Great Taste in the Revolutionary City

There aren’t many things I love more than travel and good food. The best scenario is when the two combine! So when I had the opportunity to jetset across the country to attend Colonial Williamsburg The Taste Tradition food festival over Labor Day, I jumped at the chance. Fine dining & cooking lessons with a little American heritage thrown in on the side? Sounded damn fine to me! So off we went to learn about historically influenced culinary traditions, drink good wine {and bourbon!} and generally have a fab time staying in one of the nation’s must unique destinations.

apartment34-colonialwb1

Throughout Colonial Williamsburg The Taste Tradition program, which ran from Friday-Sunday and was spread across some gorgeous hotels and outdoor locations, we had the opportunity to interact with a ton of cool food experts. We chatted with everyone from wine and spirits makers to chocolatiers, cheese makers, mushroom growers and of course, some really amazing chefs. The locavore, seasonal, quality ingredient food movement is really taking hold in the area which was SO fun to see!

apartment34-colonialwb2apartment34-colonialwb6

I think my favorite seminar had to be with Colonial Wiliamsburg Executive Chef Rhys Lewis. Chef Lewis focused on creating great dishes straight from your garden {or your farmers market should you live in a loft like us!}. The CIA trained chef was not only unbelievably knowledgeable but also hilarious! He had so many great tips: for example did you know that you should use double the amount of fresh herbs for dried {and fresh are always preferred!} or that you can plant your own bay leaf tree?! I certainly didn’t know you could! Instead of buying dried leaves in a $7 jar how fun would it be to just pick your own? Adding to the wish list.

apartment34-colonialwb3apartment34-colonialwb4apartment34-colonialwb5

​But must importantly, I took home recipes for some incredible dishes from Chef Lewis. My favorites included Carrot Almond Soup, Late Summer Vegetable Hopping John and Swiss Chard Banana Ice Cream. That’s right. I said Swiss Chard. I ate vegetable ice cream and I LOVED IT!

We also got to dive into the world of spirits at a Bourbon Tasting hosted by Garden and Gun Magazine {if you don’t know it, find yourself a copy now. It’s like a cross between Elle Decor and Gourmet for the South and I am OBSESSED!}. There we had the pleasure of hearing from the founders of the Bourbon Review who know pretty much everything there is to know about Bourbon. Like, it is in fact a whiskey, but not all whiskey is bourbon. What qualifies as bourbon {the good stuff is 80% corn & 80% proof} is actually regulated by U.S. law! I think the husband enjoyed this session a bit more than I did, but it certainly got me excited to expand my palette for bourbon-based cocktails.

apartment34-colonialwb7apartment34-colonialwb8

I couldn’t recommend attending a food festival right before fall enough. The desire to nest is settling in big. After experiencing all that wonderful culinary inspiration I’ve been itching to get back in my kitchen and start whipping up hearty fall dishes {I’m saving favorites here!}.

Don’t think I was going to leave you empty handed. Check out my three favorite recipes from our weekend at Colonial Williamsburg Colonial Williamsburg Taste Tradition below!

Carrot Almond Soup

Ingredients:

1 lb carrots, peeled & diced
1 spanish onion, finely diced
1/2 C whole almonds
1 T ginger, peeled and chopped
1 T garlic, chopped
6-8 springs fresh thyme, stemmed and chopped
2 oz whole butter
1 fresh bay leaf
6 C vegetable stock

Melt the whole butter in heavy bottom pot and saute the carrots and onions over medium low heat for 4-5 minutes without browning. Add the ginger, garlic, thyme and the bay leaf and saute another 2-3 minutes. Add the vegetable stock and bring to a simmer and cook until the arrots are tender. Blend in a blender until smooth. Use caution when blending hot liquids by leaving an air gap to allow steam to escape. Season to taste with salt & pepper and serve warm.

____________________________________________________________________________

Late Summer Vegetable Hopping John

Ingredients:

1 C jasmine rice
1 C filed peas, cooked until tender
1 spanish onions, peeled & diced
1 stalk celery, diced
1 C carrots, diced
1 red bell pepper, diced
1 green bell pepper, diced
1 zucchini squah, diced
1 yellow squash, diced
1 T chopped garlic
1 oz butter
1 fresh bay leaf
2 C vegetable stock
salt and pepper to taste

In a large stainless steel sauce pot melt the butter and saute onions, celery, carrots, bell peppers over medium low heat until tender but not brown. Add the zucchini & summer squash, garlic and cook until the vegetables are tender. Remove the vegetables to a 2 inch pan to cool. In the same pot combine the rice, the fresh bay leaf and the vegetable stock and season to taste with salt & pepper. Simmer until the rice is tender and fold in the previously cooked vegetables and the field peas. Serve warm!
____________________________________________________________________________

“Going Bananas” Swiss Chard Ice Cream

Ingredients:

