Country Inn “Lunch Out” Day

 

images (3) food at crop

If you’re like me you enjoy good food, and if you’re like me, you also enjoy going out to lunch  for that good food every now and then –  and not going out just anywhere, but going out to exceptional establishments that create scrumptious food and present that food with flair.

images (3)restaurants in nature

If you’re like me you enjoy ambiance, a setting that’s beautiful in some way, a setting that lifts you up. So when I’m choosing a  restaurant I always look for a place that offers its diners some form of beauty. The restaurant might be situated in a lovely natural setting or it might be in the middle of an exciting city aglow with bright lights and activity. I might choose a restaurant with European flair or historic significance, but whatever sort of place it is I expect it to ooze beauty in some way. Beauty is important to me and yes, I’m particular, but I think we all should be particular.  Going out for food is not just about the food.

dinnerParty friends dining together

And if you’re like me, though you’re perfectly capable of dining out all on your own or taking a “dead friend” along via a book,  you may also know the pleasure of  dining out with a good friend or two or three.

So, because I love good food, lovely friends and places of beauty, I have designed certain Country Inn Days to combine these three elements creating a “triple treat day”.  I call  these days of delight Country Inn Lunch Out Days.  Variety is the spice of life you know, so each of my Country Inn Days has its own special focus and today that focus is “lunch out”.  Yum!

IMG_7166[1]

I hop into my car and drive 45 minutes northwest, venturing into the city of Cleveland.  There,  just west of downtown, in a neighborhood called Ohio City, exists one of my very favorite restaurants, The Crop Bistro.

IMG_7167[1]

This restaurant is in a building which was constructed in 1924 and opened in 1925 as the United Bank Building. It was designed by Cleveland’s foremost architectural firm, Walker and Weeks, men who attended The Massachusetts Institute of Technology studying a form of academic neoclassical architecture called Beaux-Arts.  Their work progressed from neoclassical styles, through Italian Renaissance, and ultimately ended in Art Deco/Moderne.

This was the bank of industrialists John D. Rockefeller and Andrew Carnegie.  It is no wonder the building  has a feeling of  prosperity and splendor.

IMG_7127[1]

Every detail in this building is beautiful, a work of art, from its opulent coffered ceiling

images (3) crop pillars

to its massive marble pillars

images (3) bar at crop bistro

to its generous windows and wall fresco.

IMG_7161[2]

It’s no wonder Chef Steve Schimoler admired this building and decided to restore it, converting it into his own very special restaurant.  He designed the Crop Bistro in a minimalist fashion in order to maintain its integrity and beauty.  The restaurant’s dramatic setting takes diners back to an era of pure grandeur and there’s nothing like a little (or a lot) of grandeur on my Country Inn Days.

IMG_7125[1]

I arrive at the Crop and take my place.  It’s a taste treat just to imagine all the entrees that are offered.

IMG_7138[1]

A few minutes later Sarah comes on the scene to serve me.  She is just the nicest  gal with a warm, sincere smile and a lovely manner.  A nice restaurant can be spoiled if the employees aren’t nice too.  Sarah earns a gold star from me.

IMG_7137[1]

A few minutes later my luncheon companion arrives and here we are. Meet my friend Connie.  We’ve known each other since high school days and aren’t old friends just the best?  We order a bottle of wine today because this “Country Inn Lunch Out Day” is a day to celebrate life.  Of course every day is a day to celebrate life, but perhaps not always with a bottle of wine.

We talk, Sarah serves us our delicious lunch and then she suggests we take a little tour of what’s down below the dining room.  Connie and I are surprised there’s anything down below which we are encouraged to see, but Sarah being an excellent employee, promotes all that the Crop Bistro offers its clientele.

IMG_7143[1]

Sarah point us to Chris Romero who is the restaurant manager and he takes us down below to what was the basement of the United Bank Building, but is now a kitchen and area for private parties.  Steve is very nice too, which again speaks so well for The Crop Bistro.

IMG_7146[1]

And here we are in the kitchen.  Such fun!  It’s like going behind stage at a Broadway play.

IMG_7160[1]

We meet Chris.  Guess what he’s making in his big jumbo pot?  He’s making soup, and he tells us the soup here is extra delicious because there’s a water purifying system in the building (Kinetico) which chef Schimoler installed so that all his food would be the very purest and the best!  Chris is a very nice guy too.  I think The Crop Bistro must insist all their employees are nice and friendly people and I like this policy very much.

