Two quick notes:
1. I made braised cucumber last night (butter fried cucumber strips with fresh mint, salt and pepper added after cooking), it was excellent.
2. I LOVE HARVEST SEASON! Thank you all for posting beautiful pictures of flowers, fruits and vegetables to your pages. Keep ‘em comin’!
That is all, thank you.
Though at first you may think this is a little off topic, please stick with me…
Last weekend I spent a couple days living the good life at a swanky hotel here in Cedar Rapids. For my birthday (coming up August 9th is you all want to shower me with gifts!) Jess bought us a package at the Hotel at Kirkwood which is a fancy teaching hotel on the campus of our local community college. The package not only included a room for Saturday night, but also tours of both the vineyard and gardens, two meals and a movie.
As with any good adventure in this country, we started out the day with a consent form…
After a few brief instructions we were shuttled off to the college’s vineyard. It was a little bit bouncy for a fancy hotel van, but Jess and I were comfy none-the-less!
The vineyard manager took us up the hill to show off his vines. The vineyard was planted in 2005 and last year produced nearly 4,000 bottles of wine which were sold in shops around the area.
Bird netting over the grapevines protected the fruit from… Birds?
On our way back to the processing center we passed some large tractors… I love this photo of Jess - Isn’t she the cutest!
Back at the building we were introduced to several varieties of wine produced on the grounds.
The last sample of the afternoon was also my favorite as the vineyard manager dipped into some Port. Very yummy.
Next we headed to the greenhouse and garden to collect stuff for supper. The greenhouse featured mostly micro greens and some basil, but still it was interesting to see how the facility functioned.
At the garden itself Jess and I were tasked with harvesting Thai Basil. As you can see from this picture, one of us was working.
The garden was large but not as big as I assumed it would be since it’s used for the restaurant daily throughout the summer.
After the garden tour we headed back to the hotel to prepare supper. The program included six couples who worked on five courses. FOur couples worked on the appetizers and dessert while two couples worked on the main course.
Jess and I were in charge of the grilled watermelon with cucumber salad on top.
Cucumbers were combined with Feta Cheese, fresh mint and ground peppers.
The watermelon, once grilled, was flash frozen before being topped with prosciutto, cucumber salad and spicy micro greens.
Of course I had to inspect the work once it was completed.
It turned out pretty fantastic!
In all the crew probably spent about an hour working on supper before we retired to the patio to eat.
I did find it interesting though that the staff put a lot of faith in us all. Both Jess and I have clocked our fair share of hours in the kitchen and it seemed as if the other couples were equally comfortable, but I can’t help but wonder what would have happened if a novice cook had shown up.
Of the six couples we were by far the youngest. There was a couple in their 40s and then the rest were all retirees. But for the most part it was a friendly group who worked together well and laughed a lot!
Our grilled watermelon was the first course to be served. Followed by a tomato and pepper salad and a peach and strawberry cream salad.
While we worked through the first three courses one of the hotel chefs grilled chicken legs for the main dish. Here he is warding off flies while describing how he spiced the chicken.
Dessert was pound cake in a plumb sauce and cinnamon cream.
To call the meal incredible is an understatement. And the fact that the group cooked most of it was really amazing too.
After supper we watched the movie “Julie and Julia” in one of the hotel meeting rooms. Then we collapsed into bed for the night a little after 11.
The next morning greeted us with more food, this time it was breakfast (my favorite meal of the day)! No prep work here, just a table in the hotel restaurant. We both ordered the Iowan, a platted with eggs, cornbread, bacon, pork belly, honey cured ham (yeah, three meats… AMAZING) and cheesy potatoes. I swapped out my cornbread for toast and was beyond stuffed by the end of it.
Jess, feeling adventurous on a Sunday morning, tried the bacon bloody mary. It was not great.
This however was probably the worst thing that happened to us over the course of the weekend which is saying something. We had an amazing time and it’s all thanks to this girl right here who I love more than anything.
Somehow she finds it in her heart to put up with this…
I think we make a pretty amazing team actually!
As a parting gift the hotel made pickled green beans, giving each of the six couples a jar to take home. I’m looking forward to trying these very soon!
Thank you to the Hotel Kirkwood for hosting us and to Jess for making this magical weekend possible!
I saw a butterfly on a coneflower today, and grabbed my good camera. I thought it might be a monarch, but couldn’t tell from the house—but when I got outside, it was gone. What was still hanging ar…
From a friend’s blog. Enjoy!
Ugh, fiddling with stuff and broke my website. Will probably need to rebuild the whole order page. Who else finds HTML really frustrating?