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!

 

Tasty Tuesday: Cookie Craving

Guys, fall must be looming cuz I wanna bake. In a real bad way. While baked goodies are usually banned from the loft, the craving to whip up a batch of dough has slowly been creeping up on me and now I’m finding it almost irresistible {as my Pinterest feed attests}.

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However, I’m also a total cookie snob so rather than waste a good round of cheat calories on a ho-hum treat, I’ve gone on a mission to find the ultimate cookie recipe. In my book that includes chewy with a gooey-soft middle, maybe some nutritionally redeeming qualities {substitute white sugar perhaps, maybe include some whole grains}, but most importantly a boat load of chocolate, because really it’s called an indulgence for a reason.

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So I’m turning to you dear readers. With a lovely long weekend ahead of us, I think it’s the perfect opportunity to finally give in and bake. But I want to put a recipe to a taste test! Sure, I’ve banked quite a few here, but I haven’t zeroed in on THE one yet. I need a personal recommendation.

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Do you have a fool-proof cookie that you swear by?? Pretty please leave me a link in comments! I would love to give it a go – and of course I’ll share my results with everyone!

images via pinterest, cookies and cups & half baked harvest

What’s Your Wine Profile?

With hundreds of wine bottles staring at you in the grocery aisle, it’s certainly never easy to choose which one to grab. I mean, really, how do you do it?? If you’re like us, it’s often a crap shoot. Go with the coolest label? Guilty. Eenie, meenie, minie, mo? Don’t tell anyone we admitted to that. B-line towards the one you’ve been buying every week since you visited their winery? So true. Unless you’re a sommelier, it’s pretty impossible to know what each varietal tastes like, let alone which will pair perfectly with what’s on the dinner menu tonight.

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There is in fact a science behind a wine’s flavor profile {you can learn about it and even be a part of the wine making process through La Crema’s new Virtual Vintner experience! On their new site not only can you learn if you’re more of a Chardonnay or Pinot Noir person, but you can actually partake in community wine making. We certainly are intrigued to see how the final product turns out!}. While we’d never claim master sommelier status {or anything close!}, we have learned a thing or two. It’s safe to say we’ve drank our fair share of wine, after all. Pulling out tasting notes and pairing is actually quite fun and doesn’t have to be as daunting as you think!

Our little trick is simple: start with the winemaker’s notes. They often describe the influences you technically should be able to taste in that varietal {oh and varietal is a just a wine-industry word for type of grape – aka Chardonny vs. Pinot Noir}. Even if you can’t particularly taste “alluring boysenberry,” in your glass, you can use those flavors as your pairing guide.

For example, if plum notes are in there, think what food pairs with plums? A grilled pork loin with grilled plums and kale would be ah-mazing. But don’t stop there. Expand a step further past the obvious. Plums are often in jelly, right? I have this amazing Chipotle and Raspberry jelly in the fridge that is amazing on ribs! Perfect pairing? Done and done.

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Sometimes tasting notes aren’t quite as specific. What if you only get “juicy tropical flavors” as the descriptor on your Chardonnay label? You don’t need to freak if you don’t see a specific ingredient jump out at you. You could throw together a fresh papaya salad. Or think about it, avocados grow in tropical places- maybe a creamy avocado sauce over chicken? The fattiness of the avocado will balance the acidic tones of the wine perfectly. And don’t axe out dessert! A key lime pie is superb with an exotic Chardonnay!

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Of course the rule of thumb of pairing red wine with meats, mushrooms and hearty dishes is foolproof. Same goes for seafood, chicken and salads with white! Try any these scrumptious recipes with these wines for a dee-licious pairing:

Pinot Noir:

Mushroom + Kale Risotto
Turkey Meatballs + Zucchini Noodles
Black Bean + Corn Enchiladas Verdes

Chardonnay:

Crab Spaghetti with Lemon Gremolata
Almond Crusted Chicken + Roasted Brussel Sprouts
Roasted Cauliflower + Chickpea Salad with Jalapeño Lime Dressing

Any wine aficionados out there? What are your go-to tricks for picking the perfect wine to go with your food??

 

photography by aubrie pick // art direction by erin hiemstra // styling by bianca sotelo

This post is in partnership with La Crema. Head HERE to partake in the Virtual Vintner experience for a chance to win an all expenses paid trip to the La Crema Winery. All opinions are 100% our own. Thanks for supporting posts that keep Apartment 34′s doors open!