The Hungry Wanderers

Eating and exploring our way through the world

Posts Tagged ‘cocktails’

Hamilton Island – Our First Day in Paradise

Posted by Amanda @ The Hungry Wanderers on March 17, 2010

After our short stop out of Yeppoon to admire the beautiful scenery along the ocean on Sunday morning, we got back in the car to begin our 6+ hour trek north to the Whitsunday Islands.  Knowing that we would need to catch a ferry out to Hamilton Island, we knew we needed to leave as early as possible and we needed to make as few stops as we could.  We didn’t realize that that wouldn’t be too difficult as there was nearly nowhere to stop along the way!

Since we left early, we decided to have breakfast at a cafe when we saw one along the route (the breakfast at the Capricorn Resort was $25 per person and we weren’t interested in a full Australian breakfast buffet).  The start of our trip was like all of the others – lots of green and sunny 🙂  We found that this route was actually quite flatter than our past days of travel.

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IMG_5027A few hours in, after seeing almost no towns to stop in, we began to get hungry for breakfast.  Along the drive, we kept seeing signs for a town called Marlborough so we looked forward to reaching it, expecting it to have a few options for breakfast.  When we arrived, however, we were quite confused! It consisted of two gas stations and some residences.  Literally.  Luckily, most of the gas stations, especially along long stretches of road like this, have cafes inside so we stopped to grab a bite to eat (especially once we saw the sign that the next gas station wouldn’t be for another 100km!)

After we ordered, the Husband went back out to the car to get the camera to snap some photos of all of the wildlife in the courtyard. IMG_5016

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And then breakfast was served 🙂 This is what is called Eggs on Toast.  I discovered it in Hervey Bay and am a fan! If I haven’t already mentioned, I’m not much of a breakfast foods person but eggs and/or toast = perfect.  We, of course, added Vegemite to our toast (and we’re excited to find, thanks to Snopes.com, that we can actually bring some Vegemite home with us!).

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I also grabbed a box of biscuits (cookies) to take on the ride with us as we didn’t plan on stopping again until we reached the ferry.  This box included an assortment of 5 of Arnoff’s biscuits.  The Monte Carlo which had a vanilla like cookie with a raspberry coated vanilla cream; one most closely related to an Oreo; a cookie with a vanilla cookie and orange cream (my favorite); a vanilla and vanilla combo; and a vanilla cookie with chocolate cream.  We didn’t love these cookies but appreciated them as a snack when we got hungry on the rest of the long drive!

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After many hours, all of the John Williamson music we have on the Husband’s iPod, and another completed book on my Kindel (which I love! I’ve read three books so far while on this trip and have only need the small, thin device), we arrived in Airlie Beach, almost to Shute Harbour where we would catch the ferry to Hamilton Island.  We were excited to see the FantaSea sign – the company that would provide the ferry service.

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As usual, when we pulled up, the storm clouds came in 🙂 We bought our roundtrip tickets to the island (which turned out to be a savings instead of one way tickets but still was quite expensive at $43/pp each way), checked our luggage, and grabbed some water at the harbour cafe to wait for the next ferry.

Once the ferry arrived, we boarded and traveled the half hour to Hamilton Island.  About 800 people live on the island (if I remember correctly) and our ferry was filled with the children from the island who went to the mainland for school.  One of the children chatted us up, telling us about the island and that the rockiness of the water (it was very rocky!) was quite abnormal.  At one point, it got so foggy we couldn’t see any of the islands (which is crazy with the number of islands we passed on the short ferry ride to our destination).

IMG_5041 Once we arrived, we collected our bags and found the free shuttle to the Reef View Hotel which was up and down a steep hill from the boat harbour.  We checked in and headed to our room to drop off our things and have a look around.

As a quick note, when we booked our travel through Goway for this vacation, we chose the “Standard” accommodations option for our lodging, but we chose to upgrade to “First Class” in the Whitsunday Islands.  The hotel and the island (which is nearly all a resort except for the handful of residences) are amazing.  I keep telling the Husband I don’t want to leave 🙂 We’ll be here for 3 nights and will get you a “Hamilton Island” post on after we explore more on Wednesday.

