Tag: Where To Stay

Hidden In Plain Sight

So did you figure it out? You know, the hints…my secret birthday getaway… Well, I certainly didn’t figure it out.  BG kept telling me that I had all the information I needed to figure it out, but in the end he had to spell it out for me.  After he finally told me where we were going, I have to say, he was right.  All the info he gave me adds up to exactly where we landed, although, as he so astutely pointed out, I would have had an easier time figuring it out from his clues if I had remembered them correctly.  Apparently, I left a couple key words out of the hints that I posted here.  So let me correct myself and add up the hints for you.

Hint #1-
(My version) It’s in the valley of  “sportiness” and “loveliness.”

(His version) It’s in the VALLEY of “loveliness.”

Ok, important word here is valley.  Apparently, I merged two hints in my head.  Note the discrepancy between my version and his version above.  His second hint was

Hint #2 – It will be a CROSS between “sportiness” and “loveliness.”

Take home message from this hint – cross.  There was no dispute between his version and my version of the third hint.  Like I mentioned before, “sportiness” meant that we took our bikes.

Hint #3 – It’s north of Georgia, east of Nashville, south of Ohio, and it’s not a beach.

Based on that one, I had myself convinced we were going somewhere in Virginia.  I was wrong, but the description fit the bill exactly.  It’s not my fault, really.  BG overestimated how long it would take us to get there.

Hint #4 – It’s 3.5-4 hrs from Charlotte .

Not exactly.  It only took us 3 hrs to get there from Charlotte.  And, I was right – this was by car.  Knowing the actual commute time now, I see that Virginia was a stretch.  We did not leave NC.

Hint #5 – MASTerful!

I was clueless on this one…Let’s add all these up, shall we?

VALLEY + CROSS+ MAST+NC+SPORTY & LOVELY = The Mast Farm Inn in Valle Crucis, NC!!

The website leaves a little to be desired, but the inn most certainly does not.  Check it out…

The Grounds

Of course no Southern inn is complete with out a big ol’ porch to sit on and enjoy a glass of wine before supper.

And all that is just the outside!  Inside there was a lovely little bar and place to purchase yummy Southern goodies as well as other assorted loveliness.

Guess what I found when we got to our room…

Don’t think for one second that I didn’t jump in there in the morning and sip my coffee while reading my book!  And, speaking of coffee, look what was left outside our door at 8am each morning.

Such a lovely little basket of coffee.  Of course, the REAL treats were served downstairs at breakfast!

(Day 1 Yogurt Parfait)

(Day 1 - Potato/Mushroom Quiche, Grits, Sausage, Biscuit, & Fruit)

(Day 2 - Ricotta/Herb Streusel)

(Day 2 - Baked French Toast with Bacon)

I’m pretty sure I gained a pound for every year of my age this weekend.  Unfortunately, we weren’t able to bring the food or the chef home with us, but we did manage to grab some souvenirs on the way out.

I couldn’t help but notice that these resembled the mugs we brought home from my all time favorite inn and vacation spot.

I think we’ve started a collection!

I’ve got to say, spending the weekend at the Mast Farm Inn in the beautiful NC mountains certainly took the edge off the Big 3-5! Stay tuned!  There’s more birthday deliciousness to come!

Cheers, y’all!

Wine Girl

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We’re Still Here!

Well, it’s been 2 weeks since our last post.  No we didn’t fall off the face of the Earth.  I just had to get through a very big event and the Beer Guy, sweetheart that he is, was there helping me every step of the way.  Well…maybe not EVERY step of the way, but in his defense, I did walk 60 miles last weekend!

“Why?” you may ask.  I participated in my first Susan G. Komen 3-Day for the Cure Walk in Atlanta.  It was an exhausting, but exhilarating event that I will most certainly do again.  During the walk these were my accommodations

I mean, if a girl’s gotta camp, it really SHOULD be in a pink tent, right?

I survived my first EVER camping experience and I have to admit, it wasn’t as bad as I thought it would be.  However, I did have a place to take a hot shower and brush my teeth, didn’t have meals that came out of a can or had been previously freeze-dried, and my pink tent was not pitched in the woods.  So…I maintain than I will not be going on any camping trips anytime soon as I understand that these amenities are not typical of camping trips.

