• Chillin’ (or not) in Charlottesville

    Who turned on the damn furnace? Whew, it is way too hot way too early here in the D.C. nether-region. Despite temps inching towards the 90 degree Fahrenheit mark, we made it to Charlottesville this weekend for some fun!

    Thanks to the perusing of this C-ville blogger, our trip was peppered with tasty experiences all weekend long.

    After a short and traffic-free two-hour drive, we pulled into the parking garage in downtown Charlottesville just in time for the last hour or so of their kickin’ farmers market. We ambled around to see the market vendors selling everything from jam to jewelry, and all in between some pretty swell looking produce. Scott couldn’t resist the strawberries, so we snagged a quart of them for lunch.

    We decided to grab some lunch from a downtown spot and drive west to Skyline Drive and Shenandoah Nat’l Park. Luckily, Baggby’s on the downtown pedestrian mall had some delectable-sounding sandwiches, so Scott scored the Cold Grinder and I chose the Remarkable (turkey, cream cheese, mayo, bacon, tomato, sprouts, avocado, on multi grain bread).

    The park was a nice spot to relax and nosh. I miss the mountains terribly, and it was comforting to know they’re not too terribly far away. The temperature was a sold 10 to 15 degrees cooler up on Skyline Drive - I even broke out my hoodie to stay warm. That was fantastic!

    Our view wasn’t too shabby, either.

    And of course, strawberries for dessert make for a wonderful time.

    We then trucked in down to the little town of Crozet, home of Starr Hill Brewery. The bartenders loaded us up with free Dixie Cup-sized samples of Love, Festie, Imperial IPA, Stout, Lucy and a couple others. Lucy was my fave - light ale with coriander, lime and ginger.  The guide who led a 20-minute tour was amiable and informative.

    Later, we met up with our friend Beth, of P&C fame, at her parents’ home not too far from Charlottesville, for a fantastic meal of local grass-fed beef burgers. C-ville has a rockin’ local and sustainable food culture going!

    On Sunday morning, Scott and I met up with my friend Miss V, celebrating 31 years young! Her birthday brunch at Bluegrass Grill was worth the long wait — I had The Duke (eggs Benedict with avocado and turkey sausage on English muffin) and Scott’s Denver Omelet was great. I had high hopes for their biscuits, being biscuit-deprived livin’ up here in Maryland, but it was *whole grain*. I’m sorry, but any muffin worth its merit will not be gussied up as a health food. Just give me the flaky hot biscuit with the lard or butter, ok?

    Fortified by the big brunch, we set out for the UVA campus and enjoyed checking out Thomas Jefferson’s gorgeous rotunda (modeled after the Pantheon, which I saw in Rome last month!). We headed back to the Pedestrian Mall, where a fire broke out in a building undergoing renovations. All the hubub with the fire trucks, hoses, and sirens was quite interesting — luckily I think everyone in the area was ok. We drove back to the University area to get away from the heat — and over to Arch’s Frozen Yogurt. I had chocolate-vanilla swirl with brownie batter (low fat!) and it was gooey and out of control good.

    Downtown pedestrian mall art — Scott approves.
    We checked out a few neighborhoods — when you’re with  historic preservation and transportation planners, you look at a lot of streetscapes and architecture, but I’m not whining - they’re whip smart and share a lot of interesting details! To kill a little time, we ducked in to Siips Wine and Champagne Bar — Scott had a pint of Starr Hill and Victoria and I tried out the Gavi di Gavi – Figini 2008 of Italy. Described to us as “very champagne-like,” it was crisp and cool and just perfect.

    Finally ready for another meal, we hit up Mono Loco (“Crazy Monkey”) for dinner.Their freshly-fried tortilla chips and guacamole were so filling that none of us could finish our entrees - Scott had pork enchiladas, I had the cod and truffled mushroom burrito, and Miss V the vegetarian had the truffled mushroom burrito. Their tangerine margarita was spectacular - a lovely cold cocktail to welcome the summer season!

    This trip to Charlottesville was just the pick-us-up we needed, thanks to friends and the blog recommendations. If the weather conditions up in those mountains remain cooler than lower elevations, we may head up there more than once in 2011!

