Sunday, September 1, 2013

Peanut Butter Oil and Cigar Balsamic Vinegar.

This weekend in Richmond I was on an episode of Crank Yankers, I took pictures in a museum after strictly being warned not to, and I drank a cup of fat. As usual, my awesome life twisted and turned right along with my stomach and my perfectly unusual nose.

Now, I left the choice of hotel up to Erik because if you were going to ask ME to pick a hotel I would not pick a hotel. What I WOULD do is pick a bed and breakfast which often costs way more than a hotel plus dogs. Sometimes I also pick hotels way outside my price range and then sit at the bar waiting to have a conversation with a total stranger about how hard it is to get good help. I really couldn't afford to do either of the latter because I'm poor yet highfalutin although if you're actually highfalutin for real then you should know how to spell highfalutin without spell check. That's all I have to say about that particular topic.

On another tangent I also have to say that there is a difference between a HOTEL and a MOTEL and we stayed at a MOTEL. This motel, which was a Comfort Inn, is in a part of town that is not exactly desirable albeit interesting in an urban mosaic type of way. It was $69 a night and I thought the lobby looked nice. But of course I reviewed it all on Yelp so there's not much more to say except that I had a slight Stephen King narrative in my head the entire time and getting locked out and the elevator sticking may have encouraged that particular brand of potential writing creativity, although I didn't write but had a few PG-13 dreams about a creepy guy at work which was possibly worse than an actual Room 1408 type of inspired story.

What I really wanted to do today was follow up about another preparatory blog I had written about The Olive Oil Taproom.

The Olive Oil Taproom is located in the Towne Center Shopping Center off of 250 in Richmond and is open every day with the exception of Monday.  We visited around 11 AM on Saturday and I learned a few nuggets of wisdom concerning olive oil:

1. If it's in a clear container, it ain't right. Olive oil, like hydrogen peroxide and beer need a dark bottle.

2. If it's dated "best buy" you best leave it alone. You go by the press date and know you've got a year and a half or two years maximum until it gets rancid.

3. Buy oils that don't claim product of more than one vicinity.

I personally had a ball. There are so many variations of olive oils and, like wine tasting, I was able to project my crazy taste buds into the flavors of, not only oils, but also balsamic vinegars. The pineapple was reminiscent of cigar and the lime was bit like licking a table after wiping it down with lemon Pledge.

However, on a serious note, I would have to direct you to the butternut squash oil. As an individual familiar with nut allergies, this oil smelled and tasted like peanut butter. What a wonderful opportunity for someone allergic to nuts! I bought a bottle for a friends whose children are allergic to nuts. You could combine the oil with an ice cream base to make a peanut butter dessert or even possibly fudge or another confection!

The Olive Oil Tasting Room was definitely a highlight of my weekend being that I am a foodie. I will be back to buy Christmas presents so that I can play a greasy kind of Italian Santa this year for all my Screw Crew associates.

Tuesday, August 6, 2013

Emerson Creek

When I was younger, I used to wander through Toys R Us wondering how adults could ignore the bliss of dolls, play sets, and games. Since I've become an adult (technically) I've realized you don't discard the old toys as much as you start to prefer new ones.

One of the items I cannot resist are dishes. The more artistic, the better. You're probably aware I like to cook and entertain, and what better way to flare your way into the hearts of foodies than than to serve up their risotto on local pottery?

Oxide Pottery offers some of the more unique selections, while All Fired Up allows you to create your own one-of-a-kind dish or bowl. However, my favorite place to purchase dinnerware in the area is Emerson Creek Pottery.

Located in Bedford, Virginia, Emerson Creek Pottery. The almost 200-year-old building houses 10 lines of ceramic pottery along with my favorite dining room accessories: tea pots for afternoon teas, shortbread pans for your tea biscuits, honey pots, dip coolers, cookie stamps, apple bakers--the list goes on.

You can stop reading now if pottery bores you. It excites me because it's the foyer into a lovely evening of entertainment and true dedication to hosting and serving.

Ok, I'd like to start with their patterns. The enduring Field of Iris design remains a classic and is an inspiration for a spring brunch littered with periwinkle blooms and Japanese cuisine.

Their local collection is my personal preference. Summer Peaks, Smith Mountain Lake, and my all time favorite--Blue Crab--are all reflective of our beloved Commonwealth. I would love to indulge in a seafood luncheon with this whimsical set of dishes:

Emerson Creek also makes plates for baby and personalized gifts. 

