review, Travel, wine

Elk Island Winery; Goochland, VA

Virginia has tons of wineries. And they aren’t just in Charlottesville but instead scattered all over. A neighbor of mine has been telling me about the love Elk Island Winery for some time now. I have tried them before at the Virginia Wine Expo but never made it out to visit them. So we finally set a date and made a day of it.

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The bright shades of purple on the pennants at the entrance were a good indicator that we had reached the wine and made them noticeable off the road. Once you turn in there is quite a steep incline down to the winery. It made the whole thing seem more rustic and hidden away. I really liked it! The tasting room is also unassuming it just looks like a neighbor’s house, no big deal.

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And that quiet, unassuming, homey atmosphere continued once you entered the tasting room. The stairway leading upstairs was an impromptu gift shop, and the owner, Sue, was in the foyer putting labels on boxes! It was just the best entrance into a tasting room ever!

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The entire tasting room is full of the cutest little knick knacks and signs. It invites you to wander around and peruse. The chessboard is a battle of corks and zorks which I thought was a really cute touch. And as the dog people that they are they had treats set out for your four-pawed friends.

They had another little corner with some items for sale. One thing that really stood out to me were some locally made soaps using the wines from Elk Island Winery! I love local, I love wine, I love being clean! Total winner in my books.

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But, I digress from the wine! The tasting menu is very straight forward, you get to pick 6 wines for $5.00, but your tasting fee is waved with the purchase of a bottle of wine so it really is a steal. I stuck with the dry wines because that’s where my palette likes to be. And it very much enjoyed the Elk Island wines it tried.

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Also, the tasting came with the cutest little penguin crackers. I named mine Timothy. Apparently these cheese penguins come from costco and they are super cheesy. I think I’ll search them out at my next visit there.

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They have a variety of snacks and beverages on offer as well as merchandise for sale. They really do invite you to stay and relax with them after your tasting.

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After our tasting we grabbed some drinks and snacks and sat outside. The house’s back deck serves as outdoor seating and really does complete that homey atmosphere. There are two more large tables with tables and extra chairs as well as smaller tables scattered around. There were three different groups out there with us and we never felt crowded.

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One thing that I really love about a winery is when they allow outside food and non-alcoholic drinks and provide a comfy place to sit and enjoy their wine. We did bring some snacks but we also got their cheese plate. Which, at twelve dollars is a total steal.

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And of course, drinks! I got a glass of their Chambourcin Rosé and just had to try the ginger green tea sangria because it’s so unusual! It was amazingly refreshing and perfect for one of the first warm spring days we have had!

If you are ever out and about in Goochland, VA take a trip over to Elk Island Winery! The atmosphere and wines won’t disappoint! Come thirsty and hungry because they have plenty to satisfy both cravings! Cheers Elk Island!

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We headed just down the road to Byrd Cellars after we finished here. A perfect one, two combo!

review, Travel, wine

Byrd Cellars; Goochland, VA

After our visit to Elk Island Vineyards we headed down the road a few minutes to Byrd Cellars for some more locally grown Goochland, VA wine. It is another very lovely and homey set of buildings divided into a tasting room and a winery.

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The winery is painted a gorgeous shade of purple and catches the light beautifully. There are mentions of this being a subterranean winery on the website and the phrase was bandied about in the tasting room. But I didn’t ask at the time. I would really like to know if they do tours!

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But the tasting room is the place to be. It’s so picturesque from the outside but the inside takes your breath away as well.

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In fact, the tasting room was hand built by a minister who lived there with his wife for years. After his wife passed he decided to move on to travel ministry and rents his home out to Byrd Cellars. The place is beautiful inside with large windows overlooking the mountains and elegantly exposed beams. But, onto the tasting!

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The wines they have on offer for tasting rotates and they have it listed behind the tasting bar. There were some sweeter wines that I usually prefer but overall it was a very good selection. A surprising was the “velvet” I thought it would be syrupy sweet but instead it was lovely and dry and the bitter dark chocolate hit you right at the end.

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The staff was so friendly and knowledgable I could have stood there and sipped for a lot longer. But they were busy and I didn’t want to hog the bar. Instead I took a wander around the tasting room while we finished our glasses off.

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The exposed beams held all the glasses from the different wine festivals that Byrd Cellars has attended and I thought this was such a neat touch and really gave you a sense of how vast wine making in Virginia is. I also loved these twine and button wine bottles!

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It was a very successful girls’ day! Cheers to Virginia Wine!

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review, Travel

Thurmont, MD and Gettysburg, PA

My group of friends decided we needed to go away for a weekend and all of us have been wanting to see Gettysburg National park so we headed up that way a few weeks ago. Of course this meant packing up my entire house. Poor Lloyd gets so overwhelmed by how much I pack when we go on a road trip. But we always manage to get it all in the car.

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We rented a very cute little airbnb up in Thurmont, MD. It was about a thirty minute drive south of Gettysburg and located near some nice wineries and other attractions. We also happened to be celebrating 4 March birthdays I set up one of the living rooms as a birthday center when we arrived.

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And then it was time get our food and wine organized! We started off the evening with a nice meat and cheese board because that’s always a crowd pleaser. Meat and Cheese straight from Wegman’s, provided by Reese, one of the birthday girls!

