Thursday, February 17, 2011

Another Birthday Detour!

While we are diligently making our way through all 50 states; sometimes we visit other states out of alphabetical order.  This month we traveled to VIRGINIA - State # 46,  (we will return when it is time for the V states),  to see our daughter...


In these photos you can see the lobby of The Jefferson Hotel in Richmond.  We had afternoon tea there to celebrate Jill's recent birthday.  In our travels we often encounter historic grand hotels in which we would love to stay, but they are usually very expensive or inconveniently located.  Fortunately, these hotels honor the charming custom of High Tea in the afternoon. We get to see the grand architecture and experience impeccable service without paying $$$.

This is a beautiful property and we recommend the afternoon tea (only served Thursday - Sunday.)  And don't worry if you do not care for tea...there are other choices.

Happy Birthday Jill!

We also visited The Virginia Museum of Fine Art.  As you know, we love visiting museums when we travel and this one was totally Jill's idea.  (It was on her Bucket List...ask her!)  We were pleasantly surprised at this remarkably beautiful collection of art.  Our favorites...the Faberge Collection, the Noble Silver Collection and the Civil War Sketch Artists Exhibit.

We had lunch in AMUSE inside the VMFA.  This is a simple contemporary dining room serving works of "edible art!"

Jill was a willing participant in our tradition of choosing the "best of course!"  And the winners were:
  • First course - Goat Cheese Risotto Croquettes/Wild Mushrooms/Sherry Cream 
  • Second Course - Braised Beef Short Rib/Celery Root Gratin/Smoked Oyster Cream
  • Third Course - Chocolate Pate'

Full disclosure - the first and third course win by default because that is all we had.  We shared the croquettes (when you go...get your own) and the third course was complimentary for Jill's birthday.  And while Chocolate Pate' was an intriguing idea the execution fell short of wonderful.  The second course proved extremely difficult in choosing a winner.  Jill had extraordinary crabcakes and I had braised lamb, but in the end we all decided the short rib ruled!

On our last evening in Richmond we had dinner in a restaurant on Jill's Bucket List called - comfort.

And just as the name implies, this place serves delicious comfort food in a comfortable setting.  Located in downtown Richmond just steps from the VCU campus, it alone is worth the trip!

The menu follows the southern tradition of  "meat & 2 or meat & 3," choose a meat and pick two or three sides.  First, you must start with an order of Fried Green Tomatoes...the best seller on the menu!  Then you choose from 11 different "meats"...our choices:  Pulled Pork BBQFried Catfish and Pork Tenderloin.  Next, we each chose two sides from a list of 13.  (You can choose a Vegetable Plate of 3 or 4 sides.)  Since there were 3 of us we had 6 choices from the list:  Mashed Potatoes, Macaroni & Cheese, Cheddar Cheese Grits, Fried Okra, Green Beans and Hoppin John...this is called an embarrassment of riches!  Now the potatoes, grits and macaroni were nice; but the okra, green beans and Hoppin John were all truly delectable.

Did you know leftover "Hoppin John" is called "Skippin Jenny?"  

Comfort only has two desserts on the menu..."we feel we have to offer chocolate, but hardly anyone orders it," our server told us.  And then she brought the BANANA PUDDING CREME BRULEE to the table and it was love at first sight, and then we tasted it!  Without question this was the most creative "nana puddin" any of us had ever had!

We had a lovely time in Richmond celebrating our youngest daughter's birthday.  And she got three things checked off her Richmond Bucket List

We love you, Jilly Bean!

Since we were only 2 1/2 hours away from our friends, Haley & Mike, we drove to Ellicott City in Maryland (State # 20) to visit.

Here we celebrated yet another birthday...Lily's 7th!

I met Haley in 1997 when she hired me to open the Nordstrom in Atlanta.  And we have been dear friends ever since.  Haley and Mike own a truly great music store.  Mike's Music was recently voted the "BEST PLACE FOR MUSIC LESSONS IN HOWARD COUNTY...check out their COVER STORY on their website:

We spent the weekend hanging out with our favorite Maryland family.  We ate really good pizza at Coal Fire and had an excellent brunch at Victoria Grill & Pub(Have the Lobster & Grits!) 

The girls painted tea sets and served us "cinnamon tea and cookies" around the clock!  (They earned big tips for their excellent service!)  And we had a nice visit with Nancy and thanked her in person for Cape May!

And on Saturday night the four grown-ups went down to the historic village of Ellicott City to a tiny place called Pure Wine.  When you visit this suburb of DC...THIS IS A MUST!

A small cozy wine bar beautifully tucked into an historic building.  I enjoyed a flight of wine at the recommendation of the sommelier to accompany our tapas choices.  It was impossible to choose a winner because I believe the chef put a magic spell on this food!  Every morsel was incredible!  Our choices:

  • Truffle Fries with Truffled Black Pepper Aioli, Fleur de Sel, Fines Herbs
  • Duo of Catalan Meatball Sliders - Kobe Beef, Toasted Baguette, Smoked Paprika Aioli, Fontina
  • Medley of Roasted Exotic Mushrooms - Maitake, Beech & Royal Trumpet Mushrooms, Truffle Oil, Fontina Crostini
  • Fig & Bleu Flatbread - Seared Prosciutto, Black Mission Figs, Carmelized Red Onion, Roaring 40's Bleu Cheese
  • Smoked Duck Flatbread - Sweet Chile Gastrique, Roasted Shallots, Crumbled Chevre, Asparagus
  • Macaroni & Gruyere Cheese with Smoked Prosciutto

I could not make this up!  As you know, Guy and I love to find truly unique places to dine and this one will be a standout in our memories for years to come.  Of course, the meal was divine because of the people we shared it with...thanks Haley & Mike.

On Valentines Day, before we set out for home, we drove to Annapolis to have breakfast with another good friend...Jose

Thanks for breakfast, dear friend!  And thank you for my fragrant V Day corsage; you made my day!Hopefully, we will see you soon in Atlanta.

So that was our quick detour to States # 20 and 46.  Next time, as promised...NEW HAMPSHIRE!

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