If you like, we can get to my favorites. I own a shortbread pan (it comes with the recipe), a tea pot, holiday cookie presses, and an oval serving tray. I love all my pieces, but I can't wait to get more to add to my collection.

There are so many more items on my wish list including the dip cooler, trivets, onion soup crocks, cookie jars and drizzle bottles.

Emerson Creek is the kind of company that makes you fall in love with the idea of tea parties, iced tea on the porch in May, and hosting cozy, intimate gatherings. 



Sunday, August 4, 2013

Pendants with a Purpose

Many of you know I have partnered with and for many local businesses to support their products. Last year, we met Linwood Hoffman of DarkWater Jewelry. My friend Caren and I made the trip to Bedford, Virginia where we perused a couple of pieces until inspiration struck with this prehistoric piece I modeled last October. It sold within a few days and Linwood has grown his collection since.

We all know how things can change in a year. Unfortunately for my friend Caren, it has changed to include a legal battle in which her ex husband is fighting for full custody. DarkWater Jewelry is partnering with Caren to offer a large portion of the proceeds of jewelry sales to help Caren pay for her increasing attorney's fees.

You can click this link to become a supporter, donate, or offer encouragement. Here is Caren's testimonial:

Why should you donate?

I have had full custody of my 7 year-old son since his father signed it away in 2009. Despite his long history of substance abuse and a history of violence against me and verbal cruelty to me and to others, he has recently filed a petition for full custody- and my attorney's fees are racking up - right now, I owe about $11,000 in legal fees, and now have to retain a NEW attorney. I was recently laid off. PLEASE help in any way you can, even if that is only to spread the word to others that might help, or to pray for us.

 Linwood has offered five pendants and I'm certain that by getting the word out we can do what I've encouraged businesses and individuals to do hundred of times over the years--partner together to increase profit and awareness and above all community. 

Saturday, August 3, 2013

The Lowly Peaks of Otter

Upon learning that the Peaks of Otter Lodge had reopened for the remainder of the summer, I felt it my Screw duty to mosey on up there to Bedford and see what I could see. With the promise of WiFi and cable, I felt certain a nature get-away was just the thing for a invigorating, overnight stay.

We're going to play a fun new game in which, when I'm about to be disappointed by something, you'll know by the precursor statement "oh, look at that." When you see the "oh, look at that" you'll know it's your clue for finding issues with any number of things. It's kind of like a game my mother played with me as a child when reading Richard Scarry's books. Mom, with a lofty excitement in her encouraging voice, goaded me to find Lowly worm with his cute little boot and hat and his mischievous, yet innocent countenance (that's right--he was my inspiration). Later on in Bible College I discovered by way of The Message (it's kind of like the hipster of Bibles) that his real name was Jacob. Only a select amount of people will get that joke and that's ok because it has nothing to do with anything we're talking about.

                                   (Lowly and his friends take the Sharp Top Bus Tour)

We arrive and wait in line for five minutes before I decide that I want to look in the gift store. Way overpriced, but that's to be expected. At least they had a few creative items like a cutting board and a few pretty ornaments.

I rejoined the line to learn that, oh, look at that, WiFi is not working and they cannot access or confirm any reservations. But that's ok because the people smart enough to know this would happen within the first few weeks of reopening stayed home to scoff at the News and Advance article on their laptop while watching their cable television.

Speaking of television, there was none. Either that or they are now so high tech that the wire sticking out of the wall was connected to an invisible television that only Lowly and his friends can see.

I'll take this opportunity to, with no apologies, make fun of you smug folk who make fun of people like me. You'll say something witty such as,"Why yes, that cable WAS connected to an invisible TV and it's called nature! Who would go to an establishment that is obviously nature centric and watch television? What have we become when the opportunity to breathe fresh air, commune with trees, challenge our physical, mental, and spiritual beings and to go back to our origins are compromised and sloughed off for the Kardashians? We need to turn off our cell phones and realize what we've become."

To that person I would first suggest they go find their proverbial lowly worm and second would confirm that I realize what I have become. I have become that person who enjoyed the quaint and rustic accommodations in theory until I realized the promise of electronics was bankrupt. The mountains are pretty and the vintage, campy room with the bottle opener on the bathroom door and the razor disposal built into the wall tile are super quaint but it gets dark at night, bugs are loud, and I'm not great at vandalism although I'm fairly competent in the field of petty theft. We have no cable at home, there's no television at all in the bedroom, and my ideal vacation evening is eating crackers and squeeze cheese in bed, in my underwear, while watching Nick at Nite.

