Showing posts with label cocktail. Show all posts
Showing posts with label cocktail. Show all posts

Friday, September 27, 2019

More Cheap Trick, Gardens & Brew in Rockford


When I planned my trip to Rockford, I heard from quite a few people that I must have breakfast at The Stockholm. I was a bit disappointed when it wasn’t on our (very full) schedule, but a twist of fate brought us there anyway. 

The first stop of the day on the Rockford itinerary for Brittany, Amanda, and I was the Anderson Japanese Gardens. We were to have brunch there and then explore. 


Since they were also having an event that day, there was no brunch. That opened up our chance to go to The Stockholm. This restaurant is on the Cheap Trick Trail because of the Rick Nielsen connection. He’s a part-owner and full lover of this restaurant. 

The menu is huge, reminding me of a New York diner, but Swedish specialties where you would see Greek ones. Due to the breakfast mix-up, we were starving by the time we sat down. I ordered a Swedish Coffee Cake for us to share while we waited. 


It was as scrumptious as it looked and certainly whet our appetite for the rest. I always go toward the sweet and I continued with the Swedish pancakes with lingonberries, which are well worth an order at The Stockholm Inn

I also got the potato bake. Although it was delicious, it was a bit too rich for me to have more than a spoonful of. I did pass the rest around the table. 


Brittany and Amanda went for more traditional egg and meat breakfasts and were enjoyed their choice.

The trails were all filled with beautiful plants and flowers and the lakes had colorful fish and ducks. It was a bit warm, but the scenery was tranquil.


We then headed to the Anderson Japanese Gardens. I knew there would be a lot of walking and took my scooter along. Almost all of the garden paths were very accessible. 

With the Japanese Festival taking place there were also booths and additional tea ceremonies taking place (they do have authentic tea ceremonies at other times too). 


The Midway Village is a most unusual place that is a great experience for children and adults. In addition to the recreated 19th century village, representing a typical Northern Illinois town, there is a museum dedicated to the history of Rockford. 

I asked Brittany and Amanda to explore the village while I walked around the much smaller Dollhouse exhibit. We then met up in the museum.

I was really amazed at the history of Rockford after going through the Midway Village Museum. 


There were displays on the Emerson Carriage Company, the immigration to this area from Norway, Sweden, and Italy that was recruited through Ellis Island, and the dedications to the Rockford Peaches, the baseball team you may remember depicted in A League of Their Own. 

Also at Midway Village is another Cheap Trick shoutout, this one a Sock Monkey (Sock Monkeys were also made in Rockford) in their honor. 



We drove through downtown to look at some of the nine murals created in the Rockford CRE8IV project. They are well-worth a look. 

Our last Rockford stop was at Prairie Street Brewing Company, located in the spot Englishman Jonathan Peacock arrived in 1849 with the dream of building a brewery. 



Prairie Street has a large selection on microbrews, with the Peacock, Passion Fruit, and Peach Wheat all getting accolades from Brittany and Amanda. I enjoyed one of their mules, and their house made non-alcoholic root beer. 

The menu is very large and has some interesting things on it. The Poutine was a huge hit and Amanda raved about their creative Trolley Burger, with Applewood bacon, fried egg, provolone, thousand island dressing, and an onion ring. 



For dessert, we shared a rich and chocolatey S’mores Tart. 

Rockford is another Midwest spot that outlived my expectations with so much to see and do. The team at the CVB really put together a great trip for us!

Thursday, August 1, 2019

Discovering Mark Twain in Hannibal, Missouri

After major spine surgery in January, I had hardly left my house. Travel in general has been cut down the last few years because of my health, but now I needed to once again take another step down.

When I felt I finally could go somewhere, I was careful to pick a place that’s very accessible and would allow me lots of rest and breaks. 

With Brittany taking pictures, and Amanda accompanying her on active activities, it was a perfect mix.

The two were very helpful to me with my medical scooter.




I thought I had all the plans in place for this first trip of the year (even though half the year was over).

Then, less than a week before we were to go, I received an email that the place had overbooked, and they couldn’t accommodate us.

It is a place I hope to visit someday so I’m not going to go into details, but I was ready to finally get out a little and I didn’t have much time to plan.

The wonderful team at Visit Missouri and their PR agency, Handl Partners, worked quickly and diligently when I asked if they had a location that might work.

They came up with the perfect one: Hannibal.





Hannibal had been on my radar for a few years, so I was very excited. It was the perfect time to go because, in 2019, the city is celebrating its bicentennial.

The drive to Hannibal, Missouri, took less than three hours in perfect weather.

Our first stop was at the Hannibal Convention & Visitors Bureau, to pick up our tickets and passes to attractions.

We hadn’t stopped for lunch and the Mark Twain Dinette was right there, so we went in for something to eat. Our eyes immediately went to the beverage menu.

