3
September

Taylor Pavilion in Old Town Winchester

Taylor Hotel, Winchester, Virginia

Old Town Winchester just keeps getting better.

DSC_0056The latest excitement is the completion of the Taylor Pavilion, an open-sided pavilion that is part of the newly created pocket park behind the recently restored Taylor Hotel.

 

 

 

 

Pocket park at Taylor Pavilion

Pocket park at Taylor Pavilion

The tiny green space and the remaining side wall are all that remains after the collapse of the mid-portion of the hotel.

 

 

 

 

Taylor Pavilion, Fly Tower in background

 

The pavilion will be used for weekly farmer’s market stalls and as an event venue.

 

 

 

 

Taylor Hotel, Pavilion, and Fly Tower Sunday Jazz in Old Town Winchester is a 3-part series featuring the SV Jazz ensemble (hear them here) on the afternoons of September 14 and 28 and October 12.

 

 

 

Defend the ValleyThose familiar with Defend the Valley (which includes the story of the Jones family here at Vaucluse during the Civil War) may recognize the columns of the old Taylor Hotel from the book jacket cover.  With the sounds of live jazz wafting from behind the hotel on a Sunday afternoon, Winchester has come a long way.  Our gratitude to all who have worked so long and hard to make this happen!

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6
September

Apple Harvest Time in the Shenandoah Valley

posted by Neil Myers

No visit to the Valley in September or October is complete without an expedition in search of apples.  It’s the perfect excuse to travel the back roads and see some countryside.  Having lived here since 1995, we are happy to recommend our favorite spots to get apples.  Each orchard has its own personality but all have one thing in common:  they are all family businesses, as in fourth or fifth generation orchardists.  Not something you see very often.

Rinker OrchardRinker Orchards is a classic pick-your-own (PYO) operation.  Started in 1972, one of the first in Virginia, they are now seeing the return of a third generation of apple pickers.  We have guests at the inn who remember coming out as children with their families every fall to pick at Rinkers.  There are large bins of pre-picked apples, but picking from the tree really takes no longer that picking from the bin.  You can probably get all the apples you want from just a few trees, so it’s not like you are wandering around the whole orchard.  Things to know:

  • PYO is available Friday through Monday only.
  • The minimum purchase is a bushel, although it’s fine to mix together different types of apples.
  • Apple butter will be made on site by the Stephens City Lion’s Club on September 14, 21, and 28.  Just personal opinion, but Neil says this is the best of the local apple butters.
  • Rinkers is maybe best known now for their cider, available at the orchard but also at other markets, including the local Martins Food Store.  Made only from fresh fruit and flash pasteurized, we serve it at the inn until the supply vanishes, along about New Years.

 

Marker-Miller Orchard is a PYO operation that has grown into a destination all its own.  There are 20 varieties of apples, 12 of which you can pick from the trees yourself.  There’s a full bakery onsite, producing lots of treats including their famous cider donuts.  The mountain view from the front porch rockers is the best of the local orchards and there is a wide variety of local products for sale.  Things to know:

  • The market is open daily in September and October.
  • Their Fall Farm Festival in September 28 and 29, featuring live music from 1 to 3.
  • Their Apple Harvest Festival is October 12 and 13.

 

Richard’s Fruit Market has a nice assortment of already picked apples, and mixing the different types is encouraged.  You’re quite likely to meet at least a couple of generations of Richards while visiting.  Listen to their banter, and get a little peep into life in the Valley while you are at it.  The apples are sorted and graded right there at the market, and there’s almost always a small collection of “freak” apples or vegetables that have caught someone’s eye.  A little off the subject of apples, Neil is a huge fan of their home-canned jars of Tomato Mix, which is the perfect starter for a quick midweek meal at home.  Exactly what you would can if you had the time to do it yourself.  Things to know:

  • The market is open daily.
  • Their Apple Festival is Saturday October 19.
  • Richards is host to the Virginia State Gourd Festival November 2 and 3 (don’t giggle – there are fascinating things to be seen, and purchased).

 

 

Woodbine Farm Market in Lebanon Church offers 16 varieties of apples including at least two heritage varieties not found at the other markets – Spitzenberg and Ash Mead Kernal.  The drive from the inn down Middle Road is lovely, and if you will be heading west on Route 55 to go hiking or touring in West Virginia, you can pick up some great pork or chicken barbeque there as well as a tasty dessert for a picnic.  We’re definitely going back in October to try the Spitzenbergs.  Open daily.

Long before Fresh-and-Local became a “trend”, these Shenandoah Valley families were out making the best of our sweet limestone soil by planting orchards.  We’ve developed a great affection for them and respect for their hard work.  We hope you’ll enjoy visiting them.

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25
February

Adam’s Musings on our First Beer Dinner — March 16, 2012

Let’s face it:  the world of beer has changed!  Today, many breweries are veering far from the old standards and creating craft beers which have all the nuances of fine wine.  I’ve seen (and tasted) such concoctions as green tea IPA’s, chipotle chocolate stouts and everything in between.

With this evolution and experimentation, one can understand why pairing beer with tasting menus is also valid and oftentimes more interesting than wine.

Don’t get me wrong, I love wine . . . I love pairing food and wine; however, the wide variety of hops and different combinations of toasted malts give beer a grassy freshness that interacts with food on many different levels.

Further, beer is usually not as high in alcohol as wine.  Alcohol can sometimes numb the palate, making it more difficult to detect some of the more finite tasting notes.

With all this said, I have decided to pair a tasting menu with the beers from Tröegs brewery in Hershey, PA.  This brewery produces a wide variety of beers which range from fruity and loaded with citrus all the way to chocolatey with a finish of burnt caramel.

I look at each of these beers almost as ingredients when I constructed this tasting menu so one is constantly asking, “Is this beer a supplement to the food, or is the food a supplement to the beer?”

Each one of these beers is drastically different, and can be enjoyed by seasoned craft beer drinkers or someone who is tasting these styles of beers for the first time.  Either way, this is an event not to be missed!

 

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