Don't sit there in your condescending way and tell me that I could read, either. I am considerably well read. If you've been paying attention you'll note the Lowly Worm nod near the introduction.

We walked around the grounds for a while as I had already had a bottle of wine in an attempt to negotiate my feelings about the significant loss I experienced in coming to terms with the thought of paying for a hotel with no cable. I had convinced myself that we could procure an elderly couple that would come over to our room, eat squeeze cheese and crackers, and teach me some really quaint and charming old people game, but Erik said the way I get loud and thrash my hands about after drinking an entire bottle of wine would be a bit off-putting and regardless, oh look at that--no real games of any kind in the lodge except checkers and, oh look at that, I suck at checkers.

The next morning we made our way to the restaurant which was actually, very nice. It's very open and wooden with big windows and a lovely view of the mountains I wouldn't be climbing because of a combination of a hangover and a potential stomach ulcer. If you visit in autumn (which I may very well do as a second chance effort) I will say the bedding is very warm. I was hot all night, even though the air conditioner was working smoothly.

Breakfast was very affordable but I can't comment in length because, due to said stomach issue, I only ordered a bagel and yogurt although, oh look at that, they were out of grits. No Southern restaurant should ever be out of grits unless it's due to force feeding them down the throats of Yankees by the hundreds yelling,"YOU CAN'T PUT SUGAR IN GRITS YOU IDIOT!"

I'm just messin' with you, Yankees. You can put sugar in your grits. If you're a total chode.

This trip gets a Screw Lucy, "we'll try again." I do think it's an affordable local getaway for a number of ideals--let's say a new couple who enjoys nature and lots of physical activity, a women's church group getting together for worship and community (they have a small amphitheater with church services on Sunday), or a guy in his forties who egotistically poo-poos others for being too dependent on technology but then, oh look at that, can't stand himself after an hour alone.

Friday, August 2, 2013

The Screw: Extra Virgin and Custom Oiled

Aren't you sick of my misleading blog titels? I mean, titles. Sigh...why is The Screw so mischievous?

Anyway, The Screw is headed to a different type of tasting room the last weekend in August when headed to Richmond for some fine tasting and slipping around (I think I might be imagining that part, but then again, I'm very clumsy) at The Olive Oil Taproom. Upon browsing their olive oil I thought that it's probably best that I'm going back to school since the explanation of their products is reminiscent of science class. I suppose it's really almost an educational experience. But I'm fine with educational as long as it involves eating.

Now their infused oils were more like a menu: all herbs and lemon and butter and mushroom. I get the idea it's like a wine tasting except afterwards you don't get pulled over hours later by an Amherst County cop for a breathalyzer that will put you way under the legal limit yet require you to call a friend to come get you. That never happened to me.

Apparently there is some sort of scandal surrounding olive oil that I was too disinterested to read (Why do I feel so guilty saying that? Man, I guess it's good I'm going back to school) but I AM going to post this video of olive oil scandal guy because I fancy myself a dialect expert and I would put money on this guy is from Los Angeles or has lived there a long time. I could be wrong but I can't find out where he's from so we're going to assume I'm right.

So now I'm all sorts of off to read about what an olive oil tasting consists of and what kind of costume I should wear.

Bread and Breakfast

The Screw attempts to keep things local, personal, and chocked full of bacon, syrup, grits, and orange juice. That's why when I travel, I do my best to book by B&B.

I've been using BBOnline since I was in my mid-twenties (in other words, yesterday) and I've enjoyed their casual and comfortable approach to bed and breakfast marketing. It's sort of like being in your grandma's "full-yay" (foyer): you can take your kick off your shoes and take a load off before you settle in for an evening.

That's probably why they decided to highlight my wise and insightful observations about local bed and breakfasts for their blog this month--that and the fact that I'm The Screw and I'm as chock full of awesome as a homemade breakfast with biscuits, gravy, scrambled eggs, and Cap'n Crunch.

I obviously haven't eaten breakfast.

You can read the interview here

Thursday, August 1, 2013

Screw the Weekend Edition: Bad Boy Botetout Trail

The Botetourt County Wine trail will lead you on like a bad boyfriend this month as it prepares for events that are unfathomably reckless in a excessively safe and elemental fashion.

