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Vet’s Day Weekend 2017: Annapolis

Day 1, Wednesday, November 8, 2017

Last fall, I decided I needed to take some time away, so I booked a long weekend to the East Coast.  Flying cross country is always tough; for this trip I had to be on my airport shuttle at 4:10 am, which means getting my taxi at 3:40 am!  I never get to bed before about 10 pm on nights when I am flying out the next morning, so you can imagine the sleep deprivation.  It is so worth it when I get to board that plane though!

My flight was direct – and absolutely uneventful.  I got my car, and made my way to Annapolis; it was only about a 25-minute drive there from the airport.  I stayed at the State House Inn, a historic hotel that was originally a house.  There are only 7 rooms, so it is really more an inn than a hotel – without breakfast though.  They do have an agreement for room service from the Italian restaurant below.  The State House Inn is over 200 years old, and perhaps as old as 300 years; however, there aren’t existing records that show when the house was built.

The State House Inn

The upper stories are home/inn, and the first floor is commercial space (this floor is only visible from the back side of the house).  It has undergone a variety of restorations, with the the most recent addition to the building in 1900. You can see the bones of the original building from Chancery Lane, which they say is the most photographed site in Annapolis because of the view of the illuminated dome of Maryland’s State House (you know I had to see that for myself).  The alley was supposedly used by George Washington returning to Mount Vernon on December 23, 1783, after resigning his commission in the State House (there are stairs, so he must not have gotten on his horse yet).

MD State House, from Chancery Lane

Their website indicates that it is owned and operated by Naval Academy graduate Lieutenant Commander Marc Lucas, but I talked with the manager during my stay and she had indicated that there were new owners, so it is likely that the website is outdated.

For dinner, I headed across the street to the Red Red Wine Bar for a flight of wine and a charcuterie plate.  The wine flights and meats and cheeses were delicious!  They have a huge selection of  wines by the glass and the bottle, and also have an extensive selection of whiskys, for my whisky drinker readers.  The atmosphere was very nice, and the server was excellent, explaining all the flavors on the cheeses and meats so I could choose what I wanted.  After my light dinner, I spent a little time wandering the quiet streets of Annapolis, looking in the shop windows, before heading back to the Inn for bed.  Overall, it was a quiet evening, considering that most of the day was spent traveling.  I was excited to see the sights the next day!

I chose an international red wine flight

 

My flight, with wine details

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Walla Walla 2017: Relaxation

Day 2 – Saturday, May 27, 2017

Saturday morning Lelani and I were both up early (I mean remember I had basically slept the entire day before!), so we took a walk around the neighborhood and just enjoyed the quiet morning.

Historic Sharpstein Manor, Walla Walla

 

Historic Home, now apartments

We got back, had the hotel breakfast, relaxed some on the hotel patios, and then the whole gang wandered over to Bacon and Eggs for cocktails.  When on vacation you might as well go heavy on the relaxing!  We all enjoyed cocktails – I had a Grapefruit Mimosa – YUM!  Then we did a bit of shopping (Walla Walla has some really cool little shops), and found a shop called Trove that Paula loved, because their logo is a Fleur de Lis.  She loves Fleur de Lis, and Trove had some really cute stuff!  We also went to the farmer’s market, and checked out all the fresh produce and craft items. I got a pair of earrings and a pendant made from recycled glass bottles. They are gorgeous! Sadly, I broke one of the earrings (turns out glass earrings don’t fare too well when dropped on concrete), but I have been using the second earring as another pendant for now. Next time I am there I will be sure to get another pair of earrings – or several!

My Grapefruit Mimosa at Bacon and Eggs

We also went to the Museum of Unnatural History. It is a tiny little place, created and run by a guy named Gerry Matthews with a very strange and creative imagination. He spent his career working in the film and commercial industry.  Most notably, he was the voice of Sugar Bear, the mascot for Sugar Crisp cereal – now known as Golden Crisp.  I am sure everybody my age remembers the voice!  He then retired to Walla Walla and created this museum, a play on the many Museums of Natural History… Let me just say, Wow. There was just so much bizarre going on in such a small space…  The exhibits are – well, there are just no words.  He was there when we visited and he was happy to answer questions or dialogue about his creations…  Lelani and Joel LOVED it! Paula HATED it! Brandon and I were fairly neutral. Let’s just say I won’t be decorating my home in any of his motifs.  It just goes to show that we all have different tastes, and different creative minds.  If you want to visit, it is free (he accepts donations), worth a visit, and clearly a labor of love, but it is only open Saturdays from 10-2 or by appointment.  If you do go, I guarantee you won’t leave without an opinion! Keep in mind, I limited my photos here to the PG-13 stuff, but there is A LOT more to see.

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Saturday afternoon we went to the Morrison Lane tasting room. Morrison Lane is a family run winery, owned and operated by my friend Shawn and his family.  Shawn has been the winemaker for several years now, and the wines are delicious; I especially enjoyed the Rosé, the Syrah, and the Carmenere.  The bottles have artwork depicting the Lewis Chessmen, a group of 12th century chess pieces that were discovered at the Lewis Bay in Scotland in 1831. I love the tie in to history with the labels! Both Shawn and his parents are kind and personable, and love speaking with guests about their wine; we sat around for a while chatting and revisiting some of the wines.

