Archive for the ‘WEEKEND’ Category

“Roughing it” in the NC mountains….
September 6, 2012

Canyon Kitchen in Cashiers NC….wait ’til you
see the rest….

Most of you know I’m not really a girl who roughs it when she travels. Give me a good Ritz Carlton, some scented candles, a fireplace , a nice view and I’m all good. Oh…and great food. While on a recent holiday…I had everything but the Ritz Carlton. But the house where we stayed  could compete…definitely.

From the dock in front of our house…no
motor boats or jet skis allowed…shhhhh!

House…VRBO, of course. Angler’s Point-here(everyone in the Cashiers area seems to name their house…don’t know why but there it is)….is a great house….beautifully furnished, right on a pretty lake(great view,check), great fireplace(check)….it was blissful.

Charcuterie plate at Madison’s in the Old Edwards Inn.
What a great restaurant….and they make their own
charcuterie.

Heirloom tomato starter also at Madison’s…too cute to eat!
But I ate it anyway….

Ok , there was a lot about food this trip(great food, check)….and I went to a restaurant I had been reading about for a while.

Patio area of Canyon Kitchen, where drinks are served…
sigh…..

I first met Chef John Fleer when he was the head chef at Blackberry Farm-here outside of Knoxville. Blackberry(such a fabulous place) and her both became justifiably famous for their food and service. A couple of years ago, John started Canyon Kitchen…wow.

Exterior of Canyon Kitchen….and the inside is just
as kicking….

Dramatic, no? And all the doors open up so that when the weather
is nice(most of summer and fall) you’re kind of dining al fresco.

Canyon Kitchen garden….gorgeous…

Not everything was so hi-falutin’…we bought some great
boiled peanuts from this nice man at a road stand…peanut
pot behind him!

Discovered Tabasco mayo on this trip. this stuff is the bomb!

 

 

Little girls in cute southern dresses play with the llamas
at High Hampton Inn…pretty classic place…

High Hampton-here by the way, is an amazing family mountain resort….a shoot there for TLC’s Great Country Inns years ago is what first led me to this beautiful area.And there are lots of cute shops in Cashiers and Highlands…where I saw the prettiest hanging baskets ever…

Loaded with nasturtiums, and lots of other things
I don’t know the names of….

I have a thing lately for owls….even mossy ones.

Ended a couple of nights by the fire(at 4000ft. altitude it gets quite cool at night!) with s’mores made with “stacker” marshmallows, and dark and milk chocolate…your choice. Or both. And we discovered something that makes s’mores even more fab…use Reece’s Cups. A. Maz. Ing.

The good life. No doubt….

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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Sake 101….
August 28, 2012

It was a stormy afternoon outside Pabu at Harbor East,
but inside, it was all smooth sake….

Yeah, what I know about sake would fill a thimble. Seriously. So the idea of going to sake school(Sake 101 they call it) at Pabu at the Four Seasons at Harbor East, to learn how sake is made, how to tell good sake from bad(oh there is bad my friend), how it’s (properly)served, the history of the beverage was interesting enough. But when you get to taste sake throughout the class? I’m all in.

These are the sakes we tried….no I cannot
read the labels. But so pretty…I wanted the center one for a vase!

Lesson number one: Sake is not hot battery acid you drink at 3AM  with bad sushi. This was quite a revelation to most of us, as that’s exactly what we’ve done in the past.

Lesson #2: Sake is not rice wine. It’s also not a beer or a spirit. What?? Sake is unique unto itself…(however it is brewed like beer soooo…..just sayin’).

Here is your sake professor..a.k.a. The Sake Lady….she know all!

Ok, I love edamame, but this fire roasted soy coated thingies
were just AMAZING….I want some right now.

No we did not just drink…we also ate. Delectable goodies like fire roasted edamame, and squid salad….really yummy stuff….

Beautiful, no? And we got to devour it!

I wish I could tell you that I am now a sake expert, and can order with aplomb from the extensive sake menu at Pabu….but that’s not be true. But no matter….I know tons more about sake now than I did before, which brings us to Lesson #3: Sake is served cold. COLD!

Oh, and there are two more Sake 101 classes(9-08 & 10-13) at Pabu, about which you can read details here. For only $25…it’s fun hour…and you learn something too. Win-win in my book. Here’s sake in your eye….

