Another Summer

Summer is about vacations and soaking up the sun and staying up late because the sun doesn’t even set until 8pm and you’re still outside and waiting to count the fireflies.

I’ve always enjoyed the long days of summer and the BBQs/cook-outs/gatherings that always come with it.

We are 2 weeks away from Labor Day – a lot of schools have already started and in my line of work, it will be the official start to campaign season. I’m looking forward to the beginning of Autumn.

But first, we gotta close out Summer!

I took a few days off here and there in July and August to go to Charlottesville, VA and to Los Angeles.

I hadn’t been to Charlottesville in quite some time and the landscape there reminded me very much of Ireland. The rolling hills and on one evening after a storm, the mist that developed as the sky darkened. It was absolutely beautiful. The property that I visited is called Keswick Hall. Their sister property in Maryland is the Inn at Perry Cabin. If those of us who my have watched “The Wedding Crashers”, the Inn at Perry Cabin was the location for the wedding where boys meet Rachel McAdams’ character. Keswick and the Inn are part of the Orient Express hotel group. They own properties in Charleston, SC and recently purchased a property in Santa Barbara, CA. I was sad to hear that one of their other properties, the Windsor Court in New Orleans was sold. I had stayed there for quite a bit years ago and since New Orleans is a 2nd home to me since I went to college there, a lot of parents used to stay at the Windsor Court when visiting.

The entrance to Keswick Hall

Keswick was originally a family home that was eventually sold and turned into a hotel. It has a hunt club, a golf course, tennis courts, and pool areas. It was built to resemble a Tuscan villa and the architecture of the home is beautiful.

The back patio of Keswick Hall

The Chef’s Garden at Keswick Hall
Within the last year, the hotel added a chefs’ garden and I was able to take a tour of the kitchen and of the garden. If you have ever worked in a restaurant, you will know that the kitchen is generally super-hot. Like the saying goes, “if you can’t stay the heat, get out of the kitchen” and one of the 1st things that I noticed while in the kitchen was that it had a really great ventilation system and air conditioning. They are keeping the cooks happy! The garden itself was just starting to take root and they had tomatoes, swiss chard, herbs, zucchini and all kinds of veggies growing. Considering that they are so close to Thomas Jefferson’s home of Monticello, I hope that the restaurant continues to take President Jefferson’s philosophy of eating home grown to heart.
A view of the grounds behind Keswick Hall

I later jetted off to Los Angeles on the disco plane (what I like to call Virgin America). They light the interior w purple lights and the music that is played is a light clubby side that it makes you feel like you’re hitting a lounge for cocktails. I was off to visit my dear friend, AK who is jetting off to Greece for her next adventure and wanted to see her before her bon voyage.

AK was kind enough to pick me up from LAX and we cruised it up to Malibu. We stopped over at Moonshadows to check out the food and the scenery.

Dining at Moonshadows

The surf at Moonshadows

My delicious Greek bbqed octopus salad w fingerling potatoes

The weather was cool for LA and I had to put on a sweater but I didn’t mind since I was coming from 90+ temperatures and DC humidity. Afterwards we hit up Zuma beach and it was quite funny because although I was cold, AK was freezing – we were huddled together bracing the wind. I think we barely made 45 minutes sitting out there.

We decided to head to my hotel which was in Pasadena. The traffic was CRAZY!! People were high tailing it out of work and escaping the city. We hit up a restaurant called Little Dom’s in Los Feliz and had dinner. We had a LA moment when Adrien Grenier of Entourage came in along w 2 others, one of them being Isabel Lucas and sat at the table next to us.  Life imitating art??  My favorite part of the meal was the dessert.  We had chocolate snow cones w a big ole shot glass of rum.

Adult version of a childhood favorite

The rest of the trip was just running around LA and me trying different recommendations from my friends for restaurants. One of my favorite stops was Intelligentsia. It’s a boutique coffee house in Venice Beach. It opened in 2009 and it has been going strong. They have locations in NY, Chicago and in other cities in CA and they sure do know their coffee. I’m not a coffee drinker in that I need the caffeine to wake me up. I only really drink it for the social aspects or when I’m cold so I don’t think of myself as a connoisseur by any stretch. I ordered a latte and it was delicious. The beans were roasted to really enhance the flavor as opposed to being roasted to the point of bitterness (ahem….some may know of a certain coffee house that may leave that kind of lingering taste..). It was by far one of the most delicious lattes I had ever consumed. Highly recommend it for the coffee and the experience.

The roof at Intelligentsia

Where the magic happens at Intelligentsia

If you’ve ever ready my blog, you know that I enjoy Korean BBQ. A former intern of mine, CI is Korean and is from Koreatown in LA. He was kind enough to recommend restaurants that serve Korean BBQ and/or Korean fried chicken (the other KFC). I journeyed out there and tried a restaurant called Soot Jeep Bull. I ordered the marinated beef ribs and the cut of beef was really tender and delicious. A home run recommendation – thanks CI!  The mixed heat of the charcoal and gas makes for an exceptional BBQ.

As I continue my adventures, I’ll keep you posted!

Cheers!

MXM

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