You see, I’m what the BG likes to call a “Fancy Nancy.”  (We have nieces who love those books.)  “Who is Fancy Nancy,” you ask?  Well, according to Wikipedia

Fancy Nancy is a wild, young girl with a larger than life personality, who adores all things fancy. She always dresses extravagantly, wearing boas, tutus, ruby slippers, fairy wings, and fuzzy slippers. Nancy loves using big fancy words such as “iridescent”, “ecstatic”, and “extraordinary” and anything in French”

Ok…there may be some similarities.  Knowing that with the 3-Day Walk I would spend 3 straight days walking, two nights camping, using port-a-potties, and showering in a mobile shower unit, long before the walk ever started I made arrangements for our post-walk evening in Atlanta.  I decided that after all that hard work I deserved something fancy!  And I did…I REALLY DID!

Enter The W Hotel in Midtown Atlanta.

It is an ultra-modern boutique hotel owned by the Starwood Hotel group which also owns Westin.  I don’t know what the W stands for.  Maybe the hotel is just too cool for a whole word for a name. Whatever it stands for I LOVED it!  This was our room

Superb, no? Oh, and THIS was the view from the fourth wall of our room which was a floor to ceiling window!

We were on the 15th floor.  Downstairs there was a VERY sleek and modern indoor/outdoor bar. Sadly, I was tired enough that shots of this fabulous bar escaped my camera.  The BG did manage to get a couple shots of me while we were there.

It is a testament to just how tired I was that I didn’t care at all how out of place I looked dressed like that amongst all the hip and trendy bar patrons.  While there we split an appetizer of sliders

and I had a Black Raspberry Martini.

I needed a pink drink to commemorate the weekend’s festivities.  We later had dinner at a cool restaurant around the corner called  Tap.  BG’s going to be telling you all about that one soon.  Our dinner there was delicious, but I was so tired I could barely hold my eyes open long enough to finish it. Needless so say, I slept HARD in that sleek and modern bed I showed you.

The next morning, I had a 75 min massage and a mani/pedi lined up at The W’s Bliss Spa located on its bottom level.  Once again I was too tired and zombie like to bother getting any pics.  But I tell you what, those spa treatments were just what the doctor ordered!

The bottom line is, that The W Hotel was a gorgeous luxury hotel with great service situated in what appeared to be a funky and eclectic neighborhood in Atlanta. My only regret is being too tired to really explore either.  The BG and I have agreed, we will most certainly be returning to The W Hotel in Midtown Atlanta at our first opportunity!

Cheers, y’all!
Wine Girl

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Get Me, I’m Sporty

I’ve told you that the Beer Guy is outdoorsy and adventurous and I’m not, right.  One of the things he loves to do is go biking.  Here at Sea Pines there are miles and miles and miles of bike trails.  It didn’t take BG long to discover that we could rent bikes from The Bike Doctor for a $25 for the week.  That offer was too good to pass up.  So, since I’m trying new things, I acquiesced and allowed him to rent one for me too.  In fact, the whole family rented bikes so that we could have some family excursions as well.

The sand here in Hilton Head is not as fine and sugary as the beach sand I’m used to on the Gulf.  It’s more grainy and firm.  Monday afternoon I discovered that it’s really fun to ride bikes on the beach.  I also discovered it’s a lot easier when the wind is behind you!

Since the BG is always begging me to go ride bikes with him in CLT, I decided to grant his request and go for a little biking outing with just the two of us.  We intended to just be out for ~45 min-1 hr.  For efficiency’s sake, we decided to combine our outing with running an errand to pick up the tickets for the boys pending golf day.  Well, we rode for 8 miles, and when we were about 5 min from our destination, realized that I had left the necessary paperwork to procure said golf tickets in the trunk of my car…which was parked at our villa…where we started…8 miles back.   Long story short, our 45 min outing turned into a 4.5 hr excursion, during which time we biked more than 25 miles.  (Mind you, until Monday, I had not been on a bike since I was about 10 yrs old.)  For you serious cyclists and sporty types that may not seem like a lot.  But for someone who hasn’t been on a bike in 20+ years, that was A LOT of biking, definitely adventurous, and exhausting.  Get me, I’m sporty!