As usual, we were impressed with our accommodations.

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And look at this view!!!IMG_5057

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The Husband spent a good amount of time on the balcony just snapping photos of the scenery and the birds 🙂

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After he’d had his fill of balcony photos, we ventured down to the Tourism desk and booked a trip out to the Great Barrier Reef for the next day and then headed back down to the harbour to find a restaurant for dinner.  After checking out a few restaurants, we decided on the Manta Ray Cafe.

When we arrived, the hostess recommended we hang out at the bar and wait for a table on the deck overlooking the water.  Even though there were many seats available inside the restaurant, we took her up on her recommendation and headed to the bar.  They had a cocktail menu on a chalkboard that presented a Blueberry & Lychee Martini – I knew what I was going to have!

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The Husband ordered the Cascade Premium from Tasmania – the first beer we’ve both enjoyed in Australia! IMG_5113

After enjoying our drinks, our table was ready.  This was the view… 🙂 IMG_5119

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Since we had finished our first drinks at the bar, the Husband ordered another Cascade and I perused the wine list.  We found that they had wines from Mudgee! (This was exciting to us as the Husband’s brother owns land there and we didn’t know there were wineries there)  I ordered the Wild Oats Chardonnay on recommendation from the waitress. It was a bit tart at first, but was quite enjoyable as I got further into the glass.IMG_5122

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The menu consisted of pastas, unique pizzas (like Brixx – our favorite!), and starters.  We decided to order a pasta and a pizza to split.  For our pasta portion, we had the Papardelle which are wide flat noodles (like fettuccini but wider) with a wild mushroom sauce and goat cheese.  Once we added a bit of salt to bring out the flavors, this was very good.IMG_5133

The Husband chose the Shrimp Satay pizza which we both loved!  It was covered in satay-style prawns (shrimp), bok choy, bean sprouts, roasted red peppers, a coconut chili sauce and peanuts and cashews.  We had some leftover and enjoyed it for breakfast the next morning 🙂 IMG_5134

IMG_5135-1 We actually came back to this restaurant on Tuesday night after our trip to the Great Barrier Reef (post later today!).  During this second dinner, we had salads and shared another pizza.

I had the Rocket & Pear Salad (which also had parmesan and a white balsamic vinaigrette).  This filled the salad craving for me for the day! It’s been difficulty finding salads…

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The Husband had the Greek Salad. IMG_2196

Like Brixx, you can order half & half pizzas.  The Husband chose the flavors – one was called the Breakfast Pizza and the other half had Tandoori Chicken.  I don’t remember what was on each half, but we enjoyed the creativity and flavors once again. IMG_2197 Wednesday night we’ll be dining somewhere else, but it was nice getting to try a variety of items on the Manta Ray Cafe menu 🙂

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Posted in Hotels, Restaurants, Travel | Tagged: , , , , , | 3 Comments »

Boudreaux’s Louisiana Kitchen

Posted by Amanda @ The Hungry Wanderers on February 19, 2010

A few weekends ago, the Husband and I met some friends out for a birthday party.  We were headed to Boudreaux’s Louisiana Kitchen in Noda.  The Husband had been to the Blacksburg, VA location near Virginia Tech and was looking forward to checking out one of his old favorite’s here in the Queen City.  I was looking forward to seeing what food from Louisiana was about.

Our friend had made a reservation for 14 for her birthday and called that day to change the number to 12.  Unfortunately, when we arrived they didn’t have a reservation for us!  When the hostess flipped through a a three-ring binder filled with notebook paper to search for the reservation, we somewhat understood why – quite a low tech reservation system 🙂 Luckily, we were willing to wait and they expected they’d be able to seat us about a half hour later.

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Right off the bat, I knew I was going to have a Hurricane, a famous liquor filled drink from Louisiana.  The menu offered all sorts of options.  The Boudreaux’s Signature Hurricane increased in Category (like a real hurricane! my emergency management interest got a kick out of that) by adding a shot per level.  There were also a number of Hurricanes named after famous ones.  I went with the Hurricane Katrina which also donated $2 to a charity supporting continued Hurricane Katrina relief.