For Amanda and me, it was the homemade root beer that was calling, and I had to have mine as a root beer float, with ice cream. It was as delicious as it sounded and came with free refills on the soda.

Brittany decided on something a bit more exotic, trying one of the diner’s boozy floats. She had the Coffee-Milk Stout, with vanilla ice cream and chocolate syrup, topped with a fresh-baked glazed donut!
  
From there, we were going to meet Henry Sweets, Director of the Mark Twain Boyhood Home & Museum at Museum Gallery.

We got a bit confused with all of the historical sites and ended up at the Interpretive Center instead.

We checked in, thinking it was the right place, and began to acquaint ourselves with the biggest star to every live in Hannibal, MarkTwain, aka Samuel Clemens.

The Interpretive Center had some very interesting exhibits to give us a preview into the family history. 

It was also in a complex of buildings that includes the Becky Thatcher House, JM Clemens Justice of the Peace Building, and other “famous from the books” spots, such as Tom Sawyer’s Fence, where he convinced his friends to pay him to whitewash.
When a guide at the center found us, she relayed the message that we needed to go to the Museum Gallery a few blocks away. We headed straight there to meet with Henry Sweets.

He told us about the importance of the Mark Twain/Samuel Clemens family to the town and all the connections they made. 

We also learned about exhibits in the Museum Gallery that were must-see. I certainly agreed as I especially loved the Norman Rockwell galleries, the Life Magazine covers featuring Twain characters, and artifacts from the Clemens family.

We checked into the new Holiday Inn Express & Suites after leaving the museum.

It’s a very comfortable and modern hotel, with an open lobby where you can use computers, buy snacks, pour yourself some coffee.

I took a nap before we left for dinner to meet Hannibal CVB Director Gail Bryant and Assistant Director Megan Rapp. They had chosen LaBinnah Bistro and it was just perfect.

LaBinnah (Hannibal spelled backwards) reminded me of a genuine Parisian bistro. I loved the paintings and the décor, and the way they managed to make it comfortable with only 28 seats.

This restaurant is family owned and was rated the “Best Bistro Under the Radar” in Missouri by MSN.com. I can’t disagree.

We started with a toast of Country Red from Missouri’s St. James Winery. Although the restaurant has a selection of wines from around the world, I wanted something from the state.

The owner brought around some Dolmas (a Greek dish, with rice inside grape leaves) for us to try. They were the best I’ve ever had.

As for the main courses, even with the elimination of seafood because of my allergy, I found half a dozen items that sounded wonderful.

I finally settled on the Queen Victoria, a pork chop in blueberry and cranberry chipotle sauce. It was tender and flavorful, with the chipotle just adding a very slight kick.

Brittany loved her salmon, in fact everyone was more than pleased with their meal. I was the most impressed with the Chicken Tikka Masala. It was served different than I’ve ever seen, with the sauce on a full chicken breast. It’s a local favorite and, after tasting it, I agreed with the accolade.

Not only were the desserts looking to good to pass up, but it was pretty difficult to even make a decision on what to get.   

We ended up with four different ones and couldn’t help sharing: Belgium Chocolaterie, handmade truffles from Belgium with fresh fruit and whipped cream, House made Baklava from a family recipe, Godiva Double Chocolate cake, rich, fudgy, and sinful, and a creamy White Chocolate-Red Raspberry Cheesecake.

Needless to say, we did not walk out of LaBinnah Bistro hungry!

Saturday, April 28, 2018

Girls' Getaway to Eaglewood Resort

My friend Joan and I headed a few hours away to Itasca, Illinois, for a short girls’ getaway at Eaglewood Resort & Spa.

You could see the golf course from the balcony in our room. The Deluxe Room is quite large and suitable for a small family.

The spa and fitness center are located in a building across the parking lot from the rooms and other common areas. 
The pool center at Eaglewood is set up to be enjoyed year-round.

It’s totally enclosed in the winter and one side opens up in the summer so you can sit around a patio and enjoy the Olympic-sized pool with accompanying whirlpool.
During the warmer months, they also serve cocktails and snacks out there.

Three separate rooms were in the fitness center, all with all new equipment. One room had state-of-the art machines.
 The second was all about weights, and the third was for classes. We saw someone in there stretching.

Within the fitness and spa area Eaglewood Resort also has its own bowling alley, complete with snacks and a full-service bar. 
It’s a really cool place to hangout when it’s not outdoor season. There were tables for groups and families too.

Guests of the resort can use the facilities of the spa (including a steam room and sauna) at any time.

Day packages are also available if you’d like to just come for the spa and its amenities.

The spa menu here is quite impressive. It covers an array of body treatments, massages, facials, and nail offerings.

I always like to try a signature treatment when I have the opportunity. I chose the Eaglewood Indulgence.

