Thursday, May 26, 2011

Accommodations Part 1

Instead of doing something expensive, we elected for five days and four nights of camping in celebration of our 3rd wedding anniversary. The goal, set up camp in Luray, Virginia (nestled in the beautiful Shenandoah's) using the camp as home base for cooking gourmet treats by night. All the while exploring the region's offerings by day. Included, a blow by blow storyline with general insights, praise, and warning for current and future offenders of hospitality.

Day 1: Lift off...Arrival

When you are in Annapolis and need a great steak, hit up "My Butcher". For our final meal camping we chose porterhouse. Yes, there is a Wal-Mart in Luray, but I would rather have a fresh cut Porterhouse from a reputable butcher. "Mike the Butcher" is that and some. Although his store doesn't open until 11am, we banged on the door and begged them to open early...done and done, we hit the road, off to better lands.

What says AMURCAN (but made in other countries) more than Wal-Mart of Luray, Virginia, our first real stop before camping. After getting my fishing license from the skinhead working in the hunting section, we jetset with our new wares straight from child labor camps for cheap. Meg gets winks and stares from all men wearing Camouflage...I get hate filled looks as I'm dressed in Madras shorts with a t-shirt saying, "Mr. Strong"...might as well say "Mr. Fruity"...shaking my head and happy I have teeth we move on.

Safely and securely we arrive at "Outlanders River Camp" which is completely empty but in a good way. We found this spot last year and it's a beautiful one. Nestled at the bottom of the valley, ten feet off the Shenandoah river, and bordered by a beautiful pasture, we are isolated from everyone. The constant theme each night was good cocktails, stories of old, music, fire, and food. I don't suggest you go here on the weekend in the summer unless you would like to hang out with the Wal-mart crowd. I dunno, everyone is into something different I guess.

Day 2:

The Splendor of Luray Caverns...

Seriously cool to hike 1.25 miles underground while carrying the dog. Note to foreigners traveling in this here country...

1) When the Ranger says "DON'T touch the rock formations, they are old and will decay with touch", please don't act like you can't speak English. I can see you know it's wrong because you touch the rocks and look around to see if anyone is looking (Your Headphones are also saying that in your native tongue). And your dad who should have a cane because he can barely walk upright, please make him use the cane, the rock formations are not hand rails.

2) Please wear deodorant

3) When the Ranger is talking, it is impolite to talk over them, especially while wearing your Eurotrash shoes...they call us rude?

The Wasmund Distillery, Sperryville, Va

So the whiskey maker/helper wasn't too keen on giving us any free tastings, and after thinking about it, it made sense. But we got a killer tour at a Single Malt Distillery literally housed in a barn. Scotland just ordered 150 cases from them...remember, Scotland is Single Malt Mecca. The secret behind their hooch? Cherry and Applewood Smoking their grain. You can taste the smoke in the drink. And it was a blast going from the grain growing room seeing the grain all raked out and germinating, then to the smoke room, climbing the ladder to the vat and getting a HUGE whiff of a 2 day ferment...nearly took our heads off, and then to the finishing room. I kept saying, "Seriously, in Sperryville?" This is world class whiskey, and it's being done in the middle of nowhere. The maker said, "Why not, have you looked around at the beauty of this place?" Check em out, Copper Fox Distillery, they have a Single Malt Whiskey and a Rye. Equally great depending on your mood.

The Rappahannock Disaster

Matty: "Where to next?"

Meg: "Let's find some wineries in the area"...

Matty: "Well, 25 miles later, here's one, Rappahannock Cellars, I hear it's supposed to be pretty good, haven't we been there before? Maybe not...hmm.."

Matty: (Outside of the entrance), "It says we have to leave the dog leashed in the courtyard, go in an see if we can maybe have a tasting outside".

Meg: "Okay, sure thing"

Meg: (Returning, steam starting to shoot out of her ears) "They wont let us taste outside, they wont let her inside, and it's too hot to leave the dog in the car. I'm not tying my dog up in the yard like a redneck in order to taste their wine."

Matty: "Was the lady snooty?"

Meg: "No, but she was totally unaccommodating, we are THE only people here, we're leaving, I will NEVER taste their wine".

THAT is how to lose our business. Yes, we respect everyone is a small business owner, and there are rules. But if you like to make money and run a successful business, go the extra mile. Had you actually tried to accommodate us, we would have stayed, we would have probably spent money. Meg and I are both suckers for customer service. We received none, thusly we left.

Remember, Virginia wine still isn't that's tolerable, and I've given it very favorable reviews. But your bottles are 22 dollars and up...I can buy pretty killer stuff for 30 from reputable well established places like Napa, or OTHER COUNTRIES...why waste my money on Virginia wine sentiment out of nostalgia and pride? I like your wine, I yet don't love it. Please don't take me for granted, no matter how many po dunk medals you won at the county fair last year. Henceforth, the title of this blog is called Accommodations in tribute to your lack of service.

Thirsty and hungry we headed back to Luray. And we land at this placed called "Victoria Inn Wine Bar". It has a porch, it's perched on the top of Main St, but I was not having high hopes after Rappahannock. Meg was steaming mad, and I was starting to smolder. At first glance, I saw this: Small menu, small wine list...losing hope fast.

As we walked on to the porch the owner was smiling, happy to have us. "Sure your dog can hang out on the porch" She says. As we sat we find out the following: This place is under new blood coming out of Orlando. Husband/Wife team, he cooks, she runs the front of the house. They just opened 2 weeks ago, so already she's apologizing for the small menu and small repertoire of wine. Oh, and she spent hours upon hours on the play list for the music playing in the background? Let's also mention they have Thomas Keller quoted at the Mast Head of their Menu...these people have balls and as we delved into our first glass of wine, we start realizing we found something special.

BLT: Local Pork Belly Braised in goodness with a beautiful sear, Tomato Jam, Micro Greens

Crab Cakes: Jicama Slaw, Chipotle Mayo, Fried Lightly with a nice Florida Crab Cake style to them

Shrimp Fry Rice: Pure Goodness, flavor profile well developed, not greasy, but greasy enough

Pork Chop: Roasted Medium, Sweet Potato Hash

Chocolate Mouse Cake, Toasted Pinenuts, Creme Anglaise

Bill: $108...and we had 4 glasses of wine, that's a deal.

Literally we ran out of this place telling everyone we could find to go here. I could potentially see them on Food and Wine in the "Best New Chefs" category in the popular trend of better food gracing smaller towns all over the USA. Thank you!

No comments:

Post a Comment