This past week, Coach and I took a road trip to Colonial Williamsburg, Virginia. If you have never been, it is well worth the trip, as you step back in time to explore the history of our Founding Fathers and the American Revolution as it unfolds. It was a long drive (well, a lot shorter and less harrowing than I imagine it was on horseback in the 1700’s!) with only one pit stop, but the anniversary dinner gifted from our children was worth the 600 mile drive alone!
At A Chef’s Kitchen on Prince George Street, Chef John Gonzalez treats his guests to a memorable evening of great food paired with great “find” wines. His “revolutionary” concept: one meal, one seating each night, menus varied with the seasons. Brilliant! That whole “teach a man to fish” concept makes for dinner classes that are fun, entertaining and absolutely delicious. In his adjacent shop, he sells wines, along with many of his favorite ingredients, so you can re-create his fabulous recipes at home.
The five course meal, paired with some of his favorite wines, is prepared in front of a “studio audience”-lucky us!- while Chef Gonzalez and his sous chef provide full instructions, valuable cooking tips and the recipes as well.
paired with a glass of Charles de Fere Blanc de Blanc from France.
Below are the five amazing courses, each one yummier than the previous (it may be the wine talking, but I have to say this was one of the best restaurant meals we have had for quite some time). For this blog, I am providing photos and descriptions, but no recipes (I don’t have enough room!) However, if you wish to email me @ email@example.com for a specific recipe, I will be happy to send it to you.
Paired with Josef Bauer Gruner Veltliner 2011.
Second Course: Summer Squash Salad with Grilled Romaine, Lavender Infused Honey and Mustard Dressing with A Chef’s Kitchen Skillet Baked Corn Bread (Well, apparently I was so excited about WHAT I was eating that I neglected to take a photo!) This is the sous chef explaining how to grill Romaine Lettuce without burning it.
Third Course: Shrimp Wrapped Cheaspeake Jumbo Lump Crab with Toasted Macadamias and Vodka-Spiked Watermelon with Red Onions.
Paired with Chateau de Valcombe Syrah-Grenache Rose 2011
Paired with Campos de Luz Old Vine Grenache 2010.
Final Course: Raspberry Key Lime Pie with Chocolate Crumble Crust and Lewes Dairy Soft-Whipped Cream. The Chef created these beautiful plates for us and several other diners who were celebrating anniversaries and birthdays!! Took a few moments, but well worth the wait.
So, if you ever find yourself in Williamsburg, Virginia, and looking for a way to spend an entertaining and delicious evening, make sure to stop by A Chef’s Kitchen for a fantastic dining experience! Now it’s on to the Duke of Gloucester Street! Susan
On this week’s editon of Wanderlust Wednesday, we are headed for Helsinki, Finland! I have to admit that, prior to our Baltic Sea Princess Cruise, I had no inkling of the beauty of these capital cities. This the the downtown market square where locals sell lovely hand-crafted items along the waterfront.
We disembarked from the cruise ship, and headed into town (well, at least that’s where we thought we were headed.) We ended up taking the long way around, finally making our way to the market square, thanks to a lovely local lady…but we did see some nice boats, so there was that!
Once Coach and I actually found the dock area, we then took the ferry to Suomenlinna Fort one of the main attractions of Helsinki. Now Coach, being a history teacher, really does appreciate a good fort. But I do have to say, this one was quite extraordinary. The architecture and the views were nothing short of spectacular. Built in the 18th century, the military fort is a UNESCO World Heritage Site, and is home to approx. 900 Finns who live and work there. The fort is (naturally) surrounded by water, and has spectacular 360 degrees of views of the inner harbor area.
the statues and fountains in the city center.
Coach and I have been discussing a heat source for the barn, as, unlike Bob Cratchit, I will not be able to sew and craft out there wearing old, tattered gloves and a scarf! Since a fireplace seems out of the question, we thought perhaps a wood or coal stove might work to heat the space? But we do love the look of old brick in a fireplace surround. In searching for our barn workshop brick inspirations, I have come across many photos of interior brick walls, including bedrooms (I am not sure if we can fit sleeping quarters in the loft, but we do have this chandelier!!
It is hard, but can add softness, especially antique brick in hues of pinks and soft terra cotta Now this is the perfect brick wall from design sponge. Soft and natural, the brick acts as the perfect backdrop for the black and white photos.
Being a lover of color, especially red, I have to admit I do love this wall, but I think it might be a bit much for an interior, even for a barn!
I think we have enough books already, but these are very cool.
To see more of my brick inspirations, check out my Pinterest page.
Always remember to follow your own yellow brick road- wherever that path may lead you! Susan
Dear Readers: Sorry I haven’t been blogging much this week. Coach and I have been cleaning out and organizing the barn. Trying to sort through 25+ years of accumulated stuff (books, furniture, books, antiques, books, tools…did I say books- 5000+!?!?) takes time, patience and perseverance. Me, I am inclined to just toss everything in the dumpster and start from scratch, but Coach is more of a “save this I might need it someday” sorter. Well that “someday” is today- time to let go, move on, clean out. Which often leads to some, well, we’ll just call it “unpleasantness” in our soon-to-be barn workshop. So Coach decided it was best if we are not both in there at the same time, for the sake of our marriage. Which is OK by me today, because it is probably 100 degrees in there right now, and I am in the study with the fan : )
So I have been searching for some barn interiors that strike my fancy. We want to stay true to its roots, preserving the good and enhancing the amazing- like this wall painting of Old Black Nell.
or maybe a more athletic endeavor??
There is no plumbing, so I won’t have a kitchen. But if I did…
Our target event date?
Thanksgiving Dinner at a farmhouse table for 20 stretching the length of the finished interior. Better get back out there and see what’s happening! Wish me luck… Susan
So, Coach and I have been trying to find a couch for the porch for a couple of months now. He insisted that the wicker love seat was just not long enough for afternoon napping, even using the Wally the Whale table as a foot rest. After many yard sales and curb alerts, we finally found this on one of our trash to treasure hunts at Todd Farm in Rowley.
Although it had clearly had been neglected, was filty and ragged and hosting a family of icky bugs, we decided to take a chance. For $20, the price of two burgers and fries at Five Guys, we had our couch! It was sturdy and well-made, just required some major TLC. We were even more excited when we checked online and discovered the same Benchcraft sofa selling used for $300!
The re-furbishing: We spruced it up with a bleach wash and bug spray, then primed it with Kilz to remove odors and stains. Finished with Rustoleum outdoor glossy white. So clean and pretty!! The original cushions had to be tossed, as they were smelly and moldy and just plain gross. So I created new ones from foam, poly batting and some fabulous European down-filled pillows I got on clearance at-where else-Home Goods for $20 each! (I am saving the pretty ruched satin covers for another project.)
The cost breakdown: Sofa $20 Fabric $40 Foam Cushion $40 Poly Batting $5 Pillows $60 Thread $3 Paint: $7 Total Investment: $175
A little more than I usually spend on a re-furbished trash to treasure. But since it is the largest piece on the porch, and is going to be sitting right in front of the ever-stylin’ whale coffee table, I figure it was worth the investment. A whole new life for a down and out couch, saved from the dumpster with my Three R’s Principle: Re-cycle, Re-Furbish, Re-Love. Have a Terrific Tuesday! Susan