Arcadia Farm Fall Harvest Dinner

In early fall each year, Arcadia Farm hosts a special Fall Harvest dinner benefitting Veteran farmers. This kind of food event is one of my favorite ways to transition to Autumn here in DC.

See my two previous farm dinners, Feast in the Forest and Arcadia Farm to Table Dinner.

This particular afternoon was PERFECT.

The air was crisp and clean. The sky was sunny. This was the kind of day that makes you feel energized and happy to be alive. 

The afternoon started with delicious drinks around 4:30 pm. They had wine and beer, but the Huckleberry Juice Punch called my name. Similar to cranberry, this punch was tart and and refreshing, made with infused herbs and vodka.

During the cocktail hour, you were encouraged to walk around the farm, admire the sights and say hello to the chickens! 

Because they started running out of the Huckleberry punch, I switched to champagne, which I enjoyed while sampling oysters and trays of passed appetizers.

Soon, we all sat down for dinner at a long family style table, and feasted on 3 scrumptious courses of meats and vegetables.

Everything served was local, either grown on this exact farm or nearby.

There were so many delicious courses like Thai style beef salad and fried okra, but my favorite course of the night was the roasted pork with tomatillo sauce.  

This dinner was a true indulgence, and it was made better by all the fun conversations with people nearby.

As the afternoon sky slowly turned from golden to lavender, the moon come out overhead.

That meant it was soon time for DESSERT!

They served a trio of little sweet bites including cardamom shortbread, mint meringues, and butternut squash cake. (I might have snuck a few of these home in a napkin!)

This day was the perfect welcome to fall.

And guess what I learned, ya’ll?

While I absolutely cannot wait until I can attend this dinner again next October, I found out Arcadia Farm hosts a summer dinner harvest too.

I’ve got my sights set on the next Farm dinner in May 2018!

A Few More Scenes from Nelson

Enjoying an afternoon at Neudorf Vineyard

I already gushed about the Abel Tasman National Park and lamented the fact that many New Zealand visitors don’t seem to make it to Nelson.

Well, here’s another reason to spend some time here.

The wine!

Nelson is home to so many great wineries that you could visit a different one every day for three weeks and still not hit them all.

We paid a visit to Neudorf Vineyards on a sunny warm Wednesday afternoon and had the place to ourselves. I loved the comfortable ambiance of the winery, and my glass of the Moutere Chardonnay was so delicious.  They even ship their wines worldwide. 

After a few hours here, we were hungry and headed to the Grape Escape on the way back to our AirBnB in Nelson.

We just made it before closing in late afternoon, and while they weren’t serving lunch anymore, we did snag a delicious piece of hazelnut and kahlua merengue cake.

This cottage cafe was so charming. I’m always taken in when greeted by a lazy cat sunning itself on the front steps!

Queenstown. NZ

I’m excited to share with you our time in Queenstown, New Zealand.

In recent months whenever I mentioned this trip to friends and colleagues, they always said, “You have to go to Queenstown!”

Mountains. Fresh air. Beautiful views. Outdoor adventures.

And I’m so glad we followed their advice. This mountain village has it all.

We stayed at the Novotel Queenstown Lakeside with views facing Lake Wakatipu. All this beauty was literally steps away.

The first afternoon we spent leisurely walking around the lake and soaking up the beautiful winter sun. Queenstown is on the southwestern side of the South Island, so it was quite a bit cooler here than Auckland. It was bright and sunny, but a down coat was definitely needed!queenstown-5

The next morning, we took the gondola up to the peak overlooking the city. We were lucky that the clouds lifted and we were able to get these panoramic views looking down on Queenstown.

It was still early in the season, so no skiing was available yet. But year-round, you can all do all sorts of other activities from there including hiking, paragliding, and the luge!

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Zip down the side of the mountain and take in the views as you go. Not bad, right?

After spending a few hours at the peak, we decided to hike down instead of taking the gondola again.

It only took us about one hour and we appreciated getting the fresh air to stave off the jet lag. 
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We spent 4 days in Queenstown, so it became our home base for lots of other outings and adventures including day trips to the famous Milford Sound, Lake Wakana, and Otagu region wineries.

We thought the natural scenery couldn’t get much better than here, but we were wrong. I’ll be sharing so much more soon!

Hello New Zealand!

I just got back from a two week trip to New Zealand!

Though I’m still so jet-lagged (NZ is 16 hours ahead), I’m still riding high from this trip.

