Williamsburg Mini-Vacation

Adam Z. Markham

When my wife and I met (and things started progressing nicely) she made it clear to me that one of her absolute priorities in life was vacationing.  Since I feel exactly the same way, I not only didn’t see this as an obstacle to the progression of our relationship, I saw it as a bonus!

Fast-forward to real life.  My wife and I are extremely busy people.  Between my job at Wine Gourmet, my musical engagements, teaching banjo and guitar lessons, Kendall’s job in the Advance Auto corporate office and “home-keeping” duties, both inside and out, it seems we rarely have a stretch of days off at the same time.

A year or so ago we came up with a concept that helps to tide us over between our “real” vacations.  Once a quarter we make sure there is absolutely nothing on our calendars.  Sometimes we use this time to plant our hindquarters resolutely on the sofa and do nothing.  Sometimes, however, we choose to get away for a few days.  This past weekend was just such a time.

Castillo De Fuendejalon

Castillo De Fuendejalon

We left Thursday night for Richmond, where we spent the night with our friend Tracy.  She prepared for us a wonderful meal of spinach lasagna and we opened up a bottle of 2006 Castillo De Fuendejalon, a very nice Spanish wine that is 75% old-vine Grenache and 25% old-vine Tempranillo (and the $10.99 price tag you’ll find on it at Wine Gourmet makes it a bargain as well!).  After dinner, to celebrate Tracy’s new job the three of us shared a bottle of Bitch Bubbly (no, I don’t make these things up…): a fun, slightly sweet rose’ sparkler .

Bitch Bubbly

Bitch Bubbly

First thing Friday morning we joined my daughter Haley, who is a student a VCU, for breakfast at 821 Cafe on Cary Street.  WOW!  We had an amazing experience.  I had a breakfast burrito (which are so often bland, squishy, insipid affairs that appear on menus with far too-great a frequency these days) that was absolutely delightful!  It was stuffed with ham, rosemary potatoes, cheddar and perfectly done black beans.  Kendall had a smoked salmon platter that was astounding.  The salmon was like butta’, I tell you!  Haley (a vegetarian) had a breakfast platter with veggie sausage that actually looked, smelled and (by all reports) tasted like the real thing.

One of the things that impressed me most about 821, however, was the beer selection.  A sign on the fridge intended for employees read “shift drinks – draft or mimosas only – no bottles or cans”.  If one was an employee at 821 this would hardly be an impediment.  The draft selection is fantastic and includes Olde Richmond #4 Brown Ale and Legend Gold Ale (both of which, incidentally, are available at Wine Gourmet).  The draft beers at 821 are $4.00 each and during happy hour are only $3.00.  The best part?  On Thursdays happy hour lasts all day long!

After breakfast Kendall and I drove to Williamsburg where we checked into the Historic Powhatan Resort, a fantastic place that is a steal.  The condo we rented had a full kitchen, master suite with king-sized bed, a second suite with a queen and a pull out sofa in the living room.  I looked on their site and found a room like I described above for $79 per night (although we booked ours through Hotwire and got it even cheaper)!

Christiana Campbell's Tavern

Christiana Campbell's Tavern

That night we dined at Christiana Campbell’s Tavern in Colonial Williamsburg.  We had a remarkable dinner.  Even though the wine list was not-half-bad we chose to start out with a house drink, the Vodka Kir.  A blend of vodka and Creme De Cassis topped with a splash of lemonade and a couple of blueberries, while not a traditional colonial beverage, it was great.  Our appetizer was the Fried Oyster Salad.  It consisted of huge, perfectly fried oysters nestled in a bed of simply dressed greens accompanied by semi-crispy ham lardons, a spicy “gunpowder” remoulade and a corn relish similar in preparation to chow-chow (northern folks commence to scratch their heads in curiosity…).  It was beautifully executed and the combination of flavors was exquisite.

We followed that up with the Fricassy of Shrimp, Scallops and Lobster.  The seafood was remarkably fresh and was simmered in a light sherry-butter sauce with peas, tomatoes and leeks and served around a mound of brown rice. It was absolutely heaven on a plate! Finally we enjoyed the Grilled Tenderloin of Beef and Salmon.  The salmon was topped by an almond aioli that was delicate and delicious.

As an after dinner drink I ordered the Rummer.  Supposedly one of the most authentic drinks on the menu it was a VERY strong but tasty combination of dark rum, apricot and peach brandies with a fresh lime.

For dessert we had what was honestly one of the best things this confirmed chocolate lover has ever eaten.  A chocolate pie crust was filled with layer of what was essentially a pure chocolate ganache followed by a layer of chocolate mousse and topped with a layer of what must have been a white chocolate mousse.  This dessert was so astounding we walked a couple of miles the next day to have another as our lunch only to discover Ms. Campbell’s establishment is only open for dinner!

The entire experience, while certainly not inexpensive was well worth it.  The dimly lit room was a wonderfully authentic setting and periodic visits by reenactors (including a visit by Ms. Campbell herself) was the icing on the cake.

Saturday morning we slept late and decided to go straight for lunch.  We went to the Cheese Shop located in the Merchant’s Square area of Colonial Williamsburg.  Not only is the food emporium at the Cheese Shop a foodie’s dream, the sandwich counter in the rear was recently listed third on a list of msn.com’s “15 Essential Sandwiches” in America, and it completely lived up to the hype!  In my mind a perfectly composed sandwich is as good as anything you can possibly put in your mouth and these were no exception. They were amazingly well-composed of artisanal ingredients and delicious in their simplicity.

Cheese Shop

Cheese Shop

Downstairs is a fantastic wine cellar that has a cool semi-industrial vibe.  It reminded me a bit of Wine Gourmet in the sense that their goals are “high quality, intriguing uniqueness, and great value”.  Also, their staff was knowledgeable and professional while not being even vaguely pretentious.  All of these are traits we pride ourselves on at Wine Gourmet and it is always a treat to find another store that shares similar values.  Kendall and I decided on a bottle of late-harvest Zinfandel to save for a special occasion.

Afterward we went to the Smithfield Ham Store to satisfy my well-known desire for all-things-pig.  We were fortunate enough to not only sample products of the porcine variety but to also participate in a tasting of Virginia Wines.

Before heading home on Sunday we visited the exhibits at Jamestown Settlement.  Neither Kendall nor I have been there since childhood but we were very impressed.  The experience was thoroughly enjoyable and highly educational… if are in the neighborhood it is a must-see.

If you find yourself in need of a little “vacating” of your own you would be hard pressed to have a more relaxing and spirit-renewing mini-vacation than a trip to Richmond, Colonial Williamsburg and Jamestown.  Only three-and-a-half hours or so from Roanoke, it was an easy drive, and it proved to be a quite economical trip as well!

…Adam

Advertisements

The URI to TrackBack this entry is: https://winegourmet.wordpress.com/2010/04/01/williamsburg-mini-vacation/trackback/

RSS feed for comments on this post.

One CommentLeave a comment

  1. we enjoyed having you. thanks for the kind words


Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out / Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out / Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out / Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out / Change )

Connecting to %s

%d bloggers like this: