Tag Archives: United States

Uncommon Journeys – Canadian Panorama – Across Canada by Train

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It began as dusk approached and gathered us into her arms….we walked to Union Station in Toronto to begin our train trek across Canada.

Excitement abounded……..we were all a dither with expectations of a wondrous trip…

Outside the station was a beautiful sculpture of the Olympic Torch..

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Passengers bound for distant points all converged together…

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The time drawing near for our departure…

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Uncommon Journeys (click here for information) conducts this two week fully guided tour across Canada, but once a year.  We had decided that we would give it a go.  Never had we been on a guided tour before and therefore our apprehension of someone owning our time was great. 

The itinerary for the trip included the following:

Day 1: Arrive Niagra Falls

We had a terrific stay at the Sheraton on the Falls (Canadian Side of Border)

You can read about that part of the Journey by clicking HERE

Day 2: Arrive Toronto

We had a grand time in Toronto the Westin Harbor Castle.  We spent our free day exploring this wonderful city which was highlighted by a welcome dinner at the acclaimed Canyon Creek Grill, a favorite haunt of the great and near-great in Toronto.  You can read about it by clicking HERE

Day 3: Depart Toronto

 The stunning train is a perfect 1950’s time capsule with the famed Vista-dome cars, a real old- fashioned dining car and first rate dining and service.

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The first night we joined for cocktails in the swank, end of train ‘Bullet Lounge’ before our welcome aboard dinner in the art deco diner as we roll west over the Canadian National Railway

We were given a private dining car to enjoy a most marvelous dinner..

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Day 4: En Route

We booked a Suite on the Train which gave us a king sized bed, two baths and two picture windows to enjoy the beautiful Canadian sights.

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It was amazing crossing the Canadian Prairies aboard the Canadian.

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Civilized amenities abound including hot showers, a special lounge just for First Class passengers and the best dining on any train in North America, deluxe train travel at its very best in a manner that has all but vanished. 

Each morning, the staff delivered Breakfast to our Suite…

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We had no desire to leave our suite and the cabin staff was so very attentive to our needs.

We enjoyed reading and before dinner cocktails in our suite, unencumbered by anyone…

 

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Day 5: En Route

We were overnight on train en-route as the Canadian sped across the great prairielands over the Canadian National Railway

The views were breathtaking…

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As part of booking the suite, the Canadians call it the Romance Package……and it was, we had Champagne and Flowers delivered to the suite each evening….

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Day 6: Overnight Jasper

After lunch the Canadian begins its ascent of the eastern slope of the Rockies, a not to be missed spectacle.

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This afternoon, we arrive in gorgeous Jasper and transfer to the Amethyst Lodge for our overnight stay in this magical and unspoiled mountain hamlet. All evening free to relax in this glorious setting

Wandering about the town were Elk…….what fun..

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We had a delightful time wandering about and visiting with locals…

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We dined at Papa George’s and had some of the finest French Cuisine…

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Day 7: Overnight Banff

We spent a stunning day of sightseeing as we traveled to Banff via the Columbia Icefields Parkway

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 We were thrilled to get a ride on the Glacier itself on a ‘Sno- coach’  before our arrival in Banff for our overnight stay

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Day 8: Overnight Banff

We enjoyed a full day in Banff beginning with the gondola ride up Sulphur Mountain

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followed by a visit to the Banff Hot Springs that have made this village famous.

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Later that night we had a special dinner at Le Beaujolais….

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Day 9: Overnight Banff

Another magical day with a sightseeing tour to Yoho National Park that takes in Bridal Veil Falls, Moraine Lake and Lake Louise with all afternoon at leisure to further enjoy Banff

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 A fun “selfie” with our great tour director, Patrick…

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Day 10: Overnight Banff

Our final day in Banff we planned to sleep in and to enjoy Banff at our own pace

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Day 11: Depart for Vancouver

We depart this morning after breakfast bound for Jasper with a special sightseeing tour north over the Icefields Parkway stopping at Peyto Lake and Sunwapta Falls en route….

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Later we board the westbound CANADIAN, featuring spectacular views of the Rockies from its many vista-dome cars, one of the great travel treats in the World.

