Afternoon Tea at the O’Henry Hotel

Hi guys!  Hope everyone is well.

I had the most delightful experience last week.  My dad and his lovely wife were in town for a visit so I took them to afternoon tea at the O’Henry Hotel in Greensboro, NC.

DSC_5185

I  first fell in love with the ritual of afternoon tea in Scotland.  Just to clarify, when I say ‘tea’ I’m not just talking about the beverage and a cookie.  Oh no no no.  A proper full/afternoon tea should include a bottomless pot of hot tea, finger sandwiches and other small savory bites, a variety of little sweet treats, and of course, savory and/or plain scones with clotted cream and jam or curd. In the U.K., afternoon tea is often enjoyed post-lunch but pre-dinner.  Personally, I prefer to just make it my lunch.

Ever since that first Scottish tea, I have tried to find places here at home that offer the experience I’m looking for.  To be honest, I haven’t really found it.  Until the O’Henry.  Wow!  Everything about it hit the mark, from the beautiful and sophisticated setting to the gorgeous mix-and-match china, to the delicious and thoughtfully prepared tiered tray of food.  I felt as if I were at Greywalls Hotel or Prestonfield House or any other fine establishment in Scotland.

See for yourself!

Read more

Elie, Scotland

Hi, Friends!  I’m so glad you stopped by today.  Hope you are having a lovely weekend.

I have been reflecting back on a few of the Scottish villages that Mr. C and I only saw a peek of but that someday deserve a second look.  Elie is one of those places.  I can’t help but feel that we somehow missed the boat on this one.

DSC_3054

Located on the Firth of Forth in the East Neuk of Fife, Elie is a popular and picturesque seaside village that was established in the 16th century.  It became a Burgh of Barony in 1589 and as such, was under the control of the Lairds of Ardross – landowners who held their estates directly from The Crown.  The Lairds were in control of the town council and court and therefore, the villagers were dependent upon these men in matters of trade.  (Burghs were abolished in 1975.)

Read more

Parks and Rec Made Me Cry So I Booked a Trip to Scotland

Hey there, Friends!  Good to see you again.

In typical fashion, Mr. C and I were late to the game.  A few weeks ago on a lazy vacation day in Kentucky, we discovered the comedy series “Parks and Recreation” produced by and starring Amy Poehler.  Never mind that the show ended like three and a half years ago, but hey.  We’re not big television watchers and it takes a lot in a show to impress me and hold my attention, but boy when I find a show that does both, I’m ALL in.  Smart, witty, hilarious, and occasionally quite poignant and touching, I think “Parks and Rec” knocked it out of said park.

The show’s characters are an extremely eclectic bunch and I get such a kick out of them all!  But it’s Ron Swanson – that deadpan, highly private, masculine, meat-eating, whisky-loving, mustache of a man who I adore the most.

RonSwanson.jpg
Ron Swanson, played by Nick Offerman

Read more

Whisk(e)y…With an ‘E’

Hi, Friends,

I’m giddy you stopped by!  I hope everyone is enjoying a nice weekend.

As promised a couple of weeks ago, I have a special guest blogger here today.  Technically this was supposed to happen last weekend, but unfortunately, my guest was in a car accident that totaled his beautiful convertible. Ugh!  No worries, though, because aside from a few cuts and a little soreness, he’s feeling A-OK.  And that’s a very good thing because I happen to be in love with this guy!

Readers, today I’m turning things over to my sweet husband, Mr. C, who is going to share with you a little bit about the whisk(e)y education we received on our recent anniversary getaway.  Enjoy.

Read more

Recipe: Whisky Balls

Hi, Friends!  Welcome back.

Last week I mentioned to you that I had a guest blogger lined up for this week, but due to unforeseen circumstances (tell you about it later), I had to mix things up a bit.  So…we are going to cook today instead!

If you stopped by last week, then you know that Mr. C and I recently took a trip to Lexington, Kentucky to celebrate our anniversary.  During our visit, we toured three different bourbon distilleries (Buffalo Trace, Maker’s Mark, and Woodford Reserve).  Each of the tours concluded with a tasting and we were offered a bourbon ball made with whiskey from that particular distillery.  All were delicious but Mr. C and I both agreed that the bourbon balls at Buffalo Trace were AH-MAZING.  I did a little poking around on the internet when we got back and found a recipe that is supposed to be very similar to the candies invented in 1938 by Ruth Booe, the founder of Rebecca Ruth Candy Factory in Frankfort, KY.  This is the candy company that today makes the bourbon balls for purchase at Buffalo Trace.  Perfect!

Because I write a blog about Scotland and not about Kentucky, I decided to give these a try using Scotch rather than bourbon (whisky with a “y” as opposed to whiskey with an “ey”).  Mr. C suggested that I use BenRiach 10 year old (a Speyside Scotch) which I discovered was an excellent choice given that it is aged in ex-bourbon and ex-sherry casks, lending it the perfect sweet flavor.

Who’s ready to cook?  Let’s give it a go!

Read more

Kentucky or Scotland?

Hello Friends.  I hope this day finds you well.  It’s Friday!  Or as some say, FriYay (not me, of course).

Mr. C and I just spent a really fun week vacationing in Lexington, Kentucky in celebration of our 24th wedding anniversary.  Bourbon (whiskey with an ‘e’) is what drew us to explore the area as well as the fact that neither of us had ever before visited the state.  Lexington – if you are not aware – is known as the horse capital of the world and Kentucky is where bourbon began.

Over the week, we took in-depth tours of three of the most famous distilleries in the country (Buffalo Trace, Maker’s Mark, and Woodford Reserve), ate some delicious meals, drank (and purchased) a little a lot of phenomenal bourbon, and put a WHOLE lot of miles on the convertible driving down some of the prettiest country roads in America.

I knew Kentucky was going to be pretty but I think what took me most by surprise on this trip was the way that central Kentucky reminded me so much of Scotland!  The beautiful, rolling green hills called to mind scenic drives we took through East Lothian and the Scottish Borders.

DSC_6852

Read more

Dunnottar Castle

Welcome back, everyone.  Hope you’re having a lovely week.

If you like castles, then you’ll want to stick around for today’s post.  It’s a biggie!

Castles are amazing, don’t you think?  It doesn’t matter to me if it has been renovated and now serves as a five-star luxury hotel, if it’s a well-preserved ruin, or if all that remains is a crumbling mess, a mere shadow of what once had been.  Every castle has a tale to tell and I love them all.

Today I would like to take you to Dunnottar Castle which sits on the North Sea, about two miles from the town of Stonehaven, Scotland.  I can still remember my reaction the firstfullsizeoutput_296 time I rounded the path and Dunnottar came into full view.  Hmmm, how do I describe it?   Okay, got it.  Do you remember the romcom “Notting Hill” starring Hugh Grant and Julia Roberts?  (Where have all the romantic comedies gone, by the way?)  Do you remember the scene where William (Grant) takes the famous actress Anna Scott (Roberts) as his date to his sister Honey’s birthday party?  And do you remember Honey’s reaction at meeting Anna for the first time?  Hahaha!  Yeah.  That pretty much sums it up.

fullsizeoutput_28c

Perched atop a massive flat rock with sheer cliffs on three sides and connected to the mainland by only a narrow stretch of earth, Dunnottar Castle and its surrounding landscape is an extraordinary sight to behold.  Truly, photos cannot do justice to the magnitude of the rock upon which the castle resides.

Read more

Whisky Meets Tequila

Hey all!

Hope everyone is enjoying the weekend.  At present, I am sitting here in my den, windows open, sipping a wee dram, and enjoying the sound of a quiet, steady rain.  Bliss.

So this morning while Mr. C was at the liquor store buying tequila to make margaritas, he stumbled upon a newly stocked item – Don Julio Tequila-Reposado, Double Cask.

fullsizeoutput_29c

Did you catch what the box says?  “Finished in casks used in the making of Buchanan’s blended Scotch whisky”.  Holy cow!  What’s that you ask?  Why yes, of course he bought a bottle, silly!

If any of you are familiar with the Don Julio brand, you know that their tequilas are top shelf. Definitely not the stuff of college drinking games.  No.  Don Julio tequilas are like a fine wine or a premium Scotch.  They are meant for sipping (emphasis on sipping-for the love of Pete, please don’t shoot it), savoring, and appreciating all of their fine qualities.  In fact, Don Julio tequilas are so exceptional that they are best enjoyed neat.  No mixer required.

Read more