As far as wine went we weren’t sure if we brought enough for the weekend. we actually didn’t end up getting through it all but we sure tried. You can thank Claire for the artistic wine set-up.

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Once everyone arrived it was time for dinner. We had a Sweet Potato and Turkey Shepherd’s Pie along with a strawberry and basil salad. Don’t mind Lloyd’s super creepy face. It’s just his “about to eat” look.

The next morning we got up bright and early to head up to gettysburg. The area we were staying in was absolutely beautiful and we were greeted with some absolutely stunning views. Claire caught the sunrise through her bedroom windows. It was like a rainbow.

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We had to hurry up and get out of the house so we would have plenty of time to explore the park and the town. I had made these Waffle Breakfast Sandwiches ahead of time and they definitely went over well. I made some strong ginger spiced Indian tea to go along with them. Perfect combo.

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Gettysburg National Park is huge extending over much of the current town of Gettysburg, PA. The visitor center has a visually stunning movie as well as an incredible cyclorama. We walked through the museum and got the car CD that gives you an audio tour of the different locations of the battlefield. It takes 3 or 4 hours to get through the drive and another hour or so tour the museum. So plan to spend a good chunk of your day being overwhelmed by the loss of life.

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We actually ended up breaking up our day and doing the museum/visitor’s center in the morning and the drive through the park in the afternoon. We went to a pub in downtown Gettysburg called Garryowen Irish Pub. The food was great and the drinks were cold and refreshing. They even do a black velvet which is champagne and Guinness. Basically nectar of the Gods.

After that we stopped by a local winery’s tasting room. It’s called Knob Hill Winery. The wine was a little sweeter than I prefer but the ambience in the tasting room superb!

When we had finished at the park we headed back to the house for the evening’s main event! We had planned on a murder mystery party using a kit we found on amazon. It’s designed as a “flexi party” so that the murderer changes every time which means you can use the kit again and again.

 

Dinner was a three course affair, that synched up with the murder mystery party. We started off with Crockpot French Onion Soup and then moved onto Herbs de Provence Chicken with Roasted Vegetables and Ratatouille. Because we were traveling I had brought up aluminum baking trays and it was great idea because nothing the house had was big enough. It’s going to be my new go-to plan whenever I travel.

The whole evening was fantastic and we rounded it off by celebrating everyone’s birthdays. Claire ordered these cakes from Shyndigz in Richmond, VA and Kimbrough brought them up. We had a salted caramel and strawberry lemon cake. Divine! Ignore the bizarre cake toppers we had to get creative to make sure everyone was represented.

The next morning was a little lazy and slow because we didn’t have to be out of the house very early. Luckily I had made a Savory Overnight Crockpot Oatmeal so I didn’t have to get up and fuss in the kitchen. The handmade bacon and sausage from Woodbury Farms that Steve brought was just the thing to make the morning perfect.

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To sum up we had a fabulous weekend filled with friends, food, wine. Gettysburg was moving and unimaginable all at the same time. And our time in our Thurmont, MD Airbnb was just perfect. On the way home we stopped by Springfield Manor which was an immense visit! More on that soon!

Food, review

Hoke Poke; Richmond, VA

Richmond, VA is very much a foodie town. But there has been a lack of proper poke for years now. Finally my wish has been granted and we have one in the form of the newly opened Hoke Poke in the Short Pump area of RVA. I’ve been three times in the last week.

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So in the vein of Chipotle this is a pick your base and add your mix-ins and finish off with an array of toppings and sauces type place. But of course instead of marinaded beef, chicken and pork you get raw fish! Delicious, perfectly marinaded raw fish!

Rice is the most common base for a poke bowl. The Sushi rice is your typical white rice but the bamboo is a more floral and surprisingly green rice. As well as low carb options, specifically kale and mixed greens. There is a wide array of proteins, both raw and cooked. Salmon and Tuna make up the back bone of their options. With spicy tuna and a sweeter version of both salmon and tuna also available. The mix in are a variety of fresh vegetables and fruits. You get four mix-ins with a large bowl and three with a small.

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The next bar you are going to hit is the toppings bar. Which has some things you would expect; cilantro, wasabi and pickled ginger. But also some more unusual things: seaweed salad and crushed flaming hot Cheetos in particular. You can have as many of these as you want, but the avocado is an up charge.

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Lloyd and I both went for the spicy tuna but I used a lot more toppings than he did. I also decided to try the bamboo rice. It was definitely filling and very tasty. The next time I went I opted for the mixed greens as a base and I think that might be the way to go. But I’m a weird Indian and don’t particularly like rice.

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I must also mention the boba milk teas! We tried the Taro and the Matcha. The boba was perfect and the flavors in the teas were rich and well balanced. I sampled the Thai tea and the golden milk tea on another visit. And if you go I would recommend the Thai tea, its definitely worth the calories. For non-tea drinkers you have to try their lavender lemonade. Have to.

9nWVHtFcThS2IOO4ogYbUAIf you live in the Richmond, VA area or have a Hoke Poke near you I definitely suggest a visit. If you haven’t had Poke and are a sushi fan than you should absolutely figure out a way to get this delight in your mouth hole.

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All in all, a llavender llama, lavender lemonade cheers to Hoke Poke! Thanks for coming to RVA!