Wednesday, October 14, 2015

March 2015 Anniversary Trip to Fredericksburg

(Mr. Kim’s contributions are italicized)

We usually go to the Outer Banks for our anniversary each March.  But this year we decided to try something new.  We ended up in Fredericksburg on a weekend drive back in February and had dinner at one of our favorite restaurants, The Bavarian Chef.  The drive home was so easy that it occurred to us that a weekend trip less than an hour from home might be a really nice way to spend our anniversary – no exhausting drive home! 

Friday, March 20th:

We checked into our lovely room at the Courtyard on Caroline Street:

Perfect location – right in the Historic District and within walking distance of almost everything we wanted to see.  First things first.  Carl’s Frozen Custard:

It was still midday, so there was no one in line but this lone gentleman who told us that he HAD to stop.  We understood completely:
Frozen custard is my favorite form of frozen dessert.  I grew up going to the Frozen Dairy Bar on Route 50 in Falls Church VA:
(Internet photo)
This place opened in 1950, so I knew it my entire life.  Carl’s tastes like my childhood. 

We wandered around town and ended up at The Bavarian Chef for dinner.  The Madison location has been one of our favorite places since we lived in Charlottesville when Mr. Kim was in grad school.  Everything is delicious, the people are incredibly welcoming and the atmosphere is cozy.  You always worry when a restaurant opens additional locations – will it dilute the quality?  This is NOT the case in the Fredericksburg restaurant at all.  It is everything we want it to be.  And my favorite dish there (one of my top 10 favorite meals in the world) is exactly the same:
This is what they call “Snails in Beer Batter Provencal”.  In other words, escargot fritters!!!  Drenched in garlic butter!!!!  Escargot has been one of my favorites since I was a little kid, believe it or not, but this version is the best I’ve ever had.  We had a lovely evening – being treated royally, as always.  You can see how happy we are:
Luckily we were close to the hotel, because we were so full that there was a real danger of falling asleep on our feet!

Saturday, March 21st:

We had passed this place going to Carl’s the day before and thought it looked like our kind of place for breakfast:
Instincts proved not at all faulty!  Very cool and friendly place, owned by Greeks and with a great breakfast menu. 

Mr. Kim had a Greek omelet:

And I had this crazy plate of eggs, potatoes, sausage, and creamed chipped beef on toast:
I can’t even find it on the menu, so I obviously ordered a SIDE ORDER of the creamed chipped beef.  I don’t thing I even finished half of this.  Everything was fantastic.  Mr. Kim’s omelet was so good that the next morning (yes, we ate there TWICE), he talked the man sitting next to him at the counter into ordering it, too!

We took one of our aimless drives – following interesting signs and country roads - and ended up in a cute little town on the Potomac called Fairview Beach (pop. 391).  Really not much more than some houses, a marina, a general store and this restaurant:
We had a drink (which the bartender comped as a way of saying welcome), wandered the dock and gazed at the water.  Lovely.  We also drove around collecting ‘For Sale’ signs and dreaming of a retirement beside the river.  We came back to earth when we found that even the shacks were well over $2K!  Back in Fredericksburg we puttered around antique stores:
And had lunch at Goolrick’s Pharmacy, an old fashioned place with a lunch counter:
(Internet Photo)

We have our good friend, Julie, to thank for recommending both Goolrick’s and the Gari Melcher house & Studio to us (more later about that).  Mr. Kim had a chocolate malt and I had an ice cream soda.  BLTs and a tuna salad completed our lunch.  Their menu is truly old fashioned, with sandwiches like chicken salad, egg salad, liverwurst, etc.  And the soda fountain choices are perfect.  Like being a kid in the 1960’s and eating out with your mom after a doctor’s appointment at Drug Fair!  And because we are 12, this old sign gave us a giggle:

We puttered some more and went back to our room.  We had great plans for dinner, but ended up falling asleep, being the old farts we are.  I woke up after 9pm starving.  I knew it was too late to go to any of the places that we’d been thinking of and had the idea that, being a college town, Fredericksburg MUST have a good sub place.  Then a little idea trickled into my head.  We were only about an hour away from Arlington.  I actually KNEW a place that had subs and was open until 3am.  Plenty of time to get there.  I woke Mr. Kim up, detailed my plan and he was ready to go in about 3 minutes.  Approximately an hour later we arrived:
(Internet Photo)

I’m sure I’ve posted about Mario’s before.  It opened in 1957 – which means that I ate Mario’s before I was born.  It was one of Momma’s pregnancy cravings.  They have the best subs I’ve ever tasted in my life.  We’ve even taken Philly folks there who have become addicted.  The thing to get is a ham, steak and cheese:
I love this sub, as you can see:
One of my 'last meal' items.  As I said, I was eating this stuff before I was born, which is the only explanation for the fact that I love their pizza, too:
I don’t think anyone who hasn’t grown up with Mario’s pizza would love it.  I am a total pizza snob and won’t eat the evil three (Domino’s, Pizza Hut or Papa John’s) and yet, I love Mario’s.  It is a perplexity.  We made our way back to Fredericksburg, replete and sleepy. 

