Wednesday, January 11, 2012

305 Vacation to Colonial Williamsburg

The residents of 305 went on a little celebratory "Thank goodness most of this cancer business is over" holiday. We'd planned it ages ago, knowing we'd probably want to get the hell out of dodge for a few days. We're clever that way.

Colonial Williamsburg is one of my favorite places, and it's only about five hours from here. It's been fifteen years or so since we visited, so the pin went on the map and off we went.

Want to see our vacation pictures? SURE you do! It's every dinner guest's nightmare! And I'm not even plying you with wine and food! You poor people.

We arrived early evening, so I still had a little light to grab some photos.

Since the streets roll up there at 5:00, (except for the taverns), we spent the evening poking around our inn and relaxing.

Accomodations were comfortable. We had the entire place to ourselves, except for one night. And that night, a bunch of the interpreters and their friends had a Twelfth Night party in the inn. They were all dressed up in their colonial regalia, dancing, singing, drinking, eating, and otherwise making merry until 1:00 AM. We were lying in bed listening and figured that was probably pretty authentic. No such thing as soundproofing rooms back then. It was noisy and boisterous. But at least we didn't have to share the room with a bunch of smelly strangers and sleep on a flea-infested horsehair mattress. It was actually pretty cool, in retrospect. Yes, they invited us to join them, but I hadn't brought my ballgown, and we figured those people have to perform for the tourists enough without us standing there, snapping pictures.

Here is the well behind our inn.

Here is Pootie, trying to take a cell phone picture of the well. And telling me to get out of the shot.

Here is where I put him after that. Those old root cellars come in pretty handy.

He actually spent a lot of the trip telling me to get out of his pictures. I didn't get one decent photo bomb in there the entire time. Bummer.

Of course, one of my favorite parts was visiting a working colonial kitchen. Here, Bob is boiling a big ol' side of beef. He gave me all kinds of cool info on what was available food-wise back then. Those folks actually ate REALLY well.

We got to take a carriage ride. The horses are the ones who pulled the Queen (yes, the Queen) when she visited in 2007. The carriage is the one she rode in when she visited in 1957. And one of the women sharing our carriage ride had actually met the Queen. As Pootie said, "This carriage ride has all kinds of Royal Mojo." I'm sure that's what Queen Elizabeth would say.

We visited the cobbler (the shoe guy, not the baked fruit thing). He said the shoes are actually very comfortable. I wanted those leather slippers.

We toured houses and saw horrible wallpaper. (Truly, their aesthetic was very different.) These three wallpapers were all within sight of one another on the same floor. Oh my god.

We saw beautiful horses and fat, happy sheep.

We saw the Peyton Randolph House, who was a lot more prominent in colonial history than most people realize.

Then we went to Jamestown for a day so that Pootie could see boats and forts and be very happy.

Then it was back to Williamsburg for more wandering and gawking.

Of course, we toured the Capitol building. Which was not original. I can't believe they tore that thing down. No one wanted it. So in the early 1800s, down it came. They rebuilt it. The one original thing in it is the Speaker's Chair in the Hall of Burgess. Thomas Jefferson and Patrick Henry would have sat their actual kiesters in it, so that's pretty cool. The interpreter said "This is the most expensive case for a historical object ever." (Referring to the Capitol building)

We went to a coffee house, where the Colonial men would have discussed politics, and we discussed them. We were served some seriously good hot chocolate there, too.

We had a wonderful time, and I did not want to come home.

Of course, we ate well. Unfortunately, because it was the off-season, we couldn't eat at the King's Arms Tavern, where we'd eaten one of the best meals of our lives fifteen years ago. They close all but one of the Taverns for the month or so when no one is around. Makes sense, but it was still disappointing. But anyone visiting Williamsburg should check out The Blue Talon and The Trellis. Also the kitchen at the Powhatan Plantation was excellent. And Aromas coffee house deserves special mention. Our room had one of those "coffee" makers in it that brews the most vile substance ever. We managed to snag a half pound of rich French Roast from Aromas and they gave us some filters that Pootie modified so that we could have REAL coffee in our room in the morning.

My only other disappointment was that the Raleigh Tavern Bakery no longer actually bakes. One of the things I remembered most clearly from our trip fifteen years ago was going there and seeing a working colonial bakery, and actually being able to buy their baked goods. They had delicious apple turnovers and some of the best ginger cookies I've ever tasted. Now, they mass produce the stuff, wrap it, and the RTB is just a little snack bar with coke fountains and pre-packaged stuff. Supposedly they couldn't keep up with demand and there were some Health Department issues. BOOO! But, I bought some of their ginger cookies anyway, and they were still delicious, just lacking ... character.  But on my trip years ago, I had snagged one of the Raleigh Tavern Bakery cookbooks, so I can (and have) made the ginger cookies myself. So there. The ORIGINAL recipe reads:

"Take three pounds of flour, one pound of fugar (those fs for the letter s cracks me up), one pound of butter rubbed in very fine, two ounces of ginger beat fine, a large nutmeg grated; then take a pound of treacle, a quarter of a pint of cream, make them warm together, and make up the bread ftiff (hee hee); roll it out, and make it up into thin cakes, cut them out with a tea-cup or fmall (hee hee) glafs (huh?), or roll them around like nuts, and bake them on tin plates in a flack (hee hee) oven. (Hannah Glaffe, The Art of Cookery, Made Plain and Eafy (with lotf of fs), 7th ed. (London, 1760).

The adapted recipe is here. I've modified it slightly (who uses margarine anymore?). So you can have a taste of Colonial Williamsburg too, if you'd like.

Huzzah, y'all!

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