Anyhow poor foreign language skills aside, I left off my post yesterday about our Working Weekend at the Inn Victoria just before Jamie and I were to head out with six other folks to the mountainside home of the Gilberts for an evening of French food and friendship. Those who weren't heading out were going to be dining on steak and lobster at the inn so either way you looked at, it was rather a win-win situation and quite the treat after a day of painting, cleaning, planting, and the like.
Along with Denise and Dave and Sally and Fred, the lone "paying" couple that was staying at the inn for the weekend were also going to be joining us for dinner. Sarah and Matthew were visiting Vermont from Syracuse, New York as Matthew's brother was going to be graduating from a college in Norwich, Vermont on Sunday and in addition to that they were celebrating their first anniversary and the completion of Matthew's Master Degree in Engineering. When two other people opted to not go to the Gilberts for dinner, an invitation was extended to Sarah and Matthew and they happily accepted.
After getting a bit turned around with the directions, we arrived just a little late (along with Fred & Sally) at an absolutely gorgeous mountainside home that - had the visibility been better - would have most likely taken our breathes away. As it were, we were only able to make out a little of the scenic view from the massive windows that looked out towards the west but even a cloudy view was gorgeous. The Gilberts - Townsend and Carol - had designed and built the house themselves and their obvious pride of ownership was evident throughout their home.
They had hoped to serve dinner outside on the deck however Mother Nature had other plans but that was okay as the table looked warm and inviting and the perfect size for a dinner party. Townsend explained that the table had been in his family for many, many years and that it was narrower than most dining tables so that people could relax and speak to each other without having to yell across the table.
The forsythia that decorated the table had come from bushes outside of the house and in addition to that Carol had a beautiful collection of orchids that seemed to thrive very well in their corner of the dining room. Having had only one orchid in my entire life (Andrew gave it to me as a birthday present one year) and having managed to kill it way too soon, I told Carol that I was really impressed with how beautiful her orchids were and said that they must love the view from the windows as much as she and Townsend do. Turns out, though, that you don't have to have a mountainside home in Vermont to grow beautiful orchids ... you have to have lots and lots of corks!
Carol told me that she had learned a secret awhile back in that orchids grew very well when you planted them in corks and not soil - lots and lots of corks! Apparently their roots like to grab onto things and corks are perfect! Who knew?? Well I do now and if I ever get another orchid I'll know better how to give it the perfect living environment!
Following our tour of the house and fruit and cheese for appetizers along with some fabulously delicious champagne, we took our seats at the table and prepared to be treated to a wonderful dinner prepared by Townsend and Carol. The dinner had actually been part of a community auction and as a way of saying 'thank you' to us for attending the Working Weekend, we were the lucky recipients of a gourmet meal. The weekend really didn't seem much like work when we were getting treats like this and the gourmet breakfasts we were fed at the inn - not to mention the gorgeous rooms we got to stay in!
Jamie and I sat at the end of the table furthest from the kitchen which gave us the pleasure of sitting close to Matthew and Sarah who turned out to be fantastic dinner companions. I've got no doubt that had I been sitting nearer to Dave & Denise or Fred & Sally that they would have been equally entertaining but considering that both Matthew and Sarah turned out to be followers of Doctor Who as well as knowledgeable in movies like Sherlock Holmes, Inception, and Shutter Island I had no trouble talking to them at all. When Matthew found out that we watched Doctor Who he happily announced to Sarah, "Honey, they're Whovians!" While Matthew and Jamie discussed Marvel comics, Sarah and I talked about the lousy weather we'd all been having in addition to a myriad of other topics that I've got to credit having teenagers for in being able to converse about. I think Amanda would have been proud of me!