Sunday, March 22nd:

Our last day.  After breakfast back at the 2400 Diner, we went a little farther afield for the day.  We wandered around the Fredericksburg City Cemetery and Confederate Cemetery:
It is a lovely setting.  Old enough (established in 1844) to be peaceful instead of creepy. 

Even some beads ala New Orleans:

There was a plaque in the Confederate cemetery dedicated to the memory of several named soldiers whose remains had been buried elsewhere in town but had been dug up and booted out to make room for Union veterans several years later.  But instead of relocating the Confederate remains here, they were simply discarded.  People carrying the symbols of that war in their hearts are nothing new to this current century.

March Madness always is a part of our anniversary weekend.  Luckily, we both love college basketball and UVA was playing, so we stopped at a bar and had a snack and watched:
Note the score.  This was the last time Mr. Kim was happy during the game.  We lost to Michigan State 60-54.  Mr. Kim is not happy:

We cheered ourselves up with our last Fredericksburg excursion of the weekend.  As I said before, Julie had suggested that we go to the Gari Melcher House & Art Studio.  I confess, I’d never heard of Gari Melcher or the home.  Neither had Mr. Kim.  Thank you to Julie for correcting that.  We were charmed by the home and overwhelmed by the talent of the artist. 

The house:

The studio and gallery:

Some of his work:

(Internet Photos)

The tour of the house is guided, but you can wander the garden and the studio/gallery freely.  We will most definitely go back.  We were the last tour of the day, so we didn’t get to spend much time in the shop.  I want to choose a print – this art is something that I need in my home!  The website give lots of good information about Melchers and his home and art:
Cheered up considerably, as you can see,:
we made our way back to Richmond with yet another wonderful trip and another wonderful year of being together under our belts (and perhaps a couple more pounds).  I am uniquely blessed to have the husband that I have.  We share and enjoy one another so much.  I know how lucky I am.  Most days.  Sometimes I take it for granted, but I try not to.

Tuesday, April 14, 2015

My First Official Post-Lenten Bitch

I’ve been saving this blog post since our jaunt to the Carpenter Center in Richmond to hear the symphony do a Mozart concert back in March.  I couldn’t write it before because it was during Lent and I’d given up bitching and moaning for the duration. 

And this time, the bitching and moaning is not about the music.  The program was wonderful and I didn’t nod off once (I am a known philistine).  No, the B & M’ing is about the horror that is the Carpenter Center itself.  And not in a fun, kitchy horror like The Theatre Formally Known As The  Mosque.  The Carpenter Center is a truly terrible mishmash monument to bad taste. 

Do not allow that beautiful outside shot above to fool you.  The outer halls are a conglomeration of Roman, Greek, Moorish, Spanish with peculiar chairs and railing and columns. 

The auditorium itself looks like something that was got up for some lugubrious Italian opera (all fat sopranos and sweaty tenors).   And as if some committee said, “Well, we’ve already spent the money, let’s just leave it”:
The ceiling is supposed to look like the sky, I think.  But to me it looks so much like the undulating sea floor that I actually got a little mal de mer. 

And what the hell are these:
Clouds?  A poor imitation of Calder? 

I don’t know who made all of the decisions about the redecoration of this space but it is typical of our fair city, I’m afraid.  Richmond officials seem to spend most of their time with their heads up their posteriors.  I just found out the one of their current plans is to eliminate over 700 on street parking spaces on our major thoroughfare to make way for a bus lane.  They do these things and then wonder why no one in the suburbs ever comes downtown.  

Friday, February 20, 2015


I put up this little flag a week or so ago:

And look what I got:

The three of us are like little kids with snow.  We love blizzards and snow days and one of our most treasured family traditions centers around this song:  

At the first flake, we sing it.  If we aren’t together, we call or text this:

The response is:

That goes back and forth a few times and then because we only know the words to the “snow” part, we all join in with “da da da da da da da da da…..SNOW”.  We are completely weird. 

You know it just occurred to me.  I also have a UVA flag out on the side of the house and they haven’t lost a game since I put it out.  I wonder if they make a “Lottery” flag?  

Friday, January 30, 2015

Girly Girl?

