March 28, 2016
Celebrating birthdays at the Inn has become a tradition for many guests of all ages. Just recently I enjoyed having one of my favorite lunch customers, Annie, share another birthday at The Inn At Court Square– she has been celebrating with us since I opened my first Bed and Breakfast, The 1817. That’s over 24 years!
Another regular Inn guest, Janet, celebrates her birthday at the Inn every year, using a gift certificate from “the Boys”–otherwise known as her sons and husband. She always books her favorite room, the Suzannah Fowler Room, which happens to be one of my favorite rooms as well! We both love the bright yellow walls, cozy fireplace, separate dressing room, and whirlpool tub.
But my favorite birthday story came in an unexpected form–8 year-old Logan, who told me his birthday at the Inn was his best ever! I had seared his cinnamon bread pudding and put a candle in it. We all sang happy birthday to him, and the excitement on his face was priceless. I love kids, and I hope that he will want to continue to celebrate his birthdays at The Inn At Court Square for many more years.
When my mom turned 87 last July, family from New York, long-time friends from Savannah, and her many friends in Charlottesville gathered for a surprise party complete with sangrias, a cappella singing, and lots and lots of presents. She is already asking about the plans for this July!
February 29, 2016
CHEF JIM MCCULLOUGH FROM THE INN AT COURT SQUARE! The cooking contest took place at The Stonewall Jackson Hotel in Staunton, VA, where innkeepers from all over the state gathered for The Bed and Breakfast Association of Virginia’s annual conference. Jim did such an amazing job preparing delicious Huevos Rancheros with hash browns and Chorizo sausage from Rock Barn Farm. Crispy, red cornmeal tortillas made from scratch with Woodson’s Mill Bloody Butcher corn were topped with Langleigh Farm organic eggs, fresh salsa, Everona Dairy cheese, homemade guacamole, jalapeno peppers, and a drizzle of sour cream.The audience couldn’t stop talking about the bowl of local eggs laid by my friend’s chickens. The shells were such unique colors—brown, white, pink, peach, and green! I love the playful names my friend gave her chickens. Some of my favorite chicken monikers are LAYla and Betty Lou, the Americaunas who lay the turquoise and olive colored eggs.
I thought the tortillas were the most amazing part of the dish; they were crisp enough to hold the heavy toppings without getting soggy like some tortillas do. The judges raved about the taste and presentation of Chef Jim’s breakfast creation. I was happy to see Jim’s easy rapport with the audience; he talked and joked as he cooked, entertaining the audience as he stirred and poured and seasoned. I was confident that Jim would win the contest because he is such an amazing chef, but it was still thrilling when they announced that he had won first place. I felt like a proud mother! It reminded me of the time (nearly 20 years ago) when I won “The Best Muffins in Virginia” contest, but that’s another story…
February 22, 2016
1. MONTICELLO: Visit Thomas Jefferson’s Monticello just four miles from The Inn at Court Square. Don’t miss the interactive Visitor’s Center where you can sit in a replica of Jefferson’s favorite chair and write with his polygraph. Take a family picture at the rear entrance for a view of Monticello as depicted on the nickel. Be sure to leave time for the Enslaved Person’s tour, the gardens, and the family cemetery. Visit the best museum gift shop I’ve ever seen. If you have extra time, book a special behind the scenes evening tour for a unique experience in one of America’s finest historical homes.
2. UNIVERSITY OF VIRGINIA: Continue Jefferson’s architectural tour with a stop at the beautiful University of Virginia less than two miles from The Inn at Court Square. Start at the Rotunda and walk slowly down the lawn, taking time to appreciate one of the finest examples of neo-classical architecture in America. Notice that the facade of each of the ten pavilions, originally used to house professors and classrooms, showcases different architectural features. Jefferson designed his academical village with teaching in mind; he pictured students learning and living in a working classroom. When you reach Homer’s statue, pop into Cabell Hall (straight in front of you) for a glimpse of the beautiful auditorium with a replica of Raphael’s “School of Athens.” Continue past the amphitheater and turn right for a stroll through the public gardens with serpentine walls. Continue down the West Range, and be sure to look inside #13 at Edgar Allen Poe’s room as you pass. Cross the street and see a piece of the Berlin Wall displayed in front of Alderman Library. Don’t miss my favorite statue of Icarus between Alderman and Clemons Library. Cross the street for a quick tour of the small, neo-gothic chapel built after Jefferson’s death.
3. CARTER’S MOUNTAIN: Pick your own apples or peaches (depending on the season) at our local orchard on Carter’s Mountain, located just three miles from the Inn at Court Square and around the corner from Jefferson’s Monticello. Be sure to save time to stroll around the orchards, enjoy the Blue Ridge view, and sample their famous apple cider donuts. If you visit during peach season, you’ll get to sample this Georgia girl’s favorite—fresh peach ice cream.
4. JEFFERSON VINEYARDS: Enjoy an afternoon tasting Virginia wine at Jefferson Vineyards, a family owned and operated winery. Located five miles from The Inn at Court Square on land where Jefferson first cultivated grapes and introduced viticulture to America. Enjoy indoor or outdoor seating at the beautiful Tasting Room seven days a week from 11am-5pm. Classic tastings include a souvenir glass. Be sure to try my favorite, the Signature Series Chardonnay. If you are lucky, you can catch some local musicians, including Terri Allard, on Saturdays at sunset from May to September.
5. DOWNTOWN MALL: Stroll down the Downtown Mall, just two blocks from The Inn at Court Square. Enjoy a drink at one of the many bars, cafes, or coffeehouse while people watching on Charlottesville’s artsy and fun pedestrian promenade. Be sure to save room for a meal at one of the many wonderful restaurants. Peek into the locally-owned boutiques, write on the community chalk wall, catch a concert at one of several music venues, watch a movie at the new, high-end Violet Crown Theater, or soak in the ambience of our charming town.