#Empty-nesters for the week while our two teenagers are at XC camp-my hubby and I enjoyed some vineyard hopping in the lovely Shenandoah Valley.
CrossKeys Vineyard is a must do: The wine is exceptional, the views are panoramic, and the food is heavenly.
On the road to a vineyard, I am always hopefully optimistic, although on occasion, the website and the hype do not measure up to the reality. Not so here! Reminiscent of Tuscany, this is an exquisite escape!
We began with some sketchy weather, but it quickly improved!
Hubby with wine
I highly recommend having one of the cheese plates, and thoroughly enjoyed the all day Sunday brunch menu options. The wines are complex in style and can easily compete with European vintages, especially the Merlot and the Cabernet Sauvignon.
Our little romantic getaway was complete with a stay in one of the many local B&B’s, but this vineyard has the space and facilities to accommodate large events or would be fun with a group of friends.
This weekend my husband, Nick, and I uncorked a bottle of Mastroberdadino Historia 2000, one of the wines we purchased at the Radici Resort and Spa in Mirabella Eclano, when my family visited there in July of 2009. Trust me, it is not often that we have an opportunity to drink a sixteen year old bottle a wine, and one that predates both of our children, Nicholas and Katherine.
The taste: steeped in history, rich, bold, and earthy, took us back in time to what is poistively one of my family’s fondest memories of the three years we spent living in Italy: a weekend at the Radici Spa & Resort.
This Family owned and run Winery has origins dating back to 1878, and is now in very capable hands of Vintner Piero Mastroberardino. We met Piero when we visited the resort back in 2009. The family, staff, and estate were both welcoming and exquisite. The resort encompassed everything we grew to love about Italy: history, fabulous wine, amazing cuisine and people who are passionate about their Italian culture, and want to share the experience with the world.
Seven years later, we still reflect fondly on the wine, food and accommodations and our experience that weekend, where we relaxed and dined like movie stars. Tucked away in the hills of Italy’s Campagnia region, this little gem is well worth the trip!
My family and I were thankful to have experienced this amazing place. If you visit, please share your thoughts. Happy touring and tasting all! Thanks for reading!
Based on this news will chocolate and red wine lovers cease our habits now that these guilty pleasures will not necessarily add years to our lives?
There are still benefits that extend beyond the mere enjoyment wine and chocolate…like happiness.
The mood elevator Phenylethlamine a naturally occurring amine, best known as the “love drug” produced by our bodies when we fall in love is also found in chocolate. Some researchers say that if you crave chocolate or any other food, you may merely be deficient in one or more nutrients, vitamins or minerals like magnesium.
You could resolve this issue in the case of magnesium by eating seeds/nuts, green leafy vegetables or by taking a supplement. There is no need to turn to chocolate.
Do we drink red wine for its health benefits such as the presence of Polyphenols, U.S. National Library of Medicine as antioxidants? Or do we drink it because we like it and it makes us happy?
My family lived in Italy for three years. Over which time we spent many a weekend in the Chianti region, where the JAMA study was conducted.
Should we stop visiting wineries and frequenting chocolate festivals because these lovely tangibles have reverted to mere vices and are therefore unhealthy?
After three years of traveling throughout Italy, I can verify by my own experience, the inherent joy of the Italian people. What I cannot do is prove that red wine and chocolate are the reasons for this happiness. It is a good theory, and one that scientists may consider for their next study.
If you have ever dreamed of becoming an artist, it’s time to stop dreaming and start doing. Creating art is a wonderful hobby even if it never consumes your life, it can enhance your daily existence.
As a former account executive, turned stay-at-home mom, turned writer, I know all about second acts and third acts. Actually, I’m still juggling all three, but this is the female dilemma. We pick up new jobs but never put any down.
A woman with a gift for juggling:
As I often ‘struggle with the juggle’ and drop the pins more often than I care to admit, I am forever in awe of my girlfriends who make ‘doing it all’ look so effortless, like my dear friend, Lisa Deiranieh. Lisa, a native of Southern California often says “God put us on opposite sides of the country because he feared what would happen if we ever got together.” Well, God must have averted his eyes long enough for us to simultaneously end up in Naples, Italy, at least for a spell. We had some good times, struggling to speak Italian (only me!) and some amazing day trip adventures where we literally stuck a pin in the map and went off in search of what was there.