Sista-hood..and making the gumbo….
August 14, 2012

This was the 3 sistas in Uganda this spring….we look a little tired, and I think we were!

When my sisters and I get together…even if we haven’t seen each other for months…it’s like we were together yesterday. I know those who don’t get along with their sisters…it’s more like they’re competitors, who just happen to have grown up together and share the same parents. I can never understand that, just because I are so close, and we always have been really. I can’t even remember being in a real argument with them…maybe a little tiff when we were younger, but today…never.

This crew is familiar with seafood, but not cracking crabs, Maryland
style…

So when the sisters, my niece and her daughter came for a visit, it was a whole houseload of female…plus my daughter came over to spend a couple of nights with us too….yeah…girls. Lots. We had an amazing crab feast on the back patio, with corn, wine(no beer, sorry)…a lovely, …girlie evening.

I did a pretty good job on these but we had 6 leftover crabs.
They were not wasted…

And some of the leftover crabs came in handy….But that leads me to a cookbook my sister brought me…

Crazy Sista Cooking….great gumbo recipe inside!!

My older sister Audrey(she hates it when I call her that…older sister) brought me Lucy Buffett’s new book…Lulu, as she is known, is the sister of the famous Margaritaville singer/songwriter Jimmy Buffet…she has a well-known seafood restaurant in Gulf Shores. First stop at the stove: gumbo!!

Lucy’s Summer Gumbo…

Lulu says it takes courage to take the roux to the color of mahogany, and yet not burn it(’cause if you do you just have to start over)….no likee.

Just keep stirring until your arm falls off….

Honestly I didn’t get there. I chickened out right at the end, and figured  it was dark enough, at least a light mahogany.

Add the chopped onions(and later the green and red peppers) and
saute in the roux. MORE stirring.

The recipe doesn’t call for chicken…but gumbo is what you make of it…

these are chopped chicken pieces….

And to me, it’s not gumbo without some sausage…andouille or kielbasa…

Note the queen made vegetables underneath the sausage!

Fat and Juicy…good stuff….

One does need some refreshment during the day long process of gumbo…Lulu suggest bloodies…I concur. And Fat and Juicy-here…is amazing…smokey, horseradish…yum.

Getting ready to add the chicken and sausage….the shrimp
right at the end….And

And…the finished product.

Sorry this isn’t my picture, but I forgot! (bloody Mary’s??)

Just in case you want to make this amazing gumbo for yourself…here’s the recipe from Alabama food. Really, I think it was the best gumbo I’ve ever made…and that’s saying something. Piece of advice…get a couple of sous chefs(husbands, daughters, friends) to help do the chopping and sauteeing…makes it so much easier.

Sputnik, Clafoutis, and watermelon salad….that’s what been happening in my world!
July 16, 2012

Softshell crabs Linwoods style on creamed corn bed, with béarnaise sauce….

Ok,….I ate this weekend at a restaurant I haven’t been to in several years. Not for any particular reason, but Linwoods just isn’t on my beaten path…and I just haven’t thought about it. How sad for me…had the most amazing meal there Saturday evening…my first soft shell crabs of the year, served on a creamed corn puddle, with pickled green beans.

Watermelon salad…love the composition of it, hated to mess it
up, but I did!!

And a watermelon salad with feta cheese and little scoops of cucumber sorbet on the top. So pretty…so delicious.

It’s a French classic….for a reason.

But you can’t always eat out, and I had a big bowl of fresh cherries from Whole Foods at half price that needed a home….so I made a cherry clafoutis(pronounced kla-foo-tee’). The recipe I use is from an old French cookbook I’ve had for probably 25 years, but there are plenty of other versions around….one of which I will provide below. But it’s a delicious eggy dessert that can accommodate almost any fruit…I added blueberries to the one above. And dead easy. This recipe from Williams-Sonoma is pretty close to mine…

Saved from the trash….now to be recycled. Sigh.

OK, I know some consider me a recycling freak…and maybe that’s true, because I spend part of my time here at work saving bottles and cans from the trash bins, and walking them over to the recycling bins. You know who you are, people.

I know, I know…what was I thinking???