Of course, no adventure is complete without lunch and the appropriate refreshments to cool you off and rejuvenate you.

But I’ll let the Beer Guy tell you about that later.  Suffice it to say, I was pretty proud of myself for stepping out of my comfort zone and opting to something adventurous (for me at least).  I forgot how much fun it was to ride a bike, and I had a great time just being out and about with my hubby, taking in the beautiful scenery, not having a particular schedule.  Don’t tell BG, but I may be willing to do that again before we go.  4.5 hours and 25 miles on a bike – not bad for a city girl who spends most of her time in stilettos!  Get me, I’m sporty!

Wine Girl

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What A Difference a Year Makes…

Today is our 11th anniversary. We had a fun day, but it was nothing compared to last year!

Since our last anniversary was the big 10-year milestone (am I old enough to have been married for more than a decade…no!) we decided to commemorate the occasion by taking a fabulous vacation to San Francisco and the Northern California wine country. (For the friends and family who read my personal blog, yes, much of this post is recycled.  Call it Eco-Friendly Blogging.) 🙂

That trip was, without a doubt, the most incredible and perfect vacation we ever had! Everything was PERFECT – the WINE, the accommodations, the food, the WINE, the weather, the ambience…did I mention the WINE! All perfection. All lovely. All bliss.

In SF we stayed at the Sir Francis Drake Hotel – a historic SF hotel in the heart of Union Square. The decor, the location, and the service were all fabulous…and VERY reasonably priced!

We were total tourists all day and grabbed dinner at a quaint, off-the-beaten-path little Italian restaurant that came highly recommended by the concierge. We finished the evening by perusing the infamous City Lights Bookstore. (Besides eating, our other shared hobby is reading…we are big fat book nerds!) The next morning we finished up the “touristy” stuff, then hit the road towards Napa.

Though our ultimate destination was Forestville, in the Russian River Valley, in Sonoma County, we decided to make the most of our time in the Wine Country and take the long way around – SF, through Napa Valley to Sonoma, then Forestville, then take the coastal route back to SF on the return. While in the Napa Valley, we of course made arrangements to tour and TASTE at Cakebread Cellars.  Can I just say… YUM!!

We arrived at The Farmhouse Inn that afternoon and it was EVERYTHING that I had imagined and more!! We had a private cottage, with a Happy Anniversary treat and the next morning’s breakfast menu/weather report waiting for us in our room. The cottage was equipped with a lovely living room, a fireplace, enormous bed (that I called a “marshmellow bed” because it was so white and cushy), whirlpool tub, and private sauna.

The Inn co-owner who arrived us invited me to help myself to any of the homemade body scrubs or bath salts available in the Farmhouse to use while bathing. I grabbed the Brown Sugar-Honey scrub (made with honey harvested from bee hives on their farm!!). I used it all week. My skin felt like silk and I smelled like cookies!! Who needs perfume!! She also informed us that smores ingredients were also available in the Farmhouse, in case we’d like to make smores by the fire pit one evening. She then arranged dinner reservations for us at a local restaurant, Mosaic, known for it’s atmosphere and use of fresh, local, seasonal ingredients, with a wine list to match. I ordered the coffee encrusted filet mignon in a cocoa-Cabernet sauce with asparagus and potato strings – SHUT UP!

We awoke at the crack of dawn the next morning as our internal clocks were still on Charlotte time. The Beer Guy made coffee for us and we sipped it in bed while planning our day until time to get ready and go to the sunroom for breakfast. The first course of breakfast (yes you read that correctly) was a freshly homemade vanilla currant scone with a bowl of fresh citrus fruit.  That yumminess was followed by a main course of homemade oat griddle cakes with strawberries, toasted walnuts, and homemade whipped cream (eliminating the need for the homemade maple syrup on the table) and the best bacon I’ve ever had – COME ON!

(Your mouth is watering now just thinking about it, isn’t it? Mine is). It was during that meal that I started to wonder…How I can I get someone to pay me to do this? Travel around, stay in LOVELY inns, eat this magnificent food, and drink these luscious wines. This has got be someone’s job, yes? How else do places get Zagat rated or listed in Conde Nast? How do I get to be the person who rates and writes about these things?