In many ways I am a Girly Girl.  I love flowers and ribbons.  I am irreversibly drawn to the color pink and would paint every room in my house a soft, pinky hue if Mr. Kim would stand for it.  Shabby Chic was invented with me in mind.  My favorite magazine in the world is ‘Victoria’ and I have YEARS of back issues just in case we ever win the lottery.  If that happens, I will hand them to an interior decorator and say, “this is what I want”. 

My heart thrills to the idea of a perfect tea party and vintage Valentines.  And I am like a monkey when I see jewelry.  I go for the sparkliest!  My hands just naturally gravitate to gems like aquamarine, peridot, amethyst – anything faceted and pastel.  And should we win the aforementioned lottery, my first purchase will be the twee-est cottage in all of England.  I already have it picked out:

I’ve always had basically the same taste.  My wedding china (chosen almost 33 years ago) is Haviland Limoges in the girliest pattern I could find:
Scalloped gold edges, pink flower sprigs and the rims are the palest green imaginable. 

Bless Mr. Kim – what he puts up with!  Other men might impose certain restrictions.  They might object to a pink bedroom and family room.  He did, a bit, but capitulated when he saw just how pale it really was.  They might insist on an overstuffed cushy leather couch (BTW – is this a rule now when you are setting up house?  Do you HAVE to purchase a leather sofa?  You can hardly find a fabric sofa in the stores anymore).  Other than shoes there is not a piece of leather in our entire house.

So why, with all of this unbridled girly-ness, does it come to a screeching stop when it comes to clothes?  Why does my ‘wardrobe’ consist of khakis, black pants, plain long sleeved shirts and t-shirts?  Why do I wear sensible walking shoes instead of dainty heels and flats?  Why do I feel like a fool in a hat and like Clodhopper McDoofus in a dress?  I don’t dress ‘butch’, just very plain.  I’ve always said that my design theme is ‘collage’ and that I never met a lily I couldn’t gild, but that ends in decorating and influences my dress not at all. 

It just goes to show that people are odd and I am one of the oddest.

Wednesday, January 14, 2015

Best Christmas Decoration Find This Season!!!

My favorite holiday decorations are a combination of whimsical, vintage and on the edge of creepy.  A little kitsch doesn’t hurt either.

Examples include these guys from Halloween (CLICK ANY PICTURE TO ENLARGE):

And this adorable little girl:

Some favorite Christmas ones:

I love vintage (or reproduction vintage) postcards and ephemera.  These festoon either side of our fireplace:

But this year, I think I’ve found the best.  A few days ago we wandered into a new Asian grocery store in our neighborhood.  Mostly what you’d expect and we were happy to have one so near.  But…one section was odds and ends – dishes, cookwear, utensils, etc.  On a top shelf were a few things left over from Christmas including this fellow:

So how could I resist?  All the plastic, the fold-down reindeer, the directions on the box that implore you to “Please take the body of the elderly.  Do not take the first, to prevent injury!”  So, for $3.99 we brought him home.  And only when we got him home did we realize the true magic of this Santa.  Under the sleigh, there was a battery slot!  He does something!  I didn’t know what – I hoped that the accordion moved and maybe some music.  But he went beyond my expectations.  This is what he does (click to play video):

Listen to the children sing!  And observe the locomotion!  And the ghastly light up face!  BLUE!  He’s more than I could have hoped for. 

You now have proof that I’m completely nuts.  And I won’t blame anyone for steering clear of me in the future (at least around the holidays).  But I can’t deny that he delights me in some weird and wonderful way.

Happy New Year to you all and I hope that you have your decorations put away before us!

Friday, January 9, 2015


We love traveling.  If that means a long planned and saved for trip to Europe, a once a year anniversary jaunt to the Outer Banks or just an impromptu visit to a part of Richmond we’ve never spent any time in, it’s all appealing to us.  While you never get away from phones anymore, we love that feeling of freedom and unconnectedness that comes from being GONE.  No laundry, no raking, nothing to look at that says, “You need to deal with this”. 

I love spending time with Mr. Kim.  I know I talk his ears off.  And I’m sure sometimes after an hour or so alone with me he WISHES they were off.  I am the original Jabberjaws.  I can prattle on about anything.  But we DO enjoy our escapes.  We had a lovely surprise one on Tuesday.  Mr. Kim has been off work for a few days and had really not done anything fun.  We just lazed around the house getting a few things done (NOT taking down any Christmas decorations – they are all still up).  He had oral surgery today and goes back to work on Tuesday next week, so I wanted him to have some time out of the house.  We discussed a few different things and he finally decided on some antiquing (yes, I married a man who enjoys wandering around antique shops – mass envy from all my girlfriends, I know) in Lakeside.  We had a lovely time poking around the shops, not buying, but searching for some cordial glasses (our good friends, the Burrs, introduced us to Stone’s Original Ginger wine.  It makes a lovely aperitif.  We had to borrow appropriate glasses and were looking for some of our own.  Every pattern we liked had 3, 4 or 5, but not 6.  We want six.  So we had a good time looking.

