Dinner at Castle Hill Inn – A 40th Anniversary Celebration

Tuesday, June 12th, 2012 | Posted under Family and Friends, Personal, Rhode Island

On Friday, I mentioned on Facebook (Hey, are you following me on Facebook?) that this past weekend was going to be a special one for Husband J’s side of the family. This weekend we celebrated my mother and father-in-law’s 40th wedding anniversary at Castle Hill Inn in Newport, Rhode Island. I have to say that 40 years is a rare and beautiful thing in 2012. Congratulations to them!

I’ve actually written a little about a previous experience at Castle Hill Inn. This hotel and restaurant are perched on a great spot in Newport. Many people don’t even bother to stay or eat here. They just come for the views of the water and cocktails.

The Castle Hill Inn Lawn 

Boats pass right by Castle Hill Inn’s gorgeous lawn. It’s a nice place for boat watching. 

By the way, I think it’s time for my once per year “Please allow me to show you that I actually have some sense of style” picture.

Husband J cleans up well, too. Yes, I am taller than him in wedge heels.

While it was fun being waterside, we also came to get our grub on; and we sure did. The Castle Hill Inn has three types of menus: a three course, five course or eight course tasting with the possibility of wine pairings for each course. We kept it simple with the three course. 
By the way, I have to shout out to my family for always asking, “Hey, Terri. Did you get your picture?” before eating. They are too sweet. Plus, my sister-in-law J ( Sis-L J), I think gave some people the side eye when they remarked about me taking pics of food. It’s good when the family helps out the cause. 🙂
We received an amuse bouche to start. 
Can I say that I didn’t get the entire description that the waiter gave, so just trust me. I wasn’t sure how I felt about this amuse bouche. It’s actually a watermelon gelee, but it was a little rubbery. You don’t really get the full watermelon flavor. I did like the parmesan.
We each ordered very different appetizers.
Pan-Seared Foie Gras 
 Pinto Noir cake, green grapes, foie gras ice cream, vincotto

Someone ((ahem!) got foie gras, but it was primarily because of the ice cream, which was really did taste like sweet foie gras. I would never think of cake and foie gras going together either, but it was really nice for all of the different textures and tastes in this dish (sweet, tart, and savory). Do you see the pop rocks underneath the ice cream? That was a super cool surprise. Many times I just let them pop on my tongue.

Confit of Wild Boar
 applewood smoked, yakitori glaze, candied citrus fruit, shaved radish

The small taste I got of this was awesome. What made it really special was the play between the smokiness and the sweetness of the glaze. Plus, the boar was really just buttery tender. 
Cheese Plate
with fruit jam, Marcona almonds, honey, and grilled bread

I can’t believe this was supposed to be for one person. We all chipped in to help out Sis-L J.  

Three of us ended up with the same main course. We were in Newport where the fish is fresh. 
Pan seared Native Fluke
with a bouillabaisse, lobster “sausage”, confit potato, and braised leeks 

I had to try the lobster sausage. It had a sweet finish. While not a traditional bouillabaisee, it was still nice to have the soup-like broth that was comforting for a cool, early evening on the water. 

Herb Roasted Elysian Fields Lamb
with Merguez sausage, falafel, spring bean ragout, Lucques olives

Duck Rohan 
roasted with gooseberries, foie gras and quinoa

I snagged a small piece of Husband J’s duck, and it was cooked beautifully.
Since we were celebrating, we had to have dessert. 

Tres Leches Cake 
caramel corn, toasted marshmallows, popcorn ice cream
What you’re not seeing are the pop rocks (again!). They were underneath the smaller pieces of cake, which had been drenched with thick dulce del leche-like cream. I even thought the little pieces of parsley actually added to the dish giving it an earthy edge. 
Belgian Chocolate Terrine
Cocoa nib coulis, caramelized white chocolate creme, feuilletine

Creme Brulee
Vanilla & Meyer lemon custard on top with poppyseed cake on the bottom, blueberry coulis

Not a bad way to celebrate….
I asked my mother-in-law the secret to staying happily married for a long time. In her opinion, she told me that she thought there were two things that have helped her and my father-in-law all these years:
1. Have a sense of humor – Be able to laugh with one another and at one another. I definitely have no problems laughing at Husband J. 🙂
2. Grow together, not apart – Over the course of time, we all change. Taking into account each other’s best interests through the years and staying connected is important.

