Charmed, I’m Sure

 

Black Bean Soup at One World Cafe

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…..

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Slow cooked pork ribs, fennel sausage, pancetta in tomato sauce over polenta

 

 

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Swordfish, anchovy aioli, pickled fennel and fried capers

 

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.

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Scallops Deluxe w/mashed squash risotto, roasted tomato, bacon soubise

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French Onion Rings with Beef Broth, gruyere, asiago, chive AND  Salt and Pepper Tuna w/avocado tzatiki, marinated cucumber

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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.

Johnny's

Johnny’s

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

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Oh Savannah!

The Squares, the Trees, the Mansions,....beautiful!

The Squares, the Trees, the Mansions….beautiful!

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…..

"Our Little Hummingbird" lunch time cocktail at Old Pink House

“Our Little Hummingbird” lunch time cocktail at Olde Pink House

Gazapacho at the Old Pink House. Hence forth Gazpacho will ALWAYS come with celery stuffed with Pimemto Cheese!

Gazapacho at the Olde Pink House. Hence forth Gazpacho will ALWAYS come with celery stuffed with Pimemto Cheese!

 

 

 

http:www.plantersinnsavannah.com

Oliver's Lunch at Nunzi's. The best!

Oliver’s Lunch at Zunzi’s. The best!

 

 

 

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.

 

Local Flounder atop Crispy Fried Rice from Elizabeth's on 37th.

Local Flounder atop Crispy Fried Rice from Elizabeth’s on 37th.

 

http://www.elizabethon37th.net/ Elizabeth’s on 37th is in a Grand Victorian Mansion that is as lovely as it’s food is delicious.

 

Beef Shank with Hoppin' John Cake at The Grey

Pork Shank with Hoppin’ John Cake at The Grey

 

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.

 

 

Our vivist to Savavnnah wouldn't be complete without a visit to the Gryphon Tea Room housed in a cnetury old Apothecary.

Our visit to Savavnnah wouldn’t be complete without a visit to the Gryphon Tea Room housed in a century old Apothecary.

This is the rooftop bar at Local 11 Ten. You can't see much, but you get the idea.

This is the rooftop bar at Local 11 Ten. You can’t see much, but you get the idea.

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.

Yeah, that's right. It's a sculpture right outside the Lounge window!

Yeah, that’s right. It’s a sculpture “view” right outside the Lounge window!

Looking down at the relaxation pool from our room.

Looking down at the relaxation pool from our room.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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.

 

 

History, It’s in the Making (or It’s all about the Shrimp Spread)

The Easter Tablescape this year

The Easter Tablescape this year

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 ever faithful Shrimp Spread. This time made by my 88 year-old Mom just the other day.

The ever faithful Shrimp Spread. This time made by my 88 year-old Mom just the other day.

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.

Well used recipe card as you can see

Well used recipe card as you can see

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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.

The table is set at my Dad's beloved "Vintage"

The table is set at my Dad’s beloved “Vintage”

 

 

 

Fitbits and Fit Bites

Handmade Tiles with Herb Imprints from the garden

Handmade Tiles with Herb Imprints from the garden

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.

A good day's bounty

A good day’s bounty

-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.

 Potpourri!

Potpourri!

-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.

Corn growing amid the flowers

Corn growing amid the flowers

The green and yellow of the Herb Garden

The green and yellow of the Herb Garden

-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

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 "Southern Picnic" themed table at my retirement celebration

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.