I was relaxed and my muscles felt better than they had in years by the time I left there.
Since it was too early for dinner and too late for lunch, we stopped at The Market for coffee and muffins.

It’s a unique store on the ground floor that combines a little grocery shop and a coffee counter. 
They have prepared food and sandwiches, and even make pizzas.

After a little nap, we had dinner downstairs at the Prairie River restaurant.

We had hoped to eat out by the fire pit, but it was a cool evening so we stayed indoors.
Joan ordered the House Barrel-aged Old Fashioned and I had a glass of their White Peach Sangria, also made on the premises. Both were very good.
We were hungry and couldn’t make up our mind what to get for dinner, so we went ahead and ordered appetizers.

Ramon’s Street Tacos were excellent. They were filled with peppers, onions, and steak, which had been marinated and was quite tender. 


The guacamole served with it were also good.

Joan ordered and enjoyed the Salmon Bites on the recommendation of the waitress. 

They were served with a garlic horseradish crème and think potato crisps.

While we thought the Petite Sirloin and Shrimp combo would be served like a Surf & Turk, it actually came in a stack. Joan really liked it.

I had a soft and flavorful pork tenderloin in a Shandy BBQ sauce.

It was served with a leek and cauliflower mash and a side of broccolini.

All the vegetables we had were fresh.

We couldn’t resist the dessert list when we saw it. We decided to get two different ones and share.

The first was a Mud Pie. At Prairie River they make it with an Oreo crust and fill it with Bailey’s and Kahlua ice cream. It’s then topped with a fudge sauce.

I don’t think I have to say how good that was!


The other dessert was also fantastic. It was called Chocolate Marble Xango. Cheesecake-filled burritos were fried and served alongside a chocolate sauce that was thick like a pudding.

We headed back to our room right after dinner. It had been a relaxing day and evening.

It was the perfect girls’ getaway, and we still had a little more time to go at Eaglewood Resort &Spa.


Sunday, April 22, 2018

Art and Food in Lafayette, Indiana

My friend Jaimee and I had arrived in Lafayette, Indiana, the previous day for a quick getaway.

It had been a few years since I was here and I had no idea how much there was to see – and eat.


We woke up in our spacious two-bedroom accommodation at the TownePlace Suites by Marriott Lafayette .

Although the hotel offers a big complimentary breakfast, we already had plans for brunch at Town & Gown Bistro.

Town & Gown is much bigger than it looks on the outside. It has two floors and they were both full of patrons.


Matt O’Neill, former innkeeper and chef at Walden Inn, and author of “Seasons at the Walden Inn,” has made a name for himself in this city.

It was easy to figure out why after we finished eating. 
Chef O’Neill uses fresh and local ingredients and puts his touch on common brunch items. 

Jaimee raved about her eggs benedict, and I thought the house-made corned beef hash was fantastic, as were my latte and eggs.

After we finished eating, we headed downtown for our art-filled day.

The first stop was at L.E. Originals, where Linda Elmore gave us a demonstration on how she makes her beautiful beads.




It was very interesting and I enjoyed looking at all her designs in the shop. 

Among them are the beads she creates from photographs, something she is awaiting a patent on.



Linda gave us each a bracelet with one of her beads before we headed down the block to Artists’ Own.

Artists’ Own is a cooperative for Indiana artists. 



Within the large space, they sell everything from stained glass to pottery, paintings to handmade clothing. 

We looked around at the vastly different items for a while before purchasing a few things and heading out.


I was very impressed with the Art Museum of Lafayette. It’s an art haven for the community.

Although we saw a few exhibits (they change often), I liked learning about the classes they gave for adults and children, as well as summer camps. 

We even took a look into the pottery studio.





We had lunch at a popular spot downtown, RedSeven Grill

Jaimee got a Sex in the City cocktail to start (Blue Curacao, Peach Schnapps, Chambord, Grey Goose Vodka, and pineapple juice) and we shared an appetizer of Chicken Pot Stickers, which were delicious.

For main courses, Jaimee loved the steak-filled Black and Blue Salad. 

I had a bowl of their homemade tomato bisque and some of their very tasty Pecan Chicken Rollups.

We didn’t have dessert at RedSeven because we knew or last stop of the day was at a bakery, however, we were still too full to do any sampling. 



Sweet Revolution Bake Shop graciously packed up a box filled with goodies, which we thoroughly enjoyed over the days. 

Although I usually favor chocolate treats, their vanilla cupcakes and light and airy French macaroons are out of this world. 


The Chocolate Bourbon Pecan Pie is also a must-try.

The Bakery, led by pastry chef Sarah McGregor-Ray, who has partnered with brother Jonathan McGregor, was known in the neighborhood for years at the local Farmer’s Market.

They opened this busy shop last summer. Don’t go to Lafayette without making a stop there. 

Check for the best hotel prices in Lafayette now at TripAdvisor.