Great advice, no? 
Happy Anniversary to them!
Castle Hill Inn
590 Ocean Avenue
Newport, Rhode Island 


Food Porn Friday – Newport’s Franklin Spa

Friday, October 7th, 2011 | Posted under Food Porn Friday, Rhode Island

For breakfast/brunch in Newport, Rhode Island, Husband J and I have a soft spot for the Franklin Spa. It specializes in breakfast and lunch with a major emphasis on the breakfast foods. It’s no-frills, old school, and usually busy. To avoid the crowds, definitely go super early or on the later side. However, don’t sleep in too much or decide you’d like to have a late lunch because it closes at 2pm (1:30pm on Sunday). We were worried it might be mobbed since it was recently featured in the New York Times’ “36 Hours in Newport, Rhode Island” article earlier in the summer, but it’s still the same old Franklin Spa. That’s a good thing.
Here’s what we had during our last visit:
Blueberry Stuffed French Toast
Husband J didn’t realize that it would have this very rich cream cheese filling, but it was not overly sweet. The blueberries were big, luscious and fresh.

Breton Poached Eggs
Poached eggs, steamed spinach, lobster, hollandaise sauce with home fries

I prefer savory breakfast dishes and just sneak bites of Husband J’s sweet items, if he orders any. Lobster with poached eggs just seems so decadent in the morning, doesn’t it?

If you’re in Newport and want a breakfast menu with unique items, a bottomless cup of coffee (if you drink it), and the feeling of a diner from long ago at a great value, then check out the Franklin Spa. Thanks to my in-laws for telling us on to this place. 🙂
Franklin Spa
229 Spring Street
Newport, Rhode Island

Happy Weekend!


Newport, Rhode Island’s Cliff Walk

Wednesday, September 21st, 2011 | Posted under Rhode Island

Right after getting back from Antigua, I essentially turned around and proceeded north to Newport, Rhode Island. I’ve been to and written about Rhode Island specifically Newport before, but there are still some places that I’ve never even visited. One of the most picturesque things to do and see in Newport is The Cliff Walk.

The Cliff Walk is essentially a public walking path hugging Newport’s coast. It begins at Memorial Boulevard.

To enter the Cliff Walk, proceed down Memorial Boulevard and enter right next to the Chanler Hotel. We didn’t go into the hotel, but I so want to.

The beginning of the Cliff Walk right behind the Chanler Hotel

Before you even get very far the Cliff Walk provides great views.
Me at the portion of the Cliff Walk overlooking Easton’s Beach aka First Beach

Parts of the walkway can get fairly narrow. Either way, I recommend that you wear sneakers at the very least (maybe even some walking shoes). While the Cliff Walk is paved, there are some places where the pavement is uneven.

If I spent any time in Newport regularly, I would probably walk the Cliff Walk everyday just for views like these.

We stumbled onto this very pretty gazebo on the right.

If you’re an architecture buff, you’ll definitely like that the Cliff Walk passes by beautiful private and historical homes.

This is someone’s summer house. Nice….

I’ve written about Newport’s mansions before, and you can get a great view of their expansive backyards. Here’s The Breakers.

We didn’t walk the entire 3.5 mile walk (I was wearing flip flops), but I want to next time.
Where are some of your favorite walking paths or trails?


Back Trackin’, Rhode Island Edition – Rhode Island’s “Wine Country”

Monday, February 14th, 2011 | Posted under Back Trackin', Rhode Island, Wine

Parts of this post were originally published on my wedding blog, Chic…Personal…Fun, and Weddingbee.com.