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It had Tommy Bahama White Sand Rum, Bacardi Orange Rum, Southern Comfort, Hurricane Mix, ginger ale, and grain alcohol.  Yum! :-p

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They also had a good beer selection including a variety straight from Louisiana.  The Husband enjoyed an Abita Jockamo IPA and an Abita Golden Lager.

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Once the group was settled with drinks, we got a few appetizers to share amongst the table.  I was most excited to try Gator Bites.  They were fine – not as amazing as folks had claimed.  A little bit more tasty than small chicken nuggets.

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The table also shared Crawfish & Spinach Dip.  I don’t believe I tried any of this, not realizing what it was.  I imagine it was good!

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The Husband ordered a cup of the Gumbo Ducharme which included shrimp, chicken, andouille sausage, and crawfish.  He really liked this gumbo, but the cornbread was dry.

IMG_1893 As usual, it took me a long time to decide what to have.  There were so many things I hadn’t had before that I wanted to try! I finally decided on an Oyster Po’Boy. This hit the spot! I’ve been wanting a po’boy for a while now and this one exceeded my expectations.  Definitely recommend this!

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The Husband ordered the Low Country Shrimp and Grits.  It included adouille sausage, celery, onion, and bell pepper in a white wine, lemon and butter sauce.  It wasn’t quite what he was expecting (perhaps he didn’t read the menu? 🙂 ) but he enjoyed it.

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While it was frustrating that the reservation was lost, I’m glad the group stuck around and didn’t have to wait long to be seated as I’m glad I got to experience what Boudreaux’s had to offer.

Boudreaux’s Louisiana Kitchen
501 E. 36th Street
Charlotte, NC 28205
704-331-9898

Boudreaux's Louisiana Kitchen on Urbanspoon

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The Melting Pot – A Christmas Eve Tradition

Posted by Amanda @ The Hungry Wanderers on December 27, 2009

Two years ago, during our first Christmas in Charlotte we began a tradition of celebrating together at The Melting Pot.  We had family coming in the next day and decided to enjoy a nice meal out at one of our favorite splurge restaurants.  We’ve since expanded it to other holidays when possible (such as Easter) and after spending last Christmas in Europe, we looked forward to spending another Christmas Eve at the Melting Pot in Charlotte.  We made reservations for 6:30 and after work we headed over to the main Charlotte location (there’s also one in the University area).

We love fondue!  My love began my first year out of college while living with one of my best friends, Jaclyn.  We each owned a fondue pot (she got hers first!) and we used to have fondue parties where we would be able to have both cheese and chocolate.  Yum!!

When going to the Melting Pot, be prepared for lots of food! You have the option of The Big Night Out which includes a cheese fondue, a salad, an entree fondue, and a dessert fondue or to order the different courses separately.  If ordered separately, you can order as many or as few of the courses as you like.  Depending on our moods (and appetites, and how long it’s been since our last visit) we’ll either go with a cheese and a chocolate (no entree) or the Big Night Out.  The Big Night Out has a signature cheese, entree, and dessert fondues and salad but you can switch out any of them for the traditional items on the menu.  We tend to choose those on the Big Night Out menu as they’re only available for the four to six months or so on the menu.  This time was no different. 🙂

The Big Night Out menu this visit was the Alpine Big Night Out.

IMG_1543 While waiting for our cheese course to be set up, we started with drinks.  They had a fun Christmas drink menu…

IMG_1541 And also drinks that matched the Alpine menu.  I went with one of those – the Triple Berry Martini – while the Husband had a Sierra Nevada.

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My martini was DELISH! Very fruity and berry filled (as the name suggests) 🙂

IMG_1546 So, as mentioned before, the first course was one of our favorites – cheese!  This version was called the Alp and Dell Cheese Fondue. It included white wine, garlic, mustard and nutmeg, with Gruyere, Raclette, and Fontina.  A great combination! It came with the usual green apples and bread.  Instead of the usual carrots, cauliflower, and celery it had a Swiss mixture of sausages, pickles, and cauliflower.  Yum!  (The dipping items are unlimited.)

