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!

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

 

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

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