And this Sputnik looking light fixture I won at an auction two years ago at Center Stage…it’s been sitting in their development office ever since. I went down last week, to finally take it home(and do what with it I still don’t know)….but I forgotten how big the damn thing really is. Probably 40-50 inches in diameter. So there I was on a super hot day, struggling with this thing on Calvert Street, trying to get it in the car without damaging it. Guess where it is now? That’s right, back in the development office. I’m coming up with plan B.

Have a piece(or mice) of the Zuckerberg wedding..
May 23, 2012

Credit:Allyson Magda Photography

Ok I cannot for the life of me remember where I read about this…Facebook maybe? Twitter? An article?

Chocolate Shop on Harvard Square in Cambridge

But the story was that at the super hush-hush Mark(aka Facebook)Zuckerberg wedding…they ditched the wedding cake and  served some cunning little chocolate mice made by a confectioner on Harvard Square, which Mark and his bride had on their first date. So romantic.

First thought, I want some. And I knew you would want me to try them. I did it for you, OK? Went online to L.A Burdick Chocolates…which said: “CONGRATULATIONS to Priscilla and Mark!  We are thrilled to have been a part of your special day. We want to extend the celebration to your wide circle of friends with a celebratory 9 mouse wood box wrapped with blue and white ribbons, stamped with a heart-shaped wax seal.”

Here they are….with cold packs inside…

Now I reallywant some…and for $20(plus shipping), I did it, and they arrived two days later.

And underneath the neatly wrapped tissue paper…

And inside the box, six dear little mice!

Aren’t they precious?

And there they are…six little mice with blue and white silk tails. The dark chocolate has an orange flavor interior, the milk chocolate is mocha , and the white chocolate has cinnamon. I haven’t eaten one yet…they’re just too darn cute. And these aren’t poured in a mold…no way…they’re all piped and decorated by hand. As it says on the Burdick website, “bon gout ne peut mentir”…which in English means “good taste cannot lie”. I suspect it can, and often does, but perhaps not this time. I have a piece of the Zuckerberg wedding!

Preakness week wrapup….check.
May 21, 2012

Just hangin’ with Cam Newton and Torrey Smith….look how happy I am.

This past week has honestly been a whole lot of the P word for me. You know, that big old party over on Northern Parkway that we call the Preakness….you know the one. The picture above is one of my fav moments there…Once I heard the Raven’s Torrey Smith(who is really the nicest young man in the world…seriously sweet) say Cam Newton(once an Auburn Tiger and now the Carolina’s Panther’s hotshot new quarterbackk) was in the Under Armour tent…nothing was gonna keep me away. Creepy obsession? Maybe. One woman asked me was he dreamy…me: “Yes, the dreamiest.” And also very nice…and they were both dressed like a million dollars!

My lemon yellow hat this year…..

Found my hat at Hats to Hose, on Reisterstown Road….they always have some gorgeous chapeaus…and because I had waited until the last week to go pick one….there was only  a few yellow ones(I wanted yellow to go with navy) left…and two were too small for my huge cranium. But this one really worked….I loved it! As for shoes?

J. Crew comes through again….

Picked these from J. Crew…and they were remarkably comfortable, even for clomping around the infield of Pimlico. THe only danger in shoes like these, is the tip-over…you unwittingly place your foot on uneven ground, and….over you go. At best, you’re embarrassed, at worst, you end up with a sprained ankle. Neither happened to me.

Ha-ha….beat you again Bodemeister!

And my Twitter pal I’ll Have Another is on his way to the Belmont! Who knows, maybe he’ll be the first triple crown winner in 34 years. In one tweet, he said, “Got my hooves crossed for a good run today.” Is he cute or what?  I just love that horse.

My mega pill carrier…

Several people in the newsroom have had some fun at Donna’s expense, regarding her industrial size pill carrier. It is indeed my first foray into the pill organizer world that my Mother in habited for many years. But when I found this one at Target before I went to Uganda…it solved my vitamin problems. That’s the only diff between Mom and me…she carried prescription meds, and mine is full of vitamins. Sigh.

Why, why, why mix your peanuts????????????

And just a little nudge to companies that ship things to people. If you send me biodegradable packing peanuts, I’ll compost them. If you send styrofoam peanuts, I’ll recycle them. If you mix them, I’m mad. And here’s why. It took me a good 30 minutes to sort through them all to pick out the ones I can compost. So why do that to your customers? Why? Just pick one, and I’ll deal with it. Mix them and I biodegrade. So stop it.