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Our next course up were the salads.  The Big Night Out salad was the Alpine Ridge Salad.  It was a bed of mixed greens topped with oven roasted tomatoes, Gruyère, Raclette and Fontina cheeses (the same as the cheese fondue!), hard-boiled eggs and honey roasted almonds, topped with a shallot vinaigrette.  This salad was Amazing! I don’t remember ever disliking any of their salads but this one was particularly good.

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After the salads, came the entree course.  This is usually the first course to go when we’re looking to eat less (or spend less money!).  Another option we learned about from a previous waiter is the idea of ordering the entree course for one (it comes with a salad) and then ordering an additional salad.  We haven’t done this yet but think this is a good idea.

The entree course in the Big Night Out has three options.   The Fondue Feast, the most basic option, included Filet Mignon, Sauerbraten NY Strip, Nueske’s Applewood Smoked Bratwurst, Hefeweizen Marinated Shrimp, Roasted Garlic Crusted Chicken, Sun Dried Tomato Ravioli and Fresh Vegetables.  You’re welcome to substitute items in this selection if you don’t eat (or don’t prefer) a particular meat or item.  They all come with the same vegetables – potatoes, broccoli, and mushrooms.  The other two entree options include Lobster Tail (the next step up), or Lobster Tails (multiple – most expensive option).  They included all of the items in the Fondue Feast.

After selecting the type of entree, you also get to choose what it’s cooked in (oh, and as I’ve forgotten to mention – and if you’re not familiar with fondue – you cook everything yourself at the table, after the waiter preps it for you tableside).  The options include Court Bouillon or Bourguigonne (which are both complimentary) or Coq au Vin or Mojo Style (which have an additional cost).  We prefer Coq au Vin and went with that.

The entree comes with a number of sauces which we love as well.  Green Goddess is apparently the customer favorite (it’s ours as well!).  (The veggies and sauces are unlimited so feel free to ask for more!)

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At this point, we were pretty full but couldn’t turn down our dessert course!  The Big Night Out’s option was White Chocolate Apple Cobbler Fondue.  Not being a fan of white chocolate, we looked through the traditional dessert menu and realized we’d never had The Original which was milk chocolate with crunchy peanut butter.

Prior to receiving the dessert entree, I ordered another drink which I eyed early on but thought it be best with dessert: the Raspberry Chocolate Truffle martini.  Yum!

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On to the dessert…

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At the end, we. were. stuffed.  We loved it though and are glad we made this a tradition.  I look forward to our next holiday Melting Pot outing!

Melting Pot on Urbanspoon

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New York Food & Wine Festival

Posted by Amanda @ The Hungry Wanderers on October 19, 2009

To end our food and drink filled New York girls weekend, we got to attend the Food Network’s 2nd Annual New York Food and Wine Festival Grand Tasting! When we were originally planning our weekend, the tickets to events were just too much ($150 per person for this one event alone).  Jaclyn luckily won two tickets from Serious Eats and then we found one more ticket for $90 from Goldstar.  What a huge savings!

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The event was scheduled to be at Pier 54 in Hudson River Park.  We headed first to 10th and 15th to pick up the Goldstar ticket from will call.  Good thing we did as this was the entrance to the actual event! A lounge area with swag bags and a lounging area.

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Based on Jaclyn’s previous experience with lines at New York events like this, we didn’t stay long in the lounge area so we could go get in line for the Grand Tasting.  It was a gorgeous day along the pier.  Look how big the event was!

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After waiting about a half hour in a reasonable line, the event started and we headed in 🙂 We each received a full size red wine glass (for tastings!) and began our exploration of the vendors.

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The first table I stopped at was Resto.  It was quieter at this point in the event so I asked the chefs if I could take a photo.  They were quite nice and their food was good!

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I first tried their belgian waffle and then a savory tart.  (I don’t remember what was in it, but it was GOOD!)

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The next stop was South Gate.

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Here I tried a Frozen Honey Nougat Parfait with Roasted Plums (although they were labeled as apricots, the girls and I decided they were definitely plums).  Very good!

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Next we found ourselves in front of the Next Iron Chef mini competition between Holly Smith and Jehangir Mehta.  I don’t generally watch the Iron Chef or any of its iterations but we actually watched an episode of the Next Iron Chef the day before so it was fun to recognize these two!

