Category Archives: Road Food

Cherry Hill Park (College Park, MD)

Cherry Hill Park (College Park, MD)

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We picked Cherry Hill Park campground in College Park, Maryland, because it was the closest park to D.C.  We were in town to inter Mike’s mum with his dad, who was buried in Arlington National Cemetery in 2003.  Evelyn passed away in early 2012, but it took a while for the family’s schedules to sync up so we could reunite Evelyn with her husband of over 50 years.

Cherry Hill is a pretty park.  The office and camp store has generous hours – from 7 a.m. to 9 p.m.  Staff is friendly and helpful.  We drove our Jeep into the city, but you don’t have to if you stay at Cherry Hill.  Transportation is available from the campground multiple times daily, and the staff can direct you to the tour that’s best for your needs.  Only minutes outside the park grounds are a grocery store, a Starbucks, a home improvement store and a variety of restaurants.  After all your running around, you can take a relaxing hike along the Nature Trail at the edge of the park.

There are spots for every type of rig at  Cherry Hill, and the list of amenities is long:

  • 400 RV and tenting campsites with water, sewer and electric hookups
  • Sites are open year round.
  • 30- or 50-amp service
  • Handicap accessible
  • Restrooms with hot showers
  • Pets are welcome, and a pet walking service is available.
  • Carpeted laundry room with 19 washers and 20 dryers
  • Free Wi-Fi which was pretty reliable and reasonably fast while we were there
  • Cable TV
  • Miniature golf
  • Playground
  • Game room/Arcade
  • Large screen TV lounge with fireplace
  • Two swimming pools
  • Hot tub and sauna
  • Nature trail
  • Propane refills
  • Firewood
  • On-site Star Café and Grill that’s open until 9 p.m.
  • A camp store with groceries, souvenirs, gifts, t-shirts, and lots of RV supplies
  • Free movies, shown seasonally, in the Starlight outdoor theatre

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Maurizio’s

Maurizio’s

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In between our afternoon walking tour of Colonial Williamsburg and our ghost tour of the same area later that night, we refueled at a fantastic Italian place called Maurizio’s.  I had read great reviews of it on TripAdvisor, and those reviews turned out to be delightfully accurate.

Maurizio is originally from a small town in Palermo, Sicily.  The chef began his restaurant career almost three decades ago when he came to the United States at the age of 15.  He worked at his family’s restaurant, learning the Old World way from recipes of his beloved mother.  Eventually Maurizio was able to open a restaurant of his own and to this day it is still located in the Festival Market Place on Route 60 Williamsburg, Virginia. You can find Maurizio himself there, all day, everyday. His wife is in the kitchen making sure everything runs smoothly.

Maurizio’s is in a non-descript strip mall in Williamsburg, which happens to be fairly close to the Anvil Campground.  The interior is much nicer and more intimate than the façade would suggest.  Dark woods and low light make it a soothing spot to dine any time of day.

Maurizio’s takes garlic bread to the next level, with garlic knots that drip with herb-infused oil.  They’re far from soggy, and all that seemingly extra oil quickly gets sopped up as you eat your knot bite-by-bite.  It’s hard not to fill up on the knots, which come to the table in baskets like tortilla chips at a Mexican joint.

Entrees include a salad.  I was impressed by the chilled plates and the triangle of thin salami and cheese on top of the greens, next to the side of dressing.  Mike really enjoyed the spaghetti and meatballs, and I loved the special: broiled scallops with wilted spinach and risotto.  Portions are extremely generous at Maurizio’s, so be prepared to take home at least half your meal.  I even brought home my dessert.  It was actually better the next day after it’d chilled in the fridge.

I think Maurizio himself waited on us.  He was efficient but a sourpuss – until I tried ordering in Italian, apologizing in advance for my pronunciation.  Then, he smiled and complimented my efforts.  After that, there was a lot more smiling, and I found him endearing.

Our meal at Maurizio’s was an event – with amazing food and a romantic ambiance with a touch of authentic Italy.  We’ll definitely be going back if we’re in the area again.

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Circa 1918 Kitchen & Bar

Circa 1918 Kitchen & Bar

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On our way to DC, we stopped in Virginia to visit Mike’s cousin Grant.  Grant was always Mike’s favorite cousin, but he hadn’t seen him in over 20 years.  Even after all that time, the two of them got along “like a house afire”, as my mum would say.  And, they have almost more in common now then they did back then.  Grant is a private pilot, like Mike, and just bought a flight school.