Bacon and chocolate, beef belly, and gardens…did I leave anything out?
April 23, 2012

Project side garden....underway. I need more rocks!

OK, let’s see what’s been going on….I’ve been working on a little garden on the side of my house. It doesn’t get seen much really, so I’ve never given it much love. But when a huge Black Walnut tree came down last summer there, the area was just… so…nude, really. SO I bought a tall crepe myrtle that I intended to get in the ground last year. Ok, let’s make it THIS year. And once that was done( I hired someone to dig the hole for me) I was inspired to create a stone border and get some other things in the ground. Almost there, but still need more rocks!! But one of my neighbors has this garden thing down to a science.

I love the rhubarb in the pot...such a nice contrast....

And this morning, I paid a visit to the courthouse, where my daughter was determined to fight a “turning right on red without making a complete stop” camera ticket. “

I know I stopped before I turned. I’m fighting that ticket!”…..Oh my little activist. But what she(and probably others) didn’t know…is that the police don’t just have still pictures of your offense. They have actual moving video. So when she’s called up, and presented with video evidence of her heinous crime(in which she clearly doesn’t come to a complete stop)…really, what can you say? But just for her taking the trouble of showing up, the judge cut her fine from $75 to $35. I guess that’s worth a visit.

The charcuterie is housemade, and freaking fabulous....

Ok, best new restaurant find. I’m really psyched about this place, because I went there on a Groupon(which has fooled Donna a few times)….But the Blue Grass Tavern in Federal Hill, is the real foodie deal. It’s on the corner of Fort Ave. and Hanover…nice atmosphere, and the food was just sooooo good. And they had something on the menu I’ve never seen before. Beef belly. Pork belly…plenty…but never beef belly. The waitress  described it as a cross between pork belly and a pastrami(she had me at pork belly). I’ll just say this…if you go, order it if it’s on the menu. Just stop deliberating and get it. And I noticed at the end of the meal, they also have pimiento cheese, which was too late to order, but next time…next time.

Just plain yum.

Best new guilty treat: Vosges Haut Chocolate “Mo’s Dark Bar“….62% dark chocolate with hickory smoked uncured bacon and smoked sea salt. The guilt is on two levels. 1. That I just paid $7 for a chocolate bar. and 2. That there is something so amazing and I get to eat it! I allow my self a square or two after salad at my desk. It makes the evening at work, just a little smoother. Trust me on this.

Duly chastened….and back on the case!
April 16, 2012

One of our neighbors in Chucktown....dig the placement of the hazard marker!!

I just got an email from a blog reader who said,” I know you’re busy, but I live vicariously through you and miss more regular posts! I always learn some about new fact, or tidbit, trends and trendy spots.  I love your travel advice and suggestions and the food chat and photos – oh, how I miss the food chat and photos! .  C’mon, Donna, you’re killing me here!”

 

My favorite bridge....to the Holy City...

Tout mes excuses!! And while my excuses aren’t bad really….let’s just get with the program. I just got back from the Holy City(someone here in the newsroom with initial GS–ok, Gerry Sandusky–asked me if I had been in Israel, as I tweeted something about being in the Holy City). I just gave him what I hope was a suitably scathing look, and informed him that here in the U.S., Charleston SC is the Holy City, because of all the church steeples that dot that city skyline.

Here’s the beach I walked to almost every day, over a long boardwalk out over the marsh…you have to know the code to get on the boardwalk, which is why the beach there is never crowded… http://youtu.be/sJ8Jpv3W2CQ

We also had baby gators..so cute....while small anyway...

My daughter with Esmerelda, the dog who lives down the street....

Fish tacos at Poe's Tavern on Sullivan's Island...yes that Poe....

Pistachio gelato on King Street...with some of the best shopping and eating you'll ever want....

Shop window of Blue Bicycle Books, also on King Street....a literary kitty!

Classic....just classic, and so Charleston.

My two fav purchases....

Adore the dress above with the cute bow in the back and beading…and the grey-green topiary was the subject of some spirited discussion about hauling it back in the car…but as you see, I won.

If you're looking for preppy(and pricey)...look no further than M Dumas.

M. Dumas is really pronounced Doo-Mahs’……but in fun, we call it Dumbass. Quietly of course…quietly.

Dumas ties look like sherbets.....

