place in the oven THEN set the temperature for 400* and walk away for about 20 minutes.

My Heavenly Chicken Salad with Lettuce wraps

Deviled Eggs

Spring Vegetables with Warm Vinaigrette – recipe in the April edition Food Network Magazine on page 118

Pimento Cheese in Cucumber Cups- from the new cookbook “Lighten Up Y’all” . This cookbook is really great. I love the photography and the author, Virginia Willis, has done a grand job of slimming down many Southern Comfort Food recipes. (http://virginiawillis.com)

White Cupcakes with Creamy Frosting- No kidding, I made the best cupcakes using Pillsbury Purely Simple White Cake Mix. Without added preservatives and artificial flavorings, this mix creates a cake to rival traditional wedding cakes. Likewise, I tried Duff’s (the Ace of Cakes) canned White Creamy Frosting and had to keep reminding myself I didn’t make it from scratch. Both products can be found at your neighborhood grocery store.

There you have it. By 2:00 pm the DC contingent and my lovely parents were on the way to their homes, my husband settled in to read the Sunday paper and I started the process of cleaning up all the while reminding myself that this is what I love to do.

Nothing would be more tiresome than eating and drinking if God had not made them a pleasure as well as a necessity. ~Voltaire