Matthew was an admitted geek being that he attended Rensselaer Polytechnic Institute where he majored in engineering and he's currently working for Lockheed-Martin in Syracuse. Sarah has a degree as a guidance counselor but she's currently working in a health-related field as she hasn't yet been able to get a job in guidance. She's hopeful though and after talking to her, I'm sure she'd make a great counselor if/when someone is smart enough to hire her. They were married on May 8th - the same day as my friends Frank and Dawn - so we toasted their anniversary just a little late and wished them many, many more. As I wasn't smart enough to take their picture Saturday evening, I convinced them to pose for me on Sunday morning before they left for his brother's graduation.
Aren't they just the cutest couple? Really, really nice people and it was a pleasure to meet them and share the evening with them!
Oh, anyway, back to dinner itself! Dinner was served in four courses with the first being Jamie's very favorite - French Onion Soup. A darned delicious French Onion Soup, too! After that we cleansed our palettes with a little bit of Lemon Sorbet before moving on to the Main Course which was a delicious Coq au Vin with potatoes, carrots, pearl onions, and mushrooms - yummy! Following the French tradition we then had a light cucumber salad before being served Bananas Foster for dessert.
Not wanting to seem too much like a crazy person I tried to take pictures surreptitiously as possible which meant keep the flash off! After all, I don't think anyone there was too familiar with the whole concept of blogging and how we like to take pictures of our food - one of the reasons I didn't bring my camera to breakfast with me on Saturday morning - so I was trying to appear as normal as possible!
Thanking Carol and Townsend profusely for their hospitality, hugs were given as we all took our leave to head back to the Inn Victoria where we found the rest of the "work crew" waiting up for us in the living room to hear how our dinner had been. At that point, the long day and more wine than I usually drink caught up to me and I couldn't wait to get up to our room and call it a night. Jamie decided to stay up and catch up on some computer time but I think I was asleep within moments of my head hitting the pillows.
This time I brought my camera along for breakfast so that I could show you just what we were being served as if the post I'm going to do about the Inn Victoria on The Distracted Wanderer doesn't convince you to put it on your list of places you need to go, the pictures of breakfast most definitely will!
We started out with fresh orange juice and some of the best Lemon Poppy Seed Bread I have ever tasted.
That was followed with fresh yogurt and granola over blackberries and blueberries - delicious!
For those of us who had missed out on the steak and lobster the night before, Dan served us each up a small dish of lobster in drawn butter that just melted in your mouth. Not a usual breakfast staple, of course, but boy was it good!
And then the Pièce de Résistance of breakfast - Eggs Benedict with fresh tomatoes and asparagus over a puff pastry with sausage on the side. My mouth is watering again just looking at the picture!
If I had thought that breakfast was unbelievably good on Saturday - and it was, it was - there were no words to describe how good breakfast was on Sunday. Seriously good. Seriously really, really good. I need to go back to Vermont good!
Unfortunately Jamie had woken up with a bit of a migraine so even though she did make it down to breakfast she only had tea with her bread and some sausages as she just wasn't feeling like eating. She has no idea what she missed.
I had hoped to stay and do a few more small jobs around the inn before we left to head back to Connecticut but with Jamie not feeling good at all, I told Penny that I was afraid we were going to have to leave a little earlier than I had originally planned. She was very understanding though I really felt like we needed to stay and help out more in order to pay Dan & Penny back for the wonderful weekend that we had enjoyed. Still, having had migraines myself when I was younger, I knew what Jamie was going through and she really just wanted to get in the car and sleep on the drive back home - which is exactly what she did only waking up when I pulled into the driveway over two hours later.
I sure hope that next year when the Inn Victoria's Work Weekend rolls around that I'll be sitting at my computer when the email comes in again as if they'll have me, I'd love to go back up and do it all over again - with or without my youngest in tow. Penny kept saying how blessed they were to have such a good group of workers come up and do so many of the things that they weren't able to do on their own but in all reality, I really think that it was the rest of us who were blessed and I am very glad to have been a part of it.
Thank you ALL so much for a wonderful weekend in a wonderful inn in a wonderful town!