2/23/12

Back in time at Cantigny Park

I have always loved history.  In school it was my favorite subject and on all my travels I want to learn more about it. Reading about history is always a good option, but going to the places where the events occurred - even better.  Unfortunately, most of those places are in ruins or long past looking like what they did in their prime.  That is why reenactments are such a good option for the history buff!  It truly is like going back in time.  What a great tool to teach your children history as well. I recently took my kids to Cantigny Park in Wheaton, IL for a Revolutionary War reenactment.

2/16/12

Dinner in the Chicago sky!

View of the city and lake from our table
We all have special occasions in our life: birthday, anniversary, promotion, graduation, the list goes on and on.  A great place to celebrate is The Signature Room in Chicago, Illinois.  My husband surprised me with dinner here for my birthday recently.  Chicago is a great place to spend the weekend. So many things to do.  But that is another story.  Whether you live in Chicago or are just visiting, I suggest this restaurant for your special occasion.  It is located on the 95th floor of the John Hancock building.

2/13/12

The Greenbrier Resort and Casino


The Greenbrier Resort in West Virginia is an icon in America's hotels.  So much history, so many celebrities, so much to see and do....if these walls could talk! In my last post, I talked about much of that, so in this one I want to focus on the newest part of the hotel, the casino.  



I am not a big gambler, but if I were, the Greenbrier casino would be my favorite, by far.  First of all, there is no smoking! Best rule ever! Second of all, there is a dress code. Thirdly, only resort guests allowed (with one exception: see the Greenbrier policy page.) That is my kind of place to hang out and people watch.  I did find one game that caught my eye.  It was a penny slot machine called Gold Fish. I put $20 in and had the most fun time. I ended up hitting the "penny" jackpot and made $50! It was so much fun! After I hit my jackpot, I called it quits and took my winnings to the Twelve Oaks equestrian-themed lounge.  There was a jazz singer belting it out while I sipped my mint julep and enjoyed my husband's company.  By far, the most enjoyable evening in a casino I have ever experienced.  



2/7/12

The Greenbrier Resort and Spa

The front of the hotel

I LOVE the Greenbrier! It has so many of the things I love rolled into one location: history, southern hospitality, beauty, relaxation and yummy food! I mean, how could you not love this place?! Let's start with the history. The Greenbrier is an award-winning resort located in White Sulphur Springs, West Virginia. It is a National Historic landmark, that has hosted distinguished guests from around the world since 1778.  Yes, I said 1778! The story of The Greenbrier begins at the sulphur water spring that remains the center of the resort property. The spring sits below the Springhouse that serves as The Greenbrier's symbol. As I said, since 1778, people have come to "take in the waters" in order to restore their health. In the 19th century, visitors drank and bathed in the sulphur water to cure everything from rheumatism to an upset stomach. Because of the water's draw, the resort was known as White Sulphur Springs.  Some of it's historical highlights include: During the Civil War, both sides occupied the grounds using the hotel either as a hospital or military headquarters; It was used during WW2 for several things, including a hospital; It was decorated by Dorothy Draper in late 40's; Sam Snead was the golf pro there; it held the Emergency Relocation Center-a bunker or bomb shelter-to be occupied by the U.S. Congress in case of war, that you can now tour;  And it has been visited by at least 26 Presidents! For more details on the history of the Greenbrier click here.

2/3/12

Weekend in Las Vegas!


Me with a giant plate of strawberry chocolate waffles
 Frozen hot chocolate from Serendipity 3

So when most people think of Las Vegas, thoughts that you wouldn't want to tell your kids might come to mind.  While I like the shows, the over the top casinos, dancing & drinking...I like it in a much tamer way than some people! :)   Let's just say that those that know me, wouldn't guess Vegas as my favorite place.  However, I have been to Vegas several times, none the less. On the most recent trip, I discovered Serendipity 3. Wow! Super yummy! Those are Balsalmic Strawberry Cream Waffles that I am about to devour above. Freshly Sliced Strawberries, Macerated in Balsamic Glaze & Cream, Sandwiched between 2 Jumbo Waffles, Topped with Fresh Strawberries & Drizzled in Chocolate.  And I know this is hard to believe and quite ridiculous, but then I had the Frozen Hot Chocolate!  And honey, it was AMAZING!!!  These are the kinds of excess I enjoy in Vegas! 

