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

Wine about C-ville

Our Wine Flights at Early Mountain après la tasting

Our Wine Flights at Early Mountain après la tasting

This past weekend was my annual Fall Winery Mecca to Charlottesville Virginia. Whether it’s my husband or daughter (or anyone else for that matter) who ends up being my travel companion, there are a few rules I strictly enforce: 3 Wineries on the way down on Friday, 3 more Wineries on Saturday, Lodging on the Pedestrian Mall at the Omni or at least close like you can get at the Courtyard by Marriott and Dinner reservations made by me at the restaurants of my choice. This weekend was no different with the exception that the weather didn’t cooperate like it usually does thus my pictures are good, just not great. Here are the highlights:

As we drove up to Early Mountain Vineyards http://www.earlymountain.com/ I had a distinct sense I’d been there before. When we walked into the tasting room I was less sure until the pourer cleared up everything for me. This Winery used to be called Sweely until about a 1 1/2 years ago. My daughter and I had been there and as I recall the interior was very dark almost Gothic in décor. Now the tasting room is beyond lovely…light and airy along with a full service dining facility.
Tasting Room at Early Mountain Vineyards
What I found especially fun is that after we had a traditional wine tasting, we were able to order interesting flights of wine that featured wines from other local vineyards as well. I got a “Taste of Fall” that featured a wine from Blenheim and Barboursville. We also ordered cheese, olives and charcuterie… perfect with our wine flights.
Next up Reynard Florence reynardflorence.com . It’s a very small tasting room venue and I’m not sure they want to expand their clientele, but the wines aren’t bad and for me being able to spend time with T-Ray the Corgi was all I needed. My family is totally against me dream of having a Corgi someday so when I can get a “fix” I take it!
T-Ray the Corgi..my dream dog
After checking into the Omni in Charlottesville, we dined at the Downtowne Grill  https://downtowngrille.com/. If Steak is what your craving, I’d highly recommend it. My Filet topped with Crabmeat and Asparagus was superb.
A cloudy, but still lovely day at First Colony
Our visit to First Colony Winery is the stop I’d like to highlight for Saturday. http://www.firstcolonywinery.com/

The Thatched Roof of First Colony

The Thatched Roof of First Colony

I loved, loved, loved my experience at First Colony. Upon arrival, we were lucky enough to be greeted by Bruce, one of the owners, and a precious Beagle named Dudley. Once inside the cozy and pretty tasting room (being made even prettier due to a wedding taking place that evening) we were fortunate to have Abby as our pourer. We chatted quite a bit during our tasting about lots of things, wine…not so much. That was okay though because the wine tasted good and I was far more interested when Abby told us of her husband’s recent endeavors of making small-batch chocolate bars by roasting the cacao with the machine he uses for coffee beans at his shop, Shark Mountain Coffee (www.sharkmountaincoffee.com). Although we didn’t have time to stop before coming home, the chocolate must be good because it’s featured in Fall publication of “Edible” Magazine (Blue Ridge edition). There are several features of First Colony I enjoyed such as the various scenic views available, woodsy in the back and a panoramic view of field and mountain in the front with all sorts of seating and tables for your wine drinking in enjoyment. Visitors are welcome to bring picnics, but they have a selection of cheese, crackers and other snacks as well.

A wall of growing edibles at Red Pump Kitchen

A wall of growing edibles at Red Pump Kitchen

Saturday night we dined at Red Pump Kitchen www.redpumpkitchen.com. and we enjoyed our meals immensely. Only opened since July, this Tuscan-style kitchen is supremely located on the Pedestrian Mall and has already received a host of positive reviews. I was especially enamored with the wall of live edibles. A closer look and a couple of questions later, I found out when they had first opened the attempt was to grow all their herbs on the wall. When that didn’t work, they opted for some edibles and mixed with a few house plant….it still looks very cool though and the mint is harvested! For an appetizer, we shared a Fennel Sausage, Shaved Brussels Sprouts, Roasted Red Onion and Mozzarella Pizza (the menu told us to do it!). My entrée of Mushroom Agnolotti(that’s pasta), Butternut Puree, Parmesan Cream and Shaved Black Burgundy Truffle was delicious and while I don’t always mention my dining partner’s meal, I would be remiss if I didn’t say that the Squid Tagliatelle, Clams, PEI Mussels, Bay Scallops (can you say that PD?) with Uni Butter was a pleasure as well. Check out the Red Pump Kitchen. You’ll be glad you did.

What a Pizza Pie!

Dear readers, I encourage you to “click” on the websites I’ve highlighted or check out other Charlottesville wineries and restaurants. C-ville is a great weekend destination and while I always focus on food and drink, Virginia history and culture abounds. Please also share your thoughts about the many, many wineries in this region.

Pizza with a Princess

Recipe for Smoked Chicken Pizza as it appears in Better Homes and Gardens Special Interest Publication: 30-Minute Dinners

Recipe for Smoked Chicken Pizza as it appears in Better Homes and Gardens Special Interest Publication: 30-Minute Dinners


Ingredients gathered to adapt the Smoked Chicken Recipe

Ingredients gathered to adapt the Smoked Chicken Recipe

Dear readers this post will be my first ever to not only promote a recipe and a food product or two, but to introduce a fabulous cooking piece that has me giddy! Any gal my age may remember the “Princess House” parties our moms or grandmas had bringing friends and family together to purchase crystal glasses and vases that were only used once a year or more often given as wedding gifts. The Princess House Company has endured, but let me tell you, fancy crystal is only a sliver of the type of products they now peddle. Still only available through home parties or direct order from your consultant, Princess House offers fabulous cookware that fits my “Foodie without Big Bucks” lifestyle perfectly.http://princesshouse.com
A few nights ago I adapted the above recipe to fit my need-for-speed, taste and most importantly my desire to use my “Ultimate Grill, Bake and Serve Stone” recently purchased from my dear friend and personal PH Consultant (thanks C!). This stone is as versatile as it gets….grill (gas or charcoal), bake, broil, chill or freeze…..it does it all. This night, after getting my ingredients together, every step of preparation was done on the stone atop my gas grill as shown in the pics below:


Besides using the grill, changes to the recipe for me included use of a deli-roasted chicken, one large whole wheat pizza crust and probably more like a 1 1/2 cups of smoked mozzarella. The smokiness of the cheese is what gave this pizza a rich and unique flavor. I substituted iceberg lettuce and my own tomatoes for the arugula because my guy likes the crunch of a fresh iceberg (no matter that it’s nutritional value is nil) and besides my edible landscaping is paying off in tomatoes and other veggies currently. As one might guess if you’ve read my previous post, I drizzled Gazebo Room Salad Dressing on the whole darn thing in lieu of plain old EVOO……yum.http://gazeboroom.com

Finished Product

Finished Product