September 2010 archive

Beer Heaven

It has been a fun, but LONG day! We left our friends in Colchester around 8am this morning. Since then we have driven ALL OVER CONNECTICUT…literally!  We’ll recap that in a later post.

After many hours of driving, peeping, eating, taking LOTS o’pics and having a generally good time we eventually landed in the City of Brotherly Love – Philadelphia, PA. Tired, but hungry we took the conceirge’s advice and walked a few blocks down Chestnut Street to grab some sustenance at Triumph, a local microbrewery.

It had a cool vibe and I liked the decor. The brew list was artfully displayed on the wall…

but failed to impress in the glass. We split a sampler

then each decided to have a full pull of the Double Witbier.

Apparently we visited Triumph on some sort of local musician open mic night. Being a singer myself, I typically would have found this to be cool but tonight it was just annoying…especially since the musicians were the only other people patronizing the brewery besides us. Triumph’s saving grace for us were these yummy stuffed mushrooms and mushroom ravioli.

One was an appy, the other an entree. We split them both.

Finished with our munchies and unimpressive brews we decided to head back to the hotel because as BG declared “Life’s too short to drink foamy beer.”

Across the street was a watering hole by the name of Eulogy.

It caught BG’s attention while en route to Triumph because of it’s name. Not wanting to end the day on a bad beer, he requested that we just cross the street “see what they have on draft.” Little did we know…we were about to hit the MOTHER LOAD.

You see that?  THAT is Eulogy‘s BEER MENU.  This is a place that specializes in Belgian Abbey Ales – which just happen to be BG’s favorite beers!  Eulogy had 300 Belgian Abbey Brews available.  He quite literally thought he had died an gone to BEER HEAVEN!

He wasn’t that far off

We were greeted with this sign right inside the door

Now THAT’S a motto we can get behind!  We instantly knew we were in the right place.  Looking around, his eyes gleaming like a kid in a candy store, BG proclaimed -“I want to live here!”

Look at him.  He’s GIDDY!

And no, he’s not double fisting. That’s him bringing each of us a draft back from the bar.  Eulogy also had a unique draft list display playing off the whole monks/abbey motif.

I don’t remember which ones BG sampled, but I had the LaChouffe and the Abbey of Christ Monks Ale. While both were delicious, my favorite was the LaChouffe.

There were so many GREAT beers and we had so little time.  We only got to sample four but as BG said, that was 4 down and 296 to go!  So I think it goes without saying that the next time we are in Philly, we are DEFINITELY heading back to Eulogy!

Cheers, y’all!
Wine Girl

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F is for Fall, Food, Friends, & Fun

Beer Guy told you about our orchard fun yesterday.  I have to say that while it may not have FELT like Fall while we were there, it certainly LOOKED like Fall.

We  were greeted by this fabulous tree

under which were apples galore (all from the orchard)

and plenty o’mums.

Outside the quaint farmhouse store were loads of gourds…

acorn squash…

and butternut squash.

But INSIDE the quaint farmhouse store….Y-U-M!  BG told you about the fritters, but he failed to mention the apple cider doughnuts…

caramel apples…

all kinds of jellies and jams.

And what is good Fall fun without loads and loads of pumpkins?

Later that evening, after our tummies had settled from all the farmhouse goodies our friends took us to a Colchester, CT Saturday night hotspot…

Harry’s Place!

There we munched on these FAN-TAB-U-LOUS bacon cheeseburgers and accompanying bacon cheese fries…Nobody said this was a health food vacation.

Afterwards we headed over to the annual Colchester, CT 57-Fest where we enjoyed music, ice cream, and fun with these guys.

And, of course, the evening ended with a BANG!

And THAT, dear readers, is why “F is for Fall, Food, Friends, & Fun!”  I’m off to pray for cooler temperatures and a plan for (hopefully) lots of leaf peeping tomorrow.

Cheers, y’all!
Wine Girl

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A is for Apple

We awoke on Saturday, refreshed after good sleep and even better company, as we were hosted by old friends (and 2 new ones) in Colchester, CT. Happily the day started with home-made muffins and not with hundreds of miles of driving.

This morning, in fact, I didn’t even have to drive. Our host hitched up the wagons and steered us to scenic South Glastonbury, to the site of Dondero Orchards — your neighborhood hot-spot for apples, pumpkins, mums, and apple fritters!

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A Farmer Chic Lunch

We left the DC area in a bit of a fog this morning, literally…

Doesn’t it look like we are about to drive out into an unknown void?  Crazy! But, thankfully, it was not a “void.”  We had a very specific destination today. Well, two actually.  Ultimately we were headed for Colchester, CT to spend some time with dear friends.  But from the moment I awoke this morning my mind was focused on one thing and one thing only – LUNCH!

How is that different from any other day, you may ask?  Truthfully, not much.  The difference today was that I was fixated on WHERE I was going to eat lunch, not WHAT I was going to eat.  We routed our trip through Westport, CT specifically so we could have lunch here

I saw the chef, Bill Taibe, on The Martha Stewart Show months ago and have been plotting this lunch ever since.  This is me being SUPER EXCITED about our lunch plans…

Le Farm is what I like to call “Farmer Chic”… and this is one of my FAVORITE vibes!  BG asked me to define exactly what I mean when I say “Farmer Chic” and I had a hard time doing so.  I may not be able to articulate it, but I know it when I see it.  This was it and I LOVED it!

The first thing that I loved about Le Farm, a point that was discussed in depth on The Martha Stewart Show and one of the main reasons I wanted visit, is the philosophy behind it.  As listed on it’s website the restaurant’s goal is

“to support our local farmers here in Connecticut as much as possible, but sometimes we may have to cross state lines to find what we need.  One thing we can promise is that your dinner with us will be meticulously sourced and simply prepared.”

It is a farm-to-table restaurant, which defines as

“a restaurant where the ingredients are sourced as locally as possible, which means that they tend to be very fresh, and they have been through a minimal series of middlemen, if any, literally going directly from the farm to the table. The farm-to-table restaurant trend is part of a larger movement to eat as locally as possible, taking advantage of seasonally available fruits and vegetables and focusing on the environmental and cultural impacts of farming.”

The restaurant is tiny. It only had 12 tables in the whole place.  Upon stepping inside my first thought was “This is perfect!”  No detail was over looked.  The interior and provisions were all a distinct farmhouse style, but elegant.  So very, very elegant.  You know… “Farmer Chic.”

The gorgeous neutral grays color palate (neutral, but not boring), the rustic tables and chairs, the cheesecloth table runners, the dishtowel napkins, the utensils situated in a jar of dried beans, the table water in old fashioned milk bottles… Perfect!  Just take a look.

Sorry for the weird angles on the pics. We were trying not to be complete tourist dorks.  I mean, this lunch was “Martha Approved.”  I needed to be cool about it.  Plus, in such a tiny place, we were bound to draw some attention whipping out the D90.

Dorkiness or not, it all made me so very happy.  See…

But more important than the ambience was the menu!

It was hard to choose.  Ultimately I went with the Pork Shoulder Braised in Milk

and BG had the Stommington Scallops

We shared, of course, and washed them down with these…

also shared.  I love that they served the beer in stemless wine glasses.  Lunch was SUPERB on both sides of the table, but it didn’t hold a candle to dessert…at least for me.

The dessert menu.

Any guesses as to which one I chose?

If you guessed the Warm Cornbread, you were right.  I ordered it because, as I told the waitress, how often do you get to have BACON in your DESSERT?  It sounds so weird, but it was so good. I’m really not a “sweets” eater, but I will almost never turn down cornbread… or bacon for that matter.  This had just enough sweetness to call it dessert, but just enough saltiness that it totally hit the spot.  It was such an interesting combination of flavors.

BG had the Vanilla-Lavender Pannacotta

You’ll have to ask him about that.

I have to say that lunch at Le Farm was, hands down, the best lunch experience I have ever had. What else would I expect from a lunch that is “Martha Approved?”  Nothing less than “Farmer Chic,” of course!