2/2/12

There's more to Bermuda than Pink Sand

There are a few extra things I didn't get to tell you in my other posts on Bermuda.
  • Ginger Beer...YUMMY! Some places even have diet.  This is what they use in the famous Dark and Stormy drink, which I also really liked! It has rum in it with the Ginger beer, which isn't beer at all, more like a ginger ale. If you are a fruity drink kind of person, I suggest you try the rum swizzle. 
  • The colorful houses are awesome. My family all picked their favorites by the end of the trip. They have these white roofs that are pretty, but actually serve a bigger purpose...to collect rain water for household use.  See the ridge around the bottom.  Very interesting! 
White Bermuda roof used for catching water

2/1/12

Bermuda Food: The Newport Room

I've added this post to What I Ate Wednesday at peasandcrayons.com...enjoy!

Newport Room Diamond Award

The Newport Room is known as the premier dining experience in Bermuda.  Serving French cuisine presented with style and elegance in the setting of what looks like a yacht.  They use silver service, crystal and bone china to make it a special experience for any occasion.  Men are required to wear jackets.  Yes, it is that kind of place!

Some of their achievements include:
*First ever AAA Five Diamond-rated restaurant in Bermuda and the Caribbean
*2002/05/06/07 Winner of Bermuda People's Choice Awards
*2010 Top 5 World's Best Resort Restaurants - Food & Drink Digital

If you just order from the regular menu, then this restaurant isn't much more expensive than others in Bermuda, but of course, I was tempted by the tasting menu that far exceeded the price of other places.  I mean come on, who doesn't want to try the tasting menu...it just sounds fun!  Plus there were six courses in the tasting menu and that sounded fun as well!  In hind sight, I might have just ordered from the regular menu.  While the tasting menu was fun and neat to try, I was quite full by the end and it was expensive.  I don't mind spending some money on good food, but I don't like to think I spent too much money.  The tasting menu is $120 plus a 17% automatic gratuity (that's $20.40) for a total of $140.40 per person, not including drinks.  And with a meal like that, you have to have a couple glasses of wine, right?  Plus, my husband did not order the tasting menu and his was absolutely delish!  You can't go wrong either way, really!

Bermuda Rockfish

Bermuda Rockfish with roasted almond crust, butter poached Maine lobster and mascarpone potato is what my husband ordered from the regular menu. Yes, that is some kind of foam on top! His was heavenly!  I was a little jealous. ;)


Amuse Bouche

This was my amuse bouche, which is a little tidbit of food served before the first course.  It is  not on the menu and it is complimentary.  It gives you an idea of the chef's approach to cooking.  It was good. 


Lobster Waldorf Salad

First course: Lobster Waldorf deconstructed with champagne mangoes, celery, apple jelly mingionette and natural yogurt.  Notice the green foam, very cool.  It was quite tasty!

Tortellini

Second course: Tortellini with Morels...acorn squash tortellini, madeira thyme essence and parmesan foam.  Absolutely fabulous! My daughters favorite! Yes, both the kids had the tasting menu as well. :)


Salmon under glass with smoke

The third course came to the table like this.  That is a piece of glass with cedar planked infused smoke under it, because the salmon in there was cooked on a cedar plank.  The waitress lifted it toward me and wafted the smoke toward my nose.  It smelled good, but more importantly, how freaking cool is that presentation!!!

Salmon

The third course: Atlantic Salmon with smoked haddock brandade, creamed leeks, peas, courvoisier lobster cream.  This was my favorite!  That lobster cream sauce was to die for!

Palate Cleanser

Next came a palate cleanser.  Again, it wasn't on the menu, so I don't know exactly what it was, but I do know it had something to do with blueberries.  It was really yummy and I could have had more! My daughter liked this as well.

Cool presentation

The fourth course came served like this to the whole table.  Each person had their own dish opened up before them. :)  That little one was the butter...how cute is that?!

Steak Frites

The fourth course: Steak Frites...an 8 ounce ribcap of beef with duckfat fries and bearnaise sauce.  This was my sons favorite.  He said it was the best steak he had ever had! :)  The fries were the bomb,  figuratively and literally, I mean they were cooked in duck fat!  I wasn't counting calories this night!
cheese plate

The fifth course: Artisinal Cheese...fourme d'albert, bacon wrapped dates, toasted pecans with aged balsalmic.  Not my favorite.  The pecans were about it for me here. :(  

Apricot Mousse


The sixth course: Apricot Mousse with salted caramel brule and caramelized pineapple.  Yes, that is real gold on top.   I love desert, but I was so full at this point, I couldn't eat it all.  Maybe if it had been amazing, I would have crammed it all in, but it was just good.

So that completes my six course tasting meal at The Newport Room.  I truly recommend that you go.  The food is fabulous, the service was fantastic and it will be a night that you will never forget.  In fact, writing about it now makes me happy that I went with the tasting menu.  What a unique experience that I will always remember as a fantastic night.
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