Sunday, November 24, 2013

Steeple Chase Weekend: Breakfast at The Old Man's

I was pleased to spend time with an old college friend and Dog Island camping veteran 'The Old Man' at the Montpelier Races. He and his date invited a few of us over for breakfast the following morning and we gratefully accepted.  
Not too far from Orange and the Races, T.O.M.'s place is obscured from the road by massive Boxwoods that nearly made a tunnel over the entrance. This is the view as you drive through the old iron gate onto the farm.

"This is LOONIE TUNES!" I laughed as I entered the house through the old servant's level that has been converted to the main entertaining level. Now it boasts a world-class kitchen. Joining the original 19th century floors and weathered brick are hand-made custom walnut cabinets and huge island topped with beautiful soapstone from Walton's Mountain (really). He has worked on his home for nearly twenty years and it's turned out fairly well, wouldn't you say?


Monday, November 18, 2013

Steeple Chase Weekend: "Where DID You Get Those Country Ham Biscuits?"

While the country ham came from a very fine source Calhoun's (although everybody calls Calhoun's Tom's Meat Market), the ONLY place to get bisuits on which to place succulent, salty country ham is from the time-honored establishment below. I entered through the alley entrance and took a tour. Care to join me?
The huge, beautiful porcelain gas oven is from the 1930s and was surely an old-timer back in the 1950s when families formed long lines here for Easter hot-cross buns, Sunday picnic biscuits and wedding cakes. There are only three of these in existence.
 'Steam-punk' baking!
This might look a little messy but, trust me, the very best bakers and chefs would love to have a kitchen with such a palpable air of history.

Wednesday, November 13, 2013

Steeple Chase Weekend: Montpelier Races 2013

I had a terrific time on the first Saturday in November at the Montpelier Races. It was held at the historic home of James and Dolly Madison in Orange County as it has been since the 1930s at least. The weather was glorious, the Virginia hardwoods were on fire with color and it was great to see family and friends for a time honored annual ritual. I actually, through some miracle, won a wager placed on one of the races (I picked the horse with the word 'awesome' in the name). I think its safe to say that everyone was a winner that afternoon.  
Blue Boy strikes again! I pulled an old favorite tie out of the closet to hit just the right note. People looked at the big bluish blobs on my club tie and asked "What ARE those?" expecting some equestrian motif appropriate for the Races. "It's Rembrandt's Blue Boy, of course." -A little confusion never hurt anyone.





Saturday, November 9, 2013

Steeple Chase Weekend: The Farm House Homebase for the Weekend

My trip to Virginia from Raleigh was very pleasant indeed. Good friends made excellent arrangements for the weekend. For our home base, they found a nice farmhouse in the middle of  a working farm complete with horses. It was very lovely and quiet and not far from my mom's childhood home in Somerset.
It actually was quite close to the Montpelier Races themselves but, through my 'locals' mastery of the countryside, I managed to steer them way out of the way on our drive there. Oh well, no one was rushing and the scenery was perfect. Plus, the Mennonite market Yoder's provided us with great tailgate contributions (a FIVE POUND apple cake and a pumpkin roll cake) that were graciously accepted by the hostess.
 This was the main house while we stayed down the hill in a little 19th century farm house that was perfect for the task.
 Sunny, perfect afternoons started out on the chilly side that were perfect for morning strolls with the dog.
 Is it me, or does Virginia STILL do classic, hunt country style better than North Carolina? Or anywhere else? Hand-me-down furnishings and second-hand books made for comfortable, familiar surroundings.