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Drinks in the classic Observation Lounge are a highlight tonight followed by dinner in the diner as we roll west over the historic Canadian National Railway.

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Day 12: Overnight Vancouver

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The CANADIAN arrived in Vancouver after breakfast time…….we had the most marvelous Duck Confit Eggs Benedict on the Train…

 

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 We enjoyed a brief sightseeing tour of this beautiful city, Canada’s third largest.

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The balance of the day was leisure…. we found a delightful Japanese Restaurant, tucked away on a side street….

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We are anxious to get to sleep, because the next day we would meet Virginia of Bel’ Occhio’s Blog

Day 13: Spend the Day with Virginia

We spent a grand day with Virginia and the Good Husband…read about it CLICK HERE…

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Day 14: Journey Home

Alas, our incredible Canadian Adventure has come to an end….aboard the plane…….

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Home Sweet Home

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I must admit that as I close my eyes each night, the vision of our nightly Champagne comes to mind…

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Hope you enjoyed this trip across Beautiful Canada with us…

Niagara Falls – Ontario – Canada

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We began our Two Week Trek by Train across Canada in Niagara Falls

It was May; however, the Falls were still partially frozen…….Check Out Those Large Ice Chunks

This was the View from our Hotel Room. The Sheraton on the Falls…….Just Amazing

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Niagara Falls is the collective name for three waterfalls that straddle the international border between Canada and the United States

Here is a Photo of the Falls Completely Frozen over in 2014

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…….and one from 1911…

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From largest to smallest, the three waterfalls are the Horseshoe Falls, the American Falls and the Bridal Veil Falls.

The Horseshoe Falls lie mostly on the Canadian side and the American Falls entirely on the American side, separated by Goat Island.

The smaller Bridal Veil Falls are also located on the American side, separated from the other waterfalls by Luna Island.

The Views were Spectacular…

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The Rainbow Bridge at Niagara Falls is an international steel arch bridge across the Niagara River gorge, and is a world-famous tourist site. It connects the cities of Niagara Falls, New York, United States (to the east), and Niagara Falls, Ontario, Canada (west).

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In the Mornings the Falls and River are Shrouded in Mist and Fog…….Enchanting….

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Strolling about the Park we found the Dogwoods beginning to Bloom…our Hotel is the building behind the Tree

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Of course, all that exercise worked up an appetite….Lobster Roll and Caesar Salad

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Back to the Falls for one more look………perhaps to sing a song……

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A Little Wine Tasting before Bed………

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Well off to bed…..this vacation is just starting…….

Thanks for coming to visit Niagara Falls with us…..hope you enjoyed!

 

Marseille – France

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Marseille

– the second largest city in France, after Paris,

–  located on the southeast coast of France, Marseille is France’s largest city on the Mediterranean coast and largest commercial port.

– the capital of the Provence-Alpes-Côte d’Azur region,

– the capital of the Bouches-du-Rhône department….

We spent little time visiting this wonderful lady and found her street cars to be pure whimsy…

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King Francis I of France visited Marseille, drawn by his curiosity to see a rhinoceros that King Manuel I of Portugal was sending to Pope Leo X, but which had been shipwrecked on the Île d’If.

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His visit becomes important because in the 16th century,  he builds a fort on the hill in Marseille to resist the 1536 siege of Marseilles by the Emperor Charles V.

This for becomes the foundations of the current Basilica known as Notre-Dame de la Garde  – literally Our Lady of the Guard

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 This Neo-Byzantine church was built by the architect Henri-Jacques Espérandieu on the foundations of that ancient fort located at the highest natural point in Marseille

It is a major local landmark and the site of a popular annual pilgrimage every year on Assumption Day, August 15.

 The basilica was consecrated on June 5, 1864 and replaced a church of the same name built in 1214 and restored in the 15th century.

We found the a Café across from the Gare de Marseille-Saint-Charles, a most magnificent train station

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The Brasserie de la Gare provided us a wonderful place to relax and enjoy the Mediterranean view….

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We dined al fresco and had some delightful dishes….

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The seafood so fresh and marvelous and the Salad Niçoise absolute perfection….

Hope you enjoyed our brief and wonderful visit to Marseille

Remembering Memorial Day

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Memorial Day is a Federal holiday in the United States which occurs every year on the final Monday of May.   Memorial Day is a day of remembering the men and women who died while serving in the United States Armed Forces.