Heading home with heavy heart:
I caught Lisa in the process of packing out to leave Naples, but she was gracious enough to fit in a quick interview first. Lisa, a Senior Staff Sonographer at US Navy Hospital Naples, Italy and full-time wife and mother of two is also an artist. Three years ago, Lisa’s husband, Dave, gave her the gift of lifetime, painting lessons with “Gigi”, Luigi Wanvestraut, a well-known Neapolitan artist.
The lessons were only supposed to last a few weeks, but as we spoke, Lisa was fixing dinner and preparing to go paint at the studio, still under Gigi’s guidance. Over the past three years Lisa has painted almost a dozen paintings. Which is amazing considering each one takes between thirty and forty hours to create. She paints with oil, which requires a longer curing time and a process involving layers of paint often applied with a spatula. Planning out your design is necessary but the result is a three-dimensional work of art.
“I want to learn the physical properties of how to make something look real,” Lisa says. Although very different from her day job, Lisa’s background working with patients in the hospital and sonographic imagery may help her to see things differently and in way that she is able to translate beautifully onto the canvas.
“I think…how can I do this?” she says. Learning Gigi’s painting technique, Lisa studies how objects appear in space as circles or squares as well as the spaces around them. “It begins with a sketch and then you layer in, dark and light and then hone in on your subject,” she says.
As if living in Italy is not inspiration enough! Next to painting, Lisa, Dave and their two children have traveled as much and as often as possible throughout Europe and the Middle East. Inspired by a poster she saw in Ronda, Spain, Lisa created this painting of a bull and bullfighter.
She especially admires artists from the 1930’s and the work of the Italian masters seen at the Capodimonte Museum. Lisa’s other passions are cooking and wine! She has taken cooking classes in Tuscany with friends on multiple occasions and loves to share what she has learned.
Together we enjoyed many meals and glasses of exceptional Italian wine. I look forward to the return of family Deiranieh, when we will at least be on the same continent and in a slightly nearer timezone.
At present Lisa’s artwork is not for sale, but she is considering selling prints or giclées, a process of digitally scanning original paintings and printing them onto canvas. “I can’t sell them. I’m too attached to them,” Lisa says. “They’re my babies!”
I thank you for reading and wish you all the best of luck in discovering your own second acts!
If you look carefully, you’ll see signs of summertime, as local farm stands and farmers markets begin a new season. This year, I’ve decided to buy local more often and enjoy fresh, seasonal favorites. The first stop, a quaint little place I’ve driven by countless times on my way to the soccer fields: Spider Hall Farm. I even love the name!
Here are some of the bountiful, delicious treats discovered and sampled: organic meats, all natural ice cream, fresh salad greens, produce, baked goods, butter, yogurt, jams, breads, rolls, cheeses, salad dressings and craft items.
Among the large assortment of natural ice cream by Prigel Family Creamery in Glen Arm, MD, available, I can personally vouch for the cookies & cream and the caramel pretzel.
This weekend, our family will enjoy free range eggs with natural Pork Sausage from Fairfield Farm, Park Hall, MD; just one of the many organic meats from the Spider Hall freezer.
And for a special decadent treat, handmade chocolates by Schafer’s Candy, Meyersdale, PA.
Oh, yes, they are every bit as good as they look. Off you go then, find yourself a local farm and take a stand, or at least sit awhile.
Of all of the places I traveled during a three year expanse living in Italy, Assisi stands out as one of the most holy. I expected to feel this way about Rome and I did up to a point, but tourism, vendors and the overall commercialization of Vatican City left me feeling a bit deflated, which is not to say I didn’t appreciate the wonders of it all.
Assisi on the other hand, remains unspoiled, perhaps because you need to work harder to get there and those seeking out this serene, peaceful place, generally go for holy reasons. I am thrilled to have been blessed with the opportunity to visit some of the lesser traveled cities and towns in this exquisite country and was never disappointed by the beauty I found.
This is a photographic journey. Since I rarely sleep, I was able to capture the silence of dawn.