Something New from Something Classic

20171025_163015337_iOSI took the opportunity recently to develop a couple of recipes using a new dressing offering from Gazebo Room, Asian Vinaigrette. With two of my close friends as guinea pigs, I set out to create and serve them an Asian inspired luncheon using the flavorful bottled dressing as a highlight in two of the dishes I prepared.

For the entrée, I changed ingredients but used a preparation for Chicken thighs that I’ve prepared many times. The Chicken ALWAYS comes out tender and very flavorful. The use of one of Gazebo Room’s newest additions had the same delectable results!

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Asian Vinaigrette Chicken Thighs

2 Tbls fresh lemon juice
12 skinless, boneless chicken thighs
1/4 cup all-purpose flour
1/2 tsp salt
1/4 freshly ground black pepper
1/2 tsp five spice powder
2 tsp olive oil
2 cups chopped onion
1 Tbls peeled fresh ginger, minced
2 garlic cloves, minced
1/2 cup unsalted chicken stock
1/2 cup GAZEBO ROOM ASIAN VINAIGRETTE
2 Tbls chopped parsley or green onion for garnish

1. Combine lemon juice and chicken in a large zip-lock bag. Seal and marinate in refrigerator 30 minutes. Remove Chicken and discard marinade.
2. Pat Chicken dry with paper towels. Dredge in flour mixed with the five spice powder. Sprinkle with salt and pepper. Heat oil in large nonstick skillet with high sides over med-high heat. Add half the chicken and cook for 3 minutes on each side until lightly browned. Repeat procedure with remaining chicken. Remove all from pan.
3. Add onion, ginger and garlic to pan and saute 5 minutes or until tender. Return Chicken to pan. Add stock mixed with vinaigrette. Bring to a boil. Cover, reduce heat and simmer 1 hour until tender. Garnish if desired. Makes 6 servings (2 thighs with 1/3 cup sauce.

 

The salad I served was a revamped version of an old recipe I’d clipped from a magazine in 1982.

Far East Rice Salad
2 cups cooked rice
1 cup cooked ham diced
1 8-oz can chunk pineapple, drained
1 green or red pepper cut in thin strips
1/2 cup water chestnuts coarsely chopped
1/3 cup sliced green onion
2 Tbls GAZEBO ROOM ASIAN VINAIGRETTE
1 Tbls low sodium soy sauce
1/2 cup mayo
1 can (3 oz) chow mein noodles

Combine rice, ham, pineapple, peppers, water chestnuts and green onion. Blend Vinaigrette, soy and mayo. Mix with the ham mixture. Serve on greens if desired and top with chow mein noodles. Makes 6 side dish servings.

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Both dishes were easy to make, tasty and appealing to the eye. My friends gave the meal two thumbs up as well. Give either recipes a try if you’re in the mood for some Asian flavor!

“Laughter is brightest in the place where food is.” – Irish Proverb

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Finally,2016 Musing Awards!

 

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Tonna Crudo-tuna,cucumber,pickled fennel, fried capers, anchovy aioli

For me, 2016 pretty much sucked. I won’t bore you with all the specifics, but let’s just say if it wasn’t for my obsession with musing about eating and boozing, my guess is I would’ve withdrawn from all human interaction shortly after November 8th! That being said, I did manage to discover some wonderful culinary products and impressive restaurants throughout 2016 that deserve recognition as recipients of the 2nd Annual Musing Awards.

And the Musee goes to………

Favorite newly discovered Food and Beverage:

Savory- Eat Smart Beets and Greens Salad Kit. I’ve never been a fan of bagged salads. I tend to think I can taste the plastic bag on the lettuce. Thankfully, that doesn’t hold true for salads made of sturdier (and healthier) greens such as kale or brussels sprouts. I truly have enjoyed all the  Eat Smart Salad Kits I’ve tried with Beets and Greens being my favorite (and the one that’s out of stock most often).

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This one is good too w/ Poppy Seed Dressing.