Formerly known as Decoration Day.  It typically marks the start of the summer vacation season, while Labor Day marks its end.

Many people visit cemeteries and memorials, particularly to honor those who have died in military service. Many volunteers place an American flag on each grave in United States national cemetery.

A fact that you should probably know is that African Americans are the reason that Memorial Day even exists in the first place.

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According to Professor David Blight of Yale University, the event began on May 1, 1865.  A group of former slaves in Charleston, SC gave a proper burial to 257 Union soldiers who’d been put into a mass grave.

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The black community of Charleston then consecrated the new cemetery with “an unforgettable parade of 10,000 people.”

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The event was initially called “Decoration Day” and was led by 3,000 black school children who started off by singing the song “John Brown’s Body.”  They were then followed by hundreds of black women with baskets of flowers and crosses.  After that, black men marched behind them in cadence, followed by Union infantry.

The Union soldiers lived in horrible conditions, and 257 of them died from exposure and disease.

This was the reason for the creation of the mass grave site.  A total of 28 black men went to the site and re-buried the men properly, largely as a thank you for helping fight for their freedom.

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They also built a fence around the cemetery, and on the outside, put the words, “Martyrs of the Race Course.”

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Dr. Boyce Watkins, who created an online course based on a forum held with Minister Louis Farrakhan, says that this is simply the tip of the iceberg.

He says that misinformation is one of the most storied weapons used to perpetuate the oppression of black people.

“Black people must, as part of our healing, go back and rewrite history to ensure that we learn the truth,” said Dr. Watkins. “You’ve been lied to for your entire life, so it is up to all of us to use the Internet as a critical resource in helping us to learn who we truly are.  We are great people and America would not be the country that it is today without our sacrifice.”

Now you know the rest of the story.  Go tell this one to everyone you know……

……let Freedom, Knowledge and Truth Ring……

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Cupid Party

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……..well as you can see from the painting…..we love to entertain…

I have the wonderful pleasure of having retired from my professional career

as a Health Care Administrator, after 35 years of service and

get to work in the field of my true passion………..the Culinary World!

I work in a retail food environment (i.e. Grocery Store) that is very innovative and trendsetting…

I am the resident Chef for my location and have a wonderfully ordained kitchen in which I get to prepare all sorts of culinary delights for customers wanted to expand their foodie interests.

Due to this I also maintain a recipe site : www.Chef-Emil.com , should you ever be interested in checking out my creations!

I work with the most amazing group of people and so very enjoy what we bring to our customers.

Each year I throw an appreciation party for our group, this year it was the Year of the Cupid…

I ran about the house and gathered up all the Hutschenreuther Puttis I could find to create the tablescape

Just as a point of interest, the Hutschenreuther Company was founded in 1814 by Carolus Magnus Hutschenreuther in Hohenberg an der Eger, Bavaria, Germany.   He had previously worked at the Wallendorf porcelain manufactory in Lichte.   After his death in 1845, the factory was headed by his widow, Johanna Hutschenreuther, and her two sons.

From 1860, they produced hand-painted gilded porcelains, and were quite famous for the use of the Putti (my cupids).  

A large part of the factory was destroyed by a fire in 1848.

I wish the photos would show the marvelous detail of the work….We  fell in love with Hutschenreuther and have been collecting for some time..

First and foremost,  we had to pick out the wines for the eventing…

Then, of course,  have the coffee bar ready for those who may have had too much wine…

…..the house is ready for the guests to arrive…

The food is simple and easy to eat, as we plan on doing a lot of talking and mingling…

….a plate of Smoked Salmon with Creme Fraiche,  Rye and Gerkins…

…all sorts of cheese, representing the marvelous tastes of our planet…

…this is The Cupid Party, so some sweets were in order…

This Trifle is made with Triple Chocolate Cake, drenched in Godiva Chocolate Liquor, Strawberries, Vanilla Bean Custard and Fresh Cream…

….wonderful Caprese Salad, with Mozzarella Nibs….

 ……….of course the guests of honor for the evening……

a grand time was had by all ……and then at the culmination of the festivities, these wonderful people

present me with something I shall cherish for all time…

…can you believe the were able to find a Tin Man Chef!!….