IMG_7149[1]

We see the vaults where all the money was kept in the old days,

IMG_7152[1]

yes, actually vaults (plural)

IMG_7153[1]

because Rockefeller and Carnegie obviously had a great deal of money to store in this bank.

IMG_7157[1]

We were also taken to the private closet-like rooms where bank customers of days gone by would study the contents of their safety deposit boxes.

IMG_7159[1]

And we saw the board room of this historic bank.  It was fun and easy to imagine that we were standing in this room way back in the 1920’s.

I expected Country Inn Lunch Out Day to be a delicious treat with a nice friend in a lovely place, but I didn’t expect it to also be An ADVENTURE DAY, but AN ADVENTURE DAY it truly was.  Now I’m thinking I need to go to a library and  pick up a book about the Industrial revolution so I can read all about Rockefeller and Carnegie because these two men are now on my mind.

But that’s a Country Inn Days for you.  Country Inn Days take me out of my usual daily routines.  They help me discover new places and new things. They inspire new thoughts.  They refresh my mind, body and spirit.   Every Country Inn Day is a little different.  And another one is coming up soon.

What will it be?  An “In” Day, an “Outing Day”, a “Dinner Party Day”?  You’ll just have to wait and see.  But whatever kind of day it will be I know it will be a day of delight.  I hope you are having your own delightful days because life is short and we must all seize the magic!

122612813_bf84f8f397_o joy and beauty

So till next time then… Take Joy, and remember,

Sharing doubles the joy!

Guests are on their way to share my Country Inn Day

IMG_6368[1]
The Jeremiah Brown House 1853

How I look forward to Country Inn Days, my regular escapes from reality and ordinary life.  Every Inn Day is a little different.  Today my Country Inn Day has magically transformed me into an Innkeeper. Why Innkeeper?  It’s because tonight guests are expected here at the Jeremiah Brown House and someone has to prepare for them.  Who better than me!  If  you’ve ever entertained you’ve assumed this role of Innkeeper yourself whether you realized it or not.  

I love to entertain because I believe in sharing.  Sharing doubles the joy.  If we’re lucky enough to have a home I think we should share that home with others.  It shouldn’t be for us alone. What fun is that?   So today as Innkeeper I will get busy and also supervise the Inn staff, that being the Inn housekeeper (me) and Inn chef (me). Together we’ll work at fluffing, polishing and preparing the Inn for tonight’s guests.  There’s much to be done.

IMG_6648[1]

I order the housekeeper to wash all the floors  and vacuum all the carpets.  She gets right to it. Do you enjoy cleaning?  Well, having guests in gives one a little extra incentive to pull out the rubber gloves, bucket of hot soapy water and any other tools necessary to make the place sparkle.  Having frequent guests inspires one to keep things in tip top order.

If a little cleaning is done regularly not too much has to be done to prepare our place for guests.  Besides, we should all live well every day in every moment and that’s easier to do if our surroundings are tidy, clean and pleasing all the time.

IMG_6616[1]

The night before this Country Inn Day, because I am a conscientious and caring Innkeeper, I got a head start preparing the Inn for my guests.  I visited the local gourmet market to pick up a few things.

IMG_6618[1]

Flowers for sure!

“How can one help shivering with delight when one’s hot fingers close around the stem of a live flower, cool from the shade and stiff with newborn vigor”  – Colette

I am lucky to have the Hudson Heinen’s Market nearby where I can find flowers of every kind – roses, Asiatic lilies, delphiniums  and many other gorgeous blooms.  Some women love shoes.  I love flowers!

IMG_6684[2]

All dwellings deserve flowers every day.  I want my guests to step into the Inn and be delighted with what they see.  Flowers delight.

“I perhaps owe having become a painter to flowers.” – C. Monet

IMG_6683[1]

At every turn flowers give the eye something beautiful to gaze upon.

“Flowers really do intoxicate me.” – Vita Sackville-West

IMG_6681[1]

To walk in the door and be greeted by flowers is just the nicest thing.

“Bread feeds the body, indeed, but flowers feed the soul.” – Koran

I keep fresh flowers around every day.  You should too.  Life is short and we must treat ourselves to beauty every chance we get. But on Country Inn Days, and especially when guests are expected at the Inn,  a few extra blooms are added.  And that’s just one of the reasons why I love Country Inn Days.