Grant lives in Virginia Beach.  Campgrounds were pricey there, so we decided to save some dough by staying in Williamsburg.  Grant and his lovely wife Barbie graciously agreed to meet us halfway for dinner after we parked the rig at the Anvil Campground in Williamsburg.  Then we were off in the Jeep to Newport News and the restaurant they’d selected: Circa 1918 Kitchen & Bar.

Circa is an intimate, romantically lit place with about 10 tables lining the walls opposite the bar.  Tuesday night, the night we were there, is $5 wine night.  I’d normally have a glass of red, but I couldn’t resist the “Pear’fect Match”, which is made with Absolut pear, pear puree, and ginger.  It was very refreshing after our day of driving.

To cut back on overindulging, I periodically order veggie-based appetizers as my main meal.  It’s great that grilled asparagus appetizers are so popular now.  At Circa, the asparagus was complemented by extra virgin olive oil, lamb “bacon”, a farm egg and herb croutons.  I wasn’t wild about the farm egg, but everything else was delicious.  Mike had the original meatloaf.  He declined the spinach that normally tops it, but he kept the thick layer of cheese.  The meat mix had a kick.  Chorizo?  Mexican spices?  The sour cream mashed potatoes balanced out the heat.

For dessert, the OMG Macadamia Nut Crusted Cheesecake with flambéed bananas just had to be tried.  It was delicious.

The service at Circa was great.  Our waitress was attentive but not intrusive.  When we asked for something, we had it very quickly.  And yet, we were able to linger without being pestered.  It was the perfect place to reunite with old family and make new friends.

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Guten Appetit: noshing in Amana

Guten Appetit: noshing in Amana

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The food in Amana reflects its German history, and a couple of places are known for their homeland specialties.  One of them is the Colony Inn.

The Colony Inn was built in 1860 and was known as The Amana Hotel for many years.  The building contained a kitchen and a dining room which served meals to travelers coming through both overland and by train.  After the “Great Change” when Amana abandoned its communal way of life, the Amana Society sold the Amana Hotel and the name was changed to the Colony Inn.  Its physical characteristics remain the same as nearly as possible to this day.  The kitchens are modern, but the dining areas have been preserved to capture the old world atmosphere enjoyed by thousands since 1935.   The atmosphere is not fancy, but friendly.

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The Colony Inn’s family-style breakfast is not be missed.  For $11.95 person, your table is overwhelmed with self-serve platters of bacon and sausage, eggs done your way, slices of toast, fresh fruit, and German pancakes.  Most of the dishes are standard fare, decent but not particularly remarkable.  The German pancakes, however, are worth the price of admission.  They are heavenly discs of crisp, golden-fried goodness.  Add butter and some strawberry jam, and you’ll close your eyes in gastronomical ecstasy with every bite.  Be careful, though, because it’s all-you-can-eat, and you might just have to roll yourself out of there if your tastebuds get the best of you.

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Serena’s Coffee Café was our caffeine connection every morning, where we’d get our fix before heading to “Coffee with Don” at the RV rally.  You can get your skinny caramel macchiato with whip and a drizzle just like Starbucks, but it’s cheaper and easier in and out.  There are pastries, snacks, and sandwiches, too, if you want a munchie with your mocha.

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We had our least favorite meal at the Ronneburg Restaurant.  Maybe it’s because we weren’t interested in the sauerbraten, wiener schnitzel, potato dumplings, spaetzle or homemade soups, instead opting for salads that were pretty blah.  Like so many buildings in Amana, this one has a past.

The historical Ronneburg Restaurant is located in an original communal kitchen, where thick plaster and brick walls complete the ambiance for your traditional family-style dining.

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There was one standout.  The homemade German salad dressing, comprised of tomato, oil, vinegar and White Zinfandel, is a pleasant surprise.  From the looks of it, I expected it to taste like salsa, but it is light, flavorful and a little sweet, from the wine I guess.  A bright spot in an otherwise hazy meal.

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I’m sure there’s nothing German at all about the Wedding Cake ice cream I had a the Chocolate Haus, but it could have been from Timbuktu for all I cared.  Every spoonful was fantastic.  In a buttercream base, chunks of vanilla wedding cake are mixed with thick swirls of raspberry.  It’s bliss in a cup.  Nothing more to say.