….so until next year….Ciao….hmmmm…… wonder what the theme shall be..

 

Grab A Beer – Shiner, Texas

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The Flying Monkeys were restless and wanted to explore some new place, so off we went to Shiner, Texas

Shiner is located in Lavaca County.

It all began in 1887 when Henry B. Shiner donated 250 acres of land for a railroad right of way.

As of the 2010 census, the city had a population of 2,069.

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To our amazement there are no hotels in Shiner!  So we booked a room at the Shiner Country Inn..

Not the lap of luxury, but clean

Shiner is the home of the Spoetzl Brewery,  the oldest independent brewery in Texas.  The brewery is most well known for producing Shiner Bock,  a dark German/Czech-style beer that is now distributed in 41 states.

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………..but more about that later.

We explored the entire town to plan our itinerary………okay that took 10 minutes,

so we went to Snowflake Donuts for breakfast…

 

Upon entering we found a table of about 20 locals, all of whom ceased conversation and stared at us the entire time we were in the place…….okay weird!

………..now back the the Spotzl Brewery……

A group of businessmen incorporated Shiner Brewing Association

and placed Herman Weiss in as the company’s first brewmaster.  

In 1914 a German immigrant brewer named Kosmos Spoetzl co-leased with Oswald Petzold

with an option to buy in 1915.  

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Spoetzl had attended brewmaster’s school and apprenticed for three years in Germany, worked for eight years at the Pyramids Brewery in Cairo, Egypt, and then worked in Canada.   He moved to San Antonio in search of a better climate for his health, bringing with him a family recipe for a Bavarian beer made from malted barley and hops.

During Prohibition in the United States,  Kosmos Spoetzl kept the brewery afloat by selling ice and making Low-alcohol beer  “near beer.”   After Prohibition only five of the original 13 Texas breweries were still intact.   When the Prohibition laws were repealed, larger beer plants, such as Anheuser-Busch, moved to Texas making life harder on the smaller independent breweries,  but Spoetzl kept things small and simple,  never going more than 70 miles for business.

The owner’s daugher, Miss Cecelie took over operations in 1922

and became the only woman in the United States to be a sole owner of a brewery in 1950.

In the 1970s and 1980s the brewery’s ”Shiner Beer” and ”Shiner Bock”  had less than 1 percent of the Texas market.   In 1983 Spoetzl produced 60,000 barrels of beer;  in 1990 only 36,000.   Sales improved after Carlos Alvarez of San Antonio acquired the brewery in 1989:   Production grew to 100,000 barrels in 1994,  and over the next ten years,  production nearly tripled.

As of 2012,  it was the fourth-largest craft brewery and tenth-largest overall brewery in the United States.  Spoetzl currently produces eight beers year round and four seasonal brews per year.

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We were so lucky to have the Brewmaster, Jimmy Mauric, conduct a personal tour!

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The brew house was so very beautiful with the copper brew tanks…

The view of the bottling room was amazing……..many thousands of bottles whirling around…..

The tour over it was time for a late lunch……….where should we go…..oh yes the only restaurant in town….

The Shiner Restaurant and Bar..

The place was empty!  The bar was quite beautiful and ornate

The dining room sported wonderful old cabinets…

The food was great….we began with the Shiner Beer Bread and Shiner Black Butter

…..then on to the Pulled Pork Sandwich and the “World’s Best Sandwich”……that was really the name!

It was a Club Style BLT with a Chicken Fried Steak thrown in for Good Measure…….don’t tell my Cardiologist about this post!

Well that was Shiner a quiet, quiet, quiet little Texas Town

So until next time…………PROST!

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Tea & Cakes….and perhaps some Welsh Rarebit

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If you have been reading the exploits of the Tin Man, you know that he often travels to Media, Pennsylvania to visit the Marvelous, Magical Mary.

…………so in usual Tin Man fashion, here is a bit of history of the place called Media….

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The borough of Media was incorporated in 1850 and  is the county seat of Delaware County, Pennsylvania.     

In June 2006, it became the first fair trade town in America.

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The history of the town goes back to William Penn, who was named proprietor of the colony of Pennsylvania in 1681 by King Charles II of England. 

