Category Archive: Food & Wine

Thoughts on restaurants, recipes and dining adventures.

Jan 09

Quick review of Revolutions restaurant in Durham

Summary:

Food: very good (I wouldn’t yet say OMG fabulous)
Service: interrupted

On Monday night I took

aklikins to Revolution for his birthday dinner. We arrived at 7:30 (had reservations) and were seated promptly. Since we knew we were doing the three course tasting menu, we also ordered promptly and were brought bread and my drink (house chardonnay). Adrian’s drink (tea… ordered sweet, but they didn’t have any and didn’t tell him when he ordered it) took significantly longer (7-8 minutes?). The bread (slices of loaf bread and cornbread muffins) was quite good… the slices, in particular, had a nice tooth, slightly sourbread-y flavor and crisp crust that I really enjoyed.

Our firsts were veal with baby potatoes in a tomato sauce, served with thin crouton-y toasts. Very good, but surprisingly heavy for a first.

And then something must have happened, because there was more than a 45 minute gap between when we finished out firsts and when our seconds arrived!  At about 40 minutes in I asked our waiter if he knew where our food was, and he assured me it was coming and offered me a free glass of wine. Since I hadn’t even finished my first glass yet, I told him no thanks and thanked him for the information.

Two minutes later he showed up with another glass of wine (I remarked to

aklikins that apparently I was getting comped wine whether I liked it or not!). And finally, a few minutes after that our food showed up.

 

The second plates were saddle of rabbit with tarragon and beet risotto (I wondered if perhaps the risotto was the cause of the delay?). The rabbit was very tender and complemented well by the sweetness of the risotto, but would have been more enjoyed had we not been so full of game already, I think.  Too much too rich, you know…

The dessert, a hazelnut chocolate cake with candied quince, was very good but not exceptional. The quince was wonderful and the small amount of quince syrup livened up the otherwise very good — but not roll-your-eyes-and-sigh — hazelnut chocolate cake.

The ceilings were, IMHO, too tall, leading to the echo-y noise that is so common in trendy restaurants. The tables were wider than the norm, which was nice because there was room for all the food without feeling like you were going to knock something off the table. The light fixtures, by http://www.tordboontje.com/, are gorgeous and the table settings are minimalistic (whose aren’t these days?).

In sum, I thought that if the pairings of the food had been better and the major service gap hadn’t happened, the experience would have been excellent. As it was, it was enjoyable, but not quite what it could have been.  I am curious about what they’d have served if we’d chosen the five or seven course tastings… would there have been more balance?

I think we’ll go back, but after they get a chance to work out some kinks.

 

Permanent link to this article: http://ginalikins.com/2009/01/09/quick-review-of-revolutions-restaurant-in-durham/

Sep 25

a splendid birthday…

…is comprised of:

  • the guy at Starbucks saying “That’s not you!” upon seeing the picture on your credit card, and upon being told that it, in fact, was me, only *20* years ago (in college) saying “WOW. You look much better now!”. And giving me a free mocha.
  • a delicious lunch out with new work colleagues at Sandwich in Chapel Hill (a restaurant I’ve been meaning to try forever) — grilled cheese with shaved beef and prune preserves — yum!
  • a delivery to my office of my favorite flowers (gerber daisies and roses) that were sent by aklikins
  • bonus mid-afternoon birthday cookies from work folks
  • cards and presents (from dtnorman and Adrian’s parents and sister and my aunt and uncle) in the mail (one of the presents from my Dad was a tiny remote-controlled Mini Cooper… as it turns out, I don’t have a puppy after all, I have a cat!! You should have seen her trying to catch it and batting it around!)
  • dinner out with aklikins at Rue Cler — more yummy!
  • presents from aklikins — including a new laptop with a touchscreen that is *neato* (and I just want to play with it now!!). And a remote-controlled WALL*E (who falls over rather drunkenly a lot, which is funny) !! And lots of other really swell stuff!!

HAPPY!!!!!

 

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Permanent link to this article: http://ginalikins.com/2008/09/25/a-splendid-birthday/

Aug 07

This weekend…

This Saturday, August 9th, Rod-O-Rama (

[info]aklikins‘s garage) will be hosting an open house and pig picking. It’s the Hot Rod Hoopla.

