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!

wine

Virginia Wine Expo 2018

The Virginia Wine Expo is a bit of a tradition for me and mine. I’ve been for the last five years running, pretty much since I moved to Virginia. Lloyd has been with me since we were first started dating and this is the second year his Mother and Sister have joined us.

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This year, though, was slightly different since the venue has changed. We had the distinct pleasure of being hosted by Richmond’s historic Main Street Station. If you ever driven up I-95 you have probably seen the distinct clock tower facade. Recently they have built a glass sided platform that really gives the station something special and was an excellent place to showcase Virginia wine.

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We walked in and were greeted by Poseidon and the ubiquitous Virginia LOVE sculpture. Because Virginia is for lovers and the God of the sea.

Reidel glasses greeted us once we cleared the ticket check and the ID verification. I have quite the collection of Virginia Wine Expo glasses after years of attending this event. In fact, the quality if the glasses have made me a die hard Reidel fan.

One of the best things about the Virginia Wine Expo is their yearly showcasing of both a domestic and international wine region. This year we sampled Oregon wine as well as Australian/New Zealand Wines. The delightful Oregon Pinot Noirs and the crisp New Zealand Sauvignon Blancs really made my visit this year. I visited the Willamette Valley a few years ago with some family and friends. I will have to write about that trip but allow me to wax poetic about Oregon wine for a few lines.

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On my trip to Oregon we visited Adelsheim, Brooks and Erath. We visited a number of other wineries as well but Brooks and Erath continue to be some of my favorite that I have ever been to. One other winery, Big Table Farm, which is not show cased here was the standout of that trip though. I feel like I should soon write a blog about that trip to the Willamette Valley. In the meantime, a brief word on the Australian and New Zealand wines.

New Zealand is known for their crisp, citrusy wine. And these didn’t disappoint. I love the clean grapefruit finish you often get with a really quality Sauvignon blanc. The Drylands and Three Brooms were especially refreshing. Which brings me to the many. many Virginia Wines we drank.

I have been to a number of these wineries in person and they all do a very good job of showing off the best Virginia has to offer. However, they aren’t some of the more prominent Virginia wineries. These would require much more in depth blogging and I will try to do them justice in subsequent entries. There were a couple of non wine vendors worth mentioning. The I See Spain grater bowls and plates were a huge hit.

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Lloyd decided to eat a couple of cloves of whole garlic which made for a malodorous few tastings following our visit to this booth. The very neat thing about these bowls and plates is that the bottom is textured so that you can grate cheese, chocolate, garlic, ginger and other foods. I have to admit that I bought a set and am looking forward to using them and blogging about them! Another new addition to the wine expo was a surprising number of distilleries the attended. While I normally love Whiskey I didn’t want to ruin my chances of a hangover free Monday so I only visited one such booth.

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The whisky here was quite tasty and surprisingly smooth. I look forward to making a trip up there soon and promise to write about it when I do. All in all the 2018 Virginia Wine Expo was a definite success. It’s also nice to be enough of a grown up to know that I won’t be hungover tomorrow morning!

wine

Williamsburg Winery

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I think it’s time I start writing about wine as I promised I would. I’m going to start off with an easy one. Easy because we go to the The Williamsburg Winery often and are wine club members here. We love this winery so much that Lloyd and I are getting married there in December.

 

Every quarter we get a selection of three wines in a cute little carrying case and each month we have four free reserve tastings. These tastings are excellent. They are in a little back room and include a drier selection of wines. I really enjoy the more intimate setting of the backroom tasting. Chief among those reasons is the fact that members get to sit and it’s nice to have that option. The membership also came with a very nice discount on our wedding, so a total win-win.

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If you are ever in Williamsburg and a lover of dry red wine you owe it to yourself to make a visit to this Winery and do the Reserve Tasting. Just look at that list of wine. The real stand outs are the two Malbecs at the end. The 2013 Apogeo is the first 100% Malbec that Williamsburg Winery has put out. And the second, the 2015 Reflective, is from their sister winery, A16, in Argentina. You can see that they scored very well in Wine Enthusiast, and the scores are justly deserved.

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Of course this is just a small selection of their wine. There are many other tastings and tours available. Including one that ends in the notorious cellar wine jail. There are also two different restaurants on premises the Gabriel Archer Tavern and the Cafe Provencal. The Tavern serving more American style fair like this roast beef sandwich. Also you can combine tours with pre fixe menu deals at the tavern.

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The Cafe focuses on French cuisine of a more haute variety. It’s a little pricier but their is also an option for a tasting menu coupled with a tour for a very reasonable price. The food and the service when we have eaten here has been amazing. I only took a few picture because I couldn’t be bothered to delay myself or the people I was with.

 

I want to give a special mention to the onsite hotel, The Wedmore Place. It was built ten years ago in the fashion of a french chateau. It oozes old-world charm, absolutely oozes. Each room is uniquely appointed and named after a different of old work Europe; Bavaria, Killarney, Andalusia, Champagne, Veneto, to name a few. I have visited the premises many times and seen inside a number of the rooms but have not spent the night there…yet. We will be staying there for our wedding weekend so expect a much more detailed blog post when that time comes. And maybe a word or two on the wedding itself. In the meantime I leave you with a picture of this lovely wine wall.

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