Sweet-Betty Crocker Limited Edition Salted Caramel Cookie MixOkay, okay I realize this winner isn’t exactly all the way “prepared” but they sure make baking easy and delicious! Literally just add an egg and butter (REAL UNSALTED BUTTER) for sweet and salty home-baked heaven! If you care to, add my secret ingredient….1/2 tsp Almond Extract. 016000451025

Beverage- Cheribundi Cherry JuiceI’m not gonna lie, this stuff is pretty pricey but I find the flavor delicious! Maybe it’s just label persuasion, but I swear if I drink four 8oz servings through the week my joints actually do feel better as the product implies. I tend to purchase the “lite” version when available.20170103_164730633_ios

Favorite “new to me” Chef- Neal McTighe . I had the pleasure of meeting Neal at a community outreach program at Dickinson College that I was invited to by a dear friend who’s an alum. My friend and I had no idea what to expect from this particular event that was called “Italy in a Jar”, but what the heck it was free and appeared to involve food! Once seated with a glass of Italian Wine and a few nibbles provided by the Dickinson staff we got  to meet and hear the story behind the creator and founder of Nello’s Sauces, a red hot Italian Pasta Sauce Company that’s beginning to appear in shelves all over the place such as Wholefoods, Kroger, Harris Teeter, etc. Even the mail-order meal company, Plated, has begun to provide Nello’s Sauce with their dinner kits. Neal’s rise from Dickinson college student with limited Italian language skills, to teacher of Italian, to Pasta Sauce Chef extraordinaire is not only interesting (“click” on his name above to get to Nello’s website and read all about it) but inspiring too as it is a stunning example of someone pursuing their passion. After the talk, we all gathered into the college kitchen where Neal gave us sauce making tips (do you know the best canned tomatoes to use?) and prepared a huge pot of Pasta with Nello’s Marinara Sauce. I went home with a jar Nello’s sauce laced with lavender which was scrumptious! Ironically, Nello’s Sauce isn’t found near Dickinson College as of yet (closest in probably Wholefoods towards Philly?) but I have my fingers crossed.

Favorite “new to me” Winery- Grace Estate Winery . Like so many other things in 2016, I didn’t get to as many wineries (VA mostly) as I’d would’ve liked or usually do throughout a year. I’m awfully glad my two favorite girls and I were able to get to Grace Estate! Tasting Room-great, Wines-tasty, Outdoor seating and views-lovely. Don’t miss this one when you’re in the Charlottesville area. Look at my blog post from Nov 2016 for more photos of some Charlottesville area wineries visited this past year.20161016_195521473_ios

Favorite “new to me” Restaurant-Cosima, Baltimore MD I loved this place! Baltimore really has some gems and Cosima is at the top of my list. Look at my post from September 2016 titled “Charmed, I’m Sure” for further details on this and a few other places I discovered in the Charm City this past year.

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Ragu Di Cinghiale- slow cooked wild boar, fennel sausage, pancette in tomato sauce over polenta

Just Plain Delicious- Zunzi’s, Savannah GA I blogged about my trip to Savannah in July (“Oh, Savannah”) which provided details of my culinary experiences. Zunzi’s was without a doubt the “funnest” food I had. Truly coming out of a hole in the wall, you stand in line to order absolutely delicious South African (and a few other countries) concoctions. The “Oliver’s Lunch” shown below really is just plain delicious! Take a look at their website. You can order some of their sauces and Zunzi gear.

Oliver’s Lunch at Nunzi’s. The best!

Favorite “new to me” recipe-Chicken Tagine with Lemon and Olives . I guess I must’ve cut this out of a Cooking Light magazine in 2007 but didn’t get around to making it until this past year. I made up for lost time though, because I bet I’ve made this succulent dish at least a dozen times in the past 12 months. It’s that good. Atypically for me, I follow this recipe to a tee except for the cilantro- I never add the Cilantro. Originally I thought 1 hour seemed to be a heck of a long time to simmer chicken thighs but they turn out perfect after a long, slow simmer. Please note that this is a Cooking Light recipe so it won’t infringe on any New Year’s resolution.20170113_172146093_ios

Life Time Achievement Award-Shrimp Spread. The LTAA this year has to go to the family Shrimp Spread recipe featured in my blog post “History, It’s in the Making” April 2016 and dedicated to my dad who passed away last February. I can now say that this recipe has gotten my family through the best of times and worst of times. It’s been served at countless parties and holidays to include this year at Thanksgiving and Christmas. My mom also made it for my Dad’s Military Honors Ceremony and following Reception as a tribute and sweet remembrance of a great husband, father, Officer and gentleman.

So there you have it- the Musing Awards for 2016. Please be so kind as to “click” on a few of the websites I have highlighted. I’d enjoy hearing your thoughts on any of the award recipients and would be honored if you’d pass this post to anyone you think might be interested.

I truly hope 2017 brings you all happiness, peace and a multitude of culinary adventures. Next up for me is the Culinary Immersion Weekend at the Omni Bedford Springs!

“They say I need to be seasoned; they say I need to be stewed. They say, ‘We need to boil all the hope out of him — like us — and then he’ll be ready’.”- Barack Obama while campaigning in 2008

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.

 

 

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!

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!

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.

 

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

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….