Blue Ridge Vineyard is getting down like a bunch of barefoot hippies with the Fat Daddy Band August 10th. You can get down with my fave from the vineyard--Cab Franc--or Solstice in the painted bottle. Stay at the Santillane Bed and Breakfast for $110 and enjoy a large bedroom with working fireplace or stay at Fincastle Bed and Breakfast and Vineyard for $135 a night. Linger the next day if you like--I recommend the chardonnay and playing stick with the German Sheppard. There are also coasters that are a "must have" for any true wine lover.

Enter the next day and what you have is the opportunity to re-tree-hugger yourself with a Yoga Relaxation experience at Virginia Mountain Vineyard. A stretch, a breath, a taste--a 10% discount. Please purchase a bottle of the Holiday Spice and relive my favorite movie, It's a Wonderful Life, as Clarence orders mulled wine--heavy on the cinnamon, light on the cloves:

Saturday, April 20, 2013


Mexican restaurants around here are kind of like churches. You learn what to expect and categorize them once you've been to a few. There are the restaurants with the hot sauce on the tables and the ones without. You have your restaurants with the white sauce in addition to the salsa. The salsa itself is really a good indicator of how your experience will progress.

Then you have your margaritas.

La Carreta likes to tell you how far superior their margaritas are to Mi Patron. This may be the case but if it weren't for the location being so tremendously convenient, I'd choose Mi Patron any day because of the superiority of the food. Their salsa is full of chunks of onion and cilantro. La Carreta's salsa is essentially ketchup with some spice. Plus you have the feeling there's extra tequila because they're trying to get you drunk and possibly abscond with you after work for a very lascivious siesta time.

Ernesto's is located in the old Swenson's part of the Plaza for those of you who have been long term natives. A few of you may remember going there after Sunday night church service. I distinctly recall three ice cream parlors in Lynchburg that harbor memories from childhood or High School: High's Ice Cream, Swenson's, and Billy Joes. None of them are around any longer. Swenson's reminds me of my cousin and church. He must have liked going there and I believe we did go after church. High's Ice Cream reminds me of my Grandfather since he took me there often (it was only a few blocks from the church he pastored) and I always ordered rainbow sherbert.We went to Billy Joe's often during High School and I have way too many stories to share most of which involve various best friends.

But let's stick to the new Mexican Restaurant.

The salsa was not good. There are a few reasons this may be the case. One, it's homemade and someone put in the wrong amount of pepper, because, you see, all you could taste was pepper. The second option could be they reuse their salsa and someone dumped a load of pepper into it. Let's just assume that's not the case. Third, they could just really prefer salsa that tastes like pepper. If there are other options, feel free to insert them.

The margarita, which was definitely not strong at all, came in a martini glass. If you have OCD this is the point where you would have needed to make an exit. I feel that all my liqueurs, drinks, wines, and beers, need to be in the appropriate glass, plus I like a lot of salt, but I decided it wasn't that big of a deal.

The establishment was clean, however, and I liked the color of the walls. It felt like more of a tropical Mexico with Mayan artwork and pineapple selections on the menu.

I also prefer Mexican restaurants that offer more than just the Speedy Gonzales (I find this dish's name offensive on many levels, perhaps the king of which is a menu item named after a rodent). When I see plantains, pineapple, and other more creative selections on the menu, I feel that they're trying to branch out and be their own unique class of Mexican (which doesn't work around here of course since this town often prefers the sheep mentality which results in dining with the herd--I could expound on this but you either know what I mean and you're offended or you're laughing). I ordered the quesadilla Texacana and Erik ordered the fish tacos (which I wanted but he ordered so, you know).

My thing was huge and as far as I know it was decent but I was so full of chips that I could barely eat it. The fish tacos I really liked. They arrived with a side of lime and chili sauce plus they were prepared with cilantro. Yum!

Ernesto's has a buffet Monday-Friday and on Sundays that sounded affordable, diverse, and healthy (fruit for desert, salad, etc).

I would be interested in trying other menu items when I'm very interested in having Mexican food that is more than just your taco and enchilada.

Wednesday, January 2, 2013

Another Gluten Free Blog

Allergies are a pain. I hate avoiding anything I like including but not limited to wine during a round of antibiotics. I am allergic to green peppers, but at the most, the smell or ingesting of said pepper will give me a mild migraine.

Others have more serious allergies. There's been a lot about Celiac Disease since that annoying blond girl on The View discovered she had the illness and wrote a cook book.