While Husband J and I spent a lot of time on boats and on the water during our first couple of days of our mini-post-wedding getaway in Newport, Rhode Island, Newport has other places to experience that don’t require a lifevest or cause seasickness.
One thing that I failed to mention before was that my sister-in-law and brother-in-law were kind enough to give us a little basket of mini-moon cheer for our time in Newport. In addition to the sail boat trip we had (and other cute gift basket items), they also gave us a gift certificate for a tour and tasting at Newport Vineyards. Yes, that’s right. While it’s not Napa, Rhode Island has got its own little wine making area right next to Newport in neighboring Middletown and Portsmouth, Rhode Island. In addition to Newport Vineyards, Greenvale Vineyard is just a short drive from the heart of downtown Newport.
One of the winemakers checking on some Cabernet
Being the foodie that I am, it would be awfully whack of me not to make some wine suggestions. Personally, we liked the whites the best, particularly the Great White, In the Buff (cool name ;)), and the Riesling. Newport Vineyards also makes this great, crisp Rhody Coyote Hard Cider.
After the vineyard trip, we had a nice lunch at the Castle Hill Inn. The Inn has a great lawn right on the water where you can relax with a drink and a nearby patio and eat their fabulous lunch and dinner options. We recommend the chowder, the lobster roll and the Cobb Salad.
Pretty view, huh?

We could sit and watch the boats go by while sipping some cocktails.

Happy Valentine’s Day from us!
Have you been to a winery in an area not known as a major wine-making region?


Back Trackin’, Rhode Island Edition – Rain Day Fun in Newport

Tuesday, November 23rd, 2010 | Posted under Back Trackin', Rhode Island

Hey, all! Project Thanksgiving is under way, so posting will be light this week. Since I’m being lazy on the blog front :), I thought I would share with you a post that was originally published on Weddingbee.com but modified a bit for this blog. Enjoy!

You can’t always have great weather, and that was the case in the Northeast in the summer of 2009. We got so much rain that summer, we didn’t know what to do with it all. That was most definitely the case during our final days of our trip to Newport.

So what’s there to do in Newport on a rainy day? Tennis, anyone?
Husband J and I stopped in to the International Tennis Hall of Fame. I can pretty much appreciate most sports and love live tennis. Husband J and I have even had one of our most fun outings ever together at the U.S. Open. I think that it had a lot to do with the martinis they were serving, but the tennis was good too!
Here’s Husband J at the street entrance. You have no idea that you’re about to walk into this…..

There were quite a few exhibits and items that you definitely can’t find anywhere else.

The outfit Roger Federer wore when he won his 15th Grand Slam title. He’s got some really huge feet!!

Some great memorabilia from the Battle of the Sexes match between Billie Jean King and Bobby Riggs in 1973.

A painting of the amazing player and humanitarian, Arthur Ashe

A visit to Newport isn’t complete without venturing out to its many historic mansions, the most famous being The Breakers. All I can say is, “WOW!” I didn’t realize that this kind of opulence existed in the U.S. I’m talking Louis XIV Versailles-style, peeps.
Here’s the outside..not bad for a summer “cottage”

We couldn’t take pictures inside, but here’s a taste of what you can see:
The Great Hall

Mr. Vanderbilt’s room (His wife slept in a different one….)

That’s me in the backyard 🙂
There are several lovely mansions besides The Breakers including Marble House. Marble House was built as a present from William Vanderbilt (brother of Cornelius, the one who built The Breakers) to his wife, Alva, who would divorce him a couple of years (or so) later after it was built. Oh well.

Here’s Husband J in the Marble House driveway.

This structure in the backyard is a replica Japanese tea house. Alva Vanderbilt used to hold women’s suffrage meetings here.

Now it’s a cafe for guests to enjoy.

In all, we had a great time in Newport, rain or shine. There’s quite a bit to keep you busy if you can’t get out to go to the beach or sail. I didn’t even talk about the food we ate!!

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