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The Delaware County Institute of Science was founded in Media in 1833.

Media promotes itself as “Everybody’s Hometown”.

 Peter and William Taylor bought the land where Media is now located, directly from Penn. 

Thomas Minshall, a Quaker, was an early Media resident, settling just outside the small village then known as Providence, along the Providence Great Road.  The village then included a tailor shop, blacksmith shop, wheelwright shop, barn and other buildings.  Minshall bought 625 acres from William Penn and arrived in 1682. The Providence Friends Meeting was established at his house in February, 1688, and a meetinghouse was later built on land he donated for the purpose.  The original meetinghouse was built out of logs in 1699 or 1700 and the current building dates to 1814. 

Minshall’s house still stands and was given to the citizens of the borough in 1975. 

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The John J. Tyler Arboretum occupies part of Thomas Minshall’s original  property.   This farm was used by the underground railroad.   The land was donated to a public trust in 1944 by an eighth generation descendant. The arboretum was started as a private collection by brothers Jacob and Minshall Painter.  In 1825 they began systematically planting over 1,000 varieties of trees and shrubs.  Over 20 of their original trees survive including a giant sequoia.

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Media may be best known for secret government documents which were illegally seized there by activists in 1971 and distributed nationwide.  On March 8 of that year, the Citizens’ Commission to Investigate the FBI raided a FBI “resident agency” in Media. They later released thousands of documents to major newspapers around the country. These documents revealed controversial and illegal FBI tactics, like the recruitment of Boy Scouts as informants, and confirmed for the first time the existence of COINTELPRO, a FBI program to “expose, disrupt, misdirect, discredit, or otherwise neutralize” dissident groups in the US.

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Now back to the Tea Room…..

Downtown Media is a plethora of restaurants, shops and art….

We love to walk the streets and run across them to avoid the Trolley Cars, exploring all the marvelous culinary delights.

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On a recent trip, we went to explore the delights of an English Tea Room… Tea & Cakes

what a delightful and interesting place. ……. one of the owners sits in the Tea Room and joins any and all conversations she desires…and she is quite opinionated!

We had some delightful fare……

A plate of High Tea Sandwiches and Sweets…

….of course Welsh Rarebit with Toast Points….

and Tea…Marvelous Tea…..

….back outside to run in front of the Trolleys!…..wish me luck……….

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Havre de Grace

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Whilst driving from Baltimore to Philadelphia, it was time for a break from the road and there before us was a sign for

HAVRE de GRACE, MARYLAND

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Well the rusty old jaw of the Tin Man still has difficulty pronouncing this one correctly

(after all the Emerald City is located in Texas!!)

But off we did go………..

Havre de Grace is a city in Harford County, Maryland  It is situated at the mouth of the Susquehanna River and the head of Chesapeake Bay.

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On May 3, 1813, during the War of 1812, Havre de Grace was attacked by the United Kingdom of Great Britain and Ireland.   The American Lieutenant John O’Neill single-handedly manned a cannon to help defend the town. He was wounded, captured by the British, and soon released.   In gratitude, Havre de Grace made O’Neill and his descendants the hereditary keepers of the Concord Point lighthouse marking the mouth of the Susquehanna River.

The Town is named after the port city of Le Havre, France, which in full was once ”Le Havre de Grâce”, “Haven of Grace”. 

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In 1789,  Havre de Grace was in serious consideration to be the permanent capital of the United States.

Havre de Grace was a candidate for the honor of being named capital of the United States, when the U.S. House of Representatives voted on the new permanent U.S. capital,

the vote was tied between Washington, D.C. and Havre de Grace—with the tie-breaking vote cast by the House Speaker, in favor of Washington, D.C.

WOW………..and all we really wanted to do was stretch our legs and find a public restroom!!!

We found a marvelous place to rest and decided to have a bite to eat, since the view was so magnificent.

The Tidewater Grille

We got a great table that looked out over the water and a wonderful railroad bridge.

Two railroad main lines pass through Havre de Grace. More than 8 daily passenger trains on Amtrak’s busy Northeast Corridor speed through Havre de Grace at 90 mph on an elevated line. 

The double track bridge was built by the Pennsylvania Railroad between 1904 & 1906

for its New York City & Washington, D.C. line. 

