Making fake-ass Dole Whips with Monkey Rum

So my husband and I are, to put it mildly, OBSESSED with California. To the point that we’re thinking about taking a family trip to Disneyland next year and watching tons of YouTube videos about Disneyland and Southern California. One of the items that seems pretty consistently well-loved about Disneyland is the Dole Whip, a unique concoction sold at the park that draws on Disney’s partnership with the Dole fruit company to offer park guests a delicious, creamy, frozen treat full of real pineapple and pineapple juice.

The praises of the Dole Whip are sung far and wide on ye olde YouTube, from copycat recipes and hacks to keep from waiting in line for your treat to spicing up the fruit flavor with Tajin spice powder and even grown-up versions including alcohol. It is to one of these recipes I turned when I wanted to make my own fake-ass Dole Whips at home and add some Monkey Rum we picked up in Wildwood, New Jersey at The Race of Gentlemen a few weeks ago.

I threw all the ingredients in the blender, added some Monkey Toasted Coconut Rum and poured everything in a gallon freezer bag. After a few hours chilling in the freezer, I poured our fake-ass Dole Whips into some glasses and popped in some straws. Our drinks were yummy, with plenty of sweet and tangy real pineapple, plenty of creaminess and a kick of rum. And there you have it: frozen deliciousness while daydreaming about our Disneyland trip!

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Red Cap Patisserie visit

Recently I stopped by Red Cap Patisserie’s shop on Meadow Street to try out the croissants and pastries. The shop is small, with only a little space for seating, but has plenty of display space for their sweet and savory pastries, including pain au chocolat, kouign amman, scones and more.

The staff are friendly and knowledgeable, and the pastries are delicious.  I can’t wait to return and try more of their treats, including some of the savory ones.

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My favorite single-serve coffeemaker (hint: it’s not a Keurig)

I’m a self-proclaimed coffee snob. You know that line in Pulp Fiction:  “When Bonnie goes shopping she buys SHIT. I buy the gourmet expensive stuff because when I drink it I want to taste it.” Yeah, pretty much my favorite quote ever about coffee.

My love for delicious coffee led, years ago, to purchasing a single-serve coffeemaker before Keurig K-cup machines had hit the market. At that time, there were two pod-style coffeemakers available:  the high-priced Senseo, and my choice, the more affordable Melitta One:One.  Both single-serve machines used pods made from the same material as a coffee filter that were packed with various flavored, unflavored and decaf options. The systems also do a great job brewing tea, both tea pods and tea bags.

I switched jobs and used the office k-cup machine for a while, but then came across numerous articles detailing the environmental impact of the waste generated by k-cups. Eager to do my part in minimizing the generation of non-recyclable waste, I dug out my old Melitta One:One and brought it to my office. I soon discovered that Melitta’s coffee pods are still available, as well as pods from other manufacturers, via websites like CoffeeWiz.com and Amazon. With flavors like Vanilla Creme Brulee, Hazelnut Creme and Parisian Vanilla, plus unflavored and decaf options, Melitta still makes a wide variety of single-cup offerings.

So if you don’t want to add to the stacks and stacks of K-cup waste, consider buying a used Melitta One:One or Senseo single-serve machine. It’s the perfect office accessory for a coffee lover like myself.

Virginia Summer Fun

School’s out, and it’s time to find some fun this summer. Virginia has plenty to do, especially if you’re a foodie or history buff.

A handful of Virginia wineries rely on volunteer labor to harvest and bottle their wines. In exchange for working in the vineyard or the processing facility, volunteers receive credits towards purchases of wine or special wine events. Gray Ghost Vineyards, in Amissville, offers a special day for volunteers with a lavish breakfast, lunch with Gray Ghost wines and a volunteer t-shirt. Grayhaven Winery, in Mineral, offers credits towards their wines with a day of volunteering at the harvest. Near the Inn at Little Washington, Gadino Cellars‘ Harvest Day offers live music and a picnic for volunteers.

If you’re a fan of tacos (and who isn’t?), the DC Taco, Beer, Tequila Festival at the Capitol Riverfront will be a day filled with deliciousness. Two sessions offer five taco tickets, unlimited beer and the chance to try a variety of tequila’s and mezcal’s. Access to unlimited tequila and mezcal tastings are available if you opt for the Tequila or VIP ticket. Tickets start at $45 per person, and the event occurs in two sessions on Saturday, July 15.

If you enjoy living history events, you’ll love the family-friendly James River Batteau Festival, taking place June 17-24 along the James River from Lynchburg to Powhatan. Showcasing the long, flat boats, called batteau’s, that were used to transport tobacco along the river to market in the late 1700’s and early 1800’s.

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What’s on your summer agenda?

 

The Race of Gentlemen

Started in the late 1940’s, the Oilers Car Club began in Southern California in the early days of drag racing. The club was revived in 2008 by a group of traditional hot rod enthusiasts who tracked down the original Oilers founder, Jim Nelson, and, with his blessing, formed chapters across the country to carry on the sport of racing pre-war cars and motorcycles. In 2012, the first Race of Gentlemen was held on the beach in Allenhurst, New Jersey. From there, the event has grown bigger and bigger each year.