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The secret ingredient (is that what it’s called?) was apple I believe.  Holly made an apple sorbet with crab and parmesan. We were not fans of this 😦 It was very bland.

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Jehangir, on the other hand, made something very good! It was another savory tart.  Unfortunately I don’t recall what was in it 😦

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Next up – the Del Grosso pasta sauce.  The owners were quite friendly!

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There were 3 options to choose from.  I went with the Vodka sauce and was very impressed.  Apparently you can find them at Whole Foods among other grocery stores.  Unfortunately, they don’t sell them at Harris Teeter 😦 (my grocery store of choice in Charlotte)

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Next we found cupcakes! at Kyotofu

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They had 3 flavors to choose from.  I went with their green tea cupcake.  Yum!

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After a sweet treat, on to another savory bite at Trattoria Cinque.

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Here I believe I had a prosciutto quesadilla.  Very good!

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Finally something to drink! (Though there was water and diet coke every where)  Pom Wonderful had two flavors to try: blueberry and original.  Having had the original flavor before, I decided to try the blueberry.  Like the other Pom juices, it was quite sweet but I liked the taste of blueberry mixed in.

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They also had hummus martini cups with pom seeds and pita.  The pom seeds was an interesting touch to the hummus.  I think I would have liked it better with softer pita (this was more like a pita chip).  I’ll think I may try this recipe again in the future.

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The next restaurant we checked out was La Fonda del Sol.  They offered oysters on little shells.  Cute and refreshing!

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Recently, I became a bigger fan of tea so I was excited to see a tea brand offering samples.

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Mighty Leaf Tea had three flavors to try.  I tasted the Chocolate Mint Truffle.  It was good! I grabbed a sample tea bag as well as one of the Vanilla Bean.  I look forward to trying these at home, especially as it starts to get colder!

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At this point in the tasting, I was starting to get full! But there were so many good foods still to try!  I found myself at Delmonico’s Restaurant next.

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Here they were making meat balls.  They had the cutest little forks to go with them!

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Aldea was next with an oyster soup.  While I tasted it, I recognized that I wasn’t in the mood for soup so I wasn’t able to judge it very well 😦 I think I would have liked it if I were in the mood for soup…

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Although I was getting full, I love Barilla and was very excited to see their stand!  They had two pastas to try and I had a tasting of both.  One was a rotini with a tomato sauce.  The other (which was quite good) was the cheese tortellini with a cream sauce with asparagus.  Yum!

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As we made our way around the stands, one in particular caught our eye.  It was food or drink, but a product.  The ActiFry is a deep fryer that uses only 2 tablespoons of oil to cook a pound or two of potatoes.  Being skeptical (as many probably were), we tasted the french fries they were making.  They were good! Light but tasty and so much less fat than normal fries.

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A little over an hour in to the tasting, we had made it all the way around the food vendors and the wine, beer, and liquor vendors had opened.  While we weren’t really looking to drink since we’d had our share the night before 🙂 we decided to try a few unique ones that caught our eyes.  (We were amazed at how many vendors there were to try and we weren’t expecting liquor at all.)

First up – Castries, a St. Lucian peanut rum creme.  Wow! It was really, really tasty 🙂 It’s served slightly chilled all by itself or can be mixed into other drinks as well.

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This table caught my eye with two of my favorite wines to have in stock – Blackstone Merlot and Toasted Head Chardonnay.  The rep recommended I try the third wine at her table – Robert Mondavi Pinot Noir.  I was impressed.

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The first time around, the Blue Moon Harvest Moon had caught my eye but wasn’t being served yet (it was before noon on a Sunday).  Our second time around, an artist was painting the below scene.

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I then grabbed myself a sample of the Harvest Moon.

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As our time at the tasting was winding down, Colleen wanted a small dessert.  We split ginger snaps with Dickinsin’s Lemon Curd and Country Pumpkin Butter.  Yum!

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This festival was a great way to end an amazing girls weekend of food, drink and fun in New York 🙂  Have any of you tried any of the restaurants I saw at the grand tasting?

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