Well, I don’t know about you, but every time I am in Maryland I MUST have all the crab I can possibly consume!

So I began with a marvelous Cream of Crab Soup

Followed by the server’s recommendation of Susquehanna Hash…………and since we were sitting at the mouth of the Susquehanna River, it seemed appropriate.

It was a marvelous Hash made with Maryland Crab ( lots of it!) and Tasso Ham,  topped with an Egg..one of the best dishes I have ever eaten!

We enjoyed our meals and watched the trains as they sped along the tracks over the Susquehanna River and imagined the Capital Building sitting here, but for one vote!

Then it was off to explore more of the town and have a coffee at Java by the Bay

For joy!  The fragrances of the coffee beans was so wonderful in the Shoppe…….

……and the coffee so pleasing, as it was quite windy and cold outside.

Well, hope you enjoyed our little visit to Havre de Grace, now it’s time to get back in the car and continue our journey……

 

 

Dining in a Greenhouse

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Have you ever been in a new town and just “happened” upon a magical place?

That is Styer’s Cafe at Terrain’s

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We were just driving down the street in Glen Mills, Pennsylvania and wanted to purchase a plant as a gift for some friends we were visiting.  The Greenhouses caught our eye and in we drove……….

……..only to wander into one of the most amazing restaurants we have ever visited!

The bread is baked in Clay Pots!!!  It is so fresh and wonderful and served with Herb Infused  Butter

Chef Keith Rudolf uses the local harvest of farmer’s to create his incredible dishes…….

…….like the Mushroom Skillet.

The Pumpkin Latte was creamy and wonderful..

Stop the maddness……….Bread Pudding with Ice Cream……

It  is so magical to be sitting among all the beautiful plants and fountains as you dine on the culinary creations

…..and, oh yes, we did find a rhododendron for our friends which now has a home in this marvelous sitting area….

…….listening to the stories being told over glass after glass of prosecco..

Wolff’s Apple House

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The road to Wolff’s Apple House is a bit windy and littered with wine bottles…….

……at least the road  Tin Man took to get there is!

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You see Tin Man lives in Texas and Wolff’s is in Media, Pennsylvania

One evening (while enjoying wine with The Equestrian Wizard) Tin Man notice a large alien pod lying in the kitchen

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…thinking that perhaps too many glasses of Chardonnay had been consumed……

…….. or that the Munchkins had returned to claim their planet

one had to find the origin of this giant pod. ……… A HUBBARD SQUASH!!!

Well it was my very first encounter with such a beast and my culinary mind began to wonder what one would do with such a thing.

Okay……..anyways……….back to Wolff’s….off we went on our journey to visit the Mystical – Magical – Mary of Media

……the second nor’easter of the season was blowing in and the promise of winds and snow were in our immediate future!

AHHHHHHH………Gingerbread Hubbard Squash Soup……..says The Tin Man, with all the confidence of a world renowned Chef, inspiring confidence in the small group huddled around!

“We shall go to Wolff’s and obtain this Hubbard Squash,” announces Jim, husband of Mary…

YIKES………. they think I know what to do with this Beast!

It was easy…..I just thought…….WHAT WOULD VIRGINIA DO?……You know Virginia of Bel’ Occhio’s Blog …..

…..NO!!!        Then click on it and go visit…she is a CHARM!!   With all the confidence of Virginia, the Culinary Goddess,

I set forth on my quest…….

Wolff’s Apple House has been supplying local residents with farm fresh produce since 1910, four generations of Wolff’s have dedicated themselves to this mighty task and the goodies all come from farms within a 50 mile radius. 

Such an amazing place! 

 

Several acres filled to the brim with marvelous, fresh produce, flowers, herbs, spices and did I mention baked goods!

 

We returned home and with all the confidence of a Master Chef, The Tin Man created

Gingerbread Hubbard Squash Soup topped with Pumpkin Oil

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It was a wonderful evening and to the Tin Man’s great surprise the soup was very good and left a smile on everyone’s face

We loved Wolff’s so very much that we went back and shipped a case of apples

back to Oz in Texas and are still enjoying them!

Thanks for the confidence, Virginia!

Miss you Jim & Mary………until next time……