Our first RV rally!

Our first RV rally!
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Goodie bag loot!

As newcomers to the motorhome lifestyle, we were super excited to attend our first RV rally in early September.  The rally was put on by iRV2, an online forum community and social network for RVers.  Mike relied heavily on iRV2 when he was researching rigs before we purchased ours.  Active and packed with information, their forums were very helpful to Mike, so it seemed fitting that their national rally was the first one we attended.

The rally was held at the Amana Colonies RV Park in historic Amana, Iowa.  An opening dinner was included in the rally price.  After a hotdish-style buffet by Dostal Catering, we listened to a detailed overview of the history of the Colonies.  The food was so-so, but the overview was fascinating, preparing us nicely for subsequent tours and explorations of the area.

There were supposed to be two seminars, but Blue Ox, a towing product manufacturer, was a no-show, leaving us with a single presentation on using the iRV2 forums. That was okay, though. This rally was more about socializing than it was about education.

One of the best parts of the event was the morning “Coffee with Don”.  Not for the instant coffee or the storebought donuts Don graciously provided but for the conversation with fellow RVers.  Mike and I would dash over to Serena’s Coffee Café for our lattes  and then head over to the Pioneer Building in the RV park.  I’d bring my laptop so I could get my freelance work done while still sharing in the chitchat.  Mike would be fully engaged, enjoying the dialogue and answering everyone’s technology questions.  We really looked forward to those coffee gatherings.

Almost as much fun were the campfire get togethers in the evening.  After we’d walked the bark babies, we’d stand around the fire and catch up on the news of the day.  We didn’t make it every night but managed to squeeze it in a couple of times.

The rally also included a breakfast one morning and an ice cream social one afternoon.  A final dinner with raffle pries and dancing to music by the Greenbriar Band concluded the event.

The people were so nice.  Park neighbors Ray & Linda gave us a bunch of fresh tomatoes from their home garden.  I used them to make baked tomatoes with oregano and parmesan.  Liz had been on the road about the same amount of time as us, traveling by herself with her dog Roan.  She visits Milwaukee frequently, so we may see her again.  Wally and his lovely wife had raised Boston Terriers, so they were smitten with Sadie.  It was such a delight to meet everyone and share stories.  We’re already looking forward to the 2014 rally in Myrtle Beach.

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Liquid Johnny’s

Liquid Johnny’s

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Liquid Johnny’s is a bar and restaurant on the corner of 76th Street and West Main Street in Milwaukee, easy walking distance from the Wisconsin State Fair RV Park.  We stumbled across it while we were there to work at Harley’s 110th.  We liked the idea of a place we could where we could imbibe freely if we wanted to – without having to worry about driving home.

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Liquid Johnny’s is known for it’s Friday Fish Fry.  Mike had fish and chips and liked it a lot.  I went with a combo of shrimp cocktail and the homemade tortilla chips and salsa.  The shrimp cocktail was delicious.  The shrimp were plump and fresh, so good they almost didn’t need sauce.  The tortilla chips were an instant favorite.  Hot and crisp out of the oven, sprinkled with just the right amount of salt.  I bet they’d be fabulous with a beer if I drank the stuff.

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At Liquid Johnny’s, your bartender is your waitress, so it might take some time to get refills or extras if they’re busy.  Napkins and menus are on the table, and on the weekends, the compact space has live music.  It’s a cool place to hang out if you’re staying in the RV park…or even if you’re not.

Baked tomatoes with oregano and parmesan

Baked tomatoes with oregano and parmesan

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It’s delightful when people share bounty from their gardens.  Not only does whatever you make with their food gift taste great because it’s fresh and homegrown, but I like to think the food is infused with kindness because it was freely and lovingly given.

We’re attending an RV rally right now (more on that later), and our campground neighbors Ray & Linda gave us a colander full of sweet, juicy tomatoes.  So, last night I baked ’em up with some oregano and parmesan.  Mike had his with a leftover hamburger patty, and I enjoyed mine all by themselves with a small glass of Red Ass Rhubarb wine.