1 bunch swiss chard, washed & stemmed
2 T butter unsalted
2 C banana sliced
3 C Whole Milk
3/4 C sugar
4 egg yolks
1 C heavy cream
1 t vanilla

Blanch swiss chard in a pot of simmering water until it’s wilted but still colorful and remove with a slotted spoon to an ice bath to stop the cooking process. Wrap swiss chard in a paper towel and squeeze out the moisture and reserve it. Place 1 oz butter in heavy bottom sauce pot and add 2oz sugar and the bananas, cooking over medium heat until the bananas are soft. Combine the milk and 4 oz sugar in heavy bottom sauce pot and bring to a simmer. Place the egg yolks in a mixing bowl and tmeber in the hot milk in 1/3 increments and return the mix to the sauce pot and heat until you hit 165 degrees. Quickly transfer the mix into a clean bowl over ice and the vanilla the heavy cream and teh cooked bananas and stir until chilled.

Place the swiss chard in a blender with the ice cream mix and blend 30-40 seconds until smooth. Strain it through a china cap and freeze in an ice cream maker until firm. Allow to set for 4-6 hours.

Brought to you by Colonial Williamsburg. With so much to do, stay and make some history. Book your trip at colonialwilliamsburg.com. Thoughts and opinions are 100% my own. Thanks for supporting posts that keep Apartment 34 alive!

 

Retail Therapy: A Zen-full Tea Shop

Next Tuesday is officially the first day of Fall. Can you believe it?? I KNOW. We can’t either. Good thing we’ve found the coziest haven from the ever thickening San Francisco fog; the most incredible tea shop you ever did see. Samovar Tea Lounge recently opened its newest location in the popular San Francisco Mission District and hipster hearts, including our own, are exploding all over the city!

Apt34-Samovar-41Apt34-Samovar-28

Walls of custom made ceramic vessels and caldron-like copper pots steam brewing tea. Black-washed floors make the already subtly lit stone walls seem beautifully cave-like and a single bench stretching the entire room just begs you to stay a while. But {if you can believe it} there’s something more than this instagram-worthy space that has us convinced we’ll be making tea trips over coffee runs all season long! The answer is yes and it comes in the form of two words: chai tea.

Apt34-Samovar-22

We haven’t spied a space that does ‘cozy and inviting’ better than this one. Bundled up in a leather jacket and scarf, briskly walking down Valencia St., it’s pretty much impossible NOT to duck out of the chilled air and stop into Samovar. It’s something out of a movie, really. Tea is being stirred and ladled out of huge hammered copper pots and employees clad in crafty leather and canvas aprons are offering you a flaky scone and butter with your piping hot drink.

apartment34-samovarsfApt34-Samovar-5

But the real treat is actually the tea itself. We’re here to tell you that their chai tea is the best chai you’ll ever put to your lips. Rich and milky, it’s the perfect drink to make you warm inside -we’d take it over a cup of jo on a brisk fall morning and that’s saying A LOT. It doesn’t hurt that it comes in a gorgeous ceramic mug of which we’ve already tried our luck at purchasing a set for ourselves only to find out they’re a custom cup just for Samovar. Nooooo.

Apt34-Samovar-32Apt34-Samovar-13

Next time you’re in San Francisco, or if you’re a local and have YET to visit Samovar on Valencia, you need to move it to the top of your list. Fall is right around the corner and we promise, Samovar is tea-licious! —Bianca

original photography for apartment 34 by Aubrie Pick

Surrender to the End of Summer By Singing These Tunes

I don’t know about you, but we’re holding onto summer {or at least the essence of it!} for dear life right now. Even with the brink of fall right in front of us, we’re really not feeling ready! We haven’t lived out enough endless, carefree days, windows rolled down, hair blowing in the wind, Beyonce blasting through the stereo! Our summer bucket list still runneth seriously over. I suspect we’re not alone.

road-trip-apartment-34

That’s why, before we say goodbye to our bikinis, we want to press pause and remind ourselves of all the little things we’ve been wanting to do, but haven’t gotten around to yet. The time to do ‘em is pretty much now after all! Maybe make those homemade yogurt swirl popsicles we’ve been dying to try, go on that day-trip we’ve been itching to take, or dance on the beach like no one’s watching! The possibilities are endless!!

So we thought, what better way to help you get up and do something fabulous with your waning summer days than with a great soundtrack bumpin’ in the background!

best-summer-playlist-apartment-34

It’s a little bit of everything; exhilarating and carefree with a tinge of moodiness {it just wouldn’t be a playlist without Lana!}. If this playlist doesn’t get you up off your couch and dancing, then we don’t know what will! You can hear the whole thing right here.

So off you go! Take the final days of August to exhale, let go and surrender to summer. That’s what we’re going to be doing for the rest of the week! Life’s just too short to be worried about work all the time. We’ll be seein’ ya in September friends.

PSA: Day to day pressures aren’t invited to THIS party – but you are! —Team Apartment 34

image via, playlist compiled by June