After the stores closed, at 5pm, we were ready to eat.  We’ve been wanting to try a place near there that I’ve heard good things about – hamburgers, hot dogs, fries, bologna burgers, nightly dinner specials like spaghetti, meatloaf and BBQ.  Just our kind of place.  Unfortunately they were closed for their Christmas holiday.  So we just hit Route 301 North, going nowhere in particular. 

It was still light, so the drive was lovely.  I am always for taking the state route over the interstate and the country road over the state route.  More jibber-jabber from me (poor Mr. Kim) and a little desultory conversation about where we might eat.  Ashland was mentioned, as was Pope’s Creek for crabs.  But we felt like going farther than Ashland and it was just too damn cold for crabs.  So we settled on Fredericksburg.  Specifically The Bavarian Chef in Fredericksburg. 

A little backstory: When Mr. Kim was in grad school at UVA, we discovered The Bavarian Chef on Route 29 in Madison.  It was a little steep for grad students, but was the perfect place for parents to take us to when visiting (insert sly smile).  We all fell madly in love with this place.  Very friendly family running it, incredibly good German food (can’t say whether it is authentic or not, but delicious) and HUGE portions.  A really cool thing that they did was to put only the protein portion of your meal on a plate and then bring a bunch of bowls full of side dishes – very family style.  It’s the kind of place that induces food comas, but in a good way.

When we ended up back in Richmond, we went back a few times and loved it still.  Mr. Kim’s parents have gone back over the years – even staying in a hotel so they wouldn’t have to drive back in a coma (about a one hour drive!).  We were very excited to hear that they had opened a location in Fredericksburg – just an hour north of us and a delightful place to visit.  With one thing and another, we hadn’t made it there, but Momma and I did meet some family from Northern Virginia there for a mini-reunion lunch this fall.  It is a lovely setting.  They’ve put it in the old railroad station:

 And the inside is very nice – comfortable and appropriate to the setting:

Momma and I were happy to find that the food was just as good as we remembered.

So that’s where we decided to head on Tuesday.  It was early, so we got a table by the fireplace with no trouble and this location has just as nice folks as the original.  I don’t know if I’ve ever felt so welcome at a restaurant.  Our waiter, Lance, was perfect. Friendly and knowledgeable, but not overly chatty.  This is the kind of place that still brings a real bread basket to the table before you even order:
From 12 o’clock: rye bread, lovely herb butter, tender yeast roll, tiny pumpernickel roll and caraway bread sticks.  Every single piece was perfect. 

We started with what is probably my favorite dish on the planet:
Snails in beer batter Provencal.  These are basically snail fritters – crisp and tender all at once, drenched in garlic butter.  I am a snail freak and will order them if they are on a menu.  I’ve probably missed a hundred wonderful dishes because I can’t pass them up, but I’ve never had anything this good.  They were the only thing on the table that got finished, I think. 

Mr. Kim’s main dish was Jager Schnitzel:
Prime veal medallions covered with a blend of mushrooms, bacon and fresh cream.  It doesn’t look terribly appetizing, but it was delicious.  I loved my bite, after I shooed all those pesky fungal things away.

I had sauerbraten with a sweet and sour raisin sauce:
I know that it looks like a plate of baked beans, but those are plumped up raisins and FOUR enormous slices of meat.  Wonderful and still delicious heated up the next day (very important for me).  Here are the sides that I mentioned (a table of two gets FOUR choices):
Creamed corn, potato dumplings, green beans with tomatoes and red cabbage.  I have no idea how they manage to have such incredible corn in January.  The beans are either fresh or house canned and the red cabbage is the only one I’ve ever tasted that was better than mine.  When we got back, I put the leftovers in two of those meal-sized plastic divided dishes:
See what I mean?  It’s Friday and I still haven’t finished them!

After dinner, we drove around the neighborhood that surrounds the train station.  It’s a beautiful old town area, with gorgeous old houses and cool shops and antique stores.  Many of the homes and businesses were still decorated for Christmas, so it was especially lovely.  In fact, it was so lovely that we decided on the spot to forgo our usual Outer Banks anniversary trip and go to Fredericksburg instead with our celebratory dinner at The Bavarian Chef and a good wander around for a couple of days.  Plenty of history for Mr. Kim and lots of architectural eye-candy for both of us! 

It truly was a stolen day and we had a wonderful time.  And we are always up for a return visit, so anyone who wants to go there sometime, just ask and you’ll have enthusiastic dinner partners!