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.

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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!

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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.

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​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.

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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 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.

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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!
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“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!

 

Gotta Getaway: {The Perfect Day in D.C.}

If you only had a day to explore a city, what would you do? How would you narrow things down to the best of the best in a mere 24 hours?! Well, you may remember when The Luxury Collection* invited us to Washington, D.C. a few months back. Bianca had the pleasure of dropping in our nation’s capital with one of our blog crushes, Kate from Wit and Delight and Andrea from One Kings Lane, to experience “The Perfect Day in DC.” They set out to expereince 24 hours of travel bliss and I’m pretty sure they were successful! But I’ll let Bianca tell you the full story {I must admit, I was pretty dang jealous about this one!}. — Erin

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When you head to Washington, D.C. your expectations are kind of set, right? Certainly you’re going to visit The White House, The Capitol and other major landmarks. And it would make my year, no, my life, if maybe, just maybe Obama decided to take a stroll in the park and we’d meet the president of the United States {crossed all toes and fingers on the plane ride there!.}. But in fact, that was not what was in store for me at all! The obvious tourist destinations weren’t on our itinerary. When I found out we were going to experience a side of DC that I never even knew existed: charming mansions {oxymoron?}, covetable design shops, lively jazz bars and popular local D.C. institutions- like Ben’s Chili Bowl on U Street- I was super excited!

We were put up in The Fairfax on Embassy Row, thusly named for all of the gorgeous embassies that line the street. The area was a great location for exploring- just walking distance from popular 14th and U Street Corridor, Dupont Circle and the cutest parts of town that tourists stuck on the National Mall don’t often see. With time ticking and beautiful weather on our side, we set out for our full morning!

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First up was the Woodrow Wilson house {fun fact: he was the only president to stay in DC after his term!}. Deceivingly huge, the house is still home to the President Wilson’s furniture, art, country gifts and the original kitchen stove- a fun way to experience the political side of DC without experiencing the political side of DC! Perfection indeed. Afterwards, we made our way to Hank’s Oyster Bar, a great spot to enjoy cold oysters and a refreshing glass of rose. The bar is Instagram worthy for sure, and we had a great time enjoying the warm day with a side of lobster roll and clams- who wouldn’t?!

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For shopping, we hit design stores that you can only find in DC. I regret not buying anything at Brass Knob- a store packed with every piece of antique hardware that ever existed. And Darryl Carter is a design haven. With no online shop {you can order over the phone}, you better buy whatever you can pack in your suitcase at this store. It’s ah-mazing and was the highlight of the trip.

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DC is full of great nightlife {make sense: work hard, play harder!} and 14th Street is the place to be. It’s lined with cool bars and the area is packed with people until the wee hours of the morning. We headed there to an underground jazz club. Literally, underground, the dark cave was moody and clearly a DC favorite. A couple of blocks away is Ben’s Chili Bowl where we had a blast. Kate learned to make their deliciously good shake and we laughed the whole time- the perfect way to the end the day!

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The Perfect Day Full Itinerary:
> Woodrow Wilson House Tour {experience politics + design in one!}
> Spanish Steps {experience the history of the city in this picturesque neighborhood!}
> Hank’s Oyster Bar {oysters outside + juicy lobster rolls + rose = perfect!}
> Bohemian Caves {jazz lovers, stroll down U Street- it’s happenin’ at night!}
> Ben’s Chili Bowl {D.C.’s famous chili house- where you might see Bill Cosby or The President!}
> Brass Knob {grab a unique, one of a kind souvenir from this antique shop!}
> Darryl Carter Design Store {4 levels of amazing- a must visit!}

Kate and I were lucky enough to have a little extra time after our “perfect day” to explore the city even more. DC is a great place to just walk around- everywhere you look there’s something pretty to be seen. I think my favorite thing was simply strolling down random streets and house lusting. And there definitely isn’t a shortage of great restaurants. Here are some places we stumbled upon that you’ll want to add to your next trip if you have time:

> Barcelona {great restaurant with amazing service and outdoor patio}
> Dolcezza {famous gelato + churros- try to go to their new headquarters for a tour!}
> La Colombe {the best coffee in DC!}
> Rose’s Luxury {a gorgeous restaurant for dinner- don’t miss it!}
> Le Diplomate {popular brunch spot- order the poached eggs + polenta, yum!}
> Georgetown {for some good shopping}
> Wydown Coffee Bar {great design + coffee}

Do you have any DC hot spots that are your favorites?? Do add to our list because we most certainly will go back. And if you only had 24 hours in any city in the world, where would you spend it- come on dish!

Bianca

images c/o The Luxury Collection // photography by Sarah Culver // some snaps by Bianca Sotelo

*This experience was sponsored by The Luxury Collection.

Hello August + Beach Month

We were so inspired by Erin’s beautiful post on Hawaii {and we need to talk about this…was that a perm we spied?!!} that we wanted to keep the good feelings rollin’. For the rest of the month, we’ll be sharing the best of the beach…because we could all use some proper rest and relaxation!

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We have tons of last-minute fun under the sun posts coming your way. Stay tuned!