Our first full day in the Wine Country was spent touring vineyards and wineries, tasting, and purchasing “souvenirs” (translation – a case of wine comprised of our favorite vintages from varies vintners.) Our absolute favorite winery of the trip was Frog’s Leap Winery.  Yes, the wine was wonderful and the Vineyard House was tres “farmer chic.” But what we LOVED about it was it’s eco-consciousness. It has a Silver Rating for Sustainability, is 100% solar powered, organically and dry farmed, not to mention simply quaint and fun. The corks for their wine say “Ribbit” on them! In a world where pretension can run rampant, the Frog’s Leap tour was light-hearted and irreverent, which made it all the more enjoyable. We rewarded it with our patronage and made our largest single purchase of wine there.

Hungry from our tours, we returned to the inn, made some gourmet smores by the fire pit, and dressed for our official anniversary dinner at the Farmhouse Inn Restaurant. (Did I mention the Inn restaurant has a One-Star Michelin Rating?) the Beer Guy and I agreed that our dinner that evening was the BEST MEAL either of us had EVER eaten. It began with an amuse-bouche of shrimp bisque topped with Calmondin lime foam. AI-YAI-YAI! When the Master Sommelier assisted us in selecting a wine to complement both the Rabbit Three Ways Beer Guy ordered and the Guinea Hen with Ricotta Stuffed Gnocchi I ordered, he warned that the peas garnishing our Wild Mushroom Cantelloni appetizer might give the wine a slight “green” taste. It took all the strength I could muster not look at him with a straight face and say “Ah, yes, I can see how that would be disappointing.” Come on! He’s a Master Sommelier. Of course he’d notice that. But what are the chances WE would. “Green” taste because of 4 peas in the appetizer or not, that meal was BEYOND description. If you had to put a word to it, my best guess would be …ORGASMIC! We each agreed we were on the verge of a Meg Ryan moment from When Harry Met Sally. I mean, who needs sex when the food is that good! Dinner was, of course, completed with desert wines, Ricotta Cheesecake for the Beer Guy, and Creme Brulee for moi. Aahhh…Bliss.

Day 2 “in country” we headed into Healdsburg, a charming little town in the heart of the Russian River Valley, where we hit three tasting rooms, bought more “souvenirs,” and had a delicious seafood tapas lunch. Then it was off to a couple more wineries before heading back to the inn.

If you haven’t noticed, I was a little preoccupied with the food situation in Sonoma County. Every single meal was exquisite. I think I gained 10 lbs on that trip. Who cares, though. It’s worth being fat to eat food that good. It was SO good, in fact, that I ate it at a snail’s pace, not wanting it to end, which made me feel as if I had eaten three times the amount of food. By the time we got to dinner at Zazu that last night in Forestville I, for the first time in my life, was not hungry!! Me! Not hungry!! How unfamiliar! I sat down, perused that creative menu, and thought… “I got nothing. I literally have no internal motivation to eat anything.” In the end I ordered a grilled cheese sandwich and tomato soup…the swanky gourmet versions made from Guyere cheese, artisan bread, and organic tomatoes… fresh from the garden.

We, unfortunately, had to check out of the darling inn the next morning…after a third divine breakfast. We headed to Armstrong Woods near Guerneville to check out some redwoods. Man, those are big trees!! We then took our time making our way down the Pacific Coast Highway soaking in as much of the majestic scenery as possible. I think we stopped to play on four different beaches. Our pictures are great, but they don’t do the real things justice!

We landed back at The Drake around 6:30pm that night. It had taken us a little over 7 hrs to make the 90 min trek from the Wine Country back to San Francisco. Since we were exhausted and had one bottle of wine that wouldn’t fit in the box we shipped back home we decided to have a little wine and cheese picnic in our hotel room. Like everything else we did and saw on our trip, that too was LOVELY. We just weren’t ready to give up the Wine Country. I kept thinking that if we’d have lived here, I may never have left California…

…but I might also be living in a Betty Ford Clinic…

Last year we were living it up in a food and wine gold mine.  (Seriously, that’s got to be what heaven is like!)  This year, we spent our anniversary guzzling beer and cracking open these…

at the Ole Miss Alumni Crawfish Boil, of course.

What a difference a year makes!

Wine Girl

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