IMG_6676[1]

“When you have only two pennies left in the world, buy a loaf of bread with one, and a lily with the other.” – Chinese proverb

On a personal note I feel sad that my own mother did not enjoy flowers in her home as I do. This was for good reason.  My mother lost many sisters and brothers in her lifetime, attending many funerals with many flowers, so flowers began to represent death to her rather than life. This was so tragic because beauty is designed to lift us up, not put us down.  We need flowers in our daily life now, flowers all around our happy moments.  Why?  It’s because beauty is a very good thing.  It becomes us.  It improves us.  Then when flowers are sent at sad times that beauty will help us feel better, not worse.

IMG_6617[2]

But flowers are not the only thing I buy at the gourmet market. This market is a good place to find special drinks as well as prepared food items.  Buying prepared food items  on Country Inn Days takes the pressure off the Inn chef.  She (me) always creates something special for guests, but appreciates a little extra help too. So today I buy grilled shrimp to serve guests at cocktail time.  I will also serve the Inn chef’s specialty of the day. What is that specialty?  Today it’s Cheese Straws.  Have you ever made Cheese Straws? Let’s step into the Inn’s kitchen and see how they’re coming along.

IMG_6637[1]

I see the puff pastry is rolled out ready for the Gruyere and Parmesan cheese topping.  I’m told the cheeses are mixed with thyme amonst other things.

IMG_6639[1] They are then cut into strips,

IMG_6640[1]

twisted, and placed on a cookie sheet lined with parchment paper.  They bake at 375 degrees for just a few minutes and

IMG_6641[1]

the Cheese Straws are ready for our guests.

The Innkeeper, Inn Housekeeper and Inn Chef have done their things and now it is time they are transformed into Inn guest. That’s me!  I now will enjoy the fruits of their ( my) labor along with the other guests who will be arriving soon.  Ah, the magic of a Country Inn Day.

IMG_6649[1] The drinks are being readied.

IMG_6651[2]

The candles are lit and the fire is set.

IMG_6660[2]

One last look around to be sure everything is in just the right place.  I must place the Cheese Straws on the table.

IMG_6647[1]

And it looks good to me.  I hope the Inn will look good to the other guests as well for I want the best for my guests who deserve nothing less.  I want them to enjoy their stay here.  I intend to enjoy mine. Each Country Inn Day is a great escape from the ordinary.  The shopping and cleaning and baking and polishing is always worth the effort in the end.

IMG_6650[1]

The guests arrive.  We have a lovely time chatting and sipping and sampling the appetizers and then we decide it’s time to venture into Hudson for a little dinner.  This dinner the Inn chef (me) does not have to prepare.  She gets a night off.  Goodie!

IMG_6632[1]

We’re headed to one of Hudson’s best restaurants, Solaire.  It’s almost a secret because it’s hidden away upstairs in one of the buildings at First and Main. I don’t think too many people know about this luxurious hideaway, and that’s fine with me, because it’s never crowded and always quiet.  I hate noisy restaurants where you have to strain to hear or be heard by your dinner companions. One purpose of Country Inn Days is to ‘rest and relax’ and at Solaire dining is a luscious, restful experience.  Come with me.

IMG_6631[1]

Just follow the oriental rug.

IMG_6624[2]

and we’re here!  Lovely, isn’t it?  Intimate and elegant.

IMG_6626[1]

 There are tables for two and tables for more, all set with crisp, white linen and flowers.

IMG_6623[1]

 The gal behind the bar is sweet and attentive.

IMG_6653[1]

She shows us to a table and takes very good care of us.  It’s nice to serve others, but it’s also nice to be served.  There’s a time for everything under heaven.  I hope you take that time to treat yourself and others well.

IMG_6658[1]

A little work, a little play, a little imagination and life seems so much sweeter.  Country Inn Days put it all together.  We don’t have to venture far away, packing our bags and spending lots of money in order to have sparkling fun.  We can do those things, but we don’t have to. It’s possible to stay right at home or in our very own neighborhood. All we need do is look into ourselves and create the life our heart imagines, a snazzy life for ourselves, our spouse, our family, and our friends.  We should create this sparkle every day, but add a little extra pizzazz on Country Inn Days.  Justice Oliver Wendell Holmes agrees with me for he wrote the following words in a letter to a friend back in 1911.

“Life is a romantic business.  It is painting a picture, not doing a sum – but you have to make the romance , and it will come to the question how much fire you have in your belly.”

Enjoy!