Cheers y’all!
Wine Girl

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All’s Well That Ends Well

I apparently can’t blog and travel at the same time.  That will definitely go on my list of skills to improve upon as part of this blog is supposed to be about investigating the world around us a little more. We took plenty of pictures and made plenty of notes, but some how never got around to putting them in coherent posts on our travel.  So what we’ll do is post on our travel over the next several days in order, as if they were currently happening.  You dig?

Good. Here goes…

So we headed north of Charlotte in search of fall. We went as far as Alexandria, VA today and I can definitively say that fall has NOT made it’s way here. It’s stinking 91 degrees! ARE-YOU-KIDDING-ME? Needless to say, I am not happy about this and here’s the pic to prove it.

Actually, at that point in the afternoon I was not happy about much of anything.  The day started off well.  We left Charlotte on time (which is a rarity in any of our travels), had no significant traffic problems, and got to Alexandria around 2:30p.  Here’s where things start to break down…

I’m trying to be a little more adventurous which meant not planning out every minute detail of the trip and being a little more open to the “go with the flow” and “see where we end up” mentality.  (Have I mentioned that such a mentality is in direct opposition to my OCD/Type A sensibilities?) As such, I didn’t make hotel reservations or even decide that we would stop over in Alexandria en route to Connecticut until two days before we were scheduled to leave.  I did a little (emphasis on the word LITTLE) research and found out that Old Town Alexandria was supposed to be pretty cool and a haven for foodies. Since I was basically making last minute reservations, all the hotels in the Old Town part of Alexandria were charging about $100-$150 more per night than we had budgeted to pay. So we made the decision to stay a little outside the Old Town area and save some money.  I have since come to regret that decision.

Wine Girl’s Travel Tip #1 – Always pay the extra cash to stay in the “cool” area of your destination city.  The ease and convenience of having attractions in walking distance are priceless.

With the money we spent on cabs and Metro tickets, plus the frustration factor, we would have come out even just ponying up the extra cash and staying in Old Town proper.

Don’t worry.  I don’t intend to bore you with the minutia of all the situations and happenings that conspired to irritate me today.  But here’s a general list for your amusement:

  1. Let’s just say I was nonplussed with our Alexandria accommodations from the minute we entered our room.
  2. I wanted to go on one of these food tours but failed to notice that we needed to be there by 1 pm…it was now 3:30 pm.
  3. Decided to walk to the Metro from our hotel under the pretense that it was “less than 1/3 of a mile” away.  This was a colossal miscommunication particularly in 90+ degree heat when all I brought with me to wear was an early fall wardrobe.
  4. The aforementioned attempt to “go with the flow” and “see where we end up” resulted in basically not being sure about where to go or what to do once being spat out of the Metro station a few blocks outside of Old Town.
  5. More extensive walking in 90+ degree heat.

Wine Girl’s Travel Tip #2- Do not resist all your natural tendencies simply because you are on vacation.  If you are a planner but wanting to be a little spontaneous, don’t neglect planning altogether.  At least have some general idea about directions, attractions, or activities you’d like to see or do.  This will cut way back on wasted time.

We finally made it to a major Old Town thoroughfare.  At this point, all I want is an ice cold beer in a well air conditioned facility…preferrably a quaint establishment with character, but I’ll take what I can get. We wander up King Street looking for such an establishment, but the first 3 bars/restaurants we came to closed for lunch at 3 pm not to open again until 5pm.  So…we kept walking and finally landed in Red Rocks.

Apparently, I was too irritated and thirsty to bother getting a shot of my beverage (or focusing the camera), but here’s what the BG had

(I’ll let him tell you about that later) and we snacked on this appetizer of asparagus and prosciutto salad upon the recommendation of our delightful bartender.

Our friendly bartender also informed us that there was a free King Street Trolley that ran every 20 min and would take us back to the Metro station when we were ready to head back.  Satiated, cooler, and generally appeased I was up for a little more wandering around before going back to the hotel to shower before dinner, especially in light of this new information.

Well we wandered and took a few pics but the only trolley we saw was “off duty.”  So guess what…

more walking in the heat + feet hurting, shoes rubbing +  sweaty/sticky/smelly = I’m irritated all over again.