You should be there.

Noon to 6pm. Music by Killer Filler. Hot Rods.

Come check out the shop. Have a bite to eat. Listen to some music. Tell all your friends.

Permanent link to this article: http://ginalikins.com/2008/08/07/this-weekend-2/

Aug 01

assemblage

I  didn’t remember if I liked peanut butter and banana sandwiches, so I made a peanut butter sandwich and peeled a banana and am assembling them in situ.  Is yummy. Kinda nice ’cause the bananas aren’t ejecting themselves from the sandwich either…

Permanent link to this article: http://ginalikins.com/2008/08/01/551/

Jul 22

feeling oopy

I wanted cereal for breakfast more than I wanted to admit that the milk didn’t quite smell right.

This was a mistake.

(it was dated *tomorrow*, though).

Permanent link to this article: http://ginalikins.com/2008/07/22/feeling-oopy/

Mar 13

Goodbye, Mr. Chips

Last summer my neighborhood had a salsa walk (it was probably June-ish, I imagine?).  In anticipation thereof, I bought a bag of tortilla chips from Target (Archer Farms brand), but since *everyone* had brought chips, mine mostly went uneaten (though I confess I did get lost trying to find the right street and busted the bag open as sustenance for the finding.  I have ZERO sense of direction.  Or maybe negative sense of direction, if that’s possible).

So, the chips went home again with me.  And they got brought out again a few says later when some of the folks on my street decided to congregate for hanging out and drinking wine (I *love* my neighborhood).  A couple more chips got consumed at that point, but mostly we had wine.  :-)

For the next month or two, every time I’d get that “want-salty-and-crispy” craving thing (which happens roughly once a week), I’d go and have a chip or three.  Strangely, the chips seemed unaffected by the passage of time in between the cravings, remaining crunchily delicious from one eating to the next.

Fast forward to September-ish when it dawns on me that I’ve now been noshing on the same bag of chips for three months.  At that point it seemed like the chips had some sort of “survivor gene” going on so I didn’t feel like I *should* chuck them.  Plus, honestly, they were still  really tasty.

It’s now March of the year after and I am somewhat sad to say that this afternoon I dumped the last of the chip crumbs into my mouth.  The chips are no more.

Goodbye, Mr. Chips.

(Yes, I do understand what an oddling I am that I would develop some strange respect/admiration for a bag of tortilla chips.  So much so, even, that I felt compelled to immortalize them on LiveJournal.  Sigh.)

Permanent link to this article: http://ginalikins.com/2008/03/13/goodbye-mr-chips/

Oct 23

A little disenchanted

I ate an apple for breakfast — healthy, environmentally friendly, etc.  Yah me! I am still a little disgruntled, though, because in my head apples are a “easy” food, requiring no extra cutlery nor plates nor cooking, whereas the reality is that they’re messy and sticky and you have to go immediately throw the core away because you can’t just put it down…like you could, say, an empty Pop Tart wrapper…

Permanent link to this article: http://ginalikins.com/2007/10/23/a-little-disenchanted/

Oct 17

A Fair is a Veritable Smorgasbord, Smorgasbord, Smorgasbord

Or so Templeton the Rat sang, and I’d have to agree. aklikins 1 and I went to the NC State Fair last night and I did pig out mightily. A corn dog, a fried potato-spiral thing (sometimes known as “butterfly chips”), and a fried dough (aka “elephant ear”, aka “big lump of fried covered in powdered sugar”) all made their happy way into my “bellah”

In the “to go” food category, two “monster bags” of cotton candy await me at home. Oh, and fudge. And candied almonds.

And then there was the Candy Castle, a “pick-your-candy-by-the-pound” place that sucked Adrian and me in, to the tune of 2 lbs. of Tootsie “Frooties” (which I’d never seen before), BB Bats, Laffy Taffy, Atomic Fireballs, etc. etc. 2

Ride-wise, we did the great big Ferris Wheel, the Zipper, the Fireball, the swings, the bumper cars and the (can’t remember the name of it, but it was like this).