Saturday evening we went over to Shawn’s house for his 50th birthday.  A backyard BBQ with amazing food; chicken skewers with peanut sauce, Thai noodle salad, pasta salad and lots of local beer and wine. We sat around talking and enjoying the hot Eastern Washington evening.  There was laughter – a lot of laughter – of the “what happens in Walla Walla stays in Walla Walla” variety!

 

Grapefruit Mimosa!

I have been on a little bit of a grapefruit mimosa kick…

I was at Trader Joe’s a few weeks ago, and picked up this bottle.  Not knowing what to expect, I put it in the cart…  I think it was $5.99.  I opened it early last week, and wow…  Grapefruit mimosa in a bottle!  It was a little sweet, a little tart, with that slightly bitter grapefruit kick.  Delicious!  I would absolutely get it again, for morning mimosas – easy peasy!

Pompelini Grapefruit Secco

This weekend friends were visiting from down south, so brunches!  This morning I had an amazing Grapefruit Mimosa at brunch…  Our server apologized for having run out of flutes, but I was perfectly happy to see the pint glass full of tasty mimosa goodness.

Grapefruit Mimosa deliciousness

 

What a great weekend!

 

Fâmega 2016 Vinho Verde

Vinho Verde is not a grape variety, but rather a DOC (Denominazione di Origine Controllata) for wine – basically a quality assurance that a wine came from a specific region.  In this case, Vinho Verde is Portuguese. The name means “green wine,” but the more accurate translation is “young wine”. These wines are meant to be consumed young.  Most typically they are white, but can also come in red or rosé.  They have a slight effervescence, created by adding light carbonation during bottling.

I opened this wine expecting another hot day, but the weather cooled down this afternoon.  It was still a great wine; light and crisp with a lot of citrus and lemongrass flavor!  A wonderful summer sipper with an excellent price point (I think I spent $7.99).  Maybe it will heat up again soon so I can enjoy this out on the deck…

It would also be great for wine spritzers with citrus vodka, ice and lime juice (more on those in another post).

Fâmega Vinho Verde

 

Happy Monday Everybody!

August Hill Winery Vignoles

My Aunt and Uncle were kind enough to see me a bottle of wine for Christmas, from a state that I had not yet tried.  Illinois!  It is the Vignoles from August Hill Winery.

August Hill was founded in 2000 by two friends, although one friend has since stepped back from the winery’s operations.  Vignoles is a semi-dry, light-bodied grape – a French-American hybrid grape that is known for tasting similar to a Riesling.  This one has aromas of tropical fruit with a hint of caramel.  On the palate, it tastes of pineapple and sweet caramel.

August Hill Winery Vignoles

August Hill Winery Vignoles

Overall, it is a nice sweet wine, perfect for a relaxing evening after a weekend of yard work.  It even has an awesome label!  Cheers, and Happy Sunday!

 

Blue Mountain Cider Company: Winesap Cider

To my knowledge, the first time that I ever had Winesap apples was at Douglas Valley Winery in Manistee, Michigan in October, 2014.  They have orchards with several varieties of apples, and Winesaps are one of them.  They are delicious!

Fast forward to a trip that Jon and I took to Walla Walla in August 2015, to celebrate my birthday a little early and take advantage of Jon’s weekend off.  We visited The Blue Mountain Cider Company, and sampled several of their ciders.  This one, made from 100% Salmon Safe sustainable Oregon apples, was one of my favorites.  It is a dry style cider, with a refreshing crispness and a hint of tartness on the back of the palate.  It is very well done.

It was a perfect accompaniment to a lazy, exhausted Friday night after a long, short week!  It really hit the spot!

A line up of several Blue Mountain Ciders, courtesy of the Blue Mountain website.

A line up of several Blue Mountain Ciders, courtesy of the Blue Mountain website.

Have you ever had any of the Blue Mountain ciders?

Traverse Bay Winery Cherry Riesling

For the last couple of evenings, I have been enjoying a Michigan wine.  It is the Traverse Bay Winery’s Cherry Riesling wine, a blend of 25% Cherry wine and 75% Riesling. 

Their website describes it as a “unique and flavorful wine was made from our Semidry Riesling Wine and Northern Michigan Cherry Wine. Simply put, this enchanting semidry wine displays crisp, fruity style with a delicate hint of cherry. We recommend serving this versatile wine slightly chilled as an accompaniment to picnic or barbecued fare, as well as cheese and fruit. This is a sweeter-style blush wine with crisp Riesling flavors and just a hint of fresh cherry.”

Traverse-Bay-Cherry-Riesling(384x640)

At only $9, it is a great mid-week sipper, offering something different than a typical Riesling with its light cherry flavor.  While it is a bit late in the season for outdoor picnics, it is a nice, sweet wine that reminds me of summer.  If only the summer would return!   

Cheers to the impending return of the weekend!  One more day!