We found a cab but it wouldn’t take us to our hotel because it’s “a DC cab, not a VA cab.” Then why on earth are you driving around VA and stopping to pick people up in Alexandria?!?!  More walking…all the way back to the Metro station!  Yep, still irritated!  Thankfully, BG had the wherewithal to call the hotel and have them send a shuttle to pick us up at the Metro station and take us back to the hotel.

I’m feeling about 200% better after a shower and am ready for a dinner date with my fella at The Majestic…also upon recommendation of our Red Rocks bartender.

The food was great, but the service was a little meh.  Our waiter was a tad slow getting these to us

and just wasn’t generally forthcoming with information about the restaurant or the menu.  He wasn’t unfriendly, per se.  It was more like he was overbooked, preoccupied, or just not too worried about us.  The hostess was really nice, though.

BG and I shared the best crab cake I’ve ever had for an appetizer

then these entrees, respectively.

The waiter messed up my order and did not substitute the whipped potatoes for the fries as I requested.  I brought it to his attention and promptly received a bowl of these

Too full to consider dessert, we decided to pass, and head back to the hotel. We were presented with this “parting gift from the chef” before leaving.

It’s a Chocolate and Ricotta Truffle with Coconut Shavings.  All’s well that ends well, huh?

Off to bed now. We’ve got a lot of ground to cover tomorrow…including SUPER EXCITING lunch plans!

Cheers, y’all!
Wine Girl

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Little Less Kitchen, Little More Travel

So when we started this blog we promised it would be about new adventures, near and far – food, beer, wine, travel, photography and the like.  As you may have noticed, it’s been a little food and beverage heavy around here.  Well, never fear.  We are about to get a little more adventurous around here…meaning we are going to be venturing in restaurants and kitchens outside Charlotte.

BG and I are off on a little road trip this morning to Connecticut to visit one of my dearest friends. (Since we met as college freshmen at Ole Miss – 16 years ago O.M.G. – I can officially call her one of my OLDEST and dearest friends.) We are going to break the trip up on the way up and back down and try to take in as much New England fall goodness as possible.  I know it’s probably a little early, but I am praying with every ounce of my strength to catch some New England fall temps. I am so OVER the 80 and 90-degree Southern weather.  I want to wear jeans, a light sweater, and maybe a lovely scarf – DAMN IT! (so much so that I went and purchased some of these items today even though it’s not yet nearly cool enough to don them in the Queen City).  Is that too much to ask?  It will be October in less than 10 days.  I just don’t think that having a little chill in the air is asking too much.

Anyway, we’ve grabbed our standard breakfast-to-go

and are on our way.

Don’t worry, the D90, the MacBook Pro and the Think Pad are all in tow.  We’ll keep you posted on the food, fun, adventure and hopefully a little New England fall leaf peeping along the way.  (By “adventure” I mean we are undecided as to the route we will take back home.  It’s very unlike OCD me, not to have the whole thing planned out to a T three weeks in advance.)

Cheers, y’all!
Wine Girl

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Olde Mecklenberg Brewery

So the Beer Guy’s not doing so well with the posts …. Those of you who are my friends on FB are probably already used to that.

In lieu of a proper mea culpa, I’ll just tell you a story instead. Perhaps one about beer. Maybe with a few pictures thrown in …

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I Couldn’t Resist

Tonight as BG and I were sitting at the dining table planning an upcoming trip we noticed that our youngest, the Sporty Pup, was gazing intently at the bookshelf in our living room. It’s always odd to see her staring at anything when her favorite yellow tennis ball is not involved, although she has been know to watch the Today show on occasion. She was gazing at the bookshelf with such interest that I couldn’t help but think that, if she had thumbs, she might want to grab one of the books on the shelf and cuddle up with a good read.

(Yes, in our weird little world where our Pups are our kids, the only thing that might stop one of them from grabbing a book off the shelf and reading it is the lack of thumbs to appropriately hold and manipulate the book and it’s pages. Never mind the lack of grasp for the written English language…I know. We’re freaks…)

What’s a girl with an awesome camera to do with THAT thought running through her imagination? Well, obviously, put her glasses on said Pup and pose for a photo op.