The fireworks were *amazing* — the new “sparklies” are so very very pretty.

1 His first NC State Fair ever, despite having lived in Raleigh for more than a decade!
2 Yes, I know: sweet tooth, much?

Permanent link to this article: http://ginalikins.com/2007/10/17/a-fair-is-a-veritable-smorgasbord-smorgasbord-smorgasbord/

Oct 04

mmmmm….Candy

11.5 oz of Flavored Tootsie Rolls
14.4 oz. of Strawberry Cotton Candy Flavored Candy Corn
14.4 oz. of Orange Mango Flavored Candy Corn
34 oz. of Jelly Bellies
4 oz. of “Unbearably Hot” Gummi Bears
22 oz. of Candy Corn
____
100 oz. of candy ~ 6.26 lbs. of candy… all of which sounds quite reasonable until you consider that none of this was bought for Halloween and/or children.

aklikins has a sweet tooth that’s just as bad as mine!

(We also bought two new board games… must have game night soon.  Maybe early November…anyone interested?)

Permanent link to this article: http://ginalikins.com/2007/10/04/mmmmm-candy/

Sep 25

The Most Rockingest of Birthdays

A Very Good Birthday is comprised of:

  • Dinner with Tim, an old friend from high school, and , his incredibly talented wife, followed by deliciously sticky brownies made by Kim and consumed around a fire.  With wine.  :-)  We had an interesting discussion of the most effective ways to get people to meet-and-mingle in a corporate retreat setting (Adrian () and I may help Tim write Trivia questions for one of their activities, which would be really fun.)
  • A visit from Dad () and Louise (Dad’s girlfriend) and lunch at Foster’s (baguette french toast with raspberry syrup – mmm!).  Wonderful presents, including those-really-cool-markers-that-write-on-glass-really-brightly (like restaurants use), a Potts Pottery face-shaped Brillo pad holder (Brillo pad goes in his mouth) and face-shaped egg separator (egg parts go through his mouth) and elephant bowl (trunk is handle), a beaded Warthog and Rhino (which are currently battling on my entertainment center) and a cool Escher flip book.
  • Many co-workers sending you birthday wishes via IM and email
  • Dinner with at Alivia’s — of note:  the grit cakes (one of which I stole from under Adrian’s scallops) were astoundingly good and the cheese plate was incredible.  In particular there was a blended (goat/sheep?) cheese that was semi-soft that was just wonderful.  Oh, and the  crackers  looked like they’d been made on a waffle cone iron…very nicely textured.  There was also an unfiltered wheat beer that was really citrus-y and terribly yummy (which, of course, I neglected to get the name of)
  • PRESENTS!!!  got me the most amazing assortment of books… some of these will make perfect sense if you know me, while others are direct references to questions we’ve pondered of late:
    1. Roberts Rules of Order: Born out of a conversation about Meyers-Briggs personality type and how surprising it was that I didn’t know RROO, given how big a fan I am of  rules .  (Conversely one could argue that RROO is really about *process* so of course I wouldn’t know them…)
    2. Pocket Ref: The classic geek reference (often mentioned on Mythbusters) which somehow I’d managed never to own
    3. A Complete Guide to the Craft of Songwriting: A few weekends ago, after one of my singing things, Adrian and I spent a few hours at the piano talking about music theory and writing music.  I felt like there were a lot of concepts and conventions that I’d missed, and as a result, I was lacking the vocabulary really discuss what music is doing.  This book, at least at a cursory glance, seems to answer many of those questions.
    4. Stickky Trees: This one is strange and wonderful.  It’s a step-by-step expert system for classifying trees.  Basically they start with one characteristic (number of lobes in the leaf, for instance, and based on that single thing, you learn to differentiate between, say, Oaks and Maples.  Each page presents a single concept, and there’s always a quiz page right afterwards.  They claim that if you don’t cheat (ie, look ahead for the answers), you’ll be able to tell the species of the most common trees in America in 30 minutes.  The concept fascinates me, as it teaches in my most strongest way of learning (divide and conquer [pattern-making] and visual).  I will work my way through it soon and report back on results.  (BTW, there’s a whole series of these…!)
    5. The Big Book of Icebreakers:  a very funny reference to both the conversation we’d had with Tim and Kim the other night and the fact that (someday), I may want to be a professional Julie McCoy.
    6. Word Nerd: Just what it sounds like — a compendium of unusual and remarkable words.  Like  defenestrate  (which is one of my most favorite words ever.)
    7. 101 Things You Need to Know:  I am addicted to these sorts of books… full of interesting  bits , cleverly presented (in this case as a series of  challenges /learning opportunities), and put together in a well-designed package (consistency of illustration style, gimmicks like checklists and wallet cards, nice paper, rounded corners, color-coordinated topics, etc).  (The Worst Case Scenario books are another example of the style, as are almost any travel book by DK (The Eyewitness Guide series).  I love the data, I love the art and I love the cohesive way that design and content work together.  Yes, I am a geek.
    8. In addition to the library-enhancing wonderfulness, Adrian also got me two things that had been on the  Silly Things I Want List  (yes, of course I keep one) for several years:  three-sided metal scale rulers (English *and* metric!) and a set of Koh-i-noor Rapidograph pens!!!  squeeee!  squeeee!  I’ve wanted one of these sets for eons and had just never gotten around to getting myself one!  Pen geek nirvana!!
  • Tomorrow there’s lunch with work folks (perhaps there’ll be icing) and Wednesday night I’m going to the Bela Fleck show with Jacintha — wheee!!!
    Happy me!  Happy me!