  • 3 years ago
  • Tea For Two

    What did I have two, no….make that THREE, cups of today? It wasn’t gravy, or Coca Cola, or Bourbon, or Cranberry Juice. It was TEA, wonderful tea.

    Ever since I was younger, tea has been a pleasure to enjoy, both hot or cold, sweet or unsweetened, as long as it’s not adulterated as that Fruit Tea business you know I can’t get behind, or Jasmine (too much like drinking Potpourri water to me). But - Japanese Green Tea, English style, Chai, Thai Iced - it’s all pretty much marvelous to me.

    Luckily, Scott shares my love of tea. We jokingly have “tea and book time” (in bed too, but I swear, it’s totally PG-13 rated) as our British alter-egos Russell and Margaret — our first names, as we both go by our middles. Ol’ Russ and Mags are just simple homebodies who like scones, a spot of tea, a good historical novel or quaint little series on the Public Television station, and a nice gentle rainy afternoon. Or something like that. Can you tell we’ve really thought this out?

    So, as I digress (my bad, my bad)…. we like the tea. So it was no surprise (or WAS it? *eyebrows thoroughly arched*) that Scott took me to Charleston Tea Plantation for my birthday. This is the ONLY tea grown in the U.S., folks, AND their tea is used to make Firefly Sweet Tea Vodka.
    (Cool sidenote: Sweet Tea, the theme song on the Firefly web site, is by none other than Scott’s cousins Whitt and Jim and their band, The Bushels. Look ‘em up!)

    Located on Wadmalaw Island south of Charleston, it’s a gorgeous 120+ acres of Lowcountry

    With thousands of tea plants…

    And huge trees with Spanish Moss draped so languidly in their branches.

    We took both the trolley tour and the factory tour. The trolley was a fun way to see a LOT of acreage.

    Scott liked the tractor they call the “Green Giant.”

    I liked this sign.

    On the way home, we stopped at the Angel Oak Tree, per the advice of our friend Shaloot. It was absolutely MASSIVE. Even Handsome Tall Blond Man looks teensy in its wake!

    That is one BIG ASS tree - it covers 17,100 square feet of ground.

    Scott and I have visited the Charleston area now for about eight years - it was there in April 2002 where we decided we kinda sorta liked each other a lot and had that major dating discussion every semi-serious couple will have where the awkward/amazing “L” word comes up. Yep, the L-Bomb was dropped in Charleston, SC. So, it’s a special place for us, not to mention we married there too.

    This trip was really fun because we branched out (no pun intended) and visited new places. Big thanks to Scott for thinking this one up - you are always just my cup of tea! (Ok, pun intentional, and wow, it was cheesy, but so worth it!)

  • 3 years ago
  • Let Him Eat Cake (And Her, Too)

    This should really a postscript to my post from September 14, the day o’ my good husband’s 32nd year of birth, but sometimes it’s hard to post photos as events are occurring and then time flies by, and any who…..

    Behold the cake I baked for that special day:

    Those pellet/poop-like things forming the numbers are Ocean Spray Craisins. How resourceful/scatological am I?!?

    The recipe comes from my new-ish cookbook The Healthy Hedonist - the Naked Carrot Cake. It contains the oh-so-nutritious oat flour plus four cups of grated carrots (Oy. That was a lot of tedious grating, let me tell you), and other stuff that makes cake so awesome - vanilla, brown sugar, eggs, spices of nutmeg, cinnamon, all spice, etc.

    Only I didn’t want it to be so nekkid, cause frosting, when done well and not all grocery-store lard-ish, is marvelous, mmmkay?

    SO, I doctored it up with The Joy of Cooking’s Cream Cheese Frosting, and substituted the lower-in-fat and hard-to-pronounce Neufchâtel cheese for the regular kind, so as to not feel too guilty for smearing sweet dairy yum yums all over a perfectly tasty “health food” kind of cake.

    Someone asked me recently if Scott loves carrot cake. Well, he does now. :-)


  • 3 years ago
  • Someone’s 32 Today

    To my co-blogger, my best dining companion, and my favorite tall blond man: Happy Birthday!

    Any man who dons a beard net to take a Celestial Seasonings factory tour is ok by me!


  • 4 years ago