Stuck for Valentine's Day Ideas? How about you both toss aside the drugstore flowers and chocolates in a tin for something a little more upscale, something that will allow you to leave the 'day-to-day' behind and take time focused solely on each other.
|Room at MendenHall Inn|
|Swag Bag Upon Arrival!|
|High Street Caffe & Vudu Lounge Menu|
The Bourbon St. Margarita at High Street Caffe & Vudu Lounge was my favorite on their specialty drink menu it contains: Milagro Silver Tequila, Grand Marnier, Cointreau, fresh lime juice, OJ and a splash of sour and Bourbon. It really kicks a traditional margarita up in notch not just in terms of 'punch'/'kick' but flavor as well!
|Bourbon St. Margarita Signature Specialty Cocktail|
Above: Lobster Ravioli with Blackened Sea Scallops
|Above: This Jambalaya was definitely a taste of New Orleans!|
|Above: Proprietor of High Street Caffe & Vudu Lounge, Donny Syracuse|
|ABOVE: After High Street Caffe & Vudu Lounge we hit Boxcar Brewing Co. for some music and live entertainment!|
|I love that Boxcar thinks local!|
Above: I ordered the 'Mango Ginger Pale Ale' - The sweetness of the Mango with the crispness of the Ginger made this a beer to remember!
Above: The next morning we bypassed Breakfast at the hotel and hit Hanks Place, had to nab a shot of this sign that reads: "Hanks Place Where Hungry People Eat and Friendly People Meet'.
The sign couldn't be more true, a great breakfast and great laid back vibe with very friendly people! I enjoyed Hanks Place and definitely recommend them.
Above: I love the warm welcoming entranceway!
The Artisan Exchange provides an affordable space for the exchange and discovery of local, sustainable, hand-crafted foods by some of the Philadelphia area's best artisans. This was definitely one of the highlights of the trip for me. As a digital entrepreneur I have great respect for my fellow creatives and loved the idea of a space where so many different types of businesses were able to reach a wider audience. And how one vendor would always recommend another when it matched your interests or complimented what you were purchasing. I got lost in the candle section and took a few home because I loved so many of the scents!
Above: Sweet temptations on display from Firehouse Donuts! Founded by lifelong fireman and EMT, Kevin Carney to raise funds to benefit his local fire company.
Heirzoom Bakery who displayed her Fennome Pastries - an heirloom Hungarian Pastry Recipe that had been passed down in her family for generations - I'm pretty sure you could actually taste the love!
Veronica's Doggie Delights offered up Beef & Cheddar Twist and Bark-A-Que Twist, and Grain and Gluten Free Products for Dogs as well.
Wynnor Farm in their own words 'is a working relic in Chester County, Pennsylvania with fun for all ages.' While we didn't get to actually visit the farm personally I do know they offer a corn maze, pumpkin picking hayrides, pedal Kart Races, they sell 100% wool yarn spun from their own sheep's fleeces (little known fact about me, I used to crochet when I was younger), and they also sell Turkeys for Thanksgiving as well.
Rebecca's Dumplings - Rebecca Li Jordan's family recipe became so popular among family and friends that a business was born, varieties include: Gluten Free Pork, Gluten Free Vegetarian, Bacon Egg and Cheese Dumpling, CheeseSteak Dumpling (I wish this sample had been available that day I have a weakness for Philly CheeseSteak!)
|Chocolate Sea Salt Flavor Mompop|
Above: While the price is not 'free' Mompops are FREE OF: Gluten, Dairy, Peanut, Soy, GMO Free, Low Calorie, NO Additives, No Preservatives, No Concentrates, are 100% Vegan AND Kosher! oh did I already say they taste good too? :)
MacDougall's Irish Victory Cakes are made with all-natural ingredients, they buy ingredients from local farmers and use eco friendly and 100% recycled packaging. Their 'Massie's Sweet Butter Cake' utilizes their Great Grand Dad's Award-Winning Recipe - golden eggs, sweet butter and dairy - fresh from the farm (and a 'wee' bit of whiskey that is baked in) you add your favorite jam and fresh whipped cream. These were SO GOOD!
I spent so much time talking to the artisan I bought the candles from, I neglected to take pictures so when I light them I will take photos and post them!