Permanent link to this article: http://ginalikins.com/2007/09/25/the-most-rockingest-of-birthdays/

Sep 04

Labor Day… not laboring at all

aklikins and I headed up to Asheville for Labor Day weekend and had a spectacular time (one of those vacations where the worst thing you can say about it is that it ended). Amongst the highlights were staying at the Hill House B&B, which is a favorite of mine, massages at Spa Theology (highly recommended), and visiting Adrian’s friends from high school at their restaurant/bar in Brevard, The Square Root.

The Square Root has *wonderful* food — my favorite was a “Surf & Turf” appetizer featuring strips of delicious, rare steak and sashimi tuna with a teriyaki-style demiglace — YUM!  Also tasty was the pecan-crusted fried Brie (and yes, fried + cheese is almost always a win in my book), though I shouldn’t have eaten the raw apples with it, as they triggered a little bit of my food allergy.

Since we were there on Sunday, which is trivia night at the Square Root, we stayed for that and didn’t do too badly considering it was just Adrian, Scott (Adrian’s friend from high school) and me (and I suck at trivia).

The other restaurants of note were the 28806 Deli, which is tucked away in a little quasi-industrial-maybe-used-to-be-a-drycleaner-building, yet serves some amazing fusion cuisine (a salad of lump snow crab meat, strawberries and mango with spring greens and a ginger-papaya dressing, for instance) and Fig, where I had perhaps the best pork tenderloin ever, served on a puff-pastry tartlette with figs and vidalia onions.  We finished with the pana cotta and pots de creme — meltingly wonderful.

Add to that some quality shopping and an adorable traveling companion and you get an amazing vacation — HOORAY!

Permanent link to this article: http://ginalikins.com/2007/09/04/labor-day-not-laboring-at-all/

Oct 30

local someone who does canning

I have an odd question: I’ve discovered I’m madly in love with persimmons …the only problem is that they only come into season once a year. :-(

A fuyu persimmon fruit

Image via Wikipedia

I’d be quite pleased to find someone locally (RTPish) who knows how to “can” (/put up) fruit. I’d love to http://ginalikins.com/wp-admin/post.php?post=435&action=edit&message=1have a canning afternoon and would buy said person some produce of his/her choice (and/or share persimmony goodness) in exchange for help with same. (I should mention that I also don’t have any of the appropriate equipment to do said canning, so that would be helpful as well.)

Also, does anyone have a dehydrator they’d let me borrow?

 

Permanent link to this article: http://ginalikins.com/2006/10/30/local-someone-who-does-canning/

Jun 01

Memorial Day Fun

This past weekend Jeff & I escaped to Beaufort, NC, a place long-familiar to me, as I spent the summers of 1989 and 1990 there (the first summer I was taking classes at the Duke Marine Lab; the second I was a Residential Advisor for the Duke Talent Identification Program, a summer “edumacational” camp for really smart 7th-10th graders).