Ingredients:

  • Fresh tomatoes, cut into slices
  • Shredded parmesan
  • Oregano, to taste
  • Salt & pepper, to taste
  • Coconut oil, enough for drizzling

Directions:

  • Preheat oven to 450 degrees.
  • Place tomatoes cut-side up in a baking dish.
  • Top with shredded parm, oregano, salt and pepper.
  • Drizzle lightly with coconut oil.
  • Bake until tender, about 15 minutes.
  • Let cool slightly before serving (to help keep the tomato slices from falling apart).

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A literary launch party

A literary launch party

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Boswell Books in Milwaukee is packed with author events as well as books.  If there’s not something going on every night of the week, it sure seems like it.  My husband and I attended a book launch there in mid-August and, in the process, I discovered a new writer.

Louise Penny is a latecomer to writing.  After retiring in her 30s from the Canadian Broadcasting Corporation to write, it took her five years to complete her first novel, Still Life. Lack of interest from agents and publishers almost kept the book from being published, but persistence paid off.  That book became the first in a series of Chief Inspector Gamache books.  Chief Inspector Armand Gamache is a homicide detective with the Sûreté du Québec, and How the Light Gets In is the ninth tale in his saga.

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I had never heard of Louise Penny, and I was surprised to learn that she was such a prolific mystery writer.  I love mysteries, especially series if I like the lead.  None of the characters she chatted about at the launch party meant anything to me, but I liked her a lot.  She was funny and smart and self-deprecating, and I was intrigued by what she had to say about Québec and her struggles with writing.  For the price of attendance, we got refreshments (including Canada’s signature fast food dish poutine with cheese curds and brown gravy) and a signed copy of the book. It was a well spent $25.

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I devoured the book nearly overnight, cooled in the Milwaukee heat by the wintry chill of the Québec winter.  In How the Light Gets In, Chief Inspector Gamache is dealing with a murder in the quaint, off-the-beaten-path town of Three Pines at Christmastime.  But, he’s also dealing with the demise of his career and the disintegration of his friendship with his longtime second-in-command Jean Guy Beauvoir.

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I would describe the writing as spare or lean, meaning not flowery or overly descriptive, and yet it’s not stingy.  I felt very much part of the world Gamache and the townspeople of Three Pines inhabit, and the emotions were palpable.  The main mystery was suspenseful; the subplots were also engaging and surprising.  It was a great read, and I’m now painting in the backstory by reading Still Life.

How lucky I am to have another seven books after this one to keep me grounded in Three Pines!

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Red Ass Rhubarb, anyone?

Red Ass Rhubarb, anyone?

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I’m a Jane-come-lately to the whole wine thing. It’s only in the last year or so that I’ve developed an appreciation for the stomped grape.  I still don’t understand “legs” or “bouquet”, but I enjoy a glass of red with dinner.  Mike doesn’t like wine.  He doesn’t even really like beer.  He drinks Bud Light, which true beer aficionados scoff at.  Even though Mike is not a vinophile, he’s gracious enough to accompany me to the occasional wine tasting.

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After our adventure at the Rushmore Tramway, we stopped at Prairie Berry Winery for a free wine tasting. Prairie Berry is a family winery run by fifth generation winemaker Sandi Votja.  The large space holds a plethora of wines from dry to dessert, and there are plenty of wine-related gifts to pick up with your bottle.  Sample five wines of your choosing gratis and then head over to the deli counter for fresh-made food.  (We were lucky and got a counter girl who gave us a couple of extra tastings.)

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Prairie Berry’s signature wine is the Red Ass Rhubarb, a sweet-tart wine made from rhubarb and raspberries.  It was my favorite of the five wines I tasted, and I bought a bottle I look forward to uncorking soon.  Prairie Berry is a super fun place to visit. It was one of the few times I regretted being in the RV and not being able to hold more stuff.  I saw lots of goodies I wanted to buy, particularly gifts for my friends and family.

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Prairie Berry is open 7 days a week with tastings going on continuously.  It’s a nice, quick (we were in and out in a half hour!) stop as you tour Rushmore and environs in South Dakota.

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Veg-tastic road food

Veg-tastic road food

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Looking for an alternative to salads to meet your veggie quotient on the road?

Subway restaurants, which are frequently co-located with RV-friendly Pilot Travel Centers, offer personal cheese pizzas with your choice of veggies.  Add tomatoes, red onion, green peppers, even spinach. Save half for later, and it’s only 370 calories.

Who says road food is bad food?