Below: After The Artisan Exchange, we were on to Levante Brewing - We got a chance to try one of their craft beers when we got there which was a nice way to unwind after power shopping at The Artisan Exchange Indoor Farmers Market. Shopping makes a gal thirsty!
|Levante Brewing Co.|
HERE before you book. If you can't visit PA anytime soon, you can also shop Talulah's Table online! I for one have my eyes on the 'grande gourmand' and 'truffle love' gift baskets!
The Whip Tavern - a traditional English Pub in the heart of Horse country (hence the two young ladies on horseback I saw on the way there!).
Chaddsford Winery. 632 Baltimore Pike (US Route 1) Chadds Ford, PA - 610.388.6221
Let's just say a day that offered both a brewery tour and a winery tour definitely required being fortified well, so it's a good thing that we ate well that day! :)
Our day was eventful to say the least, so we got a little down time between the winery and our late dinner at Terrain.
|Bread served in a Planter!|
There are things I consistently take pictures of while traveling - things that probably don't make much sense to anyone else - doors, doorways, pathways, churches, any building with 22 or 222 as a building address and so when I saw this door I had to stop and nab a photo. This fits with my 'zen' vibe perfectly!
"This is the largest plant of its kind ever grown outside of Asia.
This Thousand Bloom Chrysanthemum has more than 1,400 equally spaced flowers blooming on a single plant. Out of the hundreds of cultivars of chrysanthemums, only a few are suitable for growing to this size.
Our horticulture experts have trained in Japan to learn the intricate secrets of growing the Thousand Bloom. From a single stem cutting, it has taken 17 months and more than 1,500 staff hours to nurture and train this single plant into a perfect blooming dome."
I have a ridiculous amount of photos from Longwood Gardens alone, so I'll save some of those for a Wordless Wednesday series of photos when it's a bit closer to Spring.
What I loved about this trip is how well each experience flowed into the next, great food, great spirits, great people, great venues and great company, we were a small group which I was incredibly grateful for. I know the assumption is that bloggers are wildly social and love to 'live out loud', but some of us are actually pretty shy and the bigger the group the more intimidating it can be at times so for me having a small group made it much easier to socialize and not feel totally worn out at the end of the day!
It was the one-on-one interactions with proprietors like Donny Syracuse of High Street Caffe & Vudu Lounge and Aimee Olexy of Talulah's Table that really stood out. Would I have loved those venues as much if I hadn't met them? Definitely, the passion they put into their establishments show through in the service and the quality and caliber of the meals. I love that they both wanted to bring the things they most loved to where they are. Vudu Lounge is such an amazing taste of New Orleans, the food was great so was the service and the vibe was comfortable and familiar - as a New Yorker because a lot of our restaurants raise the bar in that way, but I have also visited the beautiful city of New Orleans and it was fun getting a feel for being on bourbon street in Pennsylvania. If Donny's name sounds familiar he traveled the world playing with "Arcade" (Ratt and Cinderella) opening for Bon Jovi so it's not uncommon to see Tour Buses outside Vudu Lounge! Had Bon Jovi been out there that night I probably would have been totally star struck.
In stark contrast was Talulah's Table, it was more of an equivalent of a lower Manhattan/Village Vibe.
Boxcar with it's live entertainment and craft beers was fun also.
All the venues embraced a strong 'farm-to-table' culture which I truly loved.
There were a few excursions I didn't get to experience that I would love to go back for - Wintherthur, Herr's Snack Factory Tour and I definitely want to go horseback riding the next I am there.
If you are looking for an amazing Valentine's Day Weekend somewhat 'off-the-beaten' path, Brandywine Valley has got you covered!
Readers Sound Off: Which of these ideas appeal to you most for Valentine's Day? Is it a cozy weekend at an Inn? A Wine Tasting? A romantic Dinner? (And if you are single like me, make it a girls weekend with your single friends! or as the interwebs is calling it #GALentinesDay)
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FTC Disclosure: This is NOT a monetarily compensated Post, however the trip was sponsored by BrandyWine Valley for Editorial Consideration. All opinions are 100% my own! I am disclosing this in accordance with the Federal Trade Commission 16 CFR, Part 255 - Guides Concerning the use of endorsements and testimonials in advertising, you may check our Giveaway and Disclosure Page for additional information regarding Ascending Butterfly Disclosure.