It was a most wonderful weekend (interspersed, of course, with moments of supreme anxiety — hey, I’m still me!). The anxiety was primarily due to the fact that mom was keeping India for the weekend — Mom’s first time puppy-sitting India, and India’s first overnight away from me. And, well, my first overnight away from her too. I had always kind of wondered at (and perhaps snickered a tiny bit at) the worries of my friends who were leaving their kids with sitters for the first time. I’d been a baby-sitter… I’d been a very competent baby-sitter. Babies just weren’t all that tricky (at least for a few hours)… why in heavens’ name were they getting so worked up about this?

Now I understand. The anxiety was not (for the most part) about the sitter’s ability to manage a kid for a few hours. The anxiety was about the wee one’s happiness! Would the little one be miserable, scared, confused?

I had no worries about Mom’s ability to handle a pup — she grew up with dogs and has a heckuva lot more experience than I do in that respect (she also raised me, and I turned out OK. Mostly). Plus I’d written a novelette about what noises India might make and what she was allowed to do and how much kibble she’d eat and how many times she would probably need the piddle pad. (This made most parents’: “Bedtime is at 8:30; help yourself to whatever’s in the fridge” instructions seem incredibly trusting).

No, I was worried about whether India would be OK — would she miss her little guest bath palace? Would she cry? (If I haven’t mentioned, she has THE MOST pitiful cry on the planet… it’s both ear pleasing and incredibly sad…1)

India, FWIW, was fine. Happy, even. Disappointed, perhaps, to leave the nice lady who spoiled her rotten.

So, Beaufort (pictures). We did all the things I was looking forward to — all my most favorites plus some new ones (it has been *quite* some time since I’ve been there — I think Caroline and I may have gone in 2000(?) to see The Nudes, a band [since disbanded] that I was once very fond of.)

We:

  • hit the Sanitary fish market on the way into town Saturday (quotient of hush puppies: filled)
  • went on a “sunset sail” on a catamaran Friday night & saw dolphins (quotient of boat and acrobatics 2: filled)
  • had an *amazing* breakfast at the Cedars Inn — mixed berry french toast & cheese grits & fresh fruit (quotient of calories: exceeded)
  • went to the beach (Fort Macon) (quotient of sun: WAY exceeded)
  • swam (me) (quotient of waves: filled) with dolphins less than 15 feet away (no quotient, thus a total and wonderful surprise)
  • went to El’s Drive-In for lunch (1950’s roadside food quotient: filled!)
  • took a driving tour of the marine lab (nostalgia quotient: filled)
  • napped (apprently quotient of sleep is still not filled)
  • shopped — cute little store on Front Street was having “buy one thing, get any other thing of lesser-or-equal-value” half off.  Most of the stock was Beaufort t-shirts, but they also had some Columbia travel/adventure wear, so Jeff got some pants-that-can-be-shorts and shirts-that-can’t-be-shorts-but-can-be-short-sleeved and I got some SPF 70(!!) sunscreen (“Black hole sun, won’t you come…”) — sadly it was too late to save the backs of my legs and shoulders or Jeff’s kneecaps. Anyway, (shopping-on-sale quotient: gleefully and productively filled!)
  • dined at Aqua, recommended by friends Allan & Inez — sooooooo gooooood. Highlights were lobster tempura with a key lime-garlic aoli and a creme brulee the size of your head. Menu claimed it “feeds 2-4”. We got that and a molten chocolate thing. Finished them both. Menu doesn’t know sugar fiend sun waves = Dessert Destroyer!!! (quotient of calories: I should have stopped counting at this point…)
  • Had vanilla pancakes and cheese grits for brekkies (cheese grit quotient: filled. Didn’t know that was possible!)
  • Borrowed the inn’s bikes and road around downtown Beaufort (exercise quotient:… oh, who am I kidding?)
  • Lunched at El’s (cheeseburger quotient: filled! [I had grilled cheese on Sunday])
  • Dairy Queened on the way home (happy quotient: filled to brimming).