More Topsiders and in more colors and styles I never imagined.

I did say the place was prep, right?

Soft shell crab at hot new restaurant called The Grocery...soooo delicious!

But Cru Cafe is still our go-to restaurant....so charming, and the food is so inventive. Best mac and cheese in town, hands down.

This was the view I woke up to every morning....the beautiful salt marsh.

And alittle bird right outside always called first thing, “cheeseburger, cheeseburger, cheeseburger“..seriously it does! If you have never heard a bird say “cheeseburger“(they really do) listen carefully to this video I took, on the little porch right outside my bedroom….http://youtu.be/gBYbJbWa4H8

Yep, the drive home was as fabulous as it looks...

But this was the view home, on a 10-1/2 hr drive that should have taken 8…horrible traffic, and fast food french fries. Just keeping it real, ya’ll.

Monday Catch Up….
February 27, 2012

Love Jean Dejardin!!

OK , I got to see The Artist…the silent film that won Best Picture Oscar last night, just under the wire before Sunday night’s Oscars. It’s still playing at The Charles Theatre downtown.. one of my fav places to see a movie, but it’s a bit more of a challenge to eat dinner, since the Zodiac closed a couple of year ago. Sure, there’s Tapas Teatro which is wonderful…but even though we arrived at 6…were told there was a 40 minute wait for a table(a problem, obvie, when your movie starts at 6:50). Sophie’s Crepes was standing room only(that doesn’t take much of course as it is tiny), and my daughter had told me the Diner on the corner was good. So we traipsed over there…sign on the door says “closed for renovation“. Hmmmm, you never know what that means, except that you’re NOT having dinner there. But the sign also said the Club Charles next door was now serving some of the much missed Zodiac favs.

Let's be honest ...it looks like a dive bar...

So we tentatively open the door..it’s locked…they have to buzz you in, which the girl at the bar does. It’s dark inside, with kind of a 1940-ish, hipster/creepy/cool vibe…..there is one lonely other couple in the room, seated in the corner. And it is silent as…a… tomb. Not a good sound for a bar. But we’re hungry, and thirsty. So after dropping some money in the jukebox so things aren’t so depressing(yes they still have one) , we sit at the bar and ask for menus. Sure enough, the Zodiac pizza is there!!….With smoked mozzarella, chicken and caramelized onions…it’s a no brainer, and a winner. I get a glass of  sauvignon blanc(for $5 believe it or not)…and we chill. Bottom line, the drinks were cold, the music personally chosen, and the pizza fabulous, we made the movie…and we will be back. Don’t let the skeezy looking exterior put you off…push the buzzer..and come on in.

P.S. If This Is Austin…..
January 30, 2012

Oh, Willie....

I’m listening to the song by Blake Shelton as I write this little love letter to AustinTexas, where I visited for several days last week. What a great town….the capital city of Texas…the MO of Austinites being “Keep Austin Weird”…..and I think they’ve succeeded…in a good way.

A walk thru Austin will make you hungry...guaranteed...

The most amazing sushi I've ever had...at Uchi...

I wish I could say I took the picture above….my phone ran our of power right after I took a pic of our sake…below…but Mike Sutter of the American Statesman felt as strongly as I did about the sea-bass crudo with golden roe, orange oil, citrus vinaigrette and black pepper.

Cold sake with roasted cauliflower nibbles at Uchi...AMEX ready to rock...

I don’t know how to tell you how amazing this place is…but absorb this.  In the middle of dinner, who walks in for dinner at Uchi, but Matthew McConaugheyand his lady love/baby mama. That’s how good Uchi is. Hat’s off to Chef Tyson Cole, who won the James Beard award for Best Chef SW last year.

Jerky with no additives at Whittington's ...

Lobby of the historic Driskell Hotel....wow...

The people of Austin were so happy for visitors…I gathered the economy has hit them pretty hard. Everywhere you went, residents said, “Thanks for visiting Austin“…and “Thanks for spending your dollars in Austin“…which of course, I did.

Keepin' it real in Austin...what you don't see is the herd of goats...

Lunch at the Roaring Fork....kettle of green chili pork and tortillas..

Samsung Lounge in Dallas airport....why aren't they everywhere???

More this week on a side trip I made that was my best day there. Hint: LBJ.