Rural Society- A taste of Argentina in Washington DC www.casualtravelist.com

Rural Society-A Taste of Argentina in Washington DC

The dining scene in Washington D.C. just keeps getting better. A number of celebrity chefs along with a wave of creative newcomers looking to make their mark have found culinary inspiration in the nation’s capital leaving me spoiled for choice when looking for a memorable meal. During my recent stay at the Loews Madison I was delighted to find that I didn’t have to go far. Rural Society, the Madison’s flagship restaurant, is Iron Chef Jose Garces’ first foray into Washington D.C and is a new darling among district foodies. Having dined at Tinto and Amada, two of Chef Garces’ restaurants in Philadelphia (the latter of which is solely responsible for my new found love of sherry), I knew I’d be in for a great dining experience at Rural Society.

Read More

Virginia Beach on the half shell with Pleasure House Oysters

What comes to mind when you think of Virginia Beach? If you’re like most people you think of the wide, sandy beaches and the gentle waves of the Atlantic; or perhaps the three mile long boardwalk presided over by King Neptune that’s just perfect for a summer stroll or bike ride.Within the past few years, thanks to the hard work of a handful of dedicated watermen, there’s something else you should think of in Virginia Beach.

Read More

Where to eat in New Orleans www.casualtravelist.com

3 Meals: Where to eat in New Orleans

To say that New Orleans is an eater’s kind of town is a huge understatement. With a long history as a cultural melting pot French,Spanish and German influences mixed with Afro-Caribbean elements to create a cuisine that is wholly unique to New Orleans. This is the city that invented the cocktail (thank you by the way) and where brunch is a spectator sport. Tradition is rooted strongly here with several restaurants being in operation for over a century but the past few years have also seen a new breed of chef stretching New Orleans’ culinary boundaries with delicious result. Grab your fork, these are my picks of where to eat in New Orleans. Read More

A look back at the Eastern Shore’s oyster heritage

Now that I’ve had a chance to experience a bit of the Eastern Shore’s present-day oyster heritage and gotten a glimpse of its future with Shooting Point Oyster Company and HM Terry Company I think its time we look at the Eastern Shore’s oyster past. The watermen of the Eastern Sore have usually been independent fishermen who then sold their catch to seafood wholesalers; they caught whatever was in season which traditionally was crabs in the summer and oysters in the cooler months as well as a variety of fish year round. Some accounts liken the Chesapeake Bay’s oyster boom of nineteenth and early twentieth century to California’s gold rush;  it was hard work that sustained many and made a few very rich.

Read More

Preserving nature and a family legacy on the Eastern Shore

Having broadened my oyster palate at Chatham Vineyard’s Merrior and Terrior event and discovering the beautiful Chesapeake Bay inlets where Shooting Point Oyster Company grows its Nassawadox Salts it was time to find out where the sublimely salty-sweet Sewansecott oysters come from. The H.M. Terry Company has been producing oysters in Virginia’s coastal waters for well over 100 years. Located in Willis Wharf, a tiny waterman’s town( that also happens to have some of the best Texas BBQ this side of the Lone Star state), the Terry family has been growing oysters in the peaceful waters of Hog Island Bay for four generations. After two viruses wiped out Virginia’s oyster population in the 1980’s the company switched to raising clams. While they have been quite successful with farming clams H.M. Terry has always at it’s heart been an oyster company and has recently revived their oyster heritage.

Read More

A tale of water and wine on the Eastern Shore of Virginia

Oysters and wine, is there any better pairing of seafood and grape? I think not. Virginia’s Eastern Shore is one of the few places in the world where both of these indulgences are produced within scant miles of each other. Historically Virginia had a booming oyster trade throughout the Chesapeake and along the Atlantic coast that was blighted in the late twentieth century, but a new generation of watermen and women are commited to the resurgence of Virginia’s oyster heritage. November has recently been declared as Virginia Oyster Month and the Virginia Oyster trail has been established to highlight the emergence of Virginia as a premier oyster region.

Read More

Inspired by Salzburg- butternut squash and pear salad

Prior to visiting Salzburg last fall I had few preconceived notions of Austrian cuisine beyond schnitzels and strudels. During my trip I did have the requisite Wiener schnitzel washed down with a glass of Eggenberg and apple strudel accompanied with the whipped cream topped café melange (all of which were delicious), but I soon discovered there was much more to Austrian food. Autumn in Austria means one of two things: wine harvest and all things pumpkin.Unlike the United States where the craze is for pumpkin spiced everything (and many times with no actual pumpkin) Austria’s love for pumpkin is more understated. On menus all over from small family run taverns to high end restaurants you find all manner of dishes from soups to risottos featuring not only the sweet orange pumpkin but also laced with with Austrian gold- pumpkin seed oil.

Read More

Kayaks and wine on Virginia’s Eastern Shore

I’ve driven through the Eastern Shore of Virginia countless times en route to points north. Rolling past roadside farm stands, historic rural churches and one stoplight towns I’d mentally note that one day I needed to stop and check things out but, as with many things in life, my attention and time were pulled elsewhere. Connected to the rest of Virginia only by the 20 mile long Chesapeake Bay Bridge Tunnel, the Eastern Shore is a rural area that’s retained much of its own culture heavily influenced by the farmers and watermen that have called this area home for centuries. Vacationers flock to the the tourist heavy beach resorts of Ocean City, Maryland to the north and Virginia Beach to the south leaving the charms of the Eastern Shore a relatively untouched secret. After hearing of the natural beauty and relaxed way of life from a good friend I resolved to start exploring these secrets for myself.

Read More

Chai peach popsicles and the Big Apple

A few months ago I was lucky enough to be sent to New York City for work. I was even luckier to be working less than half a block from Madison Square Park and its seasonal popup market, Madison Square Eats.Over thirty of NYC’s best restaurants and vendors are featured here and I was spoiled for choice. Tasty,tasty choice.

Read More

The Hartstone Inn, a gourmet getaway in coastal Maine

Hidden in the small town of Camden, Maine the Hartstone Inn is perfect for a weekend foodie getaway.Housed in a converted Federal style home built in 1835, Chef Michael Salmon (a former recipient of Caribbean Chef of the Year) and his wife Mary Jo run their inn with a focus on comfortable luxury and gourmet cuisine. Rooms are comfortably appointed with sumptuous linens and french provincial touches while the common spaces retain a Victorian feel with a nod to the building’s historic charms. During my travels through Maine I became increasingly convinced that all Maine residents have a sixth sense when it comes to gardening and the Hartstone was no different. Hydrangeas, with their white fluffy blooms greet me at the entrance while cheerful lilies and demure daisies line the path to my room. Mary Jo’s love of orchids is on also display with the delicate flowers gracing nearly every space.

Read More