My family has always adored history, especially automotive and motorcycle history. My great-grandfather owned a motorcycle repair shop in the 1920’s in rural Central Virginia, and my uncle has an obsession with vintage cars and trucks, having built the Kline car currently on view at the Virginia Historical Society. He’s currently working on projects from a 1920’s fire truck to 1910’s and 1920’s race cars (which I’m trying to convince him to build for a future TROG), and I love hearing about his latest builds. My husband’s a gearhead too, and we’ve always enjoyed vintage car shows and all manner of racing, so The Race of Gentlemen was a car lover’s dream trip.

The organizers, Mel Stultz and Bobby Green, couldn’t have chosen a better venue for this throwback event. Wildwood, New Jersey is a perfectly-preserved old beach town. With a two-mile long boardwalk and plenty of wide, sandy beaches, there was ample space for the drag races. The town itself is filled with 50’s diners and doo-wop/mid-century hotels and motels, adding to the nostalgic atmosphere. We had breakfast on Saturday at the Pink Cadillac diner, which billed itself as a “50’s diner,” and we stayed at the Monaco Motel, a classic with mid-century design.

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But of course, the main attraction was the racing, and the chance to see these vintage cars and motorcycles in action didn’t disappoint. The weekend kicked off Friday night with a chopper show at a local motel, then the action began bright and early on Saturday. As soon as the tide went out, the cars and bikes took the beach to battle it out.

The racing lasted all day, giving spectators the rare opportunity to see vehicles from the early days of racing history in one-on-one drag races and, occasionally, a four-wide motorcycle race. Special kudos go to the most talented flag girl I’ve ever seen, who must have jumped into the air hundreds of times the whole weekend and made it look perfect every time.

Besides the racing, the event had a classic car show, merch and various vendors, as well as live music. Saturday night there was a bonfire on the beach, then more racing on Sunday. The second day of racing also saw an announcement from organizer Mel that the “sandrail” class, essentially a frame and engine, would be bigger next year, as it’s a relatively cheap and quick way to break into racing in an event that requires historical vehicles and an application and approval process.

Unfortunately, we had to leave around noon to make it home on Sunday, so we didn’t get to see the end of the racing and the awards. All in all, this was an amazing event. We’ll definitely be back next year!

Memorial Day Feast

In its evolution from a day of remembrance to honor those who fought in the Civil War, to a memorial for soldiers who gave their lives in World War I, then to memorialize American soldiers lost in all wars, this day has a long, proud history as a purely American day. We honor all those who have fought and lost their lives to protect our freedom. Memorial Day also marks the informal beginning of the summer. Swimming pools open for the season and all across America grills are fired up to cook delicious meals.

The best way to cook a steak on the grill is to marinate it all day. I use a marinade of vegetable oil, balsamic vinegar, diced garlic and steak seasoning.

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A “hobo pack” of squash, zucchini, shallots, thyme, olive oil, salt, pepper and lemon juice can be thrown on the grill as well and cooked over charcoal. Just make sure it’s fully secured so none of the juices leak out into the grill.

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You can grill ears of corn still in the husks. Just peel them back, remove the silks and coat the ears of corn with butter and whatever seasonings you like. We prefer salt, pepper and Old Bay. A tray of garlic knots and a boxed pasta salad round out this Memorial Day Feast.

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The end of our meal was a sweet red, white and blue berry trifle.

Ingredients: 1 quart strawberries (diced), 1 pint blueberries, 8 oz. package cream cheese at room temperature, 3/4 cup confectioners’ sugar, 2/3 cup whipped cream, 1/2 tsp. vanilla extract, 1 small pound cake cut into squares

Directions:

  1. Put several of each kind of berries aside for topping.
  2. In a large bowl, beat the cream cheese and powdered sugar until smooth. Beat in the vanilla, then a third of the whipped cream. Fold in the rest of the whipped cream.
  3. Cover the bottom of a trifle dish or glass bowl with a layer of diced pound cake pieces. Add 1/3 of each type of fruit, then cover with 1/3 of the cream cheese/whipped cream mixture. Alternate adding diced pound cake, fruit and cream cheese/whipped cream, then top with a thin layer of whipped cream. Sprinkle the reserved berries on top. Refrigerate overnight before serving.

 

Enjoy your Memorial Day with family and friends. What are your favorite Memorial Day foods?

Cocktail Classics – The Aperol Spritz

The Aperol spritz is a classic European aperitif that you’ll find in traveling through France and Italy, especially in the summer dining al fresco or streetside in one of many outdoor cafes. When my husband and I visited Paris last fall, the Aperol spritz was on every drink menu, and we drank them all over the city. Whether we were on the Seine in the shadow of the Eiffel Tower, or sitting in a cafe on a rainy, chilly night on the Rue Montorgueil, this slightly sweet, slightly bitter, bubbly drink was delicious and comforting.

What is Aperol, and what makes it unique? This Italian liqueur is one of a number of European liqueurs that are herbal and bitter, providing a complement to sweet or sparkling European wines. Aperol is made from bitter orange, gentian, rhubarb, cinchona and a variety of other ingredients.

In Europe, aperitifs became popular in the 19th century and were consumed before a meal as a way to stimulate the appetite. The classic Aperol spritz consists of three parts Prosecco, two parts Aperol and a splash of club soda. Fresh orange slices, ice and a straw are added to a large wine glass to serve up this refreshing drink. I was missing them last night, so I had to whip up some Aperol spritz’s at home.

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What’s your favorite European cocktail?

Here’s a photo from L’Esplanade St. Eustache, the cafe off Rue Montorgueil where we had dinner and Aperol spritz’s in Paris.

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