Ya’ll, I’ve never seen such a concentration of natural beautiful landscapes in my life. If you’re a fan of Lord of the Rings or the Hobbit films, you know what I’m talking about.

And in case you’re wondering, those rugged mountain landscapes, wild forests, and electric blue mountain lakes you’ve seen in pictures and movies are all REAL.

Here are some shots from gorgeous Waiheke Island, a quick 45 minute ferry ride from downtown Auckland.

On this day, a wine tour called our names and we could’t have asked for a better day. Can you believe that ocean and greenery?

Incidentally, Waiheke island has its own special microclimate, so even though it’s early winter there, the temperatures stay mild year round. It was in the mid-60s and sunny while we were there.

The first stop on the wine tour was Casa Miro, where we tried so many delicious wines paired with special taste enhancers like a piece of cheese, a candied walnut, or olive spread on bread. Such a fun way to sample wines and I really wish more wineries did it this way. 

Tasting wine while gazing out at the ocean on the horizon. The vacation of my dreams…

This winery is a labor of love for the owner, a medical doctor by day, who grows grapes and runs this winery totally in his free time. He also has something of an obsession for Gaudi as you can see by his Guell Park inspired bar, which had us reminiscing about Barcelona.

We could’ve stayed here all day, but soon it was time for the second stop, Obsidian winery, a tiny place tucked away in the middle of nowhere on Waiheke.

It was here we got to chatting away with some friendly New Zealand ladies, who ended up giving us so many good “insider” recommendations for places to see and most importantly, restaurants to dine at. In fact, it was so fun and I got so into talking with them that I don’t even really remember the wines here.

When it was time to part ways, all four of the ladies gave me kisses on both cheeks ( I thought that was a French thing, but apparently, they do that in New Zealand too) I wasn’t expecting that, but I really do think it’s a nice custom.

The final stop was Te Motu Winery with its award winning restaurant, “The Shed”. This rustic winery was simple and beautiful and it was here that we stopped for lunch.

We feasted on lamb shoulder, sliced beef with mushrooms, roasted potatoes with tarragon aioli, bean and fennel salad, and a special dessert. 

This dessert was a “deconstructed” cheesecake made with kumara, which is the Maori word for pumpkin. It had a sort of autumn vibe to it, which struck me as odd in June, but then I remembered that the seasons are reversed here. In any case, I’ll be trying to recreate this at home.

All in all, the first day in New Zealand was spent gazing at the scenery, drinking wine, and enjoying these wineries. Perfect start to a fun trip.

And there’s so much more of it to share with you!

Busy Weeks and Fur Collar Coats

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Last week was a doozy of a week… long busy days and no time for anything. (I wasn’t even able to read any of your amazing blogs- I promise I’ll be getting to them soon!)

In fact, one night I dreamed I was on a train with my stuff spread out everywhere and I had to anxiously shove it all in my luggage before missing my stop. Can you relate?

My solution for these hectic times is to take a little time out with FOOD, of course.

On Friday, my husband and I  met up for a nice lunch in the city. We went to Central Michel Richard, one of my favorite restaurants in DC. (I’ll be showing pictures of this beautiful meal very soon).

Here’s my winter lunching in the city look.
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This Karen Millen wool coat has a detachable fur collar, which is great for mixing up different looks. In fact, if you buy a coat with a fur collar, make sure you can take it off to wear with different things.

The pants are from Theory, and they are great for just about everything from work to dressy occasions.  img_1862

Last week was COLD here in DC, but the weather has turned warm and we had an unseasonably warm weekend. I’m not complaining!

Actually, I’m so looking forward to showcasing more mild temperature clothing looks soon!

How do you deal with busy weeks?

December in Northern Virginia

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Late fall and early winter in the DC area makes for great outdoor time!

While temps are chilly in the morning and evening, the days are pretty mild. (Update: today we got our first winter arctic blast!)

Recently, my husband and I headed to Great Falls, Maryland to hike the Billy Goat Trail. The sky and scenery was beautiful, and I’m so glad we got to experience it before our proper winter arrives (which apparently it has!)

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For the hike, I threw on this zip high neck sweater from Zara, my Lysee denim leggings from Nordstrom, and comfy Vasque Talus Treks. Both the sweater and leggings are still available! The sweater is so cozy and I like how it’s sporty but could be versatile for other looks too. These leggings are so flattering- the denim material is thick and offers a lot of coverage so you don’t feel like you’re wearing gym leggings out somewhere. They are offered in different colors too.hiking-outfit view zara-sweater vasque-boots

How’s the weather where you are? I already see snow storms and blizzards on the news!