The only crushing bit of the weekend was when Mom brought India back3. I’ll be darned if my little baby girl didn’t cry when “Granny” left!! Was there any “OMG! I am so glad to see YOU, Mommy!!!”? Not so much really. Sigh.

1 You know how some people cry more attractively than others? They don’t blotch up and snot and squint and sound like wailing banshees? India has a cute cry. I don’t.
2 The cat we were on was a 40-ft. model with two nets up front bridging the gaps between the hulls and the center-line support (warning, link plays an annoying faux-reggae file). Of course I spent the entire time up in the net — best place for bouncy waves and best view! Towards the end of the cruise I discovered that if you stand up on the beam that holds the “front end” of the nets (bow end, for those that are nautically inclined), you can somersault and land on your back in the net. That was way fun. Apparently entertaining for everyone else on the boat too. While walking along Front Street the next night, I was i.d.’d by a passing couple as “the flipping girl.”
3 We brought Mom a little thank-you present for taking care of India… a plaque that says “Now let me get this straight… my grandchild is a DOG?!??!?!”

Oh, if you want to skip the blahblah, here’s the picture-book version.

Permanent link to this article: http://ginalikins.com/2006/06/01/memorial-day-fun/

Nov 13

Well there you go…

I’d been stressing recently about not having said much for a while, and then I was stressing about the stupidness of stressing while trying to remember why I was doing this (not out of any need to “journal” in the commonly used sense, but because sometimes I have things that are worth saying), when finally this morning it occurred to me that I hadn’t been journaling because I haven’t had that rare combo of grandly excited and three free seconds to breathe.

What’s been going on of late

Permanent link to this article: http://ginalikins.com/2005/11/13/well-there-you-go/

Apr 12

Charleston

Jeff and I split town for the weekend, which was a Very Good Thing. We left Thursday night and got haircuts in Greensboro (yes, I drive to Greensboro for haircuts…have I mentioned that before?), then headed on to Charlotte to spend the night there. We added 2 hours to our drive time down, but were able to leave “early” (for me at any rate) from Charlotte (and get shorn en route), which put us in Charleston at 11:30 am and well rested (with “hot donuts now” for brekkies…mmmmmmmm!) .

We stayed at the Charleston Place, which was absolutely fabulous — definitely one of the nicer hotels I’ve stayed in. Jeff found a good deal (he’s the king of finding good deals) on the Executive Club level, so we splurged and stayed on the seventh floor. The nifty thing was that on the Executive Club level there was a nearly non-stop supply of food and drink — so much so, in fact, that we only ate out once (!!!) between arrival Friday morning and departure Sunday morning.

The “schedule” of treats was as follows:

  • continental breakfast — pastries, cereal, fresh-squeezed orange juice, sliced meats, cheese, fresh fruit, etc.
  • afternoon tea — this was the winner for me. A classic cream tea, with cucumber and cream cheese sandwiches, Camembert, fresh fruit, cheesecake, truffles, pasties, tea (of course) and coffee
  • evening cocktails and hors d’oeuvres — heavy hors d’oevres, including spring rolls and miniature spinach quiches, cheese, pita & hummus, grilled vegetables, wine, beer and “spirits”
  • after dinner cordials with desserts — including cheesecake, pistachio cake (odd, but quite good), truffles, cookies, fruit and cream tarts, and, of course, liquors. (I’ve decided my favorite after-dinner drink is Bailey’s, Kahluha and cream (which seems to be a mudslide minus the vodka)

A plethora of food choices — all delicious (these were not the typical continental breakfast stale danishes!).

After arriving and checking in Friday we headed to the historic part of town, where I took about a gazillion pictures (links to come as soon as I get them sorted out). We headed back in time for tea (of course), and arranged a carriage tour with the “club level” concierge. A wee respite from the heat in our room, then the driver picked us up at the hotel. There are apparently six different routes the carriages take and which one you get is determined by a lottery ball in the carriage-driver-routing-stand. (I kid you not). After boarding the carriage, we left the hotel and went to the routing station, where our driver had to give his license number and wait for the assignation. We were lucky and drew the “historic homes” tour, which is only available before 6pm (since the neighborhood deserves some peace & quiet at night). Our driver was full of content (most of which I admit I missed, as I was busily snapping photos and ogling at the houses), and the ride itself was lovely. (There are two types of carriages, BTW: the ones run by the tour groups, which are more like trams that are pulled by the horses, and which have 6-9 people on them; and the “proper” (IMHO) carriages, which are what you think of when you think of horse-drawn carriage, and which hold only two (or four, I suppose., given that the seat facing us was empty. We opted for the latter, and would definitely recommend it.).