That, ladies and gentlemen, is procrastination at it’s best. I just couldn’t resist.

Cheers, y’all!
Wine Girl

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Comfort Food

It’s official.  I’m becoming one of my patients who says “I never had sinus or allergy problems until I moved to Charlotte.”  Well, it’s taken about 5 yrs but I officially one of them.  I say “it’s official” now because these exact same issues have hit me at the exact same time for the past three years.  For the past 5 day’s I have had progressively worsening sinus problems.  It started with a dull sinus headache that lasted for about three days, then became sniffles and a scratchy throat for about a day, then culminated in me spending 80% of yesterday in the bed with a sore, scratchy throat, stuffy nose, more mucous than I care to think about, and a head that felt like it weighed about twice as much as the rest of my body.  (Some of that was TMI, I know.)  As of yesterday morning, I officially don’t feel good.

For a couple days I was sticking to the soup regimen, but today I felt like I needed something a little more substantial.  And what did I want?  Cornbread and a plate full of Southern vegetables.

(Sorry for the blah pic.  I was hungry and didn’t feel good so I didn’t bother with aesthetics.  I’m also aware this was not a balanced meal as most of the things on that plate are yellow and – I’m not gonna lie – covered in butter.) My grandfather had a big garden, so my family always had fresh veggies around – either right out of the garden, or garden veggies that my mother and grandmother had frozen or canned during the summer.   I know there are many other Southern veggies out there, but these are what feel like home to me.  Just looking at that plate takes me right back to my grandparents house where, when sick, my mother and grandmother would pamper me to no end.  So when I’m not feeling well but am sick of eating chicken soup, eating warm cornbread, sauteed squash, butter beans topped with corn, and green bean casserole hits the spot.

My throat is still scratchy and my sinuses are still throbbing, but my tummy sure is happy!  What about you?  What’s your comfort food?

Cheers, y’all!
Wine Girl

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Control Issues?

Last night was the final night of a Bible study I was doing this summer.  Our host asked if some of us could bring snacks for our final session since she was going to have a terribly busy day and no real time to get a snack organized.  Well, I totally forgot…until it was time to leave.  So I did what anyone would do in that situation.  I ran in the grocery store on my way out and grabbed the first easy thing that crossed my line of sight.  (I know, I know.  I have just committed a cardinal foodie sin.) While racing through the grocery store at warped speed I came across these little beauties in the frozen section. (Sorry for the fuzzy pic.)

I had them a someone’s house earlier this summer, so I knew they were good.  The directions on the back say “allow to thaw a room temperature for 30 minutes and serve.”  I know they are yummy.  Takes 30 min to thaw.  Takes 30 min to get to my Bible study.  SOLD!

We only ate about a third of them at Bible study because other snacks were also available, so I was able to surprise BG with leftovers of the decadent little treat once I got home.  It’s a treat because we DO NOT keep stuff like this in our house.  I had to be dramatic about the presence of such a treat, so when I arrived home I made him close his eyes and hold out his hand into which I placed a single Mini-Eclair.  I prompted him to open his eyes.  Upon recognizing the petite pastry his eyes widened and he popped it in his mouth and moaned in approving delight while he nearly swallowed it whole.  This was followed by a hurried “Where did THAT come from?”  I showed him the box, he immediately grabbed three more then looked at me very sternly and said “Take it away.” Ok… so downstairs I went and put the leftovers in the fridge.

I got home from work a little early today and after settling in went straight to the fridge to get myself a bite-sized bit of yumminess and THIS is what I found

He’s been on a conference call for the last hour and 15 min that I’ve been home so I haven’t been able to ask him about it.  I’m guessing he was having a little trouble staying away today…

Yeah, I’d say so.  The box was about half full when I put it away last night.  (In the interest of full disclosure, I did eat two myself before I got the idea to take pics and make a post out of this little episode. And in HIS defense they are delicious and addictive.)

He’s still on the conference call.  He’ll probably flip when he realizes that I posted this!  It’s all in good fun, though.  Right, babe?

Cheers, y’all!
Wine Girl

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