There's this dude named Bob Moore that knew about the benefits of a whole grain, gluten free diet long before that. I like to read and I read lot of biographies, so I ordered his book last year when it was published and I have to admit, I admire the man. He perservered through a lot of failure yet with strong faith and a few "coincidences" he built the company that is now Bob's Red Mill. He recently essentially gave the business to his workers as well, an act of graciousness and trust that reflects the whole of his life.

Among a few of the local businesses that accommodate allergies is Anderson's Market in Madison Heights. You can buy Bobs Red Mill products there.

The pizza crust is the best I have had so far. I'm comparing it to frozen wheat-free pizzas. It's a little sticky, but if you buy rice flour as you're rolling out the dough, it actually makes a very fine (and fine looking, in my opinion) pie:

Of course, if you don't want to make your own pie, you can go to Monte Carlo's on Old Forest Road or Dominoes now serves a wheat free option, but they will be more expensive, and really, would they look anything like this?

Tuesday, January 1, 2013

$10 Love You Long Time

"Don't eat cereals that change the color of the milk." --Michael Pollan, Food Author

So I had this experience that has really nothing to do with the rest of this blog but sort of does have something to do with the above quote. I visited The Homeplace Vineyard in Chatham, Virginia last year for the third time. However, I experienced one of those enchanting wine encounters that may or may not be unique to me. 

Sometimes while sampling wine, I taste or smell either A. things that are not edible (for instance, carpet or pine needles) or B. things that are edible but are completely unrelated to wine (i.e. popcorn). In this case, I had to buy a glass to detect the very distinct and undeniable flavor of Froot Loop milk. Seriously. Sip, wait 15 seconds, and what you've got on your palate is Froot Loop milk. I was totally aghast and enamored at the same time. If you're headed out that way, the wine is named "Rockin' Rose." 

This has nothing really to do with what I'm going to talk about here. But I think wine is a good way to start anything.

Upon perusing Live Healthy Lynchburg's website, I discovered a link entitled $10 Buy Local Challenge. So, as underscored by the above local drinking, I thought to myself,"Psh, I probably spend at least $50 a month in local wine, let alone produce and meat (please feel free to visit my Woman's Day blog for evidence). I'll bypass everyone else on this alleged 'challenge' by far!" 

Just so you know, it's not a competition. I just make random events and life experiences into competitions in my head if I know I can win them. When I was little I was the champion for three years in a row for how much packaged hamburger I could touch before losing site of Mom. I should probably talk to my counselor about that...

Anyway, I took the pledge and followed Live Healthy Lynchburg's website to another very pleasing site that is relatively new and very resourceful and educational. Here is what I learned:

1. Virginia Food System Council helps Virginians find local food sources.

You can find information and education about local grocers, farms, and co-ops and Virginia Food System Council doesn't make it costly or difficult. Here the instructions on one of their helpful links at Local Harvest:

Help us round out our database by contacting farmers or farmers' market managers in your area, and encouraging them to visit our site. Over twenty new farms and markets join LocalHarvest every day, but there are still many more who need to hear about this site. We appreciate your help spreading the word about LocalHarvest! If you are a Sustainable Agriculture or Family Farming group, contact us to discuss how we can partner together in support of your work

                                          (Bedford Avenue Meat Shop Chicken)

2. There are 10 ways you and I can support the $10 a week challenge:
  1. Encourage your local food group members to go online and pledge support
  2. Share the link to the $10 a week challenge website through your email networks
  3. Share the $10 a week challenge press release through your email networks
  4. Follow and “Like” the Virginia Food System Council on Facebook
  5. Use your social networks to encourage your friends to pledge $10 a week
  6. Share the press release and website with your region’s economic development offices and encourage them to distribute in their e-newsletters
  7. Promote the $10 a week campaign in your printed and online local food directories
  8. Encourage your county offices to promote the challenge and pledge support of the campaign
  9. Print out the $10 a week challenge poster and display at your area farmers markets, grocers, restaurants, etc.
  10. Write about the $10 a week challenge in your local paper’s editorial section.

Or you could just already write an awesome blog that includes buying and eating locally like I do but beware any and all mental competitions that may be involved.

                              (Meat: Bedford Ave Meat Shop Vegetables: David Farm Fresh Market)

3. Apparently (and I learned this on the VFSC website) The Smithsonian Institution and The American Museum of Natural History will both have major exhibitions devoted to food and the food industry. I will be planning a weekend trip in mid April that will involve lunch at a Farm-to-Table restaurant for anyone who would like to go.