One funny thing — as we were at the stand waiting for the route, we overheard one of the drivers telling his cart (it was the other type of tour) that if you see what looks like a ball floating in a puddle DON’T let your kids pick it up. Apparently the drivers carry markers that look like half a superball with a little flag on top, which they use to mark the piddle puddles so the sanitation crews can see which areas they should hose down!

We arrived back at the hotel in time for hors d’oevres (=dinner … I wasn’t joking about the food) and pre-sleep cordials.

Saturday morning we got up in time (for breakfast and) the Easter Hat Parade. This was a blast (and should definitely be seen, so I will post photos soon). The parade was comprised of about a hundred ladies (who lunch, I imagine) in fabulous hats and one tiny chihuahua in a tuxedo parading through downtown Charleston. Truly startling! I was a bit sad, as I’d wished I’d brought one of my “fancy hats”. As it was I only had my squashable black straw travel hat (which was, I guess, better than being hatless!).

Post-parade we hiked north and rented bikes. Charleston is, IMHO, the ideal biking location, as it is completely flat. Yah! We rode the bikes further north and visited the Charleston aquarium, which was nice (good exhibits, clean, etc.) though sort of small. Admittedly I’m biased, as aquariums are a “thing” for me (undergrad was in Zoology with many of my courses in Marine Sciences), so I’ve been to some really fantastic aquaria (Monterey Bay, Baltimore and Chicago Shedd top the list). I was curious about one of the exhibits: an “open” bog (plants and water and mud and turtles in a big, open container, with no lid, so you could lean over and see them). I’m not sure how long they’ve had this exhibit, but I noticed it contained several tadpoles (one of which had its rear legs), which made me wonder if there was someone whose duty it was to monitor the polywogs for “legginess,” as it seems that once they’ve gotten legs, they could just jump right out. Frog on the loose!

Oh! And on the way to the aquarium, we passed MINIland! This giant parking lot *full* of new little MINIs all waiting for their people (normal people would call it a “shipping depot,” I think). I am, I am 90% sure, buying a MINI very soon, so this was quite exciting.

Then south on the bikes to the “point” of Charleston — a long ride on an avenue with sea breeze a’blowing. Very nice on the way down. A wee bit tricky on the way back, as the lovely breeze was blowing the wrong way, impeding progress. We turned the bikes in and hobbled back to the hotel so as to (a) have tea and (b) recuperate a bit before our dinner out. (And shop, too, although I was quite restrained, in light of upcoming MINI goodness).

Dinner was at Tristan’s — wow! We did the chef’s tasting menu and were quite pleased at his willingness to deal with our peculiarities (I won’t eat spicy food and Jeff’s not all that fond of seafood and is experiencing a lack-of-tummy-happiness with raw tomatoes of late). Let’s see, dinner was:

  • corn chowder with sauteed shrimp (me) and black bean soup (Jeff)
  • amuse bouche of tiny quail leg with some sort of sauce
  • grouper cheek with some sort of savory/sweet sauce (mango?) (me) and duck confit with cherries on an arugula bed (Jeff)
  • skate wing with sausage butter (me) and sauteed duck breast with confit sauce (Jeff)
  • Halibut with shallot sauce, squash medley and garlic mashed potatoes (me) and and rotisserie leg of lamb with rosemary/garlic juice and vegetable medley (Jeff)
  • chocolate hazelnut mousse (yet, solid, somehow) with mint ice cream (me) and pear tart (Jeff)
  • cotton candy — yep! a big plate of cotton candy as the final treat!

Was I in heaven